A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

Ana Maria Gomides – I Look Pretty Crying

Ana Maria has a panic attack on the 19, and reflects on how dressing up can be a coping mechanism for neurodiverse queers.

Ana Maria Gomides is a 28-year-old, 167cm tall, Brown babe living in Narrm; usually a top but will switch for qts who ask nicely; not gay as in happy, but queer as in doesn’t give a shit about the junk you’re packing; non-monogs, currently in an open relationship with herself; mostly here cos her therapist told her to date more; primarily looking for: compliments and validation.


Ana Maria Gomides

Hi, I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories.

Before today’s story, I just want to do a quick plug for a show I’m doing, both as a live event for those in Sydney and as a livestream available internationally via Global Fringe. I’m hosting a cabaret variety hour of incredible local performers called Queers On The Fringe, September 23 to 26, with a pay-what-you-feel livestream on the Wednesday night. I’d love you all to tune in, I’ve got an incredible line-up of comedy, music, drag, movement, storytelling and more, with Jamaica Moana, Brendan Maclean, Victoria Zerbst, Nina Oyama, and Jojo Zaho. Check it out and book your tickets on sydneyfringe.com

And now, Ana Maria Gomides is a 28-year-old, 167cm tall, Brown babe living in Narrm; usually a top but will switch for cuties who ask nicely; not gay as in happy, but queer as in doesn’t give a shit about the junk you’re packing; non-monogs, currently in an open relationship with herself; mostly here cos her therapist told her to date more; primarily looking for: compliments and validation. Enjoy.

I’m standing on Elizabeth St, waiting to head home on the tram, freaking out about maybe having missed the quiet before the storm, also known as peak hour.
I like to think I’ve mastered the art of avoiding crowded PT, but baby went out to Richmond to buy her first harness today – aw, I know, it’s cute right? – and turns out choosing the perfect dick can take a while.

Sorry, dicks plural. One for me, one for guests. I’m nothing if not a good host.

The ancestors must be watching because, despite the time, the 19 isn’t that packed. I even manage to get a solo seat.

I often ponder the possibility of calculating how many farts a tram seat holds. Until I remember that I dropped all maths and science in year 10 – big surprise – and am therefore woefully unqualified to lead this experiment.

A recurring nightmare of mine is being back in the advanced maths class I hated, trying to explain to my sadist teacher that I don’t need to be there because I already have a degree ‘with honours!’ I scream, desperately.

It’s like my brain is pointing and laughing at me, Nelson style – ‘Ha-ha!’ – for spending five years and an inordinate amount of money studying arts at Unimelb. Yeah bitch, I know. I was there. Fucking eat my shorts.

Today, the fart question barely crosses my mind, because as soon as my perfect ass hits the fluoro green print, I realise that I’m, well. I’m dying.

Nausea, dizziness, my ears are ringing, my vision is blurry. My limbs are shaking so hard that I reckon if I tried to stand up, I’d look like one of those giant inflatable flailing tube dudes you see at petrol stations sometimes.

I thank my seat and all of its ghosts of farts past.

I have panic attacks often enough to know that I’m probably not actually about cross the bridge into the afterlife.

The thing is, just last week I had to get a 24-hour Holter monitor put in, about 24 hours after my Tio died of heart surgery complications – worst timing ever. Long story short, my heart rate’s fucked and I’m on a waitlist to see a specialist.

And right now, the thing is channelling Jack Nicholson in The Shining, all ‘Bang, bang, bang, here’s Johnny!’ against my chest, so I reckon death is not that farfetched.

As any good Virgo would, I weigh up my options.

Staying on the tram, pros:

If I’m dying, my fellow commuters might be able to save me. Someone will yell out, ‘Is anyone here a doctor?’

The white dude in the shabby, burgundy corduroy jacket over there will take off his Beats by Dres and say, ‘Well I still have like three years to go on my PhD but—’

Then I’ll hear things like, ‘Call an ambulance!’

‘Make some room, people!’

‘Check her airways!’

The tram driver – played by Bruce Willis – will come out of his compartment, run to the other end of the tram and start speeding in the opposite direction towards the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

End scene.

By the way, can you tell I’ve been re-watching Gilmore Girls, what with all the tangents, fast talking and pop culture references? Also, I have ADD, so, maybe she was born with it, maybe it’s the most beloved mother-daughter series of all time.

Staying on the tram, cons:

I don’t want to inconvenience or traumatise anyone. The decent thing to do is get off the tram and find a quiet street to die in. But whoever finds me will also be inconvenienced or traumatised.

Plus, if this is a panic attack, it’s about to escalate. I’m already crying, which is perfectly acceptable on the 19. After spending a decade on the same line, I’ve both witnessed a lot of crying and done my fair share of it. The tram stops at Unimelb, so there are a lot of regretful depressed regulars on board. The unspoken rule is: should you see weeping, you leave the weeper be.

Also, I nailed that gorgeous sadly-gazing-out-of-the-window-from-a-moving-vehicle-look in my childhood. My then teen siblings made me watch MTV all day, every day through the late 90s and early 2000s, so.

But the upcoming hyperventilating, sobbing, and ‘I c-c-c-c-ahn-ahn-ahnt bre-hee-ee-th-ee-ee!’ is not so gorgeous. The last thing I want is to draw attention to myself.
Palm face moment as I realise that the outfit I have on is quite high-vis. Attention can’t not be drawn to it.

I left the house in the first place because I was invited to speak to a second-year creative writing class this morning. I’ve never studied creative writing or spoken to students before. (That’s a bit of a flex, excuse me.) And they’d be like, 18, 19?

Incidentally, did you know that’s how old Avril Lavigne’s masterpiece ‘Sk8r Boi’ is? 18 years old. Sorry, did I just make you feel ancient? Good. Now you know how I felt.

Speaking of Avril, I’d planned this whole nostalgic dreamboat tomboy ensemble for the occasion.

I tend to play dress ups when I’m about to enter potentially stressful situations. (By the way, tonight I was going for the Latinx one in Real Housewives of Whatever.) It’s kind of like putting on an armour.

Today, I was hoping my clothes would be cool enough to detract attention away from the fact that I know nothing. Howdy imposter syndrome!

The look was meant to say: Yes, I am Ana Maria, the writer: confident, stylish, a little bit intimidating. Yet fun and approachable and young. Look at my cool eyebrow slit, kids! Definitely not a rash decision I made sad, drunk and alone.

Never mind that I do most of my writing in trackies and a fluffy Kmart robe that’s covered in permanent coffee stains and cigarette burns.

Except— Well, have you heard the one about dysmorphia and dysphoria walking into a bar? There’s no punchline because it’s not a joke. It’s just a thing that happens when I’m trying to get dressed, you know? You know.

My hips pulled a Shakira this morning and refused to lie. So, I went all fine, fuck you, tight jeans it is. Binder not working either? Well then. You’re getting a crop top and no bra. Also, those huge diamanté hoops, and that pair of chunky platform boots that turn your 167cm tall into about 185, and we’re not gonna go easy on the make-up either, bitch.

I’m not even mad because, frankly, I look fabulous, and this is an excellent outfit to die in. But I’m definitely failing at not drawing attention to myself, because what completes the look is a very big, very fluffy, very hot pink, faux fur coat.

Oh yeah, and I’m literally carrying a huge bag of dicks.

I picture the headlines: ‘Young woman meets sudden death on tram whilst carrying sex toys.

The conservatives will have a field day on the opinion page of The Herald Sun. Enraged queers will retort on all socials. The prime minister will – well, he’ll do nothing, ‘cause that’s just his brand.

Oh wait! I’m not white enough to make the news. Phew.

I hop off the tram and drag myself to a side street and proceed to hyperventilate in a curb. It’s not a particularly quiet spot, but people follow the rule and let the weeper be.

I send an SOS to the The Banana Maria Wellness Centre – my support network group chat, with my closest friends and the members of my chosen fam; the children of The House of Emoceans, if you please.

I started it because it takes a village to keep someone like me alive, especially if all its inhabitants have their own mental health shit going on.

Cat and Pansy both respond. The first bails on her mate to pick me up, while the latter distracts me over text with all the tea on the Golden Age Hollywood lesbians. Drama!

Cat pulls over, opens the passenger’s door, puts on her best white girl voice, and says, ‘Get in loser, we’re going shopping.’ I manage a little giggle.

I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the side mirror. Mascara’s been dramatically tracking down my face.

Fun fact: I once pre-emptively dressed up as Beyoncé in ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ for a break up. You know, that shot with the phone and the martini? Because, like Bey and Lizzo, I look pretty crying.

Moral of the story: a cute outfit can improve a shitty situation.

Anyway, I wonder how many farts this car seat holds.


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Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.