Queer as...

October is LGBT History Month.

Also, I'm queer.

My esteemed colleagues at Dictionary.com do the term no justice:


[kweer] Show IPA adjective, queer·er, queer·est, verb, noun
1. strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
2. of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
3. not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
4. mentally unbalanced or deranged.

Although even by their definition, I suppose I qualify as "queer." I guess I'm strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint. Shady? Of questionable character? Perhaps. I DO seem to get picked out of line at the airport for extra security screening disproportionately often... Not feeling physically right or well? Indeed. Mentally unbalanced or deranged? Sometimes. Okay, often.

They throw in a helpful [sarcasm font] explanation of the perjorative:

5.Slang: Disparaging and Offensive .

a. homosexual.
b. effeminate; unmanly.

But they make no mention of the reappropriation of the word. No mention of owning or celebrating one's queerness. In fact, as a verb, Dictionary.com offers this definition of the word:

7. to spoil; ruin.
8. to put (a person) in a hopeless or disadvantageous situation as to success, favor, etc.
9. to jeopardize.

Hmmm...I can see that. To announce oneself as "queer" can spoil or ruin others' notions of your identity. To embrace the term, and the concept of queerness, is to jeopardize the status quo, to invite questions, to shift paradigms. Disadvantageous? Certainly. But hopeless? No. Not at all. More like hopeFUL.

But I'm stalling. I do that, see. I've been fumbling my way towards this post for years now, putting it off. I'm too close, and I don't have the words. It's too important, and I'm bound to fuck it up.


The thing is, I've always been attracted to women. Not just physically, but in every sense of the word. I preferred women to men. The way they smelled, the way they looked, the way they sounded, the way they felt. Growing up, I just assumed that attraction was normal. (How lovely and innocent, to assume one's own normality.) I figured everyone was attracted to women. Women are beautiful! Women are magnificent! Isn't it obvious? But then I learned that despite what I felt, I was supposed to pair up, date, and marry a man. Because that's how it works. So I did. (Of course, it's all much more complicated than that, but this post is already going to be incredibly long, so let's just gloss over a bit for now.)

Fast forward many years, and despite many attractions to specific women, despite mutual attractions to a few women, I've only ever really had relationships with men. After 32 years and two failed marriages, I finally summon up the courage to "come out" as a lesbian to most of my friends and family. No one is particularly shocked. Taken aback, perhaps, but for the most part, people who know me well nodded their heads like it made sense.

And then, after what felt like about two minutes of being "out," and feeling authentic and proud of myself and open, I met a man. And I fell in love with him. :) Because sometimes, that's just how life works.

So what does that mean? I honestly don't know.

I guess I've been waiting to write about my sexuality until it made sense. But it doesn't. And it won't. It is what it is. You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.

Part of me thinks I fell in love with James because I was finally able to love myself. I was finally able to not just accept who I am, but love who I am. And when I was sitting there loving who I am, he came along, and he is this person who, as it turns out, is everything I need in a partner.

He loves my contradictions, and he loves my confusion, and he loves that I don't shave my legs. And I love his crazy smart brain, and I love his at times downright mean snarkiness, and I love his chest hair. TMI? Whatever.

But I feel compelled to say these things, to write these things, because it seems disingenuous to remain silent. I am in a relationship with a man, and in many ways, that's so convenient. I can pass for straight. I can hold my partner's hand in public and not worry about being persecuted for it. I can marry him, if we want; I can have children with him, and no one will question the validity of our family. Were some terrible tragedy to befall one of us, either of us could visit the other in the hospital, be in charge of medical decisions. We could file a joint federal tax return and receive the breaks and benefits that entails. We wouldn't be hated. We wouldn't be discriminated against, just for being together.

It makes me angry. It makes me so angry that because I happened to fall in love with a man, this relationship is somehow automatically deemed legitimate, socially and politically. It could just have easily been otherwise.


So although I'm in a relationship (one that I dearly hope will last the rest of my lifetime) with a man, I still call myself queer. I don't know if I'm bisexual. Maybe? I don't like the labels. I just want to be me. 

My most fervent hope for the future is that the labels will become unimportant. We should all be free to partner with and marry whomever we choose. Gender is performance, and love knows no gender. It just is. Love is when you aren't looking for it, when you don't expect or maybe even want it. Love is never a bad thing. Love should be celebrated wherever and whenever it occurs.

After all, we all belong to one another.

See? He gets it.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Rachel. I knew there was a reason we became friends.

I too am a bisexual woman married to a straight man. I'm cool with it; he's cool with it. I think there are more and more of us who don't feel like we have to hide any more.

I'm impressed that you came out to your family and friends... I haven't yet had the courage to tell my family, but maybe some day.

Love this post. :)

Nancy D

Anonymous said...

Impressive publish! STICK WITH IT!