• Naty Tremblay

Sharing poetic reflections from Queer Latinx artist Janet Romero.

when…

when…

when… i turn 40

when i have a full time job

when i come out to my parents

when i get my citizenship

when the kids are in high school

when i have more confidence

when i have peace and quiet

when i find a partner

when i lose 25 pounds

when i have top surgery

when i learn to dance

when i buy that coat

when i have more free time

when i get off these meds

when my heart mends

when the pain stops

…i will be happy!

happiness (noun)*

a : a state of well-being and contentment

b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

*merriam-webster.com

happiness

a capitalist invented commodity achievable through hard work

(specifically sold to immigrants and poor and working class people)

promised to me at age 7 upon arrival

told if i worked hard at learning english by not speaking spanish

focused on being well behaved and better than the girls who came after me

who were more brown and less complacent

then i would be a successful student able to someday get a higher education and a good paying job so i could buy all the nice things that would bring me

…happiness

happiness

a reward bestowed upon quiet well behaved queer, trans and two-spirit people

(as long as you don’t look too gay!)

denied to her because she was 16 and too obvious

couldn’t take her eyes off laura when she walked into our grade 11 religion class

the teacher watched her watching her

humiliated her into paying attention to the lesson not the new girl

she

sat in shame the next day and the entire rest of that year as we discussed the value of co-creation between a man and a woman

repeatedly warned that god hates the sin not the sinner so you can be gay if you really need to be but

just

don’t

advertise it

happiness

a feeling depicted through a joyous luscious smiling mouth

kissed too young and too soon by a man old enough to be his father

and filthy enough to destroy any desire of being kissed again

asked years later why his mouth turns up stale and averse when he watches other people kiss

….he just smiles

when she calls him a sissy

he just smiles

when he tells him to go back to where he came from

he just smiles

when they make eye contact across the room

he smiles

when they tell him he is a good dancer

he smiles

when they ask if he is free on thursday evening for ice cream

he smiles

when they tell him they like him

he

smiles

eyes closed

stands in front of the mirror

remembering the words…i…like…you…i…like…you…i…like…you…i…like…

eyes open he sees an unrecognizable smile across his face

desire mischievousness surprise

is this what a queer smile looks like?

bold yet subtle

residing somewhere between melancholy and joy

between pain and resistance

a resistance born of glitter lace and bowties

struggling to carve out a space for our stories

for our lives

authentically existing in all our contradictions and disappointments

a queer smile

invites you in

stretches from me to you to them without us having to know each other

you see me

i see you

a queer smile

is ecstasy and sorrow

the delight in your eyes when you smile with little children and talk about the yellow roses in your grandmothers garden

contrasting the loneliness weighed down by the years of rejection and ridicule

by grief aging and depression

a queer smile is grief

so fleeting there is no guarantee of its arrival or departure

its scent residing in the most unexpected places

it shows up and leaves you and shows up and leaves you…

you smile and tell me grief is just another space to rest

a queer smile is a killjoy

constantly bringing the truth to their reality that is our reality

concurrently existing with/in their colonial happiness

we can only speak to what we know

see where it lands

see where it goes

a queer smile is performance

knowingly and unknowingly

necessary for providing what they assume we are giving for free in exchange for our liberation

a queer smile is our smile

joyful and fabulous

breathtaking and magical!

!



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