Schrodinger’s Homophobes

I bar tended a fabulous Hallowedding this weekend. I do not know the couple well, but the love that mutual friends have for them endeared me to them immediately. Listening to their vows was so touching. And seeing the massive outpouring of love that their friends and family have for them was deeply moving.

Sitting in that room, handing out drinks and celebrating along with a room full of people gathered to celebrate the love of two people, I started to think about what my own wedding would look like. Who would be there. And who wouldn’t.

When I came out to my family a few years ago, it was really strange. Mostly my sexuality has been such an open thing to everyone I was not related to for so long. The idea of copping to a thing that so many people already knew was super strange.

Now that I’m OUT, I look around at the people I have known for years and wonder if they give a shit. I mostly don’t care. But one thing that I do care about is who I will invite to the day when I commit myself to someone for the rest of my life.

I have always wanted to do the whole wedding thing. I wanna have a big ass sleepover and wear a gorgeous dress and have all my friends around me and say nice stuff to my partner and hug and kiss everyone I love and also eat all the cupcakes.

These are my goals. They are simple goals, but they are mine.

And one thing that I 100% want for my wedding is no drama of any kind. I really don’t have dramatic friends, so I’m not all that worried on that front. And on the whole, my family is not a dramatic one. But the addition of gayness makes people behave in unexpected ways.

That said, since I have come out I have been looking at my family in a new light, trying to decide which of them might go all hetero-mad and say something or do something shitty at a gay wedding.

The shitty part is that I have virtually nothing to report at this point. Other than the two people who disowned their daughter for being married to a woman, there aren’t any glaring “I’M A HOMOPHOBE” signs on any of my family members’ heads.

And that frightens me. It frightens me because I don’t want to exclude people because they are from a generation that seems to have more trouble with LGBTQ people. But I also don’t want a flashbang of homophobia to go off in the middle of my wedding because I don’t want to deal with that shit.

I mean, it’s not like I can make my RSVPs look like this:

Untitled

That would just be too much. I’ll just have to keep my ears peeled and hope that anyone with shitty feelings about me marrying another woman decides to do the right thing and just check “Regretfully Decline” on my inevitable RSVP.

Honestly, I would worry about their safety if they didn’t make that choice and made any kind of scene. I have very protective friends. Keep that in mind if you read this, undercover familial homophobes. Assholery at my future nuptials will be severely policed.


Featured image found here: http://phys.org/news/2014-02-peeking-physicists-quantum-particles.html

Moving. Doorways. Exhaustion.

Frankie and I are getting ready to move. Moving is always a really strange feeling. The uncertainty of it. The odd, liminal feeling of being between places. Of having one foot in a solid, real-feeling space and the other in a dream. The whole process fills me with anxiety.

What if there isn’t enough water pressure?
What if the utilities cost a fortune?
What if the neighbors are homophobic?

There is an element of throwing oneself into the unknown. Of leaping and hoping to be caught.

It’s also exciting. You start to plan out what your life will look like. To fantasize about where you will put your things. About walking home. About the things that you fell in love with about your new space. I get lost in daydreams about no longer dealing with the things that frustrate me about my current apartment. It’s such a good feeling, knowing you will be free.

The whole process is exhausting in the extreme. Boxing up your life and preparing to take it to a new place is stressful and time-consuming. There are so many things I am going to want to do in the next month that I’m not going to be able to.

All this is to say that I’m super excited about the move and all the possibilities and opportunities that it opens up, but I am also going to be totally wiped over the next month or so and ask you all to bear with me.

Good things are coming!

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.

On the Revisiting of Feelings

Every once in a while, someone from my past will creep up into my mind and I will find myself scouring the internet for references to them.

Where are you working now?

Who are you loving?

The question that I always want to answer is a simple one.

Did I matter?

I find myself poring over the faces of people they have chosen in the years intervening. In the parenthetical space between knowing and unknowing. In the time it takes for a person to become emotional research rather than emotional expenditure.

There is a dusty old feeling to this motion. This knee jerk response. Something in my emotional DNA. Like whales migrating, I walk the pattern that is the cyclical absence and return of thoughts and feelings.

You come to mind.

I Google you.

I look at old pictures that show up. Sometimes I’m in them. I reflect on whatever masochism drew me to do this to myself.

I think about who I was when I was with you. I wonder who the people you are surrounded by are. What they are like. I wonder about the person you are loving the most. How they shift and change themselves to fit into the nooks and crannies of you that always need filling. How they pour themselves over the mold made of your flaws.

Do they thrill you?

Are you happy?

I worry my old loves like old wounds. Bruises that never get the chance to heal because of continual pressure. Blood that never dissipates. Scars that never lose their angry redness.

After I have looked at the last public picture. Perused the last blog entry or Facebook status, I sit back. I log out. And I let you fade.

Sometimes that makes the bruises look less angry. Sometimes the opening of old wounds relieves the tension.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

My questions never get answered, no matter the case. I want to know if I mattered. And I know it’s irrelevant. I know that, in the years that have passed between the first uttering of that question and this last riotous uprising, all the weight of whether I mattered has gone out of the question.

But I want to know.

So, when the mood strikes, I Google you. I search. And I find. And I wonder.

The Dissolution of Fear Itself

It eats at me
a gnawing thing
burrowing deep, it
settles into muscles
and organs.

I breathe it
into sentences
here
with you.

As I reveal it,
I feel it
breaking.
Teeth and jaws
melting
into bones
and sinew.

I’m fearlessly reborn.


Featured image from the Sleep of the Beloved series by Paul Schneggenburger.

Love in a Time of Bleeding

I think I must be lucky
as you lay me down
blankets soft and warm
eyes heavy.
Our dog breathing in
the space between us.
I will not feel it
when you come to bed
hours later, or minutes,
I’m never sure.
But I will wake
in the night
and you will be there,
as you always are.
Soft and warm
hands reaching out for me.

I think I must be lucky
as you feed me.
Turning out healthy food
in our small kitchen.
Dragging me into a world
full of flavor.
Sometimes I want to buy you
a chef’s hat. And I know
that you would wear it
at an angle, jaunty,
dapper, as you feed me.
Feed my heart alongside
my stomach. Feed my joy.

I think I must be lucky
as you take my hand
beneath the din of the city
and lead me on adventures.
As we enter new dance floors
discover strangers and cocktails,
bar rooms and restaurants,
craft shows and wineries.
My gorgeous sojourner.
I see the eyes that
follow you, as I once
followed you. I smile
in the faces of those admirers.
They so wish they were me.
But I am me. And I know
I am lucky
every time you grace me
with your kisses
every time you show me
I am loved.
I know.