As I write this, National Coming Out day is coming to a close and I was only reminded of this because a few people on FB and Twitter announced themselves as being allies and declaring their support and solidarity with the LGBT community, including a couple of people that I had no idea were so inclined. It got me thinking (again) about the assumptions we make of people based on outwards appearances, lifestyles, political preferences, etc. It clarified for me that I too need to speak up today, because appearances are not always what they seem. And because National Coming Our day is about sharing stories and it is about love and I am in favor of both of those things.
I take for granted that those of you who have known me personally for any length of time know the majority of my personal beliefs and predilictions, including the fact that I have long considered myself queer, specifically bisexual and somewhat polyamorous, and been pretty open about it for years. And yet . . .
It dawned on me that to many of you it may be news. Not because I’ve gone out of my way to hide anything, but because as a woman who has been primarily with male partners for most of her adult life (and who has a penchant for skirts, make-up, glitter, and other high-femme accessories) I know that I read as “straight” outside of my circle of friends. I have friends in the social networking world that I haven’t seen in 20+ years and people that I have never spent much time with in person. I also know that I have been less than forthcoming with my family, mostly due to the fact that they’ve never asked ;) By the time I was fully conscious that I was queer, and that my teenage experimentation was in fact more than just experimentation, I was already immersed in a committed relationship with a boy and outing myself to my parents at that point seemed like it was being heard as “by the way, I’m a slut!”. I didn’t push it. Bisexual didn’t make sense to my old-fashioned parents because they didn’t understand why anyone would CHOOSE to experience homophobia if one didn’t have to.
And because of my lifestyle choices I have experienced very little of it. I have always lived in very progressive urban areas and to say that my community of friends was bohemian would be a bit of an understatement. I got my SF legs within the early 90’s queer community and was nourished, inspired, challenged, and transformed within it. My dalliances with women have been few and far between, but no less important for that fact. My love of and connection with women is a core part of who I am, as fundamental to my makeup as my SIcilian Catholic heritage.
So why am I writing this now? Because I am committed at this point in my life to inhabit the totality of who I am. Life is too short and too precious to worry about what others think, to let them make you feel “less than” for any reason. If people have a hard time accepting facets of my life or if they bring a righteous, judgemental, and unloving energy into my sphere they will be shown the door unceremoniously. I have plenty of people in my life who have made different religious, political and dietary choices than me and I try to hold love, acceptance and respect for their personal decisions even as I disagree with them. But I draw the line when it comes to bigotry and bullying, shaming and verbal abuse. I have the confidence to speak my truth and I am also blessed to have an incredibly diverse, supportive community around me. That said our young people do not always feel strong enough to face down the criticism, violence, and harassment on their own. They look to us for guidance and support and inspiration. Let’s show up for them.
In light of the most recent spate of gay teen suicides, of the bullying and hate crimes directed not only at our youth when they are feeling their most vulnerable, but also at the adult members of our community who want to marry and represent our country openly, I feel we all need to stand up to the haters. If you are on the queer spectrum and you can find your voice, speak up and be heard. If you are a straight ally and you have ever loved someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, kinky, polyamorous or just plain “other” in some way please stand up and be counted. Stand up against hate, stand up against hypocrisy and violence, be it in your school, church, workplace or family. Change happens moment by moment, person by person, heart to heart. Stand up and out yourself as a person who believes in the power of love to transform our challenges and create a safe space for all of us.
Love and blessings to you and yours, whomever you choose to love . . .