Queer Experiences from History to Present

Prism & Pen Weekly Digest — February 5, 2024

Logan Silkwood
Prism & Pen


This week took us on a journey through history into present day powerful LGBTQ+ stories, emotions, and experiences. Though we have stories this week that could make you cry, not all of it is heavy. Our writers served stories of hope, pain, everyday work decisions, love, and heartache. There is something for everyone this week, touching on a full range of emotions.

Read stories for free by clicking underlined links. Want more daily stories from across the rainbow? Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Mastodon! Want to help support P&P? Click here to join Medium.

— Editor’s Picks —

Beyond Prayers: Navigating Life After Conversion Therapy

By Daniel Foster, M.Sc.

For over a decade, I embraced a belief system that promised salvation and unconditional love but demanded a sacrificial change — the core of my identity.

Driven by the fear of hell and an earnest desire for acceptance, I embraced fervent religious teachings, willingly subjecting myself to the rigors of conversion therapy practices and beliefs beginning at the age of fourteen.

Too young to consent and too undeveloped to be fully informed.

However, let me assure you, the seeds of shame were sown much earlier, with religious shame and guilt steering my actions. A faith built on self-hatred.

This is an intimate story of my struggles, triumphs, and the scars left by a decade-long dance with the shadows of self-denial and self-hatred.

Read in P&P

Navigating Perimenopause as a Non-Binary Person

By Sarah TC (she/they)

I turned to a menopause group on social media. I posted anonymously as I wasn’t out as non-binary. The group was meant to be inclusive. The comments were mainly supportive, but then a few transphobes piped up. They were dismissive — resentful that I’d even mentioned my gender identity as they didn’t see it as relevant. Some assumed I was a trans woman and insisted on questioning me about whether I had a cervix and a uterus. One said I was in the wrong place as it wasn’t a “gender ideology support group” — others just insisted I was female and said they refused to comply with my delusions. One seemed to think I should only be on HRT if I identified as female. If only being non-binary excused you from the debilitating symptoms of perimenopause — it doesn’t. I DM’ed the admin — they removed my post and apologised before suggesting I set up my own group. I left.

Read in P&P

From GRID To AIDS: Beginning My Career as AIDS Hit San Francisco

By Amy Kaufman Burk

July, early 1980s, San Francisco.

A month before my 25th birthday, I began my clinical training in mental health. I was doing a rotation in a crisis clinic, a small psych emergency room affiliated with a larger hospital. I was eager to get out of the classroom and start working with clients.

I had no idea that the nation’s health care community was at a crossroads, entirely unprepared for what was about to unfold.

Within a few weeks, we began to see a new presentation, which quickly developed into a pattern. A young man would be brought in, overtly psychotic or confused and delirious. We’d ask questions and find out that he had a steady job, a strong friendship group, sometimes a partner, and no psych history.

Read in P&P

How Do I Reveal My Bisexuality at Work Without Making it Weird?

By LibrariAnna

Maybe I was ashamed, but not of my sexuality.

See, he was there, talking openly about his journey and accepting his true self. He shared how he identified not as gay (which is what everyone assumes of him) but as bisexual. He told a charming story of how he came out to his sister in the bra department at Kohl’s. He expressed what it meant to him to be an advocate.

All the while, I was lurking and listening, within mere feet of a woman I conversed with deeply on the daily, and still in the fucking closet.

I’m bisexual, too. But nobody at work knows a thing about it.

Which means they don’t know a thing about me.

Read in P&P

— Essays & Creative Nonfiction —

A Trans Woman with FL Ties, I Trace Anti-Trans Bills to my Family’s Faith

By Josie Defaye

Oh, Florida. You run all over hell’s half acre to subjugate us trans folk, but this year you’ve outdone yourself. Already pushing 20+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and it’s only January. What a diva you are! Through top-down to local efforts spearheaded by a limp governor in Ron DeSantis, you cement your brand as the it-girl of anti-trans political subjugation daily.

Your recent HB 1233 and HB 1639 bills declare themselves as the “Trans-Erasure Bill.” As if trans Floridians faced a lack of oppression, HB 1233 redefines gender identity legally as assigned-at-birth sex. Say “so long” to trans Floridians accurate driver’s licenses and other IDs. HB 1639, the first bill’s sidekick, entrenches these legal de-designators. Between the two of them, conversion therapy grows more accessible than gender-affirming medical care for patients and doctors alike.

Read in P&P

Anti-LGBTQ “Influencer” Named to Oklahoma School Library Committee

By Fay Wylde

First, the Oklahoma Library Media Advisory Committee: It is comprised of volunteers appointed by the superintendent of public schools and it makes recommendations on what books and materials should be available in school libraries. To be on the committee you must be a resident of Oklahoma and have a background as either a teacher or librarian.

Chaya Raichik is a realtor from New York (originally from California) and has never been a teacher or a librarian. She is a “social media influencer” specializing in anti-LGBTQ posts, and most especially anti-trans posts.

She has been appointed to that Oklahoma committee by Ryan Walters, the state’s Republican superintendent of public instruction.

All of that is enough right there to make your brain eat itself, right? However, it is worse than that.

Read in P&P

As This Gay Man Gets Older, I Have Learned To Depend on Others …

By Michael Horvich (he, him)

Part of growing old gracefully is knowing what you can still do and what you might want others to help you with, like taking down boxes from the top closet shelf and putting them back every Christmas season.

So even at close to 80, I do go back into the closet now and then, but not for the same reason I did when I was just coming out in my 20s and in my 30s through 50s. At that age I finally decided that I would no longer be forced into the closet by homophobes and unaccepting family.

Read in P&P

Breaking Up Is Easy to Do. The Hard Work Is Keeping a Gay Relationship

By John suddath

I met my first partner Larry when we both were in our late 20’s and had completed our schooling, or so we thought. He had completed a law degree from SMU in Dallas, but then he decided to go back to Divinity School and to become a preacher. As he was completing his first year there, the bishop advised him not to continue because he would never be able to find a position in the United Methodist Church as an openly gay man.

He decided to go back in the closet and become a lawyer again. That’s when we met. He was born and raised in Dallas, and I had recently moved there. We met first at church, and then at the bar. We had an open relationship, which was one thing that eventually led to our break-up.

Read in P&P

No Job For Trans Girl?

By Alleria Brightfall

I thought when I moved to New York that my worries would be over. I thought it would be easy to get a job as a trans girl. I thought that living in a liberal community meant that I would not have to face being discriminated against.

I thought wrong.

Read in P&P

Low Dopamine and the Trans Hormone Cycle

By Nicole Anderson

Estrogen. Check!
Spironolactone. Check!
Progesterone. Check?

Check? …che-e-ehk? Anyone? Bueller?

OMG, due to circumstances out of my control, I have found myself suddenly without progesterone!

Argh! No one is listening to me!

I scream at no one in particular.

I can feel my equilibrium suddenly set askew by an imaginary (?) network of individuals in positions of power who seem to stand at the world’s ends like malevolent puppeteers holding all the strings to all the things.

Hmm… lemme think.
Uh, no! Hahaha!
In my mind I can feel them sneer and cackle too.

Read in P&P

Christian Apologist Argues That a Same-Sex Couple Cannot Have a “Christian Marriage”

By Esther Spurrill-Jones

Writing for Stand to Reason, “Apologist” Robby Lashua declares that a “same-sex couple could never practice Christian marriage” because Scripture is “clear” about the roles of the husband and wife in marriage. He goes on to describe these roles in outdated, sexist, homophobic language.

Lashua accuses LGBTQ+-affirming Christians of “denying and twisting the clear passages of Scripture that prohibit homosexuality.” He claims this “has been exhaustively studied and written about by apologists and theologians” who have concluded that those who interpret the Bible in any other way are wrong.

Read in P&P

A Homophobic Friend Changed My Mind on My Queerness

By Zelma Garza

I stared back, stunned. Redhead had hesitated to be my friend because of my potentially queer vibes. I wore a skirt that day at the mixer. I talked to both her and her boyfriend, who was standing next to her. Yes, I was loud and outgoing, but I was respectful. What did I do wrong? She confirmed that my presence as a queer person — even if I acted straight — could make someone feel uncomfortable, scratch that, unsafe, enough to not want to be my friend. I felt like I was some sort of wild animal you slowly back away from.

My cheeks turned red as if Redhead had slapped me. “I would never like someone like you,” I snapped back, “and even if I did, I’m not some sort of animal who can’t control herself. You have a boyfriend. You can always say no, and it’s not like I’d tackle you to the ground. Gay people want friends, too, you know.”

I may have seemed strong and self-assured in the moment, but I cried on the way home. I was a lonely girl who just wanted to have friends.

Read in P&P

As a Gay Ohian and Michigander, My Politicians Break My Heart

By James Finn

What are you supposed to do when your rep stands up at the Uganda prayer breakfast and encourages the country’s president to resist pressure to repeal the new anti-gay law?


That law includes the death penalty for certain same-gender sex acts and decades in prison just for identifying as transgender or gay.

The law has already caused mob violence in Uganda. One gay man was stabbed multiple times by an anti-gay crowd, and now the police are investigating him to find evidence he’s gay so they can put him in prison instead of his attackers.

That’s what your OWN congressperson encourages? How do you respond?

Read in P&P

Woman First. Trans Second.

By Mrs. Capricious

‘Transgender’ does not define what I am. It defines what I am not.

I’m a transgender woman. However, the way that works as a sentence is by telling you that I was not assigned female at birth. But that I am indeed a woman. Transgender, as a word, only holds value in denoting that I’ve moved away from my gender as assigned at birth.

Read in P&P

Woman in Russia Jailed for Wearing Rainbow Earrings

On January 31st, a woman was found guilty of wearing the symbols of an “extremist” organization in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. The symbol was a rainbow in the form of frog-shaped earrings. Though the rainbow flag is well-known as a tool to champion the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community, frogs are not a symbol of the movement and so Nizhny Novgorod authorities have made clear that Russia is not safe. While the length of time for the woman’s detention has not been reported in the media, this arrest has set a new precedent in discrimination against the queer community in Russia.

Read in P&P

Shake Off That LGBTQIA+ Negativity

Michael Horvich (he, him)

I myself, often at the risk of being attacked, consider myself a white, cis, senior, financially OK, retired, Democratic, Jewish, Buddhist, widowed, gay male. I do not know for how much of my long life (at 78 years old) I have carried the many negatives hurled my way merely because of who I am or who I choose to love, and let them unconsciously affect me. And unconsciously means that you carry the negativity without realizing it or its effect on your emotional and physical health, self-confidence, and/or self-image.

Read in P&P

Dear Unknown Future Husband, I’m Terrified That I Love You

Brandon Ellrich

I Lost the Love of My Life

I was in love once. He wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for me. We complemented each other and made up for one another’s weaknesses. We talked about getting married, but he died before that could happen.

I thought I might never find someone else who “fit” me like he did.

This might not be very comforting, but you have no reason to worry. I don’t believe there’s only one person out there for each of us. It doesn’t make sense, logistically or logically.

Read in P&P

Another Disadvantage of Late Gender Transition


I was 68 when I realized that I am a transgender woman. The lateness of my awakening had all sorts of consequences, not the least of which was an almost daily questioning of myself. It seemed ridiculous that a person my age would consider making such a drastic change in how I presented myself to the world.

My journal from the first year or so after my awakening has the characteristics of a broken record. The last sentence in the previous paragraph appears in some form many times a week, sometimes as often as daily. More recent journal entries are much less likely to include that particular thought. I have become more secure in my gender awareness, although it’s still hard to believe the turn my life has taken.

Read in P&P

LGBTQ+ History Made On the Grammys

Rand Bishop

It’s so easy to get discouraged these days… with hundreds of anti-trans bills in the works, “don’t say gay” legislation taking effect, books by LGBTQ+ authors and/or dealing with queer and trans themes banned, bomb threats inspired by Libs of TikTok, not to mention all the ignorant, hateful language being so carelessly spewed.

But, the 2024 Grammy Awards gave us a glimpse of how far queer folk have come. Too, we were also able to witness once again how music can bring people from all walks of life together, even those who haven’t previously been so accepting of the LGBTQ+ community or creatives of color.

Read in P&P

The Sad Truth Revealed by a Transgender Wake*

Emma Holiday

Mike was dead.

He was the only single guy in the group who wasn’t married or divorced. All of his guy friends were jealous of the freedom he had being single. They thought he had the perfect life.

It turns out it wasn’t perfect after all.

He committed suicide.

All of his friends couldn’t understand. He seemed to have everything. He played football in college, did a stint in the Marines, and was only a few years away from retiring as a police captain in the NYPD. He was always skiing and traveling. He also always had a hot girlfriend but he never seemed to commit to a long-term relationship. He stayed a confirmed bachelor despite the best efforts of their wives.

Read in P&P

Job Hunting Advice from an Experienced LGBTQ+ Recruiter

By Logan Silkwood

I’ve conducted job interviews in 4 very different types of work settings. In 3 of those places, I interviewed people for entry level positions. In my current job, I still interview people of all walks of life fairly regularly.

Here are some things that I want all job hunters to know.

Experience isn’t always required for you to get a job interview or land that amazing job. When applying for a position, don’t make assumptions about the sort of job history the recruiter is looking for. Instead, focus on storytelling. Tell us the story of what it would be like if we hired you. Tell us the story of who you are and why we need what only you can bring to the table. You aren’t replaceable. Believe that. Make sure we know that.

Read in P&P

Overlooked Sheroes In Queer Rights

By Mason Smith

Who comes to mind when you think of the queer rights movement? Harvey Milk? Larry Kramer? An army of predominantly male figures, right? We can’t deny their contributions, but let’s face facts. The queer narrative often overlooks women who were also putting their lives on the line, challenging the status quo, and demanding respect and recognition. This ain’t a zero-sum game; giving women their due doesn’t erase men’s contributions. It just paints a fuller picture.

If you’re still wondering why it matters to highlight women in the queer rights movement, buckle up for some real talk. Women have not just been footnotes or supporting acts; they’ve been center stage, pushing for change and carving out space for queer people of all stripes. Yet, they remain relegated to the back pages of history books, if mentioned at all. An incomplete narrative serves no one — except maybe the patriarchy. It’s 2023, folks. Time to break that cycle and give these women the standing ovation they’ve long deserved.

Read in P&P

Men Like Me Are Everywhere and We Needn’t Be Ashamed

By Rand Bishop

We’re everywhere. In the apartment down the hall and the pew across the church aisle. At Starbucks or CVS. We’re driving buses, working construction, and selling insurance. We play pickleball at the rec center and compete in fantasy sports leagues.

Obediently, we followed the normative script, marrying women, fathering children, buying houses, mowing lawns, coaching Little League. Still, in spite of our every effort to adhere to the expectations of society, we found ourselves pulled by insatiable forces beyond our control.

We didn’t choose same-sex attraction.

And, many of us would much rather not have it. Certainly, our lives would be far less complicated without it.

So, if we’d been given the choice, we probably would not have chosen to be this way. (For me, while I was at it, I would also have chosen to be six-inches taller.)

Not that same-sex attraction is an affliction. It’s not.

Read in P&P

Before I Came Out as Trans Most of My Relationships Were A Lie

By Kaylin Hamilton

As a teen, people thought I was a straight cis boy — and really, so did I — and so as soon as I hit puberty there was an assumption that any interaction I had with a girl was necessarily about romance or sex. This wasn’t just an expectation of my male friends, but one that girls, and many adults imposed on me as well.

Society’s norm of compulsory heterosexuality or ‘comphet’ — the assumption that everyone is cisgender and heterosexual, and all the norms of gendered sexuality that assumption entails — said so.

As a teen, I often found it easier to talk to girls than boys and usually did so with zero romantic or sexual motivations. When others would tease me afterwards, or on the couple of occasions when a girl would suddenly kiss me or indicate they wanted something more than conversation, I was utterly bewildered.

It seemed I could no longer just be friends with a girl without it being about dating; comphet said so — everyone said so.

Read in P&P

My Trans Anxiety Is Always Worse in My Head

By Emma Holiday

Many of us create a world of fear inside our heads that is so destructive that it halts our forward momentum. I am not talking about reasonable prudence. I am talking about stopping healthy progress that could achieve meaningful goals in our lives.

We fear change.

Read in P&P

The Rules of Queer Love

By Jonny B

The stakes are high in the game of queer love and the rules are different from the status quo. The manual for heteronormative romantic attachment is built into everyday life whether one can successfully read it or not.

If they want to, they can find role models for loving relationships anywhere.There are cis-hetero couples holding hands on the street where they don’t have to worry about anyone’s offended gaze; they are featured in the plethora of romantic comedies that grace our screens and the many other examples that we all stumble on by happenstance.

Straight people can take their chance at love for granted.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Series —

The Medellan Conspiracy

Click here for an intro and chapter links

When cultures collide, violence can result. Ardyn and Jevan have already suffered violence and loss when some of Jevan’s people acted out on xenophobic conspiracy theory. But what of Ardyn’s more gentle people? Will “progress” lead to discontent or worse?

Read Episode 35: Ardyn
Read Episode 36: Jevan and Ardyn
Read Episode 37: Everyone

— Poetry —

Defiance — A Poem

By Mrs. Capricious

This is a beautiful poem about transgender strength.

You’ve strayed so far from the light you’ve lost your sight.
You belong to the night.
As for us we burn bright,
Never forsake the fight,
Won’t ever take fright,
‘Cos your barks worse than your bite.

Read in P&P

Pride — A Poem about Shame

You tried to nullify, tried negation
But here I remain, daring to exist
You tried to provoke my ire, vexation
But I blew you a kiss, never raised a fist.

Read in P&P

That’s all for Prism & Pen this week, folks, so happy reading!

And we’ll see y’all next Sunday for another Digest. ❤️

Logan & Kaylin



Logan Silkwood
Prism & Pen

I’m a polyamorous, non-binary trans man (he/him). I edit for Queerly Trans, Prism & Pen, Enbyous, and Trans Love & (A)Sexuality. Twitter: @logan_silkwood.