Archive for October, 2008

Manicure

I got the best manicure this weekend from a sweet boi who sat at my feet and diligently made a mess of my fingertips with red polish while keeping me laughing with commentary about his expertise and skills. The paintjob was rescued thanks to some femme magicking and eventually dried despite the boi’s enthusiastic application of thick coats.

The best part of the manicure was when the boi proudly announced to a gathering of friends that he had painted my nails. When someone commented that that was kinda femme (because that’s a bad thing?) I unhesitatingly clarified that it was, in fact, a lucky butch thing.

As I go through the days with my uneven coat of red, I know I am feeling like a pretty lucky femme!

So sorry bois and grrls: this femme is NOT marriage material…

according to one of the lg *koff* b? t? q? publications’ carefully crafted quizzes.

I was reading said rag (which need not be named, I don’t need to throw Frontiers under the bus, Blade is no better, you get the point) during my morning constitutional and hopefully reading on the can from time to time doesn’t take away any more of the coveted marriageable points.

I’ve been ranting and raving about marriage on a regular basis to those who get to enjoy my vigorous wit irl but it’s time for my blog to be my soapbox on this one.

So, marriage is legal in California now.  Yay.  I will vote against Prop 8 which would eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.  I’m not hatin’ on those who choose to exercise their rights and get legally married.  In fact, I was once one of them.  My ex and I got married in Oregon while it was legal there, before voters decided we shouldn’t be married and we got a refund check from Multnomah county city clerk’s office.  Fabulous.  Saved having to file for divorce when it turned out she was a lyin’, cheatin’ mess.  But at the time it made sense to us.  I have always been vocally against marriage being THE gay agenda but I decided since the right was available to us and we had already planned on a commitment ceremony, it made sense to be on the books as good little queers.  So, I understand the joy of many couples who have this option become available to them, I am behind the benefits of legal status, like easier access to parental rights and second parent adoption, tax breaks, medical issues, etc.

BUT

My big problem with this is twofold:

Number ONE.  It’s great to get tax breaks.  To get tax breaks you have to have a fucking job first.  Which means, our rights to be employed as queers need to be aggressively protected.  How many butches do you know who waltz right in the door to the interview in their suit and tie and don’t have to deal with the double take, the bullshit over their gender presentation that carries more weight than their experience or abilities?  How many of us have been told at work to keep the orientation thing on the dl?  Or been reprimanded in one way or another for being “too gay?”  We need fucking jobs first.

We need the right to housing without discrimination, and that includes those of us who have the audacity to not only be Queer but also be Out and top it off by being brown.  Add partners, pets, or genderqueerness to the equation and you’re not exactly looking at prime real estate.

We need access to services, to health care, to schools for our children, to so many things that to me, are so much more basic and necessary than the almighty marriage certificate and all it symbolizes and grants.  Maslow my friends, Maslow.

Number TWO…My second MAJOR complaint:  Must I be heteronormative to have rights?  Say I have the cushy job, want the tax breaks, met Mr. Right, want to tie the knot and be Mrs.Mr.Right.  What if my relationship doesn’t look like the cute little gay cake toppers?  What if I don’t believe the only and ultimate expression of love is between two people?  What if I’m poly?  What if I’m monogamously non-normative? What if my idea of “family” includes other people, whether I be sexually involved with them or not?  And what do we do with those queers who don’t want to jump into a flawed institution that even hets are denouncing (and divorcing out of)?  They are bad queers.  They are the radicals.  They become the Others.  So you can easily map out the dividing lines, you have the good queers, they (and their tax breaks) will be middle class, upper middle class for the most part, especially once the excitement of legality wears off.  They will buy cute houses and have pretty picket fucking fences.  They will be nice and appropriately gay, non-threatening gays, gays whose relationships are nice and comfortably modeled after the norm.  Good gays. Good good gays.  They shall be patted on the back by the liberal heterosexuals who can finally see, “hey!  They’re not so bad after all!”  The rest of the gays, the ones who just don’t believe in marriage, the polyamorous, the complicated configurations of blended families, the cynical ones, the leftie ones, they are the bad gays.  They should just be quiet.  They are living in sin, outside the sanctity of the institution of marriage.  Egads!  Burn em!

So, going right along with my normativity issues I run into this quiz.  I grew up reading Cosmo way earlier than I should have and masturbating stealthily to the hot stories they used to print back in the day before it just got trashy.  But I digress.  Bad Queer!  Okay.  So, I heart quizzes.  I suddenly must know, am I marriage material!?  Must. Know.

Well, I’m not.  Questions included things like your ideal Friday night.  Because, unless your ideal Friday night is spent on the couch with your luvmuffin, you aren’t marriage material.  Heaven forbid you think for a second of being married, and still going out partying, or having a grrrrlz night out, or whatever.  Being married means your identity is consumed by the wifeypooh or husbutch.  Vacations was another question (because of course we all get paid time off at work and can afford to plan vacations).  Unless it’s a romantic getaway for two and nothing but two then you lose points.  Vegas lost points even!  I have a friend who says her ideal honeymoon would be for her and her partner to go cavort with strippers and sex workers and get it on.  Tsk tsk.  Not marriage material.  Other people I know think a good vacation would be spent in the dungeon at play parties.  Nope.  Not marriage material.  It’s tea for two or bust.

The number of people you have been sexually intimate is also a factor.  Too few bad.  Too many you are a hopeless whore and you should be going to a sex addict’s group on Friday, which loses you even more points unless you go with your honey (awww).  Going out to dinner was another question, if you go to the same restaurants all the time you lose points.  Go figure.  Do we want stability or not? sheesh!  Or if you have dietary restrictions you are also out of the running.  Only those with sturdy digestive tracts who aren’t on diets can get married.  Take notes here mah deahs.

So, in order to be ‘marriage material’ (a phrase which makes me shudder in and of itself) you must have money, be ready to be consumed by your partner, and not party.  Your parents must be accepting but not too involved in your life.  You have to like variety in restaurants, but not too much variety.  You have sweet vacations with your partner (read: vanilla only).  No mention of kids.  Of course.  Which makes me wonder if it’s just a gay male thing or if it’s a reflection on age demographics… or if it’s just that only bad queers have kids as single parents or coparents.  Oh and you have to have a successful corporate modeled job.  Yup.  Funny they didn’t mention being hung like a horse.  I could get serious point then.

Eeeenteresting.  That’s what marriage is?

If marriage material means being normative, being crammed into existing models of what long term relationships should look like, feel like, smell and sound like… then I am proudly nothing of the sort.  Nor are most of the people nearest and dearest to me!  Go figure.  Queers of a feather flock together.

I think relationships have to make sense to the people in them.  I don’t think they have to be lived in a way that conforms to ridiculous standards.  So, whether it be like a few friends I know who had significant long term relationships of years without cohabitation, or like other friends I know who do cohabitate happily: all three of them, it doesn’t have to be normative to be profoundly right.

I propose (pun optional) we take a collective minute to step away from the marriage frenzy, take a collective minute before running to the sale at David’s Bridal, and really evaluate our own personal values, our own personal agendas, how our relationships support and sustain us, and how they fit in with the community, how they create community, and how they support community.

I do love the romance of it all.  I love it when a couple who has been together 15 years is able to have their relationship legally consummated and recognized.  I get all schmoopy from them just as we all do.  But, what is right for that couple does not have to be right for all couples, or all triads… etc.  Can’t we embrace different models of relationships under the queer umbrella?

This wasn’t even a butch-femme quiz, in which case I’d just confuse the system.  Hard packing high femme, loves to cook for “her butch” but isn’t submissive, expects doors to be opened for her but doesn’t expect the butch to be the “boss” or even necessarily allow them to be… Oooh I could have fun with that one!  Deviant domesticity is fun.

I don’t want to be a cookie cutter queer.  If being marriage material makes sense to you and is relevant to your life then enjoy and be blessed.. .

If not then maybe we should get together for a drink sometime and leave our imaginary fiance(e)s at home and go queer it up on the town!

Pronouns

I was talking with a friend about pronouns.  Not just any ole pronouns.  Gendered pronouns and the genderqueer experience.  My friend is transgendered and prefers male pronouns.  He is a butch and experiences regularly the application of female pronouns, not just by the ignorant average joes and janes, but by fellow queers and friends who either slip or who sometimes with what appears to be malicious intent, decide to she him for shits and giggles.  And we were talking about the reverse as well: butches who identify with female pronouns who get he-d by friends and lovers despite objections.  And the use of male pronouns by femmes to keep from outing themselves.

That just blows my mind.  I struggle with pronouns for very different reasons.  I struggle with dating a “him” and with having a “boifriend” (when I have one).  I struggle because as much as I have wanted on occasion to use female pronouns to avoid perpetuating my being read as hetero, I can’t do that.  If someone identifies with masculine pronouns, for me to suddenly pop a “she” to make myself comfortable feels like a deep betrayal, not just of them, but of myself.

I remember once I had to deal with some financial bullshit for a transgendered boy I was dating.  I had to make some calls and I had to fill out some forms and I had to use his given name, use female pronouns and swallow the Ms. silently.  I kept hanging up before getting connected to the customer service people because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  He intensely disliked using his given name.  And it felt so awful for me to have to do it, it was necessary but it felt so, well, wrong.

Other bois/boys have different positions on that and I take my cues from them.  One boi I knew used his given name for very public professional purposes and didn’t mind being referred to by his very feminine given name.  I didn’t mind identifying him by it, although it always confused people when I continued to refer to him as him despite the obvious “girl” name.

I dated a butch who was woman identified and used female pronouns.  That was cool too.  I then found that I had to correct friends who are used to my dating trannies and would regularly refer to her by male pronouns.

To think that some people consciously apply the wrong pronoun to cover up their queerness just blows my mind.  And to hear that it’s acceptable because someone is butch really really blows my mind.  So, would a butch refer to me by male pronouns to cover?  Would they try to apply male pronouns to me when subterfuge was not necessary in order to be more comfortable with their sexuality?  Would it be okay if I, high fucking femme, was a he?  Not to say a femme can’t go by male pronouns, don’t get me wrong, but this high femme does not, unless you count Daddy as a pronoun, I like my shes and hers just fine thank you.

So, when I’m dating a he, I still have moments of discomfort, not with his gender identity, but with my invisibility.  And most often it’s complicated by the fact that if you see us out in public, in most cases, the queerness becomes obvious.  They don’t pass, have nothing to pass as being genderqueer butches, that’s exactly what they present as.  But, when in casual conversation it comes up by someone who hasn’t met the him in question there’s often the question mark look.  Has Thea turned straight?  Or the complacency, Of course Thea’s straight, she looks straight doesn’t she?  So I have many ways to add qualifiers.  Either I throw the word butch around (always fun anyway) or at some point clarify that he is a female.  Or, if the person I’m seeing pronoun shifts, that makes it easier for me, and more confusing for the listener (which can be great fun!).

I guess it just doesn’t even occur to me that some people are still so stuck in their own homophobia that they feel the need to modify their partner’s gender across contexts to be more acceptable.  How much more heteronormative can we get?

Me, I’m a big ole queer.  I may be dating a he but not only am I not defined by who I date, I also take great care to ensure that I don’t feel like my own words and actions contribute to my being perceived as straight.  That matters to me.  I need that balance, the place where I can honor the other person’s gender identity as well as my own queerness.  Hence, I don’t date transguys who are stealth.  Hence I don’t date people who are not fully comfortable with their own queerness.  That’s not to say that we all have to be out all the time about everything, but if in my need to be out I end up outing them, that needs to be okay.

My first girlfriend, back in my lesbian days was not okay being out.  We were young, it was her first relationship with a woman, it was all so new.  I was out and proud and militant.  She was tentatively out.  We went to pride together and I vividly remember parking the car a block or so from the park where the festival was being held and her not wanting to hold my hand to cross the street over into pride.  Since that time I’ve never again dated anyone who wasn’t comfortable being out because I inevitably burst out into queerness. Contextual appropriateness is one thing, I won’t sit on their lap at their office, I won’t push pda in front of parents unless they’re that kind of parents, but for the most part, I walk through the world as a queer femme and if someone is with me, they have to deal with my sparkly self shining through!  And I’ll be damned if I for a minute consider in any way getting them to modify their speech, dress, pronouns, name, behavior to ‘tone it down.’  That would be like asking a butch to put on a dress so you can pass as decidedly unqueer ‘friends’.  I say fuck that.  And I pity the people who are so self hating they need to resort to such ridiculous strategies and disrespect their lovers and themselves.