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Coming of Age Gay People of Color

He ran his fingers along the smooth material of the clothing, unknowingly falling in love with it. If someone were to ask him why he loved it so much his answer would hardly make sense to anyone but him; he just did.

17-year-old Simone couldn’t grasp the concept as to why someone would want to throw out such a beautiful article of clothing, sitting perfectly in the trash bin, untouched. He couldn’t stop himself when his fist tightened around the shiny cloth and he pulled it from the trash bin, stuffing it prudently into his messenger bag.

Simone wove in and out through the crowds of people on his busy New York street, throwing himself onto one of the public buses before it could pull away. He snapped his headphones over his ears and opened a textbook, but the thoughts of the garment in his bag seemed to linger in his mind.

His thoughts snapped away with the rough, piercing whistle of the driver pulling the breaks. Simone shot up and stuffed his things back into his bag, hardy noticing when the shimmery fabric slid around a little. He thanked the driver, then waddled off, bag hugged close at his side.

“Mama, I’m home!” Simone called through the house, zipping into the kitchen before he planned on going upstairs and hiding his room, deciding what to do with the fascinating clothing. His mother glided into the kitchen, dish towel swung over his shoulder.

“What is this?” She asked, skeptically, ripping the sequin-covered dress from his bag. “Are you a girl now? What is it?” Simone’s mom could be the living embodiment of ‘helicopter parent’ since she hardly leaves him alone.

“It’s… It’s for my girlfriend, ma. I’m gonna go study.” He pulled the dress back and scurried up to his room, hoping that his mother wouldn’t trail after him. He wouldn’t dare telling his mom he was gay; out of fear that she would kick him out, or worse, try to send him to conversion therapy.

Simone dragged a mannequin out from his closet, one he bought with his own money and kept hidden away, then gathered some materials and draped the dress across the hard stencil of the mannequin. The dress was clearly made for someone with breasts, but he overlooked that detail and went back to hemming.

Once he had evened everything out to fit his broad shoulders and square-shaped torso, he pulled the zipper down from the back of the mannequin and stripped his shirt. If his mother had seen him, she would just about have an aneurysm, but he had to do this for himself and all the other queer kids who couldn’t represent themselves the way they wanted.

He was in nothing but his boxers when he slipped the dress over his head. The sequins ended mid-thigh, showing much of his unshaved legs. He wanted to shave them, but his father told him that real men don’t shave, and all but took the razors from his hands.

It was a slip dress, with a dipping neckline that showed a little bit of his pec, and a skirt that flared a little. There was a small slit in the leg, one that made the dress look even more attractive. His mind ran with images of big wigs and pretty makeup, fishnets and high heels.

“Simone!” His name ripped through the hallways and bounced off the walls, alerting him that his mother was flying up the stairs, bringing a storm of questions with her. Unsure what to do, Simone shoved the mannequin back into the closet and tugged the dress off, hastily kicking it under the bed. “Simone García, put pants on, now. Dinner is ready.”

Simone released a heavy breath, a wary sigh. That was a close one. Though there had been close encounters in the past between Simone and his mother while he was dazzling, as he calls it, they had never been so close that he had to disrespect his material and simply kick it under the bed.

He retrieved his dress from below his bunk and pulled his mannequin back out, sliding the dress back onto the mannequin and sliding the mannequin into the dark place that is its home; in hiding, to stay in the shadows until Simone had control over his own life.

-

Extensive research was put into one night and one night only. The plan was simple:

  1. Make sure Mama goes to bed early
  2. Collect all materials needed
  3. Sneak out the window
  4. Watch out for predators
  5. Walk to Club Indigo on the corner of Hanover
  6. BE HOME BY 2 AM !

If this plan was followed step by step, nothing could go wrong, and Simone was ready to make sure of that, no matter what it took. Every afternoon for a week (since the interaction with his new dress was just seven days ago), he sat down at his computer and Googled every Drag Bar in New York city. The next filter was finding one in walking distance.

It was the night -August 5th- and Simone could hardly hold in his excitement. Like he had planned, his mother went to bed early, which meant everything would be smooth sailing from there. He grasped a bag and the various clothing items he had collected for this night. His fist tightened around the material of his dress, just like it had the day he found it. He folded it, placed it in his bag, and opened his window.

The air outside was warm, fuzzy. He was grateful that he didn’t do his hair at his house, instead waiting until he got to the Indigo Club. The sidewalk was deserted except for the occasional homeless person or someone trying to sell him drugs, but he was used to the bustle of New York. It is the city that never sleeps, isn’t it?

He stood in front of the glowing sign, hands shoved deep in his pockets. He debated walking back to his home and pushing all of these thoughts of feminism out of his head. But he didn’t. He grabbed the handle and yanked the door open, entering a world of possibilities, a world for the unknown.

“Hey kid,” Simone turned to a desk with a male appearing person with a clipboard, “do you have a reservation?”

“Uh..” his brain malfunctioned for a moment, the realism setting in. “Uh, yeah, I do. Under Simone García. I’m performing.” The person looked up at Simone and smiled, reassuringly. “Is it there? I thought I did the process right but I wasn’t sure-”

The person cut Simone off by handing him a small, red ticket. “You got this, kid. Give the ticket to the security guard at that door,” the person pointed, “and she’ll let you in. Have fun.” The person ushered Simone off as the line behind the boy grew. He showed the guard his red ticket and she let him in.

His jaw fell low. It was a back room, as a theater kid he had seen many, but this one, this one was different. It was glowing, it was alive. The people looked towards him as the door opened and he smiled nervously, trying to stop his lip from quivering.

“Well what’s your name?” One of the queens asked. There were 5 queens in the room.

“S-Simone. It’s Simone.” He reassured her with a small nod. She gestured to a station and he ran over to it, suddenly remembering where he knew that particular queen from. She was in a limited edition People magazine from pride month last year, one that he got and hidden from his mom.

The queens seemed to be whispering about him, but he tried not to notice as he struggled to do his lipstick with a shaky hand. He had never done lipstick before, and this was taking it from level zero to level one hundred in sixty seconds.

“Babe, do you need help?” The man next to Simone whispered, finishing off his extreme blush. Simone responded with a nod, muscles too tense to say or do anything else. “Show me what you want and I’ll do it.” The man smiled and Simone lunged for his phone, pulling up the photo.

The eyeshadow was rainbow, with glitter in his eyebrows and shiny stars lightly covering his lid and a little bit of his cheek. The queen smiled and grabbed his brushes, beginning on Simone’s face. He assisted Simeone a lot, whether it was makeup or tips on walking in heels, he was there for Simone, even if he hardly knew him.

The desk manager poked their head in. “Ladies, it’s time.” They said, dramatically, before leaving the room with their clipboard and all. Everyone stood up, including Simone, and finished smoothing out all the kinks. Simone shook his hands out. This is it. You’ve been waiting for this moment for 4 years. He reminded himself as the first queen went out.

One by one, the drag queens disappeared onto the stage until Simone was the only one left. His name rang through the speakers, and soon the crowd as his song began playing.

As if the nerve went away, he stepped onto the stage. The lights that may have blinded someone else only made him more excited, and the screaming crowd lit a fire in him that no one would be able to put out. He gave it his all, dancing and singing his heart out. People threw bills onto the stage and he collected them, cheering along with them.

As the lights went out and Simone walked back backstage, he realized that for the first time in a long time, he finally had someplace he belonged.

May 07, 2022 17:38

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1 comment

Holly Guy
08:35 May 20, 2022

This is such a lovely story! Really really sweet and a lovely end. Keep on writing- I look forward to reading more from you :)

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