thoughts on munches

Despite being a self-aware pervert since college (almost 10 years ago), I’m just now making my first foray into organized kink. It took me this long because, truthfully, I’m deeply skeptical of any organized special-interest group–my experience is that a fair level of drama can arise in such small communities. Also, like most people I have the typical fears of crossing social paths: I’m a recognizable sort of person, my job is fairly conservative, and I live in a relatively small community. So while I’ve attended some large events in other areas, I’ve tended to shy away from munches and other local-level activities.

But. I also believe strongly in the value of community. Members of fringe groups of any kind need community to survive, to deal with the darkness of our own minds and the horrors of conservative society. And we need like-minded folks to find new ideas, new partners, to make living interesting. As the venerable and troubling Dan Savage says, “everyone always talks about the dangers of coming out of the closet but nobody talks about the dangers of being in the closet.” While some people might be perfectly happy practicing their deviance-of-choice in isolation, not only will that cut your potential dating pool down to lowlifes or nothing, you can go crazy alone.

So. Off to the munches for me.

Thou shalt not eate thereof

Sometime very soon I’m going to post some thoughts that are kicking around in my head concerning Prop 8, the state of marriage here in Massachusetts, Loving v. Virginia, and other topics related to the post-election fallout. But until I can organize those together, I’ve an immediate concern: my ANNOYING straight colleagues.

My next-cube-over coworker has a daughter my age who just became engaged. To a guy she met last year (I heard all about that too). They went to Disney for vacation, and my coworker had a plan to have flowers delivered to their hotel in the chance that he popped the question–he did, they did, and yesterday they went dress shopping. For a wedding in 2010. I’m looking forward to a full two years of alterations and decor news.

They’ve been cooing over pictures for almost ten minutes now, and I’m starting to feel seriously nauseous.

I’m sure if they were queer they’d be just as annoying, and the problem is really with the office job. But there are times when I feel suffocated by the sensation that I’m an undercover agent in the land of heterosexuals, even though I am so socially conforming in many other ways. And maybe that’s part of it: I hear myself going “oh, that’s really a great dress, are those pearls?” and what I’m thinking is “WTF?” because all of this pearls and lace and bridesmaids and babies and house-shopping create an image that in sum makes me feel so invisible. And frustrated, because what can I say? Your happiness is oppressive to me? What can I do? I want these things too, I just don’t want them like that.

out of the closet and on display

Do you remember my post about my history as a redhead? No? That’s okay. Just believe me when I say that yesterday something happened that never has before: I enjoyed a hairdressing appointment. There has been no time in my life when I liked having my hair cut or styled. And yesterday someone did both, and I was thrilled.

This is mostly because I finally met a wonderful stylist. He was smart, he was funny, he didn’t make me feel bad about my product choices, he let me know what he was doing and made me look seriously cute. Five or six inches, half a bottle of conditioner and one razor later, I look absolutely smoking:)

What made me most happy, though, was not the haircut. It was the amazing discussion we had about the gay rights movement, and what rights we want now–whether “marriage” is the right word for the privileges we desire, the political/social/religious connotations of “gay marriage,” and the discomfort that comes with being able to pass as straight in the company of those who are more conservative. He told me a funny/sad story about a client he’d been seeing for many years who told him she’d “never met one of THOSE people,” and I told him about the terrible Easter incident with K.’s extended family. We had a good moment of solidarity, even though we didn’t totally agree on the political issues.

And the best part was this small moment of vicious satisfaction that I got when there was a pause in the conversation…and I realized that everyone else in the salon was silent. Listening raptly. And I wondered, ‘huh, are we making them uncomfortable?’ and then though, ‘I hope not…but if so…well, it’s about time.’

educating the masses

The tag surfer is one thing I love about WordPress over other platforms (LJ, for instance). It shows me all sorts of things I would never have found otherwise–and perhaps shouldn’t have.

Like this post by a well-intentioned but seriously misinformed person, trying to understand some basic concepts of gender theory and human sexuality. I’ve linked to it, because I’m hoping some of you can give her a little help (I have very little formal training in this arena other than my own life experience) but here’s some quotes to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Brace yourself.

“If gay people are gay, why do they want a same-sex partner who very much resembles an opposite-sex? Why don’t they be straight from the beginning and just like the opposite-sex in that case? Why bother making someone try so hard to look like the opposite sex when natural ones are readily available in abundance? [….] Or an even better example, Chris Crocker. He is obviously born a man and he’s gay. But apparently, he’s trying to be a woman, isn’t he? If he did go for a complete sex change, he will become straight because he still likes guys and he’s a woman then?

SEE. SO damn confusing. I should have asked my professor these questions during open discussion time when we were struggling to come up with topics to talk about.”

I left a long comment which is full of holes and some half-accuracies, but I was trying for understandable, not comprehensive. It was surprisingly well-received, by her response:

“I had no idea much of my thoughts could be offensive. I still don’t understand how it is but since you said so, I’m really gonna think about it again seriously. Because I’m serious about understanding homosexuals. I am afraid I wouldn’t be prepared if one day I find out I am one myself. I doubt it now but I really need to know about you guys, that’s all. […] I don’t think ignorance is bliss.”

Points for trying, in my book. When faced with ignorance, it’s very easy to become defensive and angry—because so often, it’s a justifiable and necessary response—but sometimes I try to step back and see if there’s some genuine effort going on behind. On a good day, I like to think there are more people like her than we realize, and that we really are getting somewhere.

ISO queer friends – w4w – 25

Why do I feel like I have no community? An astute reader picked this out of a post, and I thought it deserved a more detailed explanation. While I threw it in like a sidenote in that post, the truth is I feel very isolated. I actually know quite a lot of people, but most of my friends are straight and those that aren’t live far away. I love my friends, but girl-watching with straight guys just isn’t the same.

Let’s start with the one thing nobody ever told me about being a young adult: not only will you be broke from paying off student loans, you will be lonely. All of your college friends will move away, and you won’t know how to replace them. You don’t have the convenience of making “we met in a class last semester” acquaintances and trying them out for size. Meeting people without having a pre-arranged reason to talk is a totally new life skill. I’ll chitchat with people in the grocery line, but how do you ask them to hang out later?

Conventional advice for beating the quarter-life crisis is to make a pre-arranged reason: decide what you like to do, and join some kind of club. Like music? Go to a show, do music things. Like to play sports? Do athletic things. Like to be gay? Do….gay things? Um. What, exactly, are those? You see the problem.

The ironic thing is that there are actually quite a lot of queer people here and I see them around everywhere. But most of them are in their 40s and 50s, and the rest are college hipster kids. As much as I’d like to make friends outside my demographic, there are practical difficulties. Somehow I took my useless degree and found a professional job which requires me to keep daytime hours; yet, at 25, I’ve had enough of the older set by the time I leave work each day. Add to that: I don’t live in a big city. We have some coffee shops and some kitschy stores and a few good restaurants, but it is not what you could call an “urban area.” There’s a potato farm around the corner and only the sports bars are open after 9 pm. There just aren’t that many places to go.

It feels like one of those jokes where the punchline is something so obvious…in college I went to parties to meet hot girls (unsuccessfully) and to class to meet interesting people (more success there) but now? I’m in bed by 10:30 and I don’t know how I ever did it. How, between the hours of 5pm and 9:30 pm, can I find some people who are like me? In a potato field? And still find time to clean my house and help K. make dinner and manage to get to work on time the next day?

being seen

Apologies to my dear readers—life got a bit busy, but I promise I do have a nice update on the progress of my tie-tying skills. Which may or may not contain a photo, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.

A few days ago K. and I stopped at a little country market on the way back from visiting my parents…which is to say, in the middle of nowhere. New England is like that. You might only be forty minutes away from a college town, but that doesn’t mean there are streetlights. Some people (Action Girl, you there?) would argue that forty minutes still makes us more civilized, but I grew up in this area and I know when to be cautious–our proximity to the college towns give us a certain buffer from the typical redneck homophobia, but I know what this place is like behind the facade of tolerance. I don’t like going into the country, and I try to keep a respectable distance from her when we’re there. But we go anyways because, well, even the supermarket doesn’t sell squash for 50c/lb.

We’re in line, surrounded by leaf-shaped candies and coolers of kielbasa and bacon (you can almost smell the pigs from which they came), trying to decide whether to keep the celery we’d put in the cart. I hate the stuff, K. loves it, and it was *very* on sale.

The check-out girl, though? Was offering recipes left and right. She sided with K. on the subject of celery soup, and in general made herself more helpful than was necessary. I started to feel uncomfortable, until I looked at her face: this girl was SUCH a dyke. And so obviously pleased to see us. And who can blame her? She’s bagging squash for Polish Catholic grandmothers all day long. So I put my hand on the back of K.’s neck and fixed her collar, just a bit, just to say, “yes, we see you too.” Because it really is nice to be seen.

get over it

After everything I wrote in that last entry, I realized that I really just wrote it to make myself calm down. Because good gods, I am panicking. What am I doing? What am I doing?

My relationship with Saint is a funny thing. We’ve been friends for about a year, and we’re not much more than that now. I like him but in a very un-romantic, friend-ly sort of way, and the sexual stuff is like a completely separate category. But the very fact that I do anything sexual with him–and like it, and want it–makes me completely freaked out.

K. thinks this is the most ridiculous thing. But she wouldn’t understand, she’s always been comfortable with herself. I don’t mean to say she hasn’t had to deal with homophobia, and that she doesn’t understand what it means to date women, but for whatever reasons it hasn’t been…significant…for her. Being bisexual, for her, it’s just the way she is. She hasn’t spent the last ten years trying to fit in with the gay community, getting harassed at school, falling in love with straight girls who don’t love back, trying to prove to the world that my femininity is for myself and the women I love. She just is.

But for me, after all that, how difficult and horrible it’s been to deal with being a lesbian in the world and being proud of myself for it–I can’t believe I am doing *anything* with a guy. It negates everything I’ve struggled for, makes a mockery of everything I’ve ever said about being femme. As if by accepting this one man into my bed, I’ve given in to every guy who ever made a catcall at me.

I don’t know how to resolve this conflict. I could tell Saint I don’t want to do anything more with him, but that wouldn’t change anything. And if that wouldn’t make me feel better, I don’t know what would. K.’s comment? “You want to get your lesbian cred back? You could just, you know, convert another straight girl…we need a toaster for the apartment anyways.” Sigh. She’s so supportive.