Kind and caring
Elegant and nice
Lovely and pretty
Special, oh so special
Especially something. I don't know what.
I found this poem last summer while decluttering my Yahoo inbox. It’s part of an email I wrote in fourth grade to my friend, Kelsie. The email includes lines like, “I can see the glitter in your eyes,” and, “Your laugh echoes in my mind, and oh, your steady voice is soft.” I had no memory of writing it.
Fast-forward two months. I was bored and showed the ridiculous email to one of my friends, hoping she might get a laugh out of my cheesy writing. While she was reading it, our other friend came over and asked what we were doing. Without missing a beat, the first friend replied, “Reading this love letter Becina wrote when she was little.”
Love letter? I could feel the record scratching in my head. This wasn’t a love letter. This was the rambling of a nine-year-old who didn’t know how to filter her thoughts. This was terrible poetry written by a girl who happened to notice and appreciate random details about her friend. Right?
Well, I guess there were some hints of romance unintentionally sprinkled in there. I suppose “glitter in your eyes” could be interpreted as a variation of the clichéd “sparkle in your eyes.” (Either that or craft time gone wrong.) Maybe “your laugh echoes in my mind” seems more fitting for a Nicholas Sparks film than a casual email between friends. And I do vaguely remember her being “special, oh so special” to me, more than anyone else in my class. And, oh my God, this was the sappiest, gayest love letter I’d ever read, and I couldn’t believe that sweet, innocent baby Becina had written it.
I wish I could say that this was the moment I realized I was queer. That would help justify my initial denial about the true meaning of the email. But I’ve actually known for a few years now.
For all my talk of being “on the right track baby [cuz] I was born this way,” I never took the time to think about what it actually means to be born this way. It means I’ve always been queer. At every age, I’ve been thinking queer thoughts, feeling queer feelings, and doing queer things. My obliviousness to this for the first fifteen years of my life doesn’t make it any less true.
The problem is, I was raised straight. My parents were progressive in the sense that they told me not to wait for Prince Charming, but to pursue an education and be independent while carefully searching for a Mr. Right who loves and respects me. That’s where the progressiveness ended. There would be no Princess Charming in my childhood fantasies and definitely no Mrs. Right in my realistic expectations. (And of course, anything outside of the gender binary wouldn't even be considered.)
I didn’t realize it could be mainstream to date someone of the same gender until I saw Glee in middle school. But, by then, I’d already heard “gay” tossed around as an insult, so I was wary of being even remotely associated with the term. Perhaps if I’d seen gay couples normalized in media before I heard all the slurs and insults, I would’ve recognized my queerness sooner.
A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about a young boy who, at the age of seven, proudly announced to his family that the Glee character Blaine Anderson was his boyfriend. When the young boy came out a few months later, he didn’t treat it as a huge or scary revelation, just a statement of fact. His parents have supported him and, as he’s gotten older, gradually explained homophobia and slurs to him, as he’s bound to experience those at some point.