Young woman, you may not want to hear about my experiences

Growing up lesbian

You may say, “we don’t need your story old woman, we have our own

This is our time, step back into histories cupboard

We don’t need feminists or battle cries, we’ve won our spot.”

I hope you don’t

I hope you want to learn from those who walked before you

Even as I’m not old enough to be your mother

Just as I learned from those before me

Otherwise, our molten souls only purpose in life

Is to shed our skin like the dying cicada and rustle

Music from our short vibration, even as that

Vibration can string legacies with each generation

If we would only listen and not sprint into the future, heedless

So, listen, please

Hear my story as I paint it with the lines on my palm

The stretchmarks of my years, intersecting yours

I was once younger than you, not so very long ago

Long enough it felt like a different world

A world where my friends at school derided lesbians

As those girls no boy would kiss, the unwanted

Lumping all undesired traits together like a toxic stew

The unkindness of this, left me a coward, a mute

I never told them I had feelings for my second-grade teacher

When she permed her long hair and became a pre-Raphaelite

Nor did I reveal my burgeoning feelings for other girls

For fear of being singled out in gym class as a pervert

As if all my rights of equality, were banished with that one word; lesbian

My generation had it easy compared to the past

Where women were beaten, raped, tortured for loving each other

What you may not know young woman, is this still happens

In 70 percent of the world, in your neighborhood and in mine

We forget sometimes when we have the luxury of forgetting, when we

Have children with our same sex partner, go to schools

That will not torment those children, marry and possess rights

To avoid losing our homes, our security, our sanity

But it wasn’t so long ago, and it’s always omnipresent

A THREAT– we shouldn’t presume our rights are sacrosanct

Nothing about a woman is protected in perpetuity

Each generation must play their part or they will pay

Eventually I grew courageous and came out

Though the toxicity of the lesbian world terrified me

How women who loved women would as often destroy

One another in the confusion of unscripted lives under

Duress, so much eroded before it had a chance to

Flourish, women dressing as men to claim identities, aborting

Their own, shamed, mocked, ridiculed, turning on

Each other like a snake eating its tail, loses focus

If I had a choice back then, I would’ve been heterosexual

Avoided all the pain, the cruelty, the power lesbians

Who came demanding potential girlfriends worked out daily

Earn a six -digit salary before they would consider dating

All the loss of innocence in those subscribed roles

I fell out of love with women, with being a lesbian

But it ran in my blood like a rose with permanent thorns

Twisting my arm toward the thin wrist of girls

Until eventually I fell for a woman

unafraid to be a woman, unafraid to love me

Then it all clicked into place, years fell away

But we suffered under the yoke of inequity

Hiding for years illegal, unable to gain equality

Sinking into poverty, losing chances, children, hope

Until the lines on my face weren’t metaphorical, they were

The clay hands of time pulling me into the river

And drowning there, I fought to rise and find a way

Though it felt like drowning would be such a relief

Whomever says love is all you need, has forgotten the

Need for a roof, a meal, the feeling of safety, sanity

When I see you now with your legalized marriages

Your children and houses and careers that don’t fire

You for who you are, I am glad, I am truly glad, there is

No bitterness just hope that you know, it was less than a

Generation ago things were so different, we desperately

Wished to speed into the future, become you with your

Freedoms, which should never be taken for granted

The past isn’t ancient, it may be just over your shoulder

I suggest you reach back, once in a while and touch

Its tired skin, for that skin may one day be yours

And we only make sense when we stand together

A chain throughout history, shoring up against flood

Standing strong, linking arms, saying now is the time

We claim the past, present and future. Young woman

I want to be proud of you. Young woman I want your

Children to be one step closer. Speak up.

8 Replies to “Speak up”

  1. I absolutely love this for all its truth and glory and testimony. This is flawless, Candice. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. As far back as we have records we have warnings spoken, written, sung of the price of being ignorant of history. And as numerous legislatures continue to prove, no freedom, no right once won is set safe in perpetuity, or even to next week.

  3. Such a profound reflection. I like the wistfulness evoked by those now more accepted. Unfortunately, in all aspects of life, we just don’t learn from those who have gone before.

  4. “Nothing about a woman is protected in perpetuity” is a line for the ages, sadly. A call to arms and reinforcements…

  5. It means a lot that you thought this profound. It’s one of my rant poems which I think is the ‘real’ me in that it’s what I really feel about issues like equity and equality. I guess we should always have those passions and never feel it isn’t our time anymore to speak up.

  6. Sorry I was sick again – urgh- thank you so much for reading and saying this – you spur me on to not give up on writing – and so much besides. THANK YOU so much dearest Tre

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