to my queerness
By Maddie Wray
It’s been almost three years since I said your name out loud for the first time that day at the beach. I remember sitting with my sister, who had proudly been out for years, on a balcony looking out at the waves crashing on the shore. I told her the way I felt about women and she candidly told me about you; About how she had seen you coming from a mile away,how I had probably suppressed you in order to fit into a mold of a girl I thought I should be. How you weren’t something I should ever want to hide.
I went to college with you by my side, ready to embrace a newfound part of my identity. My new friends loved you like a sister, disregarding the few rogue jokes about threesomes. They treated you and I like we were the same as everyone else, alleviating my fears that you would make me stick out like a sore thumb in Duke’s heteronormative culture. Instead, with you, I have found accepting and kind friends of all sexualities and a community of queer people that make us feel seen, heard, and valued.
My sophomore year, I met my first girlfriend. I had never felt love like this before. It was different from the way I loved men – it was soft and sincere. I found someone who tapped into my mind and my heart. You brought me someone who became so precious to me, and for that I am so grateful.
My parents loved you from the moment they met you. My mom asked me about the boys in my life, and with shaky hands I told her, “I have a girlfriend.” Her reaction was nothing short of pure happiness, which is all I could’ve asked for. You didn’t change the love my family has for me — you only enhanced it. Now, they can love all parts of who I am.
Loving you has made me feel whole. Every inch of me now bathes in sunlight instead of sitting lonely in the dark. Even then, there are times when I fear for you, when I hear someone make a bad joke or say a slur. But nevertheless, you bring me strength in those moments and I remember the people around me who love you as much as I do and feel strong.
Learning to love you is the one of the hardest and happiest things I’ve done in my life.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my queerness. Thank you for helping me love myself more than ever before.