Coming Out Never Ends

Nezu's post about coming out has reminded me of an issue I need to resolve at some point very soon. Instead of trying to write about it all over again, I'll just quote myself like a self indulgent bastard.

"You've reminded me that I have an aunt I am/was very close to. After coming out to my family (who were categorically against acceptance) I was too scared to tell my aunt. I couldn't handle any more rejection from someone I love. So I put her out of my mind, stopped contacting her, and now it's been nearly two years. All she knows is that I'm off at school and staying with a friend. Now my "friend" and I are getting ready to send out engagement notices, and my aunt doesn't even know (at least I haven't told her) that I'm gay. I guess I should do something about that."

Some additional context: When I was starting to question the legitimacy of biblical literacy, this aunt was the one who told me it was okay to ask questions. She told me I was right when I felt I couldn't trust the mainstream christian writers to answer the questions I had. She told me I should explore all I needed to, and that she wasn't worried about me. She thought I'd figure out what I needed to figure out.

This aunt is my father's sister. She is the one I called when my dad's family was imploding (exploding? self destructing?) and she is the one who talked me down from fits of uncontrollable sobbing. She is the only one from my dad's immediate family who isn't completely fucked up, and she's always been my support when my dad was being a douche.

This aunt has been unbelievably cool. But she is still one of them. A Mennonite. I'm so afraid that, for all her encouragement, she will think I've finally gone too far, that this is the point at which she can no longer support me. I will be so disappointed in her reaction, because I will have hoped beyond hope that she wants me to be exactly who I am, and happy as well. I don't believe that she can accept a gay niece.

But, when I'm really honest, I know that I need her. My dad has fallen off the grid. He doesn't talk to me or my sister. He just lives alone out in the woods, brainwashing my little brother and planning to run off to the philippines to get married. She's the only one who knows him, but he doesn't talk to her either, since she refused to bail him out of jail that time. She might not even know what's going on, that my stepmom has left the province, that their marriage is finally over, that my dad almost died in some kind of accident. She should know, right? Could she shed some light on the situation?

So, Aunt W...... you know that friend, well I'm gay, and she's my fiance, and want to come to the party?

Even at times when I know what the right thing is to do, I'm afraid that if it doesn't well, it will put me in a tailspin that will make it impossible for me to focus on my schoolwork and get through this semester.

Yet, time is of the essence. I don't know. I don't want to deal with it. But I have to, because she matters.


Community Standards

I grew up feeling at odds with the world even before the possibility of being gay entered my consciousness. I constantly felt that the world around me was trying to force me into some kind of mold that didn't fit. I was constantly objecting to the categories people would want to place on me. Kids, especially in high school, do that all the time. You belong to a group, and there's a list of identifiers to indicate which group that is. You can be a goth, or a punk, or a nerd, or an outcast, or a jock, or one of those terrifying popular girls.

Here's what you cannot be - a popular girl with a punk haircut. A goth with a letterman jacket. You can't roll with the nerds if you fail your bio test. And you can't be a jock if you've made friends with an outcast.

I remember hearing a lot about the way I should be dressing, how I should be acting, how I should go out and make more friends, how I should stay in and study for better grades. Why don't you grow your hair, you WOULD look so pretty if you'd only dress nice.

Being gay, you get used to the rest of the world making arbitrary decisions about you, how you should look, act, what kind of relationships you have, which contracts between consenting adults you are allowed to participate in. When you are a lesbian you must wear flannel, have a short hair cut, behave abnormally masculine - and when I think about it now - at least a little mentally ill. When you are a gay man, you must speak with a lisp, wear skinny jeans and mesh shirts with no sleeves. We want to know what you are when we look at you. We want the way you act to be consistent with who we think you are.

This is not news to anyone, and I've addressed this topic before. However, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon, the more I read about, watch shows about, and study the world of non-gender normative individuals.

I would expect people who are not gender normative to be extra sensitive to the sort of categorizing and stereotyping I've been talking about, but it seems they are all doing it to each other!

You have your gold star lesbians, late in life lesbians, bisexuals (the horror) trans-people, drag queens who identify as women, drag queens who are men dressing like women (posers!) drag queens who are camp, drag queens who are glam, fairies, bears, twinks, butch dykes, lipstick lesbians, bois, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes the glam queens tell the camp queens that they're not real drag queens. The gold star lesbians won't date the bisexuals. The bears shun the twinks. Lipstick lesbians aren't real lesbians. Butch dykes aren't butch enough (I can still tell you're a girl!) Transexual rights, it would seem, are a completely different set of civil rights that apparently are less important, and don't even get me started on those queers!

Why, I ask you, is a community of people that has dealt with so much of this bullshit from society at large inflicting it on one another? We should be extra sensitive. We should be extra accepting. We know what it's like to have someone tell us that we don't count, that we're not doing it right, we should be a different way. We know that it hurts. Why then do we turn around and do it to each other?

This reminds me of a movie called Antwone Fisher that every one needs to watch, and not just because Derek Luke is the most beautiful man to ever grace a movie screen. It talks about abuse within the African American community, and how it was appropriated from their oppressors in the days of slavery. I honestly know very little about this, and would like to do some reading on it. Is there a general effect whereby oppressed people turn the abuse inward, to their own community? Or is this categorizing and judging behavior in the LGBTQ community simply a reflection of the larger culture we live in?

I, for one, am apparently a gold star lesbian (who thinks Derek Luke is beautiful) who is engaged to one of the dreaded bisexuals (who is a femme, and therefore not real).

A strange world we live in.


Does "Great"=Good?

In my Literature class, I am reading this book:

It is a book that takes place in Africa, a place that has changed my life for the better and I love deeply. The book begins with an apparent disapproval of imperialism and colonizing by European powers in Africa in the 1800's. This makes the incredibly racist notes in the beginning seem like attitudes which will be shown to be faulty by the end.

To be fair, I was expecting a very different story. The blatant offensive descriptions of the Africans in the book were supposed to lead to a moment of epiphany, a realization for the narrator that his dehumanizing of the African people was wrong. As it turns out, "Heart of Darkness" is a story about something very different, and merely uses Africa and her people as a backdrop and mechanism by which civilized Europeans are sucked into moral and mental depravity.

I am glad, therefore, that my professor assigned, as a companion to this book, an article by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian professor and novelist. In his essay, "An Image of Africa," Achebe asserts that "Heart of Darkness" cannot be argued to be an ironic condemnation of racism since it provides no alternative to the attitudes of the characters. All throughout the book, Africans are described in animalistic terms, and in one of the few passages that suggests they are "not inhuman" the possibility is expressed as negative.

Achebe also points out that very few critics are willing to even approach the issue of racism in this book, and says that the implication is that attitudes that write off Africa as little more than a savage counterpoint to western civilization are so ingrained in western culture that it doesn't occur to critics of the book that a demeaning picture of Africa is being presented. I noticed as I looked to commentary on the book that the issue of racism is seldom addressed, and if so, dismissively.

While I agree with Achebe, the fact remains that "Heart of Darkness" is highly regarded in the world of literature, and taught in all sorts of schools, and is very well written and compelling.

So, should an extremely racist piece of literature be regarded as great? Should it be taught to students? Or should literature that presents a demeaning picture of certain people be relegated to the pile of outdated and hateful ideologies, along with Mein Kampf?*

*Not really, I just couldn't think of a more relevant example, at the moment.


Oh, Xenu!

"Therefore I commit myself to the Sea Organization for the next billion years."

It's ironic that the contract states the signer is "of sound mind." Clearly, if they've signed this, they are not.


Missing the Point

New Hampshire poll shows powerful resistance to same-sex marriage repeal.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled that the majority of the people in beautiful New Hampshire are not interested in passing this Prop8 wannabe. Pleased as punch that, if not supporting same-sex marriage itself, they don't want to take rights away from people who have fought hard to gain them.

But it shouldn't matter what the majority thinks. The tyranny of the majority is a fickle thing. I have the support of the majority in this case, but that doesn't make my marriage any more or less moral or permissible or beautiful. Democracy doesn't mean that proportionately small groups of people get to live like humans when everyone else finally decides it's okay.

I appreciate all the straight allies to the cause of marriage equality out there, I really do. And gay rights would not have the foothold they do today without all the people who respect our humanity even while not understanding or approving of our orientation. But the votes in favor of my relationship do not render it worthy. When legislators and politicians get this through their thick skulls, I will feel a lot better.