Meditations for Queer Femmes – Intellect vs. Heart

A 14-year old student was just telling me today about how a gay friend of hers, also 14, asked his dad not to go to a certain chain restaurant because it gives money to homophobic hate groups. This, apparently, was a teaching moment for the straight dad, who launched into a long, well-thought-out treatise on how once you start looking into things – what companies spend money where and how – you’ll see that the whole system is corrupt and you’ll just drive yourself crazy and will waste all your time and energy trying to find an “honest” company. This was not what the kid wanted to hear. I wish the dad had just said, “Of course, honey, I don’t want to spend money at a company that actively supports groups that hate you,” but he didn’t.

As much as I was feeling pissed off at the dad in this story, I can’t say that I haven’t done the same thing to my own kids, to relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues. I’ve been snippy and more than snippy when straight people make assumptions about my particular kind of queerness, especially when I experience them as being just a little too proud of how “down” they are. I have over-explained, excused, shamed, gotten really upset and more about ignorance in all its many forms, even when the person was genuinely trying to educate themselves or was attempting to form a connection despite all the barriers. Example: “Your wife is so great!” There are days when I would have gone to town: she’s not my wife she’s my spouse, here’s what kind of dykes we are, here’s what butch/femme means to me, here’s what you should do before you open your mouth and make assumptions, and on and on. No one comes out of an exchange like that feeling very good. Why is it so hard to just say, “Thanks, I think so, too!”

I know, I know, people do need to be educated and there is so much egregiousness out there, it can just be the very last straw when a neighbor or colleague really botches it. But it’s not always your job to educate everybody (note to recovering-academic self…) and you get to take a rest sometimes and not have to hunt down and correct every single slip up. If it’s important enough, if you see the person a lot, work with them, whatever, the more you build trust by being kind, the more effective the eventual education will be. Being kind, too, is not just about the other person, it’s also about you.

Back when my kids were little, parents in my lesbian mom’s group bandied funny stories around about children asking, “Why is there a baby in your tummy? or “Who’s my daddy?” and the long, guilt-ridden, convoluted answers about straight people and alternative insemination and “Mommy and Mama wanted to have a baby, but they just had eggs and not sperm…” Most often, the kids really only needed a couple of words, like, “That’s where babies grow,” and “You don’t have a daddy.”

Sweets and darlings, be kind to yourselves today. Don’t take on every fight, every teaching moment, every righteous biffing. Get to the heart of the matter. What is the person really saying, despite awkward wording and bad timing? Is it really worth the stress and strain on your already beleagured spirit to pursue it or is it ok, just this once, to zen into a heart to heart with another human being, say a couple of easy-going words, and move on and through? Protect your precious hearts today, femme sisters. Be kind, be wise, be loving – to yourselves first and foremost.

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

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)