I wish you would burn your eyes out.

I wish you were blind.

Then your eyes couldn’t see me, poke holes in me, pass judgement on me because of what I choose as the cover for my naked flesh. Black jeans and leather jackets, satin corsets over yards of tulle, ripped up sweatpants and a shirt two sizes too big – what matter are any of these choices to you? Did a leather jacket attack your father? Did a corset make a pass at your mother? What grave insult did sweatpants inflict upon you in the past that you must repay those same insults on my person?

Or perhaps it is that concealed flesh that so offends you, with all it’s adornments. Do my tattoos crawl from my skin while I sleep to torment you? Did every little prick of a piercing harm you instead of me? Your words prick me more than any needle, dig into places that cannot bleed but yet still harm and harry. Surely, it cannot be that you have a little prick (or are nothing but a prick) that causes you to speak malice to a passing stranger. Surely, there must be some wrong that I have done.

If not my flesh and it’s adornments, perhaps what grows from it? It must be my hair, unruly mess of curls and Brillo pad filaments that it is. The ever-changing multitude of colors that sprouts riotous from my head – a head you fill with aching after every unkindness – this must be the villain that has so wounded you. I know it wounds me, every time I run a brush through it’s tangles.

Or perhaps these claws that curve from my fingers have scratched you? True, my claws would not shame most great predators. A tiger’s are longer. A bear’s are more suited to rip and rend. In truth, my claws are often bitten short. The cuticles are ragged, the nailbed specked with remnants of black polish. But my claws must be mighty indeed, to provoke so many attacks!

What have I done, strangers of the street, that makes you feel that you must talk to me, judge me, condemn me upon our first glance? Some of you come with kindness and compliments. Others greet me with four-letter words. Still others heap scorn or question my upbringing. Still more assume I’m a drug-addict, so spiraled into chemical dependance and depravity that I must be homeless on the street in my hand-made bustier and Christian Louboutin heels.

If it is not my adornments – not heels nor hair nor tattoos nor tulle – that provoke you such, why can I not step outside without the constant judgement of strangers? Ah – I found the answer! “Because you want attention!” Of course. Any person who looks different from the norm is doing it to cause a stir from the crowd like a peacock fanning it’s majestic plumage for a mate. That’s why girls in short skirts deserve to be raped, right? Because she wanted the attention. That’s why a gay man kissing his lover deserves to be beaten, right? Because they wanted the attention. That’s why it’s okay to call people with a different skin tone those funny little nicknames they like so much. Right?

Wrong. It’s not okay to insult others. It’s not okay to judge them or seek to harm them. While being called a “freak” and shoved on the sidewalk is nowhere as grave as a rape or a hate-crime, it’s still a petal from the same hateful flower. This flower is not a rose that blossoms but a weed that chokes us as a people. A wall of thorns that bars us from those that differ and pens us in with our own kind.

I don’t want to be with just “my kind”. I love my fellow black-clad weirdos but I want more than just my ilk. I want hippies with flowing skirts and daisies. I want aspiring rappers who can make a song out of nothing. I want conservatives with views that couldn’t be farther from my own. I want the world!

But going out in this world has gone from chore to annoyance to outright fright. I can’t go to even the grocery store without comments. Even the nicest comments are often invasive. No one can compliment my tattoos without grabbing my arm. Few people can comment on my hair without at least tugging a curl. Some fist their hands in it like we were lovers lost in passion, all while my own hands hurry to pay for my orange juice and celery sticks so I can run back home and lock my doors. When everything is barred, I turn to the internet to save me from physical interactions. At least here, I can turn it off.

And more and more, I maroon myself on an island.

More and more, going out is difficult. More and more, I avoid it. More and more, I let these people with their goddamn invasive comments push me out of our shared spaces. More and more, “I’d rather not.”

I’d rather not go out. I’d rather not go to a show, see a movie, get some coffee, have a drink, go on a date, see a friend. More and more, I’d rather work from home, order in, shop online, stay in bed.

Every day, I make a choice. Do I choose myself or choose others? Do I choose being unseen and unharmed in public or being able to like what I see when I look in the mirror? Do I choose to hate facing other people or hate facing myself?

Every day, I choose myself. I choose to like who I am and how I look and not let anyone bully me into changing. Every day, I choose not to let anyone force me to hide or cower.

Except I have been cowering. Big sunglasses, pulled up hoods, staying home. Because no one seems to understand I don’t look like this for them. That being “different” is not an invitation to invasion. And that, though I think I am a strong person, some days I don’t want to have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and reaffirm my identity just so I can go buy a fucking pack of gum at the corner store. I don’t want to have to duck down in my ostentatious car that I covered in stickers because I liked how it looked and didn’t realize that everyone else was going to gawk.

More and more and more and more, I am giving up myself. More and more and more and more, I am leaving behind things that I love. I float through my house like a ghost, running my fingers over the supple leathers and soft satins I’ve given up on wearing. This slow capitulation is awful. It eats away at me. But some days, I don’t have it in me to go outside and face grabbing hands and nasty mouths.

I wish I was invisible.

I wish everyone else was invisible.

I wish people would stop looking at me. It doesn’t make me feel special. It doesn’t make me feel happy. It makes me feel like a small caged animal that just wants to hide.

I want to be left alone. But the only way to do that is to leave myself. To leave the lively hair and painted skin and myriad of fashions that are part of who I am. To give in to the crowd. To let them in. To hide in plain sight.

I wish I was invisible. Or that you were blind. Because wishing that people would treat me with the same respect with which I treat them hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So that’s what I wish – with all of my heart.

I wish that you would pour acid in your eyes, slice them with razors, rip them from your face and turn them inside your skull. All so you would never, ever, ever, ever turn them to me again.

Stop fucking looking at me.

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