You hear the complaint quite frequently; Why do you have to talk about being gay all the time? Can’t you just leave it be? You can see the point in theory: Who would need to announce to virtual strangers that they were any kind of ‘minority.’ Isn’t that just inflating a point and shoving it into people’s faces, which can increase existing or potential resentment?
We could argue that even needing to ‘be out’ and admit to being gay isn’t necessary and causes negative-attention, but if this is your observation think on this: Everyday people get out so that others can, causing a chain-reaction, until eventually, what was once considered unnatural, is considered natural. That’s because exposure to things that are unfamiliar, resolves underlying anxieties more than any academic discourse achieves.
I am often asked: When you can’t physically hide being a ‘minority’ you have no choice, and if you do have a choice, what’s wrong with taking it? I lived in the closet on-and-off for a variety of reasons for several years and got so used to not being harassed and tormented that it became a false comfort. It resolves nothing and the shame when you understand the absence of honesty, runs deep. Change comes from a desire to engender change, in the words of Eckhart Tolle: “To love is to recognize yourself in another.” Gays need to exist openly to give non-gays opportunity to see we’re no different.
When we look at racism, studies show racism actually reduces when African-American’s moved into previously exclusively white neighborhoods. But it didn’t happen immediately. The immediate response was one of resentment, anger and prejudice, and white Americans resented the influx of African-American’s initially. But in time, that resentment gave way to acceptance and even integration. It took the courage of those black families deciding to move into neighborhoods that didn’t warmly welcome them, it took the courage of their staying put and not letting prejudice run them off, to effect change.
Much of this is about gays being able to hide, whilst other minority groups like African-American’s cannot. There is a reason why gays should not hide, because in hiding we are one less face fighting the good fight. Why a fight you may ask? Because if a gay person were to really ask for equality they still would not get it, if gays were to ask to be accepted for who they are, some would, and some would not. And as long as that inequality exists, our voice must protest its existence or nothing changes.
As gays we may not run the risk being led-away in chains in the US today, but go to another country and there’s no guarantee. It doesn’t mean as gays we can walk the streets proudly without fear of reprisal, and that would include any city in America. Sounds a lot like Benjamin Franklin’s famous perspective: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” In other words, we should ask: Is it brave to hide and weak to protest? And if so, when did that become normalized?
As long as any type of inequality exists, all gay people remain a minority who have somehow to justify ourselves. People roll their eyes, espouse that we should shut up and stop talking about it and things will surely get better, but as history tells us, this rarely happens. For example, every time women make this choice, they take a step backward, same with any minority. Exhibit a; the increase and normalizing of pole-dancing to keep husbands content. Would the original Women’s Movement of the 1970’s have approved or thought this progressive?
If you are not convinced, look as the relative silence of Hispanics in the US as a good example of why they do not have the voice of African-American’s despite being in greater numbers. If you don’t speak for yourself, who will? If you don’t believe in equality for yourself, who will? And most of all, if nobody will defend you, who is left but yourself? I think of the quote by Jiddu Krisnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well—adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Better by far, to change what ails, surely?
Ask any Hispanic in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about a necessity for equality, ask any Jewish person in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about the Holocaust. When did our society become so intolerant to historical truths? Perhaps it’s the old adage, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it? Our lack of patience for realities, past and present, says more about our lack of compassion. Is it because until we experience things for ourselves we cannot see the value of anyone else’s perspectives?
In an increasingly selfish society, change comes best when people see it and are forced to live with it. Parents of gay children, people with gay friends, tend to become slowly more habituated and tolerant of gays even if formerly anti-gay. But ask yourself, is it enough to be ‘tolerant?’ True change is where we stop seeing differences as potentially negative.
During the years, like many others, I’ve been told I’m a pervert, I’m psychologically ill, I’m a man-hater, I’m afraid of true relationships, I’m just reacting to childhood abuse, I’m in a phase, I’m disgusting, I’m obviously a child-molester, and many other things. I’ve had female friends who are afraid of me, thinking I will molest them, and male friends who want to “sex me up” to help me learn the value of heterosexuality. I’ve done things I never thought I would do just to be, who I am. So if we talk about having to explain who we are, it’s really the gay person who is pushed to justify why they are gay, especially as it’s still considered by many to be a choice.
Being gay has always existed. Penguins can be gay. It is one of those things you wouldn’t wish on anybody in the way it’s currently handled in societies throughout the world, but you can’t really say you would wish it away, because it’s like saying you wish you weren’t who you are. Even in this so-called-world of liberated values, gays are killed every week, in certain countries I would be put to death, in others I would be set upon, in others I’d be spat at, in others I’d be jailed.
Just think about that for a moment. When it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry those that did get together, had children who were shunned by both groups. How is it very different for gays who continue to lie to families who would otherwise cut them out of their lives, or lie to their employer so they would not be squeezed out? Or are unable, despite the length and value of their relationships to marry, whilst heterosexuals who have just met, can marry at the altar of Vegas.
Being gay isn’t all hunky-dory just because there are some laws that protect us. In fact often after the passing of a law, anti-gay sentiment rises up, out of frustration. See France as a recent example of this and the anti-gay under-current that exists in relatively liberal Canada. For every step forward, there are many steps back. Think how it would feel to know mass protests occur because people hate you and think you are unnatural? In many countries and states, gays cannot legally adopt, we are treated as inferior, unequal, unnatural and still can’t be the normal we know we are.
Even those who profess to be comfortable and accepting, often aren’t quite so and this makes it very hard to trust people and know how much you can share with them. I didn’t sexually desire my female friends, and most gays aren’t more lascivious than anyone else but if you watch the news, most anti-gay rhetoric labors the point that gays can’t be Boy Scout Leaders because they are sexual deviants and other stereotypes that are so wide-spread as to be commonly accepted by the majority. Usually gays suffer higher rates of depression due to these subtle undercurrents that undermine personal value and security.
Ask yourself; if you were gay would you feel comfortable walking hand-in-hand or kissing in public as you would if you were heterosexual? Let’s not forget when everyone’s relaxed, how funny jokes are that involve gay-themes, but imagine how those jokes would be received if they were racist? Why is one widely accepted and the other not? What is difference in the root of prejudice of both? Not having equal rights under law, is like the law saying you are not worthy of equality, and as the Supreme Court when reviewing gay-issues recently questioned, maybe it’s too soon for equality for you! Since when is equality ever too soon?
It is just as hard being a person of color, being a woman, being disabled and a plethora of other things, but few would feel it were justified to say a black person had no right to bemoan his or her inequality, and if they did say that, there are laws to protect that person and labels to explain their prejudice. Few would be proud to admit to being racist, but many would think nothing of being labeled a homophobe, it’s almost a badge of honor.
That said, many inequalities exist, and that does not justify the existence of any inequality. I am often told, well there is still inequality for people of color and women, as if somehow that justifies inequality of any type. Surely like any chain-reaction, equality should come from every sector and merge together to create a strong river of change. That’s one reason all minorities should see the value of others.
Let’s not forget people who worry, equality for gays will open the door to equality for polygamists, pedophiles and other deviations. They argue that such predilections could be eventually sanctioned on the same basis as gay equality. I disagree on the grounds that being gay does not harm anyone and multiple marriages can.
We could argue this forever, but ultimately it comes down to the validity of a harmless relationship versus one of unequal power. Yes all relationships are subject to abuse and we’re going to see negative portrayals of gays, things we’d never sanction, but that’s no different to the negative portrayals of heterosexuals and speaks more of human fallibility.
Currently there are no laws to protect gays. We can be fired for being gay, we can be imprisoned in certain countries for being gay, we can be thrown out of our house and lose everything including the right to make medical decisions and attend the funeral of our partner. This happens, it happens far more than anyone realizes.
When the family of one gay person is anti-gay and that person gets sick and needs constant care, the family can remove that person and deny access to their partner, no matter how many years they have been together, this isn’t protected in those places where gays are not able to marry or have a civil union. Should we really be grateful for some equality when the only equality that truly matters is full equality?
I ask that if you can’t see why equality doesn’t yet exist and should exist including all forms of equality (such as being able to marry in a church regardless just as blacks have demanded the same rights in marrying in formerly racist churches or ones who would not permit interracial marriages) adopt and many other things, you consider now.
Initially I saw no reason to ‘force’ churches to accept gay marriages because I felt they had the right to choose whom they wanted to marry. I realized that if I were a black man wishing to marry a white woman it would be wrong for a church to turn us away, and validate the negativity of prejudice, and that’s why the law protects such racism. Surely this must equally apply to gays or we’re saying our right to avoid prejudice isn’t as necessary.
We can’t stop with just the first step of equality; it has to exist as much as for you, and you, and you. For all of us. For all those who will come after us, so one day a child is born into a world that hopefully doesn’t know what inequality is. Yes at times that will be repetitive, even boring, but it’s necessary in every struggle for equality, and if we make it fashionable to keep our mouths shut and just hope for the day things change, we will be waiting a very long time.
Though I may not deserve it
Lazy as I am
In ways of discipline
But I’ll give you my rotten core
And every discarded pip
The very dear and marrow of me
Just to believe
I’m a satellite in your sky
Or even stardust
Something rather than nothing
Nothing comes from nothing so
We are all fools when in love
Lest our allotted time runeth dry
And dying we plunge to dusky grave
Unfulfilled, not finding
That God of morsel and mercy
What if when it grows final
And trees no longer spring their buds
For one more year
What if you are gone from my side and I
Empty without your solace and the shape of your mouth
See only endings without playback
I rewind all the years
Each bitter marinated cherry
Tart beneath tongue
A losenge, a comfort, a poison
You wormed into me and I
Welcomed the intrusion
Your familiar vibrate a reminder
Not all that lives is alive
Without some movement
My heart beating faster for its attempt at love
Causes arrythmia and constriction
You wound around me a silken thread
One end tied to skin, the other dangling
Over the edge where all who dream
Let me then
Take your small hand in mine
For there are no safety wheels stable enough
For how I feel …
Though I may not deserve it
I cannot eat without you, there is only
Nourishment when you look upon me
And my arms behold your surround in half light
Making prisms of dull walls and music in movement
We are figurines in our own clock, counting the seconds down to eventual loss
Let me loose then with you reflecting back
Our echoes in the center of the flame
When I close my eyes beloved
I see with your gaze the sum
And with your ears hear my cries
As I crest and fall beneath you in rivers and fire
We exchanged the key
With open mouths
Red from touch
And I never withdrew
In the blossom of your kiss
Take it, turn it to gold, bury our hearts beneath the miracle
So long as I follow in your step
No time is long enough and no regret
For we are but whispers on the crest of day
It will dawn without us and I hope when that happens
Our branches and roots have thickly woven
Deep beneath our flight we become
Not two, not divided, but one
Reaching through time as I strive to call you now
With my longing and the pearl within my very bones
Though I may not deserve it
We are nothing if not the wild in the wind
Dashing against our inevitable ending
Come beloved, follow the trail
Where it leads I know not, yet am I sure
If we fuse like glass nothing remains behind
But some memory before this
The match was struck
A scent of sulfur
You entered the room
And I felt the dagger of joy
We as thunder
We as electric
Striking down obstacle
Falling into mutual devour
The sweetness of eternity
Near in summer storm.
(Nothing comes from nothing/ speak again. Quoted from King Lear. Shakespeare).
But I am divided. In a way that is hard to shape into words.
For women who love women are often the rarest night birds.
Theirs is a love that does not come easily and for this reason, it takes a great deal to stay
Sure and certain on the rainbow path.
Sometimes I understand my bisexual sisters, who having had their love affair with the curves and softness of a woman
Return to their husbands in droves or pick out that wedding dress and let the man
carry them over the threshold.
For a woman to be loved by a woman may feel natural but many times it is a struggle
we have no rule book, we may both want to have the other carry us or hold us when
and men are so good at being heroes
and women are taught to be saved and rescued.
I understand then, the desire for a woman and the longing for less strife
where if you have children it is sometimes impossible to find a way to describe
why you leave daddy for a second mommy and how
fractures in emotions are not easily translated for young minds.
Had I children, who is to say I would have been brave enough? Equally it is part why
I never did.
My sacrifice came because I saw no other way
for it was never as it felt in the arms of someone of the same gender
and in that I am unusual and possibly 1 or 2 percent of the entire world
though it will seem more during Gay Pride and other events
where everyone holds a rainbow and joins in.
Only the days when we are not celebrating, we may be struggling
to fit in with even each other, strange as we may be, these women who
in various guise and costume
fall in love with other women.
I don’t get on well I admit, with those who believe the only true lesbian
is one who shaves her head and dons mens clothes.
It is not that I cannot see their point, or how many years before
it may have been the only choice
but I did not fight this hard to dress as a man and love a woman
who is also dressed as a man.
I would rather pick a full cheeked feminine boy with long hair
and pretend he had nothing between his legs than sell out my own idea
that love of a woman is as feminine as it gets
and we shall share each others’ dresses.
Our history has been unkind and as such, we do not trust very easily
if at all and when we do, we are liable to judge or leave out and exclude many of our tribe
just as women have done for millennia in their pursuit of men
hated other women for existing and challenging that thin mesh of safety.
It saddens me then, to be ostracized when I walk into a gay bar
and do not fit in, or feel judged by my sisters whom I want to
take into my arms and feel less lonely by.
This is but one aspect of the kalidoscope of being the L in the LGBTQ and
few of your G’s and B’s and T’s and Q’s will rush to your defense
we are co-opted in a group who really knows little of the other
for we are as disparate and different as it gets and often we walk
alone, despite our legal rights and our social acceptance (some of the time).
Alone because we cannot befriend a straight woman for she may
wonder if we would fall in love with her (and quite possibly might)
nor a gay woman for her girlfriend will begrudge us, nor a gay man
as they have often hated women and especially those who forsake
men, there is nothing in common there, and straight men will
try to tell us we just need a good f**king and we’ll soon change our
ways so who is left? In the great wide world to be close to and share?
Those fears and our desires, the very stories of our lives
for whom 98 percent of the world cares not, they have their
1.5 children and ideas of normalcy and we don’t fit well enough.
Sometimes, how much I want to tell someone
of the love I have for a woman and the stillness of night
when we move together and how I catch my breath as
she turns like a thimble in my hands, silver against moonlight.
So quiet instead we are, often falling in love and unable
to share this or speak of it, for it is forbidden. No one will
listen, or be interested, they do not understand our strange ways.
Still in this day and this time we are shadows within
light and light within shadows picking our way through
mostly eaten strawberry fields, dreaming of a girl
who may like ourselves be wandering, looking for
a girl like herself who has only ever wanted to be
held tightly and hear the slow beat of a girls heart feel
the rise and fall of her soft breasts and know
she is where she belongs and needed every bit
as much as her own thirsty heart longs
in the early hours and late at night like the lonely
wolf who by himself will climb to highest point
in futile search of another’s call.
She stands in the doorway
The outline of her slim shoulders
The hallway light seems peachy
She is home and without her
Home will be a strange wasteland
Where survivors cling to wreckage
Watching for her shape every night
The smell of her still on tortoiseshell hairbrush
Why didn’t she need it when she left?
How did she choose what to take and what to leave?
The only choice I was certain of
I was not under consideration
That need, to not need
Suffocating on duty and then
Deciding to toss it into waste bin
Along with other chains
I have carried as my own brand of perfume
She who gave me life, wanted life without me
Always did, from the first day they placed me in her arms
And she thought … oh no
It isn’t her fault
Love never arrived
But I am left alive
Yearning to matter, knowing I never will
It is a bigger part of me than I care to usually admit
A voice in the dark always crying for Mommy
A word I haven’t used, I know not
I thought I’d grow up and get over it
But wherever you go, there you are
In my case, a kid whose mom didn’t want
I’m still looking at doorways
Watching for her tread
In other’s faces, a memory yet
Even as I grow older than she was
When she squeezed her heart
And despite the shared DNA
Found it held
Nothing of me
Last night I scalded myself Mama and as the boiling water ran down my arm I saw you through the pain and you were smiling and everything was wrong how you are alive and yet gone, how you exist and yet don’t, how I was never right and somehow always mistaken If I don’t come […]
When I’m not telling people
I am the least competitive person you’ll meet
I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema
I am nevertheless, competing with myself
the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole
appears to be my greatest talent
should they look me up in the dictionary
I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero
it began before words were formed, a slow
incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies
of my relatives
a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty
denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach
was more than a night terror
swimming for medals was competitive after all but
didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded
like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget
noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city
swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found
among cast-off plasters.
Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened
by sandwich of pain in my gut or how
no-one for me sitting among keening spectators
when I came up for air.
Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it
perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house
with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.
When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl
I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy
kid shoes against linoleum hallways
what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated
we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the
shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?
We learn the company of other Reparates
is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot
make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling
soon I gave up trying for A’s
locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends
instead of this disinterested girl
briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater
but coming up for air was much harder.
I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined
surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds
battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world
I rarely visit
it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with
the shifting skin of me
something that happens when you begin to leach
that essence of youth and vigor
realizing, if you can make it out of bed today
you’re doing better than the day before.
I hear in my head, the scold of my mother
who believed I gave myself this illness
and much as they’ve told me that’s madness
I am often found returning to those words
as if they have some clammy power over me
which of course, they do.
I know I was well and then I was not
just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity
or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage
it’s a day when colors and sounds change
in this case, terror walked into my throat
sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.
Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those
paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores
put them in water and watch them bloom
only long enough before turning to ink and
wet tree pulp
it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than
those you expect
angry with yourself for not learning sooner
expectation leads to disappointment.
This could be why I didn’t
enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)
better to stay low and wait it out until
you can have your turn
only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left
then it’s almost too late and you have to change
Nowadays I compete with myself
can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?
Will it matter if I do?
What happens afterward?
Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird
I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart
Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’
perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but
something lovely, I can only hope
though my body likes to punch me in the gut
as I fall asleep and try to dream
thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice
this was something you did wrong
thump, thump, thump, my own voice
no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around
even getting half way there would be some kind
which is why I always said it’s not about winning
but making the effort
to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.
Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between
throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying
maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see
I’m not from here, I don’t belong
though where I came from I hardly know anymore
so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw
with every passing year I realize
I can’t win, I but I will fight
MAKE ME I whisper to myself
bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.