Pamela Sneed- Survivor 2014 “the frayed ends of my own un-lived dreams”


Photo by Robert Giard in book “Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers”

Pamela Sneed

Survivor 2014 

Contrary to what’s popular I never liked Diana Nyad

in my mind overrated white woman

ex-olympic swimmer most recently swam from Cuba to Florida


thrill seeker


doing voluntarily what so many people of color

are forced to do while attempting to gain freedom

drowning in boats, falling overboard, terrible accidents,

falling into the jaws of sharks, those waters a meat fest

for predators, slavers

Sometimes I think about slavery and think if only those waters

could tell the tale

I’ve always wanted to say to those people who go on the reality-show Survivor for kicks

try being an artist and make it your career choice

or how about a single mother or father trying to raise a family

on minimum wage living in an impoverished area

try being someone who comes to America and

doesn’t speak the language whose entire survival rests upon

learning english

arriving in a strange land, on strange soil, estranged from everything

you have ever known

like hitting your head against a glass door, or mirrors

like optical illusions that used to be in the old fun houses

or how about being uninsured and being sick for a number

of years

weathering that storm

or insured but burdened with a costly illness

health plans don’t cover

or like so many of my students who are bullied to the point

they have nowhere to turn and no longer have knowledge

of their own name

No I never liked Diana Nyad

until one day I caught a clip of her on Ellen

I caught the part where she talked about her friendship

with Superman Christopher Reeve who in real life suffered

paralysis from the neck down.

He looked at her in later years after she’d retired from swimming

said he feared she wasn’t living her own dreams, that

she was an Olympian

And something about her conversations with him motivated her

to try again, to listen.

Maybe through her I saw the frayed ends of my own un-lived dreams,

my own fear that caused paralysis

And so by the end of that conversation with Ellen

where Diana talked about returning to her Olympic Self

by swimming from Cuba to Florida at age 60 challenging

every notion of what it means to be an athlete, a woman,

and the stereotypes of aging I was crying

by the time she looked into the camera and said

Never give up

Don’t ever give up on your dreams


Click to access nepantla.ajournal.pdf

Established in 1970, Glad Day Bookshop is the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore and Toronto’s oldest surviving bookstore. In 2012, a group of 23 community members pooled their funds and bought Glad Day Bookshop to save it from closing.

“Our best strategy for survival is adding new revenues streams like food and drink – which means a larger space.
We’ve picked out a great spot on Church Street that would allow us to be a bookstore & coffee shop during the day and a bar at night.
It is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible washroom.

It has a cute patio, a small space for performances and walls for art.

We will be a space where everyone feels welcome, sexy and celebrated.

We will be a queer-owned, indie place on Church Street. We will amplify the love, creativity, sexuality, diversity & liberation that Glad Day Bookshop is known for.”

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