Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Outsider

[Note: this post isn't about gayness. It's about race and weight and other-ness. So, if you want to read about that stuff, proceed! Otherwise, may I direct you to this post, about that time I went to Aqua Girl and realized I was in love with Elle but didn't talk about that at all when I wrote about Aqua Girl. LOL.]

This past weekend, Elle and I went to the wedding of a friend of mine. It was an absolutely beautiful experience--the couple was so happy, Elle and I had a great time, I felt really close with her and loved being there with her, she looked beautiful and I was proud to be her girlfriend, and in that wedding environment I was really aware of how much I love her and feel so happy and lucky to be with her. It was really wonderful. (It also did kick up a lot of my understandably conflicted feelings about marriage, but...I'll save that for another post.)

So, this wedding experience was fantastic. Except...

I also felt really self-conscious and unsure of myself and like a dumpy, short, poor, bedraggled black sheep.

Yep.

I know, weird right? Where the fuck did that come from?

My thoughts exactly.

I've been trying for several days now to figure out what the hell happened there, why I felt like I "looked weird", that I hadn't worn the right thing (BLACK TIGHTS!? YOU'RE SUCH AN IDIOT!), hadn't done my makeup the right way (WHY DID YOU WEAR SUCH DARK EYESHADOW? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? A SMOKY EYE!? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE), and stuck out like a sore thumb (despite evidence to the contrary in the form of Elle's compliments and those of others), and here's what I've come up with: I basically had regressed into my college self. 

Didn't see that one coming.

But I really think that's what happened, and here's why. I went to a prestigious college that is known for being full of blue-blooded, tall, tan, thin, white, rich people.  I am exactly NONE of those things. At this wedding this weekend, I was unexpectedly thrust again into an environment that felt, to me, like that first month or so of college, when everyone I saw, everyone I knew, came from a world that I had never experienced, that felt completely foreign and other and unattainable and easier.  Early on in my college life, and at various times throughout it, I felt painfully and deeply that I didn't belong.  And again, at this gorgeous, welcoming, beautiful wedding, which I was clearly invited to and welcome at, along with a large group of my friends, I suddenly felt extremely self-conscious, and my self-esteem plummeted to minus 40.

And I realized how fragile my sense of myself really is.

As it turns out, I'm not that convinced that I'm not a complete lame-o loser? This came as a surprise to me, as I kind of pride myself on not really giving two shits about what people think about me most of the time. I thought that was true. But...I think maybe I've been kidding myself a bit.  Both about the robustness of my self-worth, and also about the lingering issues I have with being a black woman who is very often one of very few people of color in a social setting, if not the only one.

Because here's the thing: that large group of friends that I was at the wedding with? Every single one of them is white. Most of them are thinner than I am, most of them make more money than I do, and I stood in that group and felt like an outsider, and ashamed. (Wow, it was really hard to write that.)

And let me be clear--these people are not racist (as far as I know), they are not snotty, entitled people (for the most part), and they are my friends. New-ish friends, but friends.  I also really have no idea what most of their upbringings or backgrounds are, so, it really was not anything about them that made me feel this way.  It was my stuff, my past, and my associations with being "other" rearing it's powerful, annoying little head.

As I stood there with the group, I felt like I was outside myself, looking at myself, and I was...embarrassed? My dress didn't look as expensive (and I'm sure it wasn't), my shoes weren't as new, my hips weren't as narrow, my hair wasn't as long, and yes, my skin wasn't as light.  And I felt "other" and it was hard. The fact that I am writing all of this as a 32 year old, highly educated woman with quite a lot of privilege is beyond disturbing to me.  But it's the truth. And this blog, for me, is about my truth, and putting it out there and working it through, so there it fucking is.

Thinking about all of this reminded me of one of my most vivid memories from college, and one of my most vivid experiences of being "other" despite all the ways that I was the same. In my senior year, Halle Berry won the Best Leading Actress Oscar for "Monster's Ball." I sat watching the Oscars live with about 6 of my college friends, people whom I spent almost all of my time with, who I traveled with, ate with, drank with, learned with, talked with, debated with, and was growing up with.  I felt closer to that group of people than any other at that time, and I belonged there.  I knew that without a doubt. But that night, as we watched Halle Berry accept her Oscar, and talk about how important that moment was for women of color, for Black women especially, I cried, as she cried. It was extremely powerful and extremely moving, and it was a very important moment in the entertainment industry.  But when her speech was over, and I looked around the room, my friends, my white friends, were not so moved. They weren't teary. In fact, one of them (who I admittedly wasn't as close to) said, "Wow, she got kind of hysterical, didn't she? I mean, it's just an award." or something like that. I felt like I had been slapped in the face. And I had never felt so alone in a room full of people before. As silly as it might sound, after countless times being the only Black person in a room (and believe me, that happened to me A LOT as a child/teen/young adult, and still does) and it really never bothering me, that night, I felt the difference. I felt how my experience in the world is in some deep, almost pre-verbal way, so drastically different from the experience of these people who were my best friends in the world, who I shared so much with, but also...didn't.  I felt isolated and alone. It was shocking and jarring, and...well, clearly, I'll never forget it.

What happened at the wedding was nothing like that, of course, but it speaks to the same tension that I clearly still feel that I try to pretend I don't.  I feel like an outsider a lot of the time.  And not just because of my race, but also because I live paycheck to paycheck, and am divorced, and gay, and outspoken, and assertive. 

And it's hard sometimes.






Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tumblr Tuesday! (Q&A)

Hi lovelies!
So, this is the first, and possibly last, Tumblr Tuesday, in which I answer the only two asks I've ever gotten on tumblr!

I know...it's pretty thrilling.

So, here's question 1:

Q: What turns you on?
Riiiiight. Not gonna answer that one in terms of, like, specific sex acts, but I will say that I'm turned on by someone who is funny, a bit unpredictable, has a strong personality, is beautiful, and is my girlfriend (hi, babe!).

:)

Moving on! This one is much more interesting anyway:

Q: If two femmes are fucking, who is the dominant one?

Okay. So there are some incorrect assumptions being made here, yes? First, just because someone identifies as a femme lesbian does not mean that they are submissive, just as identifying as butch doesn't mean that someone is dominant in bed, or, you know, "the top." So, there's that. 

Second, there is not necessarily always a "dominant one" in a couple, or a pair of sexual partners.  Maybe one person always like to be the dominant one, calling the shots, deciding who's on top, always being on top, deciding who's legs go where and when, and who's going down on whom and for how long (oooh, is it hot in here?).  But it's also possible for both people to sometimes take on that role, and they might switch off being in control, either over the course of one night, or maybe every other time. Maybe this week Alex is feeling bossy, so she's in control, but then a few days later, she wants to be told what to do a bit, or wants to just be taken care of (which you could argue is actually the power position!) and so Sue is "dominant" that night.  It all just depends on the two people, and how they've decided to negotiate their sex life.

Am I right? Wrong? What do you think, lovely readers? Feel free to talk back to me (and each other!) in the comments!

<3


Monday, October 14, 2013

xoJane-It Happened to Me...

Hi lovelies,
Big news! On Saturday, online mag XOJane published a piece I had submitted to their "It Happened to Me" series. My submission? "It Happened to Me--I Didn't Know I Was a Lesbian."

I know, I know, a bit sensationalist, but it really is the truth, as many of you know!  The piece is basically a quick and dirty version of what happened to me 3 years ago, when I fell for 10.0, and everything went to hell (and then got awesome).

Anyway, there may be many of you now checking out my blog for the first time--hi! If you actually take the time to go back to the beginning, and read my whole crazy tale, I admire your persistence. The road is long and winding.

Also also I look forward to hearing from you! My experience over on xoJane has definitely spoiled me--the comments thread is super active (fun fun!), and I hope to get to talk (and maybe argue, ha) with more of you in this space too, so type away, don't be shy! (I even upgraded my comment thing-y to Disqus--which xoJane uses--so it's now much prettier and user-friendly.)

Tomorrow I have a new post for you guys, a little bit of q&a, so stay tuned.

<3



Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Happy National Coming Out Day, lovelies!

To those of you who have come out to someone today, congratulations! Tell me how it went in the comments! (And for those of you didn't, make sure to scroll all the way down to read the last paragraph of this post!)

Today I'm going to share the final piece of my "coming out to my family" story, which I've never actually written about before.  As you'll see, it was a mixed bag...

After I came out to my parents in an email, the responses I got from them were both surprising, and not surprising at all.  My mother almost immediately emailed me back and said: "I'm your mom. I know my children . I already knew. We love you." Okay. I felt relieved by her response, but also had a lot of questions that I know I'll probably never get the answers to, like "Well, how did you know? Why did you never ask me about my dating life? Why have you never attempted to talk to me about anything? Why did I not feel like I could tell you a year ago??"  Also, knowing my mother and her passive-aggressive, subtly narcissistic ways, I thought to myself, "Wait for it...." 

True to form, a few hours later, she was texting me about how she didn't understand why I didn't think I could tell her earlier, and did my ex-husband abuse me, was he terribly mean, is that why? (I know. I KNOW...that response deserves it's own tirade later), and a bunch of other fairly narcissistic stuff about how me coming out to her now as opposed to later was really about her and how she felt about the fact that I waited so long (and not at all about how it felt for me, of course) and about whether or not somehow this was a reflection of how she had raised me (or not?), and do I know that she's tried so hard to make sure my brother and I know that we can be ourselves? To which I responded, "Well, mom, that's what I'm trying to do, is be myself so...isn't that good?" And she says "Oh, well...yes."

...Ok.

My dad, on the other hand, responded in a way that that still makes me tear up, with gratitude. I just re-read the email he sent me, and it's...pretty perfect. He said that it took courage for me to tell them, that he was glad I did, that he had been wondering, and that he loved me as much now as he did yesterday. When I talked to him on the phone, he too wondered if I had felt worried about telling them, but not in the accusatory tones of my mother. I feel so lucky that he responded that way, but...


...there hasn't been much discussion about it sense. When I went home a month after coming out, it was, in a word, terrible? I wrote a lot about that experience here but basically, I still felt just as stifled as ever, and it was really difficult how much my parents didn't seem to want to put words to my new reality.  I understand that everyone needs time to adjust and get used to change, but it was really difficult to ask my parents if they had any questions for me, if they wanted to talk about it, and have them, basically, say "NO." :(

I came out to my brother the same day, via text (our standard mode of communication), and got the best response EVER from him. He told me that he was glad I told him, and that I seemed happier now than I had in a really long time, and that he and his girlfriend (whom I adore) would support me 100%. And they have. In the past year, my brother, his girlfriend, Elle and I have hung out a few times, and it's been great. They seem to love Elle, and we have fun together, and bond over dealing with my ridiculous parents. I feel SO SO lucky to have my brother's support. I know that he's truly on my side, and that I can really be my true self with him, and it's an amazing feeling.

So that's my big ol' coming out story, at least with the most important people in my life, my family.  I'm still not out at work, which I will be writing more about soon.  And, as I've written about a bit already, as a lesbian who doesn't fit the (really annoying and sucky and ignorant) stereotype, I will be coming out in various ways for the rest of my life.


And one more thing: If you are not "out" to your family, or your friends, or anyone, it's okay. It is SO SO important to come out to people when you feel safe to do so.  If you haven't come out yet, then there's a reason, and it's okay. I remember on coming out day last year, I sat and watched several people on my Facebook feed come out so publicly, and I felt ashamed that I couldn't do that yet. But I had my reasons, and I was working up to it, and I had no reason to feel ashamed for not being ready a year ago. National Coming Out day shouldn't be about feeling pressured to come out (though I think some people do treat it as that)--I think it should be about knowing that, when you do, there will be people welcoming you with open, proud, supportive arms, there to celebrate you and the very brave thing you have done.

<3


Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Coming Out Story-Part 4

Here we are, lovelies! Part 4 of my coming out story: the big moment when, almost a year ago, I sent my parents an email I had been writing in my head for months, and came out to them.  I remember this day so vividly, and probably always will.

Below is my post from that day, November 3, 2012, "Out":

I did it.

I sent the email telling my parents I'm gay.  As I fell asleep last night I thought, "Maybe I can send that tomorrow. I think I'm ready." And this morning, after kissing Elle goodbye as she headed back to her place, I ordered some vacuum bags online (a TOP PRIORITY, believe me) and then I came out to my parents.

As I sat there staring at the email before I sent it, I felt the wave of panic and nausea and almost cried in...relief? terror? I'm really not sure. Then I almost laughed as I decided to send the email with the subject "Some news...". Yeah, it's Some News, alright.

I didn't even tell Elle I was going to do it. I think I didn't want to talk about it before hand, I just wanted to DO IT. I was feeling in a good place to do it after having talked with both my parents this week, particularly my dad, and after having been reminded that they're really not so scary. At least when talking to their presumed-straight daughter.  And earlier in the week, I had said that my "friend Elle" was staying over during the hurricane, and it SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED to say that. That moment hurt us both, and I think after that, I was kind of over not telling them. The pain of hiding had finally won out over the fear.

So it's sent.  I don't know if it was the right thing to do, to email them. But I won't see them in person until December, and I HATE the phone, and I'm reminded of my therapist's advice, to not try to guess at how I can make it better for them (which is what I've done for most of my life)--what's better for me in this situation? What was better for me was to write it down and send it out. So that's what I did.

And now I wait...

but with a little less weight on my shoulders.

:)

Tomorrow, National Coming Out Day, I'll update you on how things went after that fateful day last year. But more importantly, I hope to share some of your coming out stories in this space, so send 'em in! Short or long, in prose, poetry, or bullet points, it's all good!

<3


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Coming Out Story-Part 3

Continuing my theme for National Coming Out Week, here is part 3 of my coming out story.

(Part 2 is here-forgot to post yesterday!)

This is a re-blog of my post "Out and In", from July 2012.  At this point I was deep in the throws of my conflict with whether or not to keep my changed sexual identity from my southern, religious parents, as friends around me were proudly declaring their love for their girlfriends and fiances. It was a hard time.

With every passing day, I think about how I will come out to my parents.  And the fact that, with every passing day, I get closer to the day that I will come out to my parents.

I don't know exactly when I will, but I know that it's coming.

My relationship with Elle has made that a certainty. And that's a good thing.

A friend of mine recently became engaged to her girlfriend.  They proudly announced it on Facebook, with pictures of the ring, their smiling faces immediately afterward. And they were drowned in an outpouring of love and support from their Facebook and real-life worlds.

I am so happy for them.  And I am jealous.

Elle and I, in our young, green relationship, are hiding it.  Not from everyone. Our close friends know. The other gay people that we see socially, who we drink and dance and have fun with know.  Her brother even knows. But...Facebook doesn't. Our parents and families don't. And it feels so wrong, to not be able to post as our profile pictures an image of our shining, happy faces--together.  So wrong to not be able to casually or not-so-casually make plain, for all to see (if we want them to) our growing love for each other.  We know that it's happening, and that's the most important thing, but it feels so wrong, so unfair that the rest of the world, the rest of our worlds, doesn't know it too.

I almost wrote "the rest of our worlds can't know it too."  But that's the thing. They could know. But for both of us, we feel like they really, actually, can't.  I grapple every day with that. It feels like such hypocrisy and I am a big hypocrite.  I have fought so hard over the past year and a half to be me, to be the person I really am, and am constantly championing to others the virtue of being honest and authentic in life....yet I'm hiding a huge part of my life and myself from so many people.  And worse than that, leaving Elle out of the details I share with my family, when she is THE detail, feels unfair to her. Like I have to write her out. Like she's something to hide. Though she is everything, and everything I want to talk about. It stings.

Because I don't have to leave her out when I talk to my parents. I choose to.  Because I have NO IDEA how they'll react. And not knowing makes me scared.  My parents are southern, conservative people. But they love me. And they are nice people. So will they bend and adjust and accept me and my girlfriend? Me, their 30 year-old daughter with an ex-husband?

....

Probably.

...

Eventually?

...

Maybe.

....

I'm scared.

But I'm also sick of being scared, and feel excited about the day when it's done. And I'm out.

And free.

What is your coming out story? Is it yet to be written? Share it in the comments below (you can be anonymous!) or email me here. On Friday, I'll share some of your stories here on my blog, along with an update on where my story is so far.

<3 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy Coming Out Week!

Hello lovelies!
In honor of Coming Out Week, I'm digging into the "archives" and sharing one story a day of my coming out process (I have conveniently written exactly as many posts about coming out as there are days in the week!) leading up to Friday, when I'll update everyone on where my coming out story is so far (still, and ALWAYS, in progress.)

But more important than that, many of you already know MY story, I would love to hear YOURS. Whether you've come out to everyone you know, or only to your blog (oooh, meta), let's share our stories with each other! That's a big part of what Coming Out Week and Coming Out Day are about, in my opinion--supporting each other every step of the way as we keep shouldering the burden of having to remind people that they should not assume they know who we love. It's not just about saying "Yay, woohoo, hi everybody, guess what, I'm super gay!" It's about the smaller moments, when you come out a little bit, and then fully, to yourself, when you whisper it to your dog, when you write it down for the first time, when you tell your best friend, when you tell your parent, when you tell your classmates or coworkers, when you tell your doctor-- the list goes on and on...

Comment below, email me or "ask" me (on tumblr) to tell me your coming out story, and if you give me your permission, I'll share some of your stories here on Friday, National Coming Out Day.

know that there are lots of you out there lurking (hi! xxoo), and I've heard from some of you about your experiences, so I know others will be inspired by your journey too. I have been. 

The first post I wrote about my coming out process, in which I accidentally sorta kinda out-ed myself on Facebook (LOL) is here: Out-ish




P.S. It is also really important that we talk about the shenanigans that BuzzFeedLGBT is pulling today, talking about Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson's "bromance" that we all know isn't a bromance. Sending them heart eyes so hard right now.






Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rude.

Over a year has gone by since I've written about Swiss Miss. Remember herYeah...the first girl I dated, and an all around annoying and confusing presence in my life (see: Exhibit Z), back when she was a presence in my life.

The last I wrote about her, we were starting to drift apart again, and I, of course, was in the process of falling in love with Elle, but I was kind of trying to pretend that wasn't happening because I am dumb, so...yeah, SM was still around. But then, I started dating Elle, and SM proceeded to pull ALL KINDS OF SHIT, the most recent of which happened about 2 weeks ago. But I'll get to that.

Okay, so I only remember some of the bullshit that she pulled, but here's what I remember:
  • In June last year, SM texted me wanting to coordinate plans and somehow hang out during Pride. She asked me, and I quote, if "I was still dating that girl" (this was a month after Elle and I started dating) because she "wasn't sure she'd be able to handle seeing me with someone else". Um, OKAY THEN BYE. It should be a surprise to absolutely no one that I did NOT make plans to see her. So rude.
  • Then I think there were some sporadic conversations on gchat about once a month, which were really just her trying to figure out if I was still with Elle. I think once I chatted her to congratulate her on finishing school, and then a few months later she wished me a happy birthday (after not talking for months). Random shit like that.
  • At some point during this time, SHE LIKED AN OLD FACEBOOK PROFILE PICTURE OF ME IN A BIKINI ON A BEACH SOMEWHERE. Yup. Like, literally months after we no longer really speak, when she knows I have a girlfriend, she then is fb stalking me and LIKES A PICTURE. OF ME WITH MY TITS OUT (I mean, not really out, but you see what I'm saying). So brazen. So rude. (Are you sensing a theme here?) I think there was also some "liking" of Tegan and Sara related posts on my facebook, but at least those were RECENT and not as creepy. I mean GEEZ.
  • Somewhere in here, we follow each other on Instagram. I am almost certain that she requested to follow me first, since I really don't give two shits about Instagram in the first place. But then of course I had to accept and follow her because nosiness. Around this time, I also started to notice the presence of a new girl in her facebook statuses, which are few and far between. But when there was one, there was this girl's name popping up. How nice, I thought, she's finally found someone willing to put up with her bullshit. Hooray. As of last month, I think, SM and this girl are still dating, because there are now pictures of them together, like, meeting her family and shit. So, yeah, an actual relationship, it seems to me. This is all well and good! Godspeed, new girlfriend! It also makes the most recent thing even more...I don't know, rude (I need a thesaurus).
  • CUT TO A FEW WEEKS AGO. It's my birthday, Elle has put together a sweet and lovely dinner for us, and we post pictures on Instagram, a rare moment of me rubbing in everyone's faces how cute and adorable we are, and how extremely lucky I am. Literally 5 minutes after posting to Instagram, SM TEXTS ME HAPPY BIRTHDAY. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. She literally INSERTED HERSELF INTO MY BIRTHDAY DINNER. I actually burst out laughing, and when I asked Elle to guess who'd texted me, she almost immediately guessed correctly, because of course it was SM. Of-fucking-course. SO FUCKING BRAZEN AMIRITE??? I think at this point I haven't had any interaction with this girl since January (re: Tegan and Sara) and she picks THAT MOMENT to text me? REALLY???

I did not text her back.




Tuesday, October 1, 2013

To Straight Girls: Dating women isn't "easier" so stop saying dumb things.

My new twitter friend Effi Mai over at "F is Forr..." (follow her! Read her blog! Hilarity and smart things everywhere!) wrote a post a few days ago answering a reader's question about why so many straight women seem to think that being a lesbian would be "easier." Her response is totally on point, so I won't bother going into that part of it--just go read it--but one specific thing she said got me thinking.

She said: "Straight girls seem to think that being in a lesbian relationship would just be like dating their best friend."

Right. So let's dive in here, shall we? I have several things to say about this. 
  1. Straight women saying that switching teams would be great because then they would be dating their best friend presupposes that dating your best friend is ALWAYS A GOOD THING.
  2. I actually do think that it's really good for your partner to be your best friend. When I was married, I never really felt that he was my best friend. Ever. And I didn't like that and it felt like something I wanted to do differently if/when I had a serious relationship again.
  3. When I met Elle, we definitely became best friends first.  But, I have to admit, on the regular I wonder if this was the ideal order of operations.
We got to know each other, and came to love each other, as people, as friends (and if i'm being honest, yes, as two women with undeniable sexual chemistry) over the course of about 5 months before we started dating.  During this time, we talked about pretty much everything, and I was the kind of friend to her that would say things like "um...what are you doing? Stop being weird about this, don't freak out, just DO it, it's gonna be fine." And I know that Elle appreciated that in me, me being a friend who kind of kicked her in to gear about a few things and helped her to be a bit braver. I feel good about that, and am glad I could be that for her.

But then...we started sleeping together. And, please comment/tweet me/whatever if you feel like you can still say the kinds of things you'd say to a friend, even a best friend, to your girlfriend. Or boyfriend.  I mean, COME ON NO YOU CANNOT. Not EVERYTHING, and certainly not ALL THE TIME. I just really, truly feel like it's different. At least for me, even though Elle is my best friend.  But--I also am her girlfriend, and she is mine, and an added layer of vulnerability comes along with that. Like, now, if I were to editorialize about something that--if I was her bff-- she might be a bit stung by, but ultimately glad she heard from me, I know that--as her girlfriend--there's a heavier significance if I say something blunt or harsh now, and I also know more how much she might be hurt by something I say. Because I know her so much more closely now and love her so much.  And I also don't want to hurt her, even if it's due to the kind of ribbing a friend would do.

And then there's the point I was making in my comment on "F is Forr...", specifically about the idea that dating women is EASIER. LOL. Here's what I said:
Regardless of whether you date men or women, you’re still dating ANOTHER PERSON, which is always hard as fuck. And I actually sometimes feel that dating a woman is harder, because when someone is your lover and your best friend, things can get a lot more complicated. Like, do you tell her that shirt looks bad, like a best friend would? But then, will she still want to have sex with you later? That is not a problem if you are dating a man. IMHO.

And so it's VERY DIFFERENT is what I'm saying. Best friend love is different than romantic love. There's a different vulnerability and a different level of...I don't know, holding. Or at least trying to hold that other person's heart more gently than you would if they weren't your lover in addition to your friend. And I think this is a great thing. An AMAZING thing. But it is NOT amazing because it is "dating your best friend." It's amazing the way any good, healthy relationship should be amazing. And your partner should be your best friend. How lucky are you if you have that. But they shouldn't be your only best friend. And straight girls who say that being gay would be like dating their best friend are saying a dumb thing.

Is what I'm saying.

That's what I think anyway. What do you think? I'm really curious what people's ideas are about this--I know you're out there, tell me what you're thinking, lovelies! <3