WANTING TO BE WHO WE'RE NOT
 

Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers
Edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Van Buskirk
Now available from Harrington Park Press

 
 
 

LIVING MYTHICALLY (excerpt)

by Keguro Macharia

On Mythology:

I have never been able to tell a linear narrative. I guess that is one reason why myths have always appealed to me. Myths create. Myths destroy. Myths do not need to explain. Myths are explanations. Myths make me and I make them. Myths are dialectical. Welcome to the myths of me.

1. Myths of Origin

I once heard it whispered that in my tribe, the Agikuyu of Kenya, there were ways to change one's sex. These whispers said that if one were to go around the sacred Mugumo tree backwards seven times, one's sex would change. In my pre-pubescent state, already tired of years of being called sissy and "girl," I was convinced that all my problems would be solved if only I could go around this magical tree seven times. Only, I did not know what this tree looked like.


In my naiveté, and influenced by a commercial culture that proclaimed "bigger is better," I searched for the biggest tree in my school compound and proceeded to go around it a number of times. As with all myths, though, there were a couple of problems that had not been addressed. For example, what would happen if I were to lose count? If I were to get dizzy and stop? If the playtime I had allotted for this act were to be shortened? If I were to be caught by my friends?

I don't know how many times I went around that tree, but I doubt it matters. My sex did not change, the name-calling continued, and I had to learn to create new myths for myself.

But, as with all myths, are they ever really enough?