She reeks of vodka, slurring words under her breath and fumbling with a sash that reads “Bride-to-Be.” Her friends stare from afar and her presence makes me uncomfortable. “Hey Osama, if you are so f***ing religious what are you doing here anyway?” she yells. Her friends giggle in the corner—pushing one another forward to go collect her. My friends say, brush it off, and I realize it’s my time to call it a night.
Witnessing someone standing in both their queerness and indigenous heritage gave me permission to imagine new possibilities for myself. I didn't know if I was Two-Spirit or what traditions around queerness my ancestors may have had. However, beginning to ask these questions led me towards a deeper understanding of myself and how I want to move through the world.
I am a twenty-year old queer with a pocket knife and a rosary. I guard my sexuality from ridicule, misunderstandings, and violence. I refuse my sex to be dissected as blueprints of the great design by outsiders again. I fight to be free from fear without evildoers piercing my hands and feet onto a fence in Colorado.
In being able to confront the hierarchy of Catholicism, I reclaimed what was important to me—community and ceremony. I sought out others who wore rosaries and devotional bracelets to gay bars and who saw, like I did, the queerness within the rituals and iconography of the Church or those who playfully invented it.
Brown boys aren’t taught how to be open, communicative, or honest about our sadness. The resulting isolation is slowly killing us. Learning to love yourself is a lifelong journey that often feels impossible, but by bridging the fragmented parts of ourselves, our vulnerability will allow us to build a world where we can love and be loved.