For Those Without a Voice
An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
A million voices are offered up to ya anytime ya speak & I know ya won’t see my words whispered back to ya amidst the flood. It makes me timid, makes me think my words aren’t worth notice, & then the thought creeps in “I’m not worth it.” This is a learned response, taught by an abusive father. What I wanna say to ya, some of it’s ugly, but it’s my ugliness, my perception. So let me say at the outset that there is no blame here, nothin’ ya need to do; it’s more for me. Sometimes the words, the emotions, have gotta come out or they’ll tear your spirit. I know ya know what I mean. Ya once told yer vocal coach ya needed to sing yer pain for her, so will ya let me?
Metaphor mocks me. I can’t sing, some days I can barely speak due to serious injury at four years old, at the hand of a man society tells me was a monster. I can’t think that way; as a child he was all I knew, so I’ll just say, please forgive me that I can’t use music to soften this, or speech to make it less stark.
My family loves ya, but at first ya frightened me for several reasons. There are similarities ya see, between my father & my muse. Ya don’t really look like him, it’s a black hair, blue eyes, cheekbones thing – height, power of presence, confidence, spiked humor. The first time I was shown a video of ya prowlin’ around a stage like a predator, I felt an irrational dread. A chokin’, sinkin’ fear fills my mouth, throat… my mind. My friend asked later why I didn’t just ask someone to turn it off, but she can’t understand - no one can if they haven’t been there, endured abuse like that. Yer not allowed to look away unless yer told. It was like a trance that made the past rise up & take me over, part of me waitin’ for ya to bark an order, to demand that I submit & accept whatever ya wanted from me. Ya never spoke, of course, & the strange feelin’ faded, left me tremblin’ in its wake.
Bravado, pure lyin’ foolishness, helped me hide my pain & fear. I told my family of friends that I didn’t care for ya. “Nice voice, sure, but not attracted,” & other lies. The man I’ve struggled to become outta the shell-shocked ruins of the child I was can’t afford to admit the truth bout some things. Fear waits there if ya do, & harm follows fear.
Yer voice tormented me. It was too like that other voice, lilted & beautiful, assured & magnificent. Yer face shamed me, ethereal beauty like his, unmarked, perfect; yer body like a livin’ statue. Did ya know men that look like that were carved in stone in the ancient world & set on real pedestals to give their people somethin’ they could dare to look at & live?
I’m a man of ragged spirit, scars, missin’ pieces & tatters of flesh left to heal at last when the game of my childhood was over. Monocular vision is barely enough to take in yer beauty, endurin' the twist in my gut at the sight of the light glowin’ in yer perfect eyes, as blue as his.
This is not to cry out horrors like a wounded Greek chorus, or to imply any resentment for the good fortune ya have in both family & life. I just wanna help ya understand how it feels now, to look at ya, & feel like I’m not worthy to tell ya how I feel.
What changed? Hearin’ yer voice sing of it bein’ okay to shatter, that ya would be a safe place to break open & be afraid, that no harm would come. I was bout to give up after violence done to me brought my past back up to choke me like bile of the mind, scars on the soul. Yer voice stopped me, soothed, made me feel safe in the midst of feelin’ broken. Yer voice told me I could break, & mend, & it didn’t have to be the end of me. I know I have a long road ahead of learnin’ how to heal from my past; it’ll probly take my whole lifetime. Yet I have an amazin' example now, showin' me how to keep fightin', as well as how to be vulnerable when I need to, without riskin' everythin'.
I guess I coulda boiled all this down to one word: thanks. Ya hear that so much, though, ya must. Not to diminish the word, but I wanted to melt the blockage of fear that chokes me whenever I think of speakin’ to ya; I wanted to try to explain. It’s all mute, though, in the end; the fear is so strong - & I know I'm not the only one whose tongue turns to clay sometimes. So I’ll just tell ya this – ya saved a lot of us. Either by the beauty of yer voice, yer spirit, or both - ya saved us by givin’ us hope, a positive example, & a foreign but vital taste of joy.
Odd thing is, I have no idea how to end this except by usin’ that one word. Maybe now it has a little more weight? No less heartfelt, with or without that. Thanks, Adam; even though I pale at the thought of ever facin’ ya, I can admire ya from a distance & try to support what yer doin’ as best I can. Why? Because what yer doin’ reaches people, gives ‘em hope & joy, just by bein’ the man ya are today… & the man yer gonna become tomorrow.
May 4, 2011