Yesterday was DC pride. This has been a space I always felt I was allowed to be, but not a space that I ever thought was specifically mine. I am in a relationship with a woman these days, so I have started to feel less like an interloper in spaces intended for queer people, but I still have a complicated relationship with them.
I am a big interrogater of my role in, well, everything.
I am a big interrogater of my role in, well, everything — sometimes for valid reason, but often out of habit. This is certainly the case with pride. Questions range from appropriate — How should I be elevating the voices of queer people of color? How can I support people without a support network like mine? — to the truly unecessary — Is it okay for me to be a relatively straight-passing woman? Am I percieved in a way that makes it seem like I’m co-opting someone’s space? How can I best justify my presence here?
After I posted your standard pride selfie, the likes rolled in, in the way that they do when you post about being gay or queer or whatever.
People like those posts at such a high volume and I remember the impulses toward that: to be supportive of an often marginalized community, to affirm someone’s identity, to express affection for who someone is on a fundamental level. That train of thought really narrowed in on something I have been thinking about a lot lately.
The concept of being gay enough resonates for me a great deal.
Historically, anytime anyone asked me about my sexuality, I would tell them I am 70% into dudes and 30% into ladies, but people rarely asked and I never volunteered that information.
When I first started spending time with the woman that is now my girlfriend, all of her friends referred to me as “straight girl” – except for one, who called me “top shelf” because we met in a bar and I have nice boobs #thanksjake.
As I navigated my feelings about the reality of being with this specific woman for the first time, all of MY friends assumed my concerns and hesitations were about her gender, rather than the ways our specific personalities and mental health diagnoses might intersect.
I am still attracted to men and will always be attracted to men, which feels like it seeds me lower in the queer woman tournament than a queer woman that is not attracted to cisgender men.
I am constantly worried about how I read in public and private queer spaces. Even when I have identified myself as a bisexual woman, does that designation read as attention seeking behavior? I can’t know the answer to that question – or the questions implicit in the conversations I’ve just described – but I can certainly pinpoint the reasons I am feeling my feelings about those thing. First of all, I feel a lot of feelings about everything. Secondly, my diagnoses – most relevant are my OCD and general anxiety disorder – are brain-crafted to make me obsess over my role in systems. And finally, but probably most importantly, I am perceiving my experience through the lens of the male gaze. How fucked up is that? Even though I am in a serious, long term, shared apartment relationship with a woman, I worry that it seems like I’m doing it for attention. And whose attention would I be looking for if my feelings for my girlfriend were a cover? Obviously a dude. So, like, fuck the patriarchy for that, man.
First of all, I feel a lot of feelings about everything.
I’ve been trying to convince myself, even in writing this, that this is a me thing, a mental health thing, and not a society things because it feels like I’m creating conspiracy theories, but a man I thought was my friend literally said he thought I was with my girlfriend to make another man jealous.
So, feeling grounded in that context, I reflect again on how I am percieved. In particular, I think about the fact that my brother and sister both liked that post I made about pride. I think about how that might feel required to be a supportive sibling. Then, I think about that fact that I am somebody’s I-have-to-support-marriage-equality-for-my-sister/daughter/niece/whatever. Like I am actually a lot of people’s that. And that feels very weird.
To feel like the token gay in one half of my life, but a token straight in another.
It seems like it should be easy to find balance in the middle of those things, but it’s much, much harder to push back against both equally than it is to push back against one and, in that process, push myself into the other.
The image in the header – overthinking tiger – is inspired by the Kurt Vonnegut book Cat’s Cradle. In particular the featured quote, which is from chapter 81:
Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand
When I opened the book up to transcribe the quote exactly, I opened directly to the correct page and that felt important enough to share for reasons I cannot articulate.
You can purchase prints, canvas prints, and digital downloads of this piece on etsy.