Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stupid Dyke

I had an entirely different post planned for today. In fact, I wrote posts for the next week last Monday. Each one scheduled so I didn't have to work on anything (except work) this week.

But something has been weighing on me lately.

And I just have to write about it.

It's been a tough couple of months. I've mentioned that before.

Between cat cancer, financial woes, stalker psycho guy, and bad mean Internet people, I'm exhausted.

By this past Monday, I was at my sensitive limit. My resiliency was exceedingly thin. Just couldn't take one more hit, one more cruel word.

Then I was talking politics on the Twitter with an especially exasperating friend and felt the need to make a joke. I tweeted:
I'm a queer, eco-minded, feminist atheist. of COURSE I'm a liberal. dur.
 Because it is a little funny that anybody would wonder about my politics. I've been pretty open about who I am and pretty sure I won't be changing my mind about any of it. And making jokes is what I do. It's how I handle life and sensitive situations.

But then somebody else replied to me:
You're also stupid. Stupid dyke.
 Oh yes he did. Now I didn't even engage the ass. I blocked immediately. But as I did, my stomach leapt into my chest. My heart leapt into my throat. My hands shook. I couldn't believe I'd just been called that. Couldn't believe that after all the press about teen suicides due to homophobic bullying, someone out there bullied me.

That's exactly how I felt: bullied.

And then I lost 10 followers. I guess people don't want to hear what a queer, eco-minded, feminist atheist has to say.

It's bizarre. I'm 30 years old. At this point in my life, I'm pretty damn comfortable with who I am. It took me years to figure it out and I can't wait to keep meeting myself as the years pass.

I'm obviously not stupid and the word dyke doesn't necessarily bother me. It was the derision. The bile with which it was said. Stupid dyke. The stupid maybe bothers me most because it's clearly inaccurate. 

It's not as if this guy cared to know who I am. He just wanted to spew vitriol at anyone who he disapproves of. And logically, I know he's just a small-minded prick. I know that.

But if you'll recall, I was at my limit. Had felt attacked on 3 sides already. So his intended reaction was achieved. I felt small and wounded. Bullied.

And that's not okay! I also feel wounded for every person on the fringes of what's acceptable who hears that kind of venom every day. It's not okay.

It's not about the labels. It's the malice behind them. We're not just gays or lesbians or queers. We're human beings who are struggling to achieve a modicum of respect and peace in this world.

Strictly speaking, my experience as a queer woman has been easy. My mother's biases aside, I haven't had much struggle when it comes to those who love me. They all accepted me as I slowly but surely admitted who I was. Even to myself. 

Which is interesting because as someone who refuses to define my sexuality in black and white terms, as one who dates both men and women, as one who is 60% straight sexually, but all queer politically, most of the push back I've gotten is from the GLBTQ community.

Not lately, but in the early days, I heard that I was just confused. That I was just on the road to gay and not there yet. Several boyfriends were concerned I'd leave them for a woman. But the truth is, I'm highly monogamous. I'm just attracted to humans.

Someone once asked me to tell my first sex with a woman story. Truth is? It's so not interesting. Because in the early days (my early twenties), I just made out with girls in bars. I'd hook up with women "because I was drunk." That was my excuse. I'm not gay! I was just drunk. Right? Heh.

I'd also develop monster crushes on highly unavailable women or women who had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever. That was safe right? Can't act on it if they're not interested.

Took me years to openly date a woman. But frankly, as relationships go, I usually date men. Just how it's been.

My point being that life isn't simple and we all exist in gray areas. Why are we so concerned with pinning down the essence of someone? I prefer to just be fluid. To go with experience and see what happens.

But this obsession with being okay and normal is what leads to someone attacking someone else.

Stupid Dyke.

I have never never received so much hateful bile as I have on Twitter. It's unbelievable. And it's constant. And I'm over it frankly.

It's wearing me down.

Only so much can roll off my back before I just collapse. My life lately has been tough enough to palate without the cruelty of strangers. I don't need their approval, but it would be nice if I could live my life sans incessant acrimony.

It's been tough enough.

Tuesday night I felt the lowest I'd felt in a long, long time. Probably since before I started therapy. I just silently cried myself to sleep. All alone in the dark. Feeling all alone in the world (even though I know I'm not.). The weight of the world weighing on me.

It dawned on me that I might be feeling depression. Something I fear and haven't felt deeply in many years. I worked very hard to be happy med-free and if depression is rearing its ugly head once more, I don't know if I have the strength to battle it right now.

Then I had a dream.

It was ten years in the future and it wasn't pretty. I wasn't pretty. On any level. A parade of my exes walked by. One by one with their beautiful families and beautiful lives. Each one asked me how my life was. "Did I ever marry?" No, who was gonna love me? "Didn't I ever have children?" No, they finally just cut out my bum ovaries. "What about adoption?" Who would give a child to a single woman who pumps gas (in my dream, I still hadn't made it as a writer)?

The dream was so real, so visceral. I awoke sobbing.

Really, even if all those things never happen, it won't be that bad. I can find work someday that won't be pumping gas. I'm sure my friends' kids will like it at Auntie Andy's. I can create a full life alone. That's okay.

But something about that dream shook me. Made me feel as if I wasn't good enough. It's not based in reality, obviously; it's rooted in the disapproval of others which keeps seeping in my heart little by little.

Which makes me angry.

Angry is good. Angry is not depressed, which is an encompassing helplessness. Anger is powerful.

I'm angry at every person who labels someone else not good enough or not okay. I'm angry at those who disapprove of others. I'm angry at the rash judgment we unleash with complete disregard for any sort of tolerance or compassion or decency.

I don't want pity. I want to be respected. I want to live without fear of cruelty. I want to feel free to speak as I speak. To make jokes and wield my craft without feeling fearful of hatred and vitriol. I want to be able to be proud of who I am and all of who I am. I didn't earn or deserve that kind of behavior simply for fact of knowing who I am, expressing who I am, loving who I am.

In that spirit: I've been taking self-portraits again. And I'm sharing them. Because screw it. Because this is what I look like. Which is part of who I am, dammit. The horny stalker assholes can bite me. Because when I take self-portraits, a part of my soul is freed. I swear. You should try it.

self-portrait: contemplative
I'm sad and contemplative, yet still proud to be me
I'm closing comments because I'm not looking for reassurance or pity or compliments. I just wanted to share.

Just take this post out in the world. Be kind. Be loving. Bullies are not okay.
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