Homo World- Max Wallis

Heterosexuality

– unheard of in our town.

The thing of New York, London, Manchester’s Mecca.

Acting straight and dancing straight;

delights relegated to short stories

Vaseline-smeared-porn: internet-hunched in my bedroom.

Rock Stars, Pop Stars, not everyone.

Not us.

Not our town.

Occasionally you’d hear of families in cities

where kids had a mum and dad,

not dad and dad or mum and mum;

could have children by shagging

not through clinics like everyone else does.

Couldn’t marry, kids called all the time.

Sick, people said;

couldn’t cope with two humans loving

and wanting to share that love.

When I came to tell people

that I liked women, not men,

that I … fancied

liked them more than just a friend

I was scared

and although I came out of the closet young, to myself

aged eight, I waited eight more years.

Had boyfriends to pass the time, could kiss them,

felt nothing more.

I met a girl when I was sixteen

she made me want to scream her name

everywhere,

LU-CY!

loved her long before we kissed.

Couldn’t kiss in public

wouldn’t kiss in public

didn’t want to get hit.

Told our parents we were friends

they believed us. It was ok.

I felt happiness I’d never felt before

whole, completed.

We had to sneak off to do stuff when parents were out.

When they opened the door and we were kissing

we had to leap apart and pretend nothing happened.

When her mums found out

one hit her.

Told my friends first.

I’m … straight

I said.

One fled.

Some stayed.

Lots didn’t like a guy who liked women.

Hetero.

Hetero.

Hetero.

Ignorant, not bad people

Just didn’t get it, that’s all.

Got called names at school.

Teachers wouldn’t talk about it

sat in tears in loos unable to understand it

tried to pretend to be gay to get over it.

But I loved her completely

nothing said it more than my dreams

or the way my stomach leaped when I saw her.

See people didn’t realise at that age,

didn’t like what they didn’t understand.

Girls thought I fancied them,

even the ugly ones

but I was scared of them.

In changing rooms they wouldn’t talk to me

STOP LOOKIN AT ME.

Threw things at me,

sometimes paper, sometimes stones,

beat me till my teeth

split my lips and my eye bruised: bulged.

Thought I’d turn them straight

if I ate with them at dinner time.

I always feared telling my family.

When I told my dads,

they cried:

didn’t want a straight son,

liked me bent.

Couldn’t understand why I’d like girls.

That night I had a panic attack,

scratched my arms to pieces.

Wanted to just run away

didn’t know what to do

if my own family hated me

didn’t want me to be, me.

She moved down south when she turned seventeen.

Lost contact, never managed to talk about it.

Changed. Know I did.

Moved out, went uni, had sex, lived life.

Heard she died three weeks ago and that’s why I’m writing this.

Tears on a page are full of black ink.

People still get beaten up for this.

Still get stoned for this.

Get killed for this.

But I loved her.

I loved her.

I loved her.

xxx

Max Wallis is a poet and visionary and curator of the new literature project Something Every Day. He lives in Manchester.