a native man looks me in the eyes as he refuses to hold my hand during a round dance. i wonder what kind of pain he’s been through to not want me in this world with him anymore. and i wince a little because the earth hasn’t held all of me for quite some time now. and i am lonely in a way that doesn’t hurt anymore.
you see, a round dance is a ceremony for both mourning and loving and each body joined by the flesh is encircled by the spirits of ancestors who’ve already left this world. and i wonder how many of them never knew what desire tasted like because they loved their kookums more than they loved themselves.
and i dance with my arm hanging by my side like an appendage my body doesn’t want anymore. the gap between him and i keeps getting bigger so i fill it with the memories of native boys who refused to be warriors because their bodies were too fragile to carry all of that anger. the ones who loved in that reckless way. you know, when you give up your body for him.
and i think about the time an elder told me to be a man and to decolonize in the same breath. there are days when i want to wear nail polish more than i want to protest. but then i remember that i wasn’t meant to live life here and i paint my nails because 1) it looks cute and 2) it is a protest. and even though i know there are parts of me that’re too queer to be sacred anymore, i dance that broken circle dance because i can wait for hands who want to hold mine too.
– billy-ray belcourt