In his award-winning debut memoir When They Tell You to Be Good, author and activist Prince Shakur vividly captures and decodes lived experiences that are undeniably his—coming-of-age as a queer, 20-something Jamaican-American Black man and millennial nomad. At the same time, these stories relate to many of us and the shared world we inhabit, particularly in these continually (and globally) tumultuous…
Being queer comes with responsibilities: the pressure to be more steadfast in my convictions than my straight friends, to reinvent relationship models, family structures, kinship networks even if it means disappointing my parents by depriving them of a marriage ceremony and grandchildren, even if it means my life might never feel all that stable, even if I find it all somewhat exhausting.
We’re Facetiming from our apartments. I’m up in Inwood, happy that my housemates aren’t home but anxious they might return and overhear our conversation. Angie is in Carroll Gardens where she lives with her boyfriend Kyle, but she’s moving soon because her parents are closing on an apartment for her in Fort Greene. Whenever I express jealousy about this, Angie says it won’t really be her apartment because it’s an investment. Yes, I think. An investment you will inhabit and then inherit.
Pinball takes place in a more liminal environment: those may be your physical fingers hitting flipper buttons and your real voice cussing out Bride of Pin-Bot, but your vision, your concentration—everything about you that’s more consciousness than body—moves outside of yourself and behind a thin layer of glass.
She’s there on one of those red-herring March afternoons that make you think spring’s arrived, when everyone pours outdoors gasping, like they’re emerging from underwater. Her parents’ house is the worst on the block, squat and ranch-style, and she’s on a sunny ledge, a small plane on her roof that’s eye-level out your window, where you’re sitting in the stuffy green chair trying to read a Lincoln biography.