Thursday, December 02, 2010

Queerness, otherness and shut up and listen.

Okay I have had a few thoughts percolating and want to share.

Recently someone forwarded me an invite from some far flung queer corner of the universe a link (which I have long since lost) to the end result of someone's project about Femmeness, presentation etc. There was a slideshow and some commentary and I came away about fifteen minutes later feeling sad.

All too often when I see calls for Femme something or other it is always seemingly strictly lesbian identified, many of the people doing these things are Pretty Thin White Ladies* and I honestly get so sad.

Here is the intersection.

Where are the Femmes of Color? Where are the Fat Femmes? Where are the Femmes who don't identify strictly as being lesbians?

In the last few years I have not quite purposefully but mostly as a self protective measure have withdrawn from a lot of Queer spaces because I just don't have the emotional spoons to deal with the variety of pain that feeling invisible and/or excluded (and often not excluded on purpose) brings me.

It has taken me a lot of years to be comfortable in expressing that feeling that has been there since I was a baby Queer.

And the thing that has made expressing this view more difficult has been being involved with and talking to activists who's frequent immediate response is, well fix it and participate.

The thing is, it's really easy to say that.

No matter how excited about a project or idea I might be, I personally am not always comfortable being the trail blazer. When you are already someone who is well represented even at a basic level, there is not as much of a challenge.

If you are participating in say a project that shows visuals of Femme Queers, and the people around you are pretty much kinda like you, no one is going to be singling you out to possibly say stupid things. You don't have to worry about trying to represent, you don't have to be the person sticking out in say a photo.

It's easy to say that this type of thing is easy to blow off. It's the "positive" activist thing to say and put on a brave face and say, FUCK YEAH WATCH ME GO.

What's not awesome is when you want so hard to be the trail blazer and the happy person sticking out but you don't want to at the same time.

The thing is that it's draining. Especially when you don't have people who can identify or who really shut up and listen if this is something you're going through. It's hard because there aren't a lot of ways to really articulate this type of sadness and exhaustion.

So there's that. Then for me there's the prospect of being silenced via the type of things like, people saying "well it's not my fault" or "I'm trying" etc.

This is one of those moments where if you do consider yourself an ally, you have got to shut up and listen.

I know people can be resistant to that so let me put it this way.

Remember in elementary school when we were all learning how to participate in a discussion? Remember how the teachers always said that sometimes you had to be quiet and let other people have their turn?

That is what shut up and listen is about.

It's not about silencing. It's about making a commitment to not just listening but hearing what other people have to say.

As a person who has had to rely on allies for a lot in my life because I have often been the only fat person, the only person of color, I have often had no one close to me who could in fact completely relate to what I was feeling and trying to just get that out while someone is tripping over themselves to show me how much they care by talking and talking and talking is just frustrating.

The thing is that for anyone who is marginalized, especially when one is an "other" among "others" often what's needed isn't commiseration, or prompts to action.

So for my fellow others amongst the others. I know sometimes it's hard and it hurts. Sometimes you don't want to be nice about these things, you don't want to be polite you don't give a fuck and just want to take your toys and go home. I won't tell you not to.

Matter of fact it's important to remember that it's not good for you to fight for everyone but yourself. Sometimes you have to take your shit and go home because it's the best thing for you. If you can't hang it's okay. Go home, talk to someone who really gets it. Take care of you.

For allies, if this person if the fat person or the non lesbian identified femme or the person of color says, hey I gotta go. Please let them go. If you don't want to shut up and listen or think that it isn't necessary, then leave that person alone. Also remember that this person doesn't owe you a reason or if they disengage it's not because they don't care about the cause.

So that's the thinky thoughts of the day brought to you and sponsored by me being a tired Black Lady.

Now pardon me while I do stuff and whatnot. Because that's how I roll.

Homo Out.

DAMN IT, I had on the cutest outfit yesterday and completely forgot to take a picture. This is why I could not be a regular outfit/Fatshion blogger.


So tomorrow sexy talk. And possibly some quickie reviews.

Now really, homo out.

1 comment:

lilacsigil said...

I'm fat and due to people like you I've been getting slowly more comfortable with dressing up and being femme when I want to. I'm about the same size and build as blogger The Rotund (who I think IDs as straight?) who is a very femme dresser with occasional stompy boots. I love that look and it's people like you that are helping me express it. So thank you for standing up and standing out. I hope that one day it takes less emotional spoons to do so because *everyone* supports us!

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