slammerkinbabe: (gay tinky)
Also, I seem to have missed National Coming Out Day.

So: Hi! I'm queer. If you missed it.

I suppose I could make this a slightly more interesting post and note that I use "queer" deliberately because I'm not really a lesbian, though I usually call myself one both as shorthand and because I identify with lesbian culture to a large extent. I could technically call myself bisexual, since I am occasionally attracted to men and might have acted on that at some point if my life had taken a different path somewhere along the line. But that term's never felt quite right to me: it implies a sex-'n'-gender binary that rings false to me, and it moves on to imply that there are men and women in this world and I'm attracted to both, end story. In point of fact not only are there a lot of transfolk and genderqueer folk in this world, but I am frequently quite attracted to them. In further point of fact, I tend to be mostly attracted to other folks who identify as queer, which means I am more likely to be attracted to a queer guy than I am to be attracted to a really hot heterosexual cisgender woman who has no interest in queer issues. This is why virtually all of my guy crushes have been gay guys, which would also be why I have no experience with guys. (If I'm a lesbian and I want to sleep with gay guys, why don't the gay guys want to sleep with me?)

Anyway. There was a meme that went around, a long time ago, in which you made an ID card that read "Hello, My Gender Is..." And then you picked all the options that applied to you from a *hugely* extensive list, to which you could also add items as you wished. (The added items were then incorporated into the larger list, which was why it was so long and so cool.) It incorporated a whole lot of elements into the idea of gender, which was basically the point. I liked that meme, and I'd be interested to see how much my answers have changed since the first time I took it. But I have no idea when I took it or where it is now, if it's even still online. Oh well.

But, yeah. I am queer! You knew that already. Above are listed some of the specific ways in which I am queer! You probably knew those already too.

Interestingly, though? I just realized that it was on Saturday that λ and I went to a family wedding on the side of the family where I hadn't bothered to come out to my extended family because they're incredibly conservative and I only see them like once a year, so it didn't seem worth it (especially because it would cause drama not just for me and λ, but for my grandparents and my mom, all of whom would be pretty upset by it). And it was just after midnight when they gathered my uncle's near family together for a group photo. And my extended-family-super-conservative-aunt-who-I-never-see was snapping pictures as well. And so she was there, camera and attention focused, when my uncles and aunt-in-law yelled that we couldn't take the picture until λ was in it. (Yay uncles and aunt-in-law.) And so λ came up a little bashfully and stood beside me, and we hooked our arms over each other's shoulders and smiled through the snapping camera flashes. And my super-conservative-aunt's face changed, just a little, and it was pretty clear that willed ignorance will only take you so far, and she'd just outstripped its limits.

I guess basically what I'm trying to say is that now that I think about it, I did some coming out on Sunday after all. And now, interestingly, there's no one I'm bothering to keep myself closeted from anymore, because if that aunt knows then so will that whole side of the family, and they were the only ones I'd been hiding from.

Well, shit, I can just go and join the [Extended Family] network on Facebook now. I was invited months ago and never accepted because editing my profile to hide my marital status from that network was a bit more active closeting than I was comfortable with. No need, anymore!

National Coming Out Day is cool!

ETA: Ooh, and [livejournal.com profile] lienne found it for me!


Hello

My name is

Kylie

My gender is

admirer, ally, babe, bbw, bbw admirer, bi-romantic, biogirl, bisensual, bitch, bouncy, bubbly, caring, cat lover, chapstick lesbian, chick, chubby, cisgender, complex, confused, counselor, creative, cuddly, cute, dork, dreamer, dunno yet, dyke, etc., fangirl, fat, fat dyke, female, female-identified, feminist, friend, friendly, geek, genetic girl, girl, girl lover, glittery, huggy, human, indecisive, intelligent, interested, LGBTQQIA, left-brained, lesbian, lesbian-identified, lezbean, liberal, library dyke, lost, lover, loving, Mrs., Ms., me, misunderstood, myself, nerd, NLD, not sure of myself, not sure of others, obsessed, odd, open, passionate, peopleemotional, person, pro-family, pro-gay, pro-sex feminist, progressive, queer, queer dyke, queer femme, queersexual, quirky, romantic, same gender loving, same sex different gender oriented, sapiosexual, sapphist, sensitive, she-geek, snuggly, strange, sweet, teh gay, transfan, understanding, unsure, weird, whatever, wife, woman, XX

What's yours?


I actually had to add a Q to "LGBTQQIA" because I want both queer and questioning in the acronym. I was shocked that I wanted an option they didn't have. (But then, I do not have a clue what "LGBTQIOPPS" is. Anyone know?) They also had "autistic", which is like 1/4 accurate in describing me, and didn't have NLD, which is the fully accurate term. So I went back and edited that up too.

I could have chosen about twice as many words as I did and they would have been accurate denotative descriptors. I could also have cut the number of words I chose in half and it probably would have been equally accurate in denotation. Mostly I picked the ones I like and that I felt an affinity with when I looked at them. One bi-word even made its way in there. Look, I don't know, people. I don't make up these nonsense contradictions, I just live with them.

Anyway. I don't know how long ago I took the meme originally or how much it's changed. But I still like it.
slammerkinbabe: (shades of gray)
Salon has an interesting article on the ex-gay movement. (Yeah, you need to watch a few seconds of an ad to see the article, but it's worth it if you're at all interested in the subject, really.) It treats it both in depth and more fairly than most coverage that I've seen has done. I think it's flawed, but for all that, it's pretty well done.

It served as a stepping-off point for me to consider some of my reactions to the ex-gay movement as well. Like so many things in my life, my perspective on this has been in gradual evolution. Several years ago, I had the same snarling, fiercely defensive, claws-out reaction to the ex-gay movement that I did with anything that I perceived as threatening to my own belief system. Ex-gays were wrong; not just wrong, deluded; not just deluded, offensive. Their philosophy was a poisonous blend of religious fundamentalism and denial that bordered on psychosis, and I didn't want to see or hear anything about them, ever. I didn't want them speaking on my campus, I didn't want them to have access to public fora from which they could traumatize young kids who were just coming out (I believed in free speech, of course, but come on, some people don't DESERVE a podium and microphone), and I would have worked zealously to convert any of them back to homosexuality, assuming I didn't get bored or fed up first. It was all so clear!

I didn't really know much about what they did, then. I mean, practically speaking. I knew they claimed you could change your sexuality, and I knew they wanted to change their own sexuality because they thought being gay was morally wrong, and so I guess I just assumed they were The Enemy. I mean, really, who needed to know anything more?

And yet there's a bit of cognitive dissonance here. I sure as hell don't agree with the basic foundations of the ex-gay movement. I don't believe that homosexuality is morally wrong or that God wants us all to be straight. I don't believe that homosexuality is the product of a conflicted or gender-disordered upbringing. I don't believe in reinforcing "normal" gender-binary behavior - sports and manual labor for the guys, baking and babies for the girls! - at all, let alone promoting its reinforcement as part of a cure for homosexuality. I am not, nor will I ever be, an ex-gay, folks.

And yet. When you leave out of the equation all the camps for teenagers that parents enroll their kids in (as that's not the focus of the above article), and when you leave out the fact that I (and I'm sure you) disagree with them politically...

...who cares what they do?

I mean this very seriously. I hear so many snide remarks aimed at ex-gays - at best it's an ironic, eye-rolling comment that presupposes that OF COURSE they're all closeted morons, and at worst it's actively judgmental vitriol that assumes them to be a major threat. I see all of this, and it just seems out of proportion. I'm not talking here about James Dobson & Co., the far-right wackos who use the ex-gay movement as one piece of their larger political arsenal. I'm not talking about the people who wield political power and make use of the ex-gay movement to buttress their own attempts to foment bigotry and religiously based hatred. Those people didn't give a shit about ex-gays before they became politically useful, as the article will tell you, and underneath the rhetoric they don't really give a shit about them now. Ex-gays' struggles are really not of concern to the fundies who have appropriated them for political gain.

I'm asking a fundamental question here. Like I said, leave out the teenagers who get forced into these programs by their parents; that's a separate issue, and a disturbing one. In general, ex-gays make a choice, and it's one that's made with as much freedom and autonomy as any choice in this world. Sure, a lot of them have probably had their perspectives shaped by political forces that you and I don't agree with. But everyone's shaped by something, unless they're really, really lucky. And people respond to these influences as best they can, and they make choices that allow them to sleep at night. That's it, that's all. If someone has chosen to become ex-gay, it's because for that person, being gay was not an option they could live with.

Do some people choose wrongly, make choices that will leave them with regrets? Sure. Are all those people ex-gays? Are you kidding me?

I just get really antsy and twitchy when I hear so much unthinking condemnation of a particularly unpopular choice, and that's what I tend to hear when the ex-gay movement comes up. Now, let me reinforce here, as I always do when the subject of personal choice comes up, that any choice that hurts another person is emphatically not okay. I just don't think the ex-gay movement necessarily *does* hurt other people, or not in a way that can be avoided. I know they're politically dangerous to me and my rights, sure. But what's the solution, that I condemn them for speaking out, or, worse, for making their own choices? They're not doing what they do *in order to hurt me*. It's easy to stomp on them, or just to mock them, because so many other people have done it. But that doesn't make it okay.

Part of this is doubtless shaped by the fact that I don't think sexual orientation is always inborn and immutable. I got into a bit of a comment-thread brawl on this subject awhile back; a lot of gay people are threatened by this viewpoint, which I can understand, because it's both politically inexpedient *and* it doesn't conform to a lot of people's experience. A lot of people, they really don't feel they ever had a choice. I'm not saying everyone does. I just think that for some people, there is an element of choice - that we do have the power to control where we direct our attractions, in a sense. I think most people are bisexual to some degree, even if it's small, and that we can choose to nurture that bisexual element, or we can shut it down. I believe this in part because I've lived it. I do not claim that it's everyone's experience or true across the board. But I have some sense that it is possible to have some degree of choice with respect to sexuality.

I get bothered when people try to force a different choice on me, of course. There are a ton of politicians who would be absolutely salivating to hear someone say what I've said here, because if I *can* change, then of course I *should*, right? No. I don't acknowledge that because a couple of lines in the Bible say homosexuality should be punished by death - a couple of lines that lie alongside lines stating that people who eat shrimp and people who wear polyester blends should also be punished by death - I need to fall in line with that. Leviticus is not my moral authority; nor is it the moral authority of this country. I have yet to hear a convincing moral reason why I should convert to heterosexuality. The day I hear one that's convincing, maybe I'll think about it. In the meantime, I'm going to go ahead and marry my girlfriend, because I really don't see that happening.

But for some individuals, Leviticus is apparently what works for them. If they try to write Leviticus' moral code into the Constitution, as some are trying to do, I will scream to high heaven. If they try to shape their own behavior by that moral code? I will - this will sound strange - but I will applaud them for making a really, really hard choice that they feel is right for them. Seriously. They're grownups. They know what they're getting into. If they ever come out of the ex-gay movement, I will applaud them for that too. I'll probably be happier for them if they come out of it. But the fact remains that they make their own choices, and that the choices they make for their own lives are no threat to my own.

In some ways it reminds me of a conflict I've come upon while working the BARCC hotline. Some of the survivors who call BARCC make choices in their healing that I really, really, really would never make in a million years. Things that seem so blatantly illogical and even unhealthy. And I always want to be like "but... why would you do that? No, seriously, you can't do that. Please don't. That's stupid." But in the end - you support them, assuming the choices they're making aren't deliberately or overtly harmful to them or anyone else. You tell them that they make their own choices and that they're doing a really good job of deciding what's right for them, no matter what anyone else would say. And it's *true*, is the thing. And maybe in six months they'll call back and say that they've come out of that period, and you'll help them find a new path, one that, again, they determine. And maybe they won't, and they'll spend the rest of their lives in a lifestyle that you just can't understand to save your life.

But you have to trust people. You have to trust that they *can* make their own choices. And if their choices seem so bad to you that you can't trust them, you have to respect, ultimately, that they do make those choices freely.

I do not like judgment very much.

This was supposed to be a piece about the ex-gay movement, I think; I had some decent points to make about that, but now I seem to have forgotten what they were. This turned out to be both longer and broader than I expected it to. And I strongly suspect that it turned out to be more boring than I wanted it to be as well.

Still. Don't be judgey, people. Being judgey never does anyone any good.

/lecture.

ETA: I realized this is one of the points I wanted to cover in my original post, but I forgot and now there's nowhere I can put it where it will flow so you get it in an ETA. There's been some hoopla about whether the ex-gay movement should be allowed to leave pamphlets in with, say, high school guidance counselors so that their perspective can be heard by any teenager who's coming out. They say they want these kids to have a balanced perspective. This seems to get everyone extremely upset, and I understand why - it's an awfully gray area. But in the end, I think it *is* not just okay but fundamentally fair and right for different viewpoints to be represented there. We liberals are always talking big about how giving kids information does not mean we're forcing them to make use of it. We talk about how teenagers are old enough to make their own choices WRT things like sex, and so giving them information about safe sex and birth control is not the same thing as telling them to have sex, it just allows them to make an informed decision. And I know it's not exactly the same thing, because sexuality isn't a choice in the same way sexual activity is, but honestly, if we present kids with a big pamphlet of GLBT support and resources, why do we assume it will be fundamentally damaging to them if we give them a pamphlet on the ex-gay movement as well, or that they'll feel unbearably pressured to join the ex-gay ranks? Distributing information is not the same thing as endorsing it, and I think we're perfectly capable of making that clear. And if we disagree with information that is disseminated, the way to respond is to speak louder and with more clarity and coherence, not to try to stop its dissemination.

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