I’m okay until I open my mouth.
It’s then that the queer comes out.
No matter how much I try to look cute and little and whatever, my big voice spills out of my mouth and then I tend to queer up the joint.
Is that a bad thing?
Well, when you are with your family, the ones who easily get embarrassed by your actions, or in a store where someone might not understand or might be offended it is not exactly a good thing. Queering up the joint can have lasting consequences.
There are times, though, that queering serves a vital purpose. It can offer cover to those who have something to say but fear it might be too odd, too sharp, too queer. It can open the minds and hearts of people by letting them get a glimpse from another, queerer viewpoint. And it can start the process of healing by offering the group a new way to respond, one that values unique individual contributions rather than expecting conformity and compliance.
Queer affirms questions, queer values complexity. Queer speaks to connections rather than separations, searching for continuous common humanity.
When I open my mouth and queer comes out, some people really like it. They want to be freed from norms, want to be challenged to take responsibility for their own choices, want to feel affirmation to be more profoundly and authentically themselves. They feel liberated and joyful that the room is all queered up.
Affirming their unique humanity feels liberating to them, even in the midst of many people who want to keep things nice and neat “for the kids.”
People sense that I spout a very well tempered queer voice, shaped by long experience in communicating with non-neurotypical people and guided by a strong belief in the group process that underlies effective corporate solutions. After a lifetime of consuming stories, many, many viewpoints have given me a wider view, offering possibilities, insight, and comfort with many choices that I would never make for myself.
Bringing out the best in those I engage is the most effective thing I can do, empowering their voices rather than trying to fill the space with my own words. As a hostess, a concierge, I open gateways to exploration & transcendence, holding the liminal space where connections transform us by offering the miracle of seeing anew, offering a divine surprise.
Each of us has to balance our tame assimilation and wild individuality, finding a way to be both compliant and queer in a powerful mix. Breaking the norms, resetting the boundaries is vital, as is creating new norms, building resilient social structures with new respect and inclusiveness. This is the challenge of working corporately, using marketing to build effective organizations, products and services.
My polish may make people who are ready for queer find me more engaging, but it also makes people who are not ready find me much, much more annoying. Resisting change and healing, holding onto separation, be that identity politics or fundamentalism, demands you resist what I share, declining what I offer by rejecting my gifts.
Projecting your own needs and fears onto me, be that the desire for shortcuts to comfort or the pain of your own inner denial can leave me bruised, battered and isolated. It turns out that queering up the place may be useful, even compelling, but it is a quite lonely job. You can’t be present and human, trusting in the possibility of transformation without being powerfully ware of your own fragility.
Still, someone has to speak queer, standing against pressure towards norms, making the hidden transparent, illuminating the invisible. If no one goes beyond the obvious & expected, looking to deep process and meta connection, how will we ever hold the grace of what lies within human possibility?
I open my mouth and queer comes out. That’s nothing new for me; my sister will be happy to testify that I have been speaking this way from a very early age, bringing on abuse from my parents and challenge in the schools. I have always needed a kind of x-ray vision, seeing beyond the surface, understanding what moves beneath, crossing through walls to collect data.
This viewpoint allows me to listen clearly and reflect what others offer, making meaning from their communication, mirroring them and offering useful comments & suggestions. Feeling seen and understood, in turn, lets people move beyond their own comfort level, dropping defences and being more present, more engaged, more vibrant, which is a feeling that some love and that scares the shit out of others.
That viewpoint, though, also makes me more of an observer than a participant, a chronicler and supporter more than being a player. While I can understand and enter the worlds of others, few have the deep queer experience to enter my world, to be safe space for my trauma, to be present as cohorts rather than audience. Leadership, with all the costs of that service to others, is always the result. I’d rather be respected than liked, but on some level I also want to be pretty and loved, having someone who can take care of me as I take care of them.
This isolation, of course, is why I have resisted opening my mouth, trying to just let tiny bits of queer out when I think they might help, rather than showing up bright, bold and ready to queer the room. I know that whatever recovery I need I will have to do alone.
Opening my mouth, though, and queering up the joint seems to hold possibility, both for community and for myself.
After all, I’m probably good at queer for a reason. A dammed reason.