Connect with us


Humming Whitney while I ramble about my sister.

I didn’t write a blog about it because I was in too much shock, but my older sister (and only sibling) passed away a little over a week ago.



At some point over the past 2 or 3 years, people started reading my blog for news and views on current events, but some of y’all have been reading my ramblings on the Internet for over a decade, all the way back to FreeOpenDiary.  I’ve always kept a diary or journal of some kind on the Internet, but slowly I moved away from that and more toward ranting about politics and current events.  This is a post for journaling purposes and people who know me, so the rest of y’all can skip it.  I just want to throw some things out there about my sister so I’ll have them to read over in the future.

I didn’t write a blog about it because I was in too much shock, but my older sister (and only sibling) passed away a little over a week ago.

When my mom died, I was at a rooftop party in Queens and it didn't really register because I was drinking. It didn't hit…

Posted by So Let's Talk About on Thursday, 21 July 2016

I don't really remember writing this last night but I left out the part where she was the only person in my whole family…

Posted by Rafi D'Angelo on Friday, 22 July 2016

I don’t remember how old I was when I realized Leslie and I had different moms.  Her mom died when she was 2 or 3 and I didn’t come along for another decade and some change, so it was just her and my dad for a long time.  After I was born though, she took me everywhere, including trips to see her mom’s family about an hour away.  I grew up calling her mom’s mom Grandma Dukes.  I had my mom’s mom, my dad’s mom, and then an extra grandma and I didn’t really think anything of it.  I finally put it together at some point and asked her about it on the way home from visiting them.  She said Grandma Dukes was her mom’s mom.  I said since we didn’t have the same mom should I still call her grandma Grandma Dukes.  She said yes.

I hadn’t seen anyone from Leslie’s mom’s side of the family since my sister’s wedding about twenty years ago.  At the viewing, a group of people came in and I looked at one of the women and thought “that looks like Deaky.”  I couldn’t immediately remember who Deaky was or what made me think that was her name, but it was.  Deaky is one of my sister’s first cousins and she looked exactly the same as the last time I’d seen her.  Blood doesn’t make you family and it felt great to see them all again.

These are some of the songs she taught me on piano or that we used to sing together cleaning the house or riding in the car.

Whitney Houston “All The Man”

Whitney Houston “Look Into Your Heart”

Debbie Gibson “Electric Youth”

Wilson Phillips “Hold On”

The Entertainer

They Might Be Giants “Birdhouse In Your Soul”

Mariah Carey “Emotions”

Moonlight Sonata

Ini Kamoze “Here Comes The Hotstepper”

Madonna “Cherish”

Dona Nobis Pacem

Guns N Roses “November Rain”

Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle “A Whole New World”

Extreme “More Than Words”

Janet Jackson “Again”

Faith Hill “Piece Of My Heart”

I only got mad enough at my sister to completely stop speaking to her once.  I don’t even remember what the fight was about because I was too little, but whether I was being an obnoxious little brother or she was picking at me is irrelevant.  All that matters is, she was chasing me around the house and then I finally made it to my room and locked the door.  She banged on it for awhile like she was trynna beat the damn thing off the hinges, but then she stopped and went away.  So of course, I was patting myself on the back for winning whatever it was we were fighting about.  A few minutes later, she was back at the door but she wasn’t banging.  She had gotten a wire coathanger and stuck it in the hole in the doorknob.  She popped the lock and barged into my room and I started screaming bloody murder.  How dare she break into my room when I locked the door!  I was safe!  Y’all I don’t think I spoke to her for the rest of the summer.  I was hot about that for years.

This is more about my brother-in-law, but it bears mentioning here.  After I came out to Leslie I told her not to tell anyone, not even her husband Andre.  My 14-year-old brain wasn’t really hip to the fact that most husbands & wives share everything, so I thought it was a reasonable request.  I called her and asked for money for something – I have no idea what it was – but she said OK.  After we were done talking, she gave the phone to my brother-in-law so we could chat for a bit and I remember this conversation like it was yesterday.

BIL: Your sister says you need some money.

Me:  Yeah…

BIL: For what?  You need bail money?

Me:  Hahah no…

BIL: You got some lil girl in trouble and you need to take her to the clinic?


BIL: Well she coulda had short hair and you coulda been confused in the moment!

I realized she had told him I was gay and I didn’t get upset at all.  That was the first time any male had reacted to me being gay with humor and nonchalance and I knew she really had picked a good one.

I used to eavesdrop on her phone conversations.  The first time I heard her cuss on the phone I wanted to run and tell mom & dad…but I didn’t do that…because I was eavesdropping and woulda got my ass beat.

Before my parents got married, they kept two households about 10 minutes away from each other.  I lived with my mom in one and my sister lived with our dad in the other.  At my mom’s house, the mailbox was right at the corner of the driveway, and usually my mom or dad would drive up to it and whoever was in the passenger seat would open the box and get the mail before going into the driveway.  Leslie decided she could do that too.  

I don’t remember if she was home from college for the summer or if she had graduated, but she had been tasked with picking me up from Karate that day because my dad was out of town and my mom was working late.  She decided she too could get the mail in the way in, so she drove up next to the box, I opened it, got the mail, and as she drove off, she must’ve turned the wheel because the mailbox went SKRRRRRRPPPP down the side of the station wagon.  So she panicked and started backing up.  SKRRRRRRRRPPPP some more.  I’m sitting in the passenger seat like

Finally she pulled forward and just let the box scrape alllll the way down the passenger side of the wagon.  And then she probably went inside to write her last will & testament because our father was going to kill her.

I don’t remember what her punishment was but it was probably nothing.  My sister totaled two cars (one with me in it) so hitting the mailbox was a very minor infraction by comparison.

My parents always pushed me to play with the kids from school in the summertime while I was thankful for summer because it meant I didn’t have to see the kids from school.  Sometimes they would send me over to a neighbor’s house so I could play outside.  I used to hide a book in my pocket and spend all day reading in the woods instead until my mom called the neighbor once to check up and make sure I got there.  I got the asswhoopin of my life when they found me sitting by a tree in the backyard.  

Anyway, I hated playing with them because they always called me names.  One particular afternoon everyone was picking teams for stickball and of course I was going to be picked last because I was chubby and gay.  Tasha Cloud (and yes I did just use her whole name, I don’t even care) said “I don’t want that faggot on my team” but she was stuck with me anyway.  When it was my turn to bat, she wrestled it away from me, hit me in the side, and kicked some dirt at me when I fell on the ground.  I cried, of course, got laughed it, ran into the neighbor’s house and wrote a poem in my Trapper Keeper called “Stupid Tasha” (I was only 7, so give me a break).  I told Miss Cotton I didn’t feel well and she let me watch movies all afternoon.  

That night I was crying about it to my sister who was home from college and she told me those ragamuffins don’t matter.  I don’t remember the conversation word for word (other than “ragamuffins”) but she said she got bullied and picked on by the same kind of ignorant kids and my bullies had older siblings and cousins who picked on her too.  Now she was in college and they were on their third child by two baby daddies, so who really won in the end?  I never cried again when one of those ingrates called me a faggot.

My sister hated flying.  It might have been extreme enough to classify as a phobia.  Whenever she visited the parents in SC, she’d drive 11 hours from southwest Florida for the trip instead of flying.  I wanted to surprise my dad for his birthday earlier this year and I thought it would be fun if my sister and I showed up at the same time.  She worked it out with his wife and we bought flights to arrive in Charlotte around the same time so she could pick us up from the airport.  She went back and forth on whether to actually get on the plane or not, but in the end she did it because she wanted to spend as much time as she could with me and dad, and an 11-hour ride both ways would cut into that vacation time.  

When my dad saw us standing curbside, shocked isn’t even the word.  I don’t think I’d ever seen him so happy and when we asked him why he was so surprised he was like, “well [pointing at her] you don’t fly and [pointing to me] you don’t visit!”  It ended up being the best trip home I’ve ever had.  His wife threw a huge bash for his birthday with a big turnout.  I got to see extended family I hadn’t seen in years.  My dad and I reconnected again.  My sister was her giggly self on cloud nine the whole trip.  We had a ball and if she had to go, I’m glad those are the last memories I have with her.

And now excuse me while I go listen to some more Whitney for awhile.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Happy Birthday Mommy!

I baked a little something for you!




It’s been a YEAR and, to be honest, I’m not doing that well, so I just wanted to check in real quick and get some things off my spirit.

First of all, let’s get the most important stuff out of the way immediately:

Jackée is gonna be on Days of Our Lives!

I don’t know who she’s gonna play or what the character will be like, but clearly I will be tuning in…because I’ve been watching that doggone show since birth because of you.

Also: Don’t actually go to her Twitter. You too High Holy Christian for all the mess she puts on the internet.

Anyway, yeah…this year has been rough. I got my dream job in March (yay!) but then I lost it a week later because the office closed due to the pandemic and I got let go — last hired, first fired. The first day on the job I actually cried on the way home because I’d been searching for that perfect career move for years and I thought I finally found it. So, that was a huge disappointment that knocked me on my butt for awhile.

Then Travis and I stopped speaking. I had been building up this resentment toward him and his boyfriend because all of the things we used to do, he was doing with his new boyfriend instead, and I didn’t have anybody to hang out with anymore. We were on lockdown so I couldn’t go anywhere. We’re best friends who live together, which was great until the boyfriend moved in and I didn’t have my best friend to spend quarantine with anymore. They’ve since broken up, but the cracks in our friendship are still there — I resent him for ignoring me and he resents me for not trying harder to accept his boyfriend. We’re fine now (great, actually) but it’s right under the surface if we get upset about something unrelated.

And our third roommate is…difficult. In the best of times he’s not the ideal roommate because he’s LOUD and oblivious to other people’s needs. He’s absolutely the type of person who should be living alone, but since the pandemic, it’s ten times worse because he’s an actor and a comedian who no longer has a stage to perform on, so his computer is his stage. All day every day is just the sound of his voice, from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, hanging out with his friends videochatting, yelling and doing voices.

I wear headphones all day now and just count down the days until the lease is up because I can’t wait to get out of this apartment and away from him.

Speaking of away from him, I thought I found an outlet this summer. I met guy (we’ll call him John since other people can read this)…and we had chemistry! I don’t trust my feelings around men anymore. I’ve never developed deep feelings for a man who returned those feelings. It’s just a string of unrequited love, so if I feel a spark, I try to stamp it out to save myself another disappointment. But this was different because he pursued me. I let John make all the first moves to be sure I wasn’t building a fake relationship in my head like I usually do. He told me I was beautiful every day, he kissed me first, he came on to me first, he suggested we take a trip together, he suggested we move in together. I heard all the right things, so I let myself fall for this man. I was almost looking forward to the inevitable Winter COVID Lockdown because I could go hang out at his apartment and get away from mine. We were gonna cook and watch the snow. I was gonna spend a week or so at his apartment here and there to make sure we could live together in preparation for a move next year. He wanted to get two dogs.

Just before Halloween, John’s energy was off. I’d had a pumpkin carving party and our dynamic was different. He wasn’t paying much attention to me — which is fine because all of my friends are great and they all liked him — but the lack of affection was odd. So I brought it up a few days later and he said we should go back to being “just friends” because it bothered him that people thought we were, and asked him about whether we were, in a serious relationship. John had said from the beginning he didn’t want to be in a serious relationship, and I was totally fine with that. I told him he could date whoever he wanted, but he said he didn’t want to date anyone. I told him he could have sex with whoever he wanted, but he said he wasn’t interested in sex. He just wanted to make new friends and work on himself, but we had this great connection that he was really into. I was like, “okay…if that’s what you want…”, but I told him people would assume we were in a serious relationship if we kept acting like we were in front of everyone. He said he was fine with that — let them think what they want.

He wasn’t actually fine with that, so he decided we should pump the breaks.

And the next week John fucked my friend that I had introduced him to, the friend that he’d been sitting next to at my party instead of talking to me.

Here’s the thing Mommy…my self-esteem is shot and my abandonment issues are through the roof, and it goes back to that moment when you found out I liked other boys and our relationship changed forever. You were my best friend growing up. I felt awkward around the other kids, I felt awkward around my dad, I felt awkward around my cousins, but you made me feel normal. If I wanted to watch Days Our Lives and talk about the war in Kuwait, you let me. You took me everywhere and taught me so much about life. You told me I was the most important thing in the world to you. And then my teacher told you I was gay and you told me I was going to Hell. And you told me that regularly for the next ten years. I told you I was going to marry a man and have a happy family and you told me I was gonna get AIDS and die alone.

I let you make me feel bad about myself for years. Even after I moved all the way up the East Coast to NYC, I still felt like I had to respect you, even while you were tearing me down. When you would end every conversation wanting to pray with me for God to take away my homosexual demons, I let you, because you’re Mommy and I didn’t want to lose Mommy. When I finally got fed up and decided “this is the last time, this is the last conversation,” it was your birthday 9 years ago. I never told you why, but I picked that day because we had a fun conversation. I called you to wish you Happy Birthday and you gave me all the latest gossip on the family like you always did. We talked about random stuff, laughed a lot (your laugh is so ridiculous and I miss it more than anything), and then I jokingly asked you what I should buy you for your birthday — jokingly, because we both knew I had no money and I wouldn’t be getting you anything at all. You replied that you didn’t want anything; all you wanted was for me to give up my homosexual demons and come back to the Lord.

Mommy we had talked for an hour, a delightful conversation about everything, and in that last sentence, you threw me in the trash again. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had taken it since I was 12 years old and I just reached my limit. I kept the conversation light and made some kind of joke to get us back on track, but in my heart I knew I would never speak to you again until you made a turnaround. I wanted that to be the last conversation we had in case it was the last conversation we had, so that our last conversation would be full of good memories for you. I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth, but I wanted you to be left with lightness and joy. I swallowed my feelings, told you I loved you, and hung up for the last time, because you died later that year.

And now I’m stuck. I still feel so much guilt for being fed up. I missed you then and I miss you now and I feel like if I hadn’t stopped speaking to you, you wouldn’t have died, and we could’ve eventually found our way back to each other. I keep letting people treat me badly because if I stand up for myself, they’ll go away and I’ll never see them again. If I stand up for myself, I’ll be alone, and I would rather be with someone and feel bad some of the time than be alone and feel bad all of the time because I don’t have that someone anymore.

I realized that about myself a few months ago, so that’s the first step. And I’ve tried to stand up for myself more as of late.

Last week, a friend (we’ll call him Brian) asked me out to dinner. I met Brian just before the pandemic and he’s such a sweetheart. We had an instant bond and I was looking forward to getting to know him, but COVID kinda put a halt to that. NYC bounced back this summer, and Brian lives in the neighborhood, so I invited him into our little bubble for a couple of parties and brunches. We already had some mutual friends, but he also took quickly to John and to Travis, so he was a good addition to my social circle.

At dinner, Brian told me that he had fucked John. I introduced the two of them. I invited them both to brunch and to parties. The week after John said we should just be friends, he was out to dinner with Brian and fucking afterward.

All of John’s flings are hot and all of the guys he would show me on social media that he liked, fucked, or planned to meet up with looked more like Brian than me. I was insecure about being involved with a guy who looks like John because gay NYC is vicious and I could imagine the whispers of “wow John is way too hot for that guy” because I’ve heard people I know say it about other couples. John knew this. John knew about all of the guys I was into who liked Travis — the taller, hotter best friend — instead of me. John knew about all the times I’d been out with my Friends Who Lift and how some random guy would make me feel like trash because I don’t look like them. He knew all of that and still fucked my hot friend the week after he broke up with me. All of the men in the city, all of the men right there in Hell’s Kitchen where he lives, all of the men who hit him up on Grindr, and he fucked the one that would obviously hurt me the most.

But I cut them both off! Obviously I’ll never speak to John again because that kind of betrayal — when someone knows your insecurities and disregards them anyway– is like a knife to the heart, but my first reaction when Brian told me what he did was to let it go, because this is gay NYC and most of them do have fewer boundaries and hangups around sex than I do. My boundaries aren’t invalid just because other people don’t share them and I did what I needed to do for my mental health. I don’t have to prioritize a relationship that’s damaging to my mental health. I don’t have to swallow my feelings to make someone else feel more comfortable with their personal failures or mistreatment of me.

So I’m proud of myself for standing my ground, but it’s still the holidays, and I’m still lonely. I miss John every day. I miss what we could have been doing this holiday season, all the winter plans we made. When I was younger, I’d assumed I’d have a family by now to make Christmas traditions with. Instead, I just watch the little family I’ve built in NYC — my circle of friends — latching on to their own families, and I just feel rudderless and a little rejected. Abandonment issues are complex.

This is a lot longer than I meant it be. I hadn’t planned to tell you about the “gay stuff” because I know it makes you uncomfortable. I still haven’t finished reading the email you wrote me, but I read a little more of it each year until I start crying again. I’ve gotten to the part where you’ve come to terms with my attraction to men, so I think you would be okay hearing about my relationship/friendship problems at this point.**

And if not, well here’s a cake to sweeten it up a little!

I do love to bake — thanks for passing that on to me — but I don’t decorate anything….thanks for passing that on to me too. I decided to bake a cake and actually try to decorate it for once, and the end result isn’t half bad! True, I did try to make a Red & Hunter Green Christmas themed cake and I guess my dye was the wrong kind so it’s a Pink & Pale Green Easter themed cake instead, but it tastes good. You would especially like it because it’s not super sweet and I used buttermilk instead of regular milk.

So Happy Birthday! I feel a little lighter after getting some of that off my chest. Maybe this will be a thing and I’ll bake you a little something every year and give you an update about how I’m doing. Next year’s update will be much better than this year’s, I’m sure of it.

If nothing else, I’ll be much better at cake decorating anyway.

Love you Mommy!

(**a note for y’all who don’t know: When my mom died, I went through her emails to compile some information for my dad and I found an email that she had written to me a few weeks before she died. She sent it to an address I no longer use so I didn’t get to read it before she died. The first line says “I’m sorry…” and it took me about 7 years to get farther than that. I still haven’t finished reading it because I know she died thinking I ignored her email and I’m not strong enough to handle it yet.)
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo


Continue Reading


Thank a librarian.

Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going!



I spent a lot of time at the library as a child because I didn’t have any friends.

Just kidding! I had lots of friends and was totes popular, but I was basically an only child since my older sister was off to college before I was even forming memories. She taught me how to read, my parents encouraged it, and since they both worked, books were an easy way for me to entertain myself.

Parenting Life Hack: If your kids have a quiet hobby, you spend less money on Excedrin for migraines.

My hometown had about 400 people and only 17 of them could read, so we didn’t have a library, but just across the river in the bustling metropolis next door where 9,000 people lived, there was a library staffed with nice ladies and one old gay man who basically raised me while my mom did errands. A librarian is not a babysitter and they don’t get paid to watch your kids, so please don’t just drop your kids off in front of the bookdrop and hightail it outta there. However, my parents were really relaxed about leaving me places, because they were very old and the Scary News Stories didn’t phase them. There was a higher chance of your child being abducted in the 1940s than the 1990s, yet our parents and grandparents were out all day by themselves from sunup to sundown while we were expected to be tied to our parents at all times. My folks pretty much functioned under the premise that nobody was going to take me out of a library — I would have to actually follow them, and I wasn’t stupid (and I didn’t/don’t like people).

So I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the library while my mom was running errands and my favorite librarian, Ms. Greer, would actually entertain me….by putting me to work. Had I known I was doing her job for her, I would’ve asked for a cut of her paycheck, but 3rd Grade Me was very excited to ink the inside back cover of all the new books with the fancy library stamp. I felt super important being trusted with the task of taking the returns and putting them in their proper spot on the shelf (thanks, Dewey Decimal training!). She had me take Lemon Pledge and wipe down the study corrals and I did it with gusto.

When my mom asked me to pick my socks up off the floor, it felt like the end of my life, so I guess she wasn’t asking me nicely the way Ms. Greer did.

I spent more time in the library growing up than any other building that wasn’t home or school, so when I saw this story about some Australian librarians checking on their senior citizens during COVID, I wanted to tell y’all about it because librarians are truly underappreciated.

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone.

“One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation.

“The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.”

So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records.

Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.

(cont. The Guardian)

I lived next door to a little old lady 6 or 7 years ago and I would do errands for her and do her grocery shopping and sit with her a couple of times a week.  After I moved, I used to take her to church once a month up until last year. Her daughter moved in with her and thought it was “weird” that a former neighbor would still check up on her, but I like her. She’s like a Bonus Grandma and her kids weren’t checking on her. She spent most of her days alone in her apartment, and since she was right next door, I could go over there and sit on her couch and do what I would normally do on my own couch — watch TV and play on the internet or crochet. Her daughter is/was convinced I was just spending time with her because I wanted to get into her will. It just didn’t occur to her that I would want to look after my neighbor or look after a lonely old lady.

Not to generalize, but Western cultures don’t care for our elders the way other cultures do and we don’t look out for our neighbors the way other cultures do. We don’t build community the way other cultures do. Librarians do that! Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going! Librarians get to know the people in their community, like the nerdy little kid who sits and reads quietly on Sundays while mom is at the beauty supply store. Librarians care about that community, like these senior citizens getting calls from their local library to make sure their faring well during a pandemic. Think about adding libraries to the list of causes you look for when choosing a politician to champion. They’re always under attack and they need our help to keep serving communities quietly and constantly without any gratitude.

I did thank Ms. Greer though. Before I went off to boarding school I bought her a nice card and sent it to the library.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo



Continue Reading


What would Dianne do?

Tomorrow, I’ll try to press Reset (for the millionth time this summer!) but today we finna eat good and pretend I don’t have any problems. If y’all got some good gossip, feel free to drop it in my inbox. Dianne would.



Seven years ago today I was in my hometown for my mom’s funeral. It’s not really “a thing” for me anymore and I usually just commemorate the day by reading funny things I’ve written about her.

Everything just feels worse when you’re already down though. Like, I lost my phone Sunday. It felt like the end of the world. I’ve lost my phone in the past, and it just felt like an annoying inconvenience. Last year around this time, I breezed through just fine. This year, I wish she could help me laugh at some of my misfortunes and then cook for me.

My mom didn’t cook as often as some moms did because she worked and she ran a business and I had so many extra-curriculars to be shuttled to and from. Plus, my parents were both really social and cooking dinner wasn’t super high on the list of priorities. When she *did* cook though, we had a ball in the kitchen. Sometimes my dad would be sitting at the bar working on something of his or helping to shuck corn or shell peas. I would generally be in the way between picking the music. And my mom would be in charge of directing the topics of gossip, because both of them were messy and lived for drama.

So. Given my current emotional state, what would Dianne do for me?

First, she’d tell me to pray, and I’d let that go in one ear and right out the other. Then she’d ask me what I wanted to eat. I can’t fry chicken like she could and my salmon croquettes never come out right, but there’s a crock pot in the kitchen, so I just made some BBQ sauce and threw some chicken in it. Also, the grocery store by me has Lipton, so I bought some bags and some sugar, and we finna have sweet tea. I haven’t made cornbread from scratch in years, but I went over the recipe in my head and I think I still got it. I bought me some early peas and some sweet potatoes, and I’m bout to cook like my mama.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to press Reset (for the millionth time this summer!) but today we finna eat good and pretend I don’t have any problems. If y’all got some good gossip, feel free to drop it in my inbox. Dianne would.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

Continue Reading


%d bloggers like this: