Scary — A Meditation for Queer Femmes

The email felt like a punch in the stomach. At the last minute, truly at the 11th hour before a co-sponsored drag event for local queer youth, the straight person in charge of the co-sponsoring institution had discovered some rules and regulations that had to be followed. Her tone bullying and panicked, she demanded our queer organization do background checks with the police. Never mind we have had stringent safety protocols in place for years, never mind that other events had been co-sponsored in the past with no mention of this requirement, she had apparently received a phone call from a concerned citizen and had passed that BS right on to the queers.

I am learning to understand that when I feel strong emotion for “illogical” reasons, I am tapping in to a deeper, sounder logic. Despite the song and dance about “we apologize for the late notice” and “our hands are tied”, this unreasonable request came about because of a very solid and nasty reason: homophobia and, more specifically, Fear of Drag.

Several unpleasant days and interactions followed until I was able to correctly identify the source of my frightened, angry and furious reaction to this “request”. In the past, and even to some extent today, I might have retreated into that state the status quo loves to impose on us queers: paralyzing self doubt. With the help of my butch husband – a dab hand at spotting institutionalized homophobia – my colleagues and my own not inconsiderable wisdom, I managed to get to a place where I could handle the situation in a way that felt good and appropriate to me, that had elements of compromise (we have a pretty good relationship with this organization, after all), but that allowed me to stand by what is right. The drag will go on!

Before that happened, though, I ran into the person who had started the whole shit storm. She looked me in the eye and asked me how I was. Although I was shaking with upset fury, and yes, fear, I looked her in the eye and said I was fine but that I was not enjoying myself and that we would talk later about this, after the event in question. She blushed and looked down, murmuring her assent.

When I told my husband, she said, “You scared her.” Surprised, I realized that this was the case. My husband, pure-D butch, is used to scaring straight people, but it’s not a familiar feeling for this femme. I can’t say that I didn’t like it, to tell you the truth, and I definitely have filed it away in my bag of organizing tricks. I am always forgetting that straight people are scared of queers for so many twisted reasons, and I usually feel that my white, cis, able-bodied, middle class privilege outweighs my oppression as a queer. And I am definitely thoroughly trained as a woman to avoid confrontation, always trying to smooth things over, but this time, I stayed the course.

I know that it’s a direct line from cozy, local unquestioned institutionalized homophobia to the jailing, beating and killing of queers somewhere else. Business as usual must be disrupted. When we step into our scary, we step with power and love. When we step into our scary, we are loving ourselves and we are loving other queers. Scary, unstoppable, together: we are helping to heal the world.

 Every Monday (or Tuesday, Wednesday, even), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.