I went back to my parents house recently to pack up some of the things I had left there,books mostly,a few photos and really rad toys.As I cleared out an old bookshelf I found a plastic spiral book,complete with laminated yellow construction paper cover.It was a story book made for a second grade project.Each page had lined paper at the top,the kind with the little dashes in the middle so you can shape the letters better,and a blank space at the bottom for a picture.Mine was about some archaeologists who find an” Egyptian tomb with a a gem in it,which by the way is totally cursed.” Direct qoute there.”The archaeologist touched it and is turned into a jaguar man! Oh! I forgot to mention the cat goddess Bastet had cursed it”- another direct qoute there.
Long short story short the jaguar goes on a killing spree and they trick him back into the tomb with another shiny gem and slam the doors shut.Basically burying him alive.The moral of this story was either “don’t be greedy and steal gems!” Or “always follow correct archaeological documentation procedure when entering a field site”.

I remember making that book.In fact I remember what I was wearing while laying on the floor with a box of crayola.I also remember proudly showing my book to my parents.I remember my mother howling with laughter.Not in a ” what will you kids think of next?! ” laugh or at the cleverness of the plot or my adorable fourth wall breaking asides to the reader.

But at the fact that she thought it was stupid.It was frivolous,the drawings of the jaguar monster she pointed out were more dog or squashed dog turd then scary cat and why did that guy have six fingers? My father told me it was “very nice” in the same tone old southern ladies use when they say “bless your heart”. Which every Southerner knows is old lady code for ” that is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard.But you are sweet for trying”. I was ashamed of it.I hid it.Every move or so it would be re found while packing and trotted out for laughs along with any drawings or short stories,poems or collage of things from my ” insert thing here dismissevly”- phase.
Having my mother proof read my homework was a nightmare of inadequacy .I had an
amazing English teacher in 10th grade.He was the only one to ask why my take home essays were so stilted and unlike me,unlike the in class essays.I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was because my writting voice, my creative voice,my soul voice was hated at home.

How many of us queers do this? Either through being told our voices are literally bad,unacceptable,too high,to flamboyant or conversely too butch,too bitchy.How many of us grow up struggling in silence voiceless for so many reasons? Not straight enough.Not cis enough.Not passing enough.Not smart enough.Not as well versed in queer theory or prose enough.How often do so many of us shrink back from conversations,from places where we could make real change because of this fear of our voices? Or of being viciously silenced or derailed in so many ways.

I constantly compare my voice,both in writing and non writing to others.Mostly those amazing academic types.Judith Butler,Shiri Eisner etc.People who write like that get respect.Their parents don’t tease them about yellow paper books from second grade.They are worthy and I am not.That has been the chorus in my brain for nearly 26 years.

I’m done with it.I’m done having my voice drowned down or silenced.By parents,lovers,friends,straight people,cis people,gay people and even myself.My voice is loud,sometimes angry,often silly or joking.But it is MINE.And no,I won’t shut up because you don’t like it,or think my tone is wrong,or I might scare allies or I’m too jokey or whatever else.It is my voice and it is valid and worthy of being heard by virtue of its mere existence.

Well, I have a sequel to write about what happens when that jaguar man busts out.Oh! I forgot to mention,he’s immortal!


1 Comment

Filed under Non LGBT Writings

One response to “Voices

  1. Totally can relate to this. I wrote a lot as a kid, but stopped as I just didn’t think it was good enough. I often feel like I’m being told to “sit down and shut up” by the majority of society-the queer part of society, and other parts…I’m not considered straight enough or cis enough to be part of quote unquote “normal” society, but I’m not considered queer enough to be part of queer society….I sometimes feel like everyone’s just saying, “we don’t want Francis, you take Francis!” “No, we don’t want Francis either, you take Francis!” while I am left without a community. Every time I say I identify as something-or-other I’m told exactly why I must be wrong, and can’t be what I identify as-whether it’s my gender identity, sexuality, political views, hobbies, you name it. There’s always a reason I supposedly have no right to claim to be part of whatever group I am part of. No matter how hard I work I’m told I didn’t work hard enough, that I’m not really trying, that I’m choosing to fail at whatever it is I worked so hard at. I always try my hardest, but because the finished project is never good enough, I’m considered lazy, not responsible enough, etc…I feel pressured to be perfect because anything short of perfect, to society, means I must be lazy and not deserve basic rights such as a roof over my head and food on my table…to them, if I suffer it’s because I’m not good enough, don’t try hard enough, am just plain lazy and not worth so much as the air I breathe. If I am not perfect I feel like I am not enough, because to society, “it’s win or lose, not how you play the game”. Working hard means nothing to society if you lose…work hard and lose, you didn’t even try in the slightest, do absolutely nothing and be lucky enough to win, you must have busted your ass working! Success/failure is another binary in society. To them, there is no middle ground, just as I’m expected to “choose” between gay and straight, man and woman, etc, etc, etc. It’s complete bullshit and I refuse to stand for it. I’m one of those people in the grey areas. I’m bisexual, I’m genderqueer, I work hard, but no, I’m not perfect, and yes, the results of my work are usually not “good enough”. I’m a human being but I’m so often seen as a failure and a liar. I’d like to say I don’t care what people think, but often times, I do. But that doesn’t mean I will “sit down and shut up” like society tells me to. I’m imperfect, don’t always succeed in the areas I wish, and by no means fit in the binary, and no matter what society thinks of me-and no matter how much that gets to me, no matter how hard I try to not care what they think-I will never stop speaking out. I’ve always been unable to shut up, even in situations when I probably should, and that’s never going to change-at least, I hope it doesn’t, and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure I continue speaking out, despite the odds.

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