Pride (Mod.) Poem by Joanna Hoffman

Pride (Mod.)

The summer I turned 14 my grandmother got me totally smashed at a wedding in New Jersey
And somewhere in between that 4th glass of champagne and the 5th Abba song
She turned to me and said, "someday you're gonna have a wedding just like this,
And when you do, please, don't let them play any disco.
I didn't know how to tell her that actually I wouldn't be having any wedding at all.
That I wore these bones like a voice over
When I was really in love with my freind colin.
I thought maybe, just maybe, if i held down this itch underwaterlong enough it might float up blue.

I know what shame feels like.
I have painted my skin with postcard gleam as if the best I could ever do was just reflect someone else's shine-
As if there were some parts of me better off drowned in a swimming pool of white-out.
But it's not in our nature to cringe before the mirror like this.
It is in our bones not to bake shame into our blood, but to live boldly.

So now after all these years later, here is my pride,
For refusing to allow wet blanket stares of strangers on the subway
Smother this burn to hold his hand.
For every time someone said to me "wow you don't look gay" and I didn't say thank you
For refusing to allow my heart to be strip searched by those who want to know if my love is pure enough.
Becuase I have spent years committing hate crimes against myself
And I already know all those tricks.

So when my straight friend asks me why there is no straight pride parade
I tell her you can't be proud of something you've never had to fight for.
This is for every wedding I watched from the sidelines
Every fairytale with its stipulations.
Every it's a choice,
It's a phase,
You're disgusting.
Every swollen choke of shame.
I learned to coat my throat with every gay kid who ever believed nothing would ever make this better
Because home might break the parts of you
That make you who you're supposed to be.

We already are exactly who we are supposed to be.
And just this summer I woke up living in a city where I can actually get married one day,
And I never really expected it to mean that much to me.

But I think back to that wedding in New Jersey
How I was the last one to leave the dance floor-
How my grandmother grabbed me by the hand and said,
"Hey, I'm proud of you, "
With no buts or if-onlys clinging to the underside of her voice.

Now, finally, after all these years
I'm finally able to say the same thing
To myself

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