Meditation for Queer Femmes – Who Gets the Love?

Over the weekend, my butch husband and I attended Swingtime, a queer dance that has been going strong for over 25 years. The political atmosphere of the nation, our recent firming up of a decision to try and retire in Ptown and subsequent intense desire for this to happen immediately, the fact that our younger son graduated from high school Saturday and is flying full tilt out of the nest, and the pain and feelings of helplessness around our elder son’s health issues all made for a pretty emotional weekend. We were ready to relax and dance with our people, let me tell you.

There is a lesson in swing dancing to start the evening. I found myself dancing several times with a very sweet young person, a BBW, a young woman of color visiting from the Midwest. I went into Gay Mom mode, encouraging her and teasing her gently, as Gay Moms are wont to do. She was such a sweetheart and I enjoyed getting to know her a little bit. Suddenly, I must have gotten a little too gay, because she started mentioning her boyfriend, how he thinks it’s odd that she likes hanging out with gay people so much, but that she feels so much love and acceptance from gay people, and she loves them in return. I think I managed to control my face, and I know that I subsequently met her mom and her aunts (who are a lesbian couple), and I believe I did not betray my surprise. I hope I was able to keep my disappointment that she wasn’t queer to myself, but it definitely got me thinking and fretting, and I’ve been picking away at this ball of confusion for the past couple of days.

A queer friend remarked, upon hearing this story, “I go to a queer event to relax, and I don’t want to be tricked into giving away my queer love to straight people just because they’re comfortable in our space.”

Part of me agrees whole-heartedly, because that’s definitely some of what I’m feeling. But I am also thinking about how I have been learning about and fighting against racism since I was in elementary school, and I have been a feminist for almost as long. How could I possibly begrudge this lovely, dear child of color and of size the experience of feeling embraced and loved and safe? I know that it is systemic oppression and the status quo that revel in members of oppressed groups pitting themselves against each other, that all the work I do with queer youth is about helping to open space where all youth will be able to fully be themselves, and I know also, that, as my gal Pema Chodron says, “if you decide to open the door to everyone, you give up being able to chose who walks through”, and yet, and yet. I did feel a little tricked, even though I often wear a button that says, “Assume nothing.”

Anger is so easy to go to, especially now. My nerves are frayed, I’m exhausted, and I feel old and sometimes pretty hopeless and helpless. I wanted to dance. I did dance, the whole night, and a few of those dances were with this young woman, who was kind and sweet and open-hearted. It’s complicated. It’s deep. There are no easy answers, except, perhaps, a space opened and maintained with integrity and love will attract those who are themselves loving and in need of love.

 Every Monday (or Tuesday or even Wednesday), 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.




“WHY are you so controlive?”

That’s what Owen just asked me after I asked – nay, ordered – him for the umpteenth time to turn off his phone (he’s probably texting his girlfriend) and start his homework. I said, “I just am!” Let me set the scene, here in the Burbs O’ Femme’s Family: we’re listening to a cd of trumpet jazz Owen’s trumpet teacher just gave him; Seth has gone to walk the dog, and Tex giving a talk at a local library so is not with us this evening.

Yesterday the whole family watched the “Ching Chong Asians in the Library Song”* which I learned about from reading Wired (see my previous post) and then we talked about how that poor girl has really messed up her life by carelessly posting her racist rant for all to see. We also talked about how it is she’s so ignorant; really, it’s heartbreaking to see her posturing in front of the camera, so young and so foolish. Seth was amazed by all the responses to her rant, and I told them how she’s even gotten death threats. I said, “Boys, don’t post anything dumb on youtube!” and they grumped and grumbled about how of course they wouldn’t, god, mom.

A while back we went to downtown Boston to see a dance performance a friend was in. Afterwards, I went on for a while about how the dance was so heteronormative (girls in filmy skirts, boys in loose pants) and also how heterosexist one part was where one of the boys was bragging about how straight he is (“Not all male dancers are gay, ok?” kind of thing). Both boys listened politely for a while, as they do, and then they started teasing me about how every time we go to an event, I give them a big speech afterwards.

And you know why? You know why I’m so controlive? Once they’ve flown the nest, I don’t want them blundering through life like that poor girl who inspired not just the relatively friendly “Ching Chong” song, but actual death threats! I want them to know how to deconstruct a piece of art or a situation so that they don’t jump to racist or sexist or homophobic conclusions. I want them to understand about layers, history, context. I want them to be kind and open-hearted when it comes to other people.

But with the stupid phone, I’m just controlive because they have homework and I hate seeing them hunched over the stupid little screen manipulating their thumbs in an unnatural fashion. So there!


Spare a kind thought for Alexandra Wallace, who has surely learned a lot since posting her rant, and who has certainly suffered. Also, much love to Jimmy Wong, who treated a very explosive situation with humor, creativity, and a layered and generous understanding of human nature.

Published in: on March 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM  Leave a Comment  
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