If We Were Having Coffee // Happy Pride Month to My Fellow Queers!

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for stopping by for a bit of conversation and caffeine. I nearly forgot about our coffee date, I’ve been up doing a bit of work in the yard, around the house, and getting our new grill set up for some jalapeño cheddar burgers, corn on the cob, and grilled peaches for dessert! Please excuse the mouth-watering. It’s been a long time since we grilled anything and we are very excited.

“Current problem: The fatigue is unbearable without coffee, but coffee makes the illness worse, which makes the fatigue worse.”

sadnarwhal

***

If we were having coffee, I would wish all of my LGBTQIA+ peeps a very Happy Pride Month! Denver’s parade and rally aren’t for another couple of weekends, but I’m going to try to start planning the festivities and inviting friends this week. Nothing big, there is exactly one gay club and one gay bar I like, and that’s it.

We’ll probably spend a couple of nights out with friends, then watch the parade and meet up with all the gays I know but only ever see once a year. We’ll do some shopping, go home, and be happy that we live in a country that we can love each other and get married without the threat of imprisonment and death.

We’ve come so far since I came out as a teenager. I remember I was so afraid of rejection. I was afraid something was wrong with me. I was afraid I wouldn’t get to live a “normal” life. And here we are now! We own our home, we are engaged, and we both have our loved ones with us, supporting us, proud of us, and treating us just like a normal couple, because that is what we are!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was not a good writing week. I only posted here a couple of times. On Monday, about my growing fear of the world around me and how I hope to overcome it, and Tuesday I checked in with everything I am currently doing and feeling to mark the end of May. I didn’t get my newsletter out, and I didn’t keep up with posting over on Tumblr. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself over it. Things have gotten a little overwhelming, and I need to imagine a clean slate where the failures of the past aren’t weighing me down.

So, next week will be better. I hope to post twice here, get my newsletter out, and write something small every evening on Tumblr. I’m also setting a goal of 250 per day on a couple of essays for my zine project.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that part of the reason I had such a hard time getting these words out was the weather. I have been so excited for summer, and now that it is here my body has decided that heat is far too exhausting. I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open after 2 PM in the afternoon and on the weekends all I want to do is sleep.

It may not be just the heat. I have been tapering off of the steroid I’ve been on since February, and without it, my body may be struggling to cope. I’m worried about my health and energy levels going into the coming week. I took my last dose yesterday, and I’m already had headaches, and I’m more tired than ever. Thank God for coffee.

I’, also a little depressed, I think. It’s hard to tell since I’ve felt this way nearly my whole life, but there are signs I’ve learned to look for. I’m more irritable and moody than usual. I’m more critical of myself, less forgiving and more aware of my mistakes. I’m tired. I’m craving foods that are bad for me, lots of grease, and salt, and sugar. I’m sad sometimes, and I’m not as interested in the things I love as I usually am. A lot of me trying to write starts with me trying to care about writing again.

I’m really hoping it’s just the change in meds and season and not anything more serious.

***

If we were having coffee, I would try my best not to bring up politics because I still don’t know where to even begin to articulate my frustration, anger, embarrassment, and hopelessness at everything that has happened these past few months.

My anxiety is at an all-time high. I dread the news every day and yet I can’t seem to pull myself away from it. Every morning there is some new scandal, some new way that this administration has found to make life a little less bearable than the day before. I fear the rest of the world is laughing at us and moving on, together, to make their world a better place. America has lost her place as leader and savior.

The future looks so bleak from here. But there has been some good. I was happy to see many states and cities recommit to the Paris Accords after our president stupidly decided to pull out for no fucking reason. I was happy to see the rest of the world come together to condemn our president’s decision as well. There has been so much community and unity found and formed since Trump took office.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that more and more I am focusing on ways to find joy and hope closer to home. This week I am seeing a couple of movies, It Comes at Night and Wonder Woman. The former looks super creepy, creepy movies are my absolute favorite, and the Wonder Woman screening will be one of the Women-only showings that have men all over the internet wound up and whining.

I’ve heard nothing, but good things about Wonder Woman and I anticipate that will be the highlight of my week. I’ll be honest, I’m a little worried about some of those angry men showing up to cause problems. There are a lot of men in the world who hate women and hate for them to have anything of their own. I’ve seen a lot of hateful comments on the internet, and it’s hard not to imagine the worst happening here.

It’s really upsetting we live in a world where I can’t go see a movie without fearing for my safety.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that besides that, not a whole lot has been going on. I’ve spent more time that I want to admit watching TV this week. House of Cards came back, and I’ve been binging that. I paced myself the best I could and mode it just six days before finishing the 13 episodes. Luckily Orange is the New Black starts this week, so I’ll have something else to get into.

Speaking of Netflix, one of my favorite shows, Sense8, seems to have gotten the ax. If you haven’t watched Sense8 you need to stop here and go check it out. There are two seasons and a Christmas special available. The show features a very diverse and talented cast, is beautifully shot, and tackles themes of race, sexual orientation, gender, privilege, and acceptance. I’m devastated it was canceled. If you’d like to help get it back, for me or for yourself, please fill out this title request form on Netflix’s own site. Just put in “Sense8 season 3”. Thank you!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is getting very close to dinner time and I had better get going and get the grill fired up. My girlfriend already has everything prepped and my mouth is watering again smelling the jalapeños and seeing the beautiful ears of corn she brought home.

I hope you had a great week and a relaxing weekend. I hope next week will be productive a free from unhealthy amounts of stress.

Until next time (:

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***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via domestikate

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They Can’t Hurt Me Anymore

“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”

— Rachel Maddow

When you’re growing up queer there exists some time between when you realize you are different, when other people realize you are different, and when you are comfortable in your differentness.

For some of us, it is a short time, for some of us it can be nearly a lifetime.

During that in-between time there will be people around who will react to who we are in the wrong way, and almost always the result is we become ashamed of who we are and a lot of permanent damage is done.

***

I remember in 4th-grade year, there was a girl who lived in my apartment building, rode the same bus as me, and shared my classroom. She was my default friend and at recess, would sometimes play with her and her other friends. Playing with the girls meant standing around talking or doing quiet activities that wouldn’t result in injury or dirty clothes.

I thought that was boring so sometimes I played with the boys. I ran around, jumped off the swings, and played with action figures. I got dirty, I got hurt, and I had a great time.

The next year, in 5th grade, my default friend told me that she and the other girls didn’t want to play with me anymore. I was honestly so surprised I just stood there, staring, and asked her why. She said I was too different, too weird, too much like a boy, and that was the end of it.

I felt shame right away. I was different, and that was bad. I didn’t want to be different.

That was the last time I felt comfortable with my gender identity and expression. Before that, there was just me, just Lisa, I wasn’t a girly girl, and I wasn’t a tomboy, I just did what felt right for me. It hadn’t occurred to me before that moment that the things I did not only put me into a category of boy or girl but also dictated the way other people would treat me and whether or not they liked me.

For the next 20 or 25 years of my life, I would think I had to be either a girl or a boy. I would go through phases where I swung wildly from masculine to feminine and deep down I would not feel comfortable in the mask of either one. I would think there was no option to say I was both, or neither, or one day one and one day another. I didn’t know that feeling the way I did wasn’t exactly uncommon.

And one day I heard the term “Genderqueer” and a whole new world opened up for me. I could once again be just me, just Lisa, and never again will anyone hurt me by labeling me or rejecting me based on my sex or gender.

***

Later, in high school, after the girl crushes had come but I still hung on to the hope that my attraction to women was a phase there were a series of friends who would try to get me alone to ask me once and for all if I was gay or not.

I ducked and dodged these questions, and I grew to believe that just like my gender people would judge and reject me based on the feelings I had for girls. I was terrified of coming out.

After I finally did come out, I came out as a lesbian. I went completely to the other side of the spectrum; I was ashamed of my attraction to men. After some time I denied even to myself that I was attracted to men. In the world of lesbians, the bisexual girl is frowned upon and shunned. I even shunned other bisexual girls and warned against dating them. I was awful.

Since I have been dating a woman for the past 14 years of my life, I thought the distinction didn’t matter for me anymore. Whether or not I was a lesbian didn’t matter because I was only sleeping with my girlfriend. I let the issue go.

It took a long time, but I finally came to terms with the fact that I was exactly exclusively attracted to women and over the years I have found that being honest allows me to engage in conversations with my straight female friends that I wouldn’t have before. It may seem small but this kind of banter between women can help form bonds, and I am glad to be able to engage in it authentically. I also feel freer. I feel more me. I feel like there are no parts of me that are hidden anymore.

I try to educate people about what it means to either gay or bisexual. I try to tell people that some of the ideas they have about the ways people can be attracted to people and what that has to do with—or how it has nothing at all to do with—their gender identity and expression, or whether or not they are capable of a monogamous relationship. I try to tell people my story and let them know that we are all different but not so different after all.

I do still identify as a lesbian since after much introspection I have found I am after all much more attracted to women than I am men. Which is just another example of how the labels we come up with rarely describe the reality of our feelings.

***

Throughout my life I have been called various names, dyke, fag, and even “rug doctor,” not to mention gay and queer, which shouldn’t be offensive but were said to me in a tone that let me know they were being used as insults.

I’ve been told I need to dress differently, that I am confused, that me, and people like me who are attracted to both men and women, and identify with both genders, just don’t exist. I’ve been told I am choosing to feel the way I do and that one day I will regret it.

I’ve been rejected, condemned, and fetishized by both men and women for who I am, who they think I am, and who they think they can make me into. I have been ashamed, afraid, and—most often—confused by how I feel inside. I’ve wanted to hide from myself and wished more than anything I could be someone else. I’ve been hurt by people, a lot, but all of that has changed.

I continue to grow and change and discover myself, but I won’t let myself feel afraid, or ashamed, or hurt. No one can do that too me again. I am who I am, and I know now that whoever that is, she is loved and will always be because I love myself and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

***

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When I Was Dead

I was dead
and walking
pretending
to be
what I thought
a woman
should be
when she’s with
boys
that think
they are men

I was dead
and walking
and then
you walked by
and I felt
everything
all at once
and
all of a sudden
I was born
a human again
for the first time

When I was dead
they knew
and the boy-men
wanted me
for it

When I was dead
you were too
and we wanted
each other
for it

It took a woman
and her kiss
to bring me
inside
and through
herself
and back out
and around
myself
to see
what was
not lost
only hidden

I was never
who I thought
I was
and you
were never
who you thought
you were
too

They tried
to take that
from me
They tried
to take that
from you too
but

Summer is here
and I am alive

And I die
again
whenever
you kiss me
and bring me
back
to life

***

If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter. It’s a bit of experimental writing from me—more emotional, more private—and some interesting reads from a few other people. Made with lots of love, every week ♥

Inspired by the poem Instant Rain by Melissa Broder

Featured image via Pixabay

Being Uncomfortable, Voicing Discomfort, and Leaving Uncomfortable Spaces

I am not good at speaking out when I am hurt by the words of others. I hate confrontation, it makes me uncomfortable. Lately, I have been thinking about the consequences of keeping quiet.

Maybe it is doing more harm than just saying how I feel? I allow other people to harm me because I don’t want to make waves, or make anyone feel bad, or start an argument. I am not protecting myself and I am not challenging misinformation when I hear it. I am allowing these people to become more comfortable in their ignorance and giving them the idea that it is okay to say the things they do.

I am not helping anyone by doing nothing.

***

Years ago a coworker and I are discussing the possibility of gay marriage. She knows my girlfriend, and she knows we have been together for many years. She has always been very nice to us and I was shocked when she revealed to me that she did not agree that lesbians and gays should be allowed to marry. She explained that she was a catholic and while she understood that there were rights my girlfriend and I would never have she could not agree that we should.

I should have told her that she was wrong and that we did deserve those rights. I should have explained to her how much it hurt me and my girlfriend to know that we wanted it for all the right reasons and that it hurt more than she could ever understand to be denied by the government. I should have told her that watching politicians compare me and my love to molesters and abusers made me cry at night. Or I should have just walked away.

Instead, I told her I understood, and that everyone was entitled to their opinion. I made her feel ok when she had not only been inappropriate, but hurtful.

**

I sat back in the office with “the guys”, a group of 4 or 5 men I worked with every day and called my friends. They were watching a video comparing a woman’s level of “crazy” to her level of attractiveness. The premise being that the better looking she was the crazier she is going to be. At the end, it states that if you are with an attractive woman and she isn’t crazy, then she is a man. Sounds like a bit of transphobia too.

I should have  told them what they were saying was sexist and harmful. I should have told them that playing that video in front of me made me feel like they weren’t being very good friends to me. I should have told them that it was invalidating and frustrating for women to never been taken seriously and for men to make jokes about it.  I should have told them this was not appropriate and not what I came to work to hear. Or I should have just walked away.

Instead, I murmured something about that not being right, and when they laughed me off I laughed along too. I let them carry on their joke because I didn’t want to be a killjoy.

***

A coworker is making a joke about there being no other black people in the room while I and a friend who has albinism are sitting right there. My friend speaks up first, her skin may be white but she is just as black as this coworker. The coworker tells her to calm down and motions to me, “It’s ok, Lisa doesn’t count either”.

I should have told her that despite my skin tone and despite what privilege may come with it, it is not ok to say I don’t count. I have been hearing that my whole life and I do not care to hear it in my place of work. I should have told her that perpetuating the idea that mixed people don’t belong anywhere. I should have told her that growing up mixed wasn’t easy, that never being one or the other, and being hated by both hurts you before you can even understand why. I should have told her what she said reminded me of all that and hurt me all over again. Or I should’ve walked away

Instead, I only replied sarcastically that I know I don’t count, I never have and never will, and then I am silent. I let her treat me the way other people had treated me my whole life because I had given up fighting.

***

I am learning to sift through my feelings about these little hurts I deal with all the time. I am learning how to articulate them in  way that other people will understand why these words hurt and when these ideas are harmful. I am learning not to let people get away with hurting me just because something is funny or because it makes them feel better.

I am learning not to feel bad for protecting myself from people who perpetuate problematic ideas just because it makes those people uncomfortable to have their words challenged.

I am my number one priority and I need to remember to treat myself that way.

***

Inspiration and title of this post comes from 10 Personal Rights That I, As a Black, Non-Binary, Queer Person, Refuse to Compromise On via Everyday Feminism

Original image by Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany (ws’08 (21)) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dressing for No Gender

Identifying as a genderqueer person when your gender actually appears to be pretty clear-cut means living in a world where you may never feel 100% comfortable in your own skin. My body says to the world that I am very much female but inside I feel something like a mix of both genders, or maybe neither gender, or maybe some days I feel like a bit more of one or the other? It is hard to explain.

I have been this way my whole life and the hardest part has been finding a way to express this through the clothing I wear so that I can walk around feeling confident and comfortable. Unfortunately, the world we live in still has some outdated ideas about the way women should look and dress and that leaves me wishing every day for things to change. It leaves me…

Wishing my body was shaped for the clothes I want to wear. I wish I was shaped like all those good-looking boyish yet feminine model types. That’s the way I picture myself in my head, both handsome and beautiful. I want my outsides to match the way I feel inside. Alas, that will never be, because I am stuck with wider hips than I want and a butt and bust too big to be considered boyish. Nothing fits me right and I am often forced to settle for clothes that are not quite what I wanted but close, which somehow feels worse.

Wishing that the men’s and women’s clothing departments were right next to each other, or better yet, just one fucking department. This way I could mix and match better. Sometimes I like a shirt in the women’s department but I need to match it with some jeans in the men’s, or vice versa. Why must I walk all the way across the entire store, and sometimes traverse to a whole different floor, to buy what is essentially the same thing, clothing? Why does there even have to be men’s or women’s clothing departments, seems silly to me.

Wishing men’s jeans, shoes, and shirts were regularly sold in smaller sizes. I have met men that are just as short as me and I have no idea where they must get their clothing. It is a struggle for me to find shirts in a size small, jeans in the 32×32 range, and shoes in a size 6. I cannot tell you how many times I have found the perfect item of clothing only to be told: “They don’t make that in a size smaller than *insert size just above the one I am asking about*”. It’s heartbreaking.

Wishing the women’s clothes were made to be more practical, the way men’s are. What’s with the tiny, sometimes nonexistent, pockets? Why do all the coats stop at waist level? Why aren’t jean’s sold with a waist and an inseam size? Do people think women vary in size less than men do? Why don’t women have options like a slim or regular fit? Do people think women all want their clothing to fit in the same way? The women’s clothing section reeks of oppression and standards no one can achieve.

Wishing that it were easier to express to companies what it means to want to wear both men’s and women’s clothing. It’s like no one has told them that sometimes people are a little different and might not fit into this or that category as nicely as they want to believe. For example, for a while, I was receiving a monthly subscription box that sent cool gadgets, accessories, and clothing. I wanted nail polish but I also wanted men’s shirts. I wanted men’s jewelry but I also wanted the girly phone cases. There was no way to specify any of this when I initially signed up and I eventually had to cancel it. I was really bummed but I was getting a bunch of stuff I didn’t want or couldn’t wear. If they would have just added more options to the damn sign up form…

Wishing that the companies that made gender-neutral clothing were not charging an arm and a leg for it. I mean, yeah, I’m grateful that you have seen a need and intend to provide a product for people like me but don’t you know that poverty is more prevalent in the LGBT community than it is in the heterosexual/cisgender community? Why are you dangling a solution in front of my face and keeping it just out of reach? Maybe it is because the “androgynous look” has always been a part of “high fashion” and, therefore, a sin to provide to the lower classes.

Wishing everybody didn’t feel the need to tell me what I should wear or what they want me to wear. What people don’t understand is that telling me they think I would look really good if I wore women’s clothes is actually pretty insulting. When people (it’s always a group discussion held around me) start talking about what I should wear, usually dresses and skirts, or leggings, I feel like they are telling me that I look bad. Why else would they want me to wear something else? I don’t hear them telling the guys in the room to wear dresses or the women to wear a tuxedo, why do it to me?

Wishing more people understood what it means to be genderqueer. I rarely talk about the way I feel about my gender identity or expression. Most people I know either think I am making it more complicated than it needs to be or they just don’t get it, sometimes they think something is wrong with me. It’s easier to use female pronouns and use terms like “tomboy”, that’s as far as most people’s knowledge and comfort level can stretch.

When someone does get it, when they understand that for me gender almost means nothing at all, that I am perfectly fine having the parts I do but that they aren’t a part of who I am, it can be a great relief. It makes me feel like I am being really seen.

For most people their gender is a part of who they are, for other people being of no gender, or a mix of gender is very much a part of who they are too. Clothing manufacturers and retail stores need to understand that and make it easier for people like me to find what they need to dress in a way that makes them feel good. It is no small matter I assure you. It is not a matter of fashion, it is a matter of looking in the mirror and seeing someone you recognize. It is a matter of not seeing a version of yourself that feels so unlike you in every way.

It is a matter of being able to walk this earth feeling comfortable, confident, and complete.