I Did Not Whisper

I bind my legs in jeans so tight they leave marks and indentations in my skin. I crush my bones, and bleach my teeth, and burn my very dark brown skin with acid. I bow my head and worship at the altar of masculinity, and deny my wants and my needs. I close my mouth more so that I don’t lisp, and stretch my back, and broaden my shoulders. I change my gait and hold my breath, and plug my pores, and my mind, and my eyes, and my ears. I live in constant fear. I starve myself, I swallow my self instead. I rip the hair from my face. I mutilate, desecrate, and cripple my body. I bathe daily in sorrow. I drink poison and speak poison, but I do not die.

I am a black gay man.

Whats so funny (nothing) is that I used to just think that my biggest insecurity would be the breadth of my nose. That was before the bread of my waist. That was before I knew that I was nothing.

Its not only the fact that my efforts are ignored, but further still I am vilified for not doing more. I must not be trying hard enough, I must not know sacrifice. Ive eaten french fries.

Dont you want a boyfriend? You cant complain about being single if you don’t play by the rules. “Put that down, you dont need another”. Dont you want this life? Everyone has straight teeth, straight hair, and straight acting lovers. Dont you want this? Dont you want value? Dont you want to have value? Dont you want to matter?

Even when I am alone I am ashamed to say anything good about myself. So I whisper it so low that I do not hear it.

All of the terrible things, oh Lord, the terrible things that I have done. The terrible things that I have thought. The terrible way that I have behaved. To me.

The negative things I think about myself have consequences, and I will sow, one day, a garden of my own rotting flesh.

Whats so funny (nothing) is that I am a stunning, empathetic, imaginative, wildly hilarious, kind, brilliant, intuitive, considerate, incredible, boundless, striking, cunning, witty, magical, beautiful beautiful black boy. I did not whisper.

-Jonathan