It’s a Guy Thing

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It's a Guy Thing by Ollie Small - photo by Danielle Deculus

people make jokes about the kid
who jumped out of the window
a couple of high schools away.
everyone plays into it.
they idolize Kanye West,
and no one cares.
someone steals a pride flag from the walls,
stuffs it into the urinal.
everyone laughs.

“it’s a guy thing,”
one of my friends said
last night, at a party
when my other friend asked why
he never stops any of the jokes.

we hear the slurs every day,
hurled by the people who have no right,
and the actions are left ignored.
but when someone tries to stand up,
everyone’s friends say stop,
it’s not worth it.
trust us, it’s a guy thing.

one day I heard
that one of my friends said some questionable words
in what should be the safety of English class.
I heard that no one said anything to him.
that they all heard and won’t say,
won’t do anything to make it go away.
because, god help us all, discrimination is just
a guy thing.

the homophobia,
the racism,
the hate crimes.

they’re all for guys.
it’s the way to feel manly.
it’s the way to suppress
the good of our world
underneath the thick, cold, dead skin—
the cold hearts beating—
underneath those guys’ chests.

I feel it in my hands
every time I walk into a room.
what are they going to say?
what will be this doom?

I feel it in my lips,
begging to part open.
begging to say something, anything
to make them stop.

but, then, I realize,
I have no power.
the power rests in their silence,
in the thing they refuse to relinquish.
because, always, this pain comes down to
it being a guy thing.

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Ollie Small lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and is a member of the class of 2024 at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Florida. A STEM student by day and writer by night, they love romance and binge-reading books at any opportunity. They have one dog, a labradoodle named Lucy, that they love deeply. Last but not least, they are currently collecting stickers for a sticker wall next to their bed. The wall will soon run out of space.
Accompanying photo: “Peace Out Inequality” by Danielle Deculus