What kind of lesbian would I be if I were born today?

two women kissing while wrapped in rainbow flag
Photo by Karina Irias on Pexels.com

I see your pictures on social media

a part of me is envious

of your freedom

even though women many years before

either of us

had absolutely no freedom and only those

with enough money could consider taking

a woman as their lover

it is hard to imagine

each generation I suspect

forgets the sacrifices of the last

cannot envision a time when

it was illegal to love

my experience was never that awful

I had freedoms many women still do not possess

and I am grateful for that

but sometimes when I see your

youthful face and the grace with which you accept love

how natural and easy it feels

I recall how I began

hiding in dark bars, trying to fit in, failing

never one to play endless games of poker face

I didn’t fit in with my own kind then

but if I’d been you

born in the sun with your turquoise eyes like the Donovan song

I might have had on my arm

a whole host of dreams and not

dabbled in boys for a few futile and unhappy years or

felt I couldn’t have had children and let

my fear and my constraint decide for me

the future

you are the age my daughter might be

and I would like to think I’d have

done all you have done had I been born

in a time of greater acceptance where

women who love women can grow their hair

and not have to cling to stereotypes or subterfuge

carrying knots of shame and confusion

like blankets never stretched out and slept on

I would have gotten a tattoo and maybe

been less shy and apologetic

I remember at 18 that’s all I seemed to do

sorry to my family for not having turned out straight

sorry to my friends for being the odd one out

sorry to the gays on the march who thought

with my dresses and my long tresses I was a weekend

lesbian

if they only knew

what it took and what I sacrificed

maybe they understand now

but we’re all a little older and

you don’t recapture what you felt at 18

you remember it like a language

I spoke the language of trial and error

I suspect you speak the language of love

just a little freer

so forgive me if I envy you as you walk past me

hand in hand, laughing, the edges of your hair

hitting your waist

like a Summer tidal wave.

SMITTEN – This is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by women for women – an anthology of poetry published by Indie Blu(e) will be out OCTOBER 2019 and available through all good book sellers. Please consider following SMITTEN’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

If you are interested in supporting this project in any way please contact me @ candicedaquin@gmail.com. All LGBTQ projects are a little more challenging to succeed and we want the 120_+ poets who have work in SMITTEN to be read by many! Indie Blu(e) and their submissions rules can be found at www.indieblu.net69885770_486778818770380_803119555336470528_n

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14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL – For Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (this year the focus is body image)

14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL

The year we held a Madonna competition I was flat chested
Boys said; Asprins on an ironing board
Girls said; You can’t dance with us
The exclusion felt … hot pink and slimy
I wore black elastic bands on my wrists to hide the snub

The year he asked me out because Zoe had said no
He said; Zoe is taller than you, you look quite SQUAT
He said; Zoe has tanned skin, why do you always BURN
He said; You give good head but it’s a shame you aren’t Zoe
I threw up in the bathroom to hide the shame

The year my best friend taught me how to binge and purge
She said; You’ll soon have a waist as small as mine
She said; When you feel sad put your fingers down your throat
She said; Skinny is the new superpower for girls
I quit dance class because I didn’t have the energy anymore

The year I tried to stop giving a shit
I said; Fuck it. I’m me. I can’t be anything else I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I said; I may never love myself enough but I’m damn well not going to destroy me
I said; Hate the image in the mirror, at least love the inside
I said; Someone will always want to put you down, don’t give them the power

The next year I still didn’t wear bathing suits, I still walked with my shoulders rounded
But I didn’t have raw knuckles and I didn’t survive on the opinion of 14 year old boys

A decade later at an art show we meet again, he’s going bald
He said; You look fantastic. I don’t remember why we broke up
He said; I always thought you were the hottest girl in school
He said; Want to fool around behind this Van Gough?
I quit listening and wished I’d learned not to at 14.
What you think is important then, usually is not.
Try to love who you are. Perfect is an illusion and 14 year old boys aren’t the gospel. We don’t all have to be Zoe.

Compulsion

I just watched the amazing film Bohemian Rhapsody. Let me ask you something … if I begin this post with; “And I wanted to talk about being gay” How many of you would stop reading? Ask yourselves, what does that really say about you?

I want to talk about being gay. Watching the story of Freddie Mercury it struck me (again) how the tiny minority of people who are gay (not bisexual) still struggle. You may ask why or point to more worthy causes to talk about …

Imagine being 1/2 percent of the population. Maybe you already are. That’s how many women are lesbians and men are roughly 2/3 percent. Bisexuality is far more prevalent, however 85% of women who are bisexual end up married to man, which begs the question, is there such as thing as ‘true’ bisexuality’ or is there just a desire to play both sides until you settle down, invariably with someone of the same gender?

Either way, ‘true’ queer women are rare. For men, those who are bisexual tend to end up being with men. It begs the question – do these stats indicate being a lesbian is not a life style many people choose or want to adopt? Or simply, that most women have a tendency toward heterosexuality as their preference?

My unscientific viewpoint for what it’s worth is; Men who have sex with men tend to be with men maybe because to ‘go there’ is almost indelible? Whereas sexuality for women is more fluid, and whilst they may like having sex with another woman and find her attractive, it’s not enough of a hook. Is sexuality and gayness a preference? I don’t think so, which means the ‘true’ number of gays is smaller than we even credit.

I personally don’t understand why more men are gay than women, as I am biased and see a lot more to be attracted to in a woman than a man (although they are harder to go out with because they are more demanding and selfish and less romantic). Irrespective, a man who is attracted to men, doesn’t go back and forth as much, a woman who is attracted to women may well end up with a man as other considerations come into play. To me, this isn’t being gay – it’s just having fun. Maybe I’m saying being gay is massively different to being bisexual.

I would imagine the negatives about bisexuality are; judgment from both sides, and that’s about it. If you are totally gay then the negatives include persecution, ostracizing, not fitting in, having no role models, no representation and most of all – feeling weird because 99/98 percent of the world doesn’t ‘get’ you and where you are coming from.

How many times have I been told by a woman that they find other women attractive but they can’t really understand wanting to be with a woman for any length of time – interestingly not because of sex, most women like oral sex, but because of the high maintenance being with a woman entails and how nice it is when a man romances you. It is true, it’s rarer and finding it with a woman, well you often end up having to do all the work and while men are good at that, women aren’t as much.

Hence why of those relationships that last, the classical butch/femme roles tend to work out best because the lesbians who are butch want to imitate a man and romance the woman and the femme is happy. I realize that’s a negative stereotyping of female-female relationships but there is also some truth.

Thinking about the AIDS era (which has never entirely left us and now that there are new drugs that people can take to reduce their likelihood of HIV exposure, where’s the incentive to continue to practice safe sex?) and how many gay men (and others) died and the terrible things that were said about them and how generations exist now that know nothing of this and how it will be forgotten …

I remember I was very young but I heard people say things like; “AIDS is killing the queers its divine justice” That told me early on that gay people were not equal and would never be treated equally behind closed doors. At one point in my life I was in the closet because it was easier and unlike a person of color, a gay person can often be in the closet to avoid prejudice. I’d not been in the closet before and suddenly I was privy to the things straight people said about gays when they didn’t think one of them was listening. I realized that this had all been said of me when I wasn’t in the closet but behind my back.

Then the other aspect to consider is the gay community and how judging and excluding it can be and how for many queers, fitting in with their own gay ‘family’ doesn’t always come easy or at all. I personally tend not to get on with gays, I have found them to often possess the worst traits of heterosexuals which deeply disappoints me. Lesbians judge you for not being queer enough, or act like swaggering men. Gay men can be such divas that they own the sarcasm and bitchiness in the room.

Does it mean you’re a ‘bad’ queer if you don’t feel in with ‘your people’? And yet … why assume just because you share one thing in common, you’ll get along? I’m sure I share something in common with Trump as well … point made.

The female gay world is divided into sections, either you’re a successful, educated career person in which case you go to exclusive things and judge those who are not on your level. You only date those who are like you, and you have high expectations as well as demanding those women you date are athletic, social and above all, status and financially successful.

The other group are the more neighborhood based gays, and the clubs teem with liars, frauds and fakes alongside players, druggies and alcoholics. If you imagine being heterosexual and reducing the number of options you have from roughly 48% to 1/2% you probably wouldn’t find someone you liked either. And let’s for not forget, if you’re straight and you see someone in the street or anywhere, you can essentially flirt with them without fear. But how can you tell when someone may be gay? Contrary to popular opinion, the gay-dar doesn’t work THAT well. So you are further restricted to mind-reading, falling in love with heterosexuals or going to gay clubs where the worst reside.

Boo Hoo right? A hard life. But not nearly as hard as many others. Combine that with a co-morbidity of higher rates of depression/anxiety (no wonder) and all the accompanying aspects that may accompany homosexuality and a life time of being shamed, ridiculed, the odd one out, and it’s not simply one issue, it’s everything.

There have been times I wished fervently not to be gay. I got fed-up of having a crush on my straight friend who wouldn’t like me if I were the last person standing, I saw how well men can treat women, I envied the heterosexual world. That’s why being gay is no choice, as most who had one, wouldn’t choose it.

That said it’s not all negative. Some of the best parts of my life have been as a result of being gay. Watching the film on Freddie Mercury really affected me profoundly because it reminded me that only a few years ago in my city there were stickers condemning gays having the right to marry, that my own life has been severely disrupted/destroyed for several reasons related to being gay, and how many gays have suffered over the years.

I may not be a huge fan of this modern world – 2018 onward – and I may hark beck to ‘better’ eras as I perceive them, BUT I know things are improving for gays and I hope one day, being gay is not something that will pull you down and give you pain. It will be what it is meant to be, a natural minority who see things differently but are in every other way part of us all.

Spare a thought for gays even as you think they have all their rights now and should stop complaining. It is not as simple as possessing rights. Gays are still more likely to commit suicide, have addictions, mental illness, be ostracized from family and be beaten up and murdered. Gays can often be very isolated, their pain not taken seriously, and feel alone even among ‘their kind’ and it really does make a difference to us when someone, irrespective of gender, befriends us and likes us for who we are, without being uncomfortable around us.

A friend for a gay person has twice the value because we never take it for granted and we always feel so lucky. After all, most of us living, remember a time when admitting you were gay would guarantee nobody would be your friend. Therefore, thank you for all who show kindness to us, and remember, compassion is the only thing that compensates for the erstwhile damage human beings have historically wrought, both on minorities of all kinds and our planet.

I dream of a world where it will be okay to walk down the street and not worry about holding hands with the person you love, when it will be comfortable to kiss someone you’re with, in public, without fearing being beaten up. Just as women worldwide, dream of walking down a street without being raped. I believe this day can come, if all of us have the patience to see the value of talking about this and not saying ‘I’m so fed up with the gay agenda or the feminist agenda’ and switching off. Until we have true equality, the only thing we can do is bring awareness and hope in turn, it produces change.

Oh, and to those bisexuals? Yeah. Sorry. But on the other hand, I’ve got a point. Can’t you sometimes choose the girl? 😉

Go see Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s incredible.

Survival

The man wasn’t yet forty

Had cancer four times

Told her; This time I can’t survive it

She asked; Why are you still at work?

Don’t you want to leave it behind?

Take a trip? See the redwoods?

But before he answered, she knew

The photos on his phlebotomists table

Of three little faces, told her why

And it made her angry that they both lived in a country where

Dying people had to work for their children

To receive healthcare

And she was more angry

With her own lack of appreciation

For a healthy life that she possessed

Without children

Or any reason to try so hard

And he was brave because he had no choice

And she was weak

Because she did

The song of rape

It took one finger to break into her

one finger to make her feel violated and dirty

two to make her scream

the boys laughed afterward mockingly

why you so upset girl? we didn’t deflower you

you should thank us bitch

or maybe we should just do what we came here to do

they pinned her down, her tights stretched between her legs

like her fractured hymen

she saw the beginning of tears and inside felt

the raw and hurt center cry out

don’t come back don’t ever come back

they were only eleven years old

lying on the floor in the outside toilets

staring at the stars hardly there because of all the smog

her lungs filled with hurt

they were her friends

until they became rabid dogs

she didn’t know what switched the switch or why

they felt she was there to poke and prod

they were too small and she was too small and everything about it

was premature

which meant

waiting until it happened again

she wasn’t a victim but some things reoccur

as if on some awful cycle

sometimes she’d shudder thinking about

their little hard cocks

trying to pry their way in

the way it felt to be hurt like that

with unwashed fingers scrabbling and opening

the parts of her nobody should

she could visualize the cement beneath her

the smell of urinals and their unwashed genitals

if they had known enough to put them in her mouth

they would have

thankful for small mercies she knew

kids these days wouldn’t be so innocent

they see porn before they know how to spell

pornography

what ideas they must get and how

many bad things go on behind closed doors

or even ones held shut by little boys

seeking to immitate older brothers

she would have impaled them with

her rage if she wasn’t so ashamed

so she said absolutely nothing to anyone

least of all the teachers who would have

called her a slut who asked for it

even at eleven years old.

***

When she reached fourteen

the Golem returned

held her down, muffled her mouth

stuck it in like a needle threading through skin

her scream pierced every limb

and nobody heard

nobody wondered why

she wasn’t home for dinner

her plate was left in the fridge

she was emptied of the last piece

of her soul

left gasping where her privacy had been

legs spread and men hustling in

one after the other took their turn

after all wasn’t it a party? Make it count!

her face closed off and remote like she was dead

some of them were small and bony

their penises hardly large enough to feel

between the soreness and the swelling

others bore into her like a metalic truck

thrusting her back onto her thin tail bone

hands around her neck

fingers pinching her nipples and breasts

they filled her with a disgusting smell

she was never going to be whole again

or clean

and when it was over, it had just begun

face after face, cock after cock

a tape on repeat of her worst nightmare

they came, they came and they went

the only evidence there staining the bed

and her rubbery legs unable to flee

tied and sodomized like a string of beads

she flew out of her crumpled body

a bird of wing and feather only

she saw someone she almost recognized

torn and ribboned and splayed

a garish doll, a parody, a destroyed shape

someone she was no longer

as she lifted, higher and higher, beyond that point

no pain anymore just the thick blush of shame

hidden in plumage

she felt nothing but

a choking word on her tongue

WRONG

WRONG

WRONG

her child’s form

her hardly grown self

the silence of nothing

then it did not matter

what time she wasn’t coming home

all the world was quiet now

movement had stilled

the door was shut

nobody knocked

nobody unbuttoned their pants

and sank to their knees

lifting her up for one more final

free fuck

as if she were no more than a hole

not a human

not a worthy soul

immitation the greatest form of flattery

is not

she was cold now to the touch

her spirit somewhere in the stars

it took one finger to break into her

and a record set on repeat playing

over and over until it scratched

and could not play

anymore

the song of rape.

For all the survivors whose voices are quashed.

With life

She is nude

Dearticulate

Her nipples graze the passage of her downfall

Blood is dry and hennaed between her thighs

Who stand witness

To aborted possibility cut short

Held glistening above her in crucifixed parody

She will never bear life

It is not her weft and the thick choker around her neck

Tightens as reminder

If she grows swollen it will be from loss not gain

No feeling of a child pushing its way out

Only the deadening cold taste of metal on her skin

A doctor’s “tut, tut” and rough handling, his voice a graze

Staining her inevitable socially affixed shame

She stares out of a small window

Paint pealing like tears on the empty sill

Where a bird sits sheltering from rain

She thinks of him cutting his way into her with flint eyes

Hands around her throat, pulling her apart

A flashlight douses darkness, shining on blood and her hand

Reaching out

She is empty now

Passion snuffed, an ember no longer close to surface

She is an arroyo dried and crusted over

She is a gourd grown without seed

Disappointment is her meal, she is a featherless bird on wire

Dried empty by sun and rinsed of music

Before this, her watermelon body swayed in water-sprinklers

Feasting on her abundance and possibility

All that would be, all that would be

Is laid waste

Tumbleweed and Joshua tree

Punishment and consequence

The rapist will return at night to his wife and

Three blonde children

She will recover from her tears and cuts

Even the shame of feeling his soil enveloping her

But she will never

Never

Forget what he took in miscarried act

What would happen if we swapped vision?

The fridgidity of growth or a certain constraint

Because if you split my casing I would possess less chance

My surround would envelop your shadows and night cross twice

For women have a shorter life and a longer one

Small boned with narrow shoulders and deep set eyes

Stretching barren like a long road through desert

If she could turn the knife around

Press it gently against his steady pulse

Cut out the evil as he removed her chance

To fill her arms

With life

Eve’s curse

The disadvantage of girls

Turns good against itself

Savagery emerges

Staking futile claim, deadly taint

Holding emotions tightly

Then the careless boy disguards

A phallic knife wound

Oh God she hurts

Turns into bitterness.

When she has a daughter

She warns

Hate your sex

Poison relationships with same gender

Don’t trust other women

And in the bleeding wind

Truth is lost

And Adam laughs

At Eve’s curse