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Faces of Affirmation, Featured Faces Stories, Women

Women and Non-Binary Stories from Around the Web

collated by Jenn Lee Smith

Welcome to stories of Queer Mormon Women and Non-Binary folks collected from around the web. You will find excerpts of the content within their respective categories, as well as links to the entire content. I tried to find as many stories as possible and hope you will find it useful. If you have additional stories you’d like to link here, please contact Kathy Carlston.  

  • Essays and Blog postings
  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Poetry and Creative Works

 

Essays and Blogs:

Imagination and Integration: Reflections on LGBTQ Mormon Trauma and Healing One Year Post Policy

November 5, 2016, Laura D.

“In listening to LGBTQ/SSA people who remain in the church, pushing back homo-romantic/sexual needs and seeking to invest in meaningful endeavors and close same sex friendships, is a common strategy to help comfort the inherent pain and challenges of forgoing a same sex pair bond. In listening to LGBTQ Mormons who are either in or pursuing same sex relationships, painfully stepping back from cherished religious community/practice and instead seeking out God and/or spirituality individually, appears to be the most common way forward, in addition to seeking out alternative communities of support. In both general pathways, I hope outside observers can sense the beautiful human spirit of resiliency at work in the face of incredible relational losses. What I also hope comes increasingly into focus is the need for continued imagination and creativity on the part of the LDS community as a whole; to lean further into a process of integration to facilitate greater healing, as opposed to first order coping that pushes things away.”

 

Why I Feel Responsible for the Policy Change

August 2016, Kathleen M.

“When November 4th rolled around and the Gay Exclusion Policy came into my view, I noticed right away it seemed to cover guidelines not only for same-sex marriage participants but another topic Celeste and I had spoken of extensively with our Stake President… our children. I know I wasn’t the only one incredibly heart-broken over this added insult-to-injury, no baby blessings or baptism for our children, but I immediately thought back to the article we’d posted and the stir it had caused.

 

A Prayer to Heavenly Mother

March 2016, Ellen K.

“You once taught me I was blameless
for being the queer woman I grew up to be.
Your Spirit bore witness to mine, assuring me
I was a child of a Heavenly Mother and Father.”

 

Stop Our Suffering

March 2016, Bethany R.

“I testify that I have received a personal witness that the love and level of commitment LGBT people experience towards one another is no less legitimate than any other’s, and it is neither rejected nor condemned by our merciful Heavenly Father. If this knowledge leads me away from the institution of the church, then so be it.  I cannot deny the truth in my heart, nor the God that has placed it there and held me so gently through my ocean of tears. My heart is eternally bound to my Lord. I will continue to kneel and go where He leads me.  I will serve how and where I am able.  I will love without shame or reservation.”

 

Clipped Wings

March 2016, Shawna Fisher

“I was given these amazing eagle wings at birth,
but I was told I could never use them here on earth.
I was told if I wanted my angel wings in Heaven, I would have to watch all the other birds fly.
And so as I watch the other birds soar on their wings, it often makes me cry.
From the pigeon to the hummingbird to the swallow to the hawk,
I watch without a vantage point because my shoes are filled with rocks.
I have these wings, but cannot fly.
I can. They say. But only when I die.”

 

Sister, may I kiss you?

February 2016, Emily W.

“Our mothers blacked their journals out
And taught us to do the same
But no one taught me how to love
A girl made up of rain”

 

My Hope

January 2016, afknick

“I’m looking, searching for the tiniest bit of hope, the tiniest sliver of evidence that I am safe or wanted in this religion that shaped me and raised me. What I am finding, though, is that as a lesbian, my orientation, my desire to be loved by and to love someone of my own gender, is more important than my actions.

It’s more important than the babies I foster, or the sleepless nights spent in the hospital with my medically fragile children. It’s more important than the months spent teaching a neglected developmentally delayed six year old how to use the toilet; more important than the celebration when that same six year old pedals a bike for the first time in his life. It’s more important than the relationships I have developed with friends and family; relationships that allow a friend to feel comfortable enough to let me take her newborn and toddler for days while she recovered from a health scare. And definitely more important than the months of work and effort and faith and love required to watch a mother reunify successfully with her baby girl.”

 

What It’s Like to Be an Ex-Mormon Lesbian

January 2016, Sarah S.

“On Nov. 5, 2015, a leaked document declared gay married people to be apostates, traitors banished from all levels of heaven, whose children cannot participate in church rites unless they disavow their parents. I spoke to 20 women—women who self-identify as lesbian, queer, pansexual, and bisexual—about their experiences, hoping to form some kind of cohesive narrative. I wanted to take data and arrange it into a story that makes sense, in a situation that doesn’t.

Mormonism doesn’t tolerate deviation from dogma. If you take one brick away, the whole tower collapses, which is horrible architecture for an actual tower. And so this legal decision [CA Prop 8], 2,500 miles away from my dorm room, destroyed my faith. And, because Mormonism is such an all-encompassing religion, it also destroyed my sense of self…

To all of us, finally, came the attraction we couldn’t ignore, the one we couldn’t rationalize away. The one that proved the previous girl we “admired” wasn’t one in a million. She was just a girl, and so were we, and that was why we felt this way…

Still, somehow, things seemed to snap into place, like dominos righting themselves when I didn’t even know they’d been knocked down. As Lindsey, who still attends church, says of her own realization, “It all just made total sense. All the pieces I had scattered around me came together, and I could make sense of everything.”

The sky was bluer; sonnets meant something. At this point, the Molly Mormons could picture a future that made sense, instead of being unable to imagine one at all.”’


Grace, Big Girl Panties, and the Challenge of Heterosexual Privilege

January 2016

“I’m a closeted lesbian, but my aunt has known I’m gay for a long time. I never told her and she never asked. She just knew. She’s like that. Super em-pa-thic. A few years ago I told her I was thinking about coming out publicly. I expected her typical open, affirming, supportive response…”

 

Will My Son Be Baptized With His Peers? Reflections of Lesbian Mormon 

November 2015, Jessica S.

“I will not be silent any longer. Until now I had mostly been at peace with my separation from my heritage church and have never spoken ill of it in public. My greatest fear is to offend the amazing everyday Mormon people I love who had nothing to do with this decision from the top. Even with the history of the church’s well-publicized anti-gay-marriage campaigns in Hawaii and California, I believe the church has upped the ante with this new policy by punishing children for the “sins” of their fathers and labeling all those in committed same-sex relationships as apostates.”

 

Is It Something I’m Born With?

September 2015, Taliatha H.

“There are all the ways the Church works I can’t explain–the way it works in my interior world: the lightness in my soul; moments of reflection, amazement, or loving-comfort when I pray; a feeling as I read the Book of Mormon that a conduit is opening to heaven. These reasons, most of all, are why the Church is a part of my joy I can’t forsake–even though I am no longer a member. As I navigate my relationship to the Church, I don’t feel as much pain and frustration as I probably could. This is because of another aspect of happiness I’ve learned by studying psychology: I focus on things within my control. Sure, I’d love the Church to change towards greater acceptance of LGBT people. But, in order for me to feel peace, I have to play a little mind game. I ask myself this question, “Does the Church present enough value to me, that I would stay…even if it NEVER changed?” For me, the answer is yes! By framing the situation in this way, it removes from the equation a factor that’s outside my control, and places my focus instead on the value I gain from the Church. Rather than worry about how people will treat me or my family on Sunday, I focus on learning and teaching correct principles to my children, strengthening my relationship with God, and serving my fellow man.”

 

Figuring Things Out

March 2015, Taliatha H.

“Once I figured it out, it felt like I’d put on new glasses in which many things in my life that had been blurry and confusing before now made sense clearly.  I enjoy and am drawn to men, but the actual kissing-and-being-physical part always felt unnatural.  From watching movies and reading books, I sort of knew what to do in that arena, but never felt a passionate drive towards men that compelled me to be physical.  For this reason, I only had one boyfriend I ended up marrying.  Rob is a wonderful person on every front, but the process of choosing him was somewhat of an intellectual exercise.  I didn’t understand the “chemistry” component–that it was supposed to be there and was missing.  I feel sorry for messing up his life, but had no idea I wasn’t straight.  We both feel grateful God kept us in the dark long enough to have five lovely kids.”

 

Polyphony of Three

November 2015, Berta M.

I could no longer think, read, medicate, run or swim away from myself. I couldn’t even compose or play the instruments that had once brought me consolation and solace. I had lost my music and light. It was in this state that I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable with God in a way I hadn’t been before. In that tiny tent I prayed, “God, do you love me as I am?”. The subsequent love that I felt come over me was enough to forever change my perception of God, of life, of myself. I call it my sacred grove experience. There were no trees, no wilderness to romance the narrative. It was just me in that cavernous room, but that prayer completely altered the path I had been walking in secrecy, isolation and shame. It lit the way out of the valley of the shadow and to the place of green pastures, beside still waters. It restored my soul and revived me.”

 

Taught by Her Mothers

November 2015, Annalaura S.

Annalaura Solomon was raised by lesbian mothers and joined the Church 12 years ago, at the age of 18. In this interview, Annalaura describes her love for her upbringing and offers her perspective on the new policies added to Handbook 1 on gay couples and their children.

 

“good girl” or asexual?

July 2014, Megan H.

“Maybe that was why I was having no luck in the romance department; perhaps I was a lesbian? I very cautiously began to examine the women around me the way I had done the men, wondering if any of them would spark physical attraction. Before too long though, I realized that there was nothing there, and this brought me both relief and disappointment. Relief, because I know how terribly the church treats those who are gay or lesbian. Finding out that I was one would have turned my life upside down. And yet…the thought of having one person who truly understood me, who I could spend the rest of my life with, is such an appealing thought. I had already ruled out the possibility of finding a man who could be that for me; now women were closed to me as well. So then where did that leave me?”

 

The Gay Law of Chastity

November 2013, Hermia L.

“I want to simply share my experience as a fellow human, and hope that it can open a useful space for conversation and introspection.  Regarding the second goal, I believe it’s high time we admit that there is a huge difference between the law of chastity that we expect straight members to follow and the law of chastity we expect gay members to follow.  As I will explain later, they are not the same and they are not equally difficult to follow. For this reason, I will refer to the two separate laws of chastity as the gay law and the straight law.”

 

Flipping the Switch

July 2013, Kathy C.

“While I can entertain possible conclusions from the years of being kept in the dark as the unnecessary torture of a coy God, I personally don’t feel that way. Even though there has been so much pain, God has renewed my strength hundreds of times. Even though it seems like every 5 minutes I lose faith in myself, God raises my eyes, helps me laugh and sends me comfort. Even though there have been so many times when I’ve felt like I have lost my integrity (my opinions of the church, of my situation, of everything else have been in so much flux that one minute I feel one way and the next my opinion’s the exact opposite), and even though I feel so lost in a sea of noise, God walks patiently by my side, just waiting for me to turn my head and ask for His opinion. At this point in my journey, I’m not sure precisely why, but I feel like part of the reason why it was important for me to walk this path was so I would know that: A) I couldn’t change because B) I wasn’t broken and C) God loves us, walks with us, conspires for our happiness.”

 

What Mormon-Born, Widely-Assumed Lesbian was the Most Loved and Richest Performer in America in the Early Nineteen Hundreds?

June 2013, Carol Lynn P.

“Being a student of theatre at BYU, where I received my M.A., I was, of course, very much aware of the name Maude Adams. I knew that her Mormon mother performed on the stage of the famous Salt Lake Theatre in Brigham Young’s stock company. I knew that Maude left Utah and her Mormon roots and became successful in the East. I knew that she originated the role of Peter Pan, which was written specifically for her by her friend James M. Barrie.”

But I had no idea that, according to Wikipedia, she became “the most successful and highest-paid performer of her day, with a yearly income of more than one million dollars during her peak.” And I certainly did not know that she is widely believed to have been a woman who loved women and that she shares a tombstone with her companion of 40 years.”

 

The Case of the Missing Lesbians: Where are the Queer Women in the LDS LGBTQIA/SGA world?

May 2013, Hermia L.

“After many talks with queer LDS women about the lack of queer women in the LDS LGBTQIA/SGA world, I’ve developed three theories about why queer women are missing and how we can stop marginalizing queer women.

The first theory is simple: queer women are missing because we have failed to make their (our) stories public. When I began exploring LDS LGBTQIA/SGA culture, the lack of queer women caused me to doubt my own queer identity. I can’t help but think that many other queer women have had the same experience, and have repressed their queer identity because they feel there is no place for them in LDS LGBTQIA/SGA culture. The second theory is that queer women are missing because they haven’t yet realized they are queer. As I have shared my story with other queer women, many of them have identified with this narrative. They ascribed their complete lack of sexual arousal in their relationships with men to their righteousness and their naturally low feminine libido. The problem with teaching women that they are not sexual beings is that it damages the sexualities of all women, regardless of orientation. In order to allow young girls to develop their sexualities in a healthy way, we must stop spreading the myth that they are not as sexual as boys. The third theory is that queer women are missing from LDS LGBTQIA/SGA culture because they leave the Church at a faster rate than queer men. As many Mormon women on the Bloggernacle have pointed out, it is difficult enough being a woman in a extremely patriarchal church, let alone being a queer woman. Additionally, Mormon culture tends to value married women over unmarried women. Temple-worthy queer men who choose to remain in the church can still receive the priesthood, regardless of their sexuality.”

 

Playing from Her Heart

May 2013, Tina R.

“Tina knew from a young age that music was her life’s calling and she is a professional saxophonist in New York. It took longer for Tina to realize that she is gay, but a period of inactivity from the Church didn’t stop her from paying her tithing every month. It was appreciation and practice of Buddhism that led Tina back to the Church in her remarkable journey back into activity.”

 

Understanding Who She Is

June 2012, Bridey J.

Currently the president of Brigham Young University’s Understanding Same Gender Attraction club, Bridey Jensen has spent her college years coming to terms with the fact that she is gay. Although she’s suffered through years of struggle and depression, Bridey now feels more confident and loved by God than she ever has before.

 

Documenting the Lesbian Experience

July 2005, Karen E.

Karen Everett is an independent filmmaker living in San Francisco. Her award-winning documentaries and personal film memoirs have played in festivals worldwide, aired on television, and are distributed to the educational and home video markets. After attending Brigham Young University in the early 1980s, Everett moved to Massachusetts, where she accepted her lesbianism and fell in love with a woman. Two of Everett’s Mormon-relevant documentaries are My Femme Divine and Framing Lesbian Fashion. Part memoir and part documentary, My Femme Divine draws from Mormon teachings and Jungian psychology to explore the butch/femme mystique. Throughout this remarkably crafted film, two lively groups talk butch-to-butch and femme-to-femme about yin/yang chemistry and a love that borders on worship. Framing Lesbian Fashion includes a semi-autobiographical account of director Karen Everett’s “fashion journey” from a traditional Mormon student at Brigham Young University to coming out in Northampton, Mass.–nicknamed “Lesbianville, U.S.A.”  More of her work can be found here.

 

Loving Both Men and Women

April 2003, Joyce B.

When I found out what people were saying about me, I was devastated.  I began to obsessively worry about appearing too affectionate with other women.  For nearly three years after, I wouldn’t even kiss my own mother.  Conversely, I began to act “boy crazy”.  I chased after boys and fantasized obsessively about getting married someday and having children. I have often wondered if my pattern of choosing unavailable men started then, because the boys I chased almost never liked me back.

 

BOOKS:

Saving Alex by Alex Cooper, Joanna Brooks

“It really matters that there are people in conservative and religious communities who speak up for a loving and accepting God, even when others don’t.” 192

“No question, I had been a difficult kid. But I had always told them the truth and taken the punishment…I had always been the girl who didn’t fit into other people’s expectations, the curious one, the hardheaded one, the one who stood on the edge of the crowd, who didn’t believe everything they taught me, who dreamed of running away to the city. I had always been different. That difference would make me strong.”

 

“My parents both needed to believe that there was a plan that would make everything okay and keep them safe…to belong to a community that told them they were okay, even if it had no place for people like me…just like the people in st. George who saw Johnny and Tiana beat me in the grocery store parking lot but could not find a voice to intervene, just like the missionaries who saw me at the wall but could not say anything…my parents were locked in by their need to believe and belong, so locked into their hunger for answers that they could not be with me in my questions and struggles as a gay girl in a religion that was so impossible for people like me. I did not blame them then, and I do not blame them now. Still, the realization hurt. It hurt me deeply.”

 

Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings edited by Joanna Brooks, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, Hannah Wheelwright

“Collecting essays, speeches, poems, and prose, Mormon Feminism presents the diverse voices of Mormon women as they challenge assumptions and stereotypes, push for progress and change in the contemporary LDS Church, and band together with other feminists of faith hoping to build a better world.” Even though there is almost no reference at all to lds queer women, this book is the first to address what it means to be Mormon and feminist.

The Confession of an Unrepentant Lesbian Ex-Mormon by Sue-Ann Post

March 2005

Anyone who knows Sue-Ann Post’s comedic work would realize that she’s fearless in tackling difficult issues in her stand-up work. She can make an audience weep from laughter as she candidly deals with such unfunny topics as incest or the pain that comes from being rejected by her family. She uses the same tactic in her book, however less for a comic effect than a profound investigation of religion and her upbringing as a Mormon. At the age of 41, Post has made a circuitous journey towards reconciliation with her past, and the book she has written now – full of understanding and deep reflection – would never have been possible ten or 15 years ago.

The book came about from an invitation to appear at the Mormon gay and lesbian conference, Affirmation, held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It quickly suggested itself as an ideal subject for a filmed documentary, and after overcoming numerous hurdles eventually the popular ABC TV program Compass came on board. The book opens with a well-researched and thoughtfully argued potted history of Christianity, followed by an historical overview of the Mormon faith. Here Post balances her shifting views about faith and religion and offers insights into both through glimpses of her life and writing from the time of her break with the Mormon church. At the time of reading these chapters, I was partly impatient for Post to get to Utah to mix it up with queer Mormons, but by the end of the book appreciated the level of detail and philosophical underpinning of this section. It worked to deepen my understanding of her time in Utah and showed an impressive intelligence and love of learning.

 

PODCASTS:

Out in Zion #4 — August 30, 2015

A discussion exploring what it’s like to be LGB Women in the context of LDS culture. Contributors discuss obstacles they encountered, how they developed a positive LGB identity and their individual processes of determining their romantic relational choices.

 

Out in Zion #41 — June 26, 2016

Podcast regulars Berta Marquez and Kendall Wilcox take the conversation on the road to include local members of their community in Provo, UT. First they check-in with David and Christian, young gay Mormon intellectuals who have thought deeply about the counsel to identify themselves solely as “children of God” and how it impacts their ability to function as full, healthy individuals. Next Berta and Kendall stop by Susan’s home to hear from a Mormon artist, wife, and mother who struggles to hold her space in her LDS community while also reaching out with love and acceptance to her LGBT friends and loved ones. Finally, Berta and Kendall sit down with Celeste and Keisha, a newly married couple attempting to form a sense of community in their Provo neighborhood.

 

Mormon Stories #623 – February 22, 2016

Elizabeth Grimshaw was raised Mormon. She knew she was lesbian as a teenager, but spent her early years (teens and 20s) attempting to date men and to marry a man. In her early 30s, after many failed attempts to be “straight,” she came out as a lesbian, stopped attending the LDS church, and began dating women. Elizabeth found a committed partner 10 years ago, and married her partner 8 years ago. They are currently happily raising a daughter in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Even though Elizabeth has not attended an LDS congregation since her early 30s, she was recently approached by her LDS bishop (whom she’d never met) in her driveway, and told that: 1) she needed to pray to God about whether or not to leave her wife and child, and that 2) if she wouldn’t divorce her wife and child, that she would face excommunication from the LDS church.

 

VIDEOS:

Voices in Exile: Stories of Lesbian Mormons

March 2004

Beginning with the first interview in November of 1999, Randall filmed lesbian Mormons willing to go on camera and speak of their experiences in the culture. Many women refused to be recorded, fearing loss of friends and family, as well as standing within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or Mormon Church. Whether filmed or not, the emerging stories focused on their pain and anguish as they dealt with perceived mutual exclusivity of being Mormon and lesbian.

 

Affirmation 2015 International Conference

Laura Dulin – The Woman I Love

 

Evening of Affirmation International Conference – September 24, 2016

 

Trans and Non-Binary Performances

Sara Jade – My Name is Transsexual – 43:32

Aubree Lyman – Girl-Boy, Boy-Girl – 55:06

Augustus Crosby – Abandoned – 57:15

Lee Bobbie – The Spaces Between the Pronouns – 1:02:32

Brianna Cluck – Wickedness Never Was Happiness – 1:09:50

Performers’ Panel – 1:13:18

 

Far Between

Kathy C.

After years of trying to change on her own, Kathy resorted to reparative therapy to change her attraction towards women. But the main premise of that therapy–that some sort of abuse or hurt was at the core of her orientation–never fit her own life experiences. Then her LDS stake president referred Kathy to resources that did not involve trying to change herself and she began reading everything she could find on gay Mormons.

As she read a man’s account about no longer asking God to change his attraction to men, but simply asking God what He thought about it, everything changed for Kathy. When she prayed and asked God about her orientation, she felt God’s approval and desire for her to find a wife and be happy. For the first time since she was six years old, her desire to be dead was gone, and she felt a new enthusiasm for life.

Although Kathy is not currently active in the LDS church, she loves and respects her Mormon family and friends, and she believes someday the church will have room for people like her. Being a lesbian Mormon has taught Kathy that God loves all of us, He’s happy for all of us, and that there’s hope out there.

 

Ellen K.

Since she was a little girl, Ellen knew she was different–but it wasn’t until junior high that realized she wasn’t attracted to boys. She worked hard to shut off her attraction to girls, but being dishonest with herself made it hard for to be honest with others, including her parents. In college, Ellen converted to the Church, but hearing her ward members blame the world’s problems on gay people brought up all of Ellen’s fears and shame. She held onto the missionaries’ promise that sacrifice and covenants would lead to blessings–and the the biggest blessing she desired was to not be gay. She put in her mission papers, hoping her service would lead God to remove her attraction to women.

Shortly before getting endowed in the temple, Ellen disclosed her orientation to her bishop, although she was living the law of chastity. He bishop revoked her temple recommend and told her that Christ’s Atonement doesn’t cover the sin of homosexuality. Ellen was crushed, and although her next bishop responded with much more kindness, she still wrestled with the question of why she was gay. A short time later, while praying in the baptistry of the Oqrr Mountain Temple, Ellen received a strong spiritual witness that God loved her as she was, and that she should find a wife and prepare for a family. This revelation enabled Ellen to rise above her depression and begin dating while still attending Church. Having the Spirit in her life has not gone away because she is gay and dating women.

 

Elise and Sam

Sam and Elise’s motto has become, “You can’t expect respect unless you are willing to give it. ” Sam and Elise met in college and instantly became best friends–they didn’t know they were gay at the time. It wasn’t long before they realized that their relationship was becoming more than a simple friendship. At that time, the Church was a very important part of their lives. They worked hard to fight their growing romantic relationship, concealing it from their parents, bishops and professional counselors and support groups–many of whom backed up their growing belief that they would have to choose between a relationship with each other and involvement with the Church (one bishop even compared homosexuality with murder). It proved to be a very difficult decision–the Church was more than just their belief system, it was their culture as well. Still, they chose their relationship, which continues to prove difficult for their families, who also feel a pressure to pick between the teachings of their church and their relationship with Sam and Elise.

 

Anna

Coming out as a lesbian has taught Anna more about letting love in and letting fear go, than any other life experience. When she became more open about her sexuality, she experienced a wide range of reactions, from a coworker’s support and her family’s love, to friends who walked away. Through it all, Anna has come to believe that fear is at the heart of our inability to love those who are different from us. But when she stopped asking, “Why me?” and began asking, “God, what do you want me to do with this?” Anna’s whole life changed. Today she is happy to be able to finally say that she truly loves herself and that she knows that her Heavenly Father loves her just as she is. Although she no longer feels at home at church, groups like Affirmation, Mormons Building Bridges, and Family Fellowship have given her the support and space needed to dig deep and choose what she wants for her life. As the “master of her own destiny,” Anna feels she finally has a reason to live and be happy as she chooses what is right and true for herself.

 

Mormon and Gays: The Forefront Talks

A series by Laura Dulin on coming out in the LDS Church and how to offer support to those who do.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsx-Lem5yDkO-k6Y_U6htkw

 

POETRY AND CREATIVE WORKS:

 

Girl-Boy, Boy-Girl
by Aubree Lyman

You have no idea how hard I tried to disappear for you. At first it was just the parts that I knew you didn’t like. The parts of me that were male and attracted to women and sad. I was raised to believe that I lived in a world of opposites and I was hurting so much because it was too much, being a boy and a girl at the same time. You can’t be both, so cutting out the boy part should be easy, right? Only trying to get rid of the part of me that was male was like trying to bleach the blue out of lavender. The pink goes away too. I can’t be only a woman, only attracted to men, only happy or sad… I have to be both or I’m nothing. And I realized that the part of me that I could get rid of, the part that was really causing all the pain was the part that kept trying to pick a side because their are no sides to me. I’m just a girl-boy boy-girl who feels so many things all at the same time and if you want to pretend that I am lying or naive, then go ahead. But you can’t make me disappear. Because for the first time in my life I am happy that I exist. So that’s what I wanted to tell you. I brought some chocolate if it’ll make you feel better?

© 2016 Aubree Lyman

 

The Spaces Between the Pronouns

by Lee Bobbie

At first there wasn’t a word

And then I learned a word

Gay.

And then a more specific word for persons who are

Assigned female at birth,

The L-word.

And that was what I’d say,

The L-word.

But never

The word itself.

 

And for a long time

I couldn’t say it

And

I couldn’t figure out why.

 

We try to fit ourselves

Into existing words

Because words mean we exist

Even when they don’t fit right

Even when they feel so wrong

But there’s nothing wrong with me

Is there?

 

I was never one of them girls, or women

Nor did I feel like one, I don’t

But damn did I try

And just like the pretty dance of straight pretense,

I failed

Miserably.

 

Yet I also

Always knew

I never wanted to grow up to be

A man.

 

So what was I?

What am I?

 

I’m not pink or blue

Although I certainly like the color blue,

Perhaps, perhaps

I’m just my own hue.

 

But also,

What the heck is pink or blue?

Colors like gender

Assigned by culture

The very moment you “appear”.

Colors like gender

Assigned by culture

Not by your own will.

It’s like saying straight people               Can’t like rainbows.

 

I walk in those spaces

The spaces between the pronouns

Plastered across our faces

She, her, hers, he, him, his

How I wish I could fit in somewhere, somehow

Yet for whom to please?

 

It’s not a big deal I tell myself

It’s not like I want or need to take hormones

Or have surgeries

To be myself

 

Okay I lie.

 

Just as my body does.

 

I have upper body dysphoria

I never wanted them things

And though I know I have ’em “small”

Well, they’re there

Since twelve, they’ve been.

 

Because our bodies have a mind of their own

Just as we do

And in my ideal world

These two minds would be as one

And mine would be

In the words of my friend Zoie,

A Ken Doll,

NOT BARBIE,

KEN.

Because Ken doesn’t have them things

AND KEN ALSO DOESN’T HAVE THEM OTHER THINGS

Ken doesn’t have

Anything.

 

Except a beautiful face.

Well, I hope he’s more than just a beautiful face.

And yet because humans are complicated beings

I’d still keep ’em things

For my future

Kids.
Yes, people like me want kids, too.

 

And in the meantime

I’ve just suppressed the extreme anxiety

About how people look at me

Question me

Stare at me

And not just when I need to go to

The bathroom.

 

Oh the bathroom.

Oh the discomfort and confusion on people’s faces

As I keep my gaze to the floor

Make a swift beeline to a stall

And be

Asinvisibleashumanlypossible

 

Because one time when I wasn’t so invisible

A lady walked in and saw me

And she looked so shocked that before I could catch myself

I said,

“I’m sorry.”

 

“I’m sorry”

I guess I’ve been saying that a lot

Feeling that a lot

 

So unless I HAVE to respond I don’t

Like when someone calls me as “sir”

I know my voice’d betray me,

Causing embarrassment to the other.

 

I’m not a “sir”

Tho it’s okay if you think I am

As long as it ain’t a bathroom matter

My silence proves a “peaceful” end

But maybe instead of “sir” or “ma’am”

We could try to use the word,

“Friend”?

 

Truly we are conditioned to be this or that

To WANT to be this or that

To ASSUME that others ARE THIS OR THAT

But what if we’re NOT this or that?

And what if maybe, JUST MAYBE

It’s okay.

 

I am.

We are.

Both, neither, or none.

And not just one.              Or the other.

 

For a long time I believed

That gender is eternal

And that was hard

Because

I believed in something that

Didn’t have a place for me

 

Kinda like being queer I guess.

 

At first there wasn’t a word.

And then I learned a word.

 

Agender.

 

I’m a masculine-presenting agender person

But I’m not a man

Or a woman

 

I’m just

Me.

© 2016 Lee Bobbie

 

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

By Brianna Cluck

I grew up in a religious household and, if there’s one thing I’ll always remember, it’s that wickedness never was happiness.

Growing up, it was just a phrase that I heard sometimes at church, but then I felt it inside me.  Everywhere.

It grew from just being heard once every couple months to seemingly every week at church.

It came up when we talked about my brother who made a great living as a programmer but had declared himself an atheist.

Wickedness never was happiness.

It came up as I was on the way to work and smelled the inviting scent of coffee from the shop around the corner.

Wickedness never was happiness.

It came up on the battlefield of the courts where it seemed that the laws of man were in a battle against the laws of God.

Wickedness never was happiness.

It became repetitive, intrusive, but altogether separate from my life.

And then suddenly the intrusion burst past my barricades.

Forcing me to evaluate my own worth, my own body, my own identity.

I’d subside the thoughts by donning my shirt, my slacks and my tie.  I’d carry my scriptures as a sword and my suit as my armor.

Wickedness never was happiness.

I’d visit the mighty fortress of our God.

But still the invaders flooded in, slaughtering every thought, toppling my psyche, pillaging my soul.

Wickedness never was happiness.

I found myself, at 2 in the morning, in my friend’s bathroom

wiping the mascara from my eyes

praying it would all come out

praying to God all mighty

to wipe away the mark

of the beast

 

Wickedness never was happiness.

 

I sat on my bed, knife in hand.

Praying to God to take this bitter cup from me

And to stop labeling it as lemonade.

Wickedness never was happiness.

And then, suddenly

Divine intervention

in the form of a text

from a friend.

 

It simply asks:

Why don’t you transition?

 

I went to the doctor

I took the bitter pill

I wear my mascara

I see the curvature of my body

and I know that wickedness never was happiness

but I’ve never been happier.


© 2015 Brianna Cluck

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