– 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 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
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
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
Lots didn’t like a guy who liked women.
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,
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.
Max Wallis is a poet and visionary and curator of the new literature project Something Every Day. He lives in Manchester.