“Look at that blonde hair and blue eyes! Boys are gonna be all over you!”
I heard that constantly when I was a kid which was very confusing because I had a massive crush on the girl across the street when I was 8 years old and would have much preferred HER being all over me. Believe me, I tried via games of tag, playing doctor, “sure, whatever, braid my hair then can I braid yours,” etc. Her name was Tina.
Then one day we played some sorta pretend game where I was a knight in shining armor or some shit and Tina kissed me! I was over the moon.
But we were caught and told how absolutely wrong it was and then it was back to, “Look at your blonde hair, boys are gonna etc. etc. etc…” and I wasn’t just passively sexualized as a child, but directly as well. The abuse compounded my confusion: Fear men and adhere to a standard that appeals to their gaze.
As a queer kid without any source of language that would validate my attraction to the girl across the street, it seemed to me I had to be a knight in shining armor to gain the reciprocated attention I wanted. A dude.
It was all so fucking confusing. Sex, sure, but gender really befuddled my ass. Lol Befuddle My Ass has to be turned into something. Ideas please!
Anyway, when I was 15 and met Chris, the new kid at my school, I was thrilled to meet a girl with a skinny green mohawk, who rode a skateboard and played drums. At the time I had an undercut (so I could hide it if need be) and was a shitty three-chord guitar player. Chris was basically the extroverted version of what I wish I had the guts to be. We became fast friends and she gave me the confidence to go against the grain of expected gender expression. Our friendship evolved into an extremely intimate relationship where I felt safely vulnerable. This was short-lived due to the brutal backlash we received after being outed and targeted.
That’s the thing, I may be an open book and know at times how to be bone-breakingly compassionate, but I will never be that vulnerable again. Not like I was with Chris. But I’ll always be grateful that door opened, even if it only lasted a moment.
And that moment, that nobody could define for me, where I felt completely seen, loved and accepted as I was, became my life’s work. I want everyone on this planet to have that door opened and kept open. KICKED the fuck open! And one signifigant part of that is to stop projecting these bullshit gender fucking constructs on bodies.
For me, and I’m speaking for myself, the messages I received and internalized confused sex with gender and vise versa. I couldn’t parcel the two apart because I was assaulted, abandoned, forced into powerlessness, etc. solely for being female. Then there was the added component for being queer. AND for my gender expression. The shame I felt for these innate parts of myself froze that moment in time with Chris. I eventually moved on but you’ll find a timecapsule out there with a lil’ queer beating heart and I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to touch such a precious thing. But I got this mantra I wrote to myself, still doesn’t quite fit, but feel free to try it on too.
No matter how blindingly painful life is at times,
how swift and shocking moments of pleasure are only to be immediately extinguished,
how excruciatingly beautiful and disorienting the intricacies are,
how deceptively grotesque the bravery of intimacy may seem,
how cold the temperature of vulnerability feels when there’s no reciprocated warmth,
have the audacity to feel.
Tell me, what was so bad about me and countless others that we had/have to be ruthlessly gutted? I’ve been asking that question ever since and patiently working towards the answer. It’s of course gone beyond gender and sex but again, speaking for myself and as a cis white woman, it was worth the punishment to say “fuck you” to an iron maiden. For most, the price is beyond a comprehensible price. Most don’t utter a word before being cut down.
Where am I going with this? All sorts of places. But right now, I just wanted to invite you into my messy process where conclusions don’t exist. Maybe I just wanted to share the ghost of my queer, teenage heart? Maybe I just want to ask if you got a moment to reflect on parts of you that are still stuck in the past, kicking around and scared to leave. What if we met them halfway?
Listen, somewhere along the way, those innate parts of myself, being queer, a woman and dressing the way I want, have all become points of pride. The amount of work put into self-acceptance has been beyond worth it. I think that’s why I’m writing this messy mini-memoir and saying there isn’t a conclusion because I already mentioned it before and I’m desperately digging in my heels to avoid it. Because it’s still the most difficult part: I’ve gotta unearth that timecapsule holding my tiny, queer teenage heart and pull it so tightly against my chest that it returns to me and the sound will be so much louder than kicking open a fucking door.
Here’s where I ask you what’s been holding you back? Or maybe it’s something that’s been taken from you and you need to get back? And you don’t need to tell me or anyone else. At this very moment, it’s enough to just take a sec and think about it.