Posts Tagged ‘genderqueer’

Discourse on love is overworked, it’s cliche, there is almost certainly nothing left to say on the subject that has not already been said. Love is written about eloquently, awkwardly, succinctly, verbosely. It is analyzed, dissected, and deconstructed. We fantasize, romanticize, fetishize, darker moments of pessimism push us to minimize as we are demoralized. The Oxford defines love as

An intense feeling of deep affection
A deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone

As very young children we understand the meaning of love, it’s an early word in our vocabulary, this emotion of the heart. We know love when we feel it, even if, after the fact, we change our minds and re-describe the emotions as lust, infatuation, crush or some other, safer emotion.

Emotions are tricky. There is a certain cultural assumption that when emotions are felt, they are expressed. Feeling and expression are two different things, the lack of expression does not indicate a lack of emotion. Yet we find ourselves saying things ‘If you love me, why don’t you show it?’ and the like, confused at this separation, expecting, even as we know better, that the lover will express emotion in the same way we do, and hurt when that expression is not forthcoming.

When I fall in love, what is it that I fall in love with? How do we parse, identify within the being, the exact bits that enrapture us? The pat answer is that if I am in love with you, I love everything about you, that love is unconditional and all-encompassing. To be sure, there are parts that are far less likable than others, parts that are difficult to understand, but the envelope of love surrounds every piece of the parcel.

I say ‘I love you’, the emphasis on ‘you’. And you is a big word, encompassing everything that you are, or maybe it’s a small word, encompassing the tiny kernel in the center, surrounded by a multitude of external factors that give you an appearance, a character, an image. Factors that can be changed, removed, replaced, while still leaving you as ‘you’, the one I love.

Picture the person you are in love with. If they color change their hair style, length and color, you are still in love. If an accident takes away their mobility, you are still in love. If illness removes their ability for sexual intimacy, you are still in love. If their gender expression changes, you are still in love. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they love you, but they are unable to express it outwardly as they once did, you are still in love.

If I say I love you, there is nothing you can change that will change that.

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If you subscribe to this blog, you’ve probably realized that I don’t post super-often. Life is incredibly hectic, I have a lot of thoughts, but no time to share them…

We got a puppy. A straight friend got a puppy from the same litter, so we went to the breeder on the same day to pick them up. She’s known us for a while and is totally accepting of us, I’ve always been completely comfortable with her.

We were in the backyard sitting in the grass and our puppy grabbed our friend’s pants by the butt to play, and my partner laughed and said ‘Oh, look, he’s an ass man, just like me.’

Our friend laughed but also blushed and immediately said ‘TMI! TMI!’ and the conversation went on to other things.

Alone later, my partner said ‘you know, if I had been a straight guy no one would have batted an eye at me saying that’

And I thought about it, and she’s right. Straight people say that sort of thing all the time and it’s chuckled over and that’s it. When I lived as perceived straight, I remember a number of conversations that way. I know that if a straight chick says ‘I’m into asses’ her friend might counter with ‘I’m into smooth backs’ or whatever, but not TMI! If a guy says he’s an ass man women roll their eyes at best.

So why this reaction? And why from a friend? I thought about it and I think it’s the same old thing that comes back to haunt us. I’m fine with you being gay, just don’t flaunt it. Mentioning being into asses and they can’t pretend that we’re asexual beings who just enjoy each other’s company.

We’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go…

What about love? There’s a topic that’s been dissected, written, poured over, expounded upon to excess. Because we’ve probably all felt love at one point or another in our lives, and there are so many sticky issues, so many surprises. Love can draw you into the depths of a darkness that defies logic, and just as quickly, just as definitely, bring fill you with a sense of euphoria that overwhelms all sensibility. Right away people think of romantic love, that’s obviously a biggie, and the other loves we feel so often seem tamely calm by contrast that we can forget their impact on our lives.

For most of us, first love is parental love. Our infant selves loved without question, without limit. There’s no way of making it through childhood unscarred. And this with loving, caring parents who want the best for their children, who mean no harm. We long to make them proud, and in our tiny child worlds we suffer the hardest strike of failure when we think we have not met the mark. It is in this framework that we learn we are not perfect, long before we realize that they, our parents, are not perfect either. But also, our love for our parents, and their love for us, follows us, always faithful, allowing for our mistakes, bolstering us in the face of the adversities of life. From our parents we learn of love in darkness and light.

The love we feel for our children is fraught with peril, this love takes us by surprise no matter how much we expect it, overwhelmed by the shear force of emotion, at the lengths we know we’d go to to protect this life put in our trust, and knowing even as we dedicate ourselves to our children there will be missteps, errors, slights that we did not intend. I do not mean to be the harbinger of doom, to point out that all love is flawed, it is, but that’s beside the point. Our children forgive us our missteps, it is from them that we learn the largess, the generosity of true love, the ability to see beyond the details into the solid force of it.

As children we discover the extensive pallet of love, how it covers all manner of family; siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the rest. That our friends fit into this rubric too, that there are degrees of love, even if we cannot find any exact measure.

There is an understanding early on that romantic love exists, that one day our hearts will open in this different way, enveloping us in a love like no other. This other word, lust, skirts around us, ready to take us in, take us by surprise, toss us headlong so that we fall hard when we fall in love, landing in a heap, heaving and shaking, simultaneously without doubt and completely unsure.

There had been an assumption, from culture, from parents, from… and I waited patiently as friend after friend developed this thing called a crush on one or another cute guy. So the rush of feeling I felt the first time I saw a girl in that way was not immediately clear to me. I did not define this sudden sense of longing as love or lust, at first it was just some strange affliction that caused heart palpitations, but with time I understood, this was it, the ‘love’ they all talked about.

And still, nothing prepared me, more than three decades later, for this love I am in. At the cusp of fifty I found myself as shy as a school boy, as sleepless as a youngster with a first crush, overwhelmed by the raw force of emotion she brought out in me. I ascribed it to nothing but carnal desire, there was no doubt that her physical self threw me into all manner of want, so it was easy enough to be jaded about it, to tell myself it was casual, I was good at sex without strings, it was no big deal. I fell into that boiling pot of emotion as innocent as a lobster.

how does one define this visceral yet intangible state of being?

 

Thankfully, for the most part, our world has evolved past the ‘which one of you is the man in the relationship?’ questions.  People are either educated enough, or polite enough, to realize the rudeness of the question, even if we all know that they’re making assumptions in their own heads.  Much (maybe not enough, and maybe it’s not read enough, not mainstream enough, not considered enough, but still much) has been written about gender identification from an academic point of view, from a political point of view, from a feminist point of view, much good, valid stuff.  What interests me right now, is my own little family and how we see ourselves and each other, how our culture informs our concepts of self.

 

We walk a cultural divide between our primarily traditional heterosexual geographical culture in which we are accepted because we’re ‘safe’ queers, other than that one little difference we act just like them, we talk just like them, we fly under the radar, and queer culture.  Within our home, and within our queer culture, my partner uses masculine pronouns, ‘Puppy, Daddy’s busy now, he can’t play with you, go bring your toy to Mommy’, we slide back and forth from one culture to the other with a practiced smoothness that requires no effort.

 

One of us dresses in mens suits, has half a dozen different fedoras, mows the lawn, kills spiders.

 

One of us wears make up, colors her hair, spends hours getting ready for an evening out.

 

One of us cooks and does the laundry and feels it’s her job to nurture, to make take care.

 

One of us is the primary wage earner who feels it’s her job to be a good provider.

 

It would be easy, and would help with everyone’s sense of stereotype, to refer to us as femme and butch, as we refer to ourselves as him and her, but it’s not that simple, and how we see ourselves is not how others might see us.  We are femme and butch both of us.  I cook and clean and nurture and mow the lawn, I wear a suit and tie and fedora, I wear a strap on, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I cry and want to cuddle.  I am who I see myself as, not in the least confused about my identity, comfortable with my pronouns, comfortable when she calls me her boy, when she says I’m her little butch femme.

 

Butch?  I look the part for sure, the all important visual cues that people rely so heavily upon are all there.  He’s my boi, he’s the strong one, silently bottling emotions, she’s my he and he’s my she, fluidly switching from pronoun to pronoun, fluidly being.

 

How we see ourselves, how we refer to ourselves, how we feel inside our skins is such a personal thing, and, for some of us, it’s fluid, a state of flux that we are entirely comfortable with.  We are lucky to be a part of the queer community, where such things are nothing unusual, we’re used to figuring out our own definitions of self, we’ve had to do it from the get-go.