COMPLAINT 12.1

A self-anthem for 2021: Dude, you need to stop writing about your coming out
by Rae Theodore

Two books are enough
You no longer need an ironic backstory
to exist

It’s time to stop dividing your life in half
Before and after you know what
Your spine isn’t a fault line

You should stop writing about that middle part, too
when you came out to yourself
but didn’t have the balls to tell anyone else
not even your best friend
who you took to see Kissing Jessica Stein
and then smirked in the dark for one hour and thirty-seven minutes
without letting her in
on your little secret

Closets are so 1999 anyway
So But I’m a Cheerleader
So Aimee & Jaguar
So Piper Perabo
Which isn’t a bad thing
Blockbuster Video got you to where you are today
Say a prayer to Chloë Sevigny
and that big blue movie ticket in the sky
and move on with your queer life

News flash: Coming out at age 40
after being married to a man for nine years
isn’t the most interesting thing about you

You were voted shyest in your class two years in a row
You can quote every line from Grease 2
You went miniature golfing with Joan Jett
once in a dream

Take this poem, fold it up, put it in your pocket
Hand it to yourself when you need
permission to be
the way you are today
without explanation
Like the second Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince
or Becky number 2 in Roseanne

No one can erase your coming out story
but it doesn’t have to be your calling
card, punch line, denouement

There’s still time for you to write a TV pilot
about a self-assured butch
who inherits a miniature golf course in L.A.
where all the celebrity lesbians hang,
including Joan Jett, who gets rankled
when Lea Delaria is on the verge
of breaking her course record
Hilarious hijinks ensue

Rae Theodore is the author of My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels and Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars and Sinister Wisdom. Rae is the winner of the 2020 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest and immediate past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She lives in Royersford, Pennsylvania, with her wife, kids and cats.

Photo by Pierre Rosa.

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