a poem to all the queer kids in the red states where there are no rainbows on display today

but the one occasionally sent down to remind
us that there is beauty in the honesty
of allowing a body, a world
to weep

for those of us who only know
new york city
as a billboard on the highway always too far away to read
as fists shaped like skyscrapers on our cheeks
as lips with promises etched in grooves in a language
we could never decipher — the opposite of a kiss
is a boy you like calling you faggot —

know san francisco
as a postcard on the fridge
as a pullout in a magazine
as a throbbing orb of light
as distant as the shooting stars we
spit our secrets into during nights
where we can not fall asleep
because we hate ourselves too much
to believe that we are worthy of waking up

for those of us whose
first hero was a (white) porn star we
didn’t even know the name of:
but fell desperately in love with because he was
the first wrist with a limp, the first
voice with a lisp, the first body with a gay
the first mirror we had ever laid our eyes on
and felt beautiful in
— we touched ourselves those nights to double check
that we still existed —

for those of us who learned how to
make home long before we learned how to make love:
out of discarded cardboard, dicks in our face,
dollars in our back pockets,
dumpsters more sympathetic than the families that threw us out

for those of us who are told to be happy because we can get gay married now
in new york city and san francisco and all those lies
we believed growing up in small towns in states where they
let us die because they’re already red on the map
so they do not see our blood:
our suicide notes
lost in the pile of thank you notes that overflow our
congressmen’s mailboxes, our cries stifled behind
the only (jail) bars you legally let us in to – employing the police
as our baby sitters — our phone calls silenced by the
chime of bells
you — too busy attending weddings to send
donation checks to the organizations that
no longer have funds for our sheets, let alone
our dignity
you – who have stuffed your mouth with a certificate
so that you do not have to remember what it felt like
to cry, to scream like you once had to in those places far away from here

we ask for bread / and you throw us wedding cake
we ask for home / and you throw us back into the churches that taught us how to hate ourselves
we ask for safety / and you give us benefits for jobs that refuse to hire us

they tell us that it will get better somehow:
that maybe some white liberal couple will watch
a same-sex marriage on an episode of Modern Family and recognize that our brown,
that our poor, that our fag, that our rural is somehow worthy
and fly down to the South to visit and give us more to eat
than the bullshit you have fed us for years
our type of queer not palatable enough for your >FIVE STAR CHIC<
Will & Grace fantasies,
for your CNN Interviews, for your
gay tourist destinations
visit us on the way —
on the streets
in the parts you always fly over
in the prisons
here.
 
sleep well on the journey knowing
tomorrow:
a thousand preachers
will say ‘till death do us part’ in
san francisco, and queer youth across
the country will be listening
intently.

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this is an original work by alok vaid-menon, who grew up a brown fag in texas. please consider supporting the artist at returnthegayze.tumblr.com