I am behind bars at the bar, parading myself like a prize at the fair, but my intended audience is never there, just this one guy, with grey hair and grey skin who always wants to buy me drinks, fumbles his fingers across my pendant and mumbles pedantic, pretentious nonsense about how his soul is pink, printed with my name, and my eyes go on a journey from his smug face to the back of my head.
He tells me that my beautiful eyes are wasted on the beautiful girl across the room (he uses a slur to describe her, but I will call her beautiful), and half of me thinks he’s right, because me having a flacid fan club around me all night seems to have given her the wrong impression about who I am intending to attract, and then I am right back where I started from, night after night, bored to baby blue tears as he babbles on, despite my blatant disinterest.
I have been polite, and I have been puerile. I have said it in so many languages to try and show the girl across the room that my tongue is cultured and intelligent, but she can’t hear me over the blithering idiot that haunts a home he will never belong in. It doesn’t matter what I say, because he sees a pretty dress as a pretty clear sign that I’m just “going through a phase” and he sees himself as some kind of King of conversion therapy, (It is just a piece of fabric, and he is just an unnecessary man…) so he persists, undeterred by my constant resistance, because the world has always belonged to boring men, so he doesn’t know any better, and women never know their own minds anyway, according to his phallic philosophy.
I decided to travel through time today. Taking myself to that tree in my old back garden, four houses ago, back when I would perch on the branches like a lovesick, precocious owl. I used to write you stories, sweet scenes that I could never really enjoy, but pushed myself to provide anyway, because I loved you, (you don’t need me to tell you that).
Love is sacrifice, and love is sacrilegious, and I know you already know this, so there’s no need for me to lecture from my makeshift treehouse, but I do, because I’m only thinking about the tree in the first place, because it was where I used to write for you, and I’m only thinking of when I’d write for you, because I was looking for an old picture of myself today, and I found an album of our holiday snaps, and it all suddenly clicked. I was thinking about you. My camera really only clicked for you. I’d pretend to be fascinated by the scenery, or that you were stood next to something noteworthy, but I just wanted to keep you somewhere in my gaze, because you were fucking beautiful.
I remember when I used to tell you how beautiful you were, and you’d get this lovely little glow on your cheeks, like the angel that slept within your soul had just awoken. I could never tell if you blushed because you weren’t used to being told, or if it was some kind of reaction to the person who told you, because you used to glow for that man I can’t mention, and pop stars who played you to sleep with piano ballads, so maybe there was something in it? Or maybe it was just teenage, hormonal madness. Or maybe I’ve gone from a mad, teenage girl, to a mad, teenage woman, and nothing had ever been real, and I’m not in a tree, I’m on a flight to my hometown, knowing there is nothing there for me anymore, since I shared it all with you.
I’m going to get out of this tree, and I’m going to call up my ex boyfriend, then I’ll probably let him have sex with me, and I’ll hate it and I’ll cry in his en-suite bathroom, and then I’ll throw up, and write a poem about that too. I will use up all his hot water, trying to banish every trace of him from my body and soul, because I loved you, (you don’t need me to tell you that), and I don’t know what to do with that.
You have been nothing but old photos for such a long time.
My friend Laura Blake has released the trailer for her brand new podcast, Popping Out, a podcast that shares the stories of unseen members of the LGBTQ+ community who are not publicly out in anonymous interviews.
I composed the music for the podcast and I’m really excited for it to launch, so make sure to subscribe and check it out in the future.
If you’d like to feature on the show for a completely anonymous interview, please feel free to get in touch with the show.
I have known I was a lesbian since I was about ten, and it scared me to death.
Well, I say that, but it was more that I knew I was interested in women, not men, but didn’t know what that really meant since I was about ten. More on why that was in a second.
I grew up in a very progressive household when I lived with my mother, and that is such a blessing and a privilege, but it didn’t make a difference to how I felt about myself and the fears I had. I’m grateful for it, but they couldn’t save me from the world outside.
At school, “promotion of homosexuality” was banned, so I thought something was wrong with me. My family would try to teach me about other types of families and people, but I was being fed homophobia from a school that had no choice but to teach it to us.
(For more on why my school experience was so bad, and the history of homophobia in Kent from our local government, check out this really good article by Kent Live).
My faith is very important to me too, and I imagine that played a part. My relationship with it has changed as I’ve gotten older and felt confident in questioning what I’m told. I firmly believe God would not hate me for feeling love, but that took a long time to understand.
I will probably never be able to marry in a Catholic Church, despite being more of a Catholic than many straight people who have been allowed to. It’s painful to think about but I’m kind of at peace with it.
As I got older, and particularly when I went to university, I discovered that it wasn’t a sickness and that I wasn’t damned to hell, but it has taken literal years to unlearn that fear and self loathing. I spent years trying to be someone else.
I tried to tell someone at that point, but he took it so badly that I decided never to tell anyone else, until now, and only now, because I can no longer live in a prison that he and I built.
In my mid twenties, I began calling myself bisexual, because it felt a bit safer than telling the truth. Bisexuality is absolutely real and bisexuals are 100% valid, I just wasn’t one of them.
Even after getting over the fear of being sick or damned to hell, I was still afraid of the reality of being a lesbian. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted a family. I wanted to be a wife. When I became legally old enough to marry in the UK, it was still illegal for me to marry a woman.
And I mean REALLY marry by the way. Civil partnerships are not the same imo. Labour should have pushed equal marriage through and they failed the LGBT community by not doing so. Come at me Tonty Blair.
I became convinced that I’d have to “put up with a man” to get what I wanted. To be a wife, and more importantly, to be a mother (being married is kind of a required step to have kids as a Catholic lmao). Putting up with a man would be worth it to hold my child in my arms.
When I was a teenager, I’d pray every night for it all to go away. I’d stare at boys all day in class and plead with myself to find them attractive. Up until this year, I’d basically force myself into relationships with men to try and make myself like them. It just made me sad.
I would invent reasons to like men. Pretty much anything I’ve ever “found attractive” in a man throughout my life have either been typically feminine traits (a coping mechanism) or made up stuff I’ve projected onto them to find some way to like them.
I am almost thirty years old and I don’t think I have ever truly been in love, because I’ve been masquerading and pretending out of fear or I’ve been in a fleeting connection with a woman that I run away from because I feel like I shouldn’t be with her.
I joke all the time about being emotionally broken but if I’m honest, I really do think that suppressing my real self and bullying myself into the closet over and over out of fear has done legitimate damage to me, and I don’t know what to do about that.
I eventually came out (properly this time) because of two things. One, I was on a date with a man and he literally said to me “I think you’re a lesbian” and I knew the jig was up. Two, I couldn’t face turning thirty and still being desperately unhappy.
I don’t want to be lonely anymore. I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly chased by a shameful secret. I want the people I love to really know me. I want to find someone to build a real life with instead of settling for a sham marriage. I want to really live.
I don’t say any of this so that people will feel sorry for me, by the way, because it’s one of those things where the damage is done (by myself lmao) and I don’t really need validation, I just want people to understand why we can’t allow future generations to do this.
People ask why LGBT inclusive sex and relationships education needs to happen. People like me are why. You have to let kids know that they’ll be okay. Nobody is saying “teach kids about anal at five years old!” but just let them know it’s okay if they grow up to be gay, so they don’t end up like me.