It’s strange to say you can forget about your queerness when you’re married to a man, but I think in the comfort of daily life, something disappears. You live in an accepting big city, your co-workers accept you, you spend your time at university reading genre fiction. There’s no hunger there, not to belong somehow. A gay bar is just a bar when all you want is a drink.
Except you locked things away in your heart’s box, and that leaks when you’re invited to recall.
I wrote a piece for my creative writing workshop about a little girl living in Kentucky, and my tutor mentioned something about the voice feeling off. Asked to write about toxic relationships for the following week, and sick of the middle-class navel-gazing of straight white millennials in the recommended reading (you can’t feel a yearning from your elite college while you eat ‘smashed avocados’), I decided to reach back. I don’t know that the voice would be right, but it was an experiment in tapping into pain.
I remembered myself. At sixteen, naively entering the world of gayness in my own terms as an abstract concept. The liberation of the internet that allowed me to read Ginsberg, listen to Patti Smith, accommodate my sensibilities into the rainbow universe of my creation. Almost pure. But expecting other people in that shadow world of chat rooms to be kind, and finding instead the predatory behaviour I thought existed only in sensational tabloid headlines.
And then I move. I have the liberty, the right to consume…and everything feels flat. The magazines with the fetish for cis-het white men in their underwear. The gay bars repeating Don’t Stop Believing for the nth time. Not that there isn’t a space for frivolity, but maybe all of this came crashing into my own palace.
So I ran towards other things. And there’s something about babies and bathwater. I forgot I can inhabit myself and my sexuality and my nationality and my culture and my life and my experience and wrap it up into myself and be everything I want and nothing else.
I catch up. I read How To Survive A Plague by David French and I feel ashamed at not knowing our own history in its entirety. I read Call Me By Your Name and I feel underwhelmed, because I know there’s other stories to tell beyond fetishistic inter-generational relationships between intellectual white rich Abercrombie models who watch each other poop. I attend a gay man’s book club, which isn’t the dream fulfilled I hope it would be, but this time it doesn’t matter, because I have myself complete and I can walk away and try something else.
Queerness because I choose it. Defining myself and the life I live, and defending it against expectation. This is my story as a queer Gibraltarian dreamer who ran away to London and lives in a blissful marriage with a tall Appalachian tech genius and this home we crafted with books and photos and our own queerness and love.
A right to be angry. To be heard. To be celebrated. To be misunderstood. To run towards what I love. To walk away from what I dislike. To be unapologetic in my stride, my taste, my choice, my tone of voice. To not be a sidekick, a footnote, a death and a joke if I don’t choose. To swim in my kingdom’s waters. To honour the past and the bravery of the dead we don’t speak of. To build my own canon. To tell my own story. To be awake.