(Mostly) No one was surprised when I told them I was queer, and I’m not sure what to make of that.
By Sarah Grace
I didn’t grow up in a naked house. Well, I didn’t grow up in a house where I could be naked. My mom would flaunt around like, “Hehe! I’m the only one who can get away with being neh-ked in the house! Hehe!” Her trendsetting did not catch on. Even now, my body is an illusion. I am a spiral of doughy, coiled flesh, both capable and unable of grace and deceit within my being or outside the framework of myself.
I came of age in a time when bubble gum pop oozed the smell of sex appeal. The inability to disentangle crushes from the foreign feelings made me feel violated, betrayed by my thoughts and my body. Pre then full blown teenhood followed, and so did the intertwining with peers in various states of anxious distance or awkward undress. These were tangled interactions always coupled with sweetness and sour bodies which made getting close to people feel unattainable in so many ways. Passing glances caught in my sight felt leadened, heavy. Growing up, I had friends, but I kept this part of myself guarded. I was too embarrassed to share my thoughts. I felt like everyone could see my naked, frantic fears. I never consented to that vulnerability. I never agreed to be exposed like that. I didn’t grow up in a naked house.
I tell my best friend Lucy almost everything. I say “almost” because I would tell her everything, but time and having jobs and needing to sleep just doesn’t allow for that kind of detail. And as she lovingly puts it, “No one needs to hear about which light sweater you wore yesterday.”
Lucy began to identify as queer in college and my own queer realizations followed soon after. We patched our histories with new found knowledge on self-identity, finally able to stand back and see the patterns. We were seamed with jagged stitch work, pinpricks of red where needles made us sore and bleed, but now, so much more complete.
Once, I was telling her about recurring dreams I had as a kid. Sometimes, having a best friend is like getting free therapy. I was telling her about these dreams I had where LFO was singing to me, alone, in too close quarters. These were nightmares. Being trapped in a bedroom with men who sang in sultry harmonies and implied things for which my mind had no real definition, being trapped with bodies and my thoughts and worries and being told to act regardless, was my nightmare.
My other dream involved a girl in my elementary school class who I had no idea I had a crush on at the time, and a boy who I was very aware I had a crush on at the time.
“This girl’s parents were super young and she was just like, copying B Spears and dancing and stuff like, way too sexualized for a second grader, you know?” I was saying. “It totally freaked me out. She had one playdate at my house and afterward I was so upset my mom basically said she wasn’t allowed to come over anymore.”
“Whoa,” my friend said on the phone. “So what was your dream?”
“It doesn’t sound that bad, but it was pretty much a nightmare. She was at my house and I felt super weird so I went and hid in the— “
I froze. “I went and hid in the closet.” Lucy laughed. “Oh my god, that is great,” she said. I was laughing too. “I can’t believe I never put that together!”
“Was that it? You were just hiding in the closet?”
I barked a bellowing exhalation of a laugh. “No! Then the boy opened the closet door and was like, ‘What are you doing?’ And that’s all I can remember! Wow, my subconscious was trying to tell me about my bi-ness and my queer denial even when I was eight.” Holy shit, I thought. Holy shit!
Strangely enough— or maybe not— it was mostly my closest and oldest friends who seemed to need time to adjust while virtual strangers seemed not even to blink at my queerness. Maybe it’s not that weird.
When I told Rosebud I had a crush on a girl, she flat out said, “No you don’t.”
We were walking down a dark and blurry Sacramento street. The rainwashed avenues were smeared with yellow streetlights and our shadowy vibrations. I laughed. “Yes I do!”
She smiled, she thought she knew. She didn’t even look at me when she said again, “No. You don’t.”
She didn’t “believe” in my identity. To be fair, this is far from her only unbudging stance on how life should be. This girl is so stubborn, she can’t believe calendars would go so far as to dare to try and dictate to her when the seasons should change. Rosebud says she will always know when it’s spring before any man-made chart. She doesn’t believe in being retold what she already knows to be “true.” To me, this is a completely backwards inclination coming from from a self proclaimed bisexual granola punk.
Months later, we were in the kitchen the morning after the party three of my friends drove to the Bay Area from Sacramento to attend.
Rosebud was helping me wash the dishes. She asked,
“So, are you like, gay now?”
“No, I’m not gay…I’m ~le queer~” I said in a wavering, nasally, poorly articulated accent; an accent I take on all too often, I think.
“I’m queer,” I said again. I said like myself.
“Like, you want to be a boy?” Nat asked with genuinely tender love and a rare thirst for understanding.
Once, at the ATM on Piedmont Ave, I had stood one evening in another yellow streetlight spotlight with my roommate Audrey and said,
“Sometimes, I wish I was a bi man.”
She laughed and looked at me and said,
“I’ve always wondered if there were ladies who felt like that, and now I know.”
Her smile didn’t quite shade her very real curiosity. She had the same look of her face when I said,
“I just want to be somebody’s boifriend.”
Sarah Grace is a mixed race pan/bi/queer girl based out of Oakland. She’s mostly femme, but you can also call her “sir.” Find her newest project online at white-dads-zine.tumblr.com.