I Love You, And I Don’t Deserve You. | Gradient

I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

[Editor’s Note: In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, we are all struggling with how to meaningfully discuss the violence, what led to it, and how we can move forward. What follows is one of our contributor’s attempt to articulate beliefs she has personally come to after wrestling with her own role in a society in which horrific acts like the Pulse nightclub shooting can happen.]

I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by the language I use or choose not to use.

I condone and commit violence against you when I don’t bring up issues that impact your life with my cishet friends and family who are white. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I don’t bring up issues that impact your life with my cishet friends and family who are people of color. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I purport to be versed on the issues that most immediately impact your life when I have no fucking clue, when I use your existence and my relationship to you as a testament to my own enlightenment, when I lean on your respective backs, and pat myself on my own for doing so. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I refuse to learn the pronouns you prefer, the relational names you prefer, the titles you prefer. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I call you “my sister” when I know you prefer “sibling.” I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I out you, when it’s not my right, when I tell your story, and the words were never meant for my mouth. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I choose to say the easy thing, the thing that needs no accompanying explanation, when you’ve never once been able to choose the easy thing, never once been able to avoid the explanations that must accompany you. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by rallying ardently against white cultural supremacy and patriarchy, but by being all too mum on the intersections of cis-heterosexism, queer- and trans-antagonism, and the deaths of our LGBTQ friends, family and fictive kin of color.

I condone and commit violence against you by centering my heteronormative and cis narratives of love and domesticity in our lives. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by not acknowledging that your hair is a political choice; your undergarments are a political choice; the bathroom you use is a political choice, and I condone and commit violence against you when I make light of those choices and the danger that accompanies them. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I text you, and you don’t text back, and I don’t call to make sure you’re okay, because it lends credence to the story your brain and the world is always trying to tell you: No one wants you, no one will miss you. I want you. I would miss you. I miss you even now, as I feel only a fraction of a fraction of the weight that threatens to pull you under. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you when I only make you the sum of your traumas and the subtractions and deductions you must endure to exist, making invisible the radical goddamn beauty you bring into the world. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by being unable or unwilling to protect you from the world.

I condone and commit violence against you by taking your beauty and existence in this world for granted, as if you haven’t risen every day in a world that was spiritually, financially and ideologically committed to your decimation. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by not celebrating every morning you awake with breath in your lungs and will in your body, and for not lying beside you on days when that breath contorts your body, and your words wheeze and die on your tongue. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by assuming you can inhabit the same spaces that I can safely when I know you travel unwelcoming towns, dangerous bars and restaurants, and people who talk wild to you in public every day. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by being complicit in the same systems that seek to destroy you, and for not fighting as ardently behind and beside you as you need me to. I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

I condone and commit violence against you by forcing you to process with me.

I condone and commit violence against you by saying nothing about it to you.

I love you, and you’ve seen more, brought more beauty, challenged more systems, borne more burdens, endured more daily humiliation and dehumanization in this world than any of us, and we don’t deserve the light, vibrations and brilliance you’ve produced by virtue of your very existence.

I love you, and I don’t deserve you.

We love you.

And we don’t deserve you.

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