I. I was a child once, briefly.
I was five or six years old, my sister two years younger. We were playing “wedding”—made-up ceremony, stuffed animals for guests, makeshift aisle running down the length of a bed. There was a white terrycloth bathrobe that stood in for the wedding dress. I distinctly remember wearing it. I remember being the bride.
I must have been a child because I don’t remember feeling ashamed.
Soon after, I’d learn that boys can’t be brides. I’d be scolded and shamed for wanting to wear girl’s clothes and do girl things. I’d be thrown out of the house at 16. I’d be forced into therapy at 21 and disowned at 26. Now I’m 30 and, after a brief period of reconnection, estranged from my family again.
It isn’t unusual, of course, for queer individuals to have strained relations with relatives. It has been said that shared pain is the one thing that unites our otherwise diverse community. As Lynda Hart and Peggy Phelan describe it, “Queers are queer because they have survived their own deaths.” We all share pain and struggle. We all emerge from the grave, leaving behind piles of discarded bodies and identities and families—those of us that make it, anyway.
Writing about Jackson Browne for One Week/One Band has been an exercise in rebirth. What started as an interesting experiment has become an effort to reinvent my relationship to an artist that has been bound up almost exclusively with my family.
More immediately, it has been about reclaiming Jackson Browne from my mother.
My friend Anthony has been doing a great job with his week on Jackson Browne over at One Week, One Band. But this is the post I’ve been waiting for. Read it, folks.