“I know I am because I said I am.” -Mary Lambert

I was twelve when I first used the word “queer” to describe myself to a girl in my computers class. My tongue tripped over the “Q” like it was a shoelace. I made her swear on her Holy Pre Algebra textbook that she wouldn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anybody… she told the guy she’d been dating for three days. This guy told all of his friends. His friends started leaving bastardized Bible Psalms in my locker. I suppressed the memory of my combination. I suppressed the idea of being open, and I carried my weight on my own.

I like to think I became all the right kinds of shadow, all the right kinds of ugly. Girls I had never met before asked me if I had a crush on them and a traffic jam started in my chest. I was told I was “disgusting” on a regular basis and my jaw turned to barbed wire in my head. They shoved me in science class and I bruised like confinement. But I never looked away. I never struck back. Maybe I was all the right cowardly. Maybe I was all the right brave.

Now, people aren’t sure what to make of this. Me. I am so young. I shouldn’t be so sure of my weathered heart. And I saw the girl who outed me, three years later, in the supermarket. She looked at me like I was a plane crash; she couldn’t look away from my reflection in the freezers. Perhaps I am a plane crash, a travesty, a tragedy. But at least there were no casualties. At least we all made it out alive. At least at the end of the day I can look at the embers and say that I made it. I do not need to confirm if I’m gay or if I’m not. What I need to do is be proud of myself, all these kinds of myself, because

I know I am because I said I am
I know I am because I said I am
I know I am because I said I am