What Hateful Sermons Taught Me About Love

Melanie Brown
The Establishment
Published in
15 min readMar 1, 2017

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He does not see the irony in his question when he asks why I would choose to be around people who do not know how to love me.

FFam 21 when I first start trying to fit my sexuality into a shape. I use bisexual because I do not have the words to say what I am and I do not think straight is correct. I begin attending the NYC Bi Women’s Group and experience a freedom that I never had before.

When did you learn to trace the contours of your own shape? What would it cost to see love in your own face?

For the first time, I am surrounded by a large group of women who chat about sex, gender, masturbation, and porn in casual conversation. I know bisexual is not the right word for me, but I think I’m in the right place. I quickly become best friends with another Black woman who is just as happy as me to be surrounded by like-minded women. We are almost the same age, and though she is more experienced than me, we seem to be going through the same revelation of being attracted to masculine-of-center people at almost the same time. When I develop a crush on one of my co-workers, I feel a sense of opening up. The part of me that I don’t understand is widening. I feel strange, warm, and detached at times, as though I am finally turning into myself.

Athena* doesn’t have many relatives in New York, so I invite her to come to Christmas with my dad’s side of the family. We show up donning rainbow jewelry and I am surprised by how uneventful the day has been; I am standing in the entryway between my aunt’s breakfast nook and the kitchen where my cousin is washing dishes. She speaks to me over the sound of the water swishing, “Athena’s* really nice.” Confused, I agree with her pensively, “Yeah . . . ” She continues to scrub the dishes as I start to measure the distance between the contour of my body and the space between us. “Is she your girlfriend? I saw your bracelets.”

The part of me that I don’t understand is widening.

In a moment, my body becomes stiff and I feel like some older version of myself that hasn’t been integrated yet. She thinks I am a lesbian, I…

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Melanie Brown
The Establishment

Bodies. Sexuality. Disability. Trauma. Identity. Healing. @InsideHerHands MelanieLauraSpeaks.com