Writing About Being QUEER
by Abigail Barton
Ever since I started my first journal in high school, I have detailed and visualized
every single hand touch at every single party, every ask to dance, every i think your
pretty, every kiss and almost kiss with almost embarrassing detail to prove that I
was there and that it was happening to me. I explored every crush I should have
with every possible boy, every beautiful man across from me on the bus.
When I first wrote in my journals that I could possibly be queer I didn’t quite have
the language for it yet. I wrote that boys were lucky because they got to kiss girls.
Girls just survived boys. But i was scared to write it plain and simple so I wrote in
circles around it. In the halls of my handwriting my queerness was stuck but I didn’t
hear it calling out to me. I unwound my ideas after any hint at being queer with
proof that I have had big crushes on boys. Well I damn fooled myself.
I was scared to write it in my journal because I was scared to prove it, but also
because I didn’t need to. And it took me a long long time to really really write about
it. And even when I did I would talk about “queerness” but never write that it was
mine. I still have to remind myself to take ownership of it.
When I began to write about it, it was because I could no long run from it without
knowing. It was staring me right in the face every corner I tried to turn. I looked at it
and asked it boldly: if I was queer then why was it only telling me now? I thought
that my own queerness was a fake. Because I never learned to wonder if it was
actually my straightness who was the fraud.
What finally convinced me that it was real? Because at once I felt incredibly terrified
but also incredibly relieved. In spite of great fear, in the comfort of my own room
and my own body I felt a wave of calm.
It’s clear to me now when I flip through my journals how contrived some of my
“proof of straightness” was. It’s hard not to be angry at myself for how I twisted my
own truth so unknowingly and naively. I thought I had a knack for knowing myself
and it’s so unsettling to realize that in some aspects of myself I was so wrong.
The thing is, I thought that things must be and look one way. I never saw queerness
reflected around me in ways that looked familiar when I was in high school. Even on
tumblr in the midst of my 16 year old angst I didn’t see it in a way that could be
mine. It was easy to accept queer people in my life and on the internet, but why was
it so hard to uncover from my own depths? What was I missing?
I can’t help but wonder how it would’ve been had I been less afraid, had I grown up
somewhere else, had someone asked me the right questions way way earlier. I
imagine queer pasts that look sweet and loving. But it never could’ve been any other
way than it is. I owe it to my past, unknowingly queer, and secretly very afraid self to
ask myself the right questions now, even if I feel like I’m asking them years too late.
I write in my journals as my way of religion, but I’m not always honest with my
words because I want it to sound like I’m living things a certain way. I’m working on
changing that, but it takes a lot of big courage. And while it’s tempting to examine
every page of my past for answers and reconciliations for every discomfort,
question, and even love regarding cis men and straightness, I know that the answers
aren’t all there. That’s a lot to ask of my queerness. I can only hope that future me
reads what I write now, about my first Pride, the time I realized my friend crush was
just a crush, the time I first spoke about it with a beating heart, the time I looked at
my body and for the first time felt that it was lovable, about the time I realized I
could love someone who liked poetry as much as me and was sweet and who I could
trust and who I felt comfortable with. I hope that I read it and realize how far I’ve
come. I hope that I feel proud and happy. I hope that I feel like I was telling the truth
how it was in these moments. I hope that I finally feel convinced by all the words
I’ve written and the evidence I’ve collected, not because I need to prove anything but
because I simply want to remember.