I Prefer Water Over Blood  by Wesaun S.

Credit to Michael & Nic.

I don’t feel all that young anymore. I know that sounds strange because I am still in school but I don’t feel young anymore. I wish I did.

When I was young, I was really shrouded in my culture, being a first generation Jamaican-American of immigrant parents and the majority of my family in America not being born Americans or “Jamericans” as family members like to call me with a sweet fondness and a smirk in the wrinkles of their glowing face. Something they say with pride. I was shrouded in my culture and I did not see much else. I was more sheltered than I thought. I thought I was curious, I thought I questioned everything, I questioned so much of what was about me but little did I know I was silent and did not question what I needed to the most: homophobia.

Little grains of fear dropped into the soil under the beating, hollering Jamaican sun, and they got the nutrients of the hatred that weighed the voices tinted by Patois and the lack of education that plagues many that could not afford it in my country because it’s too expensive for many, and who still could not afford it when they came to America for a better life for themselves. The roots grew and grew and I reached out, trying things, to find the answers on my own because there was no one to turn to. My mother would’ve surely killed me then for the things I did or wanted back when I was young, when I was so confused, so wrapped up, my Jamaican flag bandana blinding my young eyes. My church family at the time and my family shielding me from my truth without either of us even knowing or suspecting it yet. I was young and I was alone and I was shrouded. I remember all the crushes and experiments that went unnoticed and undocumented in my youth, because they weren’t real or they did not count, and the underlying fear that was running like an electric current going haywire.

I remember when I was 10 years old and I liked this person, let’s call them Luz, Luz was funny, gorgeous, and my best friend at the time. She moved to Brooklyn and I cried for three days because I liked her but I didn’t understand that then. I didn’t understand that because I had been taught that heterosexuality was the way to go to period. ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE, EVE AND ADAM, NOT EVE AND EVETTE. Imagine a whole crowd of people screaming that while you’re in the room as a little gayby. Can’t? Good, because it’s terrifying when you’re small. Now, it’s just funny, and I would throw back my head and laugh and laugh.

 

I stopped feeling young when I started being awake when I realized that the beef patties that I eat with fervor were poisoned because the Jamaicans in America couldn’t make them even close to how good it was back home. I stopped feeling young when I experienced my first microaggression from a white teacher that I could pick up in seventh grade and white people stopped being fictitious characters in the media I consumed and started becoming real. Thunder threats in the middle of the night with the AC whirring in my home to cool me and my grandmother down. Thunder threats like loud noises that shocked me and that I yelped at while my grandmother told me scary stories with delight in her strong, unwavering Patois, not a hint of America staining her voice. Grandma half limps, making her throat clearing noises, and handing me my beef patty that someone brought from back home, perfectly sliced in two, and I quickly get distracted by the succulent juices of my food and the cartoon on the flat screen TV. White people became thunder threats, but I’m not afraid of thunder anymore, because I am the lightning. I swoop through clouds and while thunder scares you, I kill you.

I stopped feeling young when my family stopped being biological, when I began to realise that the phrase blood is thicker than water was a lie, when I began to realise my family were not in the people I had been assigned to, but the people that loved me unconditionally. The friends I grew up with and the boys that I run around with in school, screaming and laughing, not caring who it bothers. Family lies in a queen, a lioness with a mane, who makes me laugh, cry, and grow  and a boy who grew into a king, who wrote paragraphs upon paragraphs to save my life, who has glowing eyes and a beautiful, quiet laugh, whose name I did not really know when I met him and family lies in people who hold onto you when you beg them not to and who are too stubborn to let you go, even when you bite them. as hard as you can.  Family are people who make you want to live not the people who shame you until all you want is to die.

I stopped feeling young when I was able to educate myself on queerness and realise what had been bothering me for so long and when I had to work to be comfortable with myself whilst not dropping my Jamaican flag whilst trying to hold onto my rainbow one in the midst of the wind storm that that was. I became filled with the sadness and soon the peace that comes from the newfound wisdom growing old.

Thank you to Wesaun for sharing this lovely piece. You can learn more about Wesaun and their writing on Twitter @epicbooklover

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