I still remember the tremble in my friend’s voice

i’ve been feeling pretty bleak lately and i haven’t felt like sharing the pieces that i have written these past two months. i haven’t performed anything either, but i came out of my shell yesterday for the lgbtq+ open mic (which marked the end of the lgbt history month) and read out a few tales of intolerance. it was heart-warming to take in so much beauty, so much confidence and so much love. as i am learning to believe in love, here they are:

I still remember the tremble in my friend’s voice.

We were curled up in a small stool in our school’s bathroom and were listening to Life Round Here; soft volume. Shoulders pressed, we hummed along, eyes stuck to uncapped markers and to obscene words spread on walls. The tips of our fingers barely touched.

“I think I like boys too.”

For a brief moment, his eyes held a shaky urgency, as if he expected a blow.

I reached out for his hand.

“I know.”, I said.

I later learned it was not my blow he feared.

I remember my P.E. teacher from middle school, who taught my thirteen-year-old self the perks of cruelty.

In the seventh grade, a friend of mine liked a girl. She would gush about how beautiful her hair was and how soft and damp her hands would be in hers. She would cut classes to meet her in lone parks in the afternoon and she had made a habit out of skipping P.E. Word got around.

One Tuesday afternoon, our P.E. teacher arranged us in a circle and asked us where she was. We kept silent. She asked again, more menacingly.

“Is she out with boys?”, my teacher half-joked.

“Oh, no, miss.”, a tall girl from my right quipped. “She likes girls.”

She was careful to nuance it rightly.

I remember how my P.E. teacher’s over-lined lips pressed together tightly. Her excessively plucked eyebrows raised high. “Girls?”

A few of my classmates nodded silently, giggling, eyes gleaming.

She touched her forehead lightly and made the sign of the cross.

“Oh, God. She really is crazy then.”

She launched into a homophobic rant, which I don’t remember. But I remember staring at her, dumbfounded, silent, chewing on my bottom lip and holding back tears. I was so angry at myself for days afterwards. Why didn’t I say anything?

But a classmate of mine did. “She can like whoever she wants to.”, she said lowly. The tall girl puffed and turned to the teacher. “She likes Lady Gaga.” she explained.

I remember the second time a girl kissed me. We were at a party, she was tipsy and her teeth knocked mine. We both pulled away to laugh at our clumsiness. When she leaned in again, a girl we barely knew ran to us. She grabbed my shoulder sharply, digging her nails into my skin. I remember her half-shocked, half-angry face, complimented with a smirk.

“Are you both crazy? You’re embarrassing yourselves.”, she spat.

I remember comforting a girl who fell in love with another. 3. a.m., an endless whatsapp conversation, my heart breaking to questions such as “What if my friends stop talking to me?” “What if my mum finds out?” “What if my ex-boyfriend thinks I’m a freak?” She told me that what was crushing her was that she did not fear rejection from her crush anymore, but gossip, isolation and backlash instead. “Am I wrong?”

I remember a friend’s heavy eyes. He told us that his father had kicked him out.

“He found out.” he said simply.

I remember a friend faintly whispering: “He does not like me because I am not as soft as a girl”.

I remember the lies some of my friends told their parents when they went to the Pride Parade, I remember how they hid from cameras and photos, how they stuffed their rainbow badges in their pockets on their way home.

I remember a boy that reached out to me on Facebook. He was gay and he was hurting. He was part of his high school’s cool gang and his best friends were crushingly homophobic. He was crumbling and he was watching Shane Dawson for comfort. One day, he stopped answering my messages. I still look him up on Facebook from time to time. He has many pictures with his girlfriend.

I remember my homophobic teachers. I remember a teacher pointing to my friend’s bleached hair and asking if he was “one of those”, I remember the spiteful protests in my country. I remember hearing the words “faggot”, “queer” and their equivalents in my mother-tongue, all laced with venom. I remember my gay friends crying at afterparties and smudging the glitter they had carefully applied on their faces, I remember my Facebook comments being flooded with homophobia and I remember the pure bliss of Prides.

Lastly, I remember the numerous people who have told me, patronizingly, that advocating for the LGBTQ community was not important enough. As if, with all the hurt there is out there, there would be anything more important than advocating for love.

my friend, david, performing his heartfelt pieces last night ^.^