My Queership Under The Bridge
“Did you know that they say that lesbians and gays don’t get along?” He looks at me with wide eyes. We pause for a second, and we burst out laughing because we both know that that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’re lesbian and gay, and we’ve been best friends for six consecutive years.
I met my best friend in seventh grade. He was a quirky and meek boy, whose shyness seemed to only disappear whenever he burst out opera singing in his high-pitched voice. Our friendship started with an interrogation in the back of the classroom. It was two weeks into middle school, and I’d heard a rumor that he’d carelessly accepted a girl’s passionate love confession although he had no interest in her. Of course, the girl was ecstatic at the fact that she had found “the one,” and I couldn’t help but feel bad for her, knowing that he had absolutely no intention of reciprocating her feelings. Though I admit it wasn’t my business, I went up to him.
“Who do you think you are? If you don’t like her, then that’s unfortunate, but you can’t just lie to her!”
“I felt bad…”
“Well um… You made her think it’s real! Just go apologize and tell her.”
We look back at this and laugh because it's so ironic, and I can’t remember how this confrontation led to our six-year bond. I guess this event lit the kindling to our fire friendship.
Our bond was built within the chaos of shopping malls and the comfort of my house. Every weekend, we walked for hours along the shopping district, window shopping with our hungry eyes. We’d point, shout, and gasp at the mannequins, picking up every identical piece of clothing off of the rack to try it on in the fitting rooms. Leopard-printed shorts, rainbow belts, and camo-patterned pants in a shade that wouldn’t last a second trying to camouflage into the wild — to us, the whole shopping mall was ours. No matter how hideous the clothing, we made it work. The one percent of clothing that did end up being purchased ended up at my house, where we would play dress up. Paired with black liquid lipstick and shimmery hot pink eyeshadow, the clothes looked even better on us than they did in the fitting rooms. We took thousands of pictures and came up with endless dramatic poses to stunt in the mirror. My room became the home for our young, vibrant spirits. Our friendship was filled with a comfort that allowed us to do this — to be eccentric and raw and unapologetic. We always had a mutual understanding that promised one another that we wouldn’t judge.
We were separated in high school. His classes were located on the first floor and mine on the third. As our friend groups slowly changed, our weekly dress-up parties shifted to monthly hangouts. We didn’t let that stop us from being best friends. Every get-together was spontaneous from this point on, and we usually texted each other whenever we felt like we needed a monthly debrief of everything that had happened.
“Meet at the station!”
We walked from the station to my house and then to the river next to it. We took hour-long walks along the river bank, repeating it for several laps when we reached the road at the end. For each lap, the scenery was the same — old serene river, a few turtles, and grass as tall as us back in seventh grade — but we had changed. Every lap, we’d be talking about a different thing, sometimes laughing, sometimes singing, and sometimes dancing. With him, it never felt like the river was too long. I always wished I had more footsteps.
We made a nest for ourselves in a place under a bridge, where the water from the river flowed underneath and cars drove above us. It was here I remember us first sitting down and talking about our sexuality. We didn’t come out to each other. That we always knew. Instead, we talked about the pain, the hurt, and the loneliness we’d faced. Being a queer youth in Japan wasn’t easy, and we both understood that. All throughout our school life, we couldn’t openly talk about our crushes like everybody else did. We were helpless victims to our classmates guessing, questioning, and labeling our sexualities before we could ourselves, and we were obligated to stay silent when teachers and classmates uttered that queer people are gross.
But there, under that bridge with just the two of us, we were safe. We were shielded from all of what society had thrown at us at such a young age, and it felt like we were back in my room again, trying on all the loud clothes and makeup – being unapologetically us. Queer.
He’s now in Tokyo for college, and I’ll be moving to America soon to do the same. But our hearts, gleaming with queerness and pride, forever sit together under that bridge, comforting and supporting each other.
Written by Kokoha
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Claudia MacPhail