after Hanif Abdurraqib, after Lyd Havens
[Nonfiction] I. This Song is Called Medicine
If the month after Pride is Wrath, then nothing could suit it better than a stadium of screaming fans: On his spring/summer tour featuring Kasey Musgraves, Harry Styles performs a new song & at first mumbles through the queerest verse & I can feel years worth of fear & shame lodging themselves into the microphone as the crowd hungers for a body to stick between their teeth.
I’ve never had the words to describe what it means to listen to my body, but I did publicly come out as questioning in a Facebook post with a YouTube link to Follow Your Arrow by Kasey Musgraves, meaning music has always explained things better, meaning Harry wrote his own song for himself to pull the clinging guilt off of his back before the record label could cut it out of him.
Harry doesn’t identify as bisexual, but he doesn’t identify as gay or straight either. & most days, neither do I. Most days my sexuality is a parade of umbrellas, but every bi anthem has built a church to keep me out of the rain & that church is full of old victrolas & floral & British Pop blessings that douse our hearts in glitter & Harry awakes from a bath of holy water to pluck the splinters from his knuckles & gasp “we’re all a little gay!” into a field of lighters & that alone is an act of self-love loud enough for Freddie Mercury to hear from the grave & Harry wraps his shoulders in a stream of tertiary light & after years of internalized hatred, I think that’s forgiveness: to let your music speak for itself, to create the album of the year & give it your own good name.
[Nonfiction] II. Who Wants to Live Forever?
every bi anthem has built a church to keep me out of the rain // if god absolutely has to be a man, then at least let him be Freddie Mercury // since bisexuality is the attraction to more than one gender, then let the stairway to an emblazoned entry be Freddie’s four-octave range // the entrance: a concert gate // the first person who showed me Queen’s iconic performance at LIVE AID in 1985 also told me, you shouldn’t date someone who’s bisexual because you don’t know where they’ve been // & all I can think of now is to point to my parents’ music collection // Darth Vader’s shoulders // a map of the solar system // the space between the jewels encrusted on a crown // Mary Austin, the long-term partner of this exploding star, stated that Mercury came out to her as bisexual, but she told him I think you’re just gay // & that was the end of that conversation // & Freddie’s identity is left on the cutting room floor // & the crowd hungers for a body to stick between their teeth // & my body is associated with greed //
Mercury is the Roman god of messengers // specifically for Jupiter, the god of light & sky // I wonder if Freddie knew his queerness would not be taken seriously before he too began to burn // the celestial ideology of being both ahead of your time & taken too soon from it // I don’t think Mercury ever wanted to leave in a stream of tertiary light // to be passed through the eye of the meteor so quickly // Freddie & I still deserve love better than the kind from people who claim we do not exist // I am lucky enough that no one has told me I will be going to hell for this // I am often asked how I knew & I didn’t // it took me a long ways to get here // I was not taught of what space my love was capable of taking up // I just heard a song on the radio & it felt the most like me //
Adrienne Novy is a writer, musician, and Bettering American Poetry nominee currently living in Saint Paul, MN. She is the author of trisomy 22 and Crowd Surfing With God (Half Mystic Press, 2018). Her work can be found in FreezeRay Poetry, Harpoon Review, Button Poetry, NAILED Magazine, Rising Phoenix Press, and Maudlin House, among others. She loves My Chemical Romance and she loves being alive.