Maddie Godfrey – “Dear Younger Queer Self” Contest Finalist Story

Dear Younger Queer Self,

Your queerness will not look like it does on television shows.


A group of giggly and charismatic celebrities are not about to arrive at your door and turn you into the person you long to be. You have to be your own Antoni. You have to cook yourself a nourishing meal. You have to choose wholesome people to invite to the dinner party.

You have to give yourself a pep-talk while you shower. You have to look in the mirror and smile. You are allowed to find joy in all your differences, even if school fences never taught you how to. You must write a new syllabus for your own self love.

Dear Younger Queer Self,

When they call you ‘she’ they do not mean ‘weak’.

When you ask to be called ‘they’ this does not mean you are divorcing your femininity. You are still allowed to love pink; the pink of a neighbour’s garden, the pink of a new lover, the pink of your own pleasure. Do not treat your softness like somewhere that shame can build a nest. Also, please never put soap inside of you. Your body is self-cleaning, both literally and figuratively. This means your vagina will smell perfect without you shoving anything into it.

It also means that all those times you cursed your body are not still stained to your skin, as they have already been shed down the drain. You can start again. Right now. Look in the mirror and annotate the ways your body has always been a beautiful place to stay. Not a holiday destination or a hostel with temporary sheets, your body is a home where the lightbulbs never go out.

Dear Younger Queer Self,

I lied.

Sometimes the lightbulbs of your smile will burst and you will be left in the darkness of yourself. Do not be scared in these times that you forget what your joy looks like. You are allowed to take up space, even when you are sad. You are allowed to grow into unchartered selves. You are allowed to experience pleasure, by yourself and with others. You are allowed to share pleasure with the people you love. If there is a God then she wants you to be happy.

One day, you will meet someone who teaches you that queer is not a curse word. A rainbow flag cannot become a band-aid. You will learn that to be queer is to be a renovated home in the neighbourhood of your own self-scrutiny. Open the windows. Unlock the doors. Make love the same way that you garden. Sow the seeds and watch them ripen, without expecting them to blossom, but always be grateful when they do.