I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the writing community, as we launch our 2nd issue: June 2019 - PRIDE.
One of our main goals at Cleaning up Glitter is to raise the voices and experiences of people who have experienced prejudice, bigotry, traumatic experiences, and those who are marginalized. Initially, this issue was conceived out of our mission, to help raise voices that represented the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, as the submissions rolled in (more than 130!), my goal in publishing this issue changed. Read more…
There were no “congratulations it’s a boy” signs like the internet had jokingly told me. No blue streamers or bright blue balloons with the obligatory clipart of a baby boy crawling around. I did not feel as though this coming out was a rebirth worthy of a jokey baby shower. It was just silent, awkward, and nauseating. Hayden, my longtime boyfriend, and I sat across from my mother and step-father, cinnamon cake going untouched, drying out in the cold drafty air, coffee growing lukewarm as the silence swells between us and the staring match continues. All I could do was worry my lower lip until I felt something split under my teeth.
“Why did you do this to us Sammy?”
“I dyed my hair blue a week ago,” I said. Although being honest, it has been this color for months and it has been this short for years, but I know it was not the color or the length she was talking about. Read more…
Leaving developmental psychology class one Thursday afternoon, his notebooks, lunch, and heavy textbooks weighing down his messenger bag pressing into his slumped right shoulder, Yehoshua heard:
“Would you like to come by my place to break bread?”
Because of the hubbub of student chatter, he wasn’t sure to whom the question was addressed. The question felt strangely disembodied, floating. But then he saw Lavender’s eyes looking directly at him. Me? He mouthed the word, his eyebrows arched in question, his index finger pointed inward at his chest. When Lavender nodded in assent, Yehoshua immediately responded “Sure!” without reflection or consideration of any kind. That phrase—“break bread”—was then au courant in certain circles on campus, ones in which Yehoshua was not a participant, but whose existence he regularly noted. Read more…
There once was a girl who, like many of us start out, was young and naive and a little too eager for love. Her name was Kai and she lived in a small cottage on the edge of town with her father, her mother, and an old cat named Melvin. One day, when she was around 13, and the cottage was getting a bit too stuffy in the heat of the summer afternoon, Kai decided to go outside for some fresh air.
She was reclining gently under a large oak tree in her garden, basking in the sunshine that sprinkled between the leaves, when suddenly she heard a rustling crack above her head. She looked up with a start.
“Well, hello there,” drawled a boy sitting on the branch above her who looked to be about her age. He gave her a heavy once-over, dragging his eyes slowly up her body.
“What do you want?” she asked, ever skeptical of strange boys in trees. Read more…
As they’d expected, the line for the funhouse was longer than anything else at the carnival. Matthew and Evan waited for at least twenty minutes, watching as people exited the funhouse in all sorts of absurd shapes, the evening air tinged with the spun sugar of cotton candy and the blitzed fat of overcooked hotdogs. They wondered aloud who would want to turn themselves into a squat, pumpkin-shaped thing for a few hours when there were so many other possibilities, like being a giant or, as was the most popular choice, super-muscular like someone from Baywatch. A few people went with the Picasso approach, mishmashing their features. One woman, in a tight red dress and wearing matching lipstick, turned herself into something of a sidewinder, her body like an S.
“She belongs in Sesame Street,” Matthew said.
“The freaky, nightmare edition,” Evan said.
These words, the freaky, nightmare edition, would echo with Matthew, because they were the last thing Evan said before he turned to his father and blinked at him. There were only two people in line in front of them, a pair of college kids, holding hands. They wore matching jeans and plain black t-shirts. Matthew wondered what they would choose to look like for a few hours.
“Dad,” Evan said, leaning in close. “Can I ask you something?” Read more…
She bought a little fish; She put it in a crystal bowl upon a golden dish.
We met on a Thursday. My roommate convinced me that other students didn’t even get their assignments back until nearly the end of the semester and giving them their graded work so soon would be spoiling them. She said a better use of my time would be to go to Ornate with her and serve as her wing woman. After all, guys were more likely to buy the both of us drinks, thinking that if they struck out with one, they still had a chance with the other.
I left her to select my outfit while I started on my make-up. Most of my more risqué options had been banished to the back of my closet in favor of work-appropriate attire. For once, I didn’t complain about the outrageous amount of cleavage she wanted me to show or how I could barely fit into those shorts anymore. It was summer, and the nights were becoming as hot as the days and everything in the world was being reborn and that could include me, even just for one evening. We split a Lyft and tipped the driver extra for letting us blast Janelle Monae through his aux. Read more…
The only people who ever hear me using gendered language are dairy goats. Usually they’re called “the Ladies,” though in subcategories they are usually “the Girls.” The dry Girls, the late Girls, the lactating Girls. Individually, they often have a “Miss” before the name. And like most dairy animals, they tend to be “Mama,” pronounced like a murmur, pronounced as if I hadn't been born and raised on the suburban east coast. As far as I can discern, these epithets are industry standard.
It still surprises me when “Ladies” and “Mama”s slip out so naturally. Though a few seasons of farming have trained my tongue, outside of work I still default to gender-neutrality. Before I became a farmer, I studied the vocabulary of queer theory, where gendered language of any kind is condemned. So I never address a mixed-gender group as “guys.” I make sure to describe adult acquaintances as “women” and not “girls.” I avoid “sir,” “ma’am,” and “ladies and gentlemen.” I was trained well. These regulations were fundamental to my social life as well as my academic major in college; the assessments were spontaneous and failure meant social ostracization. But as a transgender student, the rules were both an armor and a ticket to community. They made me feel safe, welcome, and included. The words opened space for me to exist in the world. I discovered a native tongue and learned it with joy and ease. Read more…
Aron was a year and a half when Laura and I divorced. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life guilty about the pain I caused and the misery of the break-up and the chaos in his life afterwards.
She and I had met in college and rushed into, what was for me, an affair based on homosexual panic; my first with a woman – and my last. Of course, in my innocence, I got her pregnant and there was no other solution but to marry. It’s a familiar story in New Hampshire, where I come from – a long way from Stonewall.
The truth could not be kept hidden for long – not from me – and when it exploded, so did the marriage. I found a new life but still kept closely in touch with Aron; visiting him regularly. When he was older, he started spending weekends at the new home I shared with Pete. Pete, because he loved me, also loved Aron. He was a music teacher so one of the ways he connected was to give Aron piano lessons. The boy was amazingly talented – he’s grown now and, what do you know, a musician! Pete would be pleased if he knew – but Pete and I broke up, too. Read more…