There's so many wars we fought;
There's so many things we’re not;
Rare were the days that Magnus Bane would glamour himself to be invisible to the whole world but today was one of them. This week had been full of blows, one after the other without break, and he’d had enough. Today was one of the multiple dark days he had had in the past when he had wondered why on earth he was living in the United States when there were plenty other countries who wouldn’t be so vocally and outwardly hateful towards his kind.
But, he supposed, after living for so long being put down again and again by his parents, the people who raised him, religious men and women, public figures, mundanes, Shadowhunters, Downworlders, so-called LGBT+ allies, and even some individuals from the LGBT+ community, he must have gotten used to it somewhere along the way.
And also, maybe, he had come to think that he deserved to be looked down on and treated less because who was he, anyway, other than the product of rape? Magnus Bane, the Great Destruction, son of the Prince of Hell, bisexual, Asian, a man who wore make-up, a fag, an abomination, a monster – he was so many things and yet none of them were really anything good.
He could take what he was and make himself out to be better than everyone because he was powerful and could wear undying confidence like a well-worn battle suit but it would make no difference in the end.
With every two steps that progress and equality made, they had had to take one step back and he was tired of it. He was so… tired of everything. He’d lived long enough to realise that the majority of the world wouldn’t accept him, not even when humanity reached its bitter end. And so he had settled with ensuring that he had safe environments to snuggle in and people he could be somewhat himself with without needing to fear or having a front but he couldn’t have those either, could he?
He could still hear the words vividly in his mind, the way Jace had nonchalantly called Simon a ‘fag’ as if the word was a joke that was funny or an innocent word that held no terrible meaning or worse, a word that was in the same category as ‘slut’, ‘bitches’, ‘asshole’, and the like.
All the strength he had to keep himself together had snapped then and he had been unable to hold in his flood of negative emotions. The horrors that were happening in the world, the regression of America’s progress towards equality, and the blatant ignorance and hate his people were suffering through out in the open once more – they were enough without him having to hear such slur from Alexander’s brother and yet...
So many uneducated and ignorant people liked to think that homophobic slurs were of the past but they weren’t. They liked to forgive with uttered excuses but there were no excuses that could forgive such words being said. There was only atonement and that was something that he held no hope for when it came to those people who said such things in the first place nor for those who defended such people.
Hatred and ignorance worked hand-in-hand and those who wilfully blinded themselves were hard to help.
A year ago, he had met up with a lovely girl, Erin Davies. She had the unfortunate experience of having ‘fag’ and ‘u r gay’ spray painted onto her gorgeous Volkswagon when she was in college and she was one of the few mentally strong young LGBT+ individuals that stood up against hatred with courage and bravery. What had been a blatant insult to her very existence, Erin had used to raise awareness of homophobia and LGBT+ rights in the United States and she had done so beautifully.
Her film, ‘The Fagbug’, had helped countless people educate themselves and countless more to be stronger. But when he had met up with her a few days into May, she was shaken, fresh from an encounter with a man named White that had taken one look at her beautiful Volkswagon, coloured in the colours of the rainbow and named ‘fagbug’, and charged into the post office she was at to spit at her, threaten her with a beating and death, and physically assault her.
He had been angry then with the cruelty she had had to face after all the good she had done and he was angry now with Jace. Having Alexander, a gay man, as a brother, he’d have thought Jace would have the decency to be more educated and not be one more person that threw out slurs so casually. But more than being angry, he was disappointed with himself for hoping, upset that his trust in Alexander’s brother was unfounded and broken, and ultimately, he just felt utterly hopeless.
Magnus looked down from the top of the pillar of Brooklyn Bridge at the cars and night joggers rushing past below him then at the rest of the glittering city. He should have been home hours ago and he knew Alexander was waiting and yet he couldn’t move from where he was because the only way down he wanted to go was into the water that was temptingly lit up.
He closed his eyes with a sigh, slowly lowered himself down to lie down flat on the cold brick and tried to block out the noise that seemed to press against him oppressively. The sound of a siren made his heart jump and as it came closer and closer, he could feel himself wanting to shut the world away, when his phone vibrated in his hand, as it had done continuously so since he had stormed out of the Institute, and he opened his eyes to switch it off to airplane mode.
Wind blew past him, biting and chilly, as he took out and untangled the mess of his earphones; the wires fluttered violently in the air before he successfully banished all the ties and slotted the earpieces into his ears and plugged the other end into his phone.
Having not bothered to pick a playlist, his music player went through some upbeat and bass-heavy music that made him remember the good times he would have in Pandemonium dancing without a care in the world and he lost himself in those exhilarating memories, freeing times where how he moved and flowed were all that was in his mind and nothing else.
A sigh left his lips when a soothing beat greeted him and he was graced with the heavenly voice of Ryan Tedder. He tapped his phone to have the song play on repeat and let himself sink into the lyrics as a tentative smile played on his lips and his chest ached. The words struck a chord inside of him and his heavy heart gradually lightened up so when the song played again, he started to sing along.
“For those days we felt like a mistake,
Those times when love’s what you hate,
We keep marching on.”
It had taken him a long time to stop hating his parents for what they had done; his mother for killing herself over him when he had done nothing wrong and his father for trying to murder him. It took even longer for him to forgive himself for being the cause of his mother and father’s death. And it had taken a little more to fully be comfortable in his own skin no matter the circumstances that brought him to being.
But even now, those feelings lingered, reinforced by the many friends and lovers who had claimed to care for him and love him only to carelessly use words that insulted him, turn their backs on him when he needed them most, spit on his kind, and crush his heart.
He had avoided getting close to people because of how much they had torn his good will apart and just when he had opened his heart again, he was disappointed swiftly by Alexander’s brother. It said a lot about his trust and love for Alexander that he wasn’t packing his bags and leaving yet, never to open his heart and let people in again.
“For those nights when I couldn’t be there,
I’ve made it harder to know that you know,
We’ll keep moving on.”
In the late 19th century, there was a short period when he had stayed in New Orleans. It was a vibrant city even then and he had frequented a lovely bar named UpStairs Lounge at the French Quarter. It was his safe haven during those days and he had found solace and family in the LGBT+ community there. They would all enjoy drinks and dance at the end of long days except that one fateful night that he had been called on for help by the Clave.
He had gone to Idris, foregoing a night with friends, in order to quell their persistent demand only to find they merely required information from him as they arrogantly insulted him when he was graciously granting them their ‘request’.
It was one of the most regrettable decisions he had made in his life.
When he arrived back to the bar, it was to a burnt building, his friends dead or on stretchers, and his safe place gone. He could remember clearly the faces of his friends: burnt, vacant, and crying. And the callousness with which everyone treated their sufferings.
Those who had died, he and his friends had helped identify in good faith until they had all realised that the parents weren’t coming and their friends had been disowned in death. He had cried, in public, in front of his friends, and the heartless men and women that just wanted to throw his late friends into the ground to be done with it; he had lost a part of his hope for humanity then.
When everyone had left, he had returned and he had taken his friends away for proper burials. He had buried them with love and compassion, with his sweat and tears; he had dug up graves, laid them to rest, and covered them in soil with his bare hands as an act of respect. He had relished the ache in his bones and the tears he had shed for them and he hoped that they felt his sincerity.
Those who had been fortunate enough to live had come knocking on his door in tears, fired from their jobs and kicked out of their homes because they bore the signs of being burnt alive in a fire that consumed a homosexual bar, and he could do nothing but offer them his hug, his words, and his alcohol.
Eventually, he had left New Orleans, only to drop by now and again to check on his friends from afar.
“There’s so many wars we fought,
There’s so many things we’re not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that,
We’re marching on.”
When 1982 came, he had been ready to face the world again, to hope, and he had gone to New York to join the Pride Parade. He’d dressed in his best clothes and by the end of the day he found himself pissed drunk in his underwear with a henna on his chest, a police cap on his head, a fake moustache floating in his drink, and a gorgeous Drag Queen serenading him with charming tones.
It had been fun, glorious, and just what he needed to get up and go face the world again with renewed hope.
“For those doubts that swirl all around us,
For those lives that tear at the seams,
We’re not what we’ve seen.”
There were many days that he considered himself to be in the grey area between the LGBT+ community and the heterosexuals. As a bisexual man, it was hard to gain complete acceptance from both but there were days where it was clear where he stood and where he didn’t want to be.
Jace wasn’t the first straight cisgender male that had homosexual friends and family and still remained so ignorant and uneducated. Only recently, he had come across a BuzzFeed article that accurately pinpointed the wrongs of so-called LGBT+ allies or friends.
That article’s title was wrong too though as it was, ‘20 Homophobic Things Straight People Still Say By Accident’, and the list was born from things heterosexual individuals said not out of accident or mistake but out of ignorance and the lingering homophobic teachings still etched into their brains.
- 'I’m not prejudiced, I even have a gay friend.’ (That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you’re not a bigot.)
- ‘I don’t have a problem with lesbians, I love watching lesbian porn.’
- I don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t try to flirt with me.’
- ‘Does this outfit look gay?’
- ‘That’s so gay.’
- ‘It’s one thing for her to be a lesbian, but does she have to be so butch?’
- ‘Didn’t she use to date a guy?’
- ‘I thought he always went after ladies?’
- ‘You don’t even seem gay, I had no idea you were.’
- ‘She left me and became a lesbo? Where did I go wrong?’
“For this dance, we’ll move with each other.
There ain’t no other step than one foot.
Right in front of the other.”
Magnus wasn’t a stranger to walking forward and pretending homophobic people didn’t exist but those he couldn’t truly resist answering back to or looking incredulously at were those who had LGBT+ friends or considered themselves allies when they weren’t. They made his hackles raise and made it hard for him to trust anyone that was heterosexual because people could claim to be whatever they wanted, it didn’t mean that was who they were.
“For all of the plans we’ve made,
There isn’t a flag I’d wave.
Don’t care if we bend,
I’d sink us to swim.
We’re marching on.”
One morning of many desolate mornings, he had wanted to be inspired by people who had stronger faith than him on that particular day and it had led him to attend a LGBT+ wedding which, at that point, was technically illegal in the United States.
He had been blessed for not only witnessing a gorgeous, emotional display of what ‘love is love’ really was but to also have the chance of meeting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had performed the same-sex wedding for the lovely couple, one of the many lucky pairs she had supported ahead of the legalisation of marriage equality, and she was a delightful woman.
Ruth had a busy schedule but had taken time out to have a cup of coffee with him and to this day, he kept in contact with her if only for them both to vent frustration and use their combined knowledge to move along laws that would benefit the LBGT+ community.
“We’ll have the days we break,
And we’ll have the scars to prove it.
We’ll have the bonds that we save,
But we’ll have the heart not to lose it.”
Magnus startled when a flame erupted above his face and grabbed the smouldering letter from the air. A gentle smile stretched his lips as he traced Alexander’s writing on the paper and he slowly picked himself up to a stand. His finger sparked as he sent back a message and he took a deep breath of the icy air.
When he breathed out, his mind cleared and he squared his shoulders.
“For all of the times we’ve stopped,
For all of the things I’m not.”
He was going to stop thinking that people would educate themselves and halt his passivity. Hoping that people would become better in time wasn’t going to ever work but helping spur on the end goal of his hope just might.
The stubborn and delusional ones would have to wait however as he lacked the patience nor the compassion to bother. If they wanted to be so clueless their whole lives, then that was on them. But for those he knew had even a semblance of potential to be better, he was going to try until it was evident that he was wrong.
So come tomorrow, he was going to march into the Institute and lecture the crap out of Jace with Clary and Simon’s help. He will have Alexander and Izzy and Max sit down by the sideline to listen and learn and he was going to make sure he was better at helping his heterosexual friends be more educated and less ignorant.
“We put one foot in front of the other,
We move like we ain’t got no other.
We go when we go;
We’re marching on.”
Magnus unplugged his earphones as he took one last sweeping look at the sparkling East River and tucked the wires into his pocket along with his phone. The OneRepublic song kept playing in his mind though and he hummed it under his breath. Then, with a wave of his fingers, a portal sprung to life and he sang to himself firmly, “we keep marching on,” before leaving for the loft.
The moment he stepped through, he had a view of Alexander looking upset, nervous and scared on the couch. Large hands wrapped tightly around a red and white rose bouquet while long fingers fidgeted uneasily with each other. It lasted for a long second and by the next, he was being tugged firmly into his Shadowhunter’s arms.
He inhaled Alexander’s unique scent and let his head fall forward to rest on a leather-padded shoulder as lips descended on his cheek and he was peppered with kisses whilst apologies were being whispered into his skin. Concerned, he tilted his head up, raised a finger to place before his Shadowhunter’s lips and pressed down to trail gently on plush lips to Alexander’s jaw. He leaned forward to capture his Shadowhunter into a soft, chaste kiss. “You don’t owe me one.”
Almost immediately, the arms around him lifted him slightly off the floor and he was kissed deeply.
“I’m sorry you were hurt.” Alexander clarified when they parted.
Magnus leaned into the safe and warm hug once more and let himself be coddled and cradled by his Shadowhunter. “Thank you.” He closed his eyes when a kiss was placed on his forehead and he burrowed deeper into the cocoon of Alexander’s ever-fierce love.
But with what we have, I promise you that:
We're marching on.