After Orlando, 1,439 Years Of Life Still Echo

After Orlando, 1,439 Years Of Life Still Echo

We can never let them go silent.
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When I was seventeen I held my girlfriends hand the way my grandmother holds her rosary beads- so close. Moments later, three men walked by screaming “faggots" so loud you could hear my shame echo off the hot summer tar. She punched six holes in the wall that night.

I stayed soft, numb. Quick retraction like a child who puts his hand on a stove or gets his mouth washed with soap. My mouth has tasted bitter ever since.

I think heaven is coming down in Orlando. It falls like sweet southern rain and sits on my skin. Candles shed light on dark crime scenes. Everything is quiet. Forty-nine people have died. Some of them look just like me. Each of them love just like me.

After my back became a cutting board for homophobia, my girlfriend’s hand turned sharper. My breath laid still in my chest- a graveyard of what I couldn't say. I closed my lips like a bible.

Held her hand tighter

Walked a bit closer

Watched a bit harder

Loved a bit softer-

so as not to be too heavy for the world’s broken knees.

When shots rained down on Sunday in Orlando, I felt my her hand again- this time around my neck, squeezing the words out.

My mouth became a dulled kitchen knife, afraid of chewing words that would condemn me. Afraid of holding hands that would condemn me. Not knowing that just living could condemn me.

Fear lives in the soles of my shoes. I walk off of high places, wishing to feel the crush of my bones. Wanting to see if I could still hold my heavy shame on top of a broken body- if the world could hold it’s heavy shame on top of a broken body.

I used to think words were a loaded gun until i realized I might actually face one.

The safety on the trigger has replaced actual safety. Warm bed and unpacked suitcase, safety. Don’t have to worry about being shot, safety. I worry my sexuality is sewn into my skin.

If you add the ages of each innocent person killed at the Pulse Night Club, you get 1,439 years. 1,439 years shot down with discrimination and fear-cased bullets.

1,439 years of words, of words, of words.

The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. Built to break brick like bombs cannot. Cut skin like guns cannot. Words can’t be extinguished when the flame goes out- the oven in my throat still burns.

There are 1,439 years living under my tongue. My voice shakes, not from fear, but from gravity. The gravity of bullet wounds caused by words that couldn't heal quickly enough. I couldn't heal quickly enough.

My girlfriend told me to keep walking and not look fear in the eye. I think I have to look at it to know it was really there.

1,439 years of life were really there. They are still speaking to me.

They will never be silenced.

They live in the mouths of everyone who has ever kept quiet, ever made themselves soft, ever feared that their love was too heavy.

We all know how to hide behind who we are not. We hide each time we choose to be silent in the face of something so loud. Hate is something so loud.

We all know how to die and come back to life, we will always come back to life.

One day we will swell and not break. Bend and not buckle. One day the world will hold us up without making us feel small. One day we will sing songs with hope as the chorus.

1,439 years of life still echo the walls of my mouth, begging me to speak. When I scream they enter the world again. I will never stop screaming. We will never stop screaming.

Cover Image Credit: Cowgernation.com

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Being A Lesbian Sucks

To women who say they wish they were a lesbian; you don't.

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My girlfriend is not a man, obviously so because she is my girlfriend, emphasis on girl. Society has been conditioned with men holding the power. In a world dominated by men being a lesbian has more problems than just homophobia.

There is an automatic assumption that because we are not with a man we are single. Without the dominating presence of a man other men feel safe to come on to women in lesbian relationships, whether they know we are together or not. We aren't always in a safe situation to say we are together so if he doesn't pick up on the social cues it only gives us two options: politely laugh and attempt to remove ourselves from the situation or say we aren't interested. Both options are equal in undesirability and saying we are uninterested can lead to them just pushing harder. The boyfriend card usually works, but lying about our relationship makes us feel terrible.

The fetishizing of lesbian couples and threesomes are a problem because of media and porn. They hyper-sexualize lesbian relationships until they are nothing but sex. From this the winning question, "Do you want to have a threesome?" With the assumption both or one woman in the relationship is a lesbian and not bisexual, pansexual, or etc. A threesome with a man is completely out of the question. The thing about lesbians is that we like women not men, a threesome with a man goes against our identity as a lesbian and makes no sense. And even if both women are bisexual a normal man wouldn't walk up to a straight couple and pop the question of a threesome. So don't do it to us.

We also find ourselves being disrespected as a customer in a professional setting. Men in job positions belittle women who are at the mechanic, the lawyer, the doctors offices, and the bank, for just a few examples. They assume we don't know anything and are ignorant, so they treat us with no respect. They attempt to manipulate us for this and that to achieve their own personal gain. Without a man lesbian couples are even more subject to this because we don't get any respect. A man will be immediately respected and in a healthy relationship he can establish a power balance with his woman partner to the person in charge. Lesbians, (and other single women) don't have these short cuts. We have to establish ourselves then and there for having worth and show we deserve to be treated like full grown adults. Hopefully we also have the knowledge to not suffer from manipulation.

The difference in skill sets is something that can be a problem for everyone in this sexist society. We associate pink with girls and boys with blue. Girls with cooking and guys with tools. Most of us were taught different things and learned different skill sets. Most women I know, including me, don't know how to change a tire. How many young men go off to college having never done laundry in their life? With lesbians we usually don't know an important skill that was specifically taught to men. We might not know cars, or tools, or how to tile a floor. We are set back in our development as fully functional people in a unit. We lack key skill sets that were predetermined for men, unlike straight couples where there is usually a balance of skill sets.

The problems that arise from lesbian relationships are problems associated with a male dominating society and the gender division we face along with it. To abolish these we have to achieve equality and work on teaching the generations to follow that women are just as good as men. It's tough being a woman and a lesbian even harder.

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