Writing about being haunted by gay ghosts as an allegory for inherited communal trauma and strength because I’m a serious writer who writes serious things.
The girls are never supposed to end up together. I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.
I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls. For me. We follow narratives and our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love and we long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the ferry and throw your arms out to the side and scream, “I’m king of the world!” If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.
If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.
But if you should fall in love with a girl - and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things - the first kiss is the end. You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content. The point of your story is not to fall in love. The point of your story is to struggle. Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl. Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl. Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.
The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? “Irreconciliable differences.”
And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favourite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, “You were never meant to fall in love.”
You were never meant to fall in love. Your story ends in tears or it ends in death. Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt. Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried. The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.
Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.
I don’t want to die. Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die? When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?
Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man. Sometimes he doesn’t ask. “You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,” he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her. Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.
He’s seen the movies, too.
He loves me.
He doesn’t want me to die.
If Dean Winchester can make it through 40 years of hell, if Levi Ackerman can survive 5 years on the survey corp, if Buffy can defeat Angelus, then I can fucking do this job and get my MSW ok.
yeah seriously tell us how wizardry’s done in the new world tell me how the wizards from france and spain and britain stamped out the brujos and the medicine men and set up their own schools tell me what the fuck the british raj did to fucking india because the patel twins are going to school in scotland and what are they told about their history, tell me about native american kids learning to say wingardium leviosa with hate in their hearts and tell me about wizarding rabbis bickering about whether you can use potions on the sabbath tell me about the slaves on their ships with their wands broken, mouthing curses in the dark tell me about the runaways that made it with garter snakes wrapped around their wrists that told them when they tasted dogs in the distance, tell me about the underground railroad and abolitionists with unbreakable vows and home-spun invisibility cloaks and disilusionments, using obliviate, using imperio, knowing that they served a higher justice, tell me about what happened to black wizards in the fifties, about what gates they were storming in the sixties tell me about queer wizards taking love potions every morning in their coffee to stay married to their husbands and their wives because what else could they do?
the world only begins and ends with straight white christians if you don’t bother looking any farther than that and too many people don’t and i am tired, tired, tired
but I started crying halfway through this.
that last post brought to you by me having to explain to my boss that we say “sex worker”, not “prostitute” and “trans girl” not “transgendered boy”.
Something that is absolutely fascinating to me is how much of my Oakland life lessons I use in my job now. My boss says, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” and she doesn’t scare me. She says, “You know so much of this already, you know more about these things (sex work/suicide/danger/homelessness/poverty) than a lot of people.”
I say, “It’s not a privilege to know.” and I mean it.