Poem: Queer as in Fuck You by Meredith Debonnaire

So this is a new, and very very angry, one. I read it at Piranha Poetry last night, which was a lot of fun. It’s got swearing and mentions sex and is generally furious. The title is from “not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you” which is an old campaign slogan which I can’t quite track the origin of (anyone with knowledge, please comment I’d love to know).

It is not just about who I fuck,
Although I can tell you are worried about that;
the thought that maybe you are out of luck.
So we’ll tackle that one first:
Even were I straight as the accursed metaphorical ruler,
the answer would still be no
and I would still have a vibrator.
It is not just about who I am taking to bed later,
thinking about taking to bed,
wishing I was taking,
shagging with my eyes across a crowded room.
It is about other things too.
It is about the impending sense of doom when I am asked
about boyfriends.
It is about the empty aching space in my chest
that took years to recognise.
It is about assumptions
that reduce me down to the size of one question, which is
“who is she fucking?”
Although sometimes the question is:
“Can I watch?”
And I am entirely tired by the surprise in men’s eyes when I say “No”.
It is about letting go of any expectation of representation in blockbuster films
(unless the characters die).
It is having to be able to justify the why of my whole existence
at the drop of a hat.
It is about being expected to lie
so that no-one is discomforted by the thought of who I’m fucking,
in their heads.

It is not just about who I fuck.
It is about holding hands in public,
while my mind is stuck in a repeated loop of “Are we safe?”
It is about endless fucking red tape
picking a box to tick under ‘sex’ on forms,
as if the whole gorgeous spectrum of human experience and norms
can fit in two boxes.
It is about having the moxy to say who I am
and loudly
over and over again
until it fucking sticks.
It is about learning there is nothing to fix
and reclaiming my sexuality inch by scarred inch.
It is about going for picnics,
and dates,
and having mates who understand.
It is about knowing there are countries where my very existence is banned.
It is about trying to find the young queers quickly,
before they are dead;
before the self-hatred devours their heads.
It is about breaking down all the stories I was told
–that there would be some prince coming to rescue me–
and finding better things to hold.
It is about hunting for my history hidden between sentences on the internet
and clinging on with bleeding fingers when you try to take it away.
It is about always being told “not yet” and “one more day”
and asphyxiating on the lack of space,
and being edged towards a race that ends
with everyone broken.

It is about having multiple partners,
and not cheating,
because we’ve all spoken about it.
It is about claiming a fluidity in myself
because I change like a restless stream.
It is about endless pointed questions when,
this is all none of your business.
It is about the carelessness of people
who have never had to fight this fight
and lying awake in the night
“Am I queer enough?”
as if there is a dotted line,
somewhere in the sand.
It is about finding a place to stand
and becoming fierce, because I cannot be anything else if I want to get out alive.
It is about infinite angry tears and a joyful will to survive,
and learning myself through and through,
which is why I’m not gay as in happy:
I’m queer as in fuck you.

Notes: I am mainly happy with this, except that I think it maybe implies that I am solely into women which is not true. “bi as in happy” however, doesn’t rhyme or make sense. So this one might get edited. Other than that, I like it!

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