Friday, April 29, 2011

Less

As you'll see in a previous post, I recently came out to my parents. I have continued to feel closer to them, less tension in our relationship, and just generally better about our relationship. [Because I was raised in a house where lying was the absolute worst offense, and to this day, I CANNOT lie to my parents. Or anyone else really. Keeping it from them felt like lying.]

As expected, there are nagging issues that my impatient self would like resolved RIGHTNOW, but I realize that this is a big thing and it will take time to get there. What's important to me is that my parents are willing to try. (To a point, at least. Don't get crazy.)

One such issue is my father's refusal to support same-sex marriage rights. Did I expect my parents to suddenly be allies? Hell no.
But having my father look me in the eye and tell me that, knowing the "they" he referred to is me, knowing that the relationships he was calling "not the same" included my relationships, really had its own special level of suck. Today I stumbled across the perfect words (not my own) to describe it:
"There is something uniquely demeaning about being told by a man who brought you into this world, and/or brought you up in it, that it is not a world to which you deserve equal opportunity, equal access, your fair share, but a world in which you deserve less.
Less respect. Less dignity. Less agency. Less autonomy. Less opportunity. Less voice. Less ownership of self. Less of your humanity, because humanness is a zero sum game, and a little of yours must be given to him."
"To the Daughters of the Angry Emailers" at Shakesville. The post is on gender, not sexual orientation,  but it rang deeply true for me and for this situation. I highly recommend her post, as well. :) ]

You see, what I cannot explain to the straight people in my life is why I am so invested in equal marriage rights. Do I want to get married? Maybe. I wouldn't bet on it, though.
I could explain eight ways to Sunday why, should I choose to use the rights or not, I should be guaranteed all of the same civil rights as everyone else.
I could try to explain systemic oppression, "marked" or marginalized groups, "othering," second class citizenship, social consequences of legal forces, hegemony, privilege vs. oppression, how separate is not equal, and every negative or horrible experience I have had because of my sexual orientation. And while they may be empathetic, they can never truly understand.

It's easy to say, "what's the big deal about marriage?" when you have that right guaranteed to you. It's really easy to accept compromise for other people. It's really easy to gloss over it with, "why are you so worked up? Gays have rights" when no one's ever told you to just be happy to get ANY rights.

I live in a society that tells me, at every level, you do not deserve equal opportunity, equal access, you deserve less.
Less respect. Less dignity. Less agency. Less autonomy. Less opportunity. Less voice. Less ownership of self. Less of your humanity.


Being in love can get me killed.

Think about that.

Some people, uncomfortable with acknowledging reality, may try to brush me off as overdramatic. I'm not. Pick up a newspaper. Anti-queer violence is very common.

I guess I can accept society as an unfortunate reality. But it's much harder to just accept my own family thinking of me as less.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Playoffs

Ruff Calls Flyers "Whiners"

Hey Ruff:
1. Aaaaand what is that? WHINER.
2. The Flyers are not "whining." They are justifiably agitated that your shitty team is trying to compensate for an utter lack of skills by blatantly and SHAMELESSLY resorting to very illegal bullshit, which the incredibly biased refs always seem to magically not see or refuse to call. The Flyers are used to being hated on by the refs, but maybe they actually want to PLAY HOCKEY.
3. Cheap shots don't make your team talented. Just pathetic.
4. Tell your shitty team to stop running their mouths and start running plays. Or at least trying.
5. Don't worry about it, because the Flyers are about to eliminate you and your team.
6. You're a royal asshat.
7. You look like a French Canadian pedophile.
8. Eat me.
:)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

This weekend I finally came out to my parents.

As anyone remotely close to me could attest to, coming out to them is an issue that I've really been struggling with.
I'm still processing and so are they.

My parents would never disown me or stop loving me because of who I am, but they are both from very traditional, conservative backgrounds and I don't think they've knowingly had anyone queer on their radar before. (Except for my mother's brother, who was gay. He died of HIV/AIDS in the 90s and most of the family never accepted him. [my mom did])

My parents were the last to know, which really irritated my mom. Apparently she felt like I felt I couldn't tell her anything. As I tried to explain to her, I've always known my parents wouldn't have some horribly negative reaction. But I know from living it that this part of my identity will make my life significantly more difficult, and I know that's the last thing any parent wants for their kid. The delay in my coming out to them came from the fact that I didn't want to disappoint them, among other things. It's hard to tell the people that I love and that love me that I'm going to face more discrimination, hatred, oppression, and potentially violence because of the way I was born. (Especially when those people are Sicilians who immigrated to the US and faced discrimination, hatred, oppression, and potentially violence.) 

The reality is once I come out to anyone, my parents included, my relationship with them will never be the same again. It may be better, it may be worse, it may just be different; but they will always have that lens affecting the way they view me and interact with me. I'm always aware of that fact, but most of the time it doesn't affect me. I have lost friends when I've come out to them. It sucks, but ultimately, it's their problem, not mine. I'm not going to be ashamed because of other people's bigotry. I'm happy to talk to them, inform them, even accept some level of prejudice if it comes down to it. (I have friends that feel that "they should have the same rights and everything, but they shouldn't call it marriage." I'm not thrilled, but I can deal with that level of prejudice.) 
But it's different when it's my family. Because they might not disown me, but our dynamic will be forever changed. And that's a little scary. 

Ultimately, the fact that I hate not being totally honest with my parents and the fact that I felt like I was keeping it from them pushed me to come out to them. That, and my most recent tattoo:



....which, as one might imagine, my parents were less than thrilled about. [My mother is half blind, but I get a new tattoo and she suddenly turns into Eagle Eye....]


The actual coming out was less difficult than I anticipated. I didn't so much come out to my crazy Italian mother as she ambushed me and dragged me out. I had just arrived and we were eating dinner and she just asked me, "Why do you hang out with that queer club so much? Are you queer?" (She was referring to the queer club on campus, called Queer Alliance.) She got me with the lasagna. (I was planning on coming out anyway, but leave it to my mother to be that impatient.) She said she had a feeling and of course, I'm no different now than I was before, etc. Then she spent the next few hours on and off trying to wrap her head around the concept of bisexuality (apparently she just can't get past monosexuality) and, much to my amusement, trying to figure out "how women do it.... BUT I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!" She just kept having these random outbursts while we were watching Jeopardy! It took a lot of self control not to outwardly laugh at her. 
Coming out to my dad the next morning was short and sweet. He said he also had a feeling, and that I'm still his daughter and he still loves me and it's who I am, etc. Then he dropped this little gem: "It bothers me more that you're a liberal." Um.... okay? Thanks?
[side note: I'm not a liberal per se. I'm more left-leaning, but I don't really fit the conventional political spectrum this country uses. I'm more of a, "fuck all y'all and your bullshit politics." That's just my incredibly conservative father's overreaction to anyone that isn't anti-Obama because of taxes.]

And even though they're crazy, it feels good to be able to be fully honest with my parents. To not have to hide part of myself or talk around it. A weird tension I hadn't really noticed was there dissolved when I came out to them. We have a long way to go (like my mother's aversion to masculine lesbians and same-sex PDA and my dad's belief that "they should have all of the same rights they just shouldn't call it marriage), but at least we're on our way.

And here's a fitting music video to send you on your way:



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pet Peeve: "You know a lot about hockey... for a girl."

At the risk of being a Negative Nancy, I'm going to share one of my pet peeves: whenever I get to talking about hockey (and it's almost always with men), I usually get the same reaction at some point: "You know a lot about hockey for a girl."

Excuse you, "for a girl?"


First, I'm a woman. Don't patronize me.

Second, let's step out of the dark ages for a second here.
My gender (and sex) do not dictate my interests or abilities. Or put more bluntly, my possession of a vagina has NOTHING to do with my interest in hockey OR my knowledge of it.
I know, I should be so busy cooking and cleaning and searching for a husband and being irrational that I don't have any time to be interested in Man Things like sports, let alone, y'know, actually know about them.

I know it's meant as a compliment, which is actually worse. ("Wow, you're not as stupid as I expected you to be based on the fact that you're female.") And it comes from an attitude of male superiority.


But God forbid I be the ungrateful she-bitch who can't take a compliment or bruise the fragile male ego. I usually handle it by saying a genuine thanks and adding, "I know you meant it as a compliment, but just to let you know, HUGE pet peeve. I know a lot about hockey, period." And I give them a big smile and go back to telling them why their team sucks. 

Because really, I know a lot about hockey. No qualifiers or additions necessary. And I probably know more than the person "complimenting" me. 

Interests based on gender or sex are socialized, not inherent. Being born with a penis does not automatically = sportsbeerviolence. Being born with a vagina does not automatically = cookingshoppingantisports. And I shouldn't have to point that out in 2011. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Random Rant: Booty Call

At the risk of putting my business on the internet, I have a bone to pick with the general college-age community.

What is it with the booty call, people?!

Either there is some serious misunderstanding going on, or our generation has some seriously fucked (ha) ideas about sex. [Well, more than likely, it's both. A lot of both.]

Let me break it down for y'all. Other than an actual relationship, there are a number of "situations":
The hookup/one-night stand: casual, just a one-time thing, usually where alcohol is involved. What I call "college dating" (I'll get to that bitch-fest later).
Fuck Buddies/Booty Call: casual, ongoing thing, just about sex (and getting off) with no feelings; "fuck buddies" implies a mutual understanding and interest in just sex, while "booty call" has a much more negative connotation, usually where one person is leading the other on. I also refer to this as "college dating."
Friends with Benefits: casual, ongoing thing; an actual friendship with sex but no romantic feelings (friends with a side of sex); not the same as "dating" because there is no actual dating happening or romantic interest.
Dating: semi-casual, ongoing thing, that involves actually going on dates, and at least some romantic interest.
Dating Exclusively: sort of a weird gray area before you actually hit "relationship"; you're not seeing other people but you're not officially "in a relationship."

READ THOSE. Read them again. Learn them. Know them. DO NOT CONFUSE THEM.

There is some serious laziness and/or dishonesty going on. PEOPLE, BE REAL, BE HONEST, AND BE UP FRONT. Do not tell someone you want to date them if what you really want is to put in as little effort as humanly possible to get into their pants so you can have an ongoing booty call. And hooking up is NOT a date. Even if you "hang out" for like 20 minutes after. (MALE PEOPLE, I'm looking at you. Women are guilty too, but in my experience, men have been the biggest offenders.)

I get the sense that many men (and women) who aren't totally real about their interests are working on the assumption that women aren't as sexual as men and that they wouldn't be down for a FB/BC situation. First, that's deceptive and not cool. Grow a pair. Second, sometimes women just want to get theirs. It's not as socially acceptable for a woman to "act like a guy," but trust, sometimes we'd rather just get sex and not deal with your drama and bullshit. So just be honest and let the other person know. Don't be an asshole.
And for the love of God, do not project stupid stereotypes and make assumptions. "Oh, she's an irrational, emotional woman, so now that I've had sex with her she's going to get all attached and want a relationship and go all crazy and stalker..." NO. JUST NO. You're an idiot. You aren't that good in bed, and acting all stupid about it is just obnoxious and annoying.

Also, this sense of entitlement or obligation or the right to demand: If you think you are entitled to ANYTHING, you get nothing. And you shouldn't get anything until you figure it out. There is more than one person involved. Selfishness and superiority have no place in sex. You're not doing anyone a favor. You are not some amazing gift that all who have the privilege of experiencing should just be grateful for. You are owed nothing. Even the casual hookup or booty call is mutual and equal. One person does not call the shots, and all boundaries need to be respected.

And men, you don't get to demand or expect blowjobs. "Oh, just blow me, it's no big deal." "It's just head." Really? Then you go first. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
That's what I thought.

Keep it safe (USE CONDOMS), keep it consensual, keep it real and honest, keep it mutual. Jus' sayin'.