young queer kid. remember how you always wanted to dance on the rings of Saturn. and you would picture your legs transforming into this sexy see-through lace. and you would imagine the way your feet would burn in the best way possible from all of your carefree dance moves. and you would smile. a smile so radiant and infectious that it would be confused with the prettiest and brightest purple lilacs that ever bloomed.
and then you stopped smiling. and you stopped dancing on Saturn’s rings.
because that straight parent told you to act like the boy you were supposed to be.
and that straight friend was too embarrassed to be around you because your voice was too high and too loud. and the speed and the frequency at which you talked was too over-whelming. and they marked you a sissy. and questioned you. turning your identity into an examination you had no way of ever studying for. you failed them. and you thought you failed yourself.
because those straight institutions never told you that you could exist. the hetero love that you learned was a prized display for the world. it was fourteen carat gold love. and you. you were somehow wrong. always changing the pronouns in your poems and pretending that your high school love letters didn’t exist because of him. invalidating the ways you loved as if they ever existed in your embodiment.
but don’t worry. they will tell you it gets better. you will be welcomed into a community of love and acceptance.
but then you do worry. because you learn it doesn’t get better. it only gets worse. meaner.
because you will finally be at an age where you will have the vocabulary to name your discriminations. and this time. it won’t be the straight system who tells you you are wrong. but rather your queer friend. your queer lover. your queer communities.
they will tell you that you are the worst kind of fag. your femininity will be their joke. your gapless thighs will make them vomit corporate rainbows.
you’ll plant your identities into the earth. equal parts soil. equal parts water. equal parts naivety.
you’ll think that their love will nourish your roots. but no flowers will ever bloom.
they will always forget to tend to your garden. they will forget about you. and you must learn young kid, that you can forget about them.
the same way they forgot about the femmes who were throwing bricks at stonewall, while masc boys were fucking in parks moaning over our chants for revolutionary freedoms. the same way they forgot to represent your body in any queer spaces making your identity the new “in” that prefaces visible. the ways they forget to tell you that you are beautiful while young queer boys starve themselves following an instructional manual that is written in a language they can’t understand.
young kid. it is okay to bloom on your own. to bloom as beautifully and dangerously as you have to for them to see you. let your radical self-love be your resistance.
young kid. dance on the rings of Saturn until your feet are filled with big beautiful blisters. then bloom. bloom into the biggest and prettiest flower you can be. grow and grow and grow and grow. until you have grown so tall that you can’t see or hear the people who told you that you are not valid.
young queer kid. you are valid. you are special. and you are loved. if not by other people. then by you.
Matt Conte is a PhD student in gender studies and sexual diversity studies at the University of Toronto. Currently, Matt is working as the 2SLGBTQ+ Training and Capacity Building Coordinator at the Peel HIV/AIDS Network.