I wrote the following two short excerpts in the last week at the time of writing. I’ve rarely felt as much need to put down something essential about the queer experience as this.
The first part, Uselessly Queer, is my own attempt to describe a queer person, whom I find attractive without employing anything that felt to me like cishet male gaze.
The second part, Small Town Boy Inside, fights with the loneliness inherent to the queer experience and heavily leans on associations to Bronski Beat’s single Small Town Boy.
She wasn’t particularly short, nor was she exceptionally tall. She was just of average height. Her hair was short, interrupted by streaks of blue. Her hair would have been gay enough to light gaydars on fire even without the glowing accents, but they seemed very fun to her. She liked her hair short, and she had kept it that way ever since she had left home for university.
Now, she was wearing a comfy hoodie and a black pair of shorts. It had been warm in the afternoon – hence the pants that only covered half of her thighs -, but as it was September already, the evenings started to cool down. Soon it would be too cold for her favourite pair of shorts. They were light and kind of baggy, and her absolute favourites even if they had without a doubt seen better days. She didn’t look forward to eventually replacing them, but unfortunately, that was an inevitability; the fabric was already running a bit thin.
Her hoodie was newer, but she had picked it for utility’s sake. She was wearing a white crew-neck t-shirt with black stripes and short sleeves, but it remained hidden underneath her hoodie now, as she was sitting on the banks of the river Neckar now.
She was discussing queer theory with her friends, in her left hand a cup that might have been filled with wine for any other university student, but in her cup, there was just juice. Her legs were unshaven, because who really cares. Her sneakers that once had been brilliant white were sitting off to the side of the picnic rug she was sitting on. Now that the sneakers’ soles were wearing thin, they exhibited their age with a curiously grey patina.
The short socks covering her small feet were grey and stained by the grass and goose shit around her. They had a small rainbow ornament near the hem. Had she been wearing her sneakers it would have barely stuck up above her shoes.
She was proud to be queer, and she liked to be visibly queer. She didn’t call herself a lesbian; being queer was enough in her head. Her gender was a puzzle to her. She liked to be called by traditionally femme pronouns, but she didn’t mind if you switched up which pronouns you used for them.
They looked out over the Neckar at the setting evening sun that was making the water look like a giant sheet of glass. Their eyes always seemed a bit dreamy. Someone once had compared them to Patrick Dempsey’s in Grey’s Anatomy, but as much as they liked to play with presenting butch, they didn’t like to be read as a man.
They weren’t wearing much makeup today, only the bright blue eyeliner, a friend had given to them for their birthday only a few days ago, and a bit of concealer and mascara. Sometimes they liked to go all out on makeup. Bold looks were fun, but tonight was a lazy evening with friends, that all were too lazy to hit the clubs that would have been waiting for them downtown.
They scratched their left knee. The healing wound they had sustained in a stupid skateboarding accident was itching. They really should have worn those nifty knee guards, but they kinda were too cool for that. They frowned a bit. Their eyebrows were bold, had a small piercing on one side and a deliberate gap on the other.
Suddenly they slapped their slightly hairy forearm. “I hate those pesky bloodsuckers.” She left her hand on her forearm for a bit. It looked small and her fingers looked stubby. Her nails were kept shortish. Her black nail polish was starting to chip a bit, but this certainly wasn’t the worst she would let her nails come too.
She was sitting cross-legged on the rug. Her left hand was now resting on her ankle and with her right, she was taking a sip from her cup. She couldn’t imagine a nicer place to be tonight, and I couldn’t have imagined one either.
Instead of jewellery, she was wearing cheap bracelets on her wrists. A few of them had come from music festivals she had been to, but one was a rainbow bracelet from her uni’s LGBTQIA+ association.
One of her friends pushed a kiss onto her cheek, that had acquired a rosy glow from the evening cold that was drafting over the river. Now, the kiss left a slight lipstick mark. She didn’t care to remove it. She cherished having her queer friends and her girlfriend.
Small Town Boy Inside
There is a particular loneliness that comes with being queer. It might even be there while you’re amongst your closest of peers.
You leave in the morning. You go to work, you go to school, and deep down you know, you aren’t understood.
Everything you own is in a little black case, and with it, are your thoughts. You know who you are, and yet you can’t leave.
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a lonely face, you stare into the world, and it stares back, not like it knows you, more like it doesn’t, more like you are an “other”.
You know they are out there — the people who feel the same. You know, they write music and poems. You heard their songs, but your parents never understood what they meant to you, and neither did your friends, your peers. They know you from childhood, and yet they don’t understand.
You know they are out there, ready to be your friends, but now you’re just a sad and lonely face. You’ve been wearing a mask all your life, and the rain drips off. It will need stronger things than rain to wash this mask away.
That’s what you want to do: run away from those who never understood to those who’ll understand you, but where are they?
Not in this small town. Wouldn’t 20000 people be enough? But no! This loneliness is pernicious. The people, who came before you, have been driven away just like you.
They were just as lonely, they stood on this platform just like you, waiting for the train to take them out of this small town.
You aren’t a boy, and yet this old song echos through your head.
Sometimes, you wish you could hide, but you’ve tried hiding all your life. Even when you came out of the closet, you hid away. You dressed like them; you talked like them. You made your existence palatable. You hid your lonely face.
But you can’t anymore; you’ll have to live, you’ll have to leave.
You were the one they’d talk about around town, as they put you down.
And again this song is in your head, pushing you to go on. Pushing you, yes, you know, there are people like you out there, but how to find them? They are not here; you’ll have to leave. You’ll find them, you are sure. You’ll find the people who accept you. You’ll find the people to whom you won’t have to justify your queerness, your existence.
It will be like they already know you. They’ll know your struggle before you’ll even talk to them. Because, just like you, they were searching for someone like you.
It might not be easy to find them. They might not be safe where you are, but what can you do but try? A sad and lonely face still. You can do it! You can find them, and you’ll never have to run away.
They’ll already know you.