2009/07/19

A Little Secret

You want to know what I hear a lot? I hear people saying that the only way to change people's hearts and minds is to let them get to know you. Once they know a real live lesbian, the reasoning goes, they will magically become all queer-friendly and pleasant. It's the incarnational reality of the homo at home that'll win the day. That's what they say.

Unfortunately, it's bullshit.

I've spent a good deal of time and energy "being present" to homophobes, exposing myself to their careful scrutiny, trying to make the grade on behalf of all of us. But, here's what happens. They wind up liking me quite a lot. You, not so much.

Even hardened homophobes have learned to like me. I wear lipstick and act like a girl, after all. I'm not at all like the rest of you. And, I'm not making this up. That's pretty much what they say:

"We like YOU, Lindy. But..."

But, not those girley-men,

not those transexuals,

not those women in leather,

not Louie Crew and his feather boa,

or Susan Russell and her manish haircut.

No, we don't like them.
But, you, Lindy... you're a good homo. We like you.

That's what they say.

And often I counter that statement with a little statement of my own. I call it the I AM statement.

"I AM those people," I say.

I AM the flamingist queen,

I AM the butechest dyke.

I AM the most strident, the girliest, the queerest, gayest one of all.

I AM the one who frightens you. Yes, me.

I AM your worst nightmare. And, look, I'm not so bad."

I wish you could see the looks on their faces. They are utterly dunfounded. Why, after all, having been graced with their good favour, would I now identify myuself with that kind of person?

For all the crap I've put up with, no hearts have been moved, no minds changed. Sure, people like me. But, they won't fight for me, or for you whom they still do not like.

It's a loosing game, this business of winning people over with our gay charms. The fact of the matter is that while we may be tolerated, or even accepted, on an individual basis. They still won't have anything to do with us as a matter of justice, still don't see our cause rooted in the gospel, and only play along to amuse us when we dare to bring it up.

For me, I am no longer in the business of gaining acceptance from homophobes. I quit.
I AM who I AM.

17 comments:

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Okay Lindy--as the person who FREQUENTLY makes that argument, I have to ask you "How do you explain me?"

I grew up in a fundamentalist homophobic church, in Memphis, TN. I went to a fundamentalist Christian school, K-12. I was taught that homosexuals were evil, and I was certainly not surrounded by people with progressive social views.

Then I fell in love with a gay man.

I have been an ardent supporter of LGBT rights for over 20 years as a result. I have marched. I have lobbied. I have given time and money I couldn't really spare to push for justice and equality.

If people don't change their views about LGBTs as a result of knowing them, how do you explain me?

Pax,
Doxy

Barbi Click said...

Lindy, all you can do is live your life -- not for others, but you. If others are changed in that process of you living, well, then, that is good. If they are not, it is all about them. selah.

You are not always gonna know the positive impact you make. Or the lives you change. It doesn't mean a thing. bears in the woods and all that stuff.

You are indeed who you are. As for me, that is not only enough, it is very good.

and for what it is worth, here publicly - you were and are right about doyle. I was wrong. His only hope lies in God alone.
and I always agreed with you about Dena. :-) Wimberly...well, thank god one is gonna be out of there. One good reason to elect the old ones - not as long for them to be a burden to the ones who called them.

Anonymous said...

Lindy,
I know what you mean. I see it all the time in churches, we only accept the "good darkies", Yeah I know, but that is what they are saying. Those who LOVE us will change, but those whose world is ruled by other than love will never change.
In situations like you describe, I have started to use the darkie metaphore in reply, "yeah, the good lil' darkies come in da massa's house" or the like, then I walk away.
A big hug to you, from a mo brother who won't stop fighting till our children stop dying because of hate.

John said...

You're creating cognitive dissonance. You're taken people who had a neat world view where all gay people are sinful and disgusting and suddenly they're presented with a gay person who is not. They're trying to deal with both realities at the same time. It's hard. And the more gay people they come to know, the more they will start dropping their old ideas. But it is a slow process, and not everybody fully completes it. But all those people are still way more tolerant and accepting than they would have been had they not known you.

I also think that we gay people have this thing where we have to accept and affirm just about everything our fellow queers do. Well, I understand this as a solidarity-in-numbers strategy, but straight people do not feel burdened by approving and affirming everything that their fellow heterosexuals do. Most of the straight people I know do not feel compelled to affirm their brothers and sisters at Hooters, for example. So why I am required to be an ardent supporter of the folks at the local leather bar?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, I was going to say pretty much what Doxy said, except that I come with Roman Catholic baggage, which, I'll admit, was not as homophobic as the fundamentalists in Doxy's school days.

Back in the ancient days of my schooling, gays and lesbians were off the radar, just not there, in the closet, the bachelor uncles and maiden aunts, so it's not a valid comparison.

Knowing gays and lesbians helped to change my views, but mostly it was the nastiness of the homophobes in the church that pushed me to the other side. They ended up being evangelists for the "enemy".

sharecropper said...

LOL, Lindy, knowing lesbians certainly changed my point of view - from straight to lesbian.

However, I agree with you in part. Trying to be loveable so that people will change because they know you are gay just doesn't work.

At my age, I'm just doing what you're doing:

I AM who I AM.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Oh, honey, I'm straight, devoid of makeup, and with a mannish haircut, and they don't like me either.

Those who want to dislike, who want to hate, only God can help them.

But like Doxy, it was the coming out experience of a close friend, one who I yearned so desperately to hook up with me, who changed my heart.

I wanted him so badly to fall in love with me. He was so affectionate but I knew something had a distance to it. I thought it was "me". I wasn't this enough, wasn't that enough, then I found out he was gay.

I had to get over feeling "jilted" and then, over a short period of time, it turned me 180 degrees on my butt about my attitudes towards gays and lesbians. That there was so much he deserved that was not acceptable in society at the time.

He now has a spouse, a man I also have learned to love dearly. I thank God every day for the unrest and tears my friend brought into my life that led to a bigger truer love than I could ever realize, one that makes me stand up unflinchingly for GLBT rights.

No, the old saw is NOT true some of the time. But sometimes, it is. Maybe you don't even know whose heart you might have changed but I am willing to bet my billfold on payday SOMEONE has changed just from knowing you. I pray that someday at least one of them will thank you someday.

Joanna Depue said...

Lindy, I've had my own flare-ups on this subject over the years. It takes me a while to take a deep breath and realize I'm NOT in this alone, that God is very present and my witness. And so are my lesbian and gay extended family. You wear lipstick; I mostly don't. I have short hair, am in thicker middle age and have been called 'sir' in the hardware store far more often than I can recount. Yet if someone, anyone, experiences the love of God in my ministry SOMETHING HAPPENS. Maybe they 'like' me, maybe they don't. But they WILL ponder on it. That pondering has a ripple effect, and a profound one at that. You, I and Louie look different ... and there is a common thread noone can deny: we love God mightily. Let them thin, ponder, wrestle if needbe. We can just do what we do with what God gave us and keep turning that over with gratitude. Be of courage!

Lindy said...

Dox & G'mere,

I can explain perfectly well. You are both exceptional women. I expect women of a certain caliber to step-up just as you did. I don't consider you an aberration which needs to be explained because I wasn't talking about people like you.

Thanks everyone for stopping by, I've considered your comments, as I always do. I'm glad you come by here and, ahem, straighten me out once in awhile.

Make it a good weekend,

Lindy

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I wouldn't PRESUME to try and "straighten you out," Lindy. But I *do* hope we can go "gaily forward" together! ;-)

Pax,
Doxy

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, I am glad that we're on the same side, love. I'd really like to meet you to see just how "scary" you are in real life. You're a truth-teller, and truth-tellers are often frightening, because a whole hell of a lot of folks out there can't stand the truth.

Diane said...

You KNOW I want to meet you. And look! I can get into your blog again!

I totally get where you are coming from. Rock on.

For what it is worth, you have been a good influence on me, and we haven't even met (yet).

Jane R said...

I hesitate to make comparisons that may be inappropriate, but your story reminded me of exactly what used to happen (particularly when I was applying for church jobs in Catholic churches as a younger laywoman or working on issues re: or giving talks about women in the church). People would say, "Oh, you're not one of those angry women." And eventually I started saying, "Oh, but I am." Because it really pissed me off that they were dividing us into the good girls and the bad girls, and that I was a good feminist because I spoke in a modulated voice and wore pearls. People's compliments to me were at the expense of others. Phooey on that.

The whole "you're a good one" (or "the right kind") vs. "you're a bad one" (or "the wrong kind") makes me nuts. (And eventually found its way --once I was able to identify it and later to articulate a) that it drove me nuts and b) why it did so-- into the Mary of Magdala sermon which you recently read.)

'course now I am older and have become one of the threatening women to people(though I still sometimes wear pearls) and have to approach this matter from a different angle... (Maria, I think that straight or lesbian, a woman who doesn't need a man and also happens to have a brain in her head just terrifies most folks.)

And I confess to being weary. And being less concerned about the need to be politely angry. It doesn't come close to the weariness you describe, but I do think there is a kinship somehow.

Now, about the experience of being changed away from homophobia by "knowing and loving a lesbian or gay person." I think it can be "both/and." It does happen. And sometimes it doesn't. Some folks are not going to change. Some are. You have to protect yourself and live your life. AND you've probably changed the hearts of some people. But it's not your job. It's similar to my African American friends who get weary, weary, weary, of always being the person who has to educate clueless White people, speak for their race, tell their story, and so on.

By the way, I AM who I AM is holy utterance. G*d said something like that to Moses, didn't She?

Lindy said...

Jane,

I think your observations are spot on.

I am tired and no longer interested in being nice. I want to tell people what a freaking dirty queer I am.

I want people to worship at drag shows, instead of churches. Where better to meditate on transformation?

I'm ready to have a couple of trannies on the calendar of saints so that we can all be reminded of the power of authenticity at any cost.

And I want to say, "Piss on all that monogamous, fidelity crap... I sometimes have sex with my friends. So there."

I am not nice.

Ayeh asher ayeh!

Lindy said...

Dox, forward indeed! Preferably skipping.

G'mere, be brave and I'll try not to scare you. Glad you're on the team.

Diane, we will meet one day. I know it. I think you'd be a very good Anglican, you know. Not that I'd want you to convert. But, you do have a way of finding the important questions.

Jane R said...

P.S. YES to the trannies on the calendar of saints!!

Lindy said...

And drag queens and kings too...