You Call it the Closet
Submitted by Anonymous Mourni
If you must know — may I ask you, have you ever been in love before?
The kind of love that makes you want to scream from the rooftops and declare your devotion to your person; the kind that makes your toes curl and your heart race. I’ll sound cliché if I keep going but you get the point. That kind of love is all the same. I know you’ve felt it too.
If you must know — may I ask you, how does it feel to hold your lover’s hand when there are people around? How does it feel to let the world know they’re yours? I’m envious. Do you feel free and expansive? How does it feel to have their love adorn you wherever you go?
If you must know — my love and I exist behind walls and closed doors. We exist in accidental touches and long, loving stares. We exist in a deep loyalty that bounds our declaration because we know what it would be like if our parents found out.
My boundless love is limited when someone stares too long and I can see the anger and disgust on their face. We can pretend to be friends, that’s not the hard part. They are my best friend. What’s hard is never feeling free; watching the light when you’re living in the shadows.
I’m not supposed to be here (outside of the ‘closet’) and I know that. We learned very quickly to code switch; to not appear too gay, to modulate our voices, double, then triple check how we dress… not too masculine, and if the queer community here would have us, never feminine enough.
There isn’t family here in these queer spaces, just faces that should feel familiar, yet they don’t. There are fleeting homes which exist in moments where I feel understood by another queer South Asian. It’s a short glance and the subtle smile that says “You’re safe here, if you’ll let me in.” I do. I probably always will.
You call it the closet, and I call it my safe haven.
If I don’t let you in, you can never taint it for me with your lines, and boxes, and categories which would’ve never contained me.
The homes which existed in those fleeting moments — I’ve reconstructed them here with my bare hands. My safe haven is strong and beautiful; untainted and divine. No societal construct has told me how to exist here.
I’m not unhappy here. I’m not restricted here.
I’m assembling my armour here for when, and if, I step out. Know that I don’t have to. Let me be clear, it’s not because I’m fragile — it’s because living between the liminal spaces of categories is beautiful and if you were to allow yourself, you would see it too. Know that you have no right to my haven because I’m the architect here.
In the meantime, allow me my choice to stay here as long as I please. Allow me to soak in the warmth of my home.
If you must know — the shadows which brought me darkness now show me stars in the night sky. This is where the cosmos exist. Free and expansive.
The light never left me — it comes from within now. If I stay in the “shadows” constructed by you, know it’s because I’ve chosen to — know it’s because what I’ve constructed in here is ten fold more beautiful than your lines, and boxes, and categories, which counted me out over, and over, and over again.
If you must know — I’ll let you in someday. Maybe we’ll both ride the magic carpet to Jupiter.
graphic by @alyypatel