Being raised in a hetero-normative environment, everything was divided into binary. There was no middle ground. Right and Wrong. Black and White. Male and Female. Gay and Lesbian.
One, Two, Three, Four, Five. You were five years old when you first learned the difference between boys and girls. You felt that everything would be so much better if you were a boy. You’d be allowed to run and play and bike as much as you can. You didn’t have to wear itchy dresses or keep your hair braided in place or your face and clothes clean and dirt-free at all times. You refused to wear all the girly dresses and you asked your mom if you could cut your hair short. When she didn’t allow you, you took matters into your own hands and cut your well-constructed plait using craft scissors. They were all horrified, but couldn’t do anything. You suffered 20 belt lashes for your tiny act of rebellion but it was so worth it.
Six, Seven, Eight. You were eight when you began to blossom. Your ******* started growing and your curves begin to form, so you hid them like a shameful secret you wanted to erase. You kept your hair short, your demeanor brash and your clothes baggy. People started calling you “tomboy”. The label didn’t sting. It gave you a sense of pride, it afforded you the acceptance you’ve always wanted.
Nine. You were nine when you first felt attracted to a boy. He was your best friend’s older brother. He was dreamy. He looked like the boys you thought were attractive in Ang TV. But he never noticed you. He only notices the girly girls. You were a girl. Not girly, but still a girl. A different kind of girl. You see nothing wrong with being the way that you are, but you begin to wonder, “is there?”
Ten. You’re still known as the “tomboy”. It still doesn’t bother you. You go on with your life. Now, you play for your grade’s co-ed soccer team. There is one boy in your class that you’ve been eyeing since September. He was a god. He sported blonde hair that looked like Devon Sawa’s, emerald green eyes that pierce through your soul, he was the smartest kid in class, and you play soccer together. One afternoon, you score the goal that wins the game. The boy with blonde hair and green eyes you’ve been eyeing since September, tackles you to the ground in much delight. He kisses you on the lips for the first time, you were stunned at the gesture. You liked it. Very much. A week later, he begins to call you his girlfriend, but his friends bullied him and called him a ****** for liking someone like you. As the kisses and hugs became more frequent, so did the bullying. Not long after, you broke up.
Ten point five. She enters your life at ten and a half. She had long dark hair and icy grey eyes framed by long thick lashes. Her smile lights up the room and she makes you laugh really hard. She was the first girl you ever held hands with. Her hands were warm and comforting. Her hands entwined with yours made you all tingly inside. You held hands in the library while reading Tiger Beat. You held hands behind the swing during recess. You held hands while walking home to your apartment complex. One afternoon she kisses you on the lips when you get to the door of your apartment building. You run up to your room in silence and lock yourself in for the entire night, confused. You started comparing. Why did her kiss feel better than his?
Almost eleven. You were almost eleven when your best friend’s older brother finally notices you. He notices how smooth your skin is when he grazes against it. How red your lips get when you lick them. He sneaks a peek when you’re changing in your best friend’s bedroom after soccer practice. He examines every curve of your body from your cinched waist that emphasizes your supple ******* to your shapely hips that remind him of hills that have been put on their sides. He examines and memorizes every detail of your body in secret.
Eleven. Your best friend’s older brother catches you and your best friend holding hands and kissing while playing video games. He doesn’t say anything. He did not breathe a word of this to anyone. Not even a soul.
Eleven. He corners you one summer afternoon while you’re waiting for your best friend to come home. He places his hand over your mouth and whispers for you to keep quiet. He uses his strength to pin you down, you fight and fight. You try to scream. No one can hear you. No one is home. He tells you that this is for your own good. This is what is right. He shatters you. He broke you in. He did not stop until you were tamed.
Eleven and a half. You stopped going to your best friend’s house. Your future became bleak.
Twelve, Fourteen, Sixteen. Twelve. Fourteen. Sixteen. Twelve. Fourteen. Sixteen. History repeats itself. The actors are just different. Still, no one can hear your stifled screams. You feel your soul dying. Every. Single. Time.
Sixteen, Seventeen. You decide that you just don’t care anymore. Nothing matters. You don’t matter. You try to end it all. Then she comes along to rescue you. She loves you for who you are and who you want to be. You begin to pick up the pieces. You fall in love with her. Everything is still kept in secret.
Eighteen. Your worldview has changed significantly. You’re now wiser and braver. You walk hand in hand with her in public and you even allow a bit of PDA. You don’t care about the ***** looks you get from everyone else. You slowly begin to feel accepted, yet you are still somewhat hidden.
Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty – one. You fall in love with a man, a woman, a gay man, an extremely straight woman, another man, and the list goes on and on. The whole world admonishes you and tells you to “PICK A SIDE”. Just pick one. You can’t love both men and women. People start calling you names. Puta. Haliparot. ****. *****. ***** seems to be the crowd favorite.
Twenty – three. Names hurt. Names stick. Labels bother you. Not because you’re not proud for being who you are, but because nothing fits. Nothing feels right. You feel like you’re five again with your well - constructed plait and your craft scissors. You take matters into your own hands. You begin to take charge of your life.
Twenty – five. You’ve finally realized that gender does not matter to you when it comes to love. Love is love. You just have so much of it to give. You find peace even when people don’t understand.
Twenty – seven. Being raised in a hetero-normative environment, everything was divided into binary. There was no middle ground. Right and Wrong. Black and White. Male and Female. Gay and Lesbian. You still don’t adhere to any labels. You’re proud that you fall between the cracks. You see, the color - spectrum is wide and bright, but you, you’re just proud to be grey.