Miss; Mrs; Ms; Mr – please select your title.

But I don’t want to choose; how can I?

You forgot someone. You forgot about me.

I think: perhaps it was an honest mistake

Because how could you forget? I’m right here.

So I draw a new box and label it with nothing,

It’s my box. The box for the ambiguous.

But they reject my entry, because ambiguity is not allowed.

I think: maybe it’s nothing personal.

Perhaps it’s merely a craving, a sheer desire for

Perfection, order that can only come through force.

Force at the expense of our dignity.

We’re the reason they wear warning signs, or so they say.

Labels – forced through our skin and around our necks.

Choking us, infecting us with words, because

Labels are meant for clothes, not people.

Or perhaps that’s exactly how they see us:

Accessories. They show us off to the world like

Possessions, collectables with labels intact,

Because without them we’d be worthless.

We’re rare specimens, but not quite precious enough

To leave on the shelf, so they drag us around.

An eccentric’s bragging rights. The freak show

That doesn’t understand gender. Poor, confused soul.

And what about me? I followed your rules, didn’t I?

I ticked your box; I followed your code. Or is one

Label not enough for you? Perhaps it’s not enough to

Force one weight upon myself. No, instead you expect us

To chain ourselves down further, to brand ourselves

Like criminals. Well let me tell you, I’ve spent enough time

In a prison, and I know how to get out of one. Only before

I wasn’t guarded by others. I imprisoned myself.

Dark; cruel; chokingly claustrophobic. That closet

Was my cell. So why did I lock myself inside?

In the years it took me to break down those walls

It never occurred to me once that, perhaps I shouldn’t bother.

It’s funny. I use the term “coming out” ironically;

It seems so bright, the idea of freedom. I’m out of the closet!

And yet, by doing so, I’m threading labels through my skin.

Like a jacket, or a pair of jeans, perhaps a closet is where I belong.

Oh, I get it: you’re a traditionalist. You need order, or else

You feel out of place. Well guess what: I feel out of place now.

Sixteen years it took me to climb out of that pit; sixteen years

Of humiliating myself as I try to pretend to be someone I’m not.

And your rules, your sick, judgemental rules… They almost make me wish

I hadn’t. Almost. But not quite, because despite everything, I’m proud

Of who I am. I’m proud that, instead of concealing myself behind a wall

Of lies, I am free. Yes, I kiss girls: so what?

That is love, and I’m proud of it. Everyone should be.

(January, 2016)

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