to all the girls i’ve loved

My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshiped her sooner

i remember the first girl i loved. She was older than me, and i would watch in awe as she’d cross a room. She oozed confidence, something i wanted so badly at thirteen. i was covered in acne and awkward as hell, but she was a goddess. Tall and thin, she wore her long brown hair down every day. i would watch it sway while she sang hymns in church, mesmerized.

If the heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouthpiece

i didn’t realize how much i liked her until she gave me a handwritten note one Sunday. i still have that note, saved in my box of letters. She told me, in her perfect cursive, that she was glad she met me and that we were friends. i know she never could have imagined that i would go home and tuck the note under my pillow, heart pounding. The letter was innocent, but i was worried that my parents would somehow find out how i felt about her and take the note.

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

i spent most of my teen years pushing my feelings down, deep inside. i was the oldest daughter in a conservative religious family. Me? Love girls? No. i knew telling my parents would end badly for me, so i kept my mouth shut. Any time there was a news article about lgbtq rights, or a gay kissing scene in a television show, my heart would freeze. What if my parents somehow figured it out? i never said anything about girls, or how i found them attractive, but i lived in fear of being found out.

“We were born sick,” you heard them say it

i would spend hours begging god to take away these feelings.
Being gay was a choice, right?
Then why couldn’t i pray this away?
i was determined to like boys and boys only, but i liked girls too.
Wasn’t i doing the right things?
i was modest, and i obeyed my parents as best as i could.
i read my Bible and prayed.
i didn’t know why god had given me this burden.
What had i done to displease him?
i spent so many years hating myself for loving girls.

My church offers no absolutes
She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom.”

The second girl i loved was quiet. Absorbed in her books, we would sit silently next to each other and read. i noticed small things about her, like the way she wore a hair tie on her wrist constantly, and the freckles across her nose. At this point in our teen years, we would whisper about sex and lesbians. i told her i maybe liked girls. She told me she didn’t like girls and only liked boys. i respected that and never brought it up again. She gave me a friendship bracelet and a book, but when i moved away from my childhood home, we lost touch.

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

The third girl i loved, i could have loved for a lifetime. Things didn’t work out that way, but it has never bothered me. Beautiful things happened in our lives, things that couldn’t have happened if we stayed together.

This love was the most forbidden. It’s the one i don’t talk about ever. We were both adults this time, this wasn’t a teenage crush. There is no written record of our time together except for right here. Our parents wouldn’t have allowed such a thing to continue, and we knew it.

She wasn’t my type, but she was intelligent and independent, and i craved what she had. She was free, i was a caged bird. i would trace the freckles on her arms and across her back and it was then i knew that i was bisexual. i admitted it to myself, and i was at peace. i held her hands and kissed her lips and hoped. Hoped for freedom, hoped for this pure, innocent love that i experienced to never end. We shared clothes and secrets and when it ended and when both moved on, i was sad but stronger.

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight

To all the girls i’ve loved..

i don’t know where you are now. i hope you’re all happy. i hope you’re safe. i’m scared right now. Scared that my sexuality and the feelings i’ve had for girls will one day end in my death. It has happened to others, and it seems like it is happening so much more these days. Sometimes i worry that someone will find out that i’m pansexual (sexuality is fluid, and growth happens) and decide i don’t deserve to live. i was outed without my permission years ago, and people i barely know talked about my sexuality and gender identity. Terrified i was going to be harassed and judged, i lowered my voice. i kept quiet about my past and the people i’ve loved. i wore men’s clothes and bound my breasts in silence.

i was so incredibly lucky to meet someone who never questions my sexual identity, who never scolds me for wearing men’s clothing, or accuses me of faking it when i paint my nails and do my make up. One day i’ll present as feminine and another day i’ll present as masculine, and he’s still there. He never shames me for having loved girls. Not everyone is lucky though. So many in the lgbtq community are abandoned and persecuted when they come out.
i’ve had people call me paranoid for worrying about persecution for not being a straight female, but i see my community being disowned by their families, beaten and raped, sent to conversion therapy camps, ending their own lives from the pain others inflicted on them, and most recently, being gunned down without mercy. Deemed not human enough to matter, our voices are silenced and we’re cast aside. Often in the name of religion, the saddest irony of them all.

there is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.