Social Justice Home & Abroad: Social Justice Creativity Competition 2010

15. Fairies and Queers and Dykes, Oh My! and Straight as a Kentucky Road: A Collection of Poetry

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Erin Wynn

Essay and Poetry

 

“Fairies and Queers and Dykes, Oh My!”

 

I can’t speak for everyone. Discovering who you are is a difficult and enlightening experience no matter who you happen to be. However, for the gay community, it’s not as easy as bringing home the guy or gal that mom or dad doesn’t approve of. For most gays, coming out is really difficult. It’s not like putting on a new pair of pants in the morning to walk into the world not knowing if this particular pair of pants accents all the right things. It’s also not like telling your mother and father that you’ve decided to become a dance major instead of going to law school; but that’s getting closer. The phenomenon that I speak of does not involve penis envy or even desire to become a construction worker. I do not actually own a collection of flannel, I have never really called U-Haul, and although I do have two cats, I would like to think that is purely coincidental.

Coming out as a lesbian opened me up to a whole world of new experiences, new happiness, and more callousness then I could have ever imagined. I discovered my preference much like the Katy Perry song, “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It.” As awful and cliché as that sounds, it was the summer after my first semester of college, I was dating a manly senior in high school, and hadn’t a care in the world. Of course, all of that changed when, with drunken courage, I actually kissed a chick who had called me attractive and unlike the song, both I and my boyfriend minded.

I come from a small town, where, despite its location and time, the people believe the Confederacy is still alive and well and that they, in Southwestern Ohio, are a piece of that heritage. The majority of males from my high school had Confederate flags on their trucks and Dixie horns often replaced the traditional, inadequate “honk” of their Chevys and Fords. In a place where tire size outshines brains and beauty, the ability to express pretty much anything, is limited and like many other places, drunk girl-on-girl make out sessions were hot; being a lesbian was social suicide.

Seeing as how no one ever leaves small towns, the majority of my high school graduating class heard of my little slip into the fires of hell within a couple of weeks. I got a variety of reactions ranging from “Oh my God, I had no idea!” to “Yeah… I kinda… knew that.” I got a few extremes as well. My high school tennis partner was said to have exclaimed,

“Holy shit! I changed in front of her!”

Needless to say, I was not invited to her recent wedding to a burly marine.

Of course, this whole lesbian thing was a huge surprise for me, who had never seriously fathomed the idea of dating another girl. After realizing what a huge loss the Katy Perry song chick turned out to be, I set out in search of me which was a hard thing to do when you realize that the me you thought you were is not going to be as simple as the me you are now.

After my little drunken mishap, I ventured into an extreme mind fuck for a good two weeks. I didn’t talk to anyone and refused to be talked to. I refused to think much. When that evil, diabolical, three letter word would find its way into my head, I would begin an epic war internally that never vocalized itself except in my sullen attitude towards the world.

One night while at work, I was fighting one such epic mental battle when a female fellow coworker, whom I was good friends with, came up and asked me something. I think my reply was less than friendly because the response I got was somewhere along the lines of,

“You know what Erin, you have been a real bitch lately.”

The war took a five minute break as I stepped back to the reality in front of me. I shuttered an apology and asked this coworker, my friend if we could chat.

My knees broke as I thumped in the seat across from her. My tongue dried up, my speech slurred, and I uttered the words that I thought I never could; “I think I’m gay.”

Her reaction was so nonchalant that I almost died for the millionth time within those two weeks. She said to me,

“I had a relationship with a girl once. We went out for about two months. She was nice, but I don’t think I could ever love a girl.”

Another blow to my already breaking heart. With so few people to look to or talk to about this evil monkey on my shoulder, I grasped for each and every opinion; good or bad, in a desperate attempt to sway me either way. Now I was sure that not only was I going to hell, I was going to hell without being able to actually love someone.

The real reason I made it through to the rainbow side was my best friend, Aaron. Being gay himself, he was my rock. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with him. It was like that song from Disney’s Tarzan “Stranger’s Like Me.” I was too timid to just come out and ask any questions and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, so I just observed. It’s like getting a brand new job only you can’t clock out at the end of the day. I was constantly nervous, anxious, and excited all at the same time and Aaron was happy to introduce it all to me, poking fun and laughing the entire way at my ignorance as a good friend should.

I remember the moment I became okay with being a lesbian. It happened at Aaron’s house. My gay man invited me over to hang out and we sat on his single person couch watching “Clerk’s Two”. Being rather inebriated, we watched the movie in silence until, in a moment of complete enlightenment near the end of the film I exclaimed,

“Ya know what? Rosario Dawson is really hot. And you know what else? I can say that now.”

I sat back from that moment and there was this feeling of, “Wow, everything’s going to be okay.”

Coming out to myself was a really hard internal struggle. Once I accepted it, I began to incorporate it into other areas of my life. The first was my job. Working at Goodwill in the conservative little town made for some interesting stories. We had one particular customer who made those preachers on T.V. look like atheists. Everything was the ‘devil’. Dancing was the devil. T.V. was the devil. Harry Potter was the devil. She swore up and down she saw J.K. Rowling doing a séance on T.V. (which I personally found hypocritical since T.V. was the devil).

One day I was wearing my “I heart Boys, Shoes, and Purses” shirt to work which I found ironic and humorous. The woman stopped me as I was going into the bathroom and leaned right up to my chest and read my shirt saying,

“I heart boys, shoes, and purses.”

She looked up from her five foot nothing perch and said,

“Well, at least you like boys and you don’t like girls.”

She preceded to laugh at her own joke in an awful old lady cackle.

I stopped her, however, by saying,

“But I do like girls.”

She paused, but the smile never left her fat little face and she leaned in like we were old friends as she preceded with her joke.

“But, you don’t like girls like that.”

She patted my shoulder and started to stroll away still smiling.

I smiled and called back at her.

“Yes, I do.”

The woman spun around and in the shrillest and most unattractive tone I have ever heard cried,

“Whaaaaaaaaaat?”

I continued into the bathroom, threw my head back and laughed for a good ten minutes. When I came back out she was checking out in line and refused to make eye contact with me. I waved to her and smiled every single time she came in after that. The loving, God-fearing, good Christian woman that she was, now referred to me as “the devil” each and every time she walked in.

Once I did come out to the closest people around me (my friends), I was single for some time. I was in no hurry to start a relationship with a woman. I had heard that lesbian relationships were so hard and I was still trying to figure out my own identity. I had heard that girls were moody, bitchy, and impossible to keep happy in relationships. Then there were these masculine and feminine roles that you had to take as a lesbian so there always had to be “a man” in the relationship. I had cut off all my hair before I came out, so I thought I had that covered, but I wasn’t ready to change how I dressed to fit either role. I had always dressed with jeans and a t-shirt and whatever the lesbian protocol called for, I was just stickin’ to that. Of course I learned actually being a lesbian was far from the stereotypes I had absorbed from T.V. and being in a relationship with a woman was far from what I ever expected.

I met my girlfriend, Cerah, at Pride Night at Kings Island which couldn’t have been a more corny or awkward situation to meet someone. I had seen her walking around Kings Island all day in heels of all things. Who wears heels to an amusement park? Our meeting consisted of a quick introduction by a large, black, bisexual man, the most uncomfortable ‘hello’ I ever stuttered, followed immediately by a ‘bye’. The large, black, bisexual man got her number for me and I text her immediately apologizing for the awkward introduction and we just kept talking.

Cerah turned out to be my best friend. Firstly, she is my exact opposite. As a vegan, environmentally friendly, girly-girl, she is the perfect foil to me, a meat-etarian. She plots and plans things with lists and makes extensive goals for herself. I, on the other hand, cannot see past tomorrow, am never quite sure where my life is headed, and am very laid back. We are a perfect match. She never stops smiling even when’s she’s angry. She can’t remember the words to songs so she makes them up and she can’t function, and you don’t want to attempt to make her function, in the mornings without two cups of coffee. She thinks I’m funny for some reason and puts up with my constant ramblings about Swift, Nye, Donne, and whatever I’m writing for the moment. She’s my soundboard, my psychiatrist, the most beautiful woman in the world, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

My sister and brother were pretty apathetic to my sexual orientation change. My sister, who is five years younger than me, knew something was up and that Cerah wasn’t just a friend. She waited and deductively planned to catch us kissing, embracing, anything so she could have that “ah-ha!” moment. I kept it from her thinking she couldn’t be trusted. As the youngest child, she usually kept one or two things on my brother and I in her pockets just in case she needed a get-out-of-jail-free card at any time. You know, so she can tell mom, “Yeah, well, Justin has a tattoo…” to save her own ass. I thought my being gay was one of those cards. There were more than a few times when my sister walked in and I had to pretend I was checking for something in Cerah’s eye instead of leaning in for a kiss.

Her hard snooping paid off though. I was watching her when my parents went out of town for a weekend and of course, we had a few friends over. I had had a couple of beers and it was just one of those “fuck it” moments. I kissed Cerah in front of her. Since then, my sister has tried to be really supportive even though we don’t discuss it much. Being even more submersed in the conservative small town culture than I was, it means a lot to me when she agrees with my gay rights statuses on Facebook or will send me a text explaining how she told off some jerk, gay basher at school that day.

My brother learned through a passive text which I sent jokingly and to which, he barely responded to. I don’t even remember what was said, but I remember being really nervous about sending the text and his response was pretty much like “yeah…” His stance on it is that he’s moved out and so he won’t have to deal with the drama. The subject is dealt with as another passing joke as to why our family is fully dysfunctional. We joke that he’s Failure Number One because he got a tattoo and I’m Failure Number Two because I don’t want to be a paralegal (my mother’s choice of my profession), however, as soon as I come out as gay, birth order just won’t even matter anymore; I surely will become Failure Number One. Being closer to my brother than to my sister, it ’s kind of disappointing that he won’t discuss the issue with me. I truly believe he’s just indifferent about it. My brother is simply trying to get his own life together and I don’t think he’ll have time for me anytime soon, but maybe becoming Failure Number One myself is something I should look forward to. I think it deserves a some sort of bumpers sticker.

My parents, on the other hand, have a strict “don’t hear, don’t ask, don’t tell” about the majority of things in all of their children’s lives. I never talked to my mom about boys, let alone girls. I never talked to my dad about much that wasn’t the surface, “Hey, how was school,” “Fine,” conversation. I have never drawn a reaction from my parents, positive or negative as long as I went to my room, kept quiet, and kept my grades up. My parents pretty much do what they do and expect us to do the same.

I was never a bad kid growing up. I got good grades, played every sport imaginable, and never got into trouble. I got no response from my parents. My brother got all highest honors his entire way through high school and college. Nothing. My sister’s won tons of awards in both music and horsemanship. Nada. My brother graduated from college. Nope. My sister wins more awards in soccer and 4-H. They might have come to a game or two. I wrote and published a book my freshman year of college. They have yet to read it.

After I came out, it was really hard for me to be at my house. My best friend the gay man that my brother lovingly nicknamed “Rainbow Sprinkles” and my parents’ not-so-subtle remarks about his appearance and sexual orientation hurt me more than they could have ever known. My family deals through joking. We’re not serious about anything to avoid things like feelings. The gay jokes, however, got real old, real fast when their jokes were unknowingly about me. I grew depressed and hid or tried to simply avoid home at all costs. I was an unofficial couch surfer for a good six months coming home just long enough to show that I was still alive, only to disappear to whoever would hang out with me so that I could just feel like I could be myself. It worked until I got the opportunity to move out with Cerah and her mother.

My parents still don’t recognize that I’m a lesbian. The “don’t hear, don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is too strong in my house for anyone to admit to anyone what’s really going on. So Cerah and I come and go to family functions, to holiday traditions, and events as “friends” who live, go to school, and pretty much do everything together. We’re just really, really “close”. From time to time my parents will make a remark about getting married to a man and neither of them has ever been to or seen my house which I cannot invite them to because I refuse to hide the life that Cerah and I have. Until they snap to reality, I play a constant game of I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know-that-we-both-know with my mother until the day when the words are actually spoken and we’ll have to do the unthinkable and deal with it.

As I said before, being gay has brought a lot of callousness to my life. Defending who you are is something one never gets used to. One day one of those preacher guys with those “Repent or Perish” signs was on my college’s plaza and I stopped to investigate. He was a nice enough guy. Unlike most of them, he explained that he was an introverted guy, but the Lord had called him to the Concrete Campus to “speak to the college sinners.” I approached him and we talked. Having nine years of Catholic school behind me, I impressed him with my knowledge of the assorted passages he presented to me.

The man asked me if I had ever told a lie, I replied I had and he told me I was a liar. He asked me if I had ever hated anyone, I told him I had and he told me I was a murderer. It went on as such for a few more comforting revelations about myself and then he told me that if I repented and took Jesus into my life, I could go to Heaven. I told the man that I would never get into his Heaven anyway because I was gay. His eyes lit up like a slot machine winner. His entire demeanor changed, his voice deepened and as he cleared his throat, he told me that I could still be saved if I gave up that lifestyle, repented, and turned to Jesus for forgiveness.

“So you mean in order to be saved, I have to sleep with men?” I asked.

“No.. no,” he said nervously. “You can be celibate. I know of lots of former gays who admit that they have a problem, repented, and have turned their lives to Jesus.”

“You mean, I can’t be a Christian and be gay?”

He shifted nervously again.

“I mean, you can, you can practice Christianity, but you can’t get into Heaven unless you repent and turn your life to Jesus.”

I had been very patient with the man and between his “repenting” and “turning to Jesus’” I listened intently and never interrupted. I finally asked him though,

“Are you married, sir?”

He replied, “Yes and I love my wife with all of my heart, with all of my soul, and all of my mind and I would lay down my life for her.”

I looked the man right in his eyes and replied.

“I love my girlfriend with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind, and I would lay down my life for her and I don’t find anything wrong with that.”

Upon saying this, I turned and left him to repent and turn someone else to Jesus with his loving words.

I don’t believe that everyone needs to support gay rights or gay marriage. My only wish is that they are apathetic enough to not interfere. I’ve never understood the religious hatred of gays. There is however, some sort of massive movement to wipe us out; one way or another. Personally, I have never pictured Jesus as the type to run to the top of hills with “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. Nor have I ever pictured him decked out like Rambo packin the King James ready to do combat with the infidels. I’ve never seen a Bible with a secret button that whips out a machete or samurai sword and I didn’t know they trained priests or pastors in the art of Chuck Norris butt-kicking. I would actually prefer a gay island however, if that’s where they want to send us. We would like a heated pool, open bar, and tikki girls; thanks.

Being a second class citizen was another revelation to me on coming out. Making seventy-five to eighty cents less than a man as a woman is one thing, but being denied fourteen hundred federal rights because I’m not allowed to marry is a whole different story. There’s a commercial in Ireland where a young man goes house to house asking permission to marry his partner. I guess that’s what we’re going to have to do here too. That’s only three hundred million people to ask… I think it’s possible.

It’s really frustrating to know that I was born here, pay taxes, enjoy both French fries and hot dogs, and like every other American, have no idea where Idaho or Arkansas lies on the map and am still denied rights. Being a Women and Gender Studies minor, I’ve studied the 1920’s women’s movement for the right to vote and I am telling everyone right now; if we have to stand outside the White House for a year with signs in the rain and cold and snow, the gays are not going to stand there quietly. There is going to be some knocks on the White House door about some messed up weaves, some broken nails, and ruined outfits. Not to mention, by the time we leave, the White House is going to have to be renamed the Rainbow House because we’re going to get real bored, real fast.

It’s even worse that they give us this false hope in the state to state roller coaster. Somehow, they are getting away with not only letting people vote on human rights, but recalling it time and time again and holding another vote, just to see what happens. The state elections to give us our “right to marry” give us just enough hope to pay attention. We really need to hire a horse race announcer to keep track of it all.

“And California has the vote. It’s California all the way and it’s Massachusetts up the side Massachusetts makes the turn, it’s way, way ahead! but oh no! California has turned around it’s heading the other direction ! And Ohio is absolutely nowhere in sight!”

It really is disheartening to grow up and think you can be and do whatever you want in this “land of the free where all men are created equal!” and then realize there’s a disclaimer; a big one at that. For example, when I was little, I had this preschool teacher who told me I could be anything I wanted to be if I just put my mind to it. So I thought really, really hard because as a child, this was it, there was no going back once you said what you were going to be. I finally came to the conclusion, and I told the woman enthusiastically, that when I grew up I was going to be a kitty cat and I mean, I didn’t even care what color I was so excited. The woman told me however, crushing my tiny child heart, that there was no way I could be a kitty cat when I grew up. My exact words were,

“But I’ll work really hard at it!”

The witch still told me no. Crushed and completely dismayed I subsided with being a vet, but you better believe my drawing of me as a vet had plenty of cats in it. I showed her though anyway; I grew up to be lazy, moody, and I firmly believe that I am indeed the queen of the world.

Being gay in America is like being that little kid who gets their heart broken all the time. We’re the kids whose parents mysteriously never have quarters for video games or gumballs. We’re the kids who have to wear hand-me-downs that never fit right. We’re the kids who the rich uncle didn’t like us so we get the shaft every Christmas while we watch everyone else open up the cool toys. We’re the forgotten, the overlooked, and the ignored. We are America’s middle child. Being a middle child myself, this is a double whammy. Not only did I not receive as nice a car as either my older brother or younger sister when I turned sixteen, but instead of having a wedding I might get to maybe have a civil union which is nowhere near as romantic sounding.

This whole thing is not about politics or parents, fairies or Harley’s, this whole thing is about love. It’s about being able to love whoever the hell you want. It’s about being able to love yourself, and there is nothing, nothing more important than that on t9his Earth.

They say that most people are prejudice against gays until they know one. They say until you have a gay uncle, a transsexual cousin, or lesbian friend, you can live your life with the wool pulled firmly over your eyes and allow the ignorance to flow freely from your tongue without regard of who you hurt each time your call your good buddy a “fag”. They say until you know a gay, a transsexual, a lesbian you feel as though you have the right to judge through the power of an ambiguous little black Book. Before you know a gay, transsexual, a lesbian you feel that you have the right to tell me who I am allowed to marry and who I’m allowed to love. Well, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Erin Wynn and I’m a lesbian.

 

Straight as a Kentucky Road

A Collection of Poems

 

McDonald’s Type Sin

They tell me
that I cannot possibly love you.
They say that sin kidnapped
my heart and took it to
to a terrible place.
They tell me that we’re
going to hell. Something
about fire and brimstone
and the Bible this and that.

I see no hell in
your eyes and feel
no sin in your touch.
If this is a terrible place
I’ll take it to go
like a Coke and fries.
For who wants to hear
that Heaven is terrible,
that you’re heart is a fool,
and that a book
is more correct
than your heart.

 

Missed Understanding

 

There’s a moment when a straight person discovers
I’m gay
and you can actually see it in their faces as they
dismantle
every word I’ve said, they’ve said, everything I’ve done, they’ve done
Did I?
hit on you, think you were cute, try anything, make my move?
Did you?
insult me, look at me funny, lead me on, how, oh how to respond? Respond!
O yeah?
Then, then, there comes, there it always comes, it always comes, it’s inevitable, here it comes…
I knew this gay person this one time.
Boxed, stamped, sealed, smile, try not to laugh, nod and respond? Respond!
O yeah?
Awkward laugh, always insert awkward laugh, it helps, it does… smile.
Ok then,
nice to meet you, hope to see you ‘round, I’ve got to.. yeah. Talk to you later
walk away.
Roll eyes, an know, know, know…that the other person is the one
that’s peculiar.

 

Deconstruction

 

Was it pity? Curiosity?
Or just awkward silence
that prompted such a comment?
As you grasp
to take hold of my identity
and wrap it
‘round your own.

 

I asked for no such
prompt, no comment,
and gave you no inclination.
I put not my identity
into your hands.
What a curious pity
that you choose to fill
a silence with.

 

Fundamental

We’re fighting, we’re fighting
for air.
Flopping through the sophistry
in a country as separated in
church and state
as water and H2O.
Drowning
in a country where all men
are created equal and we’re
all endowed with the life, liberty,
and the pursuit of what makes
the white, straight, old bastards happy.

 

I can have my right to squeal,
if the Congressmen get their pork.
Hiding rights in bills for bridges.

 

What do we want?
What could we possibly want?
In the land of the free, the melting pot,
the land of opportunity and hope;
we fight for something that
shouldn’t need to be fought for;
we’re fighting, we’re fighting for air.

 

Everyone’s Favorite Pastime

 

The party lesbian is one
who, for the point of attention,
in the ninth inning, runs out onto
the field, completely naked,
and distracts the fans,
who have been drinking
and cheering themselves on all
afternoon.

She throws in a
slider to an unsuspecting
friend or stranger as she steals bases and
strokes the bat eyeing the fans
as she perverts America’s game
for a few moments of fame
and an innocent drunken story
in the morning.

But who cleans the stadium after the show

and what true Lesbian would watch
a bat and ball sort of sport anyway.

 

Maker of All Things

Based on a True Story

Nested above Boston Commons
there lies the symbol of love
and of beauty.
Romeo and Juliette.
A swan couple.
With their nest padded perfectly
for the egg that was laid,
taking turns like good
parents, their necks
forming the shape of
a heart each time they
nosey-nosey
and switch
places.

For months sitting on
with their precious cargo,
patient, patient,
but it never seemed
to want
to hatch.
Still they sat this
dubbed
Romeo and Juliette
patient, patient.
Switching places
nosey-nosey,
their love
eminent
to Boston below.

They grew concerned for Romeo Jr.
So they were prompted
to take a look.
Well, they
declared coming down
from the nest,
there is no problem
with the egg or the birds,
however-
your Shakespearian
reference was
slightly construed.
Your dubbed
Romeo
should
really be
Rhonda.

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