Calum McSwiggan

These Scars of Mine

In Gay, Love on November 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Gay Teenage Love

‘Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.’

– Cormac McCarthy

Beneath the darkness of some slasher flick I found his hand in the darkness, and as the blood of some helpless teen spattered against the cinema screen, I entwined it with mine. I’d pursued him for almost a year, sending him valentines, sketches, and piano recordings of his favourite songs, and finally, when we both found ourselves on British soil, we endeavoured to go on our first date.

The moon hung gingerly in the sky as I stood on the open platform waiting to catch the last train home; we were both out of breath from running through the underground, and as the train noisily pulled up behind me, I stared at his perfect lips, and dreamed about kissing them. I didn’t want to get on the train without first sharing a goodnight kiss, I’d made that mistake before, but as I stood there staring into his innocent brown eyes, I let my scars remind me that I couldn’t.

I wear every one of my scars with pride, each one tells its own story, each teaches its own lesson. The cigarette burns on my arm remind me not to trust Italian teenagers, the scar on my eyelid reminds me not to stand behind golfers before they take a swing, and the scar on my forearm reminds me that my best friend’s mother was probably right- he really shouldn’t play with knives. All of these scars remind me of the mistakes I’ve made and the pain I’ve witnessed, but it is the scar on my bottom lip that truly reminds me of the frightening reality of the world we live in.

I was sixteen and hadn’t long come out of the closet when it happened. My friend and I were laughing so hard that we hadn’t realised we were being followed as we walked home, and it wasn’t until after I hugged him goodbye that I found the three boys stood in my path. I recognised them, they were the boys who malevolently assaulted my friends in school, the ones who had always backed down when someone stood up to them, the ones who I thought were in my past.

My body recoiled as they spouted off a colourful array of insults about my newly realised sexuality; I tried to ignore them and push past, but when I heard the word faggot caught on a whisper of the wind, I couldn’t help myself. The word grabbed me, asked me if I was going to take that, spun me around, and marched me back towards them.

I don’t know where such stupidity came from but before I knew it I was standing inches away from the ringleader’s face, grinding my teeth and attempting to stare him down- it’d always made him stand down in the past but this time there was no fear in his eyes, only hatred. Somehow the realisation that I was gay had diminished any ideas of my being a threat. He wasn’t scared of me anymore.

The other boys seized an arm each and held them behind my back, and as he raised his fist, the black stud in his ring glistened in the sunlight, temporarily blinding me, before it lodged itself beneath my eye, in the side of my head, in the crook of my nose, and finally in my bottom lip. It buried itself in the flesh, shattering three of my teeth, and when he yanked it free, he took a small chunk of my face, my heart, and my strength, with it.

Managing to wrestle my arms free and seize both of his fists, I spat blood and shards of broken tooth into his face before turning on my heel and making a swift get away. Blood poured freely from my face, and when I tried to stop the flow with my hands, the blood only seeped through my fingers and dripped down onto my clothes. The look on my mother’s face when she answered the front door is lodged within my memory, it truly resonates, and I can only imagine the pain in the eyes of the families who answer the door to find that their children aren’t coming home at all.

For we all bear these scars of mine, they don’t just tell my story, they tell the story of every gay and lesbian individual out there- just a few weeks ago a friend of mine returned from a nightclub bruised and bloodied from a routine gay-bashing, but both he and I were lucky, some don’t return with just scars, some don’t return at all.

It’s for this reason that I’m proud of every gay couple I see sharing their affection out in the open, because that takes real courage. I’d love to one day be like the beautiful boys I saw kissing in Budapest, but until we live in a more tolerant world, with every public kiss we’re risking abuse, and where I’m willing to accept that risk unto myself, I’m not willing to subject any one of my partners to that torment.

I can only remain hopeful that one day we can openly share a kiss on that platform without harbouring even a spark of fear of persecution- but until then, I’ll continue to let those beautiful brown eyes slip away from me, and will never feel those soft delicate lips pressed tenderly against mine.

  1. That was beautiful and heart breaking. I am lucky enough to have never faced any real threat to my sexuality. It often makes me a little lax about displaying it publicly. I should be lax – we should live in a world where it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, stories like yours always remind me that we can never be too careful.

    • Thanks for your comment Creeped 🙂

      The world is a dangerous place, but my intention with this post was never to discourage anyone from sharing their affection with the world. I think it’s great that you feel comfortable enough to do so, and I take my hat off to you.

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