A Rebellion

Resisting, reimagining, and reclaiming words.
Taking ownership of our stories.

Laniyuk Garcon

Romie and Juliet: Act II, Scene II

A reimagining of
William Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2

The assumption of heterosexuality is prominent within the literary psyche. When we read about a fictional or historical character, we very often assume that they are straight. What happens to a story when we are open to the possibilities of the character being queer? If Sleeping Beauty were queer, how would she feel about a man coming to her castle and kissing her without permission while she was sleeping? How would the story of Robin Hood change if he were gay? Or a trans man? We don’t know the lived experiences of our historical characters and we have the power to change the narratives of our fictional characters. Why are ‘beautiful’ characters almost always straight and white? What does this do to our perceptions of ourselves and others when we subliminally take on this information every day in our books, films, TV and ads? We are told that white culture and heterosexuality are neutral norms and so we should keep rewriting these stories. Yet these stories often don’t speak to our own lives.

When we write stories with in-jokes amongst our communities, we can see ourselves in our stories and we give energy to our people. A queer TV show like Rupaul’s Drag Race, the social media we use, the clothes we wear, the language or slang that we say: the more we tell stories through the things that make our lives unique, the more our communities can relate to each other. Maybe not everyone will get the joke, but those who do will laugh with a freedom not always afforded to us. Writing ourselves into our stories will literally change our lives; through the image of our communities we create and complicate.
—Laniyuk Garcon

The Rebellion

Having just argued with Mercutio and Benvolio about the possibility of being with Juliet, Romie snuck into the courtyard of the Capulets.

ROMIE :
He jests at scars that never felt a wound.
What would Mercutio know anyway?
His parents are so accepting.
They have his boyfriend over for dinner all the time.

Juliet enters onto the balcony of her room. Romie is captivated by her style and swag. 

But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It’s Juliet and daaaayuuuuum she looks fine!
What foundation is she using? Must be Fenty
Cause she got that beautiful brown skin
That Chemist Warehouse doesn’t stock for.
Maybe we can exchange make up?
I get really pale in the winter and crisp up in the summer
But who can afford two different foundations?
That’s the beauty of a queer relationship – double the wardrobe!

Juliet leans against the balcony. She rests her cheek in her palm and stares into the night’s sky, a look of anguish across her face.

JULIET:
Gaaah…my feet are killing me!
What kind of psycho invented high heels?
Why do girls have to wear clothing that LITERALLY hurts?

ROMIE:
She speaks! O speak again bright angel!
Gurrrl I love a woman who speaks her mind!

JULIET:
O Romie, Romie! Wherefore art thou Romie?
Mum says I can’t have anything to do with you
Cause our families are enemies,
But I’m pretty sure she’s just using that as an excuse
To cover up the fact that she’s a massive homophobe
And doesn’t want to admit it.

Romie was elated that Juliet had remembered her from the party!

ROMIE:
Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

JULIET:
Tis but thy gender that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, not a pronoun.
What’s it mean to be ‘gay’ anyway?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer
I mean I love the acronym rainbow but titles are just titles!
So what’s with these categories?
That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So being with Romie shouldn’t be such a big deal!
Who cares whether I’m with a guy, a girl, non-binary whatever! What genitals someone has in their pants is no one’s business
And I can be with whoever I want.

Romie is struck by Juliet’s on-point politics.

ROMIE:
I take thee at thy word!
It’s so nice to hear someone who cares about pronouns and gets non-binary!
Henceforth I don’t wanna go by she/her pronouns.
I wanna use they/them.

Juliet jumps at the voice coming from the dark shady garden.

JULIET:
Who art thou that, thus bescreen’d in night
So stumblest on my counsel?
Why are you standing in the shadows like a creep?
You know that kind of behavior only heightens the fear
That women feel while walking the streets alone?
If you care about the safety of women you need to work with us
And stand as allies.

Romie suddenly realises how unacceptable their behaviour was.

ROMIE:
Oh hey I’m so sorry I made you feel unsafe.
I take full accountability and will change my behaviour
To help you feel safer in public places.
And I will call out misogyny, no matter how small
Because violence against women is everyone’s concern.
We all have a responsibility to change the culture of spaces
To make sure everyone feels safe.

Juliet recognises that voice from somewhere… Had she been following this person’s Insta-story earlier that day?

JULIET:
My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of thy tongue’s uttering, yet I know that sound.
Art thou not Romie, a woman and a lesbian?

ROMIE:
Neither fair maid, I am non-binary.

JULIET:
How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.

Romie is swept into adoration for this queer beauty and gets all mushy.

ROMIE:
With love’s light wings did I over perch these walls
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
Actually, the real struggle is climbing
The invisible structural barriers that are constructed
To disempower people of colour and queer genders and sexualities.

JULIET:
Yeah I feel ya Romie
But actually violence against queer people is real
And my family’s kinda cray.

Romie knows all too well the dangers of existing in a body that challenged heteronormativity.

ROMIE:
Ok, well I can be straight passing.
If I need to hide parts of my identity to keep myself safe that’s ok. There’s no shame in doing what I need to do to survive.
I’ll construct a community around me who accepts me for who I am. Anyway I heard you talking about being with me.
Do you wanna get a coffee some time?’

Juliet curses herself for not playing cool.

JULIET:
Oh you heard that? How embarrassing…

Romie swings their arms to the sky and proclaims:

ROMIE:
Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow,
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops

Juliet holds up her hand.

JULIET:
Firstly, not a ‘lady’.
That kind of language is belittling and paints a picture
Of superior femininity being demure and restrained.
The feminine can also be loud and aggressive.

Romie drops their arms.

ROMIE:
Oh… Soz.

JULIET:
And secondly,
O, swear not by the moon, th’ inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circle orb,
Lest thy love prove likewise variable.

Romie scans their mind for something to swear by that is as iconic as the moon.

ROMIE:
Ok I swear by Rupaul’s Drag Race.

Juliet crosses her arms.

JULIET:
Yeah but what season?
Cause All Stars is unpredictable as hell and Shangela was robbed! Also, the gender politics of the early seasons is questionable.

Romie bites their lip.

ROMIE:
Okaaaaay… How about Season 6?
We all knew Bianca was gonna win and we all adore Delano, what a babe. It was a good season!

JULIET:
Yeah okay swear by Season 6
Although it lacks the androgyny of later seasons
And doesn’t really challenge the constraints of gender.

Romie resumes position, arms thrust upwards towards Juliet.

ROMIE:
I swear by Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 6 that I’m really into you Aaaand … I think we should move in with each other?

Juliet suppresses a smile and speaks in a serious tone.

JULIET:
Oh yeah… That sounds cute, can we get a cat?

ROMIE:
Yeah let’s get two! And a Subaru!

There is a call from inside.

JULIET’S MOTHER:
Juliet!

JULIET:
Hey I gotta go—my mum’s calling me … Coming!’

A call from inside, louder this time.

JULIET’S MOTHER:
Juliet! Come hither!
We must remove the hair from thy legs and face
To conform to society’s restrictive interpretations of gender.
I am filled with fear that people may mistake you for a boy!

Romie and Juliet roll their eyes.

ROMIE:
Well, Juliet, when will I see you again? Where do queer people meet?

JULIET:
We don’t really have designated safe spaces
Cause the government thinks that safe spaces and safe schools Indoctrinate kids to be raging homosexuals,
Rather than realising that having a place to feel safe
Is integral to our development as happy, healthy adults.

Juliet’s mother calls from inside again.

JULIET’S MOTHER:
Juliet! I wanna throw out all your baggy clothes.
I tried to defy the trauma my parents instilled in me about being a woman
But I still have the impulse to project those constraints onto you.
I subtly and sometimes aggressively bully you
About your weight and gender presentation.
Why can’t you just wear dresses like other girls?

Juliet pulls her trackies midway up her calves to expose her unshaved legs just to antagonise her mum that little bit more.

Romie whips out their phone, accidentally opening every app except the one that they want.

ROMIE:
What’s your handle? I’ll find you on Instagram.

JULIET:
So it’s … @smashthewhitesupremacistpatriarchy

Romie laughs.

ROMIE:
Loooooove it!

Juliet picks at a piece of broccoli stuck in her back tooth.

JULIET:
What o’clock tomorrow shall I send to thee?

ROMIE:
By the hour of nine?

Juliet nods, tilts her head and smiles.

JULIET:
Ok cute, peace Romie! See ya when I’m looking atcha. Byeeeeeeeee!

Juliet waves as she spins back into her room. Romie sighs. What a babe!

ROMIE:
Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast.
Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest.
Hence will I to my friendly supportive peers
T’is no commmunity like that of queers.

The Original Text

Capulet’s orchard.

Enter Romeo.

ROM:
He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

Enter Juliet above at a window.

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief(5)
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady; O, it is my love!(10)
O that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold; ’tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,(15)
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven(20)
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!(25)

JUL:
Ay me!
ROM:
She speaks.
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head,
As is a winged messenger of heaven(30)
Unto the white-upturned wond’ring eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.
JUL:
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?(35)
Deny thy father and refuse thy name!
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
ROM:

Aside.

Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

JUL:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.(40)
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose(45)
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,(50)
Take all myself.
ROM:
I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
JUL:
What man art thou that, thus bescreen’d in night,(55)
So stumblest on my counsel?
ROM:
By a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am.
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee.(60)
Had I it written, I would tear the word.
JUL:
My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue’s utterance, yet I know the sound.
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?
ROM:
Neither, fair maid, if either thee dislike.(65)
JUL:
How cam’st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.
ROM:
With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls;(70)
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.
Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.
JUL:
If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
ROM:
Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye(75)
Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet,
And I am proof against their enmity.
JUL:
I would not for the world they saw thee here.
ROM:
I have night’s cloak to hide me from their eyes;
And but thou love me, let them find me here.(80)
My life were better ended by their hate
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.
JUL:
By whose direction found’st thou out this place?
ROM:
By love, that first did prompt me to inquire.
He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.(85)
I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash’d with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.
JUL:
Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face;
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek(90)
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night.
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke; but farewell complement!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay’;
And I will take thy word. Yet, if thou swear’st,(95)
Thou mayst prove false. At lovers’ perjuries,
They say Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully.
Or if thou thinkest I am too quickly won,
I’ll frown, and be perverse, and say thee nay,(100)
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my haviour light;
But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.(105)
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard’st, ere I was ware,
My true love’s passion. Therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.(110)
ROM:
Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear,
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—
JUL:
O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.(115)
ROM:
What shall I swear by?
JUL:
Do not swear at all;
Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I’ll believe thee.(120)
ROM:
If my heart’s dear love—
JUL:
Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract to-night.
It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be(125)
Ere one can say ‘It lightens.’ Sweet, good night!
This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Good night, good night! As sweet repose and rest
Come to thy heart as that within my breast!(130)
ROM:
O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
JUL:
What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?
ROM:
Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.
JUL:
I gave thee mine before thou didst request it;
And yet I would it were to give again.(135)
ROM:
Would’st thou withdraw it? For what purpose, love?
JUL:
But to be frank, and give it thee again.
And yet I wish but for the thing I have.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,(140)
The more I have, for both are infinite.
I hear some noise within. Dear love, adieu!

Nurse calls within.

Anon, good nurse! Sweet Montague, be true.
Stay but a little, I will come again.

Exit.

ROM:
O blessed, blessed night! I am afeard,(145)
Being in night, all this is but a dream,
Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.

Enter Juliet above.

JUL:
Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed.
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow,(150)
By one that I’ll procure to come to thee,
Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite;
And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay
And follow thee my lord throughout the world.
NURSE:

Within.

Madam!(155)

JUL:
I come, anon.—But if thou meanest not well,
I do beseech thee—
NURSE:

Within.

Madam!

JUL:
By-and-by, I come.—
To cease thy suit and leave me to my grief.(160)
To-morrow will I send.
ROM:
So thrive my soul—
JUL:
A thousand times good night!

Exit.

ROM:
A thousand times the worse, to want thy light!
Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books;(165)
But love from love, towards school with heavy looks.

Enter Juliet again, above.

JUL:
Hist! Romeo, hist! O for a falconer’s voice
To lure this tassel-gentle back again!
Bondage is hoarse and may not speak aloud;
Else would I tear the cave where Echo lies,(170)
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine
With repetition of my Romeo’s name.
Romeo!
ROM:
It is my soul that calls upon my name.
How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night,(175)
Like softest music to attending ears!
JUL:
Romeo!
ROM:
My dear?
JUL:
What o’clock to-morrow
Shall I send to thee?(180)
ROM:
By the hour of nine.
JUL:
I will not fail. ‘Tis twenty years till then.
I have forgot why I did call thee back.
ROM:
Let me stand here till thou remember it.
JUL:
I shall forget, to have thee still stand there,(185)
Remembering how I love thy company.
ROM:
And I’ll still stay, to have thee still forget,
Forgetting any other home but this.
JUL:
‘Tis almost morning. I would have thee gone—
And yet no farther than a wanton’s bird,(190)
That lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.
ROM:
I would I were thy bird.(195)
JUL:
Sweet, so would I.
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Exit.

ROM:
Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast!(200)
Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest!
Hence will I to my ghostly father’s cell,
His help to crave and my dear hap to tell.

Exit.


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