My pride is made of a million specks of shame I’ve shaken off my back over the years,
A hundred girl-on-girl kisses under the blanket so no one would see,
A trickle of my bleeding heart for every time I sat in silence
While my friends said homophobic things
Not knowing they were talking about me.
My pride is made of thousands of dust-bunnies
From all those years in the closet,
Every shard of brokenness from being told my love was an abomination,
Beads of sweat from all the extra pounds of guilt I carried
For being too close to someone, for loving them too much.
My pride is made of every fragmented word
I needed to shout from the rooftops but instead, I swallowed
The vacant echoes from every time I told her I loved her and she told me
And we couldn’t share that with anyone,
Piles of leftover chalk dust from learning all about the sanctity of love and sex that did not acknowledge my existence,
Heaps of pencil shavings and white-out from all of her efforts to fall in love with a man.
My pride is made of whispered summer camp confessions,
Where, for the first time, I discovered I was not alone,
Lists of excuses to miss girls’ night until finally I came clean
And admitted it made me uncomfortable,
Awkward in-between stages of starting to come to terms with who I was
But still not knowing who to trust with the truth.
My pride is made of numbers.
So many numbers.
The number of years that went by
Between the time I learned the word “gay”
And the time I learned the word “bisexual,”
The number of times I went to pride as an “ally,”
The number of times I’ve questioned my identity
(which, by the way, I’m still counting)
The number of close friends I’ve had
Who were politically opposed to my right to marry a person of a similar gender,
And…told me so without hesitation.
The number of gay, lesbian and transgender teenagers
Who are thrown out of their homes each year,
And driven to drugs, prostitution, and suicide.
The number of bisexuals forgotten in the previous line.
My pride is made of remnants of persecution and death, stigma and disease,
The hands that muffled the screams of injustice and inequality,
And every pair of eyes and the ears that simply turned away.
My pride is made of anger and laughter
And every other color of the rainbow
And glitter and face paint and partying
And the bittersweet taste
Of progress that is not yet complete
Originally published in apt, Literary Activism. July, 2018