The best sex I’ve ever had was with a sixteen-year-old boy. The thing is, at the time, I was also sixteen. And no, I’m not saying that my literal high school experience was full of good body feels and good sex, because it wasn’t. This hot, affirming sexual experience took place in May of this year, almost nine years after I was actually sixteen, and almost seventeen years after my lover was sixteen.
A sickeningly hip pizza place in Seattle. We order my boyfriend’s favourite beer with our “fake” IDs. We must really smell like teen spirit because our server does a double take at our IDs and then she gives us a kind, knowing look. I like her red hair and her feather earrings. I tell her. I’ve always told people. We’re supposed to be meeting our other high school friends there. My lover and I are playing acquaintances. Babes who have admired each other from afar. Never expecting the other one was drooling too.
When I was sixteen I was femme before I knew femme was a thing. My boyfriend was a dyke when being a dyke meant androgyny and gut songs. I was never a dyke in high school but I was bisexual and had had my guts exposed many times through bulimia and assaults and congenital-disability-related surgeries. I loved lipstick and evening gloves and cabaret punk and long cigarettes and every single one of my best friends. I thought with blue hair my small twisted calves and feet might be taken for fins. I started using a chair full-time around then. I lost my body. Maybe I forgot it. My lover was starting to remember his own body. My lover was a poet, but he didn’t know he was hot shit. I was a poet too. Neither did I. We wanted a way to turn back time and also alter it. So that the present might be altered too. We know that we are hot now. But our past selves still don’t. And they’re important too.
By the time I was sixteen I had already been loving girls for years. I had already had sex with a girl. I had already been humiliated publicly for being disabled and black and being sexual with girls. Did you like doing her because it was easy to hold her down in her wheelchair? Did you guys form a circle and summon Satan?? Nasty white straight boys with nasty stringy hair and zero sex lives asked my friends about me. I went back to boys after that. Men, really. Guys nearly the same age as my now-boyfriend who looked cool with their cigarettes and black button-downs and trucks and sounded cool with their distrust of the government. Nobody took me on dates. I didn’t really think I was something to be proud of.
Something my lover and I discussed when we were planning our role play was that he didn’t want to be his teenage girl self: he wanted to be a boy. But we didn’t want it to be a straight situation. So we changed the past. We decided to be virgins when we met. Virgins who had already been touched in ways we never wanted to be touched. Virgins who had believed they were ugly and frightening and undesirable. Virgins who had decided to open to being touched for the very first time.
We altered the past and changed the present by having always been queer. What a life we might have been living if we had never had to be cis or closeted or ashamed. Although I find great strength and possibility in crawling, knees muddy and bloody, through shame. It is how we grow our wings. It is how we foster this well of compassion for one another that is what true queer solidarity could be all about. So what if everything else about our sixteen-year-old selves was the same, even the shame and the doubt, but we were queer. Queer could be this creature word. Simply another species. Like a speculative-fiction universe in which some people just were queer. By birth or by choice. But as soon as you acknowledge it, you are altered, your temporal reality changes, you grow a new phenotype, a marking characteristic, perhaps a purple flush behind the ears, or gills.
“You’re not like the other grrls,” he says. “They think makeup isn’t feminist. And the ones who like makeup don’t like feminism.” He was looking across the table at me like I was the prettiest, smartest thing he’d ever seen. You’re right. I’m not like other girls, or boys, for that matter. I hear an Ani DiFranco and an Amanda Palmer song in my head at once and know that we are on the right track of the time-travelling queer occult. In fact even at sixteen we have already outgrown our idols. We could be writing the ballads of our beautiful, bastard lives.
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In the car, taking the highway, unpeeling each other with our eyes under the thick blue night, he says out of the corner of his mouth, “I get nervous sometimes, out at queer events. Or in our crew. Out, really.”
“Are you nervous right now?”
“No!” He flicks his eyes back to the road and begins a staccato piano concerto across the curve of the steering wheel with his fingers. His fingers.
We go to see X-Men: Days of Future Past and in the theatre he raises his eyebrows in this disconcerting, pussy-watering way and asks to hold my hand. I am myself at many different times and I am myself in many different times in this moment. I have never wanted to say yes so badly. I also remember being a teenager, and wishing boys would ask to hold my hand, in public, and feeling this hot rush especially if other people could see me being straight, being deemed okay, normal, someone with a body a little less likely to be sentenced to death or some other unliveability. Now in the darkened theatre, I don’t give a fuck who sees, but if they do I hope they know we are queer. I hope they are shaken by our difference. I hope they sense the starlight of possibility and a new kind of freedom birthing pulsing, cloudless galaxies in my blood.
In the most recent X-Men installment, we get to see a past Professor Xavier, who opts for an ability-suppressing serum injection daily from Beast, rather than deal with processing the pain he feels from getting to be inside the minds of the whole world. As a mutant, Professor X has two stunningly interlinked psychosomatic (bodymind) realities. He is psychic, and he is paralyzed from the waist down. While the serum injection he becomes addicted to allows him to repress his ability to read minds and interface with others’ feelings and wills, it also allows him to walk. That’s some Little Mermaid shit. It’s not like I haven’t considered what I would sacrifice in order to not be disabled. But actually, what is worse about my life? Stairs are hard. Would I give up my voice or my empathy to interface with stairs? Probably not. People think I am brave for leaving my house or having sex. So maybe I am brave. A lot of people are brave. But are not called heroes for staying alive or showing themselves in public. Wolverine, the bravest daddy of daddies, and maybe a criminal and a hero, travels back in time to tell Professor X to give up this more obvious ability in order to embrace his more subtle, amazing, helpful ability (reading minds, dude!!!). This is not easy. And it’s only part of the battle. But he uses love as logic, which is better than most kinds of logic, and adventure ensues.
I see a link not only to my own relationships to empathy and disability, ability and “inability,” but also to queerness as a kind of mutant life. A kind of inability and ability of its own. By coming out as queer and trans, we give up some ability to pass as normal, as worthy of smooth and unfettered lives. But also we have the opportunity to embrace our ability to change the future, to change the past through trauma healing, to empathize with many different bodies, and to develop a more complex understanding of sex, love, family, and connection. We have the opportunity to tell our own stories, to write our histories, and to keep one another’s magical secrets. That’s right, heteropatriarchy, I said MAGICAL SECRETS.
It is possible and necessary to alter time when you are queer. Our temporality is simply not a heteropatriarchal ciscentric one. But time itself is spun out through the mouths of the bodies that are not ours. How can we see or hear or fuck as ourselves when we use their language and method of timekeeping? How to re-remember who we have been and who we might have been and who we can still be if we do not shift our perception of our lived reality in a queerphobic world? What I’m trying to say is, as radical queers, we are gifted with the ability to time travel. And it’s time to tap in. You can sacrifice this ability, or you can run with it. Fuck with time. Unfuck yourself. Fuck love into yourself. Become yourself. Visibility means nothing if we are not also reflective and pursuing inner growth. Growth inside our bodies. Growth inside our own paradigms. You have choices. If this analogy is so obvious to you that I have hurt your feelings by writing it out, I’m sorry. If it is so new to you that I have blown your wad, welcome to the void.
My date fell asleep in the theatre, so he missed all my gasping and analogizing. When he wakes up I believe I have lost him. He looks thirty-two to me. I am a little disappointed that I haven’t even made it to first base with the boy of my teenage dreams. When we get back to the car, I tell him I wanted him to kiss me as his queer teenage virgin self, not expecting to receive what I want. I still have a really hard time asking for or thinking I actually deserve the things I want. Without responding as my contemporary boyfriend he says in that side-of-the-mouth sexy drip, “Sorry I fell asleep. I worked all day.”
“I had a really nice time.”
“Me too. I had a really really nice time.”
“Uhh. Could I maybe kiss you?”
I want to cry because now for a second time I cannot say yes fast enough or loud and clear enough. I want to scream a yes that is a great dark mother of all yeses. For all of the times I have said no, and gotten kissed and touched and punched and felt up and fucked anyway. For all of the times I have said yes but did not know who or what I was really saying yes to. I see all of those things and I grab them and I squeeze them. I wrap them up in large rain-tight palm leaves and give them a new home. I look out at the starry sky and the moon and I see my life now, as it is unfolding. I see my lover and me fall in love a thousand times and I feel every part of my body wake up as yes, he kisses me yes and I know how to open my mouth and receive his tongue and give him mine because I am not really sixteen but I am caring now for the body and the girl who was sixteen. I open and unfurl as yes he keeps his hands on my leg and we drive to a hotel (which we say is the basement of my mother’s house and she’s super liberal or maybe she’s out my poor wonderful mom she never knew what to do about sleepovers once it was determined I wasn’t straight).
And yes yes yes this is a secret it is like I am telling you a dream, we turn on all the lights. I feel like all of my being has grown. The better to see and feel him with. I rip open his shirt and the buttons give me just a little resistance and it makes me breathe heavy to hear them pop and he pulls my dress down and we are all skin skin and a map of happenings. The scars that show that we are not sixteen. The tattoos. The places that are numb or sting. We stop with our hands on the sweet mounds just above each other’s hearts, my favourite spot on his chest, or it will become my favourite spot because I have never touched this boy before.
You. Are. So. Fucking. Sexy.
There are tears along with our other hard wetness because saying these words is a sort of incantation. It’s like it undoes other things that have been said to us. We are turning back time and also moving forward in time and also bending and inverting and bursting through. He asks if he can kiss me again and then he asks if he can kiss me “here” and he has slid down between my thighs and gestures as much with his mouth as his hands. And I do not feel like Selma Blair all lily white and ready to be humiliated by cruel intentions and heteroflexible not-love. I am in time with you. I am a child and an animal with you. If we summon anyone, it is ourselves, and we come come come.
Here’s to being no longer sixteen, but reaching with compassion and twisty humour and queer perspective towards our past and future selves. Here’s to listening and healing. Here’s to being all that you are with your lovers and all that you are without them too. Here’s to teenage dreams. Here’s to what our imaginations and our bodies can do and make new for us. Here’s to saying yes.
Neve Be is a fairytale character and potentially also a queer, mixed, black, disabled, multi-gender human being. They are developing a praxis of love, relationship, and body healing which is community-centred, collaborative, play-based, and non hierarchal. They are not always serious. Anarchist. Punk. Sorcerer. Choreographer. Writer. Filmmaker. Mouth user. Fine gross artist. Neve recently completed a residency with women in the arts incubator and resource centre, Hypatia-in-the-woods in Shelton, Washington, and will be a summer artist in residence at Safehouse Arts in San Francisco, developing a solo choreographic work called “Helpless.” Neve is an artist and organizer with performance project and disability justice incubator Sins Invalid.
You can find Neve’s written work in Maximum Rock n Roll and forthcoming in various publications. You can also find their adult star alias Lyric Seal online at lyricsealsucks.tumblr.com, on modelviewculture.com, and in their column “Slumber Party” on crashpadseries.com. On Twitter: @fancylyric, instagram: @selkiesonthetide. For love/sex/body/relationship/
Expect a book to crawl out of Neve next year, called Taking it Lying Down, through ThreeLmedia. One day they would like to start a bird sanctuary or a free art school, they would like to become fluent in Spanish and the piano, and they would like to learn to drive a pink bus.
You can often find Neve or Lyric onstage, onscreen, or at your friend’s punk house in a variety of places throughout the Bay Area and Seattle.