…the loneliness of trepidation…
All things considered, I live a pretty charmed life. I mean, sure I have my share of “adulting failure” that leads to weeks with under $20 to get to work and eat on, but over all, I have it pretty good. That privilege is in stark relief this week and I have been looking at it square on and I’ve come to realize just how much it affects my life.
Despite the fact that I am, in point of fact, female and despite the truth that I am a part of the LGBTQ community, I am privileged in ways I hadn’t considered before this week.
As a fat chick, I escape a whole lot of the ogling and catcalling my more attractive sisters deal with. Rape is not the first worry on my mind when strange men pass me on the street, nor when I look up and find myself in a room full of men. I don’t get rude comments from guys. And it isn’t like I don’t give them room. I happen to love my breasts and I take pleasure in wearing clothing that frames them well. I can count on one hand the number of strangers who have ever commented on them in any way, let alone in a creepy, rapey way.
I escape all of that bullshit my sisters deal with. Okay, like 99.8% of it anyway. And, in my experience, when one of my sisters is with me and they’re being harassed all it takes is for me to indicate that she belongs to me for those creepy men to back off. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. I don’t know.
As someone who is bi-sexual or pansexual (I haven’t fully developed my preference between these yet…I’m somewhere in between right now), and as someone who largely presents as the gender I was born as, I have a particular privilege as well. Most straight people I know would never guess that I am a part of the LGBTQ family just be looking at me. I look like any other average fat chick walking down the street. The only time I have ever faced harassment for being “gay” was one year as I was leaving Pride, wearing a Pride staff t-shirt.
Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes like to wear guys clothing, but I’m not very butch. I sometimes like to dress up pretty and wear a dress, but I’m not a femme. Most of the time, I’m just me…a big woman with big boobs and long hair.
Sometimes this privilege makes me feel like an outsider, even in my own chosen family. Like I’m not girly enough to be a part of the girls’ club, and not gay enough to be a part of the gay club…even though I’m too female to be a guy and too gay to be straight.
I’m feeling that keenly this week. I keep finding myself not wanting to express my grief, my fear, because I’m afraid it won’t be understood. I’m afraid that others need the attention I might garner because I express my rage. I worry that I will be seen as histrionic by straight friends and family who can not understand the ways this tragedy has affected the lives of people who didn’t know any of the victims.
People who don’t know me well enough to know that I am pansexual, that I love men and women and those who are non-binary and everyone else, have asked me why I am crying. And I find it difficult to speak eloquently enough to make them understand. I end up fumbling about with words like family and brothers and sisters, and then have to clear up the notion that I was related to a victim. It’s awkward and weird and I can’t help but wonder if I need to drape myself in rainbows and install a neon sign above my head with the LGBTQ on a rainbow with the B in flashing lights for it to start to be easier.
And a part of me feels guilty for even writing this. Part of me feels like I do when we’re talking about people of color: It’s not your turn to talk. Sit down, shut up and listen. Except it is my turn to talk. And I will not shut up.
I don’t think any of us in the family are going to shut up now. We’re done being told to get along. We’re done being “tolerated” and placated with backhanded wins while politicians are using laws that promote hatred and bigotry, laws that tell people they are allowed to discriminate, as long as it’s because they deeply hold a religious belief that we are shit. That try to shove us into bathrooms that are unsafe for us. We are done trying to ignore hateful preachers who call for our deaths from the pulpit and then try to pretend that it isn’t their fault when someone takes them up on it with a gun or a bomb or whatever new way we find to end multiple lives at once.
In ten days, I will be working my tenth Pride in San Francisco. It’s my service to the community. I work in Donations. We’re the people who will be standing at the gates into the festival with big pink buckets asking you to donate. It’s a pretty good gig. We help you support a variety of community non-profits who volunteer with us. We fund holiday dinners for shut in LGBTQ folks, religious foundations that support LGBTQ people and initiatives, organizations for LGBTQ youth, and so much more.
It’s the one time of the year I wear my family membership on my sleeve, when I feel the most welcome, the most included in the community. Those two days, I am home. I hope this year I can carry that feeling with me beyond Pride month. Maybe I won’t feel like I’m stuck in the doorway, always looking for the invitation to come inside.