Damien Holland


The Gatekeeper

My binder constricts with a deadly grasp,

its fabric threads the needle at my hip--

I inject to reject, let out a gasp,

emote my candid heart. Let me unzip

and show the pain fashioned under my mask.

I’m never enough. I haven’t jumped ship

no matter how often I’m urged and asked

“Not a boy or girl? Prove it then, just strip.”


Have I earned the right to reclaim the slurs?

Dyke, tranny, fag, abomination...

Do I take hormones for granted? I gag

at my roped neck, one of my creation.

My sex is fluid, I deserve space here.

At least allow me to call myself Queer.

Poet Biography

Damien Una is an emerging queer, trans non-binary writer that has a heart for YA fiction and poetry with a focus on queer rights, sexual health, and body positivity. They are an undergraduate Creative Writing major and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies minor at the University of North Carolina Asheville. They have been a panelist for the 2020 Young Eager Writers’ Conference for their experience in editing and publishing and are now an Event Coordinator for the YEW association. They are currently Editor-in-Chief of Headwaters Creative Arts Journal. They have been published in Headwaters Creative Arts Journal, Unwritten, and The Odyssey Online. When they aren’t writing, they are cuddled up with their cat, Marley, and catching up on the latest queer shows and movies.