Meditations for Queer Femmes — Insufficient

We are desperately trying to make our abusers love and accept us when they do not love and accept us, when they do not love and accept us without them doing their work, and you can’t do their work for them. I don’t care how much you want to love them into being. They have to do their own work, and so you have to really insist upon only living within the vibration of love. Love that changes, love that confronts, love that holds you, love that allows you to make mistakes but only within love. –Re. angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.

How do we queer femmes make sense of our wounds? The daily micro- and not-so-micro-aggressions, the generational trauma of queers in general and queer femmes specifically? How many of us grapple with multiple layers of rejection, ignorance, outright violence – physical and mental – from our families of origin, our ethnic and racial cultures, the white supremacist powers that be, and even, poignantly and heartbreakingly, from other queers?

In Episode 101 of Star Trek Voyager, Seven of Nine begins to hear the voices of people who had been her victims when she was part of the ruthless Borg Collective, you know, the ones who say menacingly, “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Seven of Nine was herself a victim of the Borg, assimilated as a child. She has been liberated by the intrepid crew of Voyager, and is trying to learn how to be herself, to be an individual. To connect with a group of people out of love, loyalty, and inclination rather than force. As a Borg drone, Seven believed herself to be perfect; the Collective changed her body with Borg technology and when she was working in tandem with millions of beings in order to achieve the subjugation of all sentient species it certainly must have been a pretty big rush. Up until now, Seven has regretted her liberation and mourned being severed from the perfection of the Borg. She finds life on Voyager clumsy and annoying. “Insufficient!” she often raps out, finding fault with just about everything. Now, faced with the pain of all those victims, she in turn begins to feel her own pain. She sees that, despite its appeal, the perfection she still strives for could never help her weather this level of woundedness: the realization that she was and is a victim, a victim who went on to cause immense harm to others.

Like Seven of Nine, we queer femmes are victims of the greater culture. Yearning for perfection – or acceptance, anyway — we may try as hard as we can, day after day, to get things right, to be exemplary, to do our part. “If they just see how much work I’m doing,” we may think, “they’ll have to respect me!” We don’t do this work to harm others, of course, and yet, we may very well be causing harm to ourselves. We can find spaces in which we are welcome, where we appear to be loved, but so often it is conditional: as long as we are satisfied with what the status quo has to give, we are welcome. As long as we do as they do, we are loved. Insufficient!

In the end, Seven comes through this very challenging time with the help of her friends and colleagues aboard Voyager, in all their imperfection. She is allowed space, time, assistance and encouragement to begin asking and finding answers to those questions that are the birthright of every one of us: who am I? how do I best express myself? how do I live a life that is genuine and useful and satisfying? who are my friends, lovers, colleagues – the folks who see me for who I really am and who love and accept me, who are not put off by my imperfections, my differences, my quirks and queerness, who are able to hold my entire self?

As much as we queer femmes may desperately hope that our jobs, our places of worship, our neighborhoods, schools, friends, and families see us in our queer wholeness, this is so often not the case. We may feel stuck where we are, willing to put up with what we have because it’s better than a knuckle sandwich (as my Grandpa Doc used to joke). As Rev. angel Kyodo williams says, however, might we put our hard work into finding community where we are truly valued, where we can truly flourish? Where the love we get and the love we give is sufficient, is far more than sufficient?

May we find these healing, challenging, beneficial communities. May we embrace one another without condition. May we flower.

Every Monday, 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.