Seasonal Exhaustion

The holiday is pretty much directly upon me. This weekend I have Christmas with my family. We are going up tomorrow night.

But I don’t feel super merry. In the words of Bilbo Baggins: “I feel thin. Like butter spread over too much bread.”

It has been a long and tumultuous year. The world has continued to terrify me with its ability to be random and cruel while simultaneously delighting me with the warmth and full hearts and adorable cat photos that I have found within it.

Normally at this point in the season I am wearing a festive hat and bouncing around the house to Christmas music like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m not doing either of those things. And what’s weird is that I don’t really care to.

I think the weight of everything that has happened this year has just hit me all at once. The deaths of black women, the burning of black churches, the police brutality, the trans lives that have been lost, rape culture, the everyday harassment that comes along with being femme on the internet or on a street or wherever. Shit, some asshole even killed a lion.

I’ve talked before about the exhaustion that comes from dealing with social justice stuff all the time. The compassion fatigue that we all can feel merely from having access to the internet on a daily basis.

It wears. It takes a toll.

I’m not in a place right this second where I can talk about how to cope with that toll. I’m in it. I’m just looking forward to going home tonight, slapping on some Christmas music and faking it as if I’m going to be making it while I mix up some holiday cookies.

We cope. That’s all we can do sometimes. And I’m just learning now that it’s OK to just cope. To breathe into whatever we’re going through and to be not 100% for a while.

That’s actually a pretty good Christmas gift for me to give myself, now that I think about it.

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th is a day set aside to remember those who have been lost to in acts of violence against transgender people.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started on November 28th, 1998, when Rita Hester was murdered. Her murder, which has yet to be solved, galvanized the community to start a web project titled “Remembering Our Dead,” which then spun out to become the Day of Remembrance that we observe today.

The transgender community is effected by anti-LGBT violence disproportionately when compared to the rest of the LGBT community. A report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) found that 72% of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were trans women, while 67% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were trans women of color. So far this year we have lost 30 members of the trans community to unspeakable acts of violence. Please take a moment to learn their names, if you do not already know them. Hold them in your heart today.

Trans people are also more likely to be subjected to police violence than other members of the community at large. According to the survey conducted by NCAVP, transgender people of color are 6 times more likely to experience physical violence at the hands of police when compared to white cisgendered people. The trans community generally are 7 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting to the police when compared with cisgendered people.

Added to that sobering number, the trans community also faces staggering numbers regarding suicide rates. According to the Williams Insitute, 46% of trans men reported having attempted suicide. The numbers for trans women are not much better at 42%. The rate of suicide attempts among the LGB community is half that. And the rate among the overall population outside of the LGBT community is a mere 4.6%. Those numbers are deeply skewed and also deeply frightening.

Not only do trans people face violence when it comes to heterosexuals who may be transphobic, the fact of the matter is that trans people are frequently overlooked and underrepresented within the LGB community as well. One of the latest and possibly best examples I can give you of this is the recent Stonewall film debacle. But Stonewall isn’t the only example of this issue. Trans erasure and trans silencing and even transphobia are rampant within the LGB community.

The trans community faces a disproportionate level of violence and hardship within the LGBT community, and they get so little support

For my part, I am at a loss when it comes to days like today. I cannot imagine what it must be like for people to walk through their lives so maligned by the people around them. Grappling with a trans identity in a society that is so hetero- and cis-normative must be difficult enough, without that added fear.

I think the worst thing has to be the sense of betrayal when faced with transphobia and transmisogyny in the LGB community. I get that no community is perfect, but the fact that I’ve had to shut down repugnant phobic remarks within my community has shocked me. The fact that there is so little recognition or acceptance of trans issues is so disheartening.

To my trans friends and anyone reading this who I may not know: I see you. I will do my best to be an ally to you in every way that I can. And if you are struggling, know that you are valued. That you are seen and cared for by the people around you. Please reach out if you are suffering. Please stay.

To my fellow cis people: Do your best today and every day to be open to what trans people are saying to you. Learn to be called out with dignity. Learn to open yourself to experiences that differ from your own. If you have anything to spare, please consider donating time or money to trans organizations and communities in your area.

National Coming Out Day: I’m late as usual

In middle school, I fell in love with my straight best friend. As so many lesbians are wont to do, it seems. Identifying it as love or sexual attraction was something I didn’t do until later, but the way that I hung on her every word, the way that I pined after her for years, how I mourned when she passed from my life, all of that was the beginning of me coming into myself. A process that would take far longer than I expected.

Like so many people, coming out for me was more gradual than the stereotypical and somewhat fictive egress from the social closet. I spent years questioning my sexuality. Years in and out of shitty relationships. Settling for less than I deserved. Struggling with the “bi” label and trying to figure out why my relationships with women always felt like fantasies, too easy to possibly be true. While my relationships with men were always a struggle. A struggle that I associated with realness and authenticity in a way that was incredibly damaging. So, you know, thanks for that, romantic comedies.

Oddly, coming out to myself was the hardest part. I remember sitting in bed with Frankie, early on in our relationship. I had this sick feeling in my stomach as I turned to her and said:

“I’ve been having this really ugly thought.”

“What thought is that?” she asked, not giving away at all the fact that she already knew the thing I was going to tell her.

“What if I’m just… gay?”

The impact of that question was like a physical blow. Frankie let me eat a lot of ice cream to console myself. And she did not let on that she already knew for a whole hour after my initial statement. Because she’s sweet like that. The implications it had for every relationship I had entered into before her were staggering. I felt like I should apologize to every man I had dated from age fifteen to twenty-nine for being totally gay and not really present at all during those relationships. For playing house with them.

The coming out process isn’t as simple as acknowledging it to yourself, of course. The coming out process is ongoing and public as well as privately played out. It’s not as if we all get slapped with a rainbow sign when we admit who we are to ourselves. It’s not that simple. I still come out once or twice a week because, as a queer femme person, people never expect me to have a female partner. The ongoing and repetitive outing of myself can be frustrating. But it can also be surprising and comforting, to see how positively people react. How excited they are for us to be together. Support and love can be found in the strangest places.

Coming out to my friends has always been as simple as showing up in a place with a girl. Or talking about girlfriends. Coming out to strangers is similarly easy. Coming out to family was harder. Way harder.

I think it can be hardest for family because they set ideas and expectations up about you from a very early age. They imagine a life for you, build an image of you in their heads that it can be hard to deviate from. Although, to my brother’s credit, he knew about my dawning queerness from the moment I fell in love with Liz in middle school. And he never once gave me grief about it.

I told my mom pretty early on that I was queer. When I experimented with polyamory, she knew about that too. But I don’t think my sexuality became real for her until I moved in with Frankie and brought her around at holidays. And even then, it didn’t really hit until we got the right to marry in Pennsylvania and she and my dad had to grapple with the reality of that legal shift.

The initial fallout was hard. We’ve gotten past it, though. And even that has happened in small steps. Little gestures and statements that move us past the hurt and betrayal of that first explosive fight that ended in me cutting off contact with them for several months.

So that’s it! That’s my coming out story. Such as it is. It’s strange and involved and a little convoluted. It was hard to write about because the narrative is so much bigger than one of stepping out from the shadows. I’m still working through all the baggage I’m carrying around from having not known myself for so many years. I suspect that process will go on for quite some time. But I’m happier now than I have ever been, all things considered. Reconciling with who I really am has been such a worthwhile process. And it will continue to be. That much I am sure of. Because hidden in the depths that I’m revealing is a sensation of caring for myself that is new and gentle and worth all of the strife and upset that it took to get me to this place.

Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone!

 

Internalized Fat Shaming

I have always been the size that I am. Somewhere between a 14 and a 20. Between 180 and 210 pounds.

My mother has always been thin. She and other members of my family never really understood what it was like for me to be the size that I was. They meant well, but they, like so many other people, would say things to me that just made matters worse.

“Thin is pretty.”
“You’d get more clothes if you could fit into a smaller size.”
“Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.”
“You look pregnant.”

I really connected with those things. I thought that I didn’t deserve nice clothes if I was fat. I thought that being thin was more important that feeling nourished. I fostered a terrible relationship with food and a worse relationship with my body.

As damaging as it was to have people say things like that about my body, it was even more damaging to hear what they would say about the bodies of others.

“What business does her fat ass have in that dress?”
“Does she really think she’s pulling that off?”
“People that size should be banned from wearing bikinis.”

What I heard when the people around me said that was that I could never wear those things. Ever. And if I did, people around me were probably thinking and saying those things about me. I also learned that the bodies of women were free targets for aggressive judgment by anyone who felt like doling it out.

I resented the women around me who felt like they could parade around in clothing I had been told was forbidden. I resented their joy. I internalized the judgmental, fat-shaming behaviors of the people around me as correct. I felt shame within myself for the way that I looked, and I turned that shame outward to the women around me. I sat in judgment of women in bikinis at the beach who were my size. At girls in skin-tight dresses who didn’t give a fuck about their belly rolls.

I hated myself. And as a result, I hated the people around me who represented the things about me that I could not accept. I had internalized the messages of my fat-shaming friends and family and I was miserable and lost and angry all the time.

Three summers ago, feeling bold, I put on the bikini I kept in my bottom drawer for the longest time. I was holding on to it for when I got “thin enough.”

556744_10100181931824278_1607157245_n
The original caption for this photo 3 years ago was “SuperPhina to the rescue!”

I went to the beach. I swam in the ocean. I felt free and comfortable baring myself in front of the world.

I went home and fell right back into my awkward feelings of mingled self-loathing and disgust with my body.

It took me a while to realize what the problem was. I couldn’t really love myself or accept my body when I was still looking at others’ bodies and judging them. Every time I lashed out privately to friends or even to myself about how someone looked in this or that item of clothing, every time I laid into another woman mentally for how she looked, I laid into myself.

I drew myself into myself. I drew my body further and further away from my thoughts. I hated myself, and I turned that hate out toward other people.

I am coming out into the clear, now, to all of you. I spent years internalizing my fat shaming and then expressing it as if it was some kind of truth, ugly and terrible. The cure for that has been love for other people. The more I poured out praise and love, even if it was just in my head, toward the people around me who were like me, the more I came to love and accept myself.

Untraining that fat-shaming instinct has been really hard and really worth it. The more solid my love for others has become, the more I have felt myself emerge from the cocoon that has held me for so much of my life.

I no longer sit with a cushion over my stomach so that no one can see my rolls. I lean back, arms out, and claim the space that I am sitting in.

I do not sweat in long pants because I am ashamed of my legs. I wear short skirts and high boots and love how good and cool I feel in the summer sun.

I refuse to put on a sweater over my tank tops because I hate my arm fat. I show off my tattoos with bared shoulders and love the feeling of a breeze on my arms.

I am coming out of myself and into a world where I can feel free to buy myself nice clothing that makes me feel good and sexy and beautiful. And I can wear it without giving a single solitary fuck about what someone looking at me will think.

I cannot believe I spent so much time with all of that fat shaming nonsense inside my head. And even though I never vocalized any of this to anyone, I feel as though I need to apologize for my years of wrongheadedness. I am so sorry that I spent so long judging the world around me. I am so sorry I fat-shamed, even if it was just in my head. I regret every instance of it crossing my mind.

To anyone else out there who has had a similar experience, the cure for what ails you is love. Love the people around you and you will come to love yourself. Love the skin that you’re in. Love the body that you have. And don’t let anyone tell you that you are not worthy of that love for any reason.

Radical Issues: An Interlude

This morning I read Rebecca Solnit’s “letter to my dismal allies on the US left.” So much in it resonated deeply with me. In it, she said:

Maybe it’s part of our country’s puritan heritage, of demonstrating one’s own purity and superiority rather than focusing on fixing problems or being compassionate. Maybe it comes from people who grew up in the mainstream and felt like the kid who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes, that there were naked lies, hypocrisies and corruptions in the system…

When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, but that’s not a good reason to continue to pound down anything in the vicinity. Consider what needs to be raised up as well. Consider our powers, our victories, our possibilities; ask yourself just what you’re contributing, what kind of story you’re telling, and what kind you want to be telling.

So often I feel like we spend so much time as feminists and activists pointing out the nudity of our leaders and the systems that they put in place that we cannot enjoy our victories even for a moment.

A prime example for me came in the form of the SCOTUS decision on Friday regarding marriage equality in the US. You have to have known that it happened. The internet has been awash in rainbows ever since.

Anyway, about halfway through my day on Friday I noticed a vocal minority starting to talk about how there is a lot more work to do and how we need to turn our eyes to the future.

They’re not wrong.

But I couldn’t help the frustration that welled up in me. Can’t we just have ONE DAY? I thought. Can’t we just celebrate this culmination of so much blood, sweat and tears and then think about the rest of What Must Be Done tomorrow?

One of my biggest issues with being involved in social justice as a feminist is this constant nitpicking at everything that happens. I know that there are larger issues at stake. I know that we are not done fighting. I know that things are getting better in small increments that appear big when they suddenly have a cover story in the New York Times.

But sometimes I just want to celebrate without delving into the minutia of complications that suck the joy right out of a victory. Sometimes I just want to say “Hey, isn’t it great that SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality?” and have people respond with “Yes” rather than “Yes, but…”

I’m not an idiot. I don’t live with my head in the sand. I recognize the irony of Facebook plastering everyone’s profile pictures with rainbows while still not allowing trans folks to use their actual names on their profiles. I’m aware that the right to get married to my girlfriend does not mean that, in certain states, we can’t still be fired or evicted based on our relationship.

I know that. I know all of that and more. But it’s fucking exhausting to be reminded of it even at the height of something wonderful happening.

As Solnit said:

There is idealism somewhere under this pile of bile, the pernicious idealism that wants the world to be perfect and is disgruntled that it isn’t – and that it never will be. That’s why the perfect is the enemy of the good. Because, really, people, part of how we are going to thrive in this imperfect moment is through élan, esprit de corps, fierce hope and generous hearts.

We all want to live in a perfect world. We want to see things change for the better. But I think that being constantly on edge and constantly picking at people about the problems is not necessarily as healthy for ourselves or our causes as we would like it to be. When we are delivered a solid win like the one we had on Friday, I think it’s OK to let go and celebrate the victory for the moment and set the inevitable problems aside to analyze later.

To my friends without a mother on Mothers Day

I see you.

I see every day the messages that we receive as a culture to love our mothers unconditionally. To return the gift of life that they gave us with unending affection and unquestioning adoration.

I see how you tried to fit into that mold. How you fought every day to make excuses for her. To yourself. To the people around you. Because she’s your mom. And she’s supposed to love you, right? And take care of you. And she’s really not that bad. Not always. Not all the time.

I see how you spent all that time trying to be the perfect kid. Because being the perfect kid would change her. Because so much of what was going on had to be your fault.

I see you now, cringing whenever someone brings up their plans with their mom. Leaving the room when time comes to talk of Mother’s day.

I see you trying to explain to people why she is no longer in your life. Trying to articulate how hard it was to put up with her for years. To make excuses. To work on yourself and find yourself backsliding because of her constant negative presence.

I see you fielding the protests on your mothers behalf from people who don’t know her. Who don’t even know you that well. Telling you that she can’t be “that bad.” That you owe her your life. That you should give her something in return for this gift she gave you. In return for your life.

I see you thinking about all the things you gave her. All the chances and the benefits of the doubt. Every little chip she took of your sanity. Of your self worth.

I see you. And I want you to know that I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for making the choice to remove a toxic relationship from your life no matter how hard it was. I’m proud of you for continuing to make the decision to keep her out when she calls you on the phone or sends you emails. When she tries to fight her way back across the bridge that you burned.

I see you. I see how hard this day is for you. And I’m proud of you for standing on your two feet without her. I cannot imagine the strength it took to get you through making that decision.

You are so brave.

I see you.

And you are okay.

mothers-day

Amanda Palmer, being an artist, and the question of “What is art?”

On Saturday morning I woke up early. I stared at my phone trying to transcribe digital readout into conscious thought and realized that I really had to get up right then if I was going to make the long drive up to  Annandale-on-Hudson in upstate New York to see Amanda Palmer’s play.

I had been excited for The Bed Show for months. With the things that had been going on in my life over the past two or three years, my bed was filled with all kinds of tension and joy and stress. The areas underneath it haunted by memories too real to handle, dark corners lurking behind brightly lit childhood photos and the familiar faces of stuffed animals. All I could think of as we drove up through the morning was how our beds are full of things we carry with us, even as we lie on them at night, shoving our bodies into the space between that baggage. I thought about how the things we carry rise up in us as we sleep. How they lift us up or press us down into the sheets, gasping and afraid or even ashamed of what we keep inside.

Sitting in the theater, I waited for some glimpse of Amanda. This woman that I felt that I had come to know all those years ago when she had sat in front of me on a stage at the TLA, legs spread beneath her piano, eyes intense and voice cracking with emotion, beating out a tempo that I have marched in sync with since then, from time to time. When I saw her come in stage right, I felt an unfamiliar stirring of excitement in my gut. The kind of feeling I have not had about an artist since meeting Neil Gaiman in college, and had never really felt before then.

If you can watch a laughing Amanda play ukulele while singing about ice cream without getting a severe case of The Warm Fuzzies, you're basically not human.
If you can watch a laughing Amanda play ukulele while singing about ice cream without getting a severe case of The Warm Fuzzies, you’re basically not human.

There aren’t a lot of artists that I feel a huge bond of kinship with. Oddly, Amanda married one of the other ones a few years ago. A fact that continues to make me smile a wry smile, like a friend who introduced two other friends and watched their romance blossom. I don’t know them, but somehow their connection seems very real to me, having grown up with Neil and having found something very adult and real to connect with in Amanda.

At any rate, I sat and watched her show. I laughed a lot. And I cried a lot. Particularly when an old man wandered onto the stage and sang a song about how he didn’t want people to feel pity for him as he moved through his life after the death of his wife and child. “I actually like it,” he told me, “with a hot cup of chocolate. And a cat in my lap.” He explained how people think your life ends when the people you love die, but it doesn’t. It just changes. And I was in the second row with my shoulders shaking, trying not to sob out loud at how beautiful and touching and soft and gentle this song was as it pried open everything I love and left me feeling exhausted and blessed all at once when it was finished.

Afterward, on the ride home and for two days afterward, I found myself looking around me and feeling genuinely disappointed with myself for not being a “better artist” or doing more artistic things with my life. I looked at Amanda from the audience and thought to myself “I could be doing so much more” and immediately felt a sense of guilt for not really using the talents I have. For not nurturing the artist inside me in the way that I should be.

Talk about a kick in the ass.

I think one of the reasons that I feel such a kinship with Amanda as opposed to other artists is the realization that she’s given me that I’m still sort of teasing out in my brain.

Most artists are so remote. They’re so far away from us that they seem super human. They don’t make their own posts on social media. They don’t really want to talk to you. And that distance leads to the feeling that, not only are these people super human, but there is no way you could ever do what they do. And that’s not a really good feeling and it leads to all sorts of issues with fame in this country that I could write a whole other blog post on.

The difference between Amanda and a lot of other artists is that she stands up and says she’s an artist but doesn’t exclude the rest of us from the conversation about her art. About art in general. In a way, her accessibility to her fans serves as an open invitation to come join the artist party. And, in the aftermath of The Bed Show and looking forward to her book tour here in Philly on Thursday, I feel more motivated than ever to get my art out there. To be heard. To do the things that I know I am capable of doing. And some of the things I’m not so sure about, because being scared of failure is bullshit.

One of the biggest bees in my bonnet when I was going through the ringer in the field of art history was this idea of trying to define what “art” really is. As if anyone has the right to tell anyone else that what they’re doing isn’t art. It was all wrapped up in this notion of the construction of “high art” and “low art.” It bugged me. I remember sitting down with my adviser and talking about my thesis paper and having him say “where’s the high art?” He didn’t like my response. Because there wasn’t any. Because I don’t think that high art is more important than low art.

In fact, I will even go a step further than that. I think that low art is more important than high art. When you define low art as vernacular photos, which is what my thesis was on. Or advertising. Or any of the million other things that we are surrounded by everyday. I mean, if vernacular photos are low art, what about the art of computer programming? What about the art of a love note in a lunch box? Or a home cooked meal? A thoughtful gift?

The point is, there is an art in our everyday lives that I think it is difficult to find when you constantly look at the untouchable artists around you. They distance themselves from us with the amount of money they can throw at a project or the amount of talent they can pay to surround themselves with.

Artists like Amanda invite you to reach out and touch the art around you. They invite you to participate in the artistic process. And that is the kind of art I can get behind. It’s beautiful and big and complicated and it invites you in in a way that is vital and alive. “Real art” (if we can ever define such a thing) inspires and communicates with the viewer. The world needs more real art.

So, rape culture sucks.

But I’m pretty sure you already knew that.

The other thing about rape culture? It doesn’t even make any sense at the best of times. At the worst of times, it is nigh-on indecipherable.

Saturday night. It had been a while since Frankie and I had gone out on the town together, so we made plans to do just that! Little did we know that the weather was going to serve us a big, wintry wake up call with a low of 50 that night.

So, what to do? Well, the obvious answer was to first drink some bourbon and warm up. And since the Twisted Tail is 1) two blocks away and 2) my favorite bar, this was a no-brainer.

Bellies warm with Bourbon, we set off to find a place where dancing might be had. We walked all the way up to Rittenhouse and tried a few places, finally settling on the Raven Lounge and it’s tiny, hot dance floor and decent club music.

Although why they only play 15 seconds of any given song, I will never understand.
Although why they only play 15 seconds of any given song, I will never understand.

We get to the bar and settle in. I wind up laughing at the group of girls who seem intent on creating some kind of dance circle show off group. Ladies, there is no space for that. Please stop. But it’s all in good fun and I’m having a beer and dancing with my lady and all is right with the world.

At one point I feel a hand grasp my elbow, then release it. After a moment, a man’s voice says “I can’t even say hello?” I ignore it, assuming that it was meant for me, but not giving any particular craps about talking to some dude in a club. I glance back and see a dark-skinned, short, white-shirted guy walking back to his friends. I tag him mentally and go back to dancing.

A few more segments of song flash by. My beer is half-gone. I’m laughing at the silly happy people standing on the benches along the walls and shouting to their friends. Everyone is having a good time.

Then the man in the white shirt is standing very close to me. He tells me that he “had to come over and talk to me.” I ask him why, moving myself away from him so that he isn’t touching me. He is clearly drunk. I can barely hear him above the music and shouted song lyrics and my own blood pumping in my ears.

I do not like being approached by drunk strangers. They frighten me. Especially when they are male. Especially when they keep moving closer to me as I inch away from them.

He tells me that Sarah and her friends told him to come over to me. I ask him who Sarah is and what this is about. He tells me that Sarah is the “wife of the night” and gestures behind him, where a group of four guys and one woman (standing on a platform above the men) are watching the exchange with interest.

I ask him what a “wife of the night is” and inform him that I really don’t have any interest in whatever is going on. He starts to get frustrated and tells me that I’m not letting him explain himself. At this point, I inform him that I don’t really care what he wants, but that I don’t want to talk to him and he should leave us alone. Of course, because my feelings on whether or not I should talk to him are totally irrelevant, he gets more insistent.  I tell him that I don’t want to talk to him. I tell him that I’m there with my girlfriend and that we just want to dance and be left alone. He continues to insist that he needs to talk to me and, when Frankie tries to talk to him, brushes her off and says he’s talking to me.

Frankie kicks into another gear at this point and rushes over to his friends and asks them what’s going on and what he wants. They don’t respond. They just stare at her and smile. So she informs them that this whole thing isn’t fucking funny they need to get their friend to leave us alone or she will be getting security because this is harassment and it’s weird and we just want to be left alone.

While she’s doing this, he is still standing near me and tells her really loudly that she’s “getting aggressive” and that there’s “no need for that” and that he just “wants to talk” to me. I tell him, yet again, that I don’t want to talk to him.

Apparently, my girlfriend is intimidating, because the males in the group slowly reach out and grab him and start to pull him back. As they do that, he is half turned and pulling away from them. He tells me loudly that I’m “being an asshole” as he pulls against his friends. I tell him to go fuck himself.

The friends take him back into the group and Frankie pulls me toward the bar. I’m shaking and angry and upset. I see white shirt explaining his side of things to his little circle of friends. They look up at us and smile. All of them. They seem to think it’s funny. I experience white hot rage and just want to go over there and take the “wife for a night” by the hair and fling her across the dance floor. I’m certain by the way she is smiling satisfactorily and what white shirt had said that she orchestrated the whole thing.

I’m uncomfortable being in the same room with them. And I’m upset at not having the guts to go and say something to them because white shirt seemed really ready to physically lash out both in his body language while talking to me and while being pulled away from us.

I tell Frankie that I want to go. She insists that we should talk to security or something. I tell her I just want to go. We get our coats from where they’re hanging and make our way back out into the night.

I’m torn between extreme rage and some kind of horrible fear reaction as we walk outside and catch a cab. When we get out of the cab and walk toward Tattooed Mom’s to calm down I’m so frustrated and upset that I start crying. Then I’m struggling to pull myself together before we hit crowded South Street.

The whole thing was so confusing and upsetting and frustrating. I don’t know what he wanted, and that’s bugging me. But I know that it centered around us being gay and female. And I know that his whole attitude of entitlement to our time and attention comes straight out of the rape culture handbook. I tell him that I’m not interested in talking to him and I’m an asshole. Frankie tells his friends to get him to leave us alone and she’s being unnecessarily aggressive.

And why not, right? We left the house, so obviously we want any attention that we get whilst going about our lives. How dare we just want to dance with each other! How dare we tell him that whatever drunken shenanigans he was trying to describe, we had no interest in participating in! How dare we, as people he wanted to interact with, rebuke that interaction directly and succinctly.

Situations like that are what make me want to give up on going out altogether sometimes. They also make me miss Sisters quite a bit, because I could always go there for a drink and some dancing and feel relatively safe.

All in all, the situation was resolved well, I guess. I still wish I knew what the hell he was talking about. He was obviously soliciting us for something, but I will never know what. But at least no one got hurt, which is the main thing.

Sigh. Stay classy, Philadelphia.

Go home, Leviticus. You’re drunk.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Martin Luther King said that. It’s been getting a lot of play lately on TV and in articles and such. And it is definitely true. Because it has been a long road getting to a place where 19 states in this country acknowledge non-heterosexual marriage.

And it feels good. I have talked with a lot of my LGBTQ-etc friends in the last two days and we are universally thrilled to see this come to our home state. Some of us are even shocked that it made it this far, against so much opposition.

All in all, I’m thrilled. I’m nowhere near the place in my relationship where we’re picking out flower arrangements, but it’s good to know that, when I get there, I will be able to do everything a heterosexual couple does without any pushback from my state. Without special paperwork and legal documents and bureaucratic fidgy widgyness. It feels really, really good.

What’s interesting, too, is that I just read this article on Think Progress about how Rick Santorum really couldn’t be bothered to say anything about the rolling tide of same sex marriage across the country that culminated here in PA on Tuesday. It’s something I’ve long been aware of, but if the Republican party wants to, like, keep their jobs, they basically need to let go of things like gay marriage. Because a recent Gallup poll puts support for marriage equality at 55%.

y0ffodnhgeejsgoevfw40w
See those numbers, kids? The dark green line represents the right side of history.

 

So all those things are good. And seeing progress is good. And all good things are good.

Except.

A bunch of people have taken this as an opportunity to spill their homophobia out into the internet in a seemingly neverending stream.

Morgan Freeman didn't actually say this, but it's still as true as if he did.
Morgan Freeman didn’t actually say this, but it’s still as true as if he did.

What’s always bugged me about homophobia – aside from the obvious message above – has been how obviously hypocritical all of these people are. They cherry pick the things they want to believe and leave behind the things that would be super hard to do.

Leviticus is that book of the Bible that famously decries men lying with men. “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman,” the book says, “for that is an abomination.” (Lev 18:22)

Leviticus takes all of this stuff very seriously, by the way. If you take any of these laws and break them, the whole chapter is full of recommendations for punishment. Phrases like “and they shall be put to death” or “they shall be stoned by the people” abound. But, moreover, if I see you committing some of these crimes and I don’t stone you, I’m going to hell with you. That’s some heavy judgment “I AM” is handing down, right there. And you’re kinda already fucked if you live in a country that frowns on stoning. Like the U.S.

But anyway, aside from the compulsory stoning of one’s neighbors, if you want to tow the party line about homosexuality as laid down in Leviticus, that’s fine. But if you believe that, you have to believe all that other stuff that goes along with it. And, believe me, there are some gems up in that book. Here’s some of my favorites!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you like bacon? Well sucks to be you. Lev 3:17 forbids the eating of fat. So no bacon for you guys! Keep that in mind the next time you’re at the diner.

Lev 5:2 forbids the touching of an unclean animal. Do you have a cat? A dog? Have you patted a dog on the street? Touched a horse’s nose? Frolicked in a field with the myriad fauna that abound there, a-la Cinderella? Cause you are goin’ to hell if you have.

Lev 5:4 forbids “thoughtlessly taking an oath” for either good or bad. Have you ever said “I swear” before anything? Then you realized that swearing that the barista at the coffee shop will pay with her last breath the next time she makes you a latte three times because she’s no good at lattes and can’t get the foam right waaaaaaaaasn’t such a good idea? Too bad. Sin committed. Enjoy eternal damnation.

Lev 10:6 forbids the showing of grief by letting your hair become unkempt or tearing your clothes. The second thing should be pretty easy, but if your dad dies you had better keep that sick do going, or else what happens? You guessed it! Hellfire and damnation.

Lev 10:9 states that you cannot have a fermented beverage whenever you go into the “tent of meeting.” Now, properly this means whenever you go to church. Catholics, I’m looking at you. Of course, for most of us, “tent of meeting” translates to “bar,” which is also kind of a problem…

Lev 11:4-7 says that you cannot eat any animal that doesn’t both chew cud and have a divided hoof. That eliminates all KINDS of yummy foods. No seafood, for sure, cause those tasty bastards don’t even have feet.

Delicious. And, now, a thing of the past.
Delicious. And, now, a thing of the past.

You also can’t touch their dead bodies, according to Lev 11:8, which is really only a problem if you, like me, are morbidly fascinated with poking dead jellyfish or feeling up taxidermied anything. But if you play rugby or football, does the term pigskin ring a bell?

Basically, if you like taxidermy at all or are interested in moving roadkill from in front of your car or taking your kid’s dead lizard out to the trash, you are totally ruined by Lev 11:13-22 and Lev 11:29. Truly, the road to damnation is paved with dead animals.

Did you just kill that spider who has been stalking your bathroom? Better not pick it up. Ooh, you killed it with your hands? Truly, you are a champion hunter. Also, according to Lev 11:41-42, you are going to hell.

A very real fear for devout Leviticus followers...
A very real fear for devout Leviticus followers…

Remember when that bouncing ball of joy came into your life? How excited you were to have him or her baptized and show off your new squalling offspring to the members of your congregation? Well I hope you waited before you went, Lev 12:4-5 states the standard waiting period for a girl is 66 days, with 33 days being the standard wait for a boy. Better get all your sins handled before the little bastard crawls outta ya, because you have to be really good for the one or two months after it’s born.

Do you have your “red wings?” Because Lev 18:19 says you’re going to hell if you do.

Have you ever in your life purchased a crucifix or a little statue of St. Francis? Because idols are bad, says Lev 19:4.

You may think you're being a good Catholic, but this here is a one way ticket to Hell.
You may think you’re being a good Catholic, but this here is a one way ticket to Hell.

Remember all those little white lies? About Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and how many people you’ve really slept with? Well, the guy who wrote Lev 19:11 is watching you. And knows which circle of hell you’re going to end up spending eternity in.

Remember that swearing thing before? Well, have you ever said “I swear to God if you little bastards don’t get your shoes on and get in the car I will smack you so hard!” When they didn’t, did you smack them? Well, if you’re a good parent that doesn’t hit their kids, you just swore falsely on God’s name. And Lev 19:12 says that’s another no-no.

Here’s good news for everyone that hates waiting two weeks for a paycheck! Holding the wages of an employee overnight is a damnable sin! Don’t believe me, check out Lev 19:13. Are you an employer? You might want to go see a priest. Like, every day.

Pretty sure everyone in government is in violation of perverting justice by showing partiality to either the poor or the rich. Lev 19:15 takes a dim view of that kind of thing.

Remember that guy who cut you off two weeks ago? Or your ex wife? Still hate either of those people? Want revenge? Lev 19:18 specifically warns against seeking revenge or bearing grudges. Naughty, naughty!

To be fair, if she had given me that family of dead-eyed corn children, I'd cross her ass out, too.
To be fair, if she had given him that family of dead-eyed children of the corn, God would probably cross her ass out, too.

Turns out, God is, like, super against intermixing things. Lev 19:19 warns against three things:

  1. Cross-breeding animals. So if you love your purebread whateverthefuck dog, beware.
  2. Mixing fabric in clothing. Yea. Try to live in the modern world without mixing cotton and polyester. I dare you.
  3. Planting different seeds in the same field. Do window boxes count as “fields?” Because having a window box with just one kind of flower could be really, really boring.

This one really must stress out the true Bible adherents. Lev 19:23 forbids you from eating fruit from any tree that has been planted for less than four years. I can just see them, pulling out their hair out in the aisles of the Super Walmart.

Devout Walmart Shopper: Excuse me, how old was the tree these apples grew on?
Walmart Employee: … I don’t know.
Devout Walmart Shopper: Well, considering that my eternal souls’ well being is on the line, could you find out? I’m not interested in going to whatever circle of hell is reserved for eating the fruit of immature trees.
Walmart Employee: Right… I’ll get right on that. *goes to stock in another area*

Hey, are you a friend to facial hair in any way? Well if you are, you had better keep it long and sloppy, my friend, because Lev 19:27 specifically forbids trimming your beard. Also, in an act of serious micromanagement, the same verse prohibits you from cutting the sides of your hair.

All of those people with cross tattoos? Yea, I don’t care how much you love The Lord Your God, according to Lev 19:28, he hates tattoos.

Particularly, I would think, if you put it there...
Particularly, I would think, if you put it there…

Lev 19:32 says you had better give up that seat on the bus to the little old lady with her walker. No, we don’t care how much your feet hurt. Is your podiatric discomfort truly the reason you want to spend eternity rubbing shoulders with Beelzebub?

This is one of my favorites, because there are so many right wingers who are guilty of it all the time. Lev 19:33-34 states that “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.” So much for immigration law, folks! The world is just one big country, according to Leviticus. 

Have you ever muttered a swear at your parents under your breath? Cursing your mother and father is specifically addressed in Lev 20:9.

We all remember that rule about not working on the Sabbath? That’s Lev 23:3. That must be rough for Christians who work in restaurants. The Sabbath has some good money to be made. Too bad.

Blasphemy is another no-no, which I’m sure is no news to you. This is one of the sins that is outlined as specifically being punishable by stoning by Lev 24:14. I wonder if it’s blasphemy if you only take the Lord’s name in vain during sex? I would hope he would take that as a compliment.

Remember that “eye for an eye” rule? That’s Lev 24:17-22. I wonder how nitpicky that rule really is… like, if I give you a papercut, do you do it back?

This sort of insult would definitely have to be answered.
This sort of insult would definitely have to be answered.

And last, but certainly not least, did you know that you are not allowed to permanently sell off your land? Yea. Lev 25:23. The reasoning? Because all land belongs to God and you can’t sell his shit without permission. Which I guess makes sense. I would get seriously bent out of shape if someone sold my stuff when I wasn’t looking.

All in all, Leviticus as a book makes me think that we are all looking forward to this when we die:

Although, in fairness, I would welcome a Hell that had Rowan Atkinson playing the Devil.