His father said: he saw two men kissing in the street, and it made him angry. I was eighteen the first time I spent the night with another girl, walked back to campus with her the next morning, wanting to hold her hand, afraid to. This is what I was afraid of: that my parents would somehow hear, that they would stop speaking to me would cut me off. That my sisters, friends, would turn away, repulsed by thoughts of what two girls might do. There were incidents on campus. Gay-bashing, injuries. We wore pink triangles in solidarity, passed them out on campus, asked our straight professors – please. Stand with us. Many did. Matthew Shepard, a student, was tortured and murdered a few years later, in 1998. I didn’t think anything would happen to me. I reached out and took her hand or maybe she reached out to me. Kissed her goodbye, knowing already that it was over, not regretting anything. Later, my friends and I went to the gay nightclubs and danced, the straight girls glad to be able to dance as freely and sexually as they wanted, without fear of harassment. I danced on a table, hoping the gay boys knew, somehow, that I was one of them. Twenty years ago; now I’m wife and mother – husband, two kids, dog, and a house in the suburbs. Still bi, and poly too, but living as safe a life as one might wish for, as parents might hope for their children. The death toll rises, now up to fifty dead, the worst mass shooting in American history the worst mass murder of gay people in America since 1973, Upstairs Lounge, thirty-two burned. I took her hand, and later, madly in love, I kissed my girlfriend in the street, knowing always that it might make someone passing by angry. In love and defiant, knowing enough to worry. I didn’t know we’d have to worry about this.
Bio: "Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and ten other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and serves as editor-in-chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com