All Tomorrow’s (Straight) Parties

I recently requested to be removed from an email list of members of my ex-church who live in or near my neighborhood. One of the initiatives this year is a sort of “get to know your neighbors” series of shared meals, and I was tired of receiving emails about Spanish appetizers and wine tastings. Gosh, spend more time with liberal white straight people who dearly wish to believe I’m “just like them”? What a treat!

 

We’re about to be snowed in again. I said to Tex, “Well, maybe the boys can hang out with the K’s,” our neighbors. Tex said bitterly and referring to many disappointments from years past, “No, they’re probably going to their straight snow-bound parties to have fun.”

 

How ironic that one of the things some of the members of the above-mentioned church said when some of us queers were trying to initiate queer space in the supposedly “welcoming” congregation was ,“Your Gay Soirees sound like so much fun!” in a droll, slightly hurt, slightly hopeful way.

 

Tex and I were talking again about the whole “LGBT-friendly” caregivers support group we didn’t go to last night (see last post). When I asked the social worker if she was straight, she said in the most snippety fashion imaginable, “BISEXUAL!” Ah, I said, thank you for telling me. We hung up, and I muttered, somewhat snippety in my own right, “Yeah, you slept with a girl in college but you’ve been married to a man for 30 years and live a totally straight life!”

 

Tex and I were musing that there are straight people we know and love who are queerer than a lot of the folks who used to sidle up to me at church and confess that they were bisexual. It’s a cultural thing – are you at least somewhat conversant with what’s going on in the queer world? Or do you just want to trade in on that time you kissed a girl and thought it was ok so you can come to the rainbow glitter unicorn kaffee klatch that just sounds so cool?

 

Ok – if you say you’re queer, you’re queer and you get to come, I would never bar the door or do a pantie check or anything like that. But please, do say you’re queer! Don’t lurk! Agh, what am I trying to say. I guess something about just letting us not be just like you, not all of us are (I would say none of us are).

 

Derald Wing Sue says that so many of his academic white friends want to treat him like a white man because it makes them feel more comfortable and it maintains the power imbalance. In his book Overcoming our Racism: The Journey to Liberation, he describes a dinner date with a white male colleague, to whom, the entire evening, everyone in the restaurant gave preferential treatment. Sue attempted to discuss this with his friend, who had a big fit and denied everything. Sue writes, “It suddenly dawned on me that unearned White privilege is seen as a source of strength and that it provides Euro-Americans with the permission to deny its existence and use it to dominate others! I realized the insidious and seductive effect of White privilege on White Euro-Americans. Why should you want to give up a world that is made for you?”

 

My dear reader knows that I in no way believe that “Gay is the New Black” and in fact find that statement to be racist and idiotic, but I do think some comparisons with racism can be useful in understanding heterosexism and homophobia, and this is one of them. Wing goes on to say that whites have a stake in racism, because it props up the world they benefit from, just as straight people have a stake in homophobia for the same reason.

 

If an institution like a church is unable to see that work needs to be done in order to allow minorities their own cultural space then that right there is the reason there aren’t more minorities in the institution. It’s pretty simple, actually. It’s certainly why I left.

 

But where do I go now? The preponderance of queers here in the burbs are certainly doing their best to assimilate, keep a low profile. Recognizing what’s going on is the first step to doing something about the situation, I suppose.

 

Anyone want to come over for a party?

 

The Snow Day I Was Fierce

Here in the Boston area, school is cancelled. Once again. Tex has braved the streets to get to work, Seth is snowboarding, Owen is out shoveling for dollars, and I have been working from home.

 

Where a social worker from our town’s Council on Aging reached me by phone and now neither of us is happy. A while back, I had requested an LGBT-only caregiver support group be created locally, finding myself queer while caregiving my elderly parents, one of whom (my Dad) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Lo and behold, the COA came through. Sort of.

 

The group is being billed as “LGBT-Friendly”, which made me mad. It’s a fucking “welcoming” congregation all over again! But then I settled down, saying to myself, well at least they’re doing something, and I put it on the shelf. But today when the social worker called to remind me about the meeting and then point blank asked me what I thought about it being “LGBT-Friendly” I fucking told her.

 

Not what I asked for, I said. And this straight woman who’s coming? It’s great that she’s accepting of all sexualities and understands that there might be queer people there. Really great. But do you see how that makes the group more about straight people than queer people? How almost for sure we queers will be forced to, consciously or subconsciously, monitor what we share? And I didn’t say this, but I sure as hell know that wouldn’t ever feel comfortable even tearing up in those circumstances, especially now that I’ve just had words with the group leader!

 

This does not sound supportive to me. Even though I could tell the social worker was bursting to read me, (“You ingrate! How can you say such things! Look how far over backwards we’re bending for your “special” requests!”) she managed to say nothing other than she hears what I’m saying but they have to do it this way for now in order to get enough people to run the group and she’ll be happy to check in with me afterwards for my feedback.

 

Guess what? I’m not sure I’m going to go after all, even if me not going means there aren’t enough people and makes me look like a flake or a jerk. Because, as my husband somewhat exasperatedly pointed out, this is not supposed to be work for me! It is supposed to be a support group.

 

She’s right, and we’ve been talking a lot about this lately. I guess it’s a pretty classic thing to happen to a community organizer and activist, but I find that I never relax. I organize fun, supportive, community-building events, and people have a good time and are supported, but I’m wrung out at the end from having run around making sure everything was going smoothly. I don’t relax much at all, to tell you the truth. Everything is work.

 

Did I mention that I’ve been sick for the past week? There’s been some slight improvement, but I’m still dizzy and my mind is hazy.

 

Talking with that social worker sent me right back to the couch. Damn it! Lately I feel like I just don’t have any barriers protecting me from this shit. Thin skinned. Wore the fuck down.

 

I need to spend time with real friends. I need to find ways to rest and relax with people who love me. I need to be fierce about protecting my health and wellbeing. I need to finish reading Daughters of an Emerald Dusk by Katherine V. Forrest, the absolutely ripsnorting conclusion to her high lesbo camp science fiction trilogy.

 

And I’m pretty sure that where I need to be the night of the support group is not at the Senior Center with a new group of strangers, but rather taking advantage of the loving support that already exists: in the living room, in front of the fire, with my reali-o, truli-o, very own family.

Ubi caritas*

This morning, I missed singing the second “Ubi caritas” — we’re doing three versions in choir – and I missed singing the first one for similar domestic reasons: it just seems like the better choice to stay home with my family.

I’m back singing more seriously after a few years’ hiatus, and I joined this new choir simply and purely to sing, nothing more. The choir director is a dear singing friend from my old voice teacher’s studio, gay as the day, the church requires nothing of me, unlike my old UU liberal hell that just about did me in, and I have made it a priority to practice, get to Thursday night rehearsals, and be there on the Sundays we perform. Singing is one of the things in life that truly feeds my soul.

I’ve been sick for about a week with some vague headache-y, vertigo-y, sore neck-y complaint that got so bad at one point I wondered if you can have walking meningitis the way you can have walking pneumonia. “C1 and C2,” said my chiropractor when I could finally get there (oh yeah – we’ve had a lot of snow here) and she grabbed me and wrung from my neck the sound of a machine gun, or perhaps a chainsaw. Recovery has been slow, despite this cathartic adjustment, and I’ve been missing from the heart of the family in a way I know is disconcerting for everyone.

“I’m so glad you’re feeling better,” whispered my stalwart husband last night as she kissed me goodnight. “I was starting to worry.” She, who has danced attendance, missing work to drive me to acupuncture and chiropractic appointments, brought me meals and reassured me when I started to freak out. And I’ve had to ask Martha** to step in for things like going to an accepted students afternoon at a local university with Seth, when I so dearly would like to be with him as he continues to freak out in various teenage ways about this very adult decision he’ll have to make in the next few months.

I was finally well enough this morning to get up early, as I like to do, muddle through some sudoku, write a little, read, meditate. It was snowing again, but that’s not why I stayed home from choir. I just wanted to be here, cooking, doing chores with Tex – who’s also been yearning for an at-home day to just putter and read – inhabiting the house. Shoring up the home.

*where there is love

**my ex, they boys’ other mom, she of the ever changing pseudonym

P.S. Noble sentiments indeed, from someone who decided not to stop reading out loud to Tex the chapter “Bernice”, about the heroic, renegade librarian, from our Queer Book Group’s current selection, Carsick by John Waters. The chapter includes a great deal of raunch, for example, the (fictitious?) book title, Clitty Clitty Bang Bang, had me and Tex falling about laughing hysterically, and sent a recently awakened and deeply horrified Seth back upstairs to his room for another hour.

Published in: on February 8, 2015 at 4:20 PM  Leave a Comment  
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