“Mom: I think I might be gay.”

My mother turns


Sixth grade homework sits on the table

Dad in bed


            chainsaws hitting the wall

Mother here



Hands clench, eyes burn

I wait for my mother to laugh



I wait for the scream I’ve heard

            pounding in my head

            television parents rejecting their children

                        (I know 3 gay people)

                        (They all come from television)

                        (Their parents hate them)

I wait for what I know

            fear pulls at my heart

            terror squeezes my lungs

I wait for my mother to laugh.

My mother laughs.

            “You’re not gay.”

            “You’ve always had crushes on boys.”


Five years pass—my mother was right

            (I’m not gay)


Five years pass—my mother was wrong

            (I’m not straight)




                        Noun. French. “what”.


                        A word I don’t understand


            A person who cannot tell the difference between loving someone

                        like a friend

                        like a sibling

                        like someone you never want to release from a hug

            To loving someone

                        like a partner

                        like a spouse

                        like someone you never want to release from a kiss





                        Prefix. Greek. “without.”


                        Something I am not


            A person who does not experience sexual attraction



Quoiromantic, asexual


Asexual, Quoiromantic



“Dad: I’m bi.”

My father freezes and looks at me

            knife down


Ham sandwich getting cold

I sit and look back.



            (Did I ruin his lunch?)

I wait for him to laugh



He stares

I stare back


“I don’t think you’re bi,” says my mother, “you’ve always had crushes on boys.”

I told her once I was gay

            (Did she not remember?)

I would have to like girls to think I was gay


My father says nothing

            always nothing

            never anything

He never says anything about my queerness.


Two years pass—I’m still not gay


Two years pass—I’m still not straight


“I think you’re gay.”

I roll my eyes at my mother

            (Did she forget about all the boys I liked?)

My mother speaks



            (What happened to straight?)

I ignore her




I shouldn’t care

            (But I still do)

“Bi” is only the shortened version

            the summary

            the SparkNotes to the novel of my queer identity

I shouldn’t care.


“I remember when gay just meant being happy.”

I eat my dinner and ignore my father

            (It’s meant queerness since the 1950s)

            (Why is he stuck in the 40s with Roosevelt and Truman?)

I say nothing

He looks at me

“I thought queer was a bad word. What’s it supposed to mean now?”

I say nothing

My mother smiles




“It means odd.”

I say nothing

            heart pounding

            stomach twisting

            food stabbed to mush on my fork

I am queer

            (You are odd)

I am bi

            (You are gay)

            (You are straight)

I am quoi

            (You are bi)

I am ace

            (You’re just confused)

I stare at my food


            avoid eye contact

            say nothing

“So does that mean you’re odd?”

I ignore my father

I take another bite of my dinner.


“What is it? That L-G-BLT?”

My father laughs

            so clever

            so funny

            so utterly unoffensive

“If the queer community is so inclusive, why isn’t there an ‘H’ for ‘hetero’ in LGBT?”

My father stares

My mother smiles

I say nothing

I say nothing

I think

I think

Maybe for the same reason it’s the NAACP

            National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

            “National Association for the Advancement of Colored (and White) People”


Maybe because exclusion is meant for safety

            The oppressed don’t include their oppressors

            “Equality is sharing, and sharing is caring”


Maybe because it was the

            straight people

            cis people

those who attempted to push us out

            strangle us

            kill us

            murder us

when all we wanted to do was


            be ourselves


Maybe because the H would stand for


                        if it hadn’t already been made into a slur by the


Maybe because we’re trying to keep the H out because H can be twisted into


Maybe because we already have L for

            love whoever makes you happiest

Maybe because we already have B for

            be careful not to let anyone tell you that you’re wrong

Maybe because we already have G for

            grow and nurture and be the best you can be

Maybe because we already have T for

            take care of yourself and all those you love

Maybe because you still have not earned the right

            into the library that houses our stories

            leaving you with

            the SparkNotes and acronyms that say nothing about who we are as people

Maybe because you never bothered to care about us

            before you knew that the person you created was one of them

Maybe because you are still the problem.

but you refuse to realize that you’re part of it.


Maybe we other you

            because you othered us first.



Kathryn Donovan

Kathryn Donovan is a queer student at Northern Arizona University, currently studying English and Visual Communication. Often found drawing or writing, Donovan is commonly associated with hermits, or possibly vampires that back away from any source of natural light, providing the pale complexion that blinds everyone in the halls. This is Donovan's first professional publication, still providing amazement and dizzying confusion, but hopes to continue writing for literary magazines.
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