(Note: This post is the first in a new feature on my blog, Love Letters. This is more art-oriented stuff, as opposed to the strictly analytical work you can usually find on my blog. I’m sorry if that’s not your kind of thing, but if it is–here you go!)
I love you. I adore you. I cherish the bond we share. All stereotypes of fags and hags aside, the relationship between us is special. In this patriarchal world, a woman who loves men and a man who loves men share an understanding tempered by difference. It’s a beautiful unnameable thing.
Back when I thought I was straight, we slept together, and when I told you who I really loved, you stuck around because you knew that I loved you–and not platonically, because you read The Symposium with me in the ninth grade when it was the only book on gay love I could find, and you know that isn’t what “platonic” means.
You encouraged me to hit on the beautiful boy in the blue dress outside of my first Rocky Horror screening. (I was wearing a Boy Scout shirt. I got his number but I was too scared to call.)
You defended me from the older skeezy queer at the coffee shop who wouldn’t stop asking if I had somewhere to stay that night. You taught me how to smoke weed from a piece.
Your dad offered me reimbursement in check form to buy you soup. I owe you half a sandwich at the moment. You are my fake sister but one day you’re going to meet my real ones and make friends with them too.
You are Jewish and so you could hang out with me on Christmas without it being weird with your family. You are black and you told me stories about being the only black girl in your Orange County high school, while we ate squash curry on the kitchen floor of the college co-op. You are white and we had our first experience working through our bullshit together in the ninth grade World History class where we knew the whole story was not being told. You are white and you grew up in a trailer park and every Christmas you eat what your mother ate after her excommunication. You are Latina and we call each other “esposito” and “esposita,” which creeps out other people’s moms completely, and once we sat for an hour on someone else’s lawn and you talked about how a boy kept waffling. He was a really cute boy.
You got sent to rehab and we couldn’t talk for two years but I think you’re okay now.
A bunch of your friends got sent to rehab and you still call one of them “Bob the drug dealer,” which is not his real name.
You never do drugs and one time I had to send you a sharp Facebook message about being judgmental.
Your mom thinks I’m dating you.
Your mom thinks I’m dating your brother.
Your mom thinks I have a crush on your dad.
I do have a crush on your dad.
Your dad thinks I have a crush on your mom? I have no idea how this happened.
I wrote the foreword to your first chapbook and you’re really embarrassed about it now because some of it is really bad. The thing is, some of it is also really good. My foreword is bad though. You and I had the same poetry teachers and I decided to marry you because you ended a poem with the line, “How can I be this fortunate?” and it was tenth grade and who writes a poem about being fortunate in tenth grade?
You don’t get along with my queer male best friend. Does this mean something?
If this were the mid-twentieth century–and you know that I keep calling you the Harper Lee to my Truman Capote, so sometimes I think it is the mid-twentieth century–I’d want to have a marriage of convenience with you, ideally finding a man who swung both ways for us to share and cuddle with while the kids watched Howdy-Doody. Everyone in the neighborhood would know. We’d move to New York. I would find a way to sleep with Frank O’Hara and you’d find a way to sleep with Kenneth Koch, or maybe you’d have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles. Or maybe I’d have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles. Come to think of it, there is still time for both of us to have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles. Please call her for me.
I stole your copy of that book on Lord Byron, Greek love, and homophobia in 1800s Britain. It was in the eleventh grade. I still haven’t read it and I’m sorry. Your mom and dad used to run a Rocky Horror shadowcast, but you’ve never been in the show. You used to be good at pretending to cry and then laugh and then cry.
I love you because we both know our people need one another. I love you because you tell me I’m pretty and I tell you you’re pretty and we are both actually very pretty. I love you because of all your help writing In Cold Blood and because you definitely wrote To Kill a Mockingbird all by yourself and Dil is a very flattering portrait. I love you because you make being in love with men who do not love us a fun experience.
I will buy you the morning after pill and I will pretend to be your boyfriend at the abortion clinic. You will hold my hand when the movie about Westboro Baptist plays at the Museum of Tolerance trip and you will pretend to be my girlfriend at the Habitat for Humanity dance in Lynchburg, VA.
When you’re silenced by sexism, I will speak up for you knowing that I will be taken more seriously because I am not a woman, and knowing that that’s fucked up. When I’m silenced by queerphobia, you will speak up for me knowing that you will be taken more seriously because you’re not queer, and knowing that that’s fucked up.
We are loving each other through a mutual constant promise not to wield our privilege over one another. I will not be a man to you. You will not be straight to me.
When your other gay friends say “Bitch!” affectionately I will tell them to shut the fuck up unless you like it.
When your other gay friends say “You big slut!” affectionately I will tell them to shut the fuck up unless you like it.
When your other gay friends say “Whore!” or “Bitch!” or any other slur associated with women I will say, “Would you like to think about that word’s history?”
When your other gay friends think they have the right to make derisive comments about your body–or any woman’s body!–just because they don’t want to have sex with that body, I will spill my drink on them on purpose. I promise to make it look like an accident.
You’re coming to see me today!
You’re back in Orange County, trying to resist your family’s efforts to enculturate you.
You’re on a bus to see my boyfriend in a far away city because you love him as much as I do.
You remind me of Nancy Mitford but only as much as is nice. Fortunately I don’t remind myself of Evelyn Waugh except when I’m overcaffeinated.
I promise never to forget that what we have is special.