Monday, October 18, 2010

Queers Read This Too

I may appear smiling, with no clue to the world. But don’t let that fool you. Because you don’t know what’s going on in my mind. Straight people are all “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

My life doesn’t revolve around spouses, soccer practice or other kid drama, but it’s still important. I do more than work…really. You can ask me about it, I’d really like it if you do. I’d like to talk about all the things you can’t do because your heterosexual lifestyle doesn’t permit itself to let you do. After all, you all subject me to your heterosexual bullshit…how about some of mine?

I have to proceed with caution when the laws of attraction come into play. As I wonder, “Is he really attracted to me?”
I also have to add, “Or is he lost in his straight guy world?”
I mean, does he have a clue what he’s doing? Is he flirting with me, or just playing with my mind? If I ask, will he feel threatened? Will I be hit? If he asks, is he joking? Will he humiliate me in front of people?

And what if a straight woman is attracted to me and I say no. I’m gay, sorry not interested. Will she persist, convinced all I need is a good fuck from the right woman to cure me of my problem? Will she treat me like every gay hairdresser, gay interior decorator, or gay friend a straight woman has on every television program she’s ever seen…like a lap dog? Will she politely go away or assume I want to be the Will to her Grace?

And what if I have an actual life, and am asked about it?…Will they realize I’m just as human as they are? With real feelings, emotions, thoughts and desires…just like them? Would their world shatter if they realized…I’m just like them? Could they still hold their rightwing, conservative, homophobic values if they realized…I’m just like them? Or would they spontaneously combust on their own ignorance and hate, like time bombs?

* * *          * * *          * * *          * * *          * * *


Hello. Some of you may not recognize my voice because I have been silent for a long time. But some of you may hear the familiar edge, the resonant anger, the cadence that calls for action. Admittedly, I am coming to you a little sheepish today as a result of the length of my silence, especially because when I first found my voice, I used it momentarily by screaming and shouting for a couple of years. And then nothing. It is both exciting and scary to remember what I sound like; I almost didn't recognize the sound of my own voice.

The term “silence” is thrown around so much in the queer community that we have perhaps become desensitized to its deadening quality. And everyone always talks about it from the larger, systemic level, like “Those fucking heteros and their silencing!” I agree with recognizing and trying to change systems of power and oppression, but the stories I hear on a daily basis, in addition to my own story, implore me to recognize the subtler forms of silencing, the ones that really fuck with us and continue pushing and pushing our voices down until there is complete silence. The tick-ticking of clocks. The chirp-chirping of crickets. The drip-dripping of faucets. The silence that accompanies death.

It starts large, the silencing. It does begin with the institutions of power and knowledge. And we, and everyone else, consume these messages constantly – that we, as queers, are not okay. No, we are more than not okay. We are vile. We are unworthy. We are better off dead. So, we are bombarded day after day with these messages, and the really fucked up part is that we often don't question them, so we can be pretty sure that no one else is questioning them either. The double fucked part is that these messages are reinforced by both those we love and who

presumably love us, and by the randoms in the world. It's those closest to us, however, who take the first snip at our vocal chords. It is in the home, at school, between best friends and lovers where the true silencing begins. Of all of the people we need in the world to recognize and reinforce that we are worthy, they sometimes just add to the dog pile until our lungs collapse and we turn a lovely shade of blue. More reinforcement that we are pieces of shit that should be silenced. What do you think happens when we hear the same thing over and over again? It becomes our reality. And then we join in the silencing. We silence ourselves and we silence others who we claim are part of our community.

Perhaps the most difficult part is recognizing and acknowledging the silencing we are doing to ourselves and to others in our community. I understand that my position on this issue may not be a popular one, as I am putting a piece of the responsibility back on us, as individuals who are part of the queer community. The anger and sadness in my voice today is less about how the heterosexual community has silenced us but a deep grief for how we continue to silence ourselves. This is what I hear in the stories of my queer clients sitting before me asking, pleading, “why am I so fucked up?” And there I am sitting across from them, trying to help their voices gain a little volume for when they return to the world fifty minutes later. Sometimes the hardest part is finding my own voice, or working past my own beliefs that I am fucked up in order to help these people believe that they are not. I often feel hypocritical sitting across from them, pretending that my self-acceptance runs so deep. That I have finally figured out how to love myself and use my voice. Bullshit. My heart aches for them because I see so much of my own story, my story of self-silencing and questioning my worth as a queer human being in their stories. The self-loathing is so painful to see; just as painful as it is to feel.
So, my call to action today is less angry and more tender. Trust me, I have plenty of anger from time to time about the existence and impact of oppression. But I am feeling more compassionate in this moment and am putting the responsibility on us as a queer community. I just want to say that we matter. Every single one of us. And are worthy. And our voices are right. Right and strong. I do believe in big system change and think that we should be fighting for that. AND while we are out fighting the good fight, we also need to make sure that we are not silencing ourselves in some way. A large part of the responsibility for change falls on the “outside world” and larger systems. But we also need to examine to what degree we have internalized the messages that said, “Shut the fuck up, you worthless piece of shit.” And, in some ways, only we can reclaim that voice. No system of power is going to reach down our throats and extract it. We have to believe that our voices deserve some airtime and just put them out there. Slowly, slowly and then feel the rush of the power as we believe that the air needs to hear and feel our voices. We have to make room. The room will not be made for us.

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I’m Not Sorry…

I’m not sorry you didn’t want to be around me – in public.
You were ashamed of being seen with me.
You didn’t want anyone to see us together.

What were you afraid of?
What people would think?
You didn’t want to be called fairy, faggot, femme to your face?
That was okay for me, but not for you?

How were you different?
Did your other friends make fun of you?
Hanging out with the fairy?...are you one too?
Was that what you were afraid of?

People think what they’re going to think.
People feel what they’re going to feel.
You. can’t. change. that.

Oh, so that’s why you bragged about your girlfriend the way you did.
You wanted everyone to think, “You’re a man.”
You’re somebody. You’re just like everyone else.
You’re not me. I bug you…or so you said.

I’m not sorry. It’s not my problem. It was yours.
Have the balls to claim it as yours.
Don’t pin your insecurity on me as if I represent all that you’re not (supposedly).

I’m only sorry for one thing. We WERE friends. Friendship is a gift. I take it away.
Hate yourself for all I care.

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Bigots Read This:

When you see my girlfriend and me in line for a Gossip concert, you don’t get to ask “who’s the man and who’s the bitch?” All you need to know is that her cock is bigger than yours. When you see me at a wedding reception alone because I’ve been told I can’t bring the one I want, you don’t get to drop a lame pick up line and ask “Are you sure you’re gay?”
I’m sure. About as sure as I am that the tattooed wedding band on your finger that outlasted your last marriage was a bad idea.
When you tell me that you can’t accept my “gay lifestyle” you need to know that I no longer answer to you. And what you don’t ask – about my home, about my partner, about my plans for the future – keeps you from ever knowing me.

I’m queer. If you don’t ask, I’ll tell. I’ll tell you that my family goes beyond blood and an injury to one is an injury to all.
I feel the attack on my queerness seep into other memories in my life in which I felt the blood boil and I had no response...
I sit on a bus, on my way home from campus.
“You married?
No, and I’m gay.
“That’s alright. I can appreciate a woman who likes to go down on other women.”
I shoot him the dirtiest look I can muster and continue to sit, hot ears, in silence, hoping he’ll get off before me. He did.

Just like the time in LA when I sat on the bus and I felt a hand on my thigh and I choked down my thoughts, “You don’t get to touch that.” I clenched my thighs closer together and the hand followed. When I got home the pit in my stomach was still there – I should have raised a fuss, I should have told the whole bus about the perv with the wandering hand. I couldn’t even look him in the eye, let alone give him a piece of my mind.

Synapses race, backwards, backwards, time reeling back.
Lets off a domino effect of Steven on the playground, 2nd-4th grade, saying I’ve got a nice ass. I’d hide in the bathroom at recess to avoid his harassment, my only retort, “You sing like a chimpanzee.”

I walk home from school – my mother slept through another afternoon pick up – and across the street I hear laughter. A pack of teenage boys, one of them I know. He was at my babysitter’s house several times and he looks at me while the others say, “There’s your girlfriend.” I don’t remember the origin of why I get hackles thinking of him, or why I did not speak to boys or men during that period in my life, even when my friend’s older brother innocently asked me if I wanted a piece of gum. I shut my mouth.

One of my earliest memories of my father is of me sitting on the bed. I am young, and he asks me if I’ll marry him one day and I say yes. I didn’t know what it meant. Something, too, about this memory – or lack of – it’s just a jumbly haze from before I was old enough to go to school and I fear what I don’t remember. I hope that my fear is unfounded.

I feel ready to puke it’s been so long that I’ve been waiting to spill my guts like this. I feel naked. Naked like the day in my college apartment when I stood bare in front of my full length mirror, in my reflection round hips and breasts, overexposed flesh and the sight of your dick in hand on the other side of my window, in the few inches beneath the blinds and above the window sill. I never saw your face because I ran into my closet, closed the door and covered myself and sat there until I was sure you were gone. I can’t stand in a room exposed without checking for cracks in the curtains and blinds any more, you bastard. I spent the rest of my lease at that place wondering who you were, every male face a suspect. You could have been anyone. They always say it’s the ones you know…
Why couldn’t I find words when he asked to use my computer and I let him in? He was the neighbor’s boyfriend. He took off my skirt and I didn’t say no. My mom asked if this – this unnamable event in her eyes – is why I’m gay. He doesn’t have that kind of power. I’ve always been gay, but maybe I haven’t always had words.

Under a male gaze I feel a familiar burn, puckering my skin with boils that make me feel not beautiful, but obscene – pornographied in ways I do not know but only feel under the leer of prying eyes and creeping hands.
I wonder how I ever lost my voice, or maybe it was a matter of finding it. These words speak for all the times I wish I could have spoken up. How many times over are these encounters echoed and mirrored in others’ lives?

This is my body, my words, my family, my enemies, and they are not so different from one another. And that scares me.
But perhaps therein lies the solution – bigots, misogynists, everyday assholes read this, and see me in you. I am human; not some mythical creature called a homosexual, not a woman downsizeable by parts – breasts, or ass or a cunt who likes other cunts.

I’m tired of my sex life being politicized. I’m tired of my sexuality being called a choice. I’m tired of being treated like a walking piece of meat, or something you think you have the right to touch.

This bitch has a bark and this bark has a bite. Just. Like. Yours.

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I used to hate the person who’d yell the ‘F’ words at me. (You know…fairy, femme, faggot…) I’d make damn sure they saw me look at them. Who knows what they thought? All they really cared about was that I was singled out as somehow different from them and those ‘F’ words covered all the bases. He/She is not me, and I didn’t belong. That’s all that mattered.

As time went on in middle/high school, I learned to hate the friends who stood around the person who yelled the ‘F’ word. Their condescending stares of disgust…leering at my every reaction to their friend’s call out, then the turn and huddle as they dissect my every move.

These people…excuse me, those condescending eyes passing judgment without jury…were more dishonest, more terrifying, more inflicting. The person who shouts it out, to a certain degree, is honest about their feelings. But the circle of “friends” around him/her…they’re the ones to look out for.

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Lexical Lessons in Living as Queers

They eagerly took the money she raised for their causes, but many of them never took her seriously. “She talks about herself that way, so why can’t I?” they would retort disdainfully. Never willing to examine their bigotry, their privilege, their violent neglect of someone who gave of herself selflessly, building community, rebuilding herself. Their hateful words launched like fire-tipped arrows against the solid smooth surfaces of her construction.

True, her tongue was sharp when she needed it to be. Her first line of defense. But I refuse to accept that it should have been left up to her alone to bare the burden of her difference and sameness. Who stood up and sheltered her from those vicious attacks? And now that she is gone, are you crushed and ashamed? I know many of you should be ashamed.

She told me once, gesturing towards her surgeries and special diets, her switch from screwdrivers to vodka sodas: “I have to look good so people will respect me.”


transphobia noun refers to discrimination against transsexual or transgender people based on the expression of their gender identity. Like other prejudices, the discriminatory or intolerant behavior can be direct and can take the form of harassment, assault or murder, or can be indirect, including the failure to take steps to ensure that transgender people are treated in the same way as the conventionally gendered.


When observing how I greeted Felicia with admiration, one of her self-proclaimed friends interjected: “that ain’t no lady.” My glare like the energy held in a block of ice – hydrogen pre-combustion – a slowly moving glacier redirecting the river’s flow. And his pitiful apology, so small and empty, he receded next to her. So safe in his pierced and tattooed gayness, in his maleness. I am still fuming.

It has been two years since her murder, five years since I first witnessed someone trying to take a piece of her in language, by destructive targeting of the very words she chose to employ to
become who she wanted to be in the world. His cheap shot
backfired. And I turned my back on him that day. Has he met my gaze since? Should I ask him if he remembers and regrets this transgression? To me, all of these violences are connected.

Gay bar employees are on a chartered bus to Chicago when a kid in the backseat of a car passing us holds a plastic clown up to the window for us to see. Someone yells: “Just show them Felicia.” I remember the laughter, my frozen tongue and the tightness in my chest that lingers still.

The impact of complacency.

Two gays leave a bar
One points at my friend’s poster
And asks: “who is that?”

“Oh, it’s some drag queen
who picked up a prostitute
and he murdered her.”

The brutality of ignorance.

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2010 and you think homophobia is over? Read it and weep:

1. It’s 12 years since I wrote my mom a letter and she changed the locks to the house.
2. It’s 11 years since I called a gun shop in Janesville to find out exactly how much it would cost to kill myself.
3. It’s 5 years since I quit teaching because I couldn’t take the phone calls, the threats, or being called a dyke every fucking day.
4. It’s 3 years since my cousin outed me to my grandma, whose voice was disapproving and uncomfortable every time I talked with her after that.
5. It’s 2 years since some asshole doggedly followed my girlfriend and me down the street, wanting to know if he could get his hand held too. Asshole.
6. It’s 1 ½ years since my brother got married and me and the other queer sibling were sidelined, my girlfriend magically absent from the wedding photos.
7. It’s 1 year since I heard my coworkers laugh with somebody in the lobby who was spewing homophobia. You know, because it’s so funny.
8. It’s 1 week since my grandma died and I had to mourn the loss of the time we could’ve had together at the end of her life, the time I lost because I was so fucking scared to have to see one more person that I respect look at me like that; couldn‘t face another face that stared at me like I was a stranger when I loved that face all my life.
9. It’s every god-damned fucking day that I am dis-included from my family, my friends, my community, my society, and my rights, like when I run into people from my hometown and they’re shocked to hear my parents have a daughter, like when I have to come to a funeral without my girlfriend and hear all the bullshit questions about why I’m not married yet, like when I go to a get-together and feel so fucking uncomfortable because I’m the only one who isn’t in heels and I’m sized up accordingly, like when I have to wrench my body apart with sobs because I was so terrified to go see a lonely old woman, like when I see my mother’s embarrassment that I even exist, hear her apology for who I am.
10. I fucking hate the fucking society that condones this shit, that adds to the normal stress that already comes with “normal” life and makes the support system for me and the woman I love shrink down to the size of our own bruised bodies. I hate that we get de-legitimized, silenced, ignored, disregarded, devalued, and erased around every fucking corner. I hate the fucking society that makes me afraid to kiss my girlfriend in front of my workplace, that makes me skip all kinds of social situations because it takes so much out of me just to perceive the demarcation of difference in the air I breathe, the system that makes me nervous to display affection in the movie theatre, that makes my heart stop beating if my girlfriend puts her hand on my leg when we’re sitting in a restaurant…the system that makes me hyper-vigilant, ever-ready for explicit or implicit attack.
11. I fucking hate the perpetuation of this situation, the transgression of oppression, the system that works against our shared existence and tells us we should loathe ourselves and just kill ourselves already. I fucking hate the system that tells me I need to fight to be with the woman I love rather than counting on support from my family and hers. I fucking hate the system that’s made me lose friends and family over the years to prejudicial fears. I fucking hate the system that makes me go and beg my neighbors to vote for me to have rights like them. I fucking hate the system that allows bigots to tell me I can’t get married anyway. I fucking hate the system that allows people who claim to support an ideology of love and kindness to condemn the very act of my being in the name of self-righteousness. I fucking hate the system.

* * *          * * *          * * *          * * *          * * *

7th Grade English class – the class was at the end of the day.

Every year, there was a spelling bee. Every year, we all competed. The line was down to three students, including me. The teacher looked at his sheet of words, got an evil smile on his face, looked at me, and said, “Masculine.”

The entire class erupted with laughter, including the teacher. I stood there, glaring at everyone individually. Some tried to cover their face, some looked away, some kept looking right at me – including the teacher.

I said, “What’s so funny?” No one stopped laughing. The teacher looked back at me and I asked, “What’s so funny?!” Some laughter died down, but the teacher just said, “Just spell the word.” I did. It was correct. We moved on.

The next day, we had another contest. He did it again. No one laughed that day. I spelled the word correctly again, but added, “Your little joke wasn’t funny today, huh?”

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Old Lesbian Speaks Out

I'm an old Lesbian – 69 to be exact. I identified myself after ten years of marriage. My husband died thirty years ago. We didn't have children. My parents are both deceased. My only sister and her family are estranged from me. I see my cousins and their families only at 50- or 75-year wedding anniversary parties. They have their own families; I'm not close to them.
I came out to myself during the Women's Liberation movement, and I lived through the Vietnam War era of the 1960's. I wasn't involved with Stonewall or Auschwitz; but they're in my memory reminding me who I am.

The LGBT “community” is my family. For many of us “community” IS family. But are we really a “community”* or are we more of a “population”**? I'd like to think that community means we're here to help and support each other.
I want us to be more than just a population; a number for statistical purposes. Yet numbers are important. We struggle desperately to find a larger identity, trying to find larger numbers through which we can be validated statistically to get support for our issues. We want to belong to a BIG movement. We need to be big to move the huge mountains of homophobia each of us lives with daily, even hiding away inside our souls to protect our vulnerability from our very selves. There's comfort in numbers. But how can we really be counted when some of us don't even “come out” to ourselves?

*President Bill Clinton said, “A community is a group of people who recognize that they will go forward or fall back together, that they have obligations to one another and that they become better and fuller and richer by fulfilling these obligations.”

**Webster defines population: “The whole number of people in a county, town, etc.”

But beyond numbers, we want to support each other. Will the “community” be there for me when I’m old as a traditional family might be for a parent? Will some people be afraid to face their own aging and not feel comfortable around me? Who wants to identify with being old, wrinkled, paunchy, frail and voiceless? Can you see something in me – a lasting value – that goes beyond the external? Old women and men can be invisible and are easily undervalued and underinsured in a society that is youth oriented. In a traditional family, women are expected to be protected by a male, living under his roof and being financially supported by him. But nowadays many men can barely support themselves, especially gay males and transgender female-to-male people who face job discrimination. When will the myths catch up to reality?

As I age, my close friends also age. At some point I may outlive them. In heterosexual families, after elders have contributed, the expectation is that the younger generation will be there to help. But will they be there in a “community”? As I see it, the complication in “being there” for the seniors in our community family is that our younger people often have their own biological family to care for. That means our population is trying to juggle TWO families to a heterosexual individual's one family. Our Baby Boomers have increased caregiving stress levels!

I want to keep myself as far away from hospitals and nursing homes as possible, and stay in my own home. Since I don't have children of my own, will the younger people I know be there for me in the same way children can be there for their heterosexual parents? Do laws and agencies allow for that? Will they in the future? Will I be able to pay for all the support I'll need from outside agencies when my retirement income is not as much as many heterosexual seniors who have had the benefits of marriage laws?
I still work part-time; I can't yet afford to fully retire. I'm not ready to declare myself unemployable, to live at the poverty level or below. I know I'll face this decision soon. I feel my body slowing down. I can't be OLD yet!! I've got so much
I want to do; I have so much to offer. I don't want to be invisible! But, in so many ways, I am.

I go to a heterosexually-run senior center that legally cannot discriminate against me. I remain carefully closeted in groups with heterosexual seniors I don't know. Those who know me
don’t know my sexual preference – by my choice. If/when I disclose, I don’t want to start a big discussion or fight or deal with silence and rejection or abandonment. I’m too old for petty nonsense or educatable moments in someone else’s life. Could I feel comfortable dancing with another woman at an afternoon ballroom dance? Probably – as long as we don’t look longingly at each other and hold each other close.

Some seniors who go to the senior center would rather not have us there. Why? Will we infect them with our special problems, like the homophobe syndrome that follows us around or maybe HIV-AIDS? If they'd only get the message that THEY, too, have HIV-AIDS and we didn't give it to all of them; they passed it between themselves. And the homophobe syndrome is inside them; they created it. Their issue is not for us to deal with – but we are affected by it.

Finally, I want funding for a “community” center on which I'm dependent. When heterosexually-run agencies get funding to provide services for our seniors because the overall population they serve is larger than ours, will our community center suffer? Let's get together to advocate on behalf of LGBT seniors. That effort will help our seniors, families, the whole “community” and our community center. Let's do it!

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You better listen to me. If you’re going to get through middle school, you’re going to have to do what I say.

First, they don’t care about music. If they do, they listen to REO Speedwagon or Styx. All they care about is sports. Football, Basketball, Baseball. There’s one guy who gets picked on because he doesn’t know all the football teams, so you’re going to learn all of them…

Don’t shake your head “no” at me! I’m not going to have a kid brother who’s going to get picked on! Now c’mon! I’m going to teach you how to play football….

MOM! He Won’t Play Football!

I told you, you’re going to play sports and be part of the teams or else. You’re not going to be some kind of weirdo who doesn’t fit in. I TOLD YOU…

LOOK! If you don’t do as you’re told, you’re going to be picked on or WORSE. And I’m NOT going to have a little brother who gets picked on! Because I’m not going to be the big sister who bails you out…Now, CATCH THE DAMN BALL!

* * *          * * *          * * *          * * *          * * *

Baby Dyke Blues

Looking back at it now, I admit that I was quite naïve when
I first came out: I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I had no idea about the silent homophobia I would soon face from people I thought I could respect with my secrets, or the fact that I would feel incredibly lonely even while surrounded by a group of people I call friends.

It's been almost two years since that day in January, when
I came out to fifty strangers in the Dells during a leadership retreat. I have learned and noticed a lot in that short span, and although I have never been happier in general, I HATE most of it.

I hate how I'm immediately looked down upon with just a mere glance at my backpack. The secret homophobes that are on the bus every day with me may not know what the pink triangle means, but they sure as hell know what the rainbow means...oh well, at least I get two seats to myself! One for me, and one for my big gay backpack.

I hate how my cousin's relationships/love life will always be tolerated over anything I even think of. Wait, let me tell you what hers is...she's got three of the most adorable kids I've ever seen...from two baby daddies. And she doesn't even take care of two of them...she takes care of the youngest one alone because her “fiancé” is in PRISON. But you know, that's totally cool, because at least she's got a dick inside her regularly.

I hate how I'm asked to keep things quiet at extended family outings while my sisters can go on and on about their newest boy toys, and my little brother can talk about how he's recently discovered girls. Why can't I talk about my stuff? What I'm doing in school – besides, you know, NOT being in the band or going to football games – is mostly queer, but nope, even though it's doing good for the community, that's bad. It doesn't even matter that I haven't had a single girlfriend, or even anything close, and it shouldn't matter. I hate how I'm asked to hide who I am. Heaven forbid I even mention how cute the sportswoman is, goddamn!

And as much as I love them sometimes, I hate my group of straight girlfriends. No matter what time or day we get together, the conversation always turns to, you guessed it, BOYS. And SEX. And either how much they're getting or how little they're getting and the respective emotion behind that. They say, “Oh, you'll find someone!” to me, who's sitting there twiddling her thumbs, trying to find a place to chime in. Yeah you might. It's a little hard for me. And when I try to talk, usually about the unrequited woman that's currently catching my eye, they just smile and nod and even ask me who I would go straight for. If there's any phrase I hate more, it's that one. I used to say it yeah, but that was only very few times as a stupid attempt to try to fit in. But I know better now – nothing, NOTHING I do or say will ever make me fit in. I'm not only the token minority in my group of friends, I'm now also the token queer. I fucking hate it.

“Oh hey,” they say, “you'll like this episode, this book, this blog, this group, it's about lesbians.”
And no, don't say that your day was horrible and that your life is so bad because it's not. You haven't had to go through half of what I have to go through EVERY SINGLE DAY, even on my very best days, because of who I am.
I’m sure that being an out and proud queer woman is one of the reasons why I haven’t had good luck with roommates since I moved out of my sisters’ room, but I don’t care. The truth is that I will not go down without a fight until I get the same respect as Sally Straight and Harry Heterosexual.

I have officially boycotted weddings until I can have my own, and I don't know if I even want one. The fact still remains, it's not right that a man and a woman can get hitched as they please in Vegas but since I'm a woman who wants to have a female partner, I have to fight for what should be civil rights.

I will keep my queerness on my Facebook profile. If straight people can put up pictures of them and their partners kissing and emphasize the fact that they're interested in what they want, I can too.

People say “keep it to yourself,” but I won't because I don't care. My parents have always taught me not to care about what other people think. “If they don't like you, fuck 'em, they're losers,” they said. Why is that any different now? Because I took yet another big step away from the norms of society? No. It shouldn't matter.

People, websites, and businesses say “keep it to yourself,” but I won't because I refuse to hide who I am.

Tone down my queerness?

Why don't you tone down your heterosexuality?
Then we'll talk.

And no, that's not “so gay.”

* * *          * * *          * * *          * * *          * * *

I looked around at all my classmates on the night of my high school graduation. During one of the speeches, that seemed to go on longer than it really needed to be, I realized something.

I don’t have to see any of these people ever again.

Suddenly, a wave of happiness came over me with this realization. I never have to walk in the war zone that was middle/high school again.

I don’t have to be stared at with their homophobic gaze. I don’t have to be whispered about. I don’t have to be objectified and speculated about.

I’m free to be…

* * *          * * *          * * *          * * *          * * *

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

Today, I say this prayer because I’m pissed off. Yes, I’m angry down to the cellular level. As they say in meeting rooms for people like me who work to stay sober, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. So what is the solution, the answer? Get off my ass, take to the streets, find my voice, make love not war, and rage against the tyranny of ignorance and prejudice that kills; challenge the voices of those who claim to speak for God or who have “God on their side,” yet damn us to hell and suffering with their words of hate and take our lives with their hands and weapons. I’m not arrogant enough to claim I speak for God, but I know this with certainty, the God of my understanding doesn’t take sides.

Today, I demand a moratorium on straight speech and privilege. When I go to work to do my job, I don’t want to hear about your fucking weddings until you are able to honor my marriage, support me during divorce, or respect my choice to live openly, freely and pursue happiness in a manner that fills my spirit and “completes me,” and doesn’t take a damn thing away from you or your choices.

When I go to the hospital to see my partner and make healthcare decisions, get out of my fucking way. You have no right to be the gatekeeper of my life. When I attend a parent-teacher conference, I’m there as a parent, not the nonbiological spousal-equivalent “friend.” And, while we’re talking about the power of words, keep your euphemisms off me. I have a right to be recognized, affirmed and respected for who I am.
I am someone’s child, parent, spouse, lover, friend and I’m QUEER. Not queer as not normal, but queer as different. Different means many things, including diversity, which I
celebrate with pride. I possess the “wisdom to know the difference” between hate, and love and acceptance. Ask yourself, do you?

Here are the stakes I drive into the ground: Don’t tax me without representation. Don’t penalize me with your unfair laws. Don’t ask me to go back in the closet. Don’t censure me. Don’t ask me to “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Silence does kill. I will not be silent and “go gently into the night.” I will kick and scream, march in the streets, vote with conviction, boycott with my dollars, contribute my energy to the causes and people who nurture life and love with an open heart, and I will fight and pray for “the courage to change the things I can.”

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