Excerpt: Apples and Oranges
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing New Release Psychology & Personal Growth
When I was 16, I went on a mental trip.
I was convinced that if I ate oranges, everyone would know I liked girls.
But if I chose an apple instead, I would land only in boys’ beds. But this
wasn’t acid—this was
So I wrote this—
for every queer who spent their teenage years in fear,
and especially for the ones like me, raised on the buckle of the Bible belt,
who felt their yearning splinter like a broken mirror: I want both!
Apples and oranges …
But by now it seems painfully obvious to me what I should have done:
Come out, join the fun!
So I moved to San Francisco. And the minute I landed north of the
I went south … of a girl’s panty line.
But somewhere between my thighs—Still—is that Oklahoma teen
I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to! I want—The drama club king, drunk on
Applejack. I want only his fierce funny laughter and none of that …
soft flute player, trilling her tongue across the passion of her breath—
and oh if that were only my neck … but I certainly can’t hold both of
you inside my hopechest—No.
I must choose … between apples and oranges.
I can’t take a girl for a whirl and make a boy my toy because that would
the prom picture.
And I know it sounds trite, a broken record from 1995, but I have had
eleven years of movement away from that red dirt, and I’m telling you:
the dirty blood dust left a film on my skin. A tornado took hold of my mind,
and said: you’ll never be the same again. Competing desires pulled me
in bipolar directions, and the weathervane spun like a journey, like a
lesson. And all I can say now to these memories, these flashes … is to
kiss. their. wind. and watch them fall
into dust, into ashes.
Because an Oklahoma storm can tear the roof off your house.
And an Oklahoma town can rip you in two.
But the air is so much sweeter after that storm is through.
And it’s true, my breakdown was not a hate crime.
It wasn’t my body left crucified in a Wyoming field.
But in a town where crosses are taller than water towers,
without the lord as my shepherd, I could not walk out of the valley of doubt
into a calmer plain of existence without first falling headlong into a
that stretched my soul across a fence.
And it took Haldol, it took Zoloft …
It took poetry. It took punk rock.
It took Sylvia Plath, Kathleen Hanna, and a hot Jewish dyke from
It took years before I could stand on this stage and
act. out. now. and call. out. proud.
Because when I tasted the apple, I didn’t taste sin …
And when I swallowed an orange slice,
my hunger was satisfied.
So I know now whatever state I’m in, it doesn’t matter if it’s
South, North, West, or East
When I see fruit
I see a feast.