Meditation for Queer Femmes — MLK Day Celebrations

In reading the vignette below, a recounting of the MLK Day celebration for our suburban town, I hope you can find ways to connect to your own queer femme relationship with Dr. King’s work.

When I was a little, chubby, white, baby femme bookworm, I just assumed MLK Day was already a holiday, although that actually happened much later. My suburb, just next door to the city of St. Louis, had experienced white flight, so that by the time I got to high school, the student population was over 90% black. Jessie Jackson spoke in our auditorium, telling us, “You are somebody!!!” At that assembly, there were some white students who refused to stand for the Black National Anthem, while others were actively involved in organizing against apartheid.

Last night, in the Boston suburb where I’ve lived for over 20 years, my butch and I joined the mostly elderly white crowd for our town’s MLK Day celebration. We all stood for the black National Anthem, and the familiar peons to Dr. King were spoken earnestly and lovingly. An award was given to a white minister who “embodies Dr. King’s values”. We sang “We Shall Overcome” and enjoyed the Mistress of Ceremonies’ seamless, rambling, beloved routine (what will she say this year?!).

The white minister who received the reward is she who refused the queer kids I work with their Drag Extravaganza.* I remained seated, as did my butch, when she received a standing ovation. Queerness, in fact, is glaringly lacking, year after year,** although the piano player last night was definitely gay.

As a white, queer, avoirdupois, middle-aged, femme bookworm, I absolutely believe that MLK would love the gays. Everyone uses his words to further their own versions of justice and much has been written about how his increasingly outside-the-box and radical thinking has been watered down. As we continue to strive to, in the words of Colson Whitehead, “Be kind to each other, make art, and fight the power,” can we honor this man’s legacy by honoring his truly world-changing ideas and including everyone?

The Mistress of Ceremonies called for the audience to give the MLK Committee suggestions for next year. My butch and I will be complying with her request.

*Please see my post “Love Letter to the Methodists”

**Please see my post, “Would MLK Love the Gays?”

Every Monday (or Tuesday), 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.

 

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 6:35 PM  Leave a Comment  
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So Glad You Have Mary

Coming out of my therapist’s office the other day, I bumped into a straight mom I know from cross country (Owen has been running Varsity since freshman year). This mom is also a therapist who works in the building. I was a little startled and shy to run into her, so, after saying hello, I blurted out, “I see Mary!” gesturing at my therapist’s office. The mom smiled her warm, therapist smile, and said in a warm, therapist voice, “I’m so glad you have Mary!”

 

Another time, I overheard the following conversation between two straight ladies at the UU church where I sing in the choir:

 

Rainbow Love #1:       My son is seeing someone!

Rainbow Love #2:       Oh, really? That’s great! How’s it going?

RL #1:                         Well, they’ve only been on a few dates, but he seems like a sweet man.

RL#2:                          Oh, I hope it works out for them!

RL#1:                          I know, I know. You just want them to be happy, you know?

RL#2:                          Yes, I know exactly what you mean!

 

There’s nothing like being reduced to the status of cute, fuzzy animal by this brand of

straight benevolence to kick a girl in the ass.

 

I think this is what wears us down and does us in. Here we are, queers in suburbia – most

of us being careful not to use that terminology, even – volunteering for the PTO, having

mostly straight friends, working hard for “welcoming” churches, on town committees,

carpooling, smiling and nodding as straight parents say things to us like, “I’m so glad my

kids have had the opportunity to get to know you and your family – now they’ll grow up

knowing that gay people are just like us!” We are supposed to be grateful that straight

people are “ok” with us, even though so often these same “ok” folks never offer to go to

Pride with us, obviously don’t have the imagination or time to spend a few minutes

thinking about the reality of our lives or do anything else that will truly support us, just

happily pat us on the head and give us a wink and a nod. You cute little lesbian, you!

 

I’m glad I have Mary, too, but not because anything about me is broken or less-than or

worthy of pity and condescension. Mary helps me remember all the many, many ways that

I am whole.

 

My husband and I went to a Pi(e) party in the distant land of Jamaica Plain on March 15,

far, far away from our suburban lair. There were queers of all sorts at this party, and I

conversed with five or six different femmes alone. It was a haul to drive over there, and

we really had to push ourselves to get out of the house, but my gracious was it worth it.

Seeing all those flavors of queers situated us again in our skins. Being surrounded by

our people reminded us that we are unique, capable adults who think deep thoughts, have

complex and nuanced personalities, grown-up sexualities and so much more.

 

Best of all, my offering had a little picture of John Waters on a stick stuck in it, with a

speech bubble that said, “Have some (apple) pie, butt plug!”*

 

 

 

*see the chapter about Blossom (my hero!) in Carsick, our Queer Book Group’s most

recent read

Published in: on March 24, 2015 at 4:37 PM  Comments (3)  
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