Went to a local LGBTS meetup last night, hosted by a young, newly out lesbian and her partner. Also along for the ride were a lesbian looking for other women, a smart atheist bear type bisexual man, a crossdresser and a lesbian couple from up north consisting of a smart butch in her early thirties and a “bluejean femme” in her mid twenties.
I ended up talking quite a bit, mostly because I was getting a lot of head nodding from the more mature members of the group I explained how I see the world. They saw me as holding back, empowering, being gracious.
That doesn’t mean our hosts got me. When asked what I was looking for, I said “Someone who gets the joke.” While many smiled, our hostess earnestly asked “What joke?” It wasn’t I who had to explain that she didn’t get the joke.
In the end, the meeting made me sad. It reminded me that my damn guru tendencies make it almost impossible to just be in conversation with other people; I see process & connection and that makes me separate, isolated, lonely.
I’ll write down some points here.
1) What I want is to move from a model where we believe that everyone should be the same on the surface and different underneath to a model that believes everyone is the same at the core and different on the surface. I want what we share not to be choices, but rather to be essential, connecting and shared humanity. That’s very hard in a suburban American culture, but Europeans, who understand the context of history & connections find it much easier to grasp.
Once I understand that it is at the core we all share humanity, then I can delight in expression, how each and every one of us surfaces our own special expression, creates our own unique place. Surfaces are for art, hearts are for connection, at least to me.
2) We all live in the swirl between tame & assimilated and wild & individual. We want to be one of the gang, with all the perks of fitting in, and also be uniquely ourselves at the same time. This is the primary duality, the one each of us struggles with. As much as our hosts just thought being ourselves would be the solution, those of us with time in understood the compromises we make to fit in and stand out at the same time.
3) Fear is a stopper, which I learned in the late 1980’s when Rachel Crosby called me a “bubble burster.” To be out and queer, we have to do things that really are scary and without clear outcome. We need to support dreams. I wasn’t supporting Rachel’s dreams, I was projecting my own fears. Now, the questions I asked were valid and real, but we need some ignorance to be empowered; we can’t solve everything before we leave the office, because it is in the field where solutions present themselves.
4) Without the standing to flirt, we can lose the connections others take for granted. I know how to flirt if the audience is safe, queer-friendly, but flirting on initial meeting always feels a bit too risky.
I remember dressing up the crossdressing deacon, but his wife was afraid it would be risky if he was too wild. I explained that the more it looked like costume, the safer he was, it was the threat of passing that made things hard. She got it when he came home in leggings and wild wig; he had a more confident step than when he was hiding as a woman. This is the magic of drag queens, and the magic I invoked as man-in-a-dress; it was clear and play. But when I expose more of myself with authenticity, well, I walk along that crack between the sexes, and I feel the ground shift beneath me.