I was told that I was unaffected, and I found myself unable to agree with that assessment, but it didn’t matter, to the world at large, or the small selection of very small minds who make decisions on whether I deserved some kind of clarity. My sleep has been interrupted for a decade of Decembers, and I spy over my shoulder, every second for the spectre and his sister.
I am unaffected, but nobody has told my nightmares that, so they still arrive every evening, to remind me of the unclean feeling that was forced on me. I am unaffected, but danger dances on my grave every time I try to live, and there will be no relief for the unaffected girls, of which I am one of many.
There’s an old friend on the line, he wants to call, like he used to, but I’m kept from the idea, creeped out, crying as he sends another message with what he thinks is a simple request, but it isn’t anymore, and never will be again, because I remember the acid rain of unwelcome invasions, traipsing down the telephone line, tactical and torrid… but I am unaffected, or so they tell me.
The radio talks about staying connected, but I just want to be orbiting a distant planet, the kind of place where humans can’t survive, so I can get some sleep, conversate with the cool winds and waves, alone and unaffected.
He told me, a trembling wretch, to be unafraid, and I was uncomfortable with the request, despite his gaze, so gentle, giving me some comfort. He told me that he had overcome the world and all its trouble, and I couldn’t conceive it. The smallest things were such a struggle, that the world’s truest troubles were too much to even see clearly. Still, he insisted, his eyes bright and brimming with unlikely optimism, his hands held mine and I could feel the harsh winds through the holes left by the life he had lived.
How could he ask me to be unafraid? How could he ask that of me, with thorns across his forehead and a target on his back? Couldn’t be see what I was afraid of? Was persecution a foreign concept to the fool with thorns on his head? How could he ask me to be reborn, when my soul still felt sullied, despite his sacrifice? Despite my sacrifice and all the scars that had come with it? He saw. He saw it all and he still asked.
I had tried to lead the life that impotent, angry men had demanded of me, fighting back against my own biology and the strange, sweet chemistry that greeted me when she and I would lock eyes across the room… I gave it all up. I gazed at the ceiling, praying to Jesus as a shadow I could not look in the face pawed at my lifeless body. I would rejoice at balled fists meeting my unwilling flesh from one of them, because it felt less repulsive than a tender, troubled kiss of another, and why shouldn’t I be punished? Wayward winter child with her pudding and her pie, kissed a girl because she was cursed, and now everyone is crying, so why shouldn’t I suffer? I just stared until the ceiling burst into flames, the stars bursting into view, because that is what cursed, unclean girls have to do.
He would be there, the only man I could stand, thorns adorning his dark, wavy tresses that were wild in the night’s wind. He simply said, again, that I should be unafraid. Speaking to a body that was vacant, he repeated himself as the stars span around his head, and I thought for a second that I might be dead (I might have even wished it), but I was alive, sailing through the ceiling, dressed in pretty clothes as the stars sighed in unison.
I bleached my sheets, though they were clean, freshly placed upon the bed, then ripped away a moment later by my mania, an obsession that I have with weaponising my past against my fallen face, pulling the trigger, pushing the button, smashing the galled glass and bathing in the shards.
Like a poppy, I push through the damned dirt, staring frosty mornings in the face and smirking as I grow, going from one state to another, glowing underneath the soil and water, until I am ready to face the world.
Though I have survived so much, with a stony soul, stretching towards the sun, I am still so fragile, so vulnerable to the wind’s cruel gusts. There is a passionate power from the sky, that has his eye on me, and this storm is so relentless.
My sheets are clean, my petals in pieces, soul all asunder, because I’m under the impression that I can’t escape the pain that echoes on my bruised skin.
Why can’t you see what you’ve already seen in yourself? Why are the same patterns painted differently in your eyes, when they look just the same to mine? I can see how we both took the same path, and I want answers and something to soothe me, but it never comes.
You were at the end of a road, watching me wander down it with wide eyes and a teddy bear clasped in my hands but you wouldn’t walk back down it, you wouldn’t move from your spot to try and stop me going somewhere where nobody returns, and nobody is the same afterwards. You let me change, you saw it happen and you let things go the same, you let me blame myself, you let me surrender to shame and follow the same road you went down.
You saw my little legs making big steps, and you closed your eyes. You recognised how your own pain presented and you closed your eyes when mine started to mimic it, because… Because?
I just want to know why we met eye to eye and walked the same path, decades apart but you didn’t notice. I want to know how the same monsters made their way towards me, and you didn’t notice, until they’d torn me apart.
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.