Poetry: “When I Die Young”

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“When I Die Young”

If I was “normal,” I might live to be 80

If I was just gay, I might live to be 60

If I was just gay and depressed, I might live to be 50

If I was just gay, depressed, and an addict, I might live to be 40

And being trans all on its own gives me a life expectancy of 30

And if I choose to take off 20 years for being gay and take off 10 years for being depressed and take addiction into account I was dead before I was even born

Which I guess makes sense

Like I never even had a chance

Like I’ve always been destined to be a cautionary tale or, a tragedy,

I mean, what’s the difference anyway?

Like I was born to die young but for some reason, that doesn’t count as a valid excuse to not do my homework

I thought that if I knew how long I had to live I would seize the day, I would live the life I always wanted, but I guess I always imagined that I would be an adult, already well into life, with just a few more things to cross off my bucket list.



I’m too young for everything. I’m too young to be depressed and on my fifth antidepressant in the last four years and I’m too young to have lost track of how many people I’ve fucked and I’m too young to be able to recognize psychological abuse and I’m also too young to die.

But I will.

My entire life has been a string of “premature” but that has never stopped me before.


Adults have been telling me since I was a kid that I am “wise beyond my years” and that makes a lot more sense now. It makes a lot of sense that I have always been trying to fit as much living into my life as I can.

It makes sense that I got my sexuality kind of sort of figured out when I was 15 and I got my gender kind of sort of figured out when I was 16 and I don’t know what I’m going to figure out about myself while I’m 17.


But I do know that there will be someone who’s going to live twice as long as me who tells me that I’m too young to know who I am.

— Poem by Devon Summers

Illustrations Desmond Meagley

Special thanks to Youth Speaks Seattle for collaborating with us. Visit their site here.

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