This is something I wrote for my UU church newsletter.
As I write this, the Supreme Court hearings about Prop 8 and DOMA are much in the public eye, and I mean the whole world public eye. My friend who lives in Chile forwarded me a post from another ex-patriot there, a straight woman, who wrote about Edith Windsor, plaintiff in the case before the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA. The post heading was, “The sweetest little old lesbian I’ve ever seen!” and went on to call Edith “adorable”.
I found this post so interesting, because that is not how I would describe Edith Windsor. When I look at her, I see a very powerful person, who, after a lifetime of abuse by a homophobic society, is fighting back and doing some very serious ass kicking. I see someone, who, even though she is a lesbian, a woman, and decidedly in the twilight years of her life – all of which are things that have most certainly been used against her in the effort to shut her up – has found the energy and courage to give an unjust system what for.
The tone of the post from Chile reminded me of another time, in another town, when I had to do a double take. “Oh, she’s just the funniest little lady!” was the remark, made in passing, by a straight woman. The person she was talking about, a local lesbian business owner, was someone I, too, had noticed around town, someone who appeared to me to be hard working, complicated, attractive and extremely competent. I could hardly recognize her in the straight woman’s off-hand remark.
I asked my friend in Chile if she thought the post she forwarded me was meant to be supportive. She said she thought so. I think so, too, but is it a real, lasting and substantial support? Calling someone “little”, “adorable”, “funny” feels dismissive to me. Like the support could vanish in a heartbeat if the lesbian stopped being attractive or amusing, like those folks wouldn’t even notice if they came across a lesbian who was not little or adorable or funny.
Part of the problem is that our society is currently so homophobically skewed that fully realized and detailed descriptions of lesbian life, whether in the news media, movies, literature or art, are incredibly hard to come by, at least any that make it onto the heterosexual radar. If you’ve been exposed to untold numbers of heterosexual stories and maybe just a handful of homosexual ones, it’s going to affect how you see the world. I hope that this is changing, and certainly if the Supreme Court does the right thing, our society will have taken a step in the right direction. Until then, let’s do what we can to make room for the stories that so often get overlooked. They are devastating, fierce, arousing, unique, riveting, inspirational, ordinary, spiritual, and some of them are even seriously adorable. But not one of them is simplistic or one dimensional. Just ask any of us.
“Interweave Interludes” will be offered occasionally by different members of our First Parish Interweave Chapter.
The First Parish chapter of Interweave Continental is a member-based, grassroots church group providing the First Parish LGBTQQIA community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies) opportunities for fellowship, support, spiritual growth, social justice work and community activism within the congregation as well as within the wider community and beyond.