I was 16 years old when I finally realized that I was gay.
When I finally understood why I had so many girlfriends,
But could barely speak to other boys
I was 16 years old when I first kissed a boy
Felt his hand in my hair
The smell of his axe body spray
Which still makes me laugh to think about.
I was 18 years old the first time I used Grindr
The first time I met a stranger in the night
Or held another body in the dark
It was the year I was first called sexy
It was the year I learned how to love men and the same year I learned to fear them.
Was the year of the Pulse shooting in Florida
Was the year a man was beat to death on a train 10 miles from where I slept that same night for the crime of existing
For the crime of loving someone like me
It was the year I learned that not everyone who bleeds will resist cutting you too.
I was 19 when a woman told me I had to hide
That it wasn’t safe to be myself where I was living
I was 20 the first time I fell in love with another man
I mean really fell in love and I still dream about his eyes sometimes
Still miss that smile and the way he kissed me
But he’s getting married next year
To a beautiful Christian girl at their beautiful Christian wedding and never had the strength to accept that other side of himself.
I was 21 years old when a woman took advantage of me while drunk
To prove to all her friends that I “wasn’t really gay, I just needed to try it”
I was 21 when I tried to kill myself for the third time.
And I was 22 when I finally moved away.
But some people are only as progressive as it takes to survive.
Don’t have the strength to fight for anyone else because it took too much just to get by
Only as progressive as they can afford.
First time I was called a fag was by a group of black men in New York City
First time I was chased down and threatened was by a Hispanic man in my city.
First time I was harassed online was by a white boy I rejected in college
And the whole baseball team followed suit.
No matter how many nudes they have sent me since then.
The first time I had my heart truly shattered was by an Asian man who I have never stopped loving
And the first time I was called worthless
Was by my father
And my mother still thinks this is a choice I am making
As if it as a choice anyone would want to try making
Which is all to say
I have trouble trusting sometimes
I have trouble leaning against trees that I know are rotten at their core.
And we as humans are rotten to our core
And everyone only has enough activism left to fight for themselves.
But I don’t want to fight for myself
I don’t want to just survive
I don’t want to just fight enough to live
I want to fight for every parent who lost a child in a school shooting this year
I want to fight for every black man or woman whose life was taken from them
I want to graffiti “Black Lives Matter” on the walls of the Capital Building until everyone sees it.
I want to fight for every Asian American who has been the victim of unbridled hatred that they did nothing to earn
To extinguish the bubbling boiling racism of this nation
I want America to be a country where all people feel safe
Where women don’t have to bleed on copper and iron
And can release the strangling grips on their own bodies
And I want every child who steps out of their heteronormative game of hopscotch to feel loved.
To know they belong
To know they are not alone
And that we will not stop fighting until everyone has freedom
Where trans people have the freedom to be true to themselves
Where queer folk have freedom to love who they love
Where anyone of any race or ethnicity is free to be exactly who they are.
A country where the laws help all of us
Not just those who wrote it.