Mother: those books
Daughter: which ones?
Mother: feminist ones
Mother: you’re feminist?
Daughter: no, it’s white1
Mother: your books are about feminism
Daughter: half of them are by men
Mother: what about Bad Feminist
Daughter: that’s Roxane Gay
Mother: and I Love Dick
Daughter: you seriously think
Mother: the pages were marked2
Daughter: Kraus is a white woman’s dream
Mother: people will think you’re a lesbian
Daughter: because I Love Dick
Mother: if they saw those books
Daughter: which ones?
Mother: in your room
Daughter: what people?
Mother: white people
Daughter: I’m not in the mood
Mother: they’ll think you’re gay
Daughter: you’re fucking hilarious
Mother: it’s not a joke3
Daughter: have you read I Love Dick?
Mother: you know your type
Daughter: or seen the TV show?
Mother: would have been speared
Daughter: the TV adaptation’s got Kevin Bacon in it
Mother: just the other day I was walking through the park
Daughter: just chill
Mother: there was graffiti saying KILL All GAYS4
Daughter: do you want some tea?
Mother: are you writing for gay magazines?
Mother: I just want to know what’s going on
Mother: your books and the scene you
Daughter: come on
Mother: I guess I’m not good enough
Daughter: we should just watch the TV series with Kevin Bacon5
Mother: maybe you’ll get a book deal
Daughter: what does that even mean anymore?
Mother: everyone’s gay, even on the TV, it’s cool
Daughter: like being relegated to the lesbian erotica section of the bookstore6
Mother: so, you’re gay?
- As the words feminism and white slipped from their mouths she was aware that she was shedding one identity while cautiously reasserting another. For a brief moment the great feminist writers (Audre Lorde, Aileen Morten Robinson, Sarah Ahmed, bell hooks, Lisa Bellear, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, Claudia Rankine, Alexis Wright among a list too long) centred her consciousness. Then something altered, blak intersectional feminism was whitewashed and the matriarchal reimagining was also fragile. So race came before gender (when gender was still a thing) and she distanced herself from a movement, which felt compromised. But her non-white identity annoyed her mother who asked her why she called herself blak when she looked so white and wasn’t that interested in her heritage as a kid? And the only thing she could think to say was that it took awhile to materialise. Isn’t identity such a strange and painful thing? ↩
- She’d never actually finished I Love Dick and couldn’t admit that she loved Jill Soloway’s TV adaptation so desperately that she hadn’t felt the need to return to the book. It didn’t feature Roberta Colindrez and she wasn’t in the mood for Dick. But in that strange way that life imitates art she was about to meet Chris and wondered if she should read it. Would it come up in conversation fan girling her via Skype while deliberating over the winner of the The Lifted Brow experimental non-fiction prize? Would Chris know that she was writing about her? ↩
- It wasn’t a joke that she wanted other people more than cis men. But when she got there she couldn’t find the words to articulate her situation to colleagues who assumed that when she mentioned ‘partner’ she meant the types that they had. And then it was gone and she tried unraveling her truth, stumbling through queer euphoria now cliché in most inner city contexts while occasionally confusing family still wrapped in suburban dreams. ↩
- This is not a trigger warning; the bullet left the gun more than two centuries ago and she’d been playing catch up ever since. In the beginning she’d imagined that if she re-wrote the history of colonial violence then the chasm in her gut would fill. But what else? And how long would it take for her to learn that words were the new weapons strangely derailing the change that they hoped to bring. Should she stop now and let the reader leave? ↩
- The last time they’d watched TV together her mother gently asked her why the man was doing something that looked painful to his lover as they analysed Fifty Shades of Grey. At the time she didn’t realise that this was as close as she would ever get, to the queer blak futurisms that the young and the brave dreamt of in north side cafes. ↩
- This wasn’t intended to be condescending, there was nothing wrong with being placed in the queer section of the bookstore and if she ever managed to write something erotic she’d own it. She just wanted to move away from over classification and the best gay poet she’d ever met wrote about straight footy players and what’s gay writing meant to be when cis men’s peculiarities provide endless possibilities. Although realistically would she ever get published under anything other than the ‘diversity’ lens. ↩