“I am not my queerness”

Growing up, I remember learning that being gay made me lesser.

I remember ironing my voice into straightness, my wrists into rigidity, my mannerisms into masculinity. I remember switching out the pronouns to the love songs in my head. I remember acting straight – turning self-deception into a piece of performance art. I remember feeling alone.

I remember the silence. I remember the sound of complicit stillness meeting homophobic slurs in the middle school locker room, the high school hallway, the campus plaza. The quiet deflection of personal questions at the family dinner table. The breaks in my speech after wondering if that last word sounded a little too gay.

I remember the pressure. I remember believing that my sexual orientation left no additional room for imperfections or mistakes or being merely average. If my gayness makes me less than, what do I have to do to be enough?

I remember the day I realized that my love is political. That honesty is an act of rebellion. That pride is not an isolated embrace of my identity, but an everyday battle against the shame that taught me to hide the colors that make me whole.

I have no desire to forget – only to unlearn these lessons of insecurity. I’m working on reclaiming those wrinkles of authenticity that I once tried to straighten-out. On rewriting the lyrics to the songs in my head. On being all of myself, all of the time. On breaking the silence.

I am queer. And I am my pride. Not because it’s the part of me that matters most, but because it’s a part of me that matters.

To those who don’t know it yet, it gets better. To everyone else, make it so.