Us and Them
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I don't want to talk about what happened this week, it looks petty when I write it down, and next to what I've been through before, it is. I want to talk about five years ago. I want to talk about the fear.
I remember kissing Laurie on the steps, the taste of cigarettes in her mouth. We came out together, but for her it was just a phase. It wasn't long before I was alone in it, the big news, gossip of the day. And things got so ugly, they got so ugly so fast. I've been spat on, tripped and knocked down, hair stuck with chewing gum, my books defaced, my property stolen. I've been hit, I've been kicked, I've been threatened with a knife, with fire. I've been pushed down the stairs, I've been trapped in the centre of a mob of 30 and punched and kicked until I was sick. I've cried so hard I thought I would break.
I've gone to teachers who told me I was too young to know my feelings. I've been punished for talking about my orientation in front of younger students - students who spat on me and poured their drinks on me when they heard. I've sat in class while a girl unbuttoned her shirt in front of me. "Do you want to fuck me?" She asked. How do you respond to that. Her friends were waiting - if I'd said no, it would be an insult. If yes, it'd be a approach on a straight girl, stepping way out of line. I was looking at a fight for my safety either way. Her bra was red, it was a c-cup. She had a very dark tan and acne scarred skin. I hated her and I wanted her and I was so, so scared.
I didn't tell my parents for a year. It came out in an argument, all tears and rage and hate. I thought they'd reject me, but it was ok. I gradually started to stop being scared. I became more confident, and the bullying stopped. Not overnight, it's never that easy, but I stopped giving them a rise and I stopped being a victim and it faded away until it was almost gone. I never felt safe, I never lost that feeling of my heart in my mouth walking into school, but it became less crippling. But it is never really over, you never forget all the hurt. Things like that stay with you, and somewhere along the line you have to find out how to cope.
These days I cope by fighting back. I have facts, I have analogies, I have arguments and if it comes to it, I have emotional responses. Always controlled, I play for sympathy where I can get it. It sometimes works, with the elderly traditionalist crowd. No one wants to make the young dyke cry. But I'm never the victim. I'm never the fucking victim. I'll confront whatever you throw at me. That's not to say the fear is gone, because it's not, and I don't think it ever will be. But I can work through it, I can turn it into something positive and loud and angry. The only road to acceptance is through pride, and pride I have in spadefulls.
On Saturday I will be attending Northern Pride in Newcastle upon Tyne - and there will be hell to pay for any fucker who dares stand in my way.