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TO THE STRAIGHT GIRLS AT OUR BAR: A LETTER FROM THE GAYS (PLEASE STOP SHRIEKING)

12 Aug

“we LOVE the gays!”

this isn’t even what it’s about.

the point is we’re so lonely we’ve
taken to fucking and falling
in love with drug dealers
or no one or other peoples’
husbands,

taken to single lifestyles
and breakups and independence,
to drinking and to pretty words
and to humoring people like you

as if these are our callings,
as if love is not the one
thing we want for
and hurt, quiet
and heavy
and hard—

as if love is not the one
thing forgotten here.

the point is our homes were the graves of
the feelings we first learned
to bury. and yours were the way
mom and dad danced
in the movies. and you
learned your first crush
in words between pillows
at the sleepovers where
we learned ours
in the silence where
you were sleeping
we wondered at your
want: how something
so alien could be
what we aren’t
but should. and

a lot of us just can’t
go home. and “a lot of us
just can’t”

is true a lot:

this is what
it’s about. how we are dying alone
in numbers and youth bigger
than the diamond ring
price tags with which
you try and buy love.

it’s about how it wasn’t long ago that a place
like this was illegal. about how our queens
wore handcuffs while yours ruled
worlds fucked kings free wore jewels
they didn’t have to take off
in the daytime. and today your boyfriends
come here with you, get off
to lesbian images at night
but here hold you tight
because (the gay might
get you)

or for whatever reason
you’ve come here tonight looking for
some kind of circus. like you’re out
of other ideas and ready for WILD.
like you are fun and
fearless, liberal
enough and
new, and loud,
oh my god, LOUD,

while we’ve come here to drink down the old blues
of our closeted pasts or presents or the absenced quiet
of family members or friends or lovers
we’ve lost. there are as many ways
to experience loss as there are people
in this world is one of the lessons
we’ve come to learn. we’ve got lots to think
about and we want to feel like
we’re in a world where for once
two bodies alike are just right
and our want, our want
is not something for
someone else to
understand or
applaud but
ours,
just ours,
that’s all,
it’d be nice—

i like coming here because i
can put my arm around a
woman and my lips upon
hers and for once it’s
exactly what the others
around us expect
and are used to
(even that, the
outcome of struggle)

and when you come in,
things change.

we call this our home. when
i spill my beer here i run and reach
for a mop or napkins like the
ones i’ve written so many poems on.
you smile and think you’ll save me, say
“no one saw it!” you don’t know
those were the same words
i heard the first time my heart broke
pulling my lips from a girl whose
fear pulled harder than mine
and the other kids around
the corner,

they might have seen.

but i can’t tell you that
i just can’t—

and that’s where i am
when you come into our bar, shrieking.
and our royalty insults you
but you don’t get it, she is
warning us (as if warning’s
even needed) that you are here,
the straight girls are here,
shrieking “OUR gays are
over THERE!” like we,
or our home,
or our brothers
are things to be
possessed or
misplaced
by you whose
camera phone flashes
flatter and lie. this is
not love it’s a
spectacle.

and in this city that is
smaller than most but big
enough that you’ve come here,

you all talked over dinner about
your plans, wondered “maybe we’ll
go to the historic hotel congress or
maybe we’ll go home early or
maybe we’ll be CRAZY, go to the GAY bar,
who knows WHAT we’ll find there… yes,
let’s call up OUR GAYS, they’re
*fun*
just like on television,
oh my god, i LOVE
will and grace,”

wonder maybe you’ll see “a real lesbian,”
be the straight girl a gay girl falls for,
add her to your lists:
vacations, boyfriends,
hook-ups, homes.

###

IBT’s, Tucson, June 2013

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62 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

62 responses to “TO THE STRAIGHT GIRLS AT OUR BAR: A LETTER FROM THE GAYS (PLEASE STOP SHRIEKING)

  1. Lourdes C

    October 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    “You learned your first crush in words between pillows at the sleepovers, where we learned ours
    in the silence where you were sleeping. We wondered at your want: how something so alien could be what we aren’t but should.”
    That’s the most perfect sentiment/description of what it feels like to be “other” that I have ever heard. I’m not gay but indigenous. These words are the same thoughts that have gone through my mind many times, and have been passed on the lips of my fellow skins my entire life when we talk about Anglos. A lot of indigenous dancers will only go to gay bars because that’s the only place where everyone understands what it feels like to be “other” and express it through a love of dance. I’ve seen the straight girls and their boyfriends come in, too, and you can hear them squealing at the door. I guess it would be different if they just didn’t dance so BADLY. If they had only dance to express themselves because their voices had been silenced by Other, maybe they’d be different, but, they have privileges and choices the rest of us never did.

     
    • rebeccafisseha

      October 29, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Guilty as charged!
      Also agree that yes, it’s so true – this experience of having your normalcy being someone else’s spectacle is something all ‘other’s can relate to.

       
  2. Jade

    October 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    As I read this, I couldn’t help but recall the many lonely nights I spent sitting under the heaters on the patio at iBTs, feeling these same emotions. Then I got to the end and realized that is where you were talking about. Small world. Happy, yet sad at the same time, to know I shared a space with someone who felt the same way and could put it into words so beautifully.

     
  3. lovelejae

    October 30, 2013 at 2:26 am

    This is beautifully written, your passion inflicts me.

     
  4. mandikay439

    October 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Reblogged this on songs, poems, life and commented:
    This is so true

     
  5. Alex

    November 2, 2013 at 5:36 am

    “the point is our homes were the graves of
    the feelings we first learned
    to bury.”
    Wow! I feel this.

     
  6. dorasnow

    November 3, 2013 at 6:31 am

    ‘..our want is not something for someone else to understand or applaud but ours…’
    I loved the entire piece but this bit stuck with me. Really well (and simply) put.

    I don’t have a copy of it any more, but I wrote a poem when I was around about 17 which I only remembered as I read this. It mentioned other girls putting posters up on their bedroom walls and my stuffing magazines (Diva, actually) in the bottom desk drawer under other stuff and staying up late to watch TV dramas or films on mute when no one else was awake.
    Your ‘sleepovers vs silence’ hit home.

     
  7. lifeofawillow

    November 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    excellent.

     
  8. still-not-british

    November 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    this is beautiful

     
  9. Rabbit

    November 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    What an amazing poem and oh so true.
    It’s sad!

     
  10. John

    November 19, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Well done!

     

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