AAC, queerness


That’s what you are, but they don’t call you that. They say you can’t pronounce s’s and z’s right. You can’t pronounce your own name right, whatever you name is at the time.

They make a plan for you. It involves a level of surveillance that your peers are not, by and large, subjected to. They’ll listen in on you at recess and make sure you’re pronouncing your words right. Make sure you’re not slipping into the comfy th-zone you’ve known your whole life.

It doesn’t matter to you. You can’t tell the difference. But they tell you it matters to other people. Not people in your life now, of course. But it will later, they say. You won’t be able to get a good job if you lisp, they say.

You’re bullied for your lisp. They are ineffective at controlling the bully.

It is years of speech therapy. Years, until you’re old enough to say “no!” loudly and clearly. Years, until you’re too big to control. Years, until they realize you’re not going to conform, no matter what.

You get to middle school. They give up.

You grow up. They warned you about your lisp when they say you as this wispy little white-blonde hair, blue eyes girl. But you are not that, you are not a girl, you are not a woman. You grow up. You grow up into a stereotype. A lisping unapologetic queer, how about that.

Elementary-school you would be so proud.

Miracle of miracles with a side of heavy sarcasm cream sauce, you graduate. Thrice. Twice virtually. You manage a graduate degree and later a full-time job.

You slowly lose and find your voice. Your alternative communication is a speech generating device. You seek out the artificial voices that have lisps. Few do, because artificial voices are meant to be perfect, free of flaws or impediments. But still, you find one that lisps.

Your voice was always perfect. They wanted to shape it into something else – for what? Nobody ever explained that to you. They lied and said you couldn’t attend your IEP meetings. They lied and said you’d never be successful with a lisp.

But here you are.

poetry, queerness

poetry in a pandemic: queer days

queer days in the
liminality spent with you.
queer boys, smiling, hugging on
the couch where we laid our heads on
summer nights when the bedroom was too hot.
queer days, each one a
continuation of the last, each one a
gray expanse into a night that
drags on; days spent staring at
screens, waiting for night, waiting for —
sleep now, and dream of better:
better days, better lives where we are not
so terrified, so fretting about the spectre of
in the summer we will dance again in the street;
we will laugh and cry and enjoy the heat,
suffer it but at least it is better than
the cold.