Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A girls gotta do

I have struggled all my life with what I now recognise as the *unreasonable expectations of my mother; and my coming out to her has coincided with my decision to stop torturing myself so I can make her happy.

That said, when I came out to her a few weeks ago she took it well but since then we've had a few intense conversations where she hinted that I was being selfish in "choosing" to be gay, because otherwise I would have thought about how it would affect the people who love me, and if I had thought and cared about how it would affect them clearly as a good daughter/sibling I would have continued to stifle myself in the name of their happiness. Before that line of conversation got out of hand I cut it off by summing up my sentiments thusly:
If I could be different to make you happy I would, but that's not an option and I'm not going to change, I don't care what you think of it or if you call it a choice, I don't care how you want to rationalise it and how you think we can fix it, forget about all that cause I'm not interested in changing. I love you very much, and I know this is difficult for you and we're just as the beginning of this process. I'm not asking you to accept it or like it. But this is where we are, I'm gay and I'm not changing and you don't like it, so use your energy to figure out how we move forward from here.

Since that conversation she has been very silent, I've called her twice and gotten the lukewarm shoulder. I understand that this is very difficult for her because of her personality [sic disfunction] as well as her religious beliefs. But the thing is, after all these years of angsty bending over backwards to see to her comfort and make her happy, I suddenly find that I am fresh out of the desire to see to any one's comfort but my own. I love my mother dearly, and I know I need to allow room for this to be difficult for her, but now that I recognise how unfair our relationship has been all these years I feel like it's her turn to deal with not getting what she wants so I can be happy.

So, if she's gonna be frosty to me because I came out and told her don't waste her time trying to manipulate me straight, then that's her problem now, and I won't spend my time calling her out of guilt, and suffering because I feel like I'm being an unreasonable daughter. I'm gonna take all that valuable time and emotional energy to accept that I am actually not an unreasonable daughter and I have every right to follow my own path wrong or right, and I deserve to be happy because THIS is my life. Mine. Even though it makes her unhappy because if she wants to be happy, that's not my purpose, she's got her own life for that.

*In an nutshell she's always made it seem like every mistake I've made or choice that she didn't agree with was a huge trangression against her and meant that I didn't truly care about her, because if I loved her I would never do anything to make her unhappy (and I mean EVERY, y'know like not washing dishes, or cleaning my room). Nobody wants to hurt or disappoint a parent and it's a great point of suffering for all of us if we ever do, and after dealing with her reactions a few times, I bought into the idea that if you loved someone you never did anything to hurt them. So if I ever had any desires that were contrary to what I knew would make her happy I struggled with the guilt of being a bad daughter. And more, I truly love and appreciate my mother, and the idea that she wouldn't know that was intolerable to me so I was willing to do anything to prove it. So for most of my life I've had to deal with that terrible feeling that every choice I made was potentially something terrible I was doing to her. Unless you've a similar relationship with your mom you cannot begin to understand what a huge burden that is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This might be the easiest coming out story yet.

I didn't tell my girlfriend when I was gonna come out, I mentioned to her a few times over a two week period that I was tired of hiding and I had a feeling one day I was gonna just tell my mom; and that's pretty much what happened. I got tired of that knot of anxiety every time I thought about my mother, so I picked up the phone and said "I need to talk to you about something and I'm really not sure where to start." She sighed a little and said "Just tell me." And I said "I'm gay." I'd imagined that it would have been a lot more difficult than that, and a lot more disastrous. She definitely isn't ok with it, but she took it very calmly and looks forward to "helping me make the right decision that will help get me into God's Kingdom." Seriously, she pretty much said that. She's happy I told her so she can help me. So, really I know the worst is yet to come.

After I spoke to my parents and my brother and a close cousin, I told girlfriend I'd come out the most important chunk of my family and it had all gone very well. She was a little blown away I think and said "Yours must be the easiest coming out ever."

I think she's right, and I think I owe a bit of that to my sister. Last November my sister-in-law said to me "Your dad seems to think you're gay. Apparently your sister called him and said something. Nobody wants to say anything to you, but I think you should know, and, are you?"

Being gay is not something I felt I had to or wanted to hide from the rest of my family, so my concern about it being known was the possibility it could get to my mom. I had to call my sister and ask what she'd said to my dad so I could nip that rumour in the bud, but she swore she hadn't told him anything. I am as certain that she did tell him as a person could possibly be without confirmation so I was hurt and pissed that she didn't tell me the truth. First off, noone in my family would have absolutely any reason to question my sexuality, and secondly my dad repeated to my brother - and my brother to me - verbatim what I'd said to her.

I'm still very wounded that she not only betrayed my confidence, but that she also lied to me when I asked her about it. However, despite my hurt and slight loss of faith in her it turns out she actually did me a favour and I am grateful. If she had not betrayed my confidence last year, coming out to my dad and brother this week would have been a lot more difficult than "It's true, I'm gay."

I suffered no stress whatsoever over coming out to my dad and siblings, I'd given it a couple passing thoughts over the years, but I had no angst left over from worrying about my mom to truly worry about them, so I just called them a bridge I'd cross after I dealt with my mom. My sister saved me any stress about them because when she outed me even though I didn't confirm it when I spoke to them both last year they made it clear that it wouldn't change anything between us. My brother said "if that's what you are I don't care, you're still my sister and I love you, and just be yourself." and my dad said "Baby, you're still my daughter, it doesn't change anything, and it doesn't change your last name."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

for me, such a revelation, but the world carries on without so much as a ripple.

In my opening post I said I believe my purpose in this life is to face my truths. I knew if I were untrue to that I would suffer so I started this blog to help me mitigate the effect being closeted would have on my life, but:

It failed, rather than helping me with the burden of keeping my secret, every time I logged in was a reminder of my my failure to live up to my purpose. Also, it turns out the only real way to alleviate the pressure of a truth untold is to tell it.

So I did. I came out to my mom; and it went as well as can be expected.

I will continue to post here, but now with the comfort of being who I am rather than as a daughter hiding from her mother.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's talk about - lesbian - sex baybee

I had few and far between girl on girl sexual experiences while I identified as Bi; so really and officially I largely consider my current relationship my initiation into the lesbian world.

One of the things I'm being educated about is the spectrum of gender identity. I don't think that a lesbian HAS to identify on - and stick to - either side of the masculine:feminine ratio. My take is do whatever makes you happy, and I took it for granted that it was like that in the community, but I'm figuring out that there are rules and expectations about how you're expected to behave based on how you look and identify.

For myself I look like a femme but don't necessarily behave as one in our relationship while my girlfriend looks like a butch but doesn't necessarily behave like one in our relationship. It's very fluid and we're happy with that.

I can't see it being any other way; so when she commented to me the other day that she's happy to be able express her feminine side in our relationship I was a little surprised. When I asked her why she thought something like that's a big deal she explained that in the past she's had women lose interest when she behaved less aggressively. Wow.

For a minute I thought that was really whack cause I think it's acceptable to want what you want and be who you are. But I gather it's not really ok in some areas of the community. There are some women who identify as very butch, and some women who want only that; and some women who identify as super femme and some women who want only that. I think that's ok. Where we run into trouble is by not talking about it before we enter a relationship ,we get our wires crossed and end up with a woman who's a poor match and we create situations where women feel like they can express only one extreme of their aggressive/submissive self.

Before she and I started dating we had conversations about our expectations; she expressed certain "butch tendencies" that I explained I wouldn't find satisfactory in a relationship and told her what my ideal situation is and she did the same thing. We discussed what would make us most comfortable in our relationship and we still continue to talk about it.

In that way, I've come to be with a woman who is (and is happy to be) a great balance on the butch femme scale for me rather than the extreme butch I first started talking to and would not have been very comfortable in a relationship with.

I'm sure this isn't going to be true to every situation, but it kinda shows how important it is to talk about what's important to you on this scale, and to make room if necessary for each of you to flex whatever muscles - or not - you desire.

So, I think we should put it like safe sex, on a list of things you need to discuss before you make that big step into a relationship

Monday, November 2, 2009

Atlanta Pride

I had been planning for months to go to Atlanta Pride with my girlfriend, but we're doing the long distance thing and in the end it was just too expensive for her to come; and since so much of my plan to go rested on her being here I almost didn't go at all. But:
I've lived in 3 different Cities since the beginning of the year - and spent a few months in another country and did not manage to make it to any of the Pride celebrations that were going on so it was really important to me that I get off my ass and get to Atlanta Pride. Cause I love Pride and all.

And that's what I did, after moping around Friday and Saturday I got off my ass on Sunday and went by m'self; and I'm glad I did.

There were some great resources there and some really cool booths. I saw some cuties, some boobs and got hit on - once - am I getting old?

I almost didn't watch the parade but I'm glad I did; it was good to be in that moment of whooping and cheering for gayness. And I teared up a little when the PFLAGers came marching by the with their I love my gay kid signs - probably because coming out to my mom is heavy on my mind these days.

Aaaanyway. Atlanta Pride? Awesome. But there are no two ways about it.. the girlfriend better find her ass here next year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't accept me, just gimme my rights and leave me alone.

By far my favourite person in the world is my sister. I adore her and she is my sense of place in this world. Y'know that one person who always makes you feel like all can be right with the world again cause she's got your back?

Yesterday she told me as a lesbian I'm entitled to as many rights as pedophiles and zoophiles (sex with animals). She also said that gay people ought to go live in the woods instead of demanding rights from decent people, because being gay is not normal.

I expected my sister to have my back always; so this is a huge blow I can't even begin to think about how to recover from, or how to begin the dialogue that addresses all the irrational points on which she rests this judgment of me.

The weight of her statement, and my fear that we might not recover has pressed me into silence I can't seem to break, while she continues to talk to me as if life carries on as normal. I don't know when I will be able to articulate to her, but here I want to tell her that each of her arguments is flawed because:
The debate about homosexuality in America boils down to a matter of religion and therefore belongs in the church, not in matters of law and governance. I don't hold that the church has no power, and no say about the rights of homosexuals within its doors, but I have chosen to live in a country that is separate from the church therefore until I am inside their doors they have no damn business in my business.

The bulk of this debate is based on religion, so I need to address if from that standpoint as well. Even the bible as a basis for judgment is flawed; as far as I'm aware a sin is a sin is a sin. The bible teaches (I'm told) that no sin is greater than another, but my punishment for being gay is so much greater than for a host of comparable sins. Last time I checked adultery was a big fat sin but the government allows rights based on common law marriage status. I want that right.

I agree that homosexuality is not "normal" when judged by social standards of what is generally practised and accepted. Personally, as a gay woman I'm not asking to be considered normal, I'm telling everyone that I've got the right to practise my abnormal lifestyle same as other subcultures are allowed the right to practise theirs.

I don't see anyone telling these guys they've got no right to pursue these abnormal lifestyles; and what's more the government supports that right through regulation of the tattoo and piercing business. I want that right.

Being homosexual is very different from pedophilia and zoophilia in these very important details: free will and consent. To ask for sanction for pedophilia and zoophilia would be to sanction the violation of a being who does not consent. The choice my girlfriend and I have made to be in a relationship with each other deviates from societal norms yes, but it's a deviation we both consented to, and neither one of us is violating the other. See that BIG DIFFERENCE there? I'm not asking for the right to violate anyone. I just want to be able to buy a home with her, share our finances and have her carry our babies without worrying about my rights to be with and take care of our children in case something happens to her or between us.

I might take that one step further to talk about other consensual sexual deviations from the norm such as S&M, Swinging etc. Those sexual behaviours aren't "normal" but the general consensus is "that sure is weird but what they choose to do in their bedrooms is their business", and should they chose to marry and adopt and file taxes and have health insurance and immigration rights they sure can. I want those rights.

After some thought, I can see that this debate of homosexuality is a debate of religion and morality, and a question of where the lines are drawn between church and state. The separation of church and state was brought about so that the church would not be able to dictate the mechanics of government. However this is tempered by the fact that government is directed by the majority - which in the case of American society is directed by the school of christian/religious morality. Therefore, on paper there is a separation but in practise there is a failure because the church can still dictate from behind the sidelines. Perhaps this is a bigger debate about the need for a separation of the morality of America and the morality of the church; because as a democracy (y'know all people being equal before the law?) the adoption of christian morality does not service all of the people. However, I know that's a big conversation, so at the very least maybe we could start with an exploration of why gay rights do not fall under - but should -the category of pursuits supported by the separation of church and state.
Read more about separation of church and state here. It's a really good exploration of some of the points of separation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Representations of Lesbians on The L Word

I do like The L Word, I recognise the "Art" and appreciate it, but I am really irked, and disturbed by the representations of the gay community.

1. All the women (save a the token buxom, and black girl) are lean with athletic bodies, small perky busted, and brunette. If you were to line them all up nude with their faces covered you would not be able to distinguish which character is which. I allow the right for artistic license, but I think for a group that's already facing so many challenges and for a woman who is herself homosexual (bear in mind she doesn't even look like her characters) she would want to proudly represent the mixed-bag that is the homosexual community, or at the very least see herself reflected in her own art. I also understand that she is representing a particular community of lgbt, but it's IMPOSSIBLE that this is the story and appearance of every lesbian/bi-sexual woman in LA.

2. The show essentially says all lesbians are confused, over-sexed, commito-phobes who indulge in sex whenever wherever regardless of cost and consequence. There has not been ONE representation of a successful lesbian relationship on that show. The women have sex with each other, each others significant others, it's like "pass the dutchie" on that show. Again, I leave room for artistic license, but does she not have a concern for the people she represents with The L Word?

It's great that the characters are all driven, attractive and successful, but at the end of the season, i don't think that's the overwhelming message, what comes out on top is lesbians are flighty, unstable in relationships, incestuous and backstabbing creatures.

I concede that this thing begs more exploration and discussion, I don't assume that it's all as simple as I'd want to make it seem. I'm sure there were factors such as network pressures, maximizing viewership etc... which breeds the question how much is too much compromise? Should she be more concerned with the greater good of the LBGT community than her own success? Does she even have any obligation to the LGBT community? Can I even reasonably try to hold her accountable?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging For Truth

"Better late than never" is one of my favourite things to say. I joined a community of bloggers who committed to blogging for truth for the week of May 25- 31. Unfortunately I was so busy I never got to throw in my two cents.
I'm still too busy to craft much of a post, but I will eventually. In the meantime I wanted to acknowledge the effort before too much time has passed.
So, if you didn't find me through that community - which you likely did - please visit the host blog and see who checked in.
Oh, and remind me the post I have in mind is about how I moved from bisexual to lesbian, and the ongoing angst that's ensued.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Downside of secrets

I am not completely in the closet. While I identified as bi-sexual I was open with friends, but with the exception of my very best sister it was not something I talked about in my family.
We still don't talk about it in my family, but last year my secret slipped from a misguided confidence in my other sister, to my dad and around until it came back to me in the form of a question "Your dad seems to think you're gay... is this true?"

When I asked my dad if he wanted to talk about it, he said she hadn't told him anything but "is there anything you want to tell me?" Since I'd decided not to come out to any of my family until my mother knows, I left it unconfirmed but told him "if you have questions I am perfectly comfortable answering them... and oh, please don't talk to mummy about this. You know it will kill her."

I am not sure what good it does any of us not to talk about it, and frankly I'm a little uncomfortable with how easily I can let myself believe a little that they don't know because I haven't told them just cuz while I am resigned to whatever flack results from people knowing I'm not ready to officially accept the banner of gay child/sister.

And on further introspection, it's amazing to reflect now on how easy it was to be ok with it when everyone thought gay was just a cool quirk of my sexuality, and to realise that gay as your whole sexual identity swells to take up so much room in how you and most others see you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

navigating a furtive life

Before I was aware of the politics of sexuality, and before I understood what attraction was, I was aware of the pull of women. I was probably 8 or 9 when my first crush swelled from a glimpe of my neighbours newly emerging pink nipples; and after there were many more that elicited feelings I could not process as crushes, because those were what you had on boys.

I regret none of my relationships with men, but if I'd understood the role of attraction in sexuality I might have rejected the idea that all girls were meant to respond to the advances of boys. I didn't understand that attraction was not supposed to be something separate from my relationships with men, so it took me too long to understand my cultivated sexual relationships with men weren't normal as I'd always assumed, and what I was meant to feel with a man was what I felt with women.

Between my first girl crush and my realization that I'd been sleeping with men mostly because I was supposed to I defined that puzzling feeling I had about girls. I'd been having these feelings for a girl I went to school with. Everything she did seemed heavy with contemplation, and I used to watch the slow purposeful sway of her hips across campus, her hazel eyes as they reflected the conversations I observed her having among her friends, and her legs. God her legs. She was thin, with an athletic body covered in smooth caramel skin and slightly bowed legs that showed the flex of each muscle required to power her walk. I could not understand the peculiar effect seeing those caramel legs emerging beneath her skirt had on me, or watching the appearance and disappearance of the muscles as she walked ahead of me.

We were in the dining room one day, and I was watching her surrepticiously where she sat with her friends. The bank of windows along which her lunch desk ran parallel was perpendicular to the wall along which mine ran, and I had angled my body to the left so I could observe her without having to turn my face obviously towards her. Those were the only windows in the room, and the light that came through the glass panes poured all around her, highlighting the flyaways resting around her head and down her auburn braids, there was also a door to her left that deposited light which allowed me to observe her clearly, but didn't travel far enough into the room to allow anyone not sitting close enough to notice my observation. I looked around at all the other girls eating and chatting in the dining room and I was certain I was the only one having those feelings; and I knew they weren't normal because I didn't feel that way about any of them, or any of my friends so I resolved to figure out what made me so different. I don't remember now what questions I asked myself, but by the end of our lunch break I realized I didn't feel the way about her I did about my friends because friendship wasn't what I was interested in from her - I liked her in the way I was supposed to like a boy, and I wanted to do things with her I was supposed to be doing with boys.

I never acted on that crush because I didn't understand how to process those feelings - that and I was really freaked. It was until years later I somewhat grasped what it all meant, and perched it awkwardly among the definitions that that tipped me into the category of bi-sexuality.

Since childhood I have had the desire to be fearless in the truth. Though I didn't live the definition of bisexual I openly identified as that among my friends, and at the risk of my own life in a homophobic society, anyone who asked. And really, I think at that time the two had to be mutually exclusive, I could either be bisexual and be overwhelmed by the implications, or admit I was bisexual but not actually deal with it.

The Ripple Effect

My purpose in this incarnation is to be fearless with my love and with my truths. So far so good; except with this one thing:

I can't tell my mother I sleep with women because that truth cannot exist between us without creating an acridity that will strain our relationship.

It's not the shame of my sexuality that prevents me telling that truth; it's the fear of losing her. She is a christian who believes homosexuality is a perversion and a sin, and she won't be able to accept that I have fallen out of God's grace. Our conversations will begin to orbit her need to change me and I'll have to let her go to maintain my self and I'm just not ready.

I've always been gay and I am proud of my sexuality and I don't want to change, but for most of my sexual life I identified openly as bisexual among my friends, but avoided relationships with women so I wouldn't have to talk about it with her. Now, I sleep only with women and I have chosen to live in the closet because though I can't spare her the pain of my sexuality forever, I can spare her the most painful way of finding out - from someone else.

We can't buy our parents protection from who we are - my omissions are intended to buy me time to appreciate her and our relationship in a way I was incapable of when I was younger. This blog is where I'll come to talk about the price of my journey to letting my mother go.