An Ode to Those That Came Before Me

Jaelynn Hart
2 min readJun 5, 2023

I’m 24. I live in a beautiful home with my fiancée. We have two cats and a dog, and she somehow convinced me to buy a snake. We go to the farmers market on Saturdays and sleep in until noon on Sundays. I think often of all the women who came before us. The way our hands lock together to fill the space forced between lovers in 1960. Her laugh fills the silent homes of lonely lovers who fight and pray and throw bricks through windows so that future generations don’t have to. They long for the daily peace of loving plainly.

I'm 22. It has been decided that homosexuality is too much of an "adult conversation" for children. Teachers are terrified to speak of their spouses for fear of losing their jobs. Men in 1950 cling to their suitcases, a small pink triangle tucked inside. It is a lifeline tethering them to themselves in a world that tells them they're dirty.

I'm 20. My girlfriend proposes to me in a park, flowers and fairy lights and the ghosts of women from 1930 as our audience. They marvel at our performance, our privilege to live despite all the harsh eyes.

I’m 18. I just graduated high school and my teacher introduces me to her wife. She tells me of the harsh judgment of parents, her fear of losing her job, and teachers from the 1890s gather at her heavy shoulders. She quits soon after, and goes to law school to fight against the injustice.

I am 15. I just came out and my mother says she loves me. The twist in my gut finally releases its hold. I think of all those who came before me and all those who will come after. They are not all so lucky. The streets are littered with their spirits.

I am 14. I realize I have a crush on a girl. In the same year, the court decides we are allowed to marry those we love. I never did understand why it should be up to them. In my room at 3 AM, as the world sleeps around me, I weep knowing I’ll be allowed to have a wife, even as anger coils in my gut. Why is it up to strangers whether I’m allowed to exist?

I am 11. My best friend tells me she likes girls. Her parents say she'll grow out of it. Little girls in 1940 cling to their mothers' skirts. They look on at their best friends, and the butterflies in their stomach are foreign. They are made to believe they are dirty.

I am 6. My childhood friend is the prettiest person I have ever seen. I don't yet know what this means.

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