Safe Spaces and Dangerous Places

Morgin_Goldberg-pic3.jpg

At sixteen, I coward into over-sized sweatshirts during class so that no one could bother me. The soft cotton felt like a womb that isolated me from the rest of the world. A world in which two high schools took my attendance because one of them already knew my secret. In one of them I came out to a group of boys.

“Hey, kid. Are you gay?” one of them asked from the back of the room. Him and his friends all sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for my answer.

“Yes.” I said. The one kid laughed and turned around. My lips felt numb. I just told a total stranger my sexual preference and now that whole class knew. My stomach rumbled with nervous energy. A kind of energy that vibrated throughout my body for the next couple of months, as I skipped school and stayed in bed, shivering.

I needed to get away from everyone. My parents considered sending me to Harvey Milk High, a school in New York meant for LGBTQ teens. They considered this because back then any other institution seemed a threat to my mental health.

Day and night I imagined kids beating me up in the corner of a classroom. Any classroom that provided a safe space for their hatred. The locker room where no adult ever checked on students. The side of a trailer that the school never used after Hurricane Katrina blasted through the campus. The tennis court, band room,  or even the courtyard where one student got beaten up during lunch period. No on interfered until the hitter got in enough punches to give the victim several bruises to heal over the course of a few months.

I feared this even though I laid in bed a couple of miles away. So I never went back. Another school opened its doors to me. One with a whole body of students that never asked about my sexuality. A place where no one could suspect anything other because of my “shy” personality. I would just sit quietly until the last bell rang.

At sixteen this option might feel the most logical as fear installs itself into every body movement. It plans out everything from getting to school to eating lunch to someday starting a Gay Straight Alliance Club. A club where straight people could hug a gay person without any reprimanded by their friends. Friends that write “lesbian” on a teachers walls because she hosted the first club meeting. Friends that start rumors about two guys initiating intercourse on the stairwell between classes because they became the first gay couple at school.

I ran the club until my senior year and by then I made enough friends to no longer need a place to feel safe with people. I could wear a rainbow belt on campus without thinking about the violent repercussions it could potentially stir. Boys no longer seemed like a threat because a ton of them talked to me in class. We talked about poetry, guitars, and television shows. I made friends.

 

 

Morning Lion

In my bed I once awoke to find a lion sitting at the foot of it. My first instinct wasn’t to scream as perhaps someone, a less imaginative-someone, might have done. It’s golden mane was unlike any one I saw ever in my dreams. I didn’t want it to disappear so I forfeited sleep and comfort. I crawled slowly towards the beast. The bed seemed longer than I remembered it to be. Through tunnels and mountains my body tumbled. Even through an avalanche of pillows did I not take my eyes off the brilliant beast. It’s pearlescent teeth reminded me of a pirate treasure I buried beneath the ocean when still an adolescent. The closer we came together the more familiar our friendship seemed to be. I couldn’t remember the last time we met but that didn’t seem to be important. I knew that approaching it was not against the laws of nature. So I came as close to it as possible but still did not touch it, for there was still the fear of it being an illusion. I could smell oatmeal in it’s mane, the kind my father served me every morning before school. We talked for several minutes about Kindness before it reminded me that no one deserves solitude. I saw it’s paw shiver and that’s when I noticed the sun was beginning to leak through the blinds. I asked it not to go. It promised to come back. I hope so.

S.O.S. New York Part 2

condoms

I think you’re going to need those.” the bouncer said, looking at the ground. Three golden condoms laid in plain sight until I grabbed them to stuff into my pocket. They had come out conveniently with my I.D. that proved I was old enough to go into the club, Ritz.

“Thanks.” I said and went in. I touched my cheeks that felt warm from the waves of embarrassment. Getting laid was actually the furthest thing from my mind. I wouldn’t be able to reach the stoop of someone’s apartment before I’d begin to have regrets.

I pushed the rubbers all the way down until I felt their corners nibbling at my leg. Everywhere I looked were sexy-looking-men. Round and lean bodies that glowed in the darkness of the club. I needed to get closer.

Walking down a narrow hallway, the beat of music tumbled, chests balanced against one another, and I wound up in the middle of the dance floor. Men spun around me and spilling their beers, I wanted to be as carefree. I swayed side to side but the rhythm of music swam right past me. How do I do this? I must have mouthed the words because I noticed a pair of twinkling eyes staring at me. They belonged to a guy that was dancing with a bunch of people. Friends. He nodded for me to come over.71Qwx0Q4eaL._AA1000_

We had no introductions. Our feet passed around the beat of the music and when it was my turn I did it without any hesitation. Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to lack confidence because then you meet new people. I felt the sweat running down my forehead.

By the time the guy and his friends exited the floor my shirt was soaked. The addiction had me wondering how I had ever been afraid to dance. With every new song my torso spun like there was a hook in it, pulling it, until releasing my hands into the air.

“You’re a good dancer.” somebody said. Their words were close to my ear. I had seen him come at me from across the room but only now realized we were dancing together.

“Thank you.” I said, feeling my hands along his back. Smooth muscle swayed beneath the cotton shirt. My hand moved up behind his neck when all of a sudden he took it and spun me around. Feeling the pulse behind my body I noticed there was something different in the way he moved. The itch in my pocket from the condoms threw me off balance but he caught us by placing his arms around my waist. His hold felt firm but not aggressive. I was comfortable to keep dancing.

“Do you wanna go outside?” He said.