Andrea Gibson's Latest Spoken Word Poem Will Change The Way You Think About Gender

In the video, the poet urges everyone — queer and otherwise — to choose to live a "hard life" that is completely their own over an easy one. 

"I was thinking about the idea of having a hard life and what that means," Gibson, who uses they/them pronouns, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. "How having an easy life doesn't necessarily equate to having a better one."

"I went through a period, before writing this, where I was feeling pretty dreamy about the idea of time travel. I was thinking about how comforting and exciting it would have been to be young and have a pep talk from my older self in terms of gender and queerness — the good and the bad of it." Read more via Buzzfeed

Your Life

It isn’t that you don’t like boys.
It’s that you only like boys you want to be:

David, with his jaw carved
out of the side of a cliff.

Malcolm, who doesn’t have secrets, 
just stories he owes no one.

Chris, the basketball hero with a tic, 
blinks fifteen times when he makes a shot. 
You spend hours blinking in the mirror, pretending
you’re a star like him. 

Mary Levine calls you a dyke
and you don’t have the language to tell her she is wrong
and right. You just show up to her house promising to paint your fingernails red
with what will gush from her busted face
if she ever says it again.

You’re in the 7th grade. You don’t even know you want a girlfriend.
You still believe too much in the people who believe in Jesus
to even feel that desire through its hell threat.

You just want to kick your desk on the way to the principal’s office, 
slouch in detention, want to cut your hair and spit
out whatever you don’t want in your mouth,
your own name even, skirting around the truth.

You don’t yet know the boys
are building their confidence on stolen land,
but you do worry the girls might be occupied
with things you will never understand, 
won’t ever ever be good at.

You take one pretty step and feel like you’re pouring bubbles
into your own bloodbath. You don’t want a soft death.
You want a hard life
that is your life.

Your life in the locker room that doesn’t stop demanding
you keep your eyes on the floor.

Your life at the prom where you'll run home
in a snowstorm, chucking your last pair of heels in a snow bank, 
realizing you are the only boy
you ever wanted to tear your dress off for.

Your life the first Christmas you spend alone. The years you learn
to build your family out of scratch. 

Your life the first time someone drags you
from a restroom by the collar of your coat. 

Your life every time airport security screams, 
Pink or blue? Pink or blue? trying to figure out
what machine setting to run you through.

Choosing your life
and how that made you into someone
who now often finds it easy 

to explain your gender by saying you are happiest
on the road, when you’re not here or there, but in-between,
that yellow line coming down the center of it all
like a goddamn sunbeam.

Your name is not a song you will sing under your breath.
Your pronouns haven’t even been invented yet.
You’re going to shave your head and drive through Texas.
You’re going to kill your own god so you can fall in love for the first time.

They’re going to keep telling you your heartbeat is a preexisting condition.
They’re going to keep telling you you are crime of nature.
You’re going to look at all of your options and choose conviction.

Choose to carve your own heart out of the side of a cliff.
Choose to spend your whole life telling secrets you owe no one
to everyone, until there isn't anyone who can insult you
by calling you what you are:

You holy blinking star.
You highway streak of light
falling over and over for your hard life,
your perfect life,
your sweet and beautiful life.

See more of Gibson's poetry 

Andrea Gibson performing "Maybe I Need You" at Sofar New York on April 14th, 2015.