Cauldron Anthology Issue 6 - LGBTQIA+ Cauldron Anthology LGBTQIA+ - Page 16

Pride Maria Pachowicz the first time you hear the word “lesbian” it is spit at you in school. you are eleven and do not entirely understand the label, but deduce from your classmates’ gasps and giggles that it is not one you want to be seen wearing. you rush to tear it off, hurriedly assure that you are not one, albeit uncertain of that yourself – uncertain of why that would be so terrible. before you learn its definition, you establish its synonyms: abnor- mal. unacceptable. an insult. before you learn its definition, you establish that the term is saturated with shame. the first time you hear homosexuality is “unnatural” it comes from your grandparents. they thank god that their family is free of such anomalies, that this genetic flaw does not run in their blood. you wrap your arms around your trembling body, concealing a fault within your system you are aware exists but cannot, do not want to, are afraid to iden- tify. surely, you’re perfectly normal, surely, you’re not sick. surely, you’re just misinter- preting your symptoms. the first time you fall in love, it is forbidden. not because of his nationality, skin colour, or religion. not because of his wealth – or your lack thereof - or higher societal standing. not because he is too old or loves another. your love is forbidden because he, she is a woman. the first time you tell your parents you like girls, they’re okay with it, but not really. they say they love you regardless but add that sexuality is fluid. they promise they will be happy as long as you are, but explain that it is normal to go through this phase, it is normal for a girl your age to want to be close to and hug and even kiss another girl - this does not mean you are a lesbian. this does not mean you are “one of them”. they tell you it is okay to want to experiment, but that you might find a man you love in the end. you probably will. most people do. the hope in their voice is deafening. the hope in their voice is contagious. the first time you experience pride it is in college. you dissociate the words “I’m gay” from “I’m sorry” – you aren’t. you refuse to be. you stop coming out but stay out, tear down the walls of the closet, set fire to the mask of male pronouns and social convention- alism you used to hide your love behind. when introduced to a stranger as someone’s “gay best friend”, you laugh – not out of panic, but because the joke is funny. “lesbian” stops tasting like poison. you kiss her in public and don’t think twice about the risk of someone seeing. you know they will – and you couldn’t feel prouder. 16 Cauldron Anthology