Monday, October 12, 2009

A day late

Yesterday was a big day for us American queers. National Coming Out Day, the big march.

To the best of my knowledge, I spent the whole day not communicating with any other queers in any way. I looked at the pictures of the march and wished I was there. I thought about calling one of my closest queer friends, not out of solidarity, but because we hadn't chatted in a while. I looked at someone cute at an online dating site, but shyly did not make the first move. I did not come out to anyone, which is actually unusual for me, because as someone who can pass but chooses not to, I come out in some small way almost every day, especially in the last year.

So here it is, a little belated, and I'm coming out to you people, who pretty much already know, right? I'm a big queer. If you didn't know, hi! Welcome to City Mouse Country!

Here are my invitations to you today:
  • Come out in the comments. As whatever you are — if you're straight, do it to remind all of us that straight is not the default. If you're queer, show the other queers we're not alone. If you're genderqueer or trans, please tell us. If you're questioning your place in the world, let us know that. If you hate labels and have a whole thing prepared on that subject, go for it. I've got time and space. Do it anonymously, if you must, but ask yourself why you must, what you're hiding from.
  • Come out to someone in your real life. See above.
  • Ask some questions about queerness generally, or about my queerness, specifically, in the comments. I cannot promise that I know all the answers, but I can promise that I know a lot of great resources on the Internet that I can steer you to. Ask goofy questions, dirty ones, ones you are worried might seem bigoted. Again, ask anonymously if you feel you must, but I can almost promise me you will not ask anything more horrifying than the things I've been asked in the past. No, that is not a dare.
  • Tell us what you can/will/do do to make LGBTQ folks less scared, to come out, to be out*. Tell us how you will help make Coming Out Day seem weird and quaint to the generations ahead of us.
Obviously, you don't have to do all of that. But I'd love it if you'd do what you can.

Oh, also, here's this. It's one of my favorite things about outness, and it's been taken down, and I hope that link to the cached version still works.

* Some of my well-meaning straight liberal friends will not totally know what I mean. I have been an out queer for about 17 years, have never been directly physically threatened with violence because of my orientation, and yet in each of my last two relationships, I have thought of Matthew Shepard and hesitated to kiss the person I was dating in semi-public, out of fear. I have feared for my own safety, and in my last relationship, feared deeply and often for my significant other's. I have had guests who were queer harassed by my police-officer-neighbor for kissing in their car. That is what it is (so far, still) like.


Rick said...

I be straight. I'm also Jewish, short, bald and hairy.

Cousin Mouse said...

I'm pro-gay rights already, of course, but having a cousin advocating so strongly for her rights puts it more to the forefront of my thinking, you'll be glad to know.

It makes it more personal, too. It changes "I'm for the right of gays and lesbians to marry" to "I'm for the right of MY COUSIN to marry!" (cousins, if you count the next generation).

bzzzzgrrrl said...

A friend just e-mailed me with this:
I have a question -- I'm familiar with "LBGT" but haven't seen this with the attached "Q." Pardon my ignorance, but what's the difference in gay and queer? What makes you identify yourself as a "Q" instead of an "L?"

Thought some of the rest of you might be interested in my response:

"Queer" is still offensive to some folks, which is why I ever use LGBTQ.

But for many queers, including myself, it feels truer to who I am, in that it makes me part of a community that is bigger than "lesbians" but which still has some stuff in common.

I came out to myself in 1992, as bisexual. I'm attracted to men and women, so "lesbian" has sometimes felt a little dishonest to me. "Bisexual," though, still has some funny connotations for a lot of people, of waffling, or of wanting to date men and women at the same time, or of being basically straight but making out with women for the titillation of men. "Queer" is mostly used by people who are a little more political, and who think of their orientation as more of an identity than what they do (or want to do) in bed. As someone who can "pass" pretty easily, but who chooses not to, I come out in some way almost every day. It's sometimes a little exhausting. Calling myself "queer" means I'm taken more seriously, because I don't seem like a straight woman who wants to have sex with a woman while her husband watches because he has seen a lot of porn. When I was younger, I was very determined to reclaim "bisexual" as a term. It's been 17 years. The reclamation isn't taking.

Aside from the orientation thing, "queer" is used by people who are straight, but trans (so, transmen [FTMs] who like women).

In more recent years, I've also been more aware of the idea of gender itself as a spectrum. If there are more than two sexes (and, even by narrow medical definitions, there are five), and I am attracted to people of several of those sexes, then I'm not "bisexual," but "pansexual," which some people use, sounds creepy to me. I'm more interested in dating women than men these days, so I don't get bothered anymore when someone assumes I'm a lesbian, but I am also open to the possibility of dating someone whose internal gender falls somewhere between "male" and "female" (the last person I dated fell into that category), or a transman.

That's a very long way to say this: Queer is a nice umbrella term. I like to have the nice umbrella term.

Oh, and hey. Thanks for asking. I never mind sharing this stuff, but I know people are sometimes hesitant to ask. I appreciate that you did.

Oh, and also? The "Q" often means "Questioning" as well as "Queer."

Rob said...

I applaud CMC for being proud of who she is !