This post has been a long time coming, but what’s that saying? Start as you mean to go on? Well here’s the thing: I’ve always been a believer in change. I might struggle with it, as almost everyone does, but I think change is good. I’ve always been the type to shy away from confrontation, to “let things go” because it was more important to “keep the peace” than to disrupt the social status quo. That maybe what I had to say was never as important or as worthy as the next person, so what was the point? But as the sun sets on 2018, there are a few things I’d like to say.
Politically, a lot of things have gone down (y’all know what I mean) and that seems to have given people the impression that it’s ok to be close-minded, it’s ok to give up on trying to understand each other, to give up on being compassionate and kind. It feels like people are taking sides and there is no longer any in between. But what if you have always been, by definition, in between?
There was a comment posted on Twitter a while ago by someone I usually admire, but the comment gave me pause. Without trying to give too much away, the gist was that this person blamed another for “stealing” elements of an identity that they claimed to own. I mean, what?! What made it worse was that most people seemed to agree with the commenter, because in the past they have been quite vocal about LGBTQ+ rights and the notion of visibility. Of awareness and acceptance. But if I understood what was being said, then it really shocked me. Made me angry. So angry that I *almost* commented back. And for those introverts out there, you’ll know how big a step that is. The more I dissected the whole thing, the more I came to the conclusion that someone was having a bit of a tantrum and throwing their toys out of the pram over the very thing they said they promoted: the visibility and acceptance of all people, no matter their persuasion.
My anger wasn’t just caused by a public moment of jealous selfishness, but it hit home and poked at the building frustration I’d been feeling these last couple of years. As conservatism grows more popular, a lot of my friends have grown more vehemently liberal (thankfully). Having not gotten caught up in a lot of the trappings that go along with fashionable statements that advertise my identity, I guess you could say my style is definitely “whatever goes”. I certainly won’t be accused of stealing anyone’s fashion identity anytime soon, and aside from the multiple items of clothing I own with cats on them, there’s probably very little for people to make assumptions on. Maybe that’s a good thing, but it’s left me feeling, well, invisible.
Back in June, actress Stephanie Beatriz wrote an article for GQ about being bisexual and her upcoming wedding – to a man. I wasn’t even aware of who she was, but she became my hero in that moment. She summed up my feelings perfectly: the invisibility of being caught between the seemingly more dramatic stories of coming out as gay or trans, of people assuming you’re just “going through a phase”, of thinking you’re more likely to cheat because you’re attracted to both, of having to repeatedly come out to people because it may not be as obvious to others that you swing both ways, of not being straight enough for straight people or gay enough for gay people (possibly the most frustrating!), of going to the trouble of coming out to your family and friends and then trying to explain your relationship to someone of the opposite sex, as if it was any of their fucking business to begin with, of trying to justify how you can be bi and yet be married to a man (like in my case, because if you married a man, you MUST be straight, right? Like if I married a woman, would I instantly turn gay? COME ON, PEOPLE.) I wasn’t aware I had to justify anything to anyone, but it turns out if I want my identity to be taken seriously, if I want people to know who I am, if I want to legitimise my place in the fight for equal rights, acceptance, and justice, then I guess I have to display my colours more openly. So here ya go.
Consider yourselves warned. And now that I’ve done that, I’d like to make a point about that Twitter comment: I don’t think anyone, gay or straight or otherwise, has the right to comment on another person’s dress sense and make assumptions about their identity, much less criticise them for it. I feel that if you want to change the world, you have to represent the changes you want to see happen. Or, barring that, just go back to what we all learned in kindergarten: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Hope you all have a happy and healthy 2019!