Fragmented Selves

Love in the time of genderqueer

Serena Lukas Bhandar
3 min readDec 2, 2014


Meow. We greet each other like cats, with quiet, cautious glances at each other from across the room. I thrive on physical contact, on being petted and held, but they find it tiring and mundane; somehow we find a balance. I don’t always hug them goodbye. The last time we embraced, I snuck a kiss in on their cheek.

Mostly though, we talk. Sometimes it hurts, other times I flirt. Often, I am shy and silent, as I try not to tell them that I love them.

We joke about misanthropy, how we despise the entire human species. We smile too: there’s an affection underneath. Nonchalant and playing with their hair, they say they hate everyone else in the world. I ask them if they hate me.

We look at each other. Their expression is blank, but I can still read a few things in it.

  • Exhaustion, definitely.
  • Focused thought, too — however contrary that may seem.
  • Amusement. Just a hint of humour in the way they crinkle their lips and smooth out their bangs.

Do you hate me? I ask again.

They cannot give me a clear answer. I don’t even try to hide my inner glow: I grin at them and blush.

One day, they tell me they’re tired of school, and do I want to come watch a movie? They sit in the corner of the couch. I awkwardly open my laptop and set it down beside them.

Can I sit next to you?

They look up, and their sweet, vacant stare betray their worn-out mind. All walls are down.

Yeah. They shuffle over in their seat and I join them.

Any person walking in now will think we are cuddling. I feel strange with them — not just at peace. No, it’s more than that. I’m so calm and grounded in that moment that I don’t even give my mind room for reflection. It is only in the hours afterward, when I dream about them, that I recall the moment on the couch — that wonderfully intimate interlude.

Here is where the strangeness intervenes in my thoughts. My heart doesn’t pound when I see them. I don’t jump to my feet when they walk in the door, or tense up when we brush hands. I’m even calm when we kiss shoulders in their endearing, arm-less hugs.

How can this be love?

I ask myself this question over and over, of myself, of my closest friends, and of my past relationships. How can I be in love with them, and not feel like I am inside out and upside down?

I think about the last time I said “I love you” to a partner. How my heart and stomach switched places — how heavy pumps of wingflaps of giant butterflies coursed through my nerves and resounded in my gut.

How can this be love.

I think and think and arrive at nothing, no answer. And then, once again, I reflect later upon the question, and my search for the answer, and I realize:

How can this not be love?

Yes, it feels so different and smaller and stranger than my past romances. Thoughts of them don’t compel me to write poems, nor do I have the desire to paint them in the nude.

I have not slipped into the extravagant fantasies of the two of us as the first queer Disney princes/esses/exxes. I don’t imagine us as soul mates, or star-crossed teenagers, or even 90-year-old retirees reminiscing in our rocking chairs on our lives well-lived together.

Between this beautiful, sublime, incomprehensible person and myself, there is only the here and the before. Who we were when I was just their friend, and who we are now that I’ve fallen for them.

And fallen for them, I most definitely have.

Photo credits: Mostly public domain; some under Creative Commons licensing — “Male mannequin with light skin in store display” by Horia Varlan, “Self -portrait” by Jackson Wright, “mannequin” by Leo Reynolds, “Flowers in his hair” by Todd Huffman.



Serena Lukas Bhandar

Scratching the writing itch, one word at a time. I like most, love few, & laugh with my friends at the expense of no one.