The least interesting thing about me
Pride Month bores me.
I am old, grumpy, and gay 365/year.
I only ever went to a Pride Parade once when my dear friend David twisted my arm & treated me to a wildly splendid (albeit rainy) night in Boystown that concluded with David giving me a peck on the cheek as he loaded my drunk ass into a cab, paid the driver, and said, “It’s just like the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
The whole notion of “months” bothers/bores me.
I don’t want a month.
I want the whole fucking year.
As a woman, a queer, an anti-racist.
But here we are, concluding Gay Month 2021.
& if I am to momentarily dislodge myself from my contempt of Pride and the neoliberal commercialization/commodification of all things sacred to marginalized groups: language, philosophy, style —
if I can swim a bit below the surface of my contempt & dissatisfaction at neoliberal America’s eagerness to turn theories into products before they become praxis
if I can get past all this for a moment,
I can smile, a little, at the notion of “Pride Month.”
Smirk, at “Pride Month” at least.
I know my Gay American History.
You should know it, too, whether you’re gay or not.
If you celebrate Pride Month for any reason, at the very least
learn about the history of American Gays as a people, a community,
a marginalized group that has fought, as all marginalized groups must, tirelessly for its own survival.
Young American Queers: know your damn history.
. . . to name a small few.
As for me?
I knew I was not straight from a very early age.
Or at least I knew the gender & sexual norms established in America by white men were just not going to suit my needs.
See, even when I was a teenager, I had a plan.
The plan was this: get the fuck out.
Out of the suburbs,
out of the Catholic church,
out of the shackles of children, marriage, miserable jobs.
I didn’t know how I was going to manage to get out of my American Destiny as a woman, but I knew I would at least fucking try.
As for “coming out” — I was never “in.”
My peers could smell the gay on me before I could,
& for the most part, once they had detected my queerness,
my peers were unkind (it was the 80s & 90s)
There were exceptions,
as there always must be,
in order that one survives
in an America that is not designed
with your survival in mind.
When I did more “formally” come out,
as in I would just tell people “Yeah, I think I’m gay.”
Some were supportive.
Some were confused.
Some were mean.
The people who were assholes about it?
They no longer occupy space in my life or mind.
I have, in years since, cut out family & friends for being unwilling to examine their racism (much less admit to it), for making cruel remarks about trans kids, for relentlessly throwing around sexist/racist/homophobic shit.
& if I’m being 100% honest, reader, I think issues regarding Race & Class are far more pressing in America than are issues of Sexual Orientation & Gender. The latter are important, for sure, & as an American Adult, I make space to love & support and keep young LGBT Americans safe & healthy, but more important than Gender or Sexuality, as far as my American self is concerned, are issues of Race & Class.
(& yes, I know about — in fact I teach — Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality.*)
**I felt this aside was necessary because TWICE this week people have taken it upon themselves to imply that I don’t “really” know what I’m talking about on matters that, actually, I know exactly what I’m talking about. So please. Trust me when I say I never publicly speak on serious matters that I have not already given careful thought.**
I am proud to be a lesbian.
That I am proud and open about my lesbianism is a testament to the work my LGBT ancestors, elders, & contemporaries have done & continue to do in this country.
I like to think I help the LGBTQ community, that’s been so wonderful to me, through my work in education.
I like to think I provide healthy, safe spaces for my LGBTQ students.
I want every student who comes through my classroom door, regardless of who they are, to live a happy, healthy, meaningful life & I will do whatever I can in my limited human power to contribute to the manifestation of their happy, healthy, meaningful lives — gay or straight or something else.
When I was a Baby Dyke, older lesbians and gay men saved my life.
For them, I will always owe a profound debt of bottomless gratitude.
Sex, to me, is a boring topic in and of itself.
All people have sex (yes, except for the ones who don’t).
99.9% of the human population will have sex (or consider it)
at some point in their human life. Who they want to or actually do
have that sex with is none of my concern unless it’s a kid.
If you are an Adult who has a thing for kids
(and depending on context — “kid,’ in my mind, can go as high as 25 yrs of age) we are going to have a real fucking problem.
Also, can we please, for the love of all that’s holy start giving American children honest, apolitical sex ed that’s just based on science and facts and real life?
& could we maybe start doing better on the sexual health & gender bullshit part where it concerns girls & young women?
Gender, to me, is also a boring topic, but more interesting than that of Sex.
Gender & American’s fucked up shit around Gender has caused me way more problems than any same-sex relationship. That is a fact.
I am lucky to have arrived at a place & time in my life where I can present, from day to day, as I wish to present in the world. I am lucky that I have found employers in Arizona (of all places) that are like “Soft-butch-dyke Hare Krishna Grateful Dead Roadie hybrid? That look suits you.”
Because I refuse to comply anymore.
I refuse to guess at what others want me to be.
So I go out in the world as I am.
Most people are fine with it.
Occasionally I get a “what are you?” look.
Occasionally I get misgendered.
I am not bothered.
In fact every “memorable” time I’ve been misgendered has been amusing until the person realized their mistake and started falling all over themselves to apologize thus turning a mildly amusing scenario into a full blown scene. & here’s the thing, as far as I’m concerned, no one can misgender me because I just don’t give a fuck about this anymore.
& I know I am in a privileged place to be able to “not give a fuck” about being misgendered. & I am no fool. In some parts of America, it is not safe for me to saunter around looking like this. When Sarah (my gay wife) & I dream of places to live, we always have to consider whether or not the community would be hospitable to us as lesbians & of me as a gender nonconforming lesbian.
Legally, we are “free” to live anywhere in this country.
Legally, we are “free” to do as we please in our personal lives.
But there is no law that can soften the human heart
that has already hardened.
The Supreme Court cannot prevent my neighbors from hating me,
no legislation will make my neighbor stop resenting my relationship with Sarah . . .
& for the record our current neighbors seem to like Sarah & I;
they regularly give us fresh eggs.
This would be a weird thing for them to do
if they really hated gay people. *
*Unless they’re Mormon.
Mormons are amazing at feeding you really well with a smile while, deep in their heart, harboring seething disapproval of your very existence.
Brilliant actors, those Mormons.
Give Meryl a run for her money.*
Again, I am lucky & blessed & very privileged to have arrived at a place where I can live in a fair amount of safety with my wife, where I can present as I like, where I can be open at work & among family & friends.
The closet is suffocating.
At least it was for me.
I’ll conclude with a supergay flourish:
- Rita Moreno, Tina Turner, & Helen Mirren are very sexy. Overexposure to these sexy women, in my youth, made me gay. My oncologist told me so.
- Virginia Woolf is the best fiction writer of the last 200 years. I don’t really want to fight about this. This is an opinion.
- Rainbows are fucking cool as fuck. Once, when I was driving a van full of kids back from LA to Flagstaff with Betsy, we saw THREE rainbows in the valley and it was the most astonishing things I’ve yet seen in the Wild West.
- Patriarchy is dumb. My bff Kristine & I created the FIRST Feminist group on the campus of our undergrad alma mater. That group led to the college’s FIRST GSA group. Once, Kristine & I made a protest sign in which we deliberately misspelled “dumb” & somewhere I still have a picture of us holding a sign that says “Patriarchy is DUBM.”
- Viva la homo! Seriously, we queers are the bee’s knees. Many contributions. Google us.