Meditations for Queer Femmes — Queer Femme Insight

This week, our local paper had a horoscope column for the first time I can remember. The astrologer talked about the upcoming solar eclipse as a time when things formally hidden will be revealed, particularly around the doings of our political leaders.

The more the ugly erupts, the harder it becomes, even for those deep in denial, to ignore that America is a country monstrously off track and deeply wounded because of its historical and present-day violence.

We queer femmes know that things may not be what they appear. We are used to looking below the surface, in nooks and crannies. And we know a thing or two about dealing with denial. We know that when the truth is ignored, people get hurt, even when we’re talking on a personal level. When it’s on a national level, we’re really in trouble.

We queer femmes know truths about the world that other folks have had the luxury of ignoring.

We may be afraid to look, but we can’t afford to look away. As Zamarra Perri says in her post, “What Every Black Femme Fears When Dating a Black Butch”, (Black Lesbian Love Lab, Dec. 2, 2015), “One of the most dangerous things to do in in front of a heterosexist man is to be an openly stud-femme couple. And, “The double whammy is the white racist who is enraged by our pride, confidence and very comfortable existence in spaces that they think belong only to them.”

We queer femmes are always on the lookout. All queers are always on the lookout. We have to be. That nice man over there? Maybe not so nice. That group of innocent picnickers? Maybe not so innocent. That event at which “All are welcome?” Maybe not so much. The neighbor who had been friendly and helpful until he saw you with a butch or genderqueer friend or lover, and who now watches you silently in a way that terrifies you? He knows where you live.

We queer femmes already know so many dirty secrets. We aren’t surprised by the big reveal happening now in our country. Because we’re already so far along in understanding the political situation, we have the ability to help our straight, white, cis friends, neighbors and family members – you know, the ones who can’t stop being amazed and horrified, who are frozen and don’t know what to do – we have the ability to help them through so we can all take action.

Our queer insight is in high demand right now. This country’s secrets, never out of sight for those of us who are targeted, are exploding. We can help with the grief and the anger because we live our lives with grief and anger. We can help with feelings of being the outsider, the uninvited, the lost, the victimized, the scape-goated, the hated, because we live with that reality. And we find strength. And we make art. And we understand how to make community. It is through art and community that we will survive.

I woke up thinking about horses and the sea of possibilities. Patti Smith’s song “Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De)” from her album, “Horses,” blew my little teenage mind when I first heard it. Back then, I didn’t know it was about heroin, and even now, listening again, even knowing that heroin is a subject, I am challenged and comforted and inspired, because she’s also talking about violence and resisting violence.

Asked about the obligations of poets, Adrienne Rich had this to say:

I don’t know that poetry itself has any universal or unique obligations. It’s a great ongoing human activity of making, over different times, under different circumstances. For a poet, in this time we call “ours,” in this whirlpool of disinformation and manufactured distraction? Not to fake it, not to practice a false innocence, not pull the shades down on what’s happening next door or across town. Not to settle for shallow formulas or lazy nihilism or stifling self-reference.

 Nothing “obliges” us to behave as honorable human beings except each others’ possible examples of honesty and generosity and courage and lucidity, suggesting a greater social compact.”—Adrienne Rich, interviewed in 2011 in The Paris Review

When the light shines into darkness, many things are revealed, including that sea of possibilities Patti Smith sings about. We need our poets right now. We need our queer femmes right now, our honorable human beings all.

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

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 11:56 AM  Comments (7)  
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