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.