Ed­i­tor’s Note

Hello Mr. Magazine - - NEWS - Ryan Fitzgib­bon

In the last five years, I’ve lived in six dif­fer­ent ci­ties. After grad­u­at­ing in Grand Rapids, I mi­grated to San Francisco, spent four months in Sin­ga­pore, a year be­tween Mel­bourne and Syd­ney, and the last year and a bit in Brook­lyn. Each home, how­ever tem­po­rary, taught me some­thing new. The badges and the bag­gage I ac­quired along the way make me who I am. So when some­one asks me where I’m from, I feel com­pelled to men­tion all of them. It would be mis­lead­ing, just for the sake of con­ver­sa­tion, to pin my iden­tity to “just a small town in Michi­gan called Mid­land,” where I was born. Col­lec­tively, the places I’ve lived paint a much more com­plete pic­ture of me.

This is­sue’s cover mis­ter of­fers a vivid ex­am­ple of this. Mov­ing from Mem­phis to a sub­urb of Dal­las to a Ken­tucky col­lege town, Saeed Jones spent much of his early years try­ing desperately to es­cape. His new book, Pre­lude to Bruise, dives into this his­tory through his po­etry. Only after he left for the met­ro­pol­i­tan so­lace of New York City, where he is the LGBT ed­i­tor at Buz­zfeed, did he abruptly come to re­al­ize that dig­ging up his past was his best way for­ward. His po­ems re­flect each ver­sion of the South he had known–its ups, its downs, and its in-betweens–and we are hon­ored to share some of them with you.

More than the ge­ogra­phies of our past, the lessons we carry with us give con­text to who we are. In shar­ing this with oth­ers, we dis­cover com­mon­al­i­ties–places, peo­ple, or ex­pe­ri­ences–where our pasts over­lap. Th­ese in­ter­sec­tions are the foun­da­tion on which we form a stronger un­der­stand­ing of our­selves.

Khalid El Khatib in­tro­duces us to two teach­ers, one who, for the majority of his thirty-five-year ca­reer, kept his sex­u­al­ity hid­den from his col­leagues; the other, a younger, openly gay teacher whose ex­pe­ri­ence, while par­al­leled, has been con­sid­er­ably brighter. We hear from Jon Grant on meet­ing his es­tranged un­cle, who broke free from their small-minded home­town to find ac­cep­tance and the cre­ative en­cour­age­ment he needed to pur­sue his dream. De­spite se­verely dif­fer­ent up­bring­ings, hav­ing the same start­ing point gave them a common view­point to see each other from. London-based fash­ion de­signer Bobby Ab­ley uses a sim­i­lar tac­tic to con­nect to his au­di­ence. Draw­ing from his child­hood ob­ses­sion with clas­sics like The Lit­tle Mer­maid, his Dis­ney-in­spired col­lec­tions are uni­ver­sally re­lat­able and have be­come a sta­ple to his iden­tity as a de­signer. He says some­one once told him that “an artist paints the same paint­ing their whole life. In some ways” he con­tin­ues, “I’m al­ways try­ing to tell the same story, but I’m get­ting it out in dif­fer­ent ways each sea­son.”

Our iden­ti­ties can be re­shaped through our telling of new ex­pe­ri­ences. But as Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” No mat­ter what our re­la­tion­ship with our past–the places we’ve called home, the peo­ple we’ve known–it al­ways re­mains at the core of who we are. We can try to dis­tance our­selves from it, or use it to show how far we’ve come, but only after we've em­braced it can we fi­nally turn our at­ten­tion to­ward the fu­ture.

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