©2020 Q* Anthology of Queer Culture

An independent student publication in the Charlottesville and U.Va. community

Lifting the Mask

March 20, 2020

I used to lie in my bed and stare up into the abyss 
of solitude as I wondered why God hated me. 
I would spring up after hours of attempted sleep, 
feeling the tears cascade down the sides 
of my freckled cheeks.
Why me? 

My rib cage would expand, shrink,
expand, shrink, faster faster hyperventilating 
from the fantasies that played on and on,
an everlasting movie in my head 
until the intrusive thoughts consumed all the energy 
in my body, permitting me my peace. 

I tried to change. I punished myself
when I thought this and rewarded myself
when I thought that. Even after I acted on desire 
I was convinced that I didn’t, that I wasn’t—

Everyday, mask on, ready for a show:
speaking deeper, watching my steps
for a particular masculine flow; always alert, 
living in fear that I would ineffectively play the role.  

One day on a walk with my sister 
through Fashion Island Mall,
I looked at her with tired eyes
and said without care, “I’m bisexual.” 
Her hazel eyes looked back at me, she shrugged.
“Now what took you so long to finally tell me?” 

 

JAKE GREENBERG

he, him, his

College of Arts & Sciences 

Class of 2022, Psychology 

Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies minor 

 

Jake is a student athlete on the UVA Swim and Dive Team. He has always loved poetry and writing to express himself during times of hardship and stress. However, he was finally able to take a poetry class during his second semester in college, when he wrote these pieces. During this time, he explored his sexuality and feelings about his first relationship with a man. He took another poetry class in the fall semester, and cannot wait to continue to develop his writing skills. 

 

*****

 

“The most important idea I wanted to get across was the contrast between what I went through in my head for over eight years of my life to my reactions when I came out. I am lucky enough to have had very supportive and loving experiences when I came out, which I am so grateful for.” 

 

 

 

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