Photo by Chandelier Kahlo

HP FlashFiction: ‘Pulse’ by Chandelier Kahlo

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I never asked to be different. It sounds like a horrible cliche or whatever and I’m definitely not quoting lady gaga here but I was honestly born this way. I wore the word fag in bold dark letters on my forehead long before I could even comprehend the negative connotations attached to the word.

I always asked my mom “why are the kids at school so mean to me?”, she always smiled and replied the same exact way every time “you are a galaxy in a world that can only handle stars”. It was reassuring, but it didn’t make the constant shoving, spitting, or name calling any less shitty.

I never imagined when I was younger that one day I’d be here, in a local gay club, getting ready to get on a stage where I’d actually get payed to be something as queer as a drag queen. At first, I used this new found persona to hide all the ugly things that I grew up hating about myself. I slathered on foundation and colors and called them art so people might actually like me. It worked.

I found myself in crowds of queer people getting asked to take pictures with groups of them because I was “fierce” and “sickening” (This word here is actually a compliment in drag world. Ironic huh?) I quickly became popular in the drag circuit because of my ability with words. A lot of old school drag queens didn’t have much of an education because they’d been kicked out of their homes by unaccepting families in an age where being a fag wasn’t as acceptable as it is now.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, growing up gay is never easy but I couldn’t imagine getting thrown out on the street and having to sleep with men for money just to get some food in my stomach like a lot of the older girls had. I was starstuck by them though, they survived in a time where everything was stacked against them.

Everything I had was because of girls like them. The AIDS epidemic, homophobia, transphobia, Matthew Sheppard. They lived through it all. And they did it in 6 inch heels. They paved the yellow brick road for people like me. I looked in the mirror. My face was almost done. I just needed a lip color and I’d be ready for the stage where the fans of drag and straight girls visiting our home would scream and snap and throw their dollar bills at me while I mashed my lips together to some song I’d spent hours trying to memorize. I chose red.

My mom once told me “a woman with the right red lipstick could make any man fall in love with her with just a smack of her lips”. I smiled at this memory. My mother always had an act for turning a phrase into something magnificent. And just like that, I strutted my way out of the curtain and towards the stage.

The pulsating vibrations of the music began. In came the lyrics that I’d perfectly rehearsed. The crowd clapped and threw their money. I picked a random girl in the crowd and made eye contact with her for about 20 seconds as I performed. I always liked doing this because you never know when you’ll make a new gay club wanderers’ night by giving them a few seconds of undivided attention.

And then suddenly, my chosen audience member fell to the floor. And just like that, the real show began. Gunshots screamed over the lyrics of my music. I looked frantically at the crowd before running into the sea of people screaming and crying for an escape. I ran as fast as my heels would allow me to but suddenly tripped on what I imagined was a body that had been rampaged by the shower of bullets that bathed the crowd.

I crawled into the women’s restroom where a wounded boy and girl lay sprawled in each other’s embrace on the floor. I pushed the trash can in front of the door before sitting beside them. The boy was crying. “Why are they doing this to us?”. I didn’t know what to say, my mascara was running down my painted cheeks as the screams echoed through the vents of what we thought was our safe haven.

I forced a smile and looked down at his eyes that reminded me so much of mine when I was a kid running to my mom and simply said “It’s because we are galaxies, in a world that can only handle stars”


About the story & author:

Chandelier Kahlo “I write for a lot of reasons. For solace and for happiness. For the sake of creation. But mostly, I write for the people that have had their voice silenced. This one is for my gay family. And for our brothers and sisters at pulse. I don’t normally tag anyone in what I write. But honestly, this one had a reason behind it. And a lot of my gay family inspired this. Even if you are just someone I see casually and you smile at me occasionally, you still inspire me to write. ❤️ your existence makes the gay community here what it is. And that’s a huge reason for a lot of my writings.”