so yeah, if you know me you know i’m queer. i’m vegan. i like adventures. so here i will be writing about moving through life with these adjective labels as my lens. but let me outline what these lenses mean to me. one thing i should put forth before i start. i am not a fan of labels or label identities. i see where they can be helpful in finding one’s voice and place in this world. however, it can also limit the way we see ourselves in the world and the options we (or others) believe we have. i had an amazing teacher for several classes in what then was called “minority studies”. she once said something like our eyes are like diamonds with facets. each person we meet adds another cut/facet and affects the way we see the world and makes it more beautiful. i have found this to be more than true. i am grateful to the vast range of folks i have loved, cultivated relationships with, strangers i’ve shared a smile, a knowing glance, a tear of injustice, a shout for justice, a moment of passion….
queer entered my lens before vegan, so i’ll start there.
for me queer isn’t just about who i sleep with, get crushes on, date… it’s not about my gender, the pronoun i use, or the people i have romantic and/or sexual relations with. it’s also not just about how i engage in sexual activities, but all activities of my life.
so what is it about? i don’t know, but i’ll try to explain.
its how i choose to have relationships with folks in general… including myself. when i was younger, like young. a youth. a youngen. latter a teen. i deeply remember being confused by what people would say to me or to others, and why they thought doing anything like a girl was an insult. had they seen the “girls” on my team run, hit, throw? did they play football with all of us on our block on a fall day? we could tackle, run, catch throw, punt! there were so many times i was told girls don’t do that, dress like that, act like that. oh, and don’t forget that is not lady like!
my internal response was always in dismay. maybe girls don’t, but i do. and who cares anyway? do you want ME to go to this family event or someone else? do you want ME on the team? i may or not be good, but i guarantee fun!
there were times when people would want me to participate in some event because i was a “girl” and they wanted to show people that girls could do something as well as a “guy” (not a boy). most times i was happy that they wanted me and trusted i could do it. i understood the need to prove it so that other “girls” could do this in the future. usually i thought it sucked that it needed proving. i was still confused. i mean, really who give a shit?! people should do what they want, or at the very least, give something new a try.
it was like someone was speaking a different language, or telling a joke that i didn’t get the punch line. i stayed quiet and just did what ever it was that i was doing with an internal shrug. i still kinda do this.
the dilemma for me was, and continues to be, that i never saw myself as a “girl”, nor did i ever wish to be a “boy” although i did often desire the freedom that my guy friends got to experience. freedom that i had to steal away when i could, or fight for, or runaway to. once i got into high school, most of my pals where guys i worked with and we would run around late at night and into the early mornings. it usually involved grabbing some cheap beer and driving out into the country on some adventure. i was always the only one without a penis, so more than once there was a fight with some new guy that didn’t know i wasn’t there for his fun. most of the guys treated my like a sister of sorts, so they quickly came to help me fight off some stupid dude if needed. often it came with “dude, what the fuck! that’s kim!”
what pissed me off the most was that my buddies never had to worry about this shit when we were out. their freedom wasn’t just about being able to be out late without question from society, but without fear of this kind of shit happening to them. they only experienced fear when we went and explored where a murder had recently happened and was supposed to be haunted. they couldn’t understand why i wasn’t afraid. they didn’t know that ghosts were the least of my worries. hell in a small town they didn’t even really have to be afraid of the cops, some of them worked at the same pizza joint we did. so, ya, know, we wouldn’t have to call anyone from the station at 3 a.m. side note: i never ever saw people of color (what few lived there) out late in our small town…. so white male privilege was all around me.
my high school female friends and i did different things. we caused different trouble. well actually, we didn’t cause trouble. we were well behaved. and when i was with them, they craved the freedom i had taken and worked hard to maintain. i was the first to have a car, so i drove us around. usually dropping them off in time for their curfews, before i met my buddies who didn’t have one. we usually shared a meal out somewhere, or went to watch a game or a movie. sometimes i would be the one to sneak in the alcohol to spike the evening’s adventure. but i marked an idea of freedom for them, or so they said. during this time i dated both genders, but i knew something was up when watching pat benatar rock out and both the guy i was with and i had that “WOW” look in our eyes.
this whole time in kansas i felt the need to break out. to run away and find my tribe of sorts. i went to texas disguised as going to college. it was another of the many times i would do what i was supposed to do to mask what i really wanted to do. i found tribe gay. latter tribe lesbian, but it was the 80s so it was mostly tribe gay. the women i met were exciting and refreshing. many of them had to fight much harder than i had to find some freedom. others had found some freedom, but in, what i was later to learn the harder to break, the trap of assimilation. many of them wanted me to negate, forget, erase the men in my life…. many of them i loved in some way or other. i couldn’t do it. i wouldn’t do it. this was not my tribe.
not being attached to identities let me love many different women. many of them had never dated another woman before we met. most of us had moments and then became friends. some where single encounters of some kind. what i learned was that with women that let me be me and not play out some role they had, knowingly or not, in their minds and hearts, i could be softer along the edges. i could be stronger. i could be smart or funny. i could, not just use the screwdriver but was secure enough to not have to be the one to hang the picture, bare all the burdens, make all the meals, solve the problems, do the laundry…. i learned gender and the roles and rules that come with it, as bullshit.
yet, even in the queer communities, female identified people still have to fight hard to express themselves without fear of violence, discrimination, invisibility, lower pay, objectification, shaming…
how we express ourselves doesn’t need a label. i don’t need to be commodified and marketed to. i don’t want to package myself up a certain way to sell myself to anyone. i don’t want people to dress a certain way because they were told they should. but i also don’t want some boring nondescript society. i have loved it when a person dressed-up super fem and hot for one of our nights out. i also loved it when they were in baggy overalls and a tank-top getting dirty in the garden or building something, or sweaty from… whatever. i hope people can be themselves, wear the colors they want and feel good in. to express themselves, the mood they are in, the attitude…. you get the idea.
who am i attracted to? butch? fem? sporty? androgyny? how about smart, funny, adventures, empathic, compassionate person who loves to read and tell me stories and hear mine? someone who wants to smash the establishment? someone not afraid of themselves? confident in who they are? someone who likes the symphony and a solid punk show. or maybe that is who i want to be brave enough to be…
who am i? i am just me trying to be the best me possible and shake off the societal expectations of being someone else. so when i’m in a meeting and we are asked to share our prefered pronoun, and i say that i really don’t care just say what comes to mind. i mean it. i don’t like gender pronouns. i also don’t like they them it this one that one…. its like dr. seuss’s thing 1 and things 2. can we move through this? if so, how? what do other languages do? what was done before? did other tribes use names and no pronouns?
that being said, if it is really important to someone to be recognized as a certain gender, i want to respect that. however, if i say the wrong one, it’s not out of disrespect. i am usually just barely able to follow grammar as it is, and if i know a pronoun goes there i may just pick one at random… and just as much as gender means a great deal to you, gender means little to me.
all that being said, i would lean more to wanting to be identified as a feminist not a masculinist. i have been deeply troubled lately by men who are aggressive. who ask a question then answer it. men who can’t listen (really anyone who can’t but i find it more problematic in men). i am sick of the guys who think they are sensitive guys and then cry reverse discrimination or still act super (or passively) misogynistic. it’s incredibly prevalent in our culture. i could go on about the patriarchy and misogyny in this culture, but i hope you already know about it.
summary: queer is how i refocus my vision in a hope to break the chains of heteronormative and patriarchal patterns in our institutionalized mainstream culture. its less and less about a label and identity and more about just being who i am in this moment. how do you do it? i wanna know.