Hark!

I have temporarily snapped out of my L Word-induced coma to bring you a post without much purpose other than to tell you that it’s my birthday this month!

So you should buy me things!

I have a wish list!  On Amazon.com!

That’s all!

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Eleven and Gay

I didn’t come out as bisexual until the end of 9th grade (at a party, so it really was a “Coming Out Party”), and I didn’t identify as a lesbian until my senior year of high school, although I had dated girls before that.  My best friend says that she knew I was gay before I did–and considering how often we’re thinking the same thoughts, she’s probably right.

But by today’s standards (I say today like I graduated in yesteryear), not coming out until 12th grade is almost unusual.  Even when I was in high school, there were kids in years below me that had been out since middle school–I can count on one hand the amount of gay kids in my graduating class, but the class two years after me was chock-full of them.

The thing is, when I was in middle school I identified as straight, although I know other kids who didn’t, and were even dating members of the same sex as young as in 6th grade.  And for me, middle school was hell, so I can’t even imagine had I come out sooner how much harder it could have been (especially in my school, where calling someone a fag was even more common than calling them stupid).

The New York Times has a new issue out, and the front page story is Coming Out in Middle School.  It’s quite an interesting read, and it’s available online.

*Just a note: I will get back to writing about non-gay issues soon, but there has been a lot of good stuff to write about the topic lately!  Also, my readership is way up from usual!  So thanks for reading!  I love you!

I have some issues.

Dear Barack Obama,

Let me start by saying that Iwas a supporter of yours during your 2008 campaign for president, and I voted for you on Election Day.  I am still a supporter of yours, but where I once had confidence that you would live up to your campaign promises, I now have doubts.

During your campaign, you promised LGBTQ voters several things.  One was the passage of the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act, or the Matthew Shepherd bill, which I am glad to know has passed both the House and the Senate.  I hope that when it reaches your desk you will sign it, as you have previously said you would.

The other things you promised us, Mr. President–ENDA, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the repeal of DOMA–these things you have not yet delivered on.  I realize that there are many who would say that there are more important, or more pressing, issues for you to deal with right now–the economy, the overhaul of the health system–and I understand the need for your attention on these things.

However, human rights cannot take a back seat.  They are pressing matters.  And they are important. The longer it takes to pass ENDA, the longer real, actual human beings will be denied or lose their jobs or housing, further contributing to the national unemployment and homeless rates.  The longer it takes to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the more good soldiers we will lose to discharges, or even death at the hands of their fellow soldiers who will not tolerate gays in the military.  And the more you put off acting to repeal DOMA, the longer families will be in a state of limbo, unsure of their rights and status in the eyes of the law.

You are in a unique position to do more change than any president before you, and I can only hope that you will use this opportunity to legally recognize the millions of LGBT individuals in this country as real citizens with equal rights across the board.  Mr. President, I voted for you because I truly believed that you would champion for my rights as you said you would.  I need to know that by the time you leave office, be it in 2013 or 2017, that my rights will be protected and secure.

Sincerely,

Amanda Shirkey

Guys, I totes have The Swine Flu.

I woke up this morning at 5 because there was this terrible fucking smell in my apartment.  I had no idea what it was, but it woke me up from my sleep, so I searched the house high and low trying to locate the source.  It smelled like gas, and I checked the stove but it was off.  I eventually gave up and went back to sleep, and when I woke up, it was gone.  I think it might have been from the expressway which is pretty much right next to my window, and holy jesus there was a lot of traffic at 5 a.m.

I woke up again at 8:45 because I couldn’t breathe well.  My throat was all scratchy and it hurt to swallow.  I took some ibuprofen, which seemed to help somewhat, took a shower, and went to work.  Which is when the sneezing began.  I actually like sneezing.  It tickles my nose and kind of tickles my brain, too.  But wevs.  I was sneezing all day at work, these tiny, tickling sneezes that didn’t seem to let up.  By the time I got off at three, the sneezing had subsided but the sore throat was back.  I went to see Laura at work before I went home, and my friend Katie happened to be there so I hung out with her while she ate, and then I went home.

And now I’m fucking coughing.  I swear it, you guys, this is the end.

I’m making some ramen and going to try to relax.

In lieu of writing an actual post, I’m going to direct you to the Love Letters Project, which is the neatest thing I’ve stumbled across on the intertubes recently.  I won’t explain, because it does so for itself.

Wish me a speedy recovery, guys, I need it.

Why I Won’t Be Your Gay Friend

“What’s it like to be gay?”

I think at some point every gay and lesbian person on the planet has fielded this question to a clueless hetero they just met ten minutes ago.  While the proper response is actually something like, “Fuck you,” more than enough homos are happy to answer any asinine questions this a-hole can come up with, up to and including, “How do you have sex?” and “Who wears the strap-on?” (Yes, I have been asked both of these questions, from two separate people in recent memory, completely out of the blue.)

When I was younger I, along with many in the gay community, would answer questions like this because I was under the impression that I was educating people, or that they truly were interested in my life.  Later it became quite apparent that people only asked these questions out of titillation, or in some cases, to point out inconsistencies (“But you used to date men.  Did you ever have sex with men?”).  So I no longer answer questions like this, because honestly, it’s nobody’s business but my own and my partner’s what my favorite sexual position is and how I best get off.

I was not shat out of my mother’s womb to educate the ignorant.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she’d rather I refrain from doing so.

But it’s not that I’m against straight people trying to educate themselves!  That’s not it at all.  If you want to momentarily give up your hetero privilege to learn about teh queers (and are serious about it), please do!  We would all thank you.  But don’t put that learning on us.  There are a vast amount of resources about gay life out there, if one takes the time to look.  (And I do not mean porn.  Seriously.  Stop thinking about porn when you talk to me, it’s fucking creepy.)  I am not the teacher in your Schoolhouse Rock music video, and I don’t have the time or the patience to answer every question you might have, because hey, I have a life.

I’m also not a trophy for you to parade around for all your other straight friends as a sign of how alternative you are.  When you talk about me, don’t refer to me as your gay friend.  If I am your friend, then that’s what I am–no modifiers needed.  If for some reason the topic of homosexuality comes up and you must comment, use the phrase, “I have a friend that is gay.”  Do NOT use “I have a gay friend,” because you will quickly find that no, you do not.

And really, if what you’re talking about has nothing to do with gay people, say, you’re talking about spaceships or tacos or something, do you really need to say, “My gay friend ate 15 tacos on a spaceship once?”  No.  Because my sexuality has nothing to do with the extraordinary amount of tacos I can eat while suspended in zero gravity, does it?

Hiatus.

At least for a while, guys, sorry.  I have no internet at home currently and life is busy as all fuck.

There are no safe spaces.

As much as I like to think that there are certain places where I can go without risk of being harassed, insulted, assaulted, stared at funny, breathed on wrong, etc., I am constantly reminded that this is a lie I like to tell myself in order to psych myself up to leave the house.

A friend of mine just turned legal and wanted to celebrate by going to our local gay bar.  So a group of us went the other night (it was Drag Queen night) and had a generally good time.  At some point I headed off to the bathroom where a couple of girls were talking in front of the mirrors.

Before I tell you exactly what happened, here’s some background on the club: it used to be an exclusively gay club, but then changed ownership and became a straight “urban” club with, I believe, one gay night a week (Fashionista Friday).  The club eventually fell under original management again, and became a gay club, but the crowd is still pretty mixed, about 3:2 gay to straight ratio.

So I walked into the bathroom to hear one girl say “Where are all the gay people?  Are they all hiding or something?  I thought this was supposed to be a gay club,” etc. etc.  She said this not in a way like she was gay, but like gay people were the exhibit she came to see, an oddity, a spectacle for her (straight) consumption.  Like she only came there to slum it with the queers, but at the end of the night, got to go home to her straight privilege.

Instantly, I went from having a good time to just wanting to leave.  I had mistakenly allowed myself to believe that a gay bar would be a place for me to go without having to feel othered.  Because when you are visibly out (which doesn’t necessarily mean wearing rainbows and making out with chicks in public, but maybe having your hair cut a little too short or not dressing feminine enough), you are constantly othered by those around you.  The woman in the supermarket who gives you a funny look, the teenage guy who sees you and your girlfriend and makes a crude remark, the salesperson who all but ignores you (or conversely, follows you around the store because you are gay and therefore might steal something), the older man who raises his eyebrows at you–it adds up to the point where you don’t want to go ANYWHERE, because you know what will happen.

But obviously you must, lest you become a shut-in, at which point your straight friends will ask, “How come you never want to go out with us?” and you want to scream at them for being so ignorant, because they’ve never had to deal with being othered in quite the same way you have (although unless they’re white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, and wealthy, they have been othered as well).

So I guess the culmination of constantly being seen as an outsider, coupled with the fact that this club was supposed to be a safe space, just made me angry.  Because there are no truly safe spaces.

Which is why I write this blog–because for me, this is as safe as it gets.  I can’t make the world around me fit what I expect out of it, but I can do that here.  I can surround myself with people that I know love and care about and accept me, and I can seek out places that I believe will be safer than others, but I can never be 100% sure.