A Poem For Coming Out
Society Is Wrong
I was eight years old when I learnt that being ‘gay’ was an insult.
I was nine when I began using it,
ten when I realised that it was wrong.
I was seven when I was told that ‘same sex couples’ didn’t exist.
Eight when I was told that it was attention seeking.
Eight when the word ‘gay’ was something said with malice.
Nine when nobody told me that it was wrong to use it.
Nine when the word ‘faggot’ wasn’t just a pile of goddamn sticks, but a fucking insult, too.
Nine when I realised that it was socially acceptable to insult someone with a legitimate sexuality.
Ten when I said ‘no’.
Ten when I silently, silently took a stand.
Eleven when I stopped being insulted by a word talking about someone’s preference.
Twelve when I was first ‘charged with being a lesbian’ because of my beliefs.
Because I thought that women needed to be empowered.
Twelve when I was called a feminist like it was an insult.
Thirteen when I became depressed.
Thirteen when Lesbian became my name, not Esther.
Thirteen when I dropped out of school.
Fourteen when I was brave enough to go back.
Fourteen when I bombarded someone about using gay as an insult.
When I took a stand with my beliefs.
Fourteen when I was taught that women should be seen, and not heard.
Fourteen when I was insulted with being a feminist again.
Fourteen when I hid my beliefs.
Fourteen when I didn’t speak out.
Fourteen when I believed what my tormentors said.
Fourteen when I watched someone being bullied and did nothing.
Fifteen when I tried to get people to take me seriously by cutting myself.
Fifteen when if I cut I was attention seeking but if I spoke out and asked for help I was also attention seeking.
Fifteen when a vertical slit was taken more seriously than a horizontal one.
Fifteen when I realised that I was a human.
Fifteen when I came out.
Fifteen when I realised that being a feminist wasn’t an insult, some something to be ashamed about.
Fifteen when I knew enough about sexism, racism, feminism, sexualities, rape culture – fucking human rights – that I could speak publicly about them and persuade people.
Fifteen when I knew where I stood.
Fifteen when I found my footing.
Fifteen when I grew up. Became an adult.
Fifteen when I stopped one of my closest friends from committing suicide.
Fifteen when the insults meant nothing.
That being lesbian wasn’t wrong.
That being gay was just a preference.
That being bisexual was a sexuality.
That being pansexual wasn’t a myth.
That being asexual didn’t mean that you were broken.
I was fifteen years old when I learned that the difference between right and wrong wasn’t something decided by the people in the street.
That rape culture was real.
That racism hurt.
That we cut the majority out of our arguments.
That we excuse the offender.
That less that 3% of rapists ever see the inside of a jail cell.
When I realised that when we say ‘sexuality’ we think ‘gay’.
When ‘gender’ meant ‘female’.
When ‘race’ meant ‘African’, ‘Latino’, ‘Chinese’.
When the victim became blamed.
I was fifteen when I realised that we asked the wrong questions.
That we ask ‘what was she wearing?’ rather than ‘why did he rape her?’
That we teach girls to cover up rather than boys not to rape.
I was fifteen when I realised that we were all victims to a society that was wrong.