Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Really, I do want to blog more often. Ideas strike me at odd times, when I’m driving, in the middle of the night, when I’m waiting for a client, and I think ‘I should expand on that, I should write a blog post’ then evening comes around and a few minutes of peace and quiet for contemplation, a space in my day allowing me to put my thoughts down, and I just let my brain scatter over reading posts on public media, and wandering through everyone else’s words. Maybe it’s just laziness, and maybe it’s just easier to not delve to far into my own emotions.

This blog is called ‘Anonymous Dyke’. I had nothing to do with naming it, I was given the blog already in progress, already named, after expressing that I wanted to start blogging again. The original owner had stopped blogging but kept the site, it seemed like a perfect fit. I embrace the ‘Anonymous’ part of the title, theoretically feeling freer, knowing that I can express myself without exposing my love to known scrutiny. Do I embrace the ‘Dyke’ part of the title? It’s certainly how I would define myself, a word we use around this home all the time. Sometimes, though, I feel a little constrained, as though by it’s title the blog is coercing me to stay on topic, to remember that defining feature and not stray onto the path of the non-dyke things in my life. Of course I know that’s bullshit, that I can write about anything I damned well want to write about, and I do. And realistically, the stuff I want to write about anonymously is mostly the dyke stuff, not because I’m closeted or ashamed or any of that, in real life I’m out and loud and proud and political, you wouldn’t have to get any closer to us than our driveway to know that queers live here, with our bumper stickers and pride flag. But because the stuff I think about, the stuff I want to put down anonymously, is the stuff of love, the stuff of emotion, the stuff of the relationship I have with this woman who shares my life.

Introspection is the stuff of life, these are the thoughts that have the power to create us, re-create us, as we carefully examine each layer of being, deciding whether to keep or throw out. Sometimes I feel that my flaws are like styrofoam, indestructibly sitting in landfills, biding their time and resurfacing no matter how hard I try to discard them. This love, this lover, this woman who has captured my heart and soul, she is the catalyst exposing each fragment of myself that I would change if I could. Our selves are so different, we bring each other to our knees sometimes, trying to be best selves for the sake of each other, and finding our worst selves have not gone far. To be sure, I am not blaming anyone here, least of all myself. Nor am I saying that our lot is a bad one, that we are nothing but a struggle of negativity. There is more raw love in this relationship than in anything I’ve ever seen before, and that love comes equally from both sides. Sometimes it seems like this, that she is a rock, solid and stoic, almost cold in her discomfort with all things emotional, the strong silent cowboy hero of long ago movies. She is a rock but the foundation is on a fault line, beneath the surface cracks are coming through, earthquakes of emotion that rock our world close to bits sometimes. I am a hurricane of emotion, everything felt is expressed immediately, strongly, without hesitation, but underneath that hurricane there’s a solid structure, a foundation that cannot be taken down by even the strongest winds of emotion. Sometimes life here is like living through a hurricane with an earthquake underfoot, but sometimes her stoic calm and my solid foundation find each other, interlaced into a strength larger than either of us would ever have independently.

I take a look at the styrofoam, this indestructible mass of flaws that I seem powerless to discard. But these are not flaws, these are bits of self, as much a part of my being as any quality I hold dear to. It is only in this form that they are negatives, styrofoam is a menace in the landfill, styrofoam is a menace when it’s litter. Things that do not biodegrade can be reused, recycled, repurposed. These bits of me just need to reconfigure, to find their way and use, this is the true challenge. And this one I accept.

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We went to Finland for ten days for work. Admittedly, we were the only queer couple among the forty or so people there, but here’s the thing, it was a complete non-issue. We don’t come across a lot of homophobia among our colleagues here in the states, but we do get a constant stream of condescending comments ‘I think it’s great you’re gay’ and ‘I have a gay nephew, maybe you know him?’ and that kind of stuff. In Finland we were a couple, just like the several other couples there who work together. Amazingly unbelievably wonderful.

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.

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…

I started crafting a well composed and well thought out blog post half a dozen times at least.  A compact and cautiously worded essay balancing my less than charitable thoughts with warm understanding and compassion.   But every time I felt that, although I agreed with the sentiments I was expressing, my heart was not entirely there.  Because the things I want to say are not as nice as I’d like to think I am, because there’s something about June that sometimes pisses me off.  For straight people, June has traditionally been a month filled with weddings and engagements.  For queers it’s been a month of Pride Parades and rallies.  White taffeta vs. rainbow extravaganza.  Weddings were a ‘them’ thing.  A contentious thing.  A thing we could not partake in.  Now, in 19 states and DC, we can.  Marriage equality has gotten a good toehold and we are not going back.

But…

1 – I believe in equality, I believe we should all have the same rights, including the right to marry, but that does not mean that I believe, or don’t believe, in the institution of marriage.  Saying I want to be seen as equal is NOT the same as saying I want to get married.   We have our own history, our own culture, and for many of us, that culture does not include the great desire to get legally married, only the great desire to be seen as human and equal.

2 – Why do straight people think it’s OK to ask questions about my relationship they would never ask a straight couple?  Not every straight person, and not even all that often, but these questions have been asked –

If I refer to her as my wife or spouse –

Are you married?

If we say yes

Legally?

In what state?

How do you have sex?

3 – I think it’s great that you believe in equality.   Put another way, I think people who do not believe in human equality are kind of fucked up.  So yes, it’s good that you are in favor of marriage equality, but you don’t need to tell me that any more than I need to tell you that I believe you have a right to marry.  I don’t need your validation or approval.  Yes, having someone smile and tell me that they think it’s fine that I’m gay is a lot better than gay bashing but it is kind of condescending, you know?  Telling my you don’t think it’s anyone’s business what I do in the privacy of my own home makes me a little suspicious that you’re actually thinking about what I do in the privacy of my own home (hint: if you watch girl on girl porn, that NOT it)

4 – This question has to go ‘Why do you people need a Pride Parade?  Why do you have to be proud of being gay?  We don’t have a straight pride parade’

Because straight culture did not suffer shame at the hands of gay culture, because you probably did not come of age being told there was something wrong with being straight, you did not have to come from a place of shame, to acceptance, to pride in being.

 

So that’s my rant.  It’s maybe not my kindest, most open side, but it’s how I sometimes feel.

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.