To The FemmeMobile! Away!











One of the things about being femme, and being not-particularly-high femme, is that I blend. It means I come out a lot, to both gays and straights. Somtimes it gets annoying, but mostly I don’t care. (Q seems to enjoy it; it makes us blend when she doesn’t want to be noticed, she gets a kick out of it when I tell people I’m gay — usually by mentioning my girlfriend — and I think she likes that I’m so willing to be out when I could as easily fake straight.)

Anyway, I had a hilarious moment in my dog class the other day. One of my straight clients, Bev, is in her 60s or 70s. She wears brilliant blue contacts and dyes her hair jet black. She’s the epitome of eccentric in clothes, mannerisms, speech, etc. The woman has Flair. I have no idea if she knows I’m gay, but I don’t make any secret about it. Several of my clients know that my assistant trainer is also my girlfriend.

Anyway, we were just winding up class, and I mentioned that I was going to Cancun in May.

Bev: Oh, how fun! Where are you staying?
Me: I have no idea! Some resort. There’s this group called Olivia, and they rent out a whole resort or a whole cruise ship and stock it with no one but lesbians. *big grin*
Bev: Oh, you’re going to have fun!

And then she gave me this saucy, knowing look. I nearly killed myself laughing! (So did everyone else, though the couple from Iowa, who hadn’t known, gave me a double take before they chuckled! It’s impossible to tell if they were surprised I was gay, or surprised that I, specifically, with my lack of gaydar-waves, was gay. They didn’t seem terribly alarmed, so I’m guessing the latter.)

I had another coming out moment, as well. I’ve been asked to guest lecture at the Los Gatos High School a couple of years running now, and every year Steve asks me, “Have you ever used positive reinforcement on people?” To which I say, “Yes!” And think up a demonstration. Now, mostly I think of Q, since I’m around her the most, and the past two years I stumble over that. “I was out with my — er, uh, friend, and we were…” I know high schools can be funny about gay stuff, so even though Los Gatos is lesbian mecca, I didn’t want to get Steve in trouble.

Well, I have another client who’s a teacher there, and I saw her a few days ago. So I told her what was going on, and said, “Paris, I have a girlfriend but I don’t know what the policy is and don’t want to get Steve in trouble. Would I? I also don’t like censoring myself, and generally don’t bother to; I’m not interested in hiding this aspect. What can you tell me about school policy?”

Paris was hilarious. She said that, like anywhere, they had their intolerant people, but that school policy was progressive. They have a Gay and Straight Alliance, diversity and tolerance posters all over, “Safe space” triangles, and the teachers and staff have all been coached on what to say if they hear someone using the terms “fag,” “faggot” or “gay” in negative settings. So, she said, I should be perfectly fine in saying anything I’d like.

Then she got excited about it. “In fact, if anyone said anything to you, they’d get in huge trouble. We have — do we? We do have other out staff, and if they’re comfortable with it we encourage it so the kids are exposed to more types of people and have role models. And you’re successful and happy and top in your profession, so that’d be great!”

I had a good crack up (and was flattered). And she was even more excited that I’m comfortably out and talk about it casually. I couldn’t decide if she was proud of me or if she was excited that the kids would have a good role model/stereotype breaker. I’m not sure SHE knew which was true! Likely both.

It always cracks me up in a strange sort of way when someone is proud of me for being out and honest about it. I mean, I’m so divided. It’s totally ego-stroking to be praised for it and have someone be proud of me. It’s amusing that they’re proud, because it’s not like it’s something they helped with. It’s frustrating that they’re proud, because it shouldn’t be a big enough deal to be proud over. It’s distressing, because it’s a sign of how much even straight people realize that it’s difficult and scary to be out, and it shouldn’t be. Such a maelstrom of emotions.

Mostly I let the happy ones surface and try to acknowledge but let go of the less happy ones.

J



{August 28, 2010}   No time, no time at all!

I’m in the middle of moving. After going to South Dakota, going home to SoCal, and attempting to write 10,000 words a week. I’m going to stay radio silent for a bit. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

BUT FIRST, I had someone recognize me today! Q stayed over last night, and bribed me out of bed this morning by promising me a latte. So we headed down, placed our orders, and then proceeded to snuggle and be generally disgustingly cute while our coffees were made. When the girl came back to the register, she said, “Two dollars. It’s the family discount.” And then she grinned.

OMG! She knew I was gay! And I didn’t have to say anything! It was totally awesome. Happened because I was with a butch, yes, but still! I got recognized!

I was as happy as this dog.

(Why yes, I totally did use this as an excuse to post that video. Hee hee.)

J



{June 3, 2010}   Femme confrontation

So, the other night Q and I were at dinner (keeping in mind time is fluid, and by ‘the other night’ I mean a MONTH ago), and she ordered a fillet mingon. Or however you spell that. I’m spelling impaired and vegetarian, what can I say?

When her cut of meat came, it was quite clearly a steak. Even I, the spelling impaired vegetarian, could see that. Given she’d paid extra for her fillet, this wasn’t impressive. She was like, “Eh, it’ll be fine,” and I was like, “*flap flap flap!* Get their asses back here!” Only attempting subtlety. (I probably failed.)

It reminded me of the time someone made a nasty crack about DK, but not to DK, at the gym while she was working out. I flailed around when I found out about it, because let’s be honest, here: if someone made a nasty comment about me, especially if it were boys/young men, I’d sulk and be hurt and sad. But THEN I’d find the manager and have them thrown out. And then they’d be more butthurt than me, ha ha, and if I wanted to pretend like I was doing it for moral reasons than I could also say maybe it would teach them to treat people with respect, but let’s be realistic here.

DK, however, licked her wounds and didn’t say anything. She and I talked then about how femmes — myself, of course, and the other femmes whose blogs I read — seem to be much more proactive and assertive when things like that happen than most butches, who seem to shrug it off. DK and I theorized that maybe butches were just more used to it, or more laid back as a whole. Who knows?

But when the thing happened with Q, she pointed something else out: butches spend their lives trying not to be noticed, to avoid more trouble. Complaining isn’t a way not to be noticed. I, however, have the privilege of looking hetronormative. If I scream, I fully expect that people (*coughs*men*coughs*) will COME RUNNING. Sure, I might meet the occasional sleeze, but most guys will help.

If I complain, I fully expect that women will help me from a feeling of solidarity, and men will help me because I’m attractive (and, obviously, vain. I know it’s bad, but I’m totally willing to use social conditioning in my favor.) and because I’m “the little woman.” (It’s also useful that while I’m of average height, I’m still slim and come across as small.)

Don’t get me wrong, there are definite drawbacks to this. But I’m not talking about those right now: I’m talking about how this has shaped my behavior when it comes to things like telling someone to fuck off, or to either refund my money or get me a new steak, god damn it (all with a smile, and preferably done in such a way that people do what I want before they realize they can say no).

It’s interesting to me the ways in which butch and male differ: men act much as I do, for different reason. They generally expect the world will do as they ask because they’re taught from childhood that they’re the higher caste (in, of course, the loosest sense of the word). Butches, however, are taught not to create too much of a fuss, not to draw more attention to themselves, because they’re outside the norm: drawing attention can be dangerous.

Femmes, on the other hand, are working within the system; we seem like we’re the norm. I get what I want because I’m helpless, to be doted on, to be aided, to be coddled. Female and feminine. Corrupting from the inside, mwahahaha.

Uh. Back to my original point. I just thought it was interesting, both to see how butches and femmes often seem to differ when it comes to confrontation (as a generalization, obviously), and to see how men and butch differ on the same lines.

Gender and social constructs. Fascinating stuff. ๐Ÿ˜€

J



{April 27, 2010}   Gay rodeo! And navel gazing!

Last weekend I went with Q to the gay rodeo!

I totally hotlinked this image, but if you click the image and scroll down you can BUY THIS SHIRT.

It was truly awesome. I was the camera bitch, and Q and her two friends, J and J (not that this is going to get confusing) rode bulls. Actually, J rode one bull but cracked her skull on the ground (poor J!) and J did shoot dogging with steers. I took pictures of all three of them, and video, too, and made friends with all the other gays there AND EVERYONE ASSUMED I WAS GAY. I didn’t have to come out once! Woo hoo! It’s a nice break. ๐Ÿ˜€ Also, I took my dogs and they were THE BEST DOGS EVER. I love my dogs.

Aren’t they cute? (See photo. Somehow, I can’t get the two to be side by side. :()ย  I gave them bully sticks to chew on. Made out of bull tendon. I thought it was appropriate. People ride bulls – bulls win – dogs ultimately win by EATING BULLS. (Every time I take my dogs somewhere like this, I have to laugh. I have a pit bull and a 116 pound shepherd. Even my dogs are butch. *amused* At least until people get to know them…)

I also was able to talk to a lot of the other people watching, and that was fun. ๐Ÿ˜€ Now I get to navigate trying to make friends without giving a too-interested impression. Hmm.

Anyway, did I mention Q rode a bull? Three of them, in fact! But concussion-J got the video of the two last rides, so I only got the first one, which she didn’t yet have practice at. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Still, how many people can say they got on a bull in the first place, right? RIGHT! Check it out! ๐Ÿ˜€

I cut off too quick (my camera is a little twitchy) but you get the idea. (Her grin as she turned around was probably the best part, though! Of course, then I wouldn’t have been able to show you guys, ’cause she’d be identifiable, but still!) THEM’S BUTCH POINTS, RIGHT THERE.

Later Q was OMG sore, and I nearly killed myself laughing at all the bruises, road rash (bull rash?), whimpering noises, and limping around. I’m sweet like that. I come by it honestly: any time I came off a horse, it was met with laughter by the woman who taught me to ride. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (But I also gave Q back and leg rubs and tiger balm and anything else I thought might help, so I win back some femme points. ;-D)

(Also, the road rash? FREAKIN’ HILARIOUS. Not because it was road rash, per se, but because she was so flabbergasted by it. Mwahahaha.)

I met a lot of cute butches and some fun femmes, and I found no one I was attracted to other than Q. It’s kinda sad, really. There’s one butch, S, who asked me if we were going to a local bar with them and who later (via facebook) invited me two stepping this week, and this is where I need to tread carefully. I’m not as good yet at reading flirt signals from other gays, and that’s a terrifying statement since I suck at reading them from straights, too.ย  In the few minutes I had a chance to talk to her, she seemed like a lot of fun. I wasn’t remotely romantically interested in her, but I could see hanging out and being buddies. I could use some more friends around here. (I have… two. Not counting Q, who is more-than-a-friend.)

New ground to tread on. I would say it’s annoying, having to re-learn all this stuff, but I never learned it very well in the first place, so… *shrugs*

Anyway, being surrounded by all these people (mostly butches, the occasional gayย  man, and I think two femmes — thoughย  one might have been straight, actually) NONE of whom I was attracted to made me think again about what I AM attracted to. I often say I feel like I steamroll people, and that’s sort of true. Except, really, if I see that I’m likely to steamroll someone I either stop hanging out with them or just don’t do it, depending on how much I like them. And most of the time, I tend to hang back and follow other peoples’ lead anyway. But… Well, take J, for example. J is butch, really adorable-rapidly-becoming-handsome, shy, intelligent. I like J. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with J. I kind of want to throw my arm over J’s shoulders and tell the world to back off, this is my buddy (or would be if I knew him better). I would never ever ever date J, because I would steamroll him. I don’t steamroll him, because I like him and I’m not a bitch, but if J and I were ever to hang out together, I have a hunch I’d end up taking the lead fairly consistently — something I’m fine with in a friendship, but not something I enjoy doing with someone I’m dating, and yet I’m more likely to do with someone I’m dating than with a friend.

But it’s more than that, too. I look at S, for instance, and I think — would I steamroll her? I don’t know. I don’t know her that well, I don’t get the impression she’s a pushover, but my gut reaction is “steamroll,” even though when I stop and think about it I’m not sure that’s true. There’s a type of person, a very laid-back type, that I can’t necessarily steamroll but that still falls into that category for me. I’m not sure I can explain it except by analogy. So, here we go!

When I think of myself, I think of birds and kites. Racing with the wind, swooping and diving here and there, rarely still, full of highs and lows, zipping from one interest to the next. Now, if I’m going to tie myself to someone — that is such a perfect phrase — that someone had better be able to (you ready for this?) keep me there. No, not keep up. Don’t get me wrong: I want someone who will go out and do things, who can keep up on a fitness level. But on energy levels, if you tie two birds (or two kites) together, they end up yanking each other all over. Neither ever gets a rest because the other is goading them on. They aren’t likely to fly together; more likely they’ll fly apart and get yanked back together, crashing hard. They might have a lot of fun twirling around, but they’re going to burn out.

Okay. So I don’t want another bird. But most people, I find, are a bit like flowers. Or bushes (thorny ones, if you’re butch and you prefer that. *grins*). If you tie a kite to a flower or a bush, that kite could very well get swept up in a strong, exciting wind and yank that poor little plant right out of the ground, dragging it along and bruising it in the process. You have to be very careful what you tie a kite to, and the bigger the kite gets the stronger the pull.

DK was like a tree. I could yank and yank and it didn’t pull her out of alignment. I could get swept up in the exciting windy things and I didn’t fly away. I might flutter around like a mad thing going, “Look at this! And this! And this! AND OMG THIS!” but I didn’t drag her over, and I always stayed nearby. I could bash into her and tangle in the branches and she didn’t bruise, didn’t fall over, just put me back out and away I went again.

S felt like a tree, too, but more like a newly rooted sapling. Maybe someday she’ll be an oak, or maybe she’ll always be a slender willowy tree, able to bend with the wind and not break, changing as she needs to — but still something I could yank out of the ground if I got too caught up.

I have never dated anyone who wasn’t some form of energetic tree or rock, and a solid one at that. Q is new for me: occasionally I tell people she’s a lot like me, and it’s a little weird. It is a little weird, because she doesn’t have that tree/rock quality. She’s higher energy. I don’t feel like two birds tied together — unless it’s more like tying up a sparrow and a hawk (and hoping one doesn’t eat the other. Oh wait, we’re gay! Just pretend like it’s a pun, then. :D). She feels more solid than I do to myself, less with the fluttering and dashing and more with the single-direction-moving. Racing leaps and stops, and while she stops I go back to fluttering around. And yet, there’s that same quality — that I can flutter and race and dash, and I’m not going to knock her over nor am I going to drag her along unless she chooses to be dragged. Hmm. It’s just, she moves, too. Odd. I don’t know what to make of it.

Anyway, back to people. So I was leaning against the car with S on Sunday, and it wasn’t so much that I thought I would steamroll her — she doesn’t seem steamrollable, exactly — but rather that I thought she was a sapling. I’d end up ripping her up by the roots and dragging her about. I’d be exhausted from the weight I was hauling, and she’d be bruised and sore from getting hauled. Fun for no one.

Another thing I find myself measuring people on is life experience. I’m starting to think I have a lot of life experience. I’ve done a fair amount of looking at myself and straightening my head out, experimenting to figure out what works and what doesn’t, I have a lot of responsibility, and I’ve done things where I had to make it or — well, really, or go home. But that was never a good option. I was not a homebody, much as I love my family. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I look at someone like S, and I suspect that she’s still young. This is hilarious, because I’m sure DK is younger age-wise, but if I’m looking at life experience, well… I think of S as a baby butch, though I’m also sure she’s been butch-identified longer than DK, and I don’t think of DK as a baby butch. It’s not fair to think of them as a baby-butch, either, because really I’m just thinking of them as young, and it has nothing to do with butch. I think that phrase just sort of stuck in my head. *wry smile* Anyway, this inexperience is another thing I lump under ‘steamrolling,’ and one that just won’t work. (I’m not comfortable with ‘inexperience’ because I’ve met people who have LOTS of life experience, and still seem… young. Untried. Maybe it has more to do with sorting your head out? I don’t know.)

I know myself well enough to know that these things really aren’t negotiable. I can’t say, “Well, this person is great except I can steamroll them. I’ll try it; maybe I’ll be wrong this time!” or “this person is perfect except they’re young experience-wise. Maybe it’ll work!” It won’t work. They’ll get bruised, I’ll be exhausted. No fun.

So, hm. Interesting stuff. Mostly it’s exasperating, knowing the field of people I’m interested in is so narrow. At least I won’t waste my time with people who won’t work?

Also, why are you reading this? My wordcount says it’s almost 2000 words, which is nearly ten pages. You weirdo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

J



{April 23, 2010}   Captain Invisible

Before I forget, I want you all to know that a friend of mine has started a blog! She’s never blogged before, so I’m hoping you’ll all check it out and offer encouragement. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Her and her friend are co-blogging on being single psychologists. And you thought you had a tendency to analyze your dates. ;-D Go see! Diagonsis: Single

So, I’ve been thinking about invisibility and the idea of coming out again and again. And, uh, the fact that I seem to come out of the closet all the damn time. I’m trying to change my thought patterns around it. It’s frustrating to be overlooked by my own people, but that’s not something I can easily change.

What I can change is how I feel about it. I can change the fact that, while I’m annoyed at always being assumed to be straight (or interested in other femme women — wtf, people?), I can instead choose to look at it as a chance to set expectations on their heads. I can be the sneaky wedge that slides into someone’s homophobic life and then says, “SURPRISE! I’m gay! Not so scary, am I? Aren’t I cute?” (You’ll have to imagine the batting eyelashes. I’m pro at batting eyelashes.)

I am totally this good at it.(Totally this good at it.)

I came out twice between Sunday and Monday. I have a couple of clients who are fairly conservative. Enough so that I hadn’t ever mentioned that I’m gay, despite the fact that we’ve been working together for almost a year and my personal life has certainly come up. In fact, while they’re not the only clients who don’t know I’m gay, they are the only clients I have purposefully not told.

On Sunday, we went to Napa valley. (Mm. Wine.) Before we went, I’d already decided that if it came up, I wasn’t going to lie (in fact or by omission) about being gay. Of course, it came up.

T: Have you ever been up this way?
Me: …Yes, in fact I was up here just last weekend.
T: Really? What were you doing?
Me: The girl I’m seeing lives up here.
*silence*

We moved on. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  (I thought about referring to Q as ‘the butch I’m seeing,’ but one thing at a time. Sure, I could have said ‘woman,’ which is more accurate only in that she’s sooooooo not a ‘girl,’ but it’s two sylables instead of one. Shuddup.)

The next day, I took the dogs jogging and stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some herbal stuff my friend recommended. I tied the beasts to a bike rack, and when I came out a local homeless man was visiting with them. He’s a nice guy: from New York, but he’s been here for several years. He’s one of these guys who seems perfectly happy to be homeless, and every time I see him he smells a bit like smoke and is drinking a cup of coffee, black.

Anyway, he complimented me on my dogs, and we got to talking about what kind of dogs they are and the bad rap pit bulls get and so on. I forget what he said, but it was something about a boyfriend. I laughed and said no, my boyfriend didn’t feel that way — and neither would any girlfriend I ever dated. He looked surprised for a minute, and then just laughed and continued the conversation (but without switching topics like my clients did).

I’m pretty much positive that if I came across as gay, I would never have been hired by my clients. But I was hired, and we’re friends, and now they know — and maybe because I was invisible, they’ll realize gay people aren’t so scary. They know one despite themselves. I think about Ivan’s line in Hats Off To Beautiful Femmes:

I want to thank you for coming out of the closet. Again and again, over and over, for the rest of your life. At school, at work, at your kidโ€™s daycare, at your brotherโ€™s wedding, at the doctorโ€™s office. Thank you for sideswiping their stereotypes.

Maybe that’s a better way to look at it. At least, I’m trying.

The other night I went to bulldagger bingo with Q and some of her (butch) friends. (Let me tell you, never have I felt so femme as walking into a bar filled with butches. *laughs!*) Because I was with Q, because her friends knew we were dating, because she kissed me in public, no one gave me that sideways look. The one that says, “I’m not sure why you’re here.” The one that keeps me out of gay bars and makes me feel small and lonely.

But if Q hadn’t been there… I’m not sure I would have felt small and lonely. I might have to come out, over and over, again and again, to straight and gay people alike, but I can change things that might not otherwise be changed, too. And I’m gaining confidence — confidence that the butches around me see me, even when the lesbians don’t. It’s pretty great.

Before butch bingo, Q and I were playing pool at a billiards hall. She went to move her car — metered parking — and while she was gone two guys showed up. They were in their late teens, early twenties, typical guys. I didn’t think anything about it, but when Q came back something in her gaze shifted. I don’t know if it was something on her mind, something that happened with the car, or if it was those guys, but something had changed. She was a little more serious, a little less playful, a lot less touchy, a bit on edge. It reminded me of walking with DK one night, when a group of guys was walking behind us and she went stiff and careful. I hadn’t noticed them: I watch for the lone guy who might drag me into an alley and rape me. She watches for groups who, showing off for each other, might start something with the dyke.

Q mellowed back out after a bit, and things went back to normal. The guys were nice enough, if oblivious as young guys tend to be about their surroundings. But it does make me think. I’d be a very different person if I looked queer. I can’t quite imagine that. I have my own issues to handle, and I can’t say that one set is easier than the other, but they are certainly different.

Now that I’ve written this all out, I’m not sure where I’m going with it. Except to say — I’m glad I am who I am, and though sometimes I get tired of coming out again and again, I’m glad to be able to sneak in and introduce unwilling people to queers simply by being there and being under the radar. It’s good to be visible, to make people aware of it. It’s good to be invisible, too, though. It gives me oppurtunities.

It’s all about the mindset. ๐Ÿ˜‰

J



{October 19, 2009}   Realizations 5!

I felt weirdly invisible yesterday. I talked about this a little bit with DK on the phone, but only realized today that it’s something I’d like to write about.

I’ve written before about how being femme sometimes makes me feel invisible. Well, since doing all this reading on femme/butch stuff, I’ve been noticing other people and myself more. I had a conversation Saturday with Nezu on why I feel invisible, how you can spot other lesbians quite often, but I’m less spottable. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it, so I’ve been paying attention. When I see someone now that “looks” lesbian (but not necessarily butch or femme), I try to line them up with other obvious lesbians. I’m looking for similarities. And I’ve found some. These aren’t, of course, exhaustive or even necessary. A lesbian might have one, none, or all. But the obvious lesbians, the women I look at and think, “Oh, lesbian.” generally have a few of these traits.

– Body type. They are often broader (any -er is “as compared to the population I usually see” which, I realize, in itself is flawed. Let’s just call this whole thing flawed and be done with it, all right?) through the shoulders and, more noticeably to me, ribcage. (Note that I did take into account that the general populace is broader than society tells us we should be, and still came to the conclusion that there seems to me a smaller ratio of bird-boned lesbian women.)
– They often have very short hair.
– They often do NOT wear fitted clothes. Baggy or stovepipe jeans or cargoes, loose dresses, men’s shirts or other button-down, non-fitted shirts or T-shirts, and often boots. (Mmm. Boots.)
– They move differently. Shoulders back, more assertive, they seem to claim more of the space around them. They stride instead of walk, they swagger instead of saunter, when they settle somewhere they look immovable instead of the typical “polite” you see that women do. It seems that women always look ready to shift a little to let someone else join the group. Men will, too, but they look less like they’re expecting it. Lesbians often look like that.
– They rarely have purses.

My awesome friend Ashlan once cut her hair really short. She’s 5’short, broad shouldered, broad ribcaged, large chested. She walks with her shoulders back, and she claims space. At the time, she never wore fitted clothes (in part because, with her body shape, it was hard to find clothes that fit). As soon as she cut her hair, people started asking her if she was gay. Even her parents. This was so frustrating that she grew it back out, and it hasn’t been short since.

(There’s a rainbow outside! ๐Ÿ˜€ The colors are really clear on it. o.O)

She was probably the perfect example of hitting what people saw of as ‘lesbian.’

I do not hit these points. My hair is now short, but not short-short: it’s chin-length. It’s not soft looking (unless I decide to let it air-dry), and I’ve noticed that lesbians are more likely to have edgy looking haircuts, so I have that going for me. But I’m bird-boned, I don’t think I take up space unless I consciously decide to do so, I wear a ton of fitted clothes, I have a purse. There are probably a hundred and one more little differences I’m unaware of, all of which fall under the category of, “Not necessary, but if you combine several of these traits people might think you’re lesbian.”

So, I was sitting in church and I’d noticed the couple a few rows ahead of me. Both women, both obviously lesbian. Like, you would know they were lesbian even if they weren’t adorable, because they hit ALL of the above points. Now, when you are in a minority (possibly even if you’re in a majority) and you realize that, hey! There’s someone in my minority family there! You feel a hit of same-ness. You’re more likely to go talk to them than you are to talk to someone else.

I mean, think about it. If you’re Mormon and you’re at a non-Mormon school, and you see someone with an LDS sticker on their bag, you’re probably going to go talk to them. It’s familiar. How often do you hear about someone traveling abroad, and meeting another person from their own country? We are attracted to like things. They are familiar and safe.

So, I see these lesbian women, and I am like, “Woot!” They’d had a hard time recently with something, and I wanted to go give them a hug (which I wouldn’t have done even if I hadn’t felt invisible, but…).

It hit me, suddenly, that if I were to walk up there and offer a hug, they might think we were in the same ‘family’ in that we go to the same church, but they wouldn’t have the added hit of ‘family’ knowing that we were in the same minority. I would see them and see ‘family,’ they would see me and see ‘funny girl who gave us hugs.’

It was kind of depressing. Like being kicked out of a group — your group — before you even join it because you don’t have the right uniform. And it’s a misunderstanding and can be cleared up, but not always easily.

Imagine you’re a group of women standing around talking about rape, or a group of PoC standing around talking about your struggles with racism. And a man walks up to the women, or a white person to the PoC, and is just listening. The groups are going to be aware of that person. Aware of the gaze of the other, of the tension from the person-in-social-power. Now imagine that man is actually trans, or that the white person is actually half Asian. Now they belong — and yet, even so, there’s an underlying tension. They pass. They can walk around without being troubled. There’s probably some resentment there, from the people who can’t pass. Who can’t pretend for a day. And if the newcomer has their own stories to share, they will probably be listened to, and people will try not to be resentful, but many people are, anyway. (And believe me, I understand why. Despite myself, I do it to transwomen. I think, “You were a man. You didn’t grow up internalizing all this.” Which is TOTALLY UNFAIR, and I know that, but there it is.) *Edit: Four months later, I figured out where this was coming from and have gotten over my idiocy. End edit*

And from the outsider’s perspective, from my perspective, they’re right. I can pass. I don’t struggle with the things other lesbian women struggle with. And yet, I don’t belong in the straight group. I can’t entirely relate to them. But because I don’t entirely share those struggles (I have different ones. *amused*), I am ever so slightly pushed out of the gay group, too.

Wow, did I get off my initial topic, which was feeling invisible. Let’s go back to that.

So at church, I felt invisible. I felt like, “These are my people, and they don’t know it.” I can fix much of it, but there wasn’t a way to stand up and say, “Hey! I’m gay!” Ha, maybe I should have done a public prayer for my girlfriend, DK. >.< (I might do exactly that, if they do public prayers again. They do them every so often…)

As I was leaving the church, I did have a moment of recognition. I glanced up and saw a girl who looked like me. Skirt, form-fitting clothes, long curly hair (okay, that isn’t like me. >.<), make-up, etc. She was talking and looking at someone behind her, and I glanced at that person, following her gaze. That person was female, in a suit, very masculine. I thought, “Oh! Butch! Ergo, the girl with her is a friend, a sister, or femme.” They were several steps apart so I couldn’t tell via body language. Then I did a double take to make sure I hadn’t just mistaken an effeminate man for butch, but it was definitely a girl. ;-D

So, that made me feel a little bit better. Here were more of “my” people, even more “my” people than the lesbians in the front row, and they would understand. Sadly, they were visitors. I hope they come back next week.

J



et cetera