I prepare to paint
To stand out and shine
I seize my glue and press it against my thick brown eyebrows
I am feminine….?
I ensure each strand is lined up with perfect precision
I am pristine….?
I flatten my eyebrows down on my face
Preparing to erase.
Erasing what I did not want
Masking my insecurities and covering up my self-doubt
By showing a face different from my own
To become something else
To like boys like all my friends and to be normal
I want to be normal.
But with my brows glued down
My perceived normal was gone
On my face, it could not be found
So I pressed them with powder and they began to blend.
I thought I wanted to blend
I felt the need for my looks to match
What does that mean?
They did not seem normal
They did not go together.
They did not go together?
I start to paint
Following the contours of my face
Pronouncing them to the world
Highlighting my creases.
I had convinced myself
That my clothes
Could not be mine
If the story of me were to change.
My outside would have to follow.
How could I wear a dress and be gay?
How could I be a lady and be a queen?
I had perceived a box that I was supposed to fit in
I had perceived a type of person who could do drag.
I thought I had to prove myself to the world
Prove that what I was doing
Prove that who I am
Prove that my art
Lost, I dived into the digital world
Searching and searching
In a place of awe
With an ever-growing smile
Wishing this was something I had foresaw,
Women, non-binary, trans queens
All creating, painting, being.
There was so much terminology
For those outside
Bio queen, AFAB queen
But those labels aren’t necessary
I am a queen.
My art, my identity
And are mine.
The painted face that I had previously thought to be unknown
Was entirely my own.
You see, I am larger than life
I have become a palette
The glittering, shimmering, loud colors
Are taken up by my brush
Colors, vibrant hues of pink and blue, cover my eyes
It highlights them
And makes my eyes glow.
The colorfulness, the queerness, the otherness
Is beautiful and full of love
My art does not care about my gender
My clothes do not care about who I love.
People like to ask lots of questions
But not always the kinds of questions that open up a conversation
That bring people together
That helps us learn from one another.
Aren’t questions at all.
Rather they are an inquisition.
They have the answer folded within.
Why are you destroying my child?
Why are you committing a sin?
Those are not questions.
Those critiques are not telling of the creator
But rather of those looking outside in.
When looking upon someone’s creation
Look to learn
Rather than to convince.
When we seek to learn
We learn to love
And from there
It is art that we can share.
I outline my lips with a vivacious red
And pucker up
Sweet and playful
Large and over the top
My painting is almost complete
I get to decide
The truth of my creation
Gender only comes in as much as I want it to
My truth is at the forefront.
It has been a battle
For marriage equality
Lashes that extend for miles
Are then glued onto my eyes
My vision is slightly blurred
But my eyes are more powerful than before
Fluttering, opening, and closing, with elegance
And newfound suave energy.
Take a look at the whole picture
And see the art off the page.
People have fought
To share themselves with the world.
Fighting sodomy laws
Fighting seen as a mental illness
Fighting conversion therapy
Fighting unwelcoming homes
Self-expression is intersectional
It is messy and clean
Full of continuity and full of contradictions
It is anything
Anything the artist molds it to be.
I pull my hair back
And slip on a wig
My hair is a new color
Curly and pink
And it is larger and larger
Growing and growing
So big that people miles away can look
What is that? Who is she?
I am a sandcastle
That my creation
My art, my love, my gender
Trying to take a form
But never succeeding.
Slipping into large shimmering jewels and form-fitting, eccentric clothes
That lure me over the edge
And six-inch hot pink stilettos that make me unbelievable.
My painting is complete.
I am the canvas
The painting is me.
To be the art, no matter what that means.
To be a statement
To be a message
To be political
To be powerful
To stand in solidarity
To fight against
To be the art, no matter what that means.
So I will paint my face
I will wear what I want
I shall show it as my armor
I shall show it as my vulnerability
I shall show myself.