i was first called gay
in third grade.
it was a sneer——
a word packed
with derogatory meaning
it was meant to grind me down
and it did
i spent nights
lying in my bed
lying to my dad
about why
knowing that this
was why they called
me that
and yet
i didn’t really
know what it meant

i was called a twink
in tenth grade.
yet again
in the most
harmful way possible
at a time
when sex
felt so
and hostile
to me

i covered myself
in a new label
and nothing
kept me warm
and it felt
as if
was trying
to force
one upon me
or rush me
to find one
that fit
and nothing does

and i blame
these words
for why i still
don’t understand myself
why every label
tastes bitter
i know who i like
i know what i’m comfortable doing
and yet
i somehow feel
by everything
and i blame
those words
those people
because deep down
they fucked me up
and there’s a part
of me
that never wants
to feel love
so i never have to
come to terms
with who i am

and i hope that those people feel pride,
because i sure as hell don’t.