Before the election, I read a poem about me putting my palm on your chest. After the election, I’m reading poems in the streets about your palms rooted in your own chests. The difference between love and violence appears more and more to be an issue of directionality.
I am not a political writer, but I woke up this morning to a nightmare; Timothy Conigrave, Tony Kushner, and Larry Kramer were standing around me in a circle, screaming: write about this.
… My dead uncle, lost to AIDS; my dead brothers and sisters, lost to violence; my dead friends, lost to suicide; when I walked from my dream, out of the darkness towards a swirling light, I saw their faces aglow with the whispers of what was at the end of that tunnel. In these strangers’ eyes, there was so much life, so much light.
I’ll begin at the beginning: I became gay in the fifth grade — yeah, I know, I was born like this, whatever. Anyways, my parents never taught me anything about sexuality — in any sense — so when I got my first computer, I shamefully tore through Wikipedia article after Wikipedia article. While trying to figure out what erections were, I watched videos of engorging cocks, and that was it. Gay. Instantly.
Blah blah, stuff happened, I grew taller, and I even went so far as to watch lesbian porn to try to make myself straight. It didn’t work. Isn’t that shocking?
My transition into my sexuality happened quietly and without much fanfare. Things don’t have to be loud if you don’t make them.
// Obligatory Wrestling with Sexuality in a Religious Context
My God indulges in sex magic. She tells me to suck her at the tits, and when I’m leaving, I get lost in the locks of her pubic hair. This was the thought that I had in the middle of mass, once.
I go to church with my friend whenever I can, but one candlelight mass on Tuesday I wept. I am so full of sin, and I cried out to God: why would you make something unchoosable a sin? On my knees, I wept, as other people took the communion that I refused to take, and I don’t know if it was the weed or the sadness or my mental instability, but I swear — I heard God speak to me.
You want to know what he said? I can’t tell you. Go try it for yourself.
// You Can’t Pick Your Family, But They Can Pick You
My nana comes from Japan: Nobue Iha — that’s her name. When we talk now, sometimes she tells me that I should go to Japan, because I will be judged less for my sexuality there than I will here: homosexuality has never been an issue for the Japanese. It scares me that she worries so much.
I have had a problem with one family member because of this, a distant aunt from Minnesota. When my nana found out, she cried and said that she was afraid for me. I wish that I could tell her, be afraid for me, be terrified for me; I am in danger every day.
My mom’s family is made up of good ol’ liberals.
My grandma raised my Uncle Dave. He was her husband’s brother, and he was gay, and he needed a place to stay. She took him in as her own child, though they were near the same age.
It was the eighties, and Dave got AIDS, along with his partner, like every other gay man in the eighties. Dave died, eventually. My mom’s not sure about his partner, but Dave died and now nobody talks about him. I really don’t know anything about him, and I’m too scared to ask anyone else in the family. To this day, I think of Uncle Dave as my guardian angel.
The things I do know are never related to his sexuality; I consider it a sort of gentle homophobia. I know that he learned Russian in high school. I know that he went to the University of Denver. I know he was a good person. My family tells me that these things are all that matters in a person, and that’s why no one should be judged for being gay.
To have your gayness renounced is crippling.
My mom’s grandmother is an Irish Catholic to her very core. She changed her name from Brittany to Agnes, because it was more pious, and the church sends someone to her house every Sunday to conduct a mini-mass since she can’t make it all the way to the church anymore.
When I visited her in Philadelphia, she didn’t care about my sexuality. She said I was lucky to be born in this era: it wouldn’t have been okay when she was growing up.
I don’t believe that entire generations are too old to change.
When I came out, my mom asked me if I was sure. She asked my younger brother the same thing when he came out. I talked to her about it the other day, about the question everyone inevitably asks — are you sure? — and she still didn’t understand the problem. My parents don’t talk about sexuality.
We don’t talk about our sex. When my younger brother came out to me at first, I didn’t say anything. I could tell he wanted some sort of approval or advice, but all I could give him was a blank stare. You cannot change the context of where you come from.
// My Life in Society, Thus Far
People in other places are dying for their rights. People have always had to die for their rights. I’m not sure if I was born into the right body for this life: it doesn’t make enough noise.
The first time I experienced homophobia from a stranger was in Maryland. I was walking with my boyfriend and a man said hey ladies as we passed by.
A homeless man walked up to me and three of my girlfriends and made a point of saying that he wasn’t gay when he asked us for money; all four of us are gay, though.
A memory: I’m in Florida with Tom. We’re lying in a bed with a mirror above us, and we’ve just learned that marriage has been legalized across the nation. I’m going to marry this boy. I’m sure of this. I shouldn’t be, but I am.
I don’t know what a world where I can’t marry is like. I was seventeen when marriage equality passed.
The only things that make me cry at movies are revolutions and riots. When I marched across the streets of Boulder, Colorado I did not cry, though.
There’s a book called It Can’t Happen Here. In 1935, the novel was written about a presidential candidate who says exactly what’s on his mind and promises to make America great again. After getting elected, journalists disappear, and anyone who doesn’t support him is attacked by a group that identifies themselves as the forgotten men of America. I have read few things in my life that were as prophetic as this book.
// Our Community; Our America
The anatomy of the gay male body in America calcifies itself from individual muscles, veins, and nerves into a sexual artifact. This is from both within and from without.
I am for every body’s pleasure — and disgust — but my own.
In the United States, only California has outlawed the use of the Gay Panic Defense. This defense, though rarely successful, is still legally viable in the U.S., and basically says this: if a gay man was to hit on you, and you killed him, you could defend yourself by saying that his homosexuality incited a panic in you that made you kill him. In theory, if successful, you could go on your merry way afterwards.
I went to lunch the other day and ordered a cock. The man behind the counter stared at me, blankly, and shuffled around the restaurant confused for about a half an hour. When he returned, he handed me a cock, and watched me eat it, and I ate it whole, because that’s what he expected of me. Yes, I am gay. Look. See?
I was fucking a boy once, but he wouldn’t even let me touch his cock. He just kept repeating, kiss me, over and over and over again. He called me baby and told me to kiss him and I held him as we fucked, and I was bewildered, to say the least. Maybe that’s the problem.
Slowly I find myself becoming more and more like this boy. The space between bodies that are pulsing into each other has terrifying depth. I find myself clinging to their skin, holding them tighter, asking them to keep me safe, because I know I can’t.
My rebellion will be to be exactly what you expect me to be, that’s what I think to myself sometimes. My rebellion will be being everything that you thought that I wasn’t.
// The Election (or the Apocalypse, Depending on Which Calendric System You Use)
November 8th, 2016, Donald J. Trump is elected as the president of the United States.
The night of the election, I smoked my first cigarette, and it left my lips tasting like vanilla. We’re sitting above a creek, and it almost feels like we’re in the wild. I smoke my weed, then also my friend’s.
I am nineteen. I am young. I am stupid. I am afraid.
I’ve been in love once. Maybe more. I’ve been in love many times. I think of them while we’re at this creek. I think of them and am afraid for their lives. There is so much light, so much life.
My father, made of man, I cannot reconcile these pieces of you that are also me, but I am trying. Another memory: you take me out to dinner. I am ten. We are at Red Lobster together. In that moment, I know that you are everything that I have ever wanted to love as my father. And then other memories: leading up to the election, we are fighting on two sides of an unbridgeable abyss. I am afraid. I am nineteen. I am young. I do not know how to balance these two images.
The fear, it comes and goes. It’s an ambush that will hit you in the most random places. I’m on the bus with my friend Brittney, riding back from Denver to our college, and we’re both crying. Later that night, we’re running down empty streets screaming, and crying, and laughing, and then it’s gone.
Dyllan Moran is an undergraduate Creative Writing student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has previously had two short plays produced as staged readings: one with Curious Theatre Company’s 2016 Summer Playwriting Intensive and the other as part of his university’s 2016 New Play Festival. When he’s not scribbling poems in the margins of napkins, he can be found playing Mario Kart with his family. All inquiries on how to win every time can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.