21 October 2015

My story is true for me

I have been called a liar.

I have shared my coming out story to people, and been told it can't possibly be true. That I must be leaving something out or skewing it to make myself look better.Or that I knew all along and was a liar because I married Monty anyway.

But whatever anyone says, my story is true for me.

And it is that truth that I tell.

Now, I'm not saying "my story is true for me" in a way that says I've deluded myself into thinking that the story I tell is true even though it's not. What I mean is that regardless of what people think, assumptions they make, or how they react to what I tell them, my story is true. And for me, that's enough. My story is true for me.

When I made the decision to come out and divorce Monty, there were people who claimed that I knew all along that I am gay. There were people who said I'd married Monty just to get kids, or to get money from him, or whatever else they thought about me. That I'd planned what happened for a long time before I made it happen. But that's not true.

This came up again recently when I was participating in a conversation on Facebook. I shared my story and a stranger decided, based on the limited story I told in the conversation thread, that I was a liar. This person didn't believe that I really had no idea that I was gay until I realized it and came out.

But I didn't.

Here's the thing. My dad is a Baptist. A fundamental independent Baptist. So, growing up, being gay just wasn't really an option. My mom was always more open-minded and progressive, but we never talked about it. And, being raised Baptist, the expectation was that I would grow up, marry a good, Baptist man, and have babies. That was it. It never occurred to me that I might be gay because it never occurred to anyone in my life that there was anything other than being straight for Christians.

Looking back, I can see now that I have always been a lesbian. There were things in my life that I now see as indications of my sexual orientation that I didn't recognize at the time. Some of the things were small. For example, I didn't have a favorite male actor; when friends would talk about male actors they thought were attractive, I'd let others answer before me and pick a name they said. But in those moments, I didn't see those signs for what they were.

Now, of course, I look back and admonish myself for my blindness. How could I have not known? But I didn't.

Eventually, my life changed and was not so restrictive. And it was in this context that the edges of my mind crept toward the center, and I realized that the reason I always felt "wrong" was because I was a lesbian who'd just had a second child with a man I was married to.

That was a hard conversation.

I can't imagine how Monty felt at the time. I know how he reacted, but that was just the inadequate expression of his feelings. Things were very bad between us for quite a while when I came out and told him I wanted a divorce.

Things are better now. We're friends. He even went to my wedding!

No matter how many times I tell this story and am judged for elements that are perceived to be invented, my story is true. This is really and truly how it happened. No matter what anyone else says, this is and always will be the truth. And regardless of what they say, my story is true for me.

16 October 2015

The case for "they" as a singular pronoun

Throughout my education, "they" was always a plural pronoun. My literature teacher seemed to relish pointing out subject-verb agreement in our homework and essays. In fact, she corrected us verbally, as well, over the course of class discussion.

Language was binary.

But life is not.

On Monday, I read an outstanding post from Casey over at Life with Roozle about coming out as genderqueer. She says:
I'm taking up space in this in between, in this neither and both and everything I've always been and everything I want to be. Even though it's terrifying. Even though it changes nothing. Even though it changes everything. That's how language works. It's just language. 
Language is everything. Language defines us even when we don't want it to.
Yes, Casey. Yes, it does. I can't imagine how hard it was for them to write that post, but I'm so, so glad they did.

The problem with language (right now) is that it is molded by people who can sometimes be closed-minded and traditional. They have a very specific perspective of what the world is, and they use language to perpetuate it. When that worldview is binary (particularly in gender constructs), language becomes binary, as well.



And they is relegated to a plural pronoun.

But humanity changes and evolves and develops. Language, by its very nature as an expression of humanity, must change, as well. If society is no longer strictly binary, why is language?

I wholeheartedly support the use of "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Casey, and others, already prefer they/them/their over gender-specific pronouns. So it makes sense that society accepts this reclamation of language to fit the needs of human expression.

I know that Puck and Tink will likely learn in school that "they" is a plural pronoun and should be used as such. Okay. But when they get home and tell me that, I will let them know that in our non-binary society, some people prefer to be referred to as "they" because not everyone identifies as strictly male or strictly female.

There are shades of purple in our pink-and-blue humanness.

What are your thoughts on "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun? Why?

11 October 2015

Still here. Still queer. Getting used to it.

Today is National Coming Out Day. And after almost four years, I'm still coming out.

Though now it's in much more subtle ways, and far less vocal on my part. It's a look of surprise or a double-take from a passing stranger when I'm out in public and take my wife's hand.

It's the I'm-being-polite "Oh. Okay." from friends I rarely talk to when they finally get in touch and hear that I'm in a relationship with a woman.

It's the reminders that happen occasionally from my wife that when people stare, it is she that draws the attention because she doesn't fit what so many people in society think women should be, and if she weren't at my side, people would assume I'm straight.

It used to bother me. As a newly-out lesbian, I wanted to be rid of the straight part of my old life. I am a lesbian, and I wanted people to know it. So I bought some shirts from HRC, cut my hair in a pixie cut, and changed my Facebook profile picture to one of me at a drag show with friends.

Since then, I've let my hair grow back out to chin-length. I still have a shirt from HRC that I wear sometimes. And my profile picture is a beautiful shot from my wedding with Bo. (I wore a dress.) So, if I'm not with my wife, most people probably assume I'm straight.

But it doesn't bother me anymore. I don't care what people I don't know think of me. The people I care about know who I really am, and that's good enough for me. My wife knows who I am, and that's all I need. The munchkins know they have two moms, and they're happy in their life with us.

I think there will eventually be a day in society in which it truly doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, queer, trans, or anything else. You will just be you. Kids won't need to come out to their parents; they'll just bring home someone for their parents to meet.

But until then, I'll keep coming out, and keep not caring that it surprises people.