“Out” by Cei Loofe


hi! i’m not heterosexual!
i came out on the evening news.
it wasn’t something i chose to do.
it was accidental.
after all, i was hidden in a sea of faces.
but the cameras seemed to have no other places to focus their rest,
than on my chest.
my ‘silence equals death’ t shirt silently screamed to the
viewing area,
“i’m here, i’m queer!”
(no need for announcement cards that year.)
it was 1988 and my fate was sealed by that evening news reel
because someone decided,
a few days prior,
who ever said we all had equal rights to liberty and life,
was a liar.
they decided that because my friend was also queer,
he had no right to be here,
so they killed him.
but like all good martyrs, his death was not in vain.
the pain of losing him put us into action.
there were benefit shows every week
for our brothers and sisters with AIDS
queer nation coming into town teaching us how to act up.
businesses, uncomfortable with our affection,
who would zip us out, got zapped as we gathered about,
sat in, kissed in.
we shouted ‘try us!’ to the military,
marching just as proudly as they did in our own uniforms
born of homo-anarchy,
pissed off they wouldn’t let us openly protect our own rights to protest.
afraid we would molest them in the shower?
what power they gave us, even in taking it away.
my coming out didn’t start all this.
it was started long ago,
with someone else’s upraised fist.
but i helped.
i did my time.
i paid the price with dead animals, and death threats and fire
so that my younger brothers and sisters
could have a higher quality of queer life.
so the closet door could crack open,
just a bit, in places where it’s shut tight.
i helped.
a lot of us did and
if you didn’t, that’s ok, because it is an action that can still seal your fate.
in a lot of places, you can still lose your job,
the place where you live,
they could still take your kid,
if you piss off the wrong judge, on the wrong day.
but no matter what the judges have to say,
we ain’t going nowhere.
one out of every ten of us is born some kind of queer.
and its better now than it was then.
it was better then that it was before.
but that isn’t good enough.
we need more.

it is wonderful that two SOGI kids can walk hand and hand
in the street and we all feel relief they didn’t get beat.
but wouldn’t it be better
if we didn’t have to wait for that relief to drop?
someone fed them the ideal they have a right to be safe
and they do,
but not everyone they are meet is gonna agree.
and see, that is why those of us
who can choose to risk what we have to lose, must.
it’s not just activists who decide our fates.
we must contribute too.
those contributions can be anything we do.
i wear my colors in my skin
so if you didn’t know when i walked in,
you’d know when i left, that i was kin.
but those of you who aren’t as loud can still be as out,
still be proud.
just be normal.
your sexuality or your gender doesn’t have to be formally announced.
put up your lover’s photo,
make them know that your partner is not about business.
and if this is still too scary, a thing for you to do,
if you are too wary to risk it,
that’s still ok too.

Cei Loofe

This particular piece, ‘out,’ commemorates the death of a member of the SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity) community in Lincoln, Nebraska (and a friend of the author) who was shot and killed at a party the man was hosting at his home. It was ‘crashed’ by two shooters who ended his life due only to blind hate.
‘Out’ also gives mention to Queer Nation, Act Up, military bias (again), the AIDS crisis and the general, painful, hardships and dangers being honest might bring.
The author, Cei Loofe, he/him/his, is a transgender man who lives in Omaha, NE. He spent 25 years as a freelance journalist, and now writes as a poet and essayist. Loofe shares his space with his dog, Shelly, a myriad of fish, and a clutch of plants that, so far, are still green.
He lived his first five years in a Nebraska town of 105, peeing off wooden bridges, harassing livestock and getting locked in barns like all the other boys in his village before experiencing different parts of the Midwest, and a reality that took years to correct.
Far worse things happened to LGBTQ Nebraskans in the time written about and prior. Amazing things happened too. Those are different poems.