NO GOLD STAR by Iman M’fah-Traoré

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I am no gold star. That is the stamp on my folder. I may have been granted a file in the gay cabinet but my smile will never appear in a frame on the wall with the words “best gay of the month.” Not a gold star because I have once been confused. I have once been weak. I have once been unsure. I have once been human. I have once not chosen women. I have been with a man. Shame on me! I do not deserve the honor of receiving such golden star. Makes me think of preschool really. The simple times —for some at least— when you would actually, physically, receive gold stars for doing something right. Here’s a medal for trying, kid! But there are no medals for trying in my community. You realized too late? Tough luck!

Haven’t I deserved such gold star? I did something right! I realized, maybe not when they wanted me to, but, nevertheless realized I, too am gay. I have taken pride in my sexuality. Why am I put down and shamed for something so uplifting and powerful? I do not believe in regret. The reason is simple, for all you have done has made you who you are and brought you where you are, and, from here, you may wander anywhere you please and discover anything you desire.

I crave freedom. An unquenchable desire. Freedom. From categories, inside categories, inside boxes, folders, titles, labels, pins and name tags. I desire freedom from being gay but no gold star. From being black but light skin. From being sort of hood but “talking white.” From being woman but for some too much and others not enough.

Community, a sanctuary. If you plunder, rob, rape, humiliate your own village, what do you expect to be left of it? How do you expect others to treat it? Believe in a village that grows, flourishes even. Water its soil, caress its breeze. Assist them, the other villagers, though they may not be just like you. If you do, they shall assist you. When it happens. When you too. Are no gold star.


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