Unlike my moms, I was obvious and all-knowing about my sexuality as a child,
could not perform girlhood in the way the world expected me to.
I tore apart my barbie dolls, likened to sports and my brother’s
hand me downs instead.
I did not learn how to highlight my face,
still don’t know how to braid hair,
tell me a popular fashion line and I will not know what it is.
I was not feminine because it was a thing I did not understand.
But I did understand blood.
How elusive it was. How important and not important in family conversations.
How proud I was when it splintered from my hands,
gushed from my knees and not once made me cry.
How, like everything I wanted, it seemed both out of reach
and everywhere. And in this way suffering became my bloodline,
inherited by me from my mothers, and their mothers,
gay and otherwise,
related and otherwise. Blood
was easy to know. And I wore it well.
Before my baptism, my mama asked her mother,
“you do know I’ll be standing there as her mother, right?”
My grandmother, the devout Catholic, mother of eight, said nothing.
And so I was, head dipped in holy water,
washed clean of bloodlink.
I think she was proud, but I am not sure of what.
I have never really spoken to my grandmother.
She still signs my birthday and christmas cards - ‘Elaine’
And yet I do not blame her. I am no child of God.
I am no thing she knows how to understand.
When my moms were splitting, my uncle told my mama
he was on her side, to not worry about that woman
and her kids, said, “blood is thicker than water, sis.”
I am thin as water to them, bastard child slipping between fingers,
something spilled on the kitchen floor,
best be wiped up quick,
there isn’t even an insult for the wrong kind of baby I was
that does not include and prioritize a man.
Which I was not made from or by or for.
Twenty years later that same uncle
scoffed at the Orlando shooting,
said he could understand where the guy was coming from
the way we gay people flaunt our flamboyancy in the faces
of good, regular people.
And I think, well, blood is just blood, then. Spilled or unspilled.
That is all.
Marissa is a world-traveling, Beyonce-worshipping, wine-loving, gay woman living in Brooklyn, New York. She recently took a Buzzfeed quiz to determine her style based on her favorite color and horoscope and it told her she is a "Salty Grandma" and that was probably the most accurate thing that’s ever been said about her. She is a poet, researcher, and activist on issues including mass incarceration, violence against women, and LGBTQ rights.