It’s not a phobia if you just hate us…

“You know I have no problem with them,” he said loudly but cheerfully. “They can do what they want, they can be what they want. I’ve got no beef with the lgb’s, or whatever they’re called, as long as they keep their lifestyles to themselves. I don’t want anything rammed down my throat.

Rammed down his throat. That’s such a phallic term. Such a violent term. As if the person is being dragged into the bedroom and forced into a sex act against their will instead of something mundane like finding out that the new lead character on Doctor Who is gay. Their reaction is always astronomically disproportionate to what’s happening in the LGBTQIA2S community.

I stood in his kitchen and wished I was anywhere but there. I can’t even remember why I was there in the first place, either something for cats or about food. We swap food and are always up for a good chat about our cats. That day I felt some of my still new and fragile trust crumble. I can’t see that coming back.

I’ve had people say multiple times, usually in June, that the queer community doesn’t need all those parades and days now that everything is equal. That’s usually about when I stare at them in dumbfounded astonishment. Just because people aren’t being chased down on the streets (usually) doesn’t mean everything’s equal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that, when you look at fiction and in examples at school and in meetings, everyone is straight. And I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. I can’t speak for anyone else but I find it uncomfortable. Not hugely, more in a “slight wrinkle in my sock” sort of way. I found it uncomfortable before I came out too. When I want to forget something, my mind tends to throw it down the deepest metaphorical hole around, board it up, pile rocks on it, and then sit on it. So I was uncomfortable and had no idea why. I mean other than the obvious that there’s more than straight couples. There’s more than straight/gay couples for that matter. Show some imagination and initiative. Single people, throuples, families with grandparents in the home. I was going to get into queerplatonic relationships but you can’t see relationship bonds in a picture.

And even the most well meaning allies can mess up. I was in a group several days ago and the instructor made a comment along the lines of, “… whoever she was dating. You know, male… whatever…” I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t think I can find “whatever” on a dating profile. I’m pretty sure I winced. I just hope it wasn’t too visible.

But at least I live in Canada where our major LGBTQIA2S issues tend to be Jordan Peterson and his memory issues, especially around remembering pronouns. I hope someone tells him about the MMSE. It’s not difficult to take a dementia screening test and it’s certainly better to find out early. However Britain and the United States are faring far worse.

I don’t know why it’s so often the right side of the political spectrum. I mean they’re the ones who are supposed to be out there protecting the children. They’re the ones whose self professed core identity is “family values”. Except which families? From what I’ve seen they’re for family values as long as they’re the “right” families. You know, Leave it to Beaver style but with microwaves and computers.

Thing is, as soon as you’re not part of their stereotypical family, it’s all “not my kind of family, I don’t care what happens” and that goes for the children too. I have personally spoken to several parents who lost children to Children’s Aid (or whatever it’s named in their area) simply because they affirmed their trans child’s gender. One parent had to watch helplessly as her ex punished their daughter by making her hold hot sauce on her tongue for saying she was a girl. Protective services either okayed or ignored it because “what if it works?” I mean what’s a little cPTSD if she ends up cisgender, even though never in the history of ever has that happened. Even though every major children’s medical organization supports affirming your child’s asserted gender.

I wasn’t sure what was happening in Britain so I messaged a friend of mine and was sent this video with the warning that it’s long. She wasn’t kidding, it’s an hour and a half long and I watched the whole episode. The host is very interesting and very informative. While I recommend watching her, what was talked about can pretty much summed up as planned ineptitude. Trans people need to see their GP first before getting any gender specific care. Except the GP doesn’t actually do anything except send a referral to a gender clinic. Let’s say the best case scenario happens (knock on particle board) and the GP isn’t transphobic and/or wildly misinformed and they send that referral right away. Britain is supposed to provide healthcare within 18 weeks for every citizen. That apparently doesn’t include their transgender citizens. The wait just to get the first appointment at a gender clinic is roughly 18 months to five years, depending on where you live. If you live by The Laurels, for example, the wait will be around the five years mark seeing as that one’s in a busy part of London. And there’s a crucial segment of the society which this lackadaisical approach hurts the most and that’s children. GPs do not offer a single bit of trans health care and that includes puberty blockers. If they have a patient with precocious puberty, they have no problem administering blockers. But the same dose of the same medication to a similar sized trans youth? Suddenly that’s way out of the doctor’s expertise. Puberty does not stop because of wait lists, it keeps creeping up, leaving clue after clue of it’s existence. And each clue just deepens the dread of each child who did what they were supposed to (and the ones who couldn’t to be honest). They talked to their parents and their doctor. They got sent to the gender clinic. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Except it is and good luck in finding someone on the phone who cares.

There was a church nearby-ish when I was a little girl. They sent buses all over the city and picked up any child from the foot of their driveway. I know my parents were a little concerned about letting us go off to an unknown church on our own but ultimately the chance to be down two out of three girls won out. Besides, it was a church. What could go wrong? People all over the world sigh deeply. My parents were further reassured because our friends and neighbours were going too. The oldest was a girl who got described as mature, responsible, adult, and who always followed the rules. These days she’d be described as anxious. Either way the nursery school teacher saw her as the perfect target. My class was supposed to be drawing a picture of Jesus and I decided to draw a picture of a meadow instead. It still sounds like a non-issue to me but the teacher was dead serious in her insistence that I was going to burn in the fiery pits of hell if I didn’t repent and colour Jesus. I’m pretty sure my response went along the lines of, “I think I’m going to make this flower purple”. So she moved on. To my anxious friend. And told her that I was going to burn in hell and it would be her fault unless she convinced me to draw Jesus. My friend told her parents, who told my parents, and we all got pulled out immediately. The church is still around today and is doing spectacularly well. They’ve bought at least one other church in their neighbourhood and installing a large LED sign complete with moving images. They’re also queerphobic, something that came up in an article recently. I wasn’t surprised. Religion broke my trust from the moment we met and didn’t do much to redeem itself since then. Any church that would tell a five year old they were going to hell for being different had a really good chance in being anti-LGBTQIA2S. When I go past a church my automatic thought is often, “well they’d hate me”. If anyone out there is thinking that I need to do better, no. It’s not my responsibility to guess which churches are safe and which think I’m Satan incarnate. Police your own. Make it safe not only for queer adults to come in but for the queer 8 year old in the third pew to listen in safety. They don’t need to hear that everyone in their lives, right down to their God thinks they’re damned for existing.

Sticks and stones can break your bones but names can leave you standing on a ledge

That was my first but not the last outright promise of a one way trip to hellfire and brimstone from people who proclaimed their faith in both Christ and their church. Many claimed they were a better person because of that faith. Better than me, not better than their past selves.

Pardon me, I don’t think you can hear me over your overweening ego.

There are so very many good, kind, and loving people who read their holy books, seeing only goodness and truth, then they set out to follow that path. And then there are the ones who see judgment, retribution, and wrath – of course only to everyone else. They sit in their pews feeling righteous all the while judging those around them. And one of the biggest, if not the biggest groups, is the LGBTQIA2S community. It goes right back to the beginning of this post…

“I don’t want anything rammed down my throat”

People who make statements like that are thinking about sex first and us being people second. Nothing was rammed down their throats but they think of queer people sexually and then they get upset and it’s our fault. Right? It’s like the meme where the guy shoves a stick into his own bike wheel to show he was the victim. No one made you think those thoughts and chances are they weren’t even true but, like the cyclist, you’re yelling and pointing just the same.

I had a friend a few years ago. We’d worked together for several years and now we hung out with each other and chatted on messenger. I thought she was a great person. And then I went to Canada’s Wonderland with Colin to celebrate Gay Day. Canada’s Wonderland is a decent sized amusement park in “the city above Toronto” and Gay Day is an LGBTQIA2S event offered by PFLAG with discounted tickets, a free ride, and a free meal. Colin and I had a great time and went home satisfied and with a phone full off pictures. The next day information started popping up about a gay couple who got kicked out of the waterpark area because one kissed the other on the cheek. The whole issue was badly handled by Canada’s Wonderland and PFLAG found somewhere else to go for the following year and beyond. Everyone was supportive of the couple and furious with Canada’s Wonderland and then my friend wandered in clutching her “won’t anyone think of the children?” pearls.

The park was right, in her eyes, because little children didn’t need to see things like that. When I expressed confusion over what the hell “that” was, she informed me that things of a sexual nature need to stay in the bedroom. I pointed out that straight (and straight appearing) couples kiss all the time in public then she informed me she was fine with straight people kissing (and totally missed the irony). She blocked me a short while later.

I’d actually written this a while ago. I just needed to write a closing paragraph and add it to WordPress and I was done. Then, on November 20th I saw a post from a friend of mine on Facebook. It was brief and mentioned a shooter at a gay bar. There was no way it could be the Pulse Nightclub, not this many years later so I asked her and googled. A 22 year old walked into Club Q nightclub right before midnight (and right before the Transgender Day of Remembrance) and opened fire. Twenty six people, including the shooter, were injured and five murdered. It could have been worse, there was an army veteran in the crowd who tackled the shooter and got the guns out of his hands; plus several more who kept him down. But it certainly could be better.

As soon as the shooter got into custody he immediately said he was non-binary* and wanted the appropriate pronouns and the honorific Mx. Maybe he was trying something sneaky but…

“I’m a Mormon and a conservative Republican and we don’t do gay,” said the shooter’s father with relief. He’d heard his son was at a gay bar and was happy to discover his son had just shot over a dozen people and killed five instead of maybe looking for a date.

People make all sorts of excuses.
It’s part of their religion.
Everyone has the right to their own beliefs.

But it’s always the rights of the haters that are protected and not the ones being protected. How much is a life worth? How much is one that’s free from depression, anxiety, and cPTSD? We place so much value on words of hatred and cruelty that we diminish the lives of the people they’re aimed at. Words and hatred work together easily, dripping poison into minds, especially into vulnerable ones. I wonder how much poison the Club Q shooter heard before he packed his guns and headed out, especially considering his father’s attitude. I can only wonder who’s soaking in a hefty dose of poison before girding up their hatred so they can shoot next.

* I don’t know what pronouns the Colorado shooter is now using but everyone was using he/him and I figured that might be a clue

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Facing queerphobia…

my cute little face in kindergarten filteredI can’t remember exactly how old I was, probably around five or six, but it was summer and a handful of us girls were on “the circle”, an area of grass at the end of our court. We were trying to think of something to do when one of the girls piped up, “Let’s play wedding!”

I was meh on the whole idea. She only wanted to play wedding because she had a crush on Peter and she could pretend to marry him. Then all she needed was someone to marry them, a bridesmaid, and one or two people to hold down Peter so he couldn’t escape. The rest of us were the audience and simply stood there. This really didn’t seem like much fun to me and a hell of a lot less fun for Peter. Then I came up with a partial solution. Why didn’t she marry one her her friends? That at least took Peter off the hook.

There was a song I loved when I was that age by The Vogues called “Five O’clock World” and, in part, it read:

’cause it’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows
No-one owns a piece of my time
And there’s a long-haired girl who waits, I know
To ease my troubled mind, yeah!
In the shelter of her arms everything’s okay
She talks and the world goes slipping away
And I know the reason I can still go on
When every other reason is gone

In my kindergarten mind I knew I was going to grow up someday and need to work but that when I finished work she would be waiting for me and would hug me and ask me about my day. I never said anything about it to anyone but why would I? It was my normal. And then I made my suggestion to the other girls.

The girl with the crush was horrified. “That’s disgusting!” she exclaimed, staring at me in disbelief. “Why would you even say that?”

“Peter doesn’t want to play,” I protested. “And you’re all friends.”

“Girls don’t marry girls. Ever!” she announced firmly. “That’s gross!

I nodded my head. I don’t know if she was the oldest but she felt like the oldest to me and everyone knew the big kids knew more. And it wasn’t like anyone else in the world wanted to hug or marry someone of the same gender, at least not in my world and they’re the same thing at that age. So I packed up my feelings and buried them away. I’ve gotten very good at that over the years, packing thoughts away in places only my nightmares can find.

There were some cracks in my thoughts and feelings over the years but it wasn’t until I was in my 40’s and was friends with someone who was both openly queer and willing to listen that I started unpacking thoughts and memories I’d long forgotten I’d even had. I’m still unpacking. The 80’s were pretty bad. Like, hey, I’m trapped at a school event beside a teacher and fellow students who are laughing and joking about driving to the “Gay Village” of Toronto to throw rocks at the queers because it was so much fun. “And how many have you hit? Did anyone bleed?” My suicidal ideation started around that time.

Then there was yesterday. I woke up all excited and ready to start the day and even put on my ace t-shirt and rainbow socks for International Asexuality Day. Then after my exercise class I got my bundle buggy and headed out the door, determined to get some walking in plus some necessities, which I did. I also picked up a yummy looking chocolate bar, a fresh cinnamon bun for this morning (it was delicious), my favourite peanut butter cups, and four gourmet cupcakes. By the time I went to all 5 stores (two were only for one item) I was wiped and my buggy was heavier than me. I was soon on the little On Demand bus and heading home. The driver even dropped me off at the front door of my building and helped me with my buggy (bonus good mood). And then my neighbour came running out the door to show the driver her cat.

She came back inside while I was still in the lobby and then started to talk. Soon she asked me how I was doing.

“I’m fine,” I replied cheerfully. “It’s International Asexuality Day-

“What?” she replied loudly so I repeated myself, making sure to enunciate each word clearly.

“What?!?”

Okay, obviously it wasn’t a hearing issue. Maybe she’d never heard of asexuality. No big deal but I was feeling a bit grumbly. I’d brought it up as a segue into my yummy cupcakes and a definition plus a possible q&a were going to take up more time than I’d anticipated.

“Asexuality is when you don’t have sexual attraction toward-

“That’s disgusting!” she announced flatly and with finality.

Fury flushed my cheeks. I wasn’t just going to roll over and hide. Not anymore.

“I’m asexual,” I informed her.

“Disgusting!” she replied then she stormed down the hallway the opposite direction from her apartment. I silently wished whoever she was visiting the best of luck then pushed the button for my floor. One I got home I put everything away then logged into Facebook and recounted what had just happened, ending with:

“She better get coal in her stocking this year! Also, these cupcakes are going to be amazing!!!”

I figured I’d get some support (if Facebook didn’t wander off with my post and hide it somewhere) and for the most part I did. But there were a couple of dissenters and, as always, they were a complete surprise. Two women I’ve known online since around 1998-2000. The comments hit like blows.

  • Maybe she was just uncomfortable because I was “discussing my sexuality” by saying what day it was and maybe that made her scared so she reacted.
  • It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t know what asexuality is the whole idea of someone announcing their sexuality as a “holiday” can come across rather bluntly and confusing as it should be a personal topic.
  • The whole scenario, if it happened to me, I would be left feeling like a person had no boundaries and overshared details which would leave me feeling very uncomfortable and full of red flags about the person.
  • You are discussing your bedroom with someone who didn’t consent to knowing about your lifestyle.
The platform for awareness is what matters and this was not the time or place to announce you’re preferences for the bedroom.
Then I left the computer for dinner and a much needed break and came back after my lavender and chocolate cupcake (by Sweets from the Earth) and discovered that one of my friends had unfriended me while I was away from my keyboard. I guess I won’t be seeing her sunrise and lake photos this year.
And no, seriously no. Saying three words, International Asexuality Day, is not telling anyone what I prefer in the bedroom nor is it discussing my bedroom.
A “lifestyle” is country vs downtown condo or eclectic vs modern. No one says that being straight is a lifestyle. That’s because sexual orientation is not a lifestyle.
And where’s my consent? Where’s my consent when friends go into uber detail about their dates? Or when eye candy pictures get posted and people talk about dragging him into the bedroom and how hot he’s making them? Straight people discuss their “bedroom” all the time. Who their dating… who they’d like to date… that hot guy on the show… what’s going on with their husband… all of that is fine, normal, and has nothing to do with the bedroom. But I mention a holiday and I suddenly need to bring a clipboard and legal documents to make sure everyone knows exactly what three words they’re about to hear.
In short, there is nothing wrong with announcing that it’s any day, week, or month that belongs to the LGBTQIA community. It does not tell anyone anything about what someone’s doing in their bedroom any more than saying you’re straight tells them what you do.
As my friend Sylvia pointed out, there is a major holiday that celebrates sexuality every single year. I had the same two people deny it but really? They sell frigging red satin lingerie with lace for the occasion. Yes, there’s romance involved but, at the end of the day, the day’s supposed to end in the bedroom with those rose petals and itchy undies. And straight people are totally fine with that because it’s directly marketed to them. International Asexuality Day isn’t marketed toward sex or bedrooms so why is that the one that’s oversharing and overly personal?
Some days I think we’ve moved so far ahead as a society and that maybe, just maybe, it’s safe for me to peek my head out and just be myself.
Other times I realize we’re all just standing in the dust calling anything we don’t understand “gross” while throwing rocks at those we find weird.
And for the love of all you hold dear, can everyone just make enough room to stand and be myself without judgement?