In this beautiful essay exploring gender identity and grief through the fantastical lens of professional wrestling, Gabrielle Bellot remembers a special childhood friend who died young. She mourns “all the relationships I never got to have with the people who never knew me as a woman.” Read the piece at Catapult.

When you feel small, it’s easy to dream big, big, big, and so that was what we did. We dreamed in the way that people in a small place dream, dreams in which you walk onto the glittering stage of the world and see a cheering crowd and get to smile and wave and say, Yes, you know my name now, blissfully stunned by the fact that foreigners actually know the name of our country. We dreamed of validation rather than the value we already had, because we were still convinced that we could only be successful if white people in America and Europe said we were, because the maelstrom logic of colonialism is that it leaves us despising our colonizing countries and seeking their approval all the same. We dreamed as Coleridge did of Xanadu, grand visions that slipped away at the last moment.

I wonder what Rezi would think if he saw the wrestler I had wanted to be, the woman I had wanted all the world to know. I wonder what he would think if he could see me now, not as some sparkling femme of the ring, but simply as the woman who walks to the subway in Queens to commute to work: curls long, lips fuschia or fiery or fairy-blue. I wonder if he would have jumped back, shocked, then muttered gruffly to keep my distance, what de hell wrong with you, saying he would hit me if I came closer—the defenses of anti-queerness he had worn for so long like everyone else I grew up with—or if, instead, he would have taken my hand, after a pause, and let me hug him, because secretly he knew she was in me all along.

Read the essay