The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: All We Knew But Couldn’t Say by Joanne Vannicola

“We have received a complaint about you both,” said the director of the program at George Brown College. Elia and I were taking some courses together and had both been summoned.
“You’re kidding, right?” Elia asked as if she already knew why.
“What for?” I asked.
“There was a complaint about your kissing in front of the school.”
“Are you serious?” Elia asked.
I didn’t say anything. For the first time in my life I had a girlfriend who was demonstrative, who didn’t hide her lesbianism and did not care what other people thought. Fuck them. I had a right to kiss outside like other young lovers did. Being gay was no longer a crime under the law. If we wanted to kiss, that was our choice.
The meeting with the director didn’t last long. She knew she had no right to ask us to hide.
“Let’s have a kiss-in,” Elia said when we were outside again,
looking around at all the other students who shared programs with us. “I wonder who the homophobes are?” Elia and I looked for straight couples. Were other people kissing, holding each other?
Was someone looking at us with a scowl on his or her face?
“Kiss me now,” I said to Elia, making sure we were as close to each other as possible, facing each other on the steps in front of the main doors with our hands reaching out to one another. We kissed as if it were our wedding day.
After a long kiss we walked back inside the school and went to class.
We made it a rule to kiss as often as we could on campus. Other people would just have to deal with it. We hadn’t committed any crime, and unless kissing was going to be regulated for all students in love, straight and gay, then we would kiss every chance we had.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, this selection comes from the book, All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, available from DunDurn Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning actor, author, and advocate. Vannicola is the chair of outACTRAto, the LGBTQ+ committee at ACTRA Toronto, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee for women in film and television. Vannicola is the recipient of the Leslie Yeo award for volunteerism (2019), and the recipient of The Margaret Trudeau Advocacy Award (2020). Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, raising awareness about child abuse, sexual violence, youth rights, and LGBTQ+ equality. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, was released in June, 2019, and has been featured as the Top 21 memoirs to read in summer by Bustle magazine, and was featured on The Next Chapter by Shelagh Rogers, the Toronto Star, the Globe, CTV mornings, NOW Magazine, The Girly Club, and the Lambda Literary Reviews. They are currently co-developing a new series, and working on their second book, exploring themes of LGBTQI homelessness. You can learn more at: Or on Twitter or Instragram: @joannevannicola

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about women with a socio-economic disadvantage and the effect of trauma, hearing loss, homelessness, and violence in their lives. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens, The Selkie Literary Magazine, LipServices Miami, Writing Class Radio, and The Cream Literary Alliance. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @nilsawrites.


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