If your parents discard you,
You are mine.
If your friends disown you,
you are so mine.
If you disavow yourself,
I will hold a candle for you and hug you in my heart,
keeping you as mine.
Even if you don’t know you’re mine,
You belong to me
to this community of love that has healed me and who will heal so many others
calling us its own.
I know how it feels to be a target
as we do
and I know the sadness of hiding
because I’ve been there too
but remember this –
when you’re ready to come out
to proclaim yourself
I will be there
And so will we.
For I and we are the same now
one arm to lend you support
one shoulder to weep on.
I love you.
We love you.
No gun or plowing of cars will keep our love from any of you.
You are one us now, an I and a we
For you are mine……..
And I am yours.
Something I’m working on….haven’t figured out the right ending yet.
Family Secrets – An Homage to Ivan E. Coyote
by Sam Allen
I’ve always wondered who I got it from.
Not like a disease, but a flower that someone gave to me a long time ago, pressed in between the pages of an old photo album. A flower that I discovered late in my 20s; a symbol of love and endurance.
My uncle? Nah, a bad candidate. He was a child taken too far away too early, to a dark place full of urges that he was taught to indulge, and abuse.
My grandfather? Who knows. My aunt Betty tells me that he didn’t like his penis, the thing that most men (I’m assuming) take great pride in. “This thing,” he called it.
But still, what did I know back then, when she was trying to tell me something important?
Now I know that it’s because it was still too far removed. Not intimate enough to be like sleeping in the same bed with your childhood best friend, or making puppets with your stuffed animals during sleepovers. Girlfriend close.
She. Or they, or he. It’s still hard to fathom a pronoun change for this love. Someone who cooked me dry beef patties and carrot and raisin salad when I came over from seventh grade, intentionally missing the bus again so I could spend time with her. Grandma.
A safe haven like no other world could be.
Grandma who didn’t know her grandparents, to the best of my knowledge. Just like my dad.
But she persevered nonetheless, taking class after class at the junior college and having her work published (stolen, actually) in a professor’s writings. According to her.
Mom says that she always felt she had a penis.
We were talking about family gays, and how I didn’t have many, in one of our evolving conversations about the nature, and mom’s feelings, about, my “homosexuality.” I call it queerness. 🙂
And suddenly, she says, her eyes casually off in the distance, “Well, one time granny told me that she always felt she had a penis growing inside of her.”
Yeah, Granny had worn men’s BVD’s. She said they were more comfortable, and was once aghast that an ambulance crew had discovered her little-concealed secret. Cackling like only she could to recall the story.
And yeah, she also hated to French kiss men, or, rather, be Frenched by them.
These things my aunt had pointed out were emblems of her possible queerness. But I wanted more concrete evidence.
Something like this…
“But her brothers raped her when she was little,” mom says. I know that doesn’t explain it but I have to consider her argument respectfully.
“Well, gender identity and body image are things that are innate. Like, at 3 or 4,” I say.
Body image in a way that I can relate to if not exactly have. Maybe she was trans*, maybe not. She may have been right in the middle, just like me. Maybe not. I have to resist making her in my own image.
But this revelation gave me a possible, unexcavatalbe ground that I can stand on and return to. Talk to in times of trouble. Stories.
My grandmother was like me.
When I came home from Portland, I spent so much time plumbing my dad’s memories of his brother the child molester. The gay child molester. A baby boy of 15 probably committed suicide because of what he did to him. He was repeating what an uncle had done to him when he was only 12. Later, dad’s brother had relationships, and my dad recalled softly how Uncle Richard had come out to him before Harvey Milk made it a thing. Or maybe while. While they were backpacking through the mountains, something that I still cannot at all imagine my dad doing or wanting to do.
As for Granny, she came to me in a dream once when I was having a horrible time with agoraphobia and a fear of, basically, everything.
“Ooh! People!” She cackled. We cackled together.
I know that others search for their queer ancestors. I I follow the matriarchal line, holes and missing male relatives and all, on ancestry.com out of a rejection of the patriarchy. Ireland! Ellender! Exactly what I hoped for!
This is different.
It’s a portrait of complexity. Did she tell others about how she felt? I can’t shut up about it to the people I’m close to. Was she ever in a relationship with someone who affirmed what she felt? Something many people search for.
I should have been looking closer. Somewhere where “women” tell their secrets to others who look and feel like their own kind. Maybe.
“I know your touch.”
I was sitting in the convalescent hospital, in a chair across from Grandpa, holding his hand.
My family filed out meaningfully, and we were at once alone again.
I got up and stood by his bedside. He couldn’t turn his head without feeling his pain from the sickness that had now overtaken his body.
I told him about my new life in Portland.
“He said. That’s great. You’re gonna be the President of Safeway, girl.”
“I’ll come back and visit you.”
Our eyes meet. Silence. try not to cry.
“I’ll miss you,” I think I blurt out.
Everyone was publicly cheerful, saying we knew that he’d be up and out of the hospital in no time.
They wanted to make him feel better – and themselves feel better – but I think he hated it.
Patient as always, he took our pronouncements in stride.
“You’ve finally found your life. Keep it.”
I walked to the front of the bed and kissed him on the head.
“I love you.” I wanted to say so much more, but this had to suffice. I think he knew.
“I love you too, girl.”
Then everyone filed in.