I was eight when my shape started to shift from straight lines to soft curves, and discomfort began festering inside of me. My discomfort mutated into disgust with each second I spent in an increasingly foreign body. I was eight when a man leaned out of his truck to whistle at me for the first time, and I learned my body exists for the world to look at, and they will look at it and think what they’ll think of it regardless of how I feel about it. I was eight when my body became my enemy.
You step into the first meeting of Student Media’s queerest magazine, OutWrite. It is one of UCLA’s hidden gems, where people can truly be themselves. You applied as a writer on a whim. This was the first queer organization you were involved with during your college career. Seeing other people enjoy their time at OutWrite (and finding you do, too), you stay in the organization for the remainder of your academic years. You drift from being a staff writer to becoming a Developmental Editor and even a co-host of “Speak Out,” OutWrite’s very own podcast, each role challenging your creativity. Here, you are allowed to flourish, trying different techniques to hone your craft.
a wretched body becomes comfortable turmoil
from within a forsaken shell
The forest won’t judge flesh
blood and bone
a family of limbs
It is a beautiful thing, wanting nothing at all from someone you love because you live with mutual understanding beyond the primal need for physical touch, found in fleeting evenings doomed to end with someone closing the door without looking back. It is a beautiful thing, telling them that you love them over the phone while you’re crying your eyes out because you don’t know what to do now; then you’re laughing until there’s a moment you allow yourself to forget. I remember life before my queer friends, how it felt begging for someone I could see myself in just enough to spark a casual conversation built on genuine interest instead of twisting those unwilling into sharing hyperfixations created for those of us who know what it’s like to have to fight for the ones you love.
Coming out is hard in so many ways. I came out to myself when I was 18 years old — well, I didn’t “come out,” rather I abruptly clarified it to myself that I like women. Big deal. I hate categorizations and boxes and lists, yet it also relaxes me to put things and ideas into categories, boxes, and lists. The LGBTQ+ spectrum is mindblowingly expansive and, as I’m sure you already know, it is so beautiful.
It started with a Facebook message between two bubbly freshmen-to-be: two California-born Indian girls bonding over Bollywood and books. One message led to another, and we decided to submit a roommate request form to live together in the dorms. It was our first time living away from the home-cooked food of our Indian families. Our shared heritage was what gave us a pocket of familiarity within unfamiliarity.
Her shoulders drooped with the weight of her Catholic guilt as the statue of white Jesus stared down at her, telling her, I know what you’ve done. His dark eyes seemed to be in perpetual melancholy as her own peered into them. That statue always scared her, always seemed to follow her home from church; it was the first thing she’d see in her grandmother’s kitchen, a miniature version of the statue hung up in her room right in front of the doorway. She had always accepted that Jesus would be a permanent part of her life, just as she had accepted that she bore responsibilities, as the eldest daughter and the first grandchild, to fall in line with what her family expected from her..
I have this dream of dying in complete silence, and when the neighbors call to complain about the smell a few days later (and the firemen kick the door in), they’ll find my mother sitting calmly at the dining room table, knife in hand around a halo of sunburnt faces cutting branches from the family tree
A poem recounting a personal experience with queerness and trauma and coming to terms with it.