No longer hidden…

It was the ’80’s, the heyday of Much Music, a Canadian music video station similar to MTV in the States. Now we could not only hear the songs  we liked but watch the imagination of the artists (or their staff) when it came to the videos. The only disappointment was it meant the end of the Solid Gold Dancers and our chances of getting on stage in what looked like a gold tinfoil leotard and dancing to the hits of the early ’80’s. I know my sisters and I weren’t the only ones who pondered this career option.

I liked watching and listening to the music but there was very little out there that I liked enough to remember both the artist and the songs. One of those artists was Cyndi Lauper. I loved that she didn’t care about what people thought of her and wore what she liked. And I loved her song True Colours. The only thing I disliked was the relationships added to her videos. Time after Time mentions nothing about a relationship yet it permeates the whole video. And in True Colours she literally pulls some guy out of the water to kiss him before moving on. Relationships and physical intimacy made me uncomfortable, even though I had no idea why and having her add both to her videos bothered me. It almost felt like a betrayal, something I’d never try to voice and couldn’t explain.

It was years later that she came out as a lesbian, which wasn’t a huge surprise, although I still wished she’d gone more neutral in her videos. Maybe she didn’t have the option. [it was years ago that a friend of mine told me Cyndi Lauper’s a lesbian and today that a friend told me it’s her sister who is one. Thanks C. Proofreading’s always a help]

It was years after this that I discovered Pentatonix through a Christmas video playing on Facebook. I loved their harmonies and voices and started searching out more songs. Eventually I bought enough of their songs that half my exercise album is their vocals. We even went to see them in 2015 with Kait and her boyfriend J.

Something that’s not hidden (like it was in the 1980’s) is both Mitch and Scott are gay. Even so, I figured they’d end up singing about girls because, hey, that’s what happens. My heart lifted when I saw this:

… and it still lifts each time I hear it. I’m so glad times have changed.

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Being you…

Recently I was told by someone (who really doesn’t know me well) that I’m lost, confused, and desperately searching for labels… and I want to tell you this. You are not lost when you have found a label for yourself, no matter if it’s relatively rare or majorly common, as long as it fits and feels comfortable.

You are not confused when you’ve found a label you’re certain of. You’re not confused even if you aren’t quite sure. You’re allowed to question things about yourself and your identity. You’re allowed to be a work in progress.

You can search for a label, or labels, that fit. It’s important that your label doesn’t pinch or chafe your identity and that it gives you space to grow into yourself. It doesn’t matter if you change your label three, four, or ten times in your quest to find something that fits just right. It’s alright to search.

You can have more than one label too. Remember, a rainbow has more than one colour and looks amazing as it is. Rock those labels! Honestly, I’m a demi-romantic, pan-romantic asexual. You don’t need to be just one.

You are the only one who knows your gender or sexual orientation. No one else can guess or decide for you. It doesn’t matter what they think, how good their “gaydar” is, how closely related they are, or who you dated in the past. It’s your life and your identity. They need to work on their own instead.

It doesn’t matter if your label is “rare”. It’s not a sign you want to be “different”, it’s just who you are. And you’re amazing just the way you are!

You’re allowed to go at your own pace. You’re allowed to fit in and to stand out. You’re allowed to just be yourself, as multifaceted and colourful as you choose. Let your own inner voice be your guide.

work in progress

If you know who made this, let me know and I’ll credit them. Thanks!

The rocky road to dating…

Three nights ago I revived my old OKCupid account and spruced it up. I then took a look at the people that were available to me. That would be nine, apparently selecting “LGBTQ only” really drops down the availability. I messaged three people and heard nothing back. I wasn’t interested in the other six although I was almost curious enough to message one of them to find out what on earth “wheat pasting” is. I decided to ask Google instead. Apparently it’s a way to make posters and is similar to paper mache.

Last night I made an account with Plenty of Fish. It was restricting in some ways. Their only choices for gender are strictly male or female and when it comes to who you’re interested in, you have to pick between male OR female. You can’t pick both or all. I stared at the screen for a while before finally going with female.

I messaged one woman and she messaged me back saying I wasn’t her type. Then I messaged back the two women who had messaged me and gently told them I wasn’t interested in a long distance relationship. One was in Los Angeles and the other in Manhattan. I’d like a relationship where we can date in person. I can’t hug a monitor. Well I can but that would just be awkward. I want to hold hands and hug and look each other in the eyes.

I was chatting to a Facebook friend of mine about being unlucky at online dating. She commiserated then said, “Aw I should come down take you out see how that feels.” And so it went from there to a date set on December 1st. She’s meeting me at home then we’re going out for lunch, likely for Thai because I’m addicted to golden curry and tom yum soup. She likes spicy food too.

I am so nervous! I haven’t been on a date since 1992. A friend of mine told me to just be myself and to try and relax. It helps that I’ve been chatting with her for a while so at least we know how to talk to each other but, hell, I don’t know anything about dating. Do we hold hands? Do we kiss on the first date? How long should a date last?

*googles Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating*

Apparently I’m not the only clueless one out there, which gives me some hope that I won’t screw up too badly. There’s a book with that name and it’s hit it’s 3rd edition now, so there’s apparently a lot of us clueless people.

Only 17 more days to go

Everything’s coming up aces…

This whole week is Asexuality Awareness Week, which is so needed because most people have absolutely no idea what asexuality is… and quite a few who think they do actually don’t know either.

The very short definition of asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. That’s pretty much it. There is more though. Asexuality is an umbrella term with several kinds of asexuality under that one definition. There are people who experience romantic attraction (hugging, kissing, snuggling, holding hands) and there are people who don’t. The people who don’t are called aromantic. And there are people who experience sexual attraction only rarely. They’re called grey-sexual. Grey-romantic exists too and is very close to aromantic.

There are also sexual orientations that fall under the definition. People can be pan-romantic (like me) and experience a romantic attraction to people of all genders. Or they can be bi-romantic, hetero-romantic, or homo-romantic. And some people are attracted to intelligence (sapio-romantic). This last one is controversial with people claiming it’s ableist. I personally think it should be your own choice who you’re attracted to. A relationship is going to tank if you’re only together to be politically correct.

Then there’s sex repulsed, sex indifferent, and sex favourable asexuals. Sex repulsed can’t stand even the thought of sex. Sex indifferent will have sex, usually to please a partner but would just as happily not have it. And sex favourable asexuals like sex and enjoy having it. They don’t experience sexual attraction but it doesn’t stop them from having fun with sex. And, yes, asexuals can and do masturbate. That has nothing to do with attraction of any sort.

Asexual’s often are referred to as ace or aces (aromantics are known as aros) and there’s a running joke that asexuals want cake instead of sex. It’s probably lasted so long because it’s 99% true (I’d like chocolate salted caramel please). Aces will sometimes wear a black ring on their right middle finger but this isn’t very well known and the couple of people I saw wearing one weren’t asexual at all (and were really confused to be asked).

When you see the A in LGBTQIA, that stands for asexual, aromantic, and agender. There is no ally in the LGBTQIA panoply. It’s not an acronym for straight people.

If you have a question I haven’t covered, please feel free to ask me!

asexual

The asexual flag

 

 

Matthew Shepard revisited…

The evening started out like usual. Kait and Colin played with their toys on the living room floor, my ex sat on the computer playing video games, and I read the paper. I started with the comics, moved on to the Life section, and then mosied on over to the Front section. And that’s where I dissolved into tears. Twenty-one year old Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, accepted a ride home from two men he thought were friends. Instead they drove him to a rural road, tied him to a fence, and beat him nearly to death with their rifles. He died of severe head trauma six days later.

The_Matthew_Shepard_murder_revisited_001

Photo from GBMNews

I cried while I read his article. Ugly cried to the point where my ex asked why I continued to read. But I couldn’t stop. At the time I told myself that I was crying for Matthew and for Colin, who was a sweet and gentle one year old at the time. I was also crying for me although I wouldn’t admit it. I clung to the label of “straight” like it was a lifeline although, to be fair, panromantic asexual wasn’t in my vocabulary in 1998. And it hadn’t been that long since I’d been a college student myself.

Now Colin’s 21 years old and part of the LGBTQIA community. He’s in continuing education, getting the education he couldn’t receive in high school, and planning on taking robotics. He’s young and bright with his whole future ahead of him. I worried for him every day when he was Emma and I still worry for him, albeit much less.

Matthew Shepard was also young and bright. A well travelled young man who loved politics and was studying it in university. He’d have been 40 years old now. What would he have accomplished as a gay HIV positive man to help the LGBTQIA community? What would he have fought for? What dreams did he have? What goals? What potential did we, as a society, lose when we lost him?

I still cry. I don’t think there’s a day when I read about him that I won’t.

 

A letter to Pam Wilkinson…

You don’t know me and, with any luck, you will never know me. I was the confused teenager going through high school in the 1980’s. No one raised a rainbow flag back then.  What we raised for was religion. We still were standing for the Lord’s Prayer. Too bad for the kids who weren’t Christian but it wasn’t an option to avoid. We could stand in the hall but we were still standing for the prayer no matter where we went. And there was a teacher in the hall to make sure of that. I bet you loved those days.

My classmates all grew up with Three’s Company and Jack’s over the top pretending of being gay. Being gay was a joke… when it wasn’t simply disgusting. Fellow classmates and even some of the teachers talked about driving into the gay section of Toronto just to throw rocks at people on the side walk. It was fun, they said. I hardly thought it was fun for the people getting pelted by stones but they didn’t matter. This was the 80’s.

I don’t have fond memories of school in the 80’s.

I started having suicidal ideation in high school, strong urges to jump over the railings in our local mall, strong enough that I walked by the wall at all times, just in case. I pushed those thoughts away, just like I pushed away any romantic thoughts about girls. I was already being teased, I wasn’t going to be a joke too. Those weren’t my thoughts, they were an aberration.

Sexual education was strictly cisgender and heterosexual. We learned how to make babies and the names of the genitals. Thanks to that education, I learned that what I was feeling was wrong. I didn’t know my own sexual orientation until I was in my mid 40’s. And I certainly never saw a rainbow flag until I was an adult with children of my own.

You were interviewed in an article claiming the rainbow flag is a wall. I disagree. The wall in my school years was built with ignorance, hatred, and ridicule and it kept me from learning who I was for decades. The rainbow flag is a bridge and a sign of community and hope. Countless faith groups support it, it’s not anti-Christian.

The sad part is you have taught your own daughter hatred. The part of the song you disagree with? The song that was played at flag raising?

If you preach hate at the service/those words aren’t anointed/and that holy water that you soak in, is poisoned.”

It’s not anti-Christianity, it’s anti-hatred. He’s saying that hate is not part of Christianity and God will not accept those words. How much hate is in your religion that both you and your daughter felt personally affronted by this.

You said that the rainbow flag builds “walls, not bridges. You can’t get groups to respect each other that way. You cannot broker peace if half the stakeholders have left the table in anger.”

I say that if someone sees a flag, which is widely known as a symbol of love, hope, and unity and see nothing but a wall, there wasn’t going to be a chance to broker peace in the first place. If you can’t handle the symbol of LGBTQIA unity, how can you handle the reality of talking to actual gay, lesbian, and trans people? What are you going to do when a drag queen wants a say, in all their glory? How about when a lesbian couple wants at least one book in the library with same sex partners so their child doesn’t feel invisible? Or a gay thirteen year old wants a Gay-Straight Alliance in his elementary school?

How can you broker peace with someone who wants you to be less than yourself, wants you to hide yourself to make them feel comfortable? You can’t. First it’s the rainbow flag but that won’t be last. You don’t want peace, you want ignorance. You want to not have to face any sign that the LGBTQ community even exists. And that’s not going to happen. So many of us struggled to simply be ourselves and we’re not going to let you push us back into being less than we are.

The rainbow flag is staying. We are staying. Get used to it.

rainbow_flag_insert_by_torbakhopper_via_Flickr

You are not an ally…

You are not an LGBTQ ally if you can explain gay or lesbian relatives to children with ease but decide it’s too complicated to explain a trans relative.

You are not an LGBTQ ally if the trans relative’s chosen, real name and pronouns are too hard to remember so you go back to their old pronouns and name.

You are not an LGBTQ ally if they’ll always be deadname* to you

You are not an LGBTQ ally if you accept bisexual people but figure they’re really just confused.

You’re not an LGBTQ ally if you assume bisexual people are natural cheaters

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you figure the A stands for ally

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you complain there’s too many letters. It’s the length of a phone number and people aren’t crying those are too long.

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you figure asexual people are straight but confused.

You’re not an LGBTQIA ally if you decide asexuals are simply prudes

Go back to grade school and re-learn that a word can have two meanings if you think asexuals have to bud in order to reproduce.

You are an ally if you listen to your trans relative and follow his, their, or her narrative to explain to younger family members.

You are an ally if you use your trans relative’s name and pronouns as often as possible, apologizing if you forget.

You are an ally if you realize bisexual people aren’t any more confused or promiscuous than the rest of society, they simply happen to be attracted to two or more genders.

You are an ally if you learn the acronym without complaining.

You are an ally if you listen to the LGBTQIA community and learn about their various orientations without judgement

You are an ally if you stand up for the LGBTQIA community and correct any misunderstandings you hear.

If you are an ally, I thank you!

Selfie filtered

Emma’s self portrait last summer

* deadname equals birthname