Written by Char Hunter (they/them)
I am gay.
I am queer.
I am a slut. A prude. A sissy. A fairy.
No. I am proud.
I am proud of who I am and who I love and how I love. Because if I’m not proud, all I am are the names they call me, and I am more than those names aren’t I? (Aren’t I?)
I was seven when Mum took me by the shoulders and told me she was so glad I was normal. I was eleven when Mum took me by the hands and told me she was so glad I was born healthy (not a headcase) (not defective) (not wrong). I was fourteen when Mum smiled at me across the dinner table and told me she would disown me if I was gay, so it’s good that I’m not.
I was seven when I learned the difference between normal and not normal, and how important it was to be normal and how good it was to be normal. I was eleven when I learned that the Others were different, got treated different because if they think different and act different they should get treated different.
I was fourteen when I learned shame.
I was twenty-two when I learned pride.
I was twenty-two when I met someone who was not normal (who was like me). I was twenty-two when I met someone who wasn’t ashamed of themselves (how?). I was twenty-two when I met someone who wore their strangeness wrapped around them in a colourful badge of honour (suit of armour).
I was twenty-two when I met someone who was unapologetic about their place in the world because why should they apologise? (why should I?)
If they can be proud, why can’t I? If they can be happy, open, strong, then why can’t I? If they can find love, then why can’t I?
If I can be proud, then who else is out there?
Who I love doesn’t change my capacity for love. Who I am at my core hasn’t changed, even if I look different. Just because my love looks a little different than yours doesn’t mean my love weighs any less.
I love you Mum. I hope you can still love me too.
I’m proud of me. I hope you are proud of me too.