A Prayer for Myself by Jet Toomer
Most people search all
of their lives
for someplace to belong to
as you said
but I look instead
into the eyes of anyone
who talks to me
A Prayer for Myself
You belong to the room you have just entered.
The one that has welcomed you with your agency.
An agency that has led you to follow the synapses in your brain, calling you forth to take up space anywhere and elsewhere.
You belong here.
When coming into the many expansive iterations of my queerness, I felt often that I did not belong. First, there was the trouble of shame, then the hiding, then the double-triple-quadruple lives. Negotiating everyone else’s comforts, then placating their definitions. Everyone who I loved, who I thought loved me, I knew they would not love this part, the queer part(s) of me.
Still like the universe my queerness expanded and wrestled its way out of my mouth towards my mother. Then through my fingers into a text message to my sister and then through my eyes when I read the letters written by my teenaged lovers. It found its way towards the closet, and my clothes and then to my head and my haircut became queer. I wanted to be seen. To belong to someplace where it was understood that what I was looking for was already in me.
Queer community can be tricky. It is not the oasis I dreamt it to be. The clubs were not so chic, the women not so friendly. The house parties, sexy, sweaty dripping with lust – were too cliquey. The friendships, deliberately made because of our shared “otherness” were lined in subtext, brokenness, and betrayal. I belonged to all of this messiness and endured because I wanted so much to have family that I didn’t have to hide from. We were all searching for something outside of what was rejecting us while still holding on to the rules, painful pasts, hierarchies and currencies. When I was looking for love, I bent and broke parts of myself to belong to a lover. They in return, bent and broke me.
Then I chose, to belong to myself. And everything belongs to me now.
JET is a writer living in NYC. She’s an MFA candidate at Columbia University & a 2021 LAMBDA literary Emerging Writing Fellow. Follow her @izdabes 🖤