Pride Month Blogathon: Day 15 – Introduction to Pride Month Blogathon
by Cam Montgomery
The first time you kiss a girl, you’re twenty-two-years-old. A college junior, majoring in two things that’d make you spiritually rich, but broke in the pockets. Young, queer, and naïve, is what they call that.
You call it living.
Oh, the girl? You’re still friends. (On Facebook.) And she, to this day, doesn’t know she was “your first.” All the same, you remind yourself, constantly, that you owe her more than you’re willing to admit. She, this femme with the eyes like whoa and the hair like yeah, would be your re-introduction to yourself. Your new self.
The first time you label yourself, you’re twenty-three. Almost a year to the date of The Kiss Felt ‘Round Your Entire Body. You’re sitting in day one of Martin’s 400-level Gay Male Writers class when he decides to have each of the students go around and say their name, their orientation and their pronouns—if comfortable.
And you are. Of course you are! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Your heart beats faster, the closer they get to your side of the room, students announcing their orientations down and up each row like a line of dominoes, falling, one-by-one.
How do they all know about these terms? These words that sound both like song lyrics and the bluest of swears. Some of them, being exactly the latter—here’s a wink and a nod at you, Genderfucks.
About halfway to you, a guy states his name, announces he is pansexual and prefers he-him-his pronouns.
It is the work of moments to pull your phone out under your desk and hit Google.
The world opens up.
The first time you’re gay bashed, you are twenty-four-years-old. You’re a year and a half out of college and by now you’ve been over and under every type of human your heart had imagined and some, much to your heart’s rainbow-y delight, you hadn’t. “Love is love” means something spectacular to you, but that night you learn that loving your partner and loving yourself has to overpower all the people who will never feel that way about you.
You spend a week smothering screams into your pillow in the aftermath.
You seek a therapist out.
You get your PTSD diagnosis.
You learn to solder steel into your spine.
You decided to wear armor out in public from then on.
The first time your label changes, you are twenty-six-years-old. You sit stunned for all of twenty minutes, but you know immediately it is right. You vlog about it—this is 2016, after all.
It explains so much. Why you haven’t enjoyed sex. Why you feel like you’ve been feeding your little queer body McDonald’s for all these years. Why you’ve always wanted to throw up all over every dude who’s ever called you “Sexy.”
Demisexual fits your heart like the gayest puzzle piece.
The first time you experience gender dysphoria, you are… well. You’re not sure. It’s happened to you more times than you can count. You chalk it up to societal pressure to carry your hips a certain way, to hunch your shoulders in or out or whatever way is softest, pinkest, the most model-esque.
You learn at twenty-seven, however, it’s none of that. You learn that you’ve maybe felt this way since you started wearing a bra at sixteen. (You were a late bloomer—it’s okay.)
You’re twenty-eight now and you’re still not sure how to handle this part of you that isn’t cisgender. The whole of you that isn’t sure what it is, but knows exactly what it isn’t.
It’s like being afraid to come out to Mama all over again—she’ll never get it, the family will laugh, she’ll say you’re just being difficult.
But here’s the thing.
You’ve got people, now.
You’ve got Professor Martin, who is the Out and Outrageous King of Queer Academics from your days back at university. You’ve got Kar who paints things like QUEER AS FUCK on their back just to walk through what you both know is one of the most conservative neighborhoods in the city. You’ve got a best friend (Hi, T-Dot!) who knows and understands you inside and out. Someone whose own queer heart speaks to yours.
You’ve unexpectedly found the most stellar group of pals from that time a day job brought you down to the weekly 56th and Broadway Gay AA meeting.
Twitter gave you a space to vent and then went a step further and gifted you Ryan and Chay and Jay Elliot and Dahlia and Lyssa and Hadeel and Lolo and Christina and my goodness, you have GOT people, kid.
You’ve got people and communities who love and support you no matter what name you go by or what pronouns you don’t or how many times your label changes. They make sure you know that it is absolutely okay to still be figuring things out. That at any age—in your teens or your mid-twenties, or, yes, even in your late twenties—it’s okay to still be questioning, evolving like some sort of queer Pokémon, bigger, better, and more badass with every upgrade.
You learn, through it all, that you have to be patient with yourself. That it’s never easy but it’s always worthwhile to check-in with yourself and find out where your heart is, what it needs, whether that’s time or an ear or a supportive shoulder.
None of this is fiction. This is my life and oh, man, has it been a rollercoaster. I might not have made it without them. And going into the next four years, will be more of a challenge than so many others most of us have lived through. Which is why I’m here, telling you all this. Telling you about my patience and my questioning and my armor and my tears and my happys and my sads. It’s why I’m promising to hold your hand through the same if you need me to.
But that’s the thing about loving yourself and loving a community. They love you back. And they have your back.
Cam Montgomery is an LA transplant now residing in Seattle. By night, she writes YA lit about Black teens across all their intersections. By day, she teaches ballet to teen boys and works in the land of sobriety and rehab. It is the goal of her stories to interrogate the spaces of race, love, the body, and sexuality, all while being a witness of life. She is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.