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.
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.
For many of us, sex is a process of trial and error. Sex, like gender, is subjective, something that requires nuance and space to be explored. Also like gender, sex is confusing, a process of trial and error that many assume is automatic. More often than not, sex as a form of intimacy and euphoria is policed by cisgender, heterosexual social norms which in turn leaves a lot of pressure on us to have sex that isn’t necessarily fun or comfortable. But how do we know what we like when it comes to sex, especially in an era where it feels like we must constantly conform to others’ notions of sex?
Illustrated by Charis/OutWrite This letter was originally published in our Spring 2023 print issue “Color.” Dear Reader, I stand at the end of an era. To be entirely dramatic, I have put my heart and soul into this magazine for…