“I love you, Boucha-Boucha!”
“You do not really love me. You only think that you love me.”
That’s one of the motifs of the little radio drama that plays from me here, the profession of love and the consequent rejection of it, always for good, smart and logical reasons.
I know that it’s one of the motifs that runs through me. How can you love me if you don’t understand me, if you can’t hear what I am saying, if you can’t love me when I am sharp, if you can’t get past your own stuff? You may claim to love me, but isn’t really something other than that, some need in you to have me play the role you cast me in, to feel pity, to be amused, to love the idea of love, or something else? Isn’t your love just conditional?
Of course, this mirrors my experience, and my experience may mirror my own expectations.
I remember going to a big ESPA event and seeing a whole mess of people in the TransRights workshop. I looked at them and wondered what the hell they were doing there, since they didn’t appear to actually have processed their own transunderstanding. I mean, I looked and saw family, sure, even some quite sick family, but I also saw people who I didn’t think I could trust to stand up for queer lives.
I know that I am loveable. I just have deep suspicions that any human has the capacity to do that.
When people express appreciation for my offerings, the first question that goes through my mind is “Did you really understand what I wrote, really hear what I said?” I understand the density, complexity and challenge of my own work, and when someone doesn’t approach it with at least some ambivalence, like Yarrow or Gwyneth, I always wonder if they are listening to their own voice, rather than to mine.
I have been thinking about what I would say if asked at SCC (and I won’t be asked) and I keep coming back to Circling Beauty as a theme. It may well be possible to be loved without being understood, but because I never started at that level, it is still an idea that I struggle with, that just being present is enough to be beautiful, attractive and lovable. “Thanks for admiring me as a symbol, but do you think that I am pretty?”
A long time ago, on Jenny Jones, I saw a transwoman, who seemed to identify as a drag queen/gay man w3ith her boyfriend. She explained that she had made him see her without her makeup once before she could get serious.
The crowd didn’t understand, but Jenny, a stand-up comedian who knew how people projected on performers like her, got it instantly. It was important for her to know that he saw the person behind the performance, knew and liked her too. I know too many transwomen who date straight-identified men and when the illusion slips a bit, they get blamed for it, as if performance isn’t an art that requires constant work between participants — performers, audience members, or often those who are both.
This is the challenge of being product, of offering answers rather than questions, of being stigmatized into institutional doubt, the kind that enforces the Butlerian performance of gender as an imitation for which there is no original. And for those who walk outside the norms, it is the challenge of the expectations projected on you by others, especially potential partners who imagine what they are looking for.
“I love you!”
“You only think that you love me.
Is testing love pushing people away? Or is love that demands sanitized and conscious performance something other than love?
Does love require knowledge, or just feelings? I understand the limits of symbolic communication, understand that while creating these words is the best that I can do to communicate my experience, you can only understand them through your experience, and with the depth of work you are willing and able to put in to figure out what I am trying to say. Many people just hear what they can hear, and assume that the other words are noise, garbage, filler, but I assure you that if they didn’t have meaning to me, I wouldn’t take the time and effort to write them down.
I am a porcupine, a shaman, a knife. I know that. I bristle, I x-ray, I cut.
One core lesson in Wally Lamb’s “She’s Not There” is that love is what love is, and when the janitor who doesn’t approve of homosexuals finds out you have AIDS and stops on his way to church with his family to drop off a coffee milkshake — this is Rhode Island — you need to drink it. I know that it’s important to take the love people can offer, and not wait until it looks like what I think it should look like.
But I still question love that doesn’t seem to come from deep understanding. I don’t really trust anything but brain centered, symbolic based, deep ambivalence. If you can’t engage my depths, can you really engage me?
To believe that I am more than my analysis, more than my text, which is separate from convention, is very hard for me, because it is in that realm of consciousness that I have learned to live, even as I am turned dead in the world. It’s there where I believe I hold my true self; complicated, complex, contradictory, queer.
To love me, don’t people have to love that part of me? Don’t they have to have come to grips with their own individuality, their own unique self, their own queerness?
Yet, as long as I hold that they don’t really love me, they just think they do, how can I ever be open to love?
The biggest burden I carry, as I have said here before, is holding open the space that others can change. If I don’t hold open the space for change, what does my life mean? Yet, people are their nature, and opening to them can mean you are at the mercy of their old patterns, old habits and old fears. Even when you are clear that what you express is about you, you can push their buttons, bring up old stuff, and end up taking their old pain.
To love me isn’t easy or simple. My PPP — potential partner pool — only includes people who are post therapy, who have learned to own what comes up for them as about them, not the the fault of whoever triggered those feelings & thoughts.
But for me to dismiss love because it isn’t as mature as I might trust, well that cuts me off from breath. People can give what they can give, and their gifts are from the God that connects us all, even if shadowed by demons that are very human, the kind we all carry.
To trust that I am lovable on some level other than my deep symbol, well, that’s hard to grasp. I circle my own beatuy, not engaging it, not trusting it, not honoring it.
And that keeps me separate from love.