The Painting of Self

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.

I want 

It 

To disappear.

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 

In

I felt the need for my looks to match

My identity.

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

Told myself

That my clothes 

My art

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.

And I,

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

Was real,

And right.

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,

Feeling found.

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

They fit 

And match 

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

For creation

For expression.

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.

No, no

Some questions

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.

But remember

Those critiques are not telling of the creator 

But rather of those looking outside in.

When looking upon someone’s creation

Someone’s presentation

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

For acceptance

For freedom

For existence.

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 

And died

And cried

To share themselves with the world.

Fighting sodomy laws

Fighting seen as a mental illness

Fighting conversion therapy

Fighting unwelcoming homes

Fighting violence,

Fighting hate

With love

At Stonewall

At pride

At court

At home

Here 

In color.

The battle

The love

The art

Is intersectional 

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

And wonder.

What is that? Who is she?

She?

I am a sandcastle

That my creation 

My art, my love, my gender 

Knocks down

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.

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