We Are Valid, Regardless.

Sexuality and Gender are valid, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically backed. In other words, if someone feels they are some identity and tells you Who They Are, just respect them for who they are right there in that moment regardless of the “why”.

When I look back at my childhood, the signs and experiences of my sexual preference leaning more to women are littered throughout a confused flurry of memories and lies I told myself for survival. I’m pretty gay, and I always have been–but I haven’t always known or let myself know. I played straight kind of well–and lived the lie well for most of my life.
I told people I was straight for years, and nobody questioned it. Nobody asked why, or asked if I was sure (except maybe a close friend or two who knew some of my experiences with girls). It was a norm that was expected of me and so it was never questioned until someone knew about my high school girlfriend or something. Nobody really questioned my straightness, or my cis-gender and yet there is this part of society that seeks to ask why we are gay, trans, queer, non-binary, asexual, intersex, kinky, polyamorous even though they’d never ask why THEY are straight, cis, monogamous, vanilla, or binary.
It would be one thing if they were asking “why” to further understand and accept us, to integrate our experiences into their empathetic consideration and broaden their minds to include us in their perception of reality. However, this is rarely the case. As we see, people need to know how to fit us into the boxes their anxious minds have accepted as “Only Truth” and when we don’t fit, they claim we are mentally ill, invalid, confused, disturbed, or just gross.

If I have learned anything about the human psyche, it is that for someone to actually understand something when they are in a space of resistance, their ego’s game must be played. Their resistance must be met where it lives and their ignorant delusion must be validated in order to then be invalidated with broader perspective and fact. That said, I’d like to address the delusional aspects of people’s opinions of us quickly before explaining why they are irrelevant to the validity of our identities and preferences.

For many people on the LGBTQIA spectrum, we either know from a young age or later see that we SHOULD have known from a young age because the signs were always there. It’s something we feel as a truth of our reality at the core of our being, even if we don’t want it to be (due to internalized phobias from an abusive environment). Unfortunately, our community is one in which mental illness is VERY common because the abuses we suffer are extreme and target the core of our being in macro and micro-aggressive ways every single day. Many people misunderstand this phenomenon and think it must be the illness causing the LGBTQIA spectrum identity, but WE can tell you it is the treatment we receive for existing somewhere on that spectrum in a world with limited understanding of that diversity that causes the illness.
The assumption that a person is less valid in their identity because it may be a creation of their mental illness is laughable to many of us, but also probably something we’ve thought about if we were gaslit enough as children. However, since I know that is a suggestion of some of our oppressors, and some of our own abused minds even, I present two counter arguments to those who might believe such things.

First, the most commonly acknowledged treatment for any mental illness is for external parties to BELIEVE THE DELUSION (reality) of the “ill” person because often that is exactly what the person needs to heal themselves and live a healthy life. I generally have a love/hate with the word “delusion”, as it suggests a lack of reality, but the way in which I mean it is not necessarily trying to demean the experience. I think many realities, if not every reality humans experience, is some kind of delusion. We can look at love as a desperate means to escape loneliness, fueled by powerful drugs–oxytocin and seratonin. We can look at religion as a desperate means to escape fear of death and the unknown. We can look at ALL identity as simply facade and ego protection. The more we learn about the mind, the more likely it is that everything we experience is an illusion and creation of the mind–which is commonly know as a DELUSION when it is not shared by others or seen as fitting in to shared reality. This said, if my identity is a delusion, so is yours. Being straight and cis-gender is not a strict reality in history, in nature, in mind, and clearly not in the present world, as my existence proves. The LGBTQIA+ community, who is just as valid in their existence as anyone not in that community, is a testament to that–because all humans are equal in their inherent value and existence, and so are their realities, even if those realities are seen by outer parties as a “delusion”. In short, You cannot invalidate one reality without invalidating them all–or else you are a victim to a supremacy complex and your mind does not inherently see through the eyes of equality–meaning YOU are mentally ill with Narcissist Personality Disorder or something like it. If your eyes do not see through the eyes of equality, truly YOU are the one who is ill–lacking in empathy and the ability to comprehend that which is new or different. Cognitive dissonance. Narcissism. These are the illnesses of ignorance. So either all of our experiences make up the whole, on equal grounds of validity, or none of them are real and we are all useless carbon creatures on a tiny planet in the middle-of-nowhere-whatever-space-is-blah.
Still, that said, even IF my identity were a result of mental illness (which is a result of both Nature [my biological sensitivity] and nurture [the abuses of those who sought to make me straight and cis]), a queer and non-binary identity and life is what my hurt mind needs to exist in this world, that MUST BE ACCEPTABLE. If it is not, the only other choice I am given, personally speaking as a depressive/dissociative/anxious being, is suicide or death by not living. Mental illness is chronic for many of us, and when it is severe it cannot be CURED, only coped with and made less severe. If my coping is to avoid men for the rest of my life and not see myself through the eyes of binary gender, THAT MUST BE ACCEPTABLE or the only other choice I have is death and misery.
So basically, assuming that all humans are valid and equal, and we all exist on an inherently equal plain of reality, even IF someone’s identity as LGBTQIA is the result of emotional trauma, mental illness, confusion, experimentation, etc, IT IS STILL VALID AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED BY SCIENCE OR RELIGION TO BE ACCEPTED.
Self identity is, for all of us, necessary for the calming of the mind. Truly, I am sorrowful to anyone who sees themselves strictly through the eyes of others, as I have been there before and it is SO very painful to the core of my being. But even that is my own perception of someone else’s reality, and may be a misinterpretation of how they live their lives. If someone needs, even for a moment, to see and be seen, themselves, as something, why does it matter to you? If that is what they need, and it’s a matter of life or death, why not just let them have what they need to live? It’s so easy. And yes, people do need things for survival and for some of us it is something as abstract as expression of our Selves in a way that is outside the accepted “norms”.

My second, and more important argument is this–you should not assume you know someone better than they know themselves. If you are projecting what you SEE someone as onto them as their identity, you are seeing them, and asking them to see themselves, through YOUR eyes. Basically, If you hold, in your heart, a respect for another human being then their identity should not matter to you insomuch that you don’t accept who they tell you they are. Also, you should try to hold respect for every person you meet as an individual beyond that which you SEE them as. That is respect. That is giving one the benefit of the doubt.
Love is a thing beyond this world and who we are in it, but we have to live every day in a painful and harsh reality too. Regardless of anyone’s spiritual beliefs, just living in a human body is painful for some people, and they should be allowed to seek any perspective they need, so long as it is self reflective and not projective, in order to live in peace with their own mind, body and reality. Identity is something we ALL assume in some form or another. The identities which should be offensive are not the one’s which seek to validate self through reflection and discovery, as the LGBTQIA+ community does. If any reality is to be questioned it should be those realities which actually hurt other people, those rooted in ignorance and supremacy, which lack empathy, compassion, and basic psychological understanding, because those hurt our species and our world. I only say that even because those identities (such as alt-right or evangelical extremists) seek to draw lines of limitation and separatism, breeding a certain assured self-destruction of the human species.

Point is–if someone wants to “Switch to girls cuz men are trash”, still fucking valid.It does not mean all lesbians are man haters, and it doesn’t mean others weren’t born gay. It means, that person found themselves to be prefering women. That doesn’t mean it’s a choice, and it doesn’t mean other lesbians weren’t born gay. It’s a spectrum, all reasoning accepted. If someone wants to “Identify as asexual for now” because they’ve been traumatized and can’t imagine sex anymore and don’t feel connected to sex at all, it doesn’t need to invalidate anyone else, and it shouldn’t be used to invalidate asexuality in general. By the principles of equality, the mind creating our perceptions of reality, and the self being a part of that, that identity is still valid and it may be what they need to heal from trauma, and it may be who they were born as and they are just now realizing it. Asexual is a spectrum on which the “Why?” can be many things–as is gender and sexual preference.

Stop thinking that how YOU see someone from the outside is how THEY experience themselves from inside.

That’s often not the case. And if you think what you see from the outside is more valid an identity for THEM than the one they know and feel from inside their own life and mind and body, YOU are the one projecting. YOU are the one forcing someone else into YOUR delusion. YOU are the narcissist, and YOU are the one who is ill and harming others with your illness.

When someone shares their inner reality with you, their inner experience of themSelves, it is a gift.

It is a serious insight into something and someone so divinely different and yet so divinely the same and your Self. It is the universe meeting itself, it is God, it is love and empathy and vulnerability and faith and grace. It is the connection we all need and seek to some extent. It is interdependence. It is expansion. It is intelligence. The seeing of the world through someone else’s eyes, the seeing of someone else through their OWN eyes, these things are invaluable gifts being shared with you for the sake of mutual growth toward universal love and acceptance. To dismiss them because it challenges your reality is to turn down this gift to maintain the comfort of your delusion–at the expense of someone else AND your self-growth.

So here’s my final statement. Some of us were born this way, some of us discovered ourselves late, some of us still aren’t sure and are exploring to find where we fall on this vast spectrum of infinite possibility, some of us are scared, some of us are hurt, some of us are sure and some of us are questioning, some of us are going to be one thing for the rest of our lives and some of us may change identities with outfits. Regardless, because we know who we are and what we need better than anyone outside of us knows, we are valid and our identity, expression, and preferences are valid. We do not need a scientific, spiritual, or psychological justification to be LGBTQIA+. We do not need societal validation to BE valid. We are inherently just as valid as all others, because no one reality gets to decide what IS and IS NOT truth. It is ALL realities that come together to create the balance of creation and truth in the universe, including those which challenge 2000 years of invented and conditioned imperialist “normalcy”.

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Trump Legalizes Discrimination

I’ve been bullied a lot in my life. I was bullied relentlessly at school, beat up in second grade by someone I continued to beg for friendship and approval, called “The Blair Witch Bitch” and “fat Avril” all through middle school, and seen as a general basket case and misfit in high school and college. As a gay person who didn’t come out of the closet until I was 24, this makes sense, but as a kid it didn’t make sense. I sought answers constantly, and the only ones I was given was “Hurting People Hurt People”.

Perhaps what made the bullying worse was that it was not only happening at school. I would come home from Elementary school weeping and be told I needed to be tougher. I was made fun of by my brothers and emotionally shunned by my father. It made the bullying at school valid, made me feel that was all I deserved, and to this day much of my mental state is dictated by the thought that I still feel people in my everyday life are out to get me.

When I got my first full time job, in college, I was tortured by my employees. People who worked in our office longer than me and were bitter I was promoted would compare me to Michael Scott, talk shit on me when I turned my back, mock me with childlike faces and jokes about my weight and position.

Now it seems I’ve gotten myself away from bullies, for the most part.

Except that Donald Trump is our president, and representing the far right republican party.

This week I learned that it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ couples who want to adopt children. We are legally allowed to be denied state adoptions based on the fact that we are gay or lesbian or trans couples.

The Republican Party has made discrimination LEGAL. Again.

I am not affected immediately, nor directly, in many ways. My eternally lonely self doesn’t have a partner with whom to adopt. However, I’ve certainly never dreamed of having children of my own and HAVE always talked about adoption, even before I knew I was gay. With any hope, this Reign of Terror will end before I am ready to adopt and another type of progressive democrat with empathetic and emotional intelligence will take over and immediately reverse this discriminatory law, but in the meantime couples all over the country will be told they do not deserve to take care of children without parents because their sexual orientation somehow makes them bad parents.

As a person with straight parents, let me just say that having heterosexual male/female parents DOES NOT keep the child safe or make sure they are raised in an environment that helps them grow into healthy adults. And if the goal is to keep these parentless children away from the influence of homosexuality, remember that I had straight parents, and desperately prayed to be straight, and had homophobic rhetoric shoved down my throat constantly in the form of 45 minute lectures from my father with no resisting and DIRECT eye contact– and I AM STILL GAY. The only thing this attempt to make me straight did was make me hate myself for being gay–so deeply that I was suicidal for many years (like probably age 9-25).`Now, I cannot work full time, be in public often, get through normal things like conversations with strangers, or properly commit to or believe in anything I put my mind to because the voices of my abusers still scream at me in my mind when I’m around other people and I have a hard time not projecting those voices onto the people I’m around and feeling that they hate me for who I am. I am permanently damaged from being raised in a discriminatory household. I am permanently damaged from being bullied about everything from my weight to my orientation to the way I carry myself (too masculine of course). I am permanently damaged from my attempts and the attempts of others to MAKE me straight. This law will not keep children from being gay.

The biggest thing about this one law going into affect, for me personally, is that it is the continuation of the bullying I received as a child. I am continuously told, through what I am legally allowed and not allowed to do, that I am not valid or welcome in the world in which I was born. I am not allowed to live the normal life of falling in love, finding a career, having a family, growing old, and dying. I am not allowed to be a simple nobody in society. I am not welcome to live my life as others live their lives unless I do it through the mold they prefer, which would mean denying a part of myself and likely becoming suicidal again.

When I balance this and think about what is possible, I fear for my own future. I fear for all LGBTQ people. I fear for our country. The legalizing of discrimination against LGBTQ people is not even the first offense, nor will it be the last. We should continue to be very weary of this administration and continue to fight.

We just finished Pride Month, and many of us attended parties to celebrate our sexuality. This is not what pride is about though–and frankly I was disappointed to see it reduced to that. Pride is not a celebration, it is a fight. We live our lives in constant protest when a man like this is in the Oval Office. We need to step away from Rainbow Capitalism, step away from festival culture, and step back into Activism. It’s more than just dressing in our best rainbow attire and watching a parade.

We need to fight.

The first pride I ever attended was in San Francisco. I watched as activists stood in front of the Civic Center, where so many gay activists have stood before them, and talked to us about the action steps they were taking to reverse Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Since that pride, I’ve attended at least 5 more in LA, LB and SF. In these three major cities, I’ve seen less and less activism at pride, more performers and partiers. I am disappointed and saddened. The point of this event is not to have 4 stages where multitudes of cliques show up and stay in their own little circles, dance, take selfies and go home. The point of these events is to unite our flames and our rhetoric and our goals so we can fight for our rights.

Our existence is being trampled upon. The safety of our existence is being threatened. The scary thing is there is no real reason for this law to go into affect–which means the entities which fought for, lobbied for, and passed it will not stop here. They won’t stop until their ego is satisfied in the assertion of its power. This kind of ego does not ever find satisfaction. If they cannot find the peace of mind and self-satisfaction through their power alone, they will literally stop at nothing to prove they are the one’s with the power and their vision of the world is correct. This is not their lives, its an ego game they are playing with OUR lives.

Because this discrimination is against the LGBTQ community, it will validate those who are violently homophobic and have been silenced and tamed by Obama’s presidency. It has always been dangerous to be gay, but that is eased when the person in power is liberal and does not allow this kind of discrimination in legislation. The electing of Trump alone brought out so many people from the woodwork who had suddenly found validation in their racism, sexism, violent, gun-toting, hyper-masculine lifestyles. This law will awaken the violent homophobe, and we will begin to see more discrimination that escalates to violence, I fear.

Please keep yourselves safe, and be willing to fight back–especially if your life is at stake. I am not a violent person, but I know that something exists inside of me that would fight to the death if necessary–and I know where the important arteries lie. I have found and connected to that fire inside of me for the sake of my own safety. I WILL defend myself.

Please march! We need to march, we need to fight, we need to write and vote and be heard. We need to tell our stories and be heard, we need to fight homophobia at home and abroad. We need to actively fight against this discrimination for the sake of us all.

These power-seeking egos cannot be saved. The men who are taking our rights cannot and will not see the truth of reality outside of their own perceptions. They lack empathy and intellect on the level it takes to step outside of one’s self and learn about diverse lives. No amount of loving them, empathizing with them, comforting or listening to them will ease their ego’s need for self-validation through the invalidation of others who are different from them. I’ve tried saving one of these egos–my own father. I’ve listened to his trauma, I’ve comforted his inner child, I’ve fought him, I’ve shared my feelings, I’ve shown him my pain in hopes he would care and think differently, I’ve done his emotional labor for him, I’ve conformed to his wishes of me–none of it is ever enough. What this ego actually seeks is Power, and power is a facade unless it is self made–empowered. The sensation of satisfaction these men seek is actually impossible without the destruction of every life around him. He needs silence, compliance, and constant verbal validation o his masculinity. This ego NEEDS others to be the perfect reflection of his own beliefs to feel good about his own existence–and that is why they are so extremely dangerous when in power. These egos will not stop here, with a simple discrimination. They will not stop until they have all of America looking as THEY believe it should look–which is only how a certain portion of American population actually lives.

As for those who criticize the comparison of Trump to Hitler, this is why it is a valid comparison.  The psychological principles of Hilter’s Third Reich are the same principles of our President, VP and their cabinet. Hilter, too, needed to see the world reflect what he was insecure about. These men may have slightly different ideas they need projected into existence, but the ego force that compels their actions are the same–and as we’ve seen with Hitler, they won’t stop. Nothing is ever enough. Discrimination alone, scapegoating alone, deportation alone are not enough. Hitler sought extermination. If Trump even seeks full suppression of those who don’t agree with him or live his same lifestyle, it will be too much for us–we will lose lives.

Please. Fight. For you, for me, for each other, for the future, for children, for progress. Fight.

ByOperaHippy Interview & Showcase!

I recently had the chance to ask Rachel Blair, or @ByOperaHippy as you might better know her, a few questions about her creativity, body positivity and insta favourites and I’m so excited to share this interview/showcase with you! I’m blown away by the honesty and openness Rachel graced me with in this and I can’t wait for people to read it. Finding amazing women who I can also relate to is one of my favourite things, and if this isn’t relatable for you I hope you enjoy it for other reasons! Make sure to check the end of the post for all of Rachel’s links!

(LA) The things you create are all so beautiful, when did you start to include LGBT+ items in your works and how have they been received? 

(Rachel) Aww, Thanks! I only came out as gay about 6 months ago myself, and before then I had some serious…

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Outsmarting Rainbow Capitalism

This Pride Month, there’s been a lot of criticism towards the LGBTQ folks who buy rainbow things from capitalist entities. I see the purpose of this criticism. These big brands are taking advantage of our community, our marginalization, our need for expression and community strength. Some of them take advantage of us while supporting politicians, policies and practices that further impose injustice and inequality on our community and other marginalized minorities.
The shitty thing about this criticism is that we are seeking inclusion, identity and community. We want a place to exist in our truest expression and feel like the rule and not the exception! We want to be able to feel like we fit in, can be the norm, can be our Selves. In a cis-hetero-normative world, we want to feel trans-homo-ace-bi-etc normal! We want to be identified and identifiable to one another. How do we find this without supporting large corporate hypocrites?
 
The presented alternative to supporting “Rainbow Capitalism” is supporting small LGBTQ and minority-owned businesses who follow this Rainbow “trend”. I put quotes around trend because I lack a better word. It’s not a trend to those of us who live it. It’s validation of our identity and the space we create for ourselves and each other in the world. 
My point is this–it’s not a bad thing to buy a bunch of Pride related things! It’s therapeutic and validating and necessary. But in ANY context, we can be conscious of where our money is going and how it is circulating based on our spending.
In supporting actual members of the LGBTQIA community in their creative and business ventures, we can celebrate our Pride without contributing to our oppression and the oppression of others.
 
I am an LGBTQ crochet artist making things for the LGBTQ community. I am a lesbian woman, a starving artist, making money on handmade goods I create in my small Long Beach apartment. I run the entire business alone, from purchasing to making, social media to sales, shipping to customer service. I make crochet clothing and jewelry year round with the intention of inspiring the people who wear it to be their authentic selves in the world. I love the minimalist style with attention to detail that highlights without overwhelming the individual.
I am a queer designer making Pride attire for my LGBTQ folks! 
I am not the only one.
There are so many artists, in all different types of mediums, who are making clothes, art, drawings, books, zines, decor, tools, and more of your everyday purchases. A great way to find us is through hashtags on Instagram. Another way is through events, maker popups, and queer spaces like queer-owned coffee shops and gay venues.
I will warn, supporting small business is not necessarily cheap. The benefit of corporate capitalism is that mass production is cheap and some of the cheapness gets passed on to the customer. However, spending a little more money in handmade, small business, and local economies ensures that the money will circulate back into your pocket at some point. That money doesn’t go into a CEOs pocket or a trust fund or an off shore account–it helps someone keep their lights on, keep food on their table, gas in their car, etc. Paying a little more for a better quality piece of artwork is worth it. Not to mention it’s more unique, and probably made to last.
Bypassing Rainbow Capitalism by supporting LGBTQ Artists and Makers is an act of political warfare.
If you can’t support myself or other artists monetarily, you can still help us. Your support in the form of likes, sharing and encouragement is helpful and welcome.
Support one another. Support LGBTQ businesses, but additionally support businesses owned by people of color, differently-abled people, and immigrants. Our oppression is all unique, as we all have our own intersectional story, but our struggle is against the same entity–colonialism, white supremacy, injustice, inequality, and toxic capitalism. When we support each other, we all win. 
We are here, we are queer, and we are making things for you. Please, Find us. ❤ 
During the month of June 2018, I am making Pride tops, hats and more for Gay, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Pan, Non-binary and Ace/Aro representation at a VERY discounted price. I am not making a lot of profit on these, but I want people to be able to afford them and still make it to the capitalist festivals held in our honor. I will be continuing to make and sell these items throughout the year. I will have to raise the price eventually, but I will try to keep them affordable. I also want to find an intersectional LGBTQ charity to donate part of the proceeds to. If you have recommendations, please let me know.
To order a halter top, bralette, beanie, or crop top, please visit my instagram @byOperaHippy and message me about custom orders. You can also contact me through my etsy page (while it’s still up—they’re raising prices so I may be opening my website soon).
Here are some examples of my work. I make all sizes, and can custom a fit to any body type or size.
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Lesbian Pride Bralette // Rainbow Pride Halter
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Trans Pride Halter
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Trans Pride Crop Top
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Lesbian Pride Halter size XL
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Rainbow Spectrum Crop Top
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Yarn for Pan Pride and Bi Pride goodies!!!!
Non binary and Ace available too!

In Transition

I’m going through a transitional phase right now. I have been for a while, but this part is really interesting.
 
Three years ago I came out as bisexual, which was my first attempt to express that I like women. But this year I came out as gay, realizing that so much of my previous “attraction” to men was for the security and validation of their male privilege and not to them as partners. To better explain, I grew up in a household with so much toxic masculinity that I literally believed my wellness, success in the world, ability to be loved, and self worth were all attached to my ability to “catch” a man, or to otherwise be pleasing to them–pleasing to look at, to be around… which to toxic masculinity means meeting the societal standards of beauty, being silent, compliant and agreeable, and super validating to men (none of which came easy or natural to me).
Men have more power than women in the world I come from, and they do in more spaces than not in the world in which we all live. I thought the only way I could get that power, which I believed was necessary for my survival, was through dating men–so I lied to myself to survive in a harsh environment. I needed male attention and validation to feel like I was valid–my entire self worth was placed on it and I couldn’t help it because I couldn’t see it.
 
The environment is still harsh, even though some things have changed and I have moved to a more diverse city. Nowadays I find a lot of comfort in just my new-found identity as a lesbian. Even if I’m not dating, even if I never have another lover in my entire life this is a truth I have fought so hard to find in myself and nobody can take it from me. This is a truth that validates me, my past loves, my life joys, my feelings about the world and myself in it. My feelings about love and my knowledge and awareness of love are validated by my identity. Even the unexplainable mysteries of “why” in my life have an explanation through this truth, and that is how I know it is mine.
As I get to know more members of the queer community I find comfort and welcome and a space to exist as myself in their presence. I’m finding myself more and more. I’m learning about myself in the most basic of ways.
 
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about myself lately:
I’m finding that I don’t like being in a lot of very male dominant spaces. I’m not comfortable in them. I feel almost non-existent compared to masculinity, especially toxic, hyper masculinity. I’m feminine. I’m not a lady in the traditional sense. I burp loudly, I sit with my knees apart, I say “fuck” a lot, and I sure as hell don’t know how to properly place the utensils of a fancy dinner table. I’m not the most “femme” of lesbians either on the strange binary-spectrum of femme and butch that is sometimes thought of as the only possible expression of lesbians. Still, my energy is one of feminine strength. I can’t describe how I mean that. Its one thing I can feel but cannot yet properly describe.
Many spaces put me back into a mind space that is terrifying to me–the one that once led me to contemplating suicide and desperately fighting for reasons not to turn my car into the center divider on the freeway at 70 mph almost constantly.
Straight bars (otherwise known as “Bars” to the hetero-norm) either put me in that space or frustrate me to no end. It is incredible that a group of women can’t go out and have a good time without it either being about men or being interrupted by men.
Drinking was something I did to lose myself and get male attention, so drinking and the culture behind it is not interesting to me. In fact, alcohol just gives me a headache. It used to be that I’d have a headache the next day in the form of a hangover, but now I get one almost as soon as I have a drink.
I see more and more that I am an introvert. I connect with people one-on-one. It is difficult for me to express my truth to large groups, or to feel like I have a space to speak or that my words are even welcome in a large crowd. I can speak to a large audience, but I don’t do well with the social cues of group interaction. It gets difficult for me to focus, to follow thoughts, to be honest to myself and my humor and my nature. I see from a perspective so very different from many people that when they don’t know where I am coming from it is easy for them to misunderstand me, and that misunderstanding is an emotional distance, and emotional distance is something that I feel very deeply and hurts me very much.
I enjoy diversity and differences. I like to see what makes people who they are and often that is best explored through the things we do not have in common or agree on. Most people don’t like this though. I make a lot of people uncomfortable because I make comparisons and they are perceived as judgements. I don’t mean them as judgements. I am simply pointing out differences most of the time. Still, it is one of those things that gets me into trouble in groups. 
I’d rather talk about myself and let others talk about themselves than talk about others. I grew up being taught that it was selfish to talk about yourself. I understand that doing it excessively or without any reciprocation on listening can be a little much, but why would we shy away from talking about ourselves? If we don’t talk about ourselves, how will anyone know us? I know some things can be learned through basic interaction, but other things we literally can’t know without someone telling us. Like, what you feel and how you cope and what you think. The things that happen when you are alone with yourself, those are things that are sacred and special, but they can also be a point of connection tot talk about with others at a later time. I enjoy learning these things about others and I enjoy sharing these things about myself. I enjoy finding that some of these things are shared by many, if not all people, and other things are very specific and different from person to person.
Most importantly I am learning that connectivity is a vital piece of my existence, and learning to have healthy connections is a part of love.
 
There are many things I am still unsure about. There are many pieces of my identity, style, life choices, career path, etc. that I do not yet know or understand. I have been seeking those larger answers for years and am only a little clearer, but still very lost all the time. However, these smaller self revelations are almost more important, and definitely contribute to clearly seeing the bigger picture. In fact, many of those other pieces of myself won’t be clear until I find myself and my truths. Perhaps my purpose is Self Discovery and everything else is an adventurous byproduct (or bi-product, if you’re so inclined).
 
The transitional phase is coming at me in waves of grief and ecstasy. I cannot hide from it or control it. I cannot rush or slow the timing of the waves’ crashes. I cannot hide. I cannot cease existence in the hopes it’ll all blow over. I cannot fear away from the journey that lies before me. I’ve done that in the past and it almost cost me my life. There’s no more hiding.
I’m in transition.

To Be A Lesbian

I just finished watching The L Word all the way through for the first time. I know, I’m late AF to the party, seeing as the last episode aired in 2009. I was graduating high school that year and was NOWHERE close to admitting to myself that I was gay. Not to mention, in my hometown The L Word was seen as some weird, fetish-porn, “gay-agenda” TV show and basically spoken about like a demonic betrayal of all things wholesome and divine.
However, now, as a newly self-recognized and Out Lesbian, I loved watching it. It was so validating! Sure, it’s dated, missing a lot of broader and diverse representation, doesn’t address transphobia within the gay community, and guilty of stereotyping–but it’s also incredible to see a show that just disregards male significance and necessity altogether. It really shows the intimacy of the world of womxn. Lesbians specifically–womxn who do not identify AT ALL through their need to be connected to or validated through their relationships to men (or at least go through the struggles of that being their truth in a world that tells us we need male approval for survival).

It’s insane how cishet-white-male centric our society is–especially in the States. I watch my female heterosexual friends put up with such bullshit out of the men they date and pursue–and I used to put up with such bullshit out of the men I dated. They continue to put up with it though. The need for male acceptance and approval is so strong, so subconscious, and so necessary for hetero survival in this toxic society. Women are taught by society that we need to be accepted into the Male World (aka, the Patriarchy’s Constructed Society, because there is nothing real or natural about it). I see women who won’t call men out on emotionally abusing them or their friends.
How many women put up with emotional silencing or abuse for the sake of financial security? How many more will endure physical abuse or psychological manipulation for security and acceptance in a world run by men? How many do you personally know–because I know soooo many of these women personally. In many ways, I am still one of these women and trying to empower myself out of the mindset every day.
Why are we so trapped?
Internalized fear? I know my father made it seem like if one man didn’t want to fuck me they’d tell all other men in some secret MALE ONLY social network and I’d be forever blacklisted from being in a relationship with any male ever. I was convinced of that, ridiculous as it sounds.
Stockholm Syndrome? Learned Helplessness? We have been so oppressed by the patriarchal forces that be, accepting our roles (shitty and demeaning as they are) is a necessary means of survival without facing the severe internal depression that becomes expressed through “hysteria” and “women’s troubles” and now mental illness. (Not to say mental illness isn’t legitimate, but that we often don’t acknowledge that it’s cause is traceable and many of them are results of abuse.)
So many heterosexual women, even feminists, will cut men slack when they emotionally abuse others or gaslight women into thinking they’ve overreacted or are being overly-sensitive when we call them out for mistreating us–and why? We make it seem like they’re incapable of the emotional depth we have to get over their shit, and aren’t we all one species and one existence? The trap of seeing men as a NECESSARY part of one’s worth, value and ability to succeed is one deeply engrained in the average American woman. Ever so subtle, but undeniably present.

Since coming out, I have been able to see things in my own life clearer. Suddenly, interactions that were once confusing make complete sense. For example, I have always found myself to be the strong, independent girl in the crowd. The one who called men out of their assholery if they hurt my friend (though never able to stand up for mySELF), dead-eyed them for making sexist comments, and didn’t laugh at jokes that degraded other humans. When I was being myself, and not the Self I had to be to be accepted and approved of by men, I was a bad bitch–and I’m becoming that bad bitch again the more I permanently pull away from the belief that I need male acceptance and love to survive and succeed. I’ve definitely had moments of feeling down on my own worth because all of my other friends were receiving male attention and I wasn’t. It has made me doubt myself so much in the past–Am I too cynical? Too harsh? Too aggressive? Intimidating? Miserable? Ugly? Fat? Annoying? What is wrong with me that I can be hilarious and beautiful to all my friends and no men want me? How do I change myself to be more what they want? How do I become submissive, enjoyable, complimentary–fake–for their acceptance?

Well now that all makes sense. I never wanted them, and getting their approval was a temporary fix to a much larger problem. Plus male approval isn’t as satisfying as it promises to be when it’s first offered. The attention I sought from men was nothing like what I want (and deserve) from a real, loving, intimate relationship. It’s nothing like what I know Love to be. My reaction to men is nothing to how my body reacts to other Lesbians, or womxn in general. My attraction to men was simply a need for attention that validated that I fit into a world–a world I only wanted to fit into because I was convinced I needed to fit into it to survive. But many other worlds exist, and I’ve found I fit into another one entirely. It’s actually one I’ve been a part of for my entire life–though secretly and in the intimacy of my one-on-one relationships with significant carers in my life–my mother, my best childhood friend and first romantic love, etc. It’s a world I’ve live in, but closeted. Now, it seems the doors have been opened and I’m ready to exist in this world more openly. It’s always been here, but the world is only felt by those who know it and believe in its existence–the world of non-male centrism.

 

My roommate is a brilliant person. She’s a writer, currently in grad school for English. We have had many conversations about the significance of Lesbian visibility. She’s been Out for a long time. As I watched The L Word, she rewatched it with me and we had a lot of conversations. Recently, we were talking about how the word “Lesbian” is not just a term that means “Gay Woman”. If we look at the analysis of words, being a Woman is another reminder of how we are simply seen as an extension of Men, about how our greatest sense of identity (where limited agenda, white feminists seek their empowerment even) is from a word that references to that which we are not–to our Oppressors!

I don’t want you to think I’m saying anyone who uses this word is bad. I’m just proposing that there is another option, and possibly to be aware of these things will help us move forward with more conscious use of our words, especially in regards to our self-identity and self-worth.

Words matter. Their context, origin, and implications validate, create, and instill our beliefs about them. Only half of your brain recognizes a word as a collection of letters strung together. The left brain understands and interprets language, but it is not the knower of conceptual understanding altogether. The right brain, on the other hand, takes these words (strings of symbols put together in a linear fashion and assigned meaning) and assigns them meaning on an experiential basis. The right brain understands wordless concepts outside of time or place. It can understand time and space if necessary for context, but it doesn’t think through things linearly–it comprehends them all at once. Like vision in a fourth dimension would be, the right brain sees all sides of the concept it looks at, all at once. The left brain then interprets that linearly. So if we have a word for something, we have to respect that the development of that word comes from a larger conceptual understanding with a whole lot of context, and psychological and historic implications. Your left brain receives the word, but then your memory recall triggers a whole UNIVERSE (made of many worlds) of meaning and connotation for that word. The collection of these meanings is taught in our use of language for understanding the past, and we are bound to the larger concepts after a certain level of knowledge has been gained.

That said, the etymology of the words “Women, Woman, or Female” does not necessarily prove that they were developed or derived in reference to “man, men or male,” their modern context and implication must be considered. The history of masculinity taking claim of everything must be remembered. When these words were developed, they were developed from the latin, and the “men” and “male” aspects of the words referred to humankind, not to a specific gender or sex. However, since the development of these words, a book has been written and widely regarded as Ultimate Divine Truth which states that the first ever woman was made out of a man’s rib, and that man was created by another masculine figure–God. (Yes, I’m talking about Ye Olde Testament–The Bible.) So while the word “woman” may not necessarily derive from this concept or principle, those brought up in a western, Judeo-Christian influenced society have an unconscious internalization of this concept as a means of our creation. Even those who don’t believe in Christianity will have a hard time reminding ourselves that the principles it instilled in us through societal conditioning aren’t real.

I know a woman who has a bad relationship with her birth father and, convinced that she needs love from a father figure to survive, she told me I needed to seek a relationship with the Heavenly Father like she had and I would feel whole and loved. Now, this may work very well for people who can’t get out of the christian dogma, but I’ve been doubting the details of that Patriarchy since I was about 8 years old so that didn’t sit well with me. On a personal level, I have a relationship with divinity but I think it is a concept beyond simplicity of our concept of gender identification and to assign it masculinity and tell people they NEED to seek HIS approval for an understanding of eternal and unconditional love from creation is just manipulative. God is not a man, and you don’t need HIS approval to feel whole. Frankly to gender the concept of God is to make God small–boxed into a definition that makes the incomprehensible into something minutely understandable.

Now, I’m not trying to say that I am not a woman, or that I am not perfectly happy identifying as a woman overall. In the context of society, I am a Cis Woman. For the recognition and importance of my trans family, I recognize my role of having the outward identity of “woman”. Maybe one day I’ll identify as non-binary but for now I don’t feel that is necessary for me. I won’t claim being misgendered (yet) if someone calls me a woman, because what I am about to propose is not a widely acknowledged concept and it will take time for people to understand it and me to further develop what this means to my gender identity. However, I think it is much more appropriate to say that my entire identity, both sexual preference and gender identity, is embodied in the word Lesbian.

Lesbian is a word that stands outside of the traditional need to identify through an attachment or relation to men. My roommate mentioned something this morning about how the word Lesbian is non-human. This isn’t to say we are lacking in what is commonly referred to as “humanity”, or that we aren’t a part of our species, or that we are aliens (though lez be honest, I could be an alien). It means that calling our species “Human” and then giving one acknowledged gender identity in the forced binary the default option of being called “Man” and the other a connection to that with a prefix of “wo” is an immediate means of establishing inequality. It established 1)a binary in an unlimited universe of options and 2)a “Default” and an “Other”. (Another thing instilled in us through Judeo-Christian dogma is the idea that there is a good and evil, and that which is not like you must be against you.)
I want to further this idea by comparing it to the oppression and struggles of Black Americans. They, too, are seen as the “Other” and White is thought of as the “Default”. Everything between is seen as a part of some weird greyscale by White America, rather than seen as the true diversity that racial and cultural diversity is in truth. This has been the case for a long time, far before American Slavery (as the roots of White Supremacy are not strictly North American). The greater piece of toxic society in America doesn’t even really consider Black Culture to be a part of American Culture, calling their own world “America” without being inclusive of any experiences People of Color have with oppression, immigration, racism or prejudice.

This said, I feel the word Lesbian does not attach me to this archaic, binary concept that the word “Woman” with the adjective of “Gay” does. For the sake of society understanding and putting a simplified, reductionist label on me–sure. I guess I’m a homosexual woman. For the sake of a binary believer’s need to understand me–tell yourself whatever you must to get to sleep at night. However, there is so much more to who I am than just being an Other-who-likes-Others.

There is a mindset, an intimacy, and a private world in which non-men exist. Toxic masculinity couldn’t understand it even if we let it in to try (and it has been let in plenty of times, trust). It’s a deep sharing of stories, feelings, pain, pleasure, and endurance. It’s the intimacy of having shared similar oppressions, as well as the multitude of intersections at which our DIFFERENT struggles can be related to with vulnerable empathy and understanding. It’s the inclusion of more and more people into our world–not because they identify a certain way or look a certain way, but because they have become in touch with themselves and their self worth OUTSIDE the world of male approval. This world is ethereal, abstract, made up of feelings and based on the principle of true equality. It is the recognition of Namaste–That which IS in me acknowledges that which IS in you. We are both valid in our existence as we experience it simply because we exist, not because we exist in relation to others. This is a world all its own–like a secret and special club in which our main goal is to live our lives the way we were born to live them, not the way we were taught to live them.

Not everyone in this “club” is a lesbian, and not all those who identify as Lesbians fit into or understand or seek to remain in the understanding of this empathetic existence. However, I find that I know who I am when I am here, and I know who I love and how I love them. I found this world through finally accepting that I am a lesbian. It didn’t come when I accepted myself as a woman–and that never felt like a full or apt definition of my existence.

Another reason I love the word lesbian is the connotations it has been assigned historically. Lesbianism used to be considered a mental illness. Literally, men couldn’t comprehend that women didn’t need or want them and so they decided it was an ILLNESS that could be treated with electro-shock therapy. Let that sink in for a moment. Men were so threatened by the idea that women would leave them, that they could do NOTHING to manipulate them to stay, because some women just weren’t attracted to them at all that (white, cishet, male) Doctors decided it was a condition which needed SEVERE treatment. If we consider this on a large scale, its a disgusting show of dependency, not to mention oppressive AF.

The word Lesbian has also been used as a derogatory slur, along with queer, fag, dyke, butch, and others. Like those words have been reclaimed by our community, the reclaiming of the word “Lesbian” is an act of empowerment for me.

Some of the lesbian community are TERF af, I’ll admit, and seek to make the word more about being a cis gay woman who is attracted to other cis gay women. I’d like to reclaim the world from them too, as this is a grave reduction of the word’s importance. Some lesbians are trans! Some lesbians date trans men! Some lesbians date trans women. Some lesbians care about your genitals and some don’t! Some lesbians fall in love with non-binary folks! Some lesbians are non-binary themselves! Some lesbians even date a cishet male once or twice (or for the first 23 years of their lives in my case). All of these intersections are valid in the identity of “Lesbian”, because being a lesbian isn’t just about being a “gay woman”. That is an outdated definition, in my understanding. I don’t have to be dating anyone to be a lesbian–not a man or a woman or any other gender outside those.

To speak to my sexual preference, I find myself personally attracted to all kinds of womxn. However, I also am constantly having my definition of “womxn” challenged and broadened to be more inclusive of more lives and experiences that differ from mine. I believe that anyone who truly lives their identity and calls that identity womxn IS a womxn and thereby defines the word itself. We are the creators of words, afterall. We control them, and we can’t let them (and such specific, manipulative definitions) control who we are–its unnatural. We are the existence, we are the creator of the word, why would we have to be forced to its definition.

To be a Lesbian is about so much more than the simplified, patriarchal definitions of identity. It is to live outside of the definition of existence which attaches us, our worth, and our identity to others, specifically Men.

To be a Lesbian, for me, is to be Free—

—Free of the mental conditioning, free of the isolated emotional pain, free of the chains that bind me to a false Self I created to survive 20 years in a homophobic environment I couldn’t escape.