80 Washington Square East, NYU

Diamond Stingily

December 1, 2017 – May 1, 2018

Stern Windows

Queer Thoughts presents Diamond Stingily's new poem Movies Confuse People

"Movies confuse people. I read American moviegoers love happy endings. There are no women who look like me to play the roles Hollywood used to cast Natalie Portman in. I watched the movie where she’s pregnant and lived in Wal-Mart. “It’s titled ‘Where the Heart Is’ and it’s a good movie,” a woman told me at a party. There is nothing romantic about struggle. Why do things have to be lighthearted? Some things have to be heavy on the heart. Like a sloth. If a creature is slow on land they’re fast in water. It makes no sense for a hare and tortoise to race when they're not going for a swim. A talkative five-year-old told me if I’m ever chased by an alligator to run in zig-zags. “If you think of Shirley Temple and she makes you sad then you have a heart,” is written on a bathroom stall. In college I told my friend I wanted to write in a journal and leave it on a train. He told me it was a corny idea. It was a corny idea but he could’ve been lighthearted. He didn’t want to pose in the Eddie Bauer catalog. If we went to Bauer-land we would’ve met someone who said, “autumn” and meant it sincerely. 

I used to pronounce the word ‘caramel’ ‘Care-a-mel.’ It annoys me when people compare my skin to candy. Candy is sweet. Skin is flesh. “Look at all the hair I pulled,” the aesthetician said to the young woman. All the hair pulled from the end to the root. “Stay away from razors,” she warned the young woman. That’s easier said than done when everything costs money. Remind the Tinder date you don’t want to discuss how much rent you pay. I don’t have a Tinder. My friend suggested I online date. “Everyone is different” is a nice way of concluding that a conversation is over. I was told I would make a terrible wife but that was never my goal. It was a plot twist. I want to watch a movie with nothing but plot twists until the plot twists start to make sense then the person dies. It’s as realistic as a movie can get. The men at my local bodega are nice to my friend but straightforward with me. No smiles, no hellos and no goodbyes. Since I’ve shaved my head the boys don’t come around no more. “You look like a queen,” men shout. These men are old. Old or young it doesn’t matter what a man think. 

I think the best compliments come from older women, they sincerely say, “autumn,” with each praise. There’s no undertone of vulgarity. A man can be a ‘nice guy’ and still be problematic. Some men are proud to be selfish. Not all women defend other women. “I rather call you than text you,” is a way to flirt now. I used to talk on the phone all the time to my best friend, Monica. Her dad came to my house early morning on the weekend. I was eight. “I don’t know what you and Monica talk about but it’s racking up the phone bill.” It was love. I don’t know where Monica is anymore. I texted her number, “Hey.” There was no reply. In the movies she would have picked up. We would still be in love and in a vintage car going on a cross country road trip."

Commissioned by Nicola Lees, 80WSE.

A three panel window is covered with a long poem in san-serif font.
An oblique shot of the facade of a building with a window covered with a long poem.