Sunday, December 16, 2007

teh gay

I'm going home with my partner for New Year's, and I'll be staying with her family for a few days, and meeting her friends from high school and her grandmother, etc. I'm quite excited, and the usual small amount of nervous. I'm also curious as to what it's going to be like for her to bring home a man, since she once spent no small amount of courage and energy explaining to her loved ones that she's gay. The real picture is more complicated, of course, since she doesn't identify as lesbian so much as [gender]queer, and she has dated folks of a variety of genders. But she's bringing me home, and I'm a guy, and that's a hefty thing to plan for.

Of course, I'm not a straight man, but this is something that she'll probably share with most of her friends and none of her elderly relatives. I'm also a man who grew up as a girl, which is something she has shared with some close friends and her parents, but probably also won't be told to the acquaintances/grandma.

And it's the former, not the latter, that is the reason we are not in a straight relationship, despite appearances to the contrary.

I find it impossible to say that my experiences growing up female and trying to find myself as a dyke didn't contribute to the kind of queer person that I am today, but I also feel strongly that the fact of my transness does not automatically make me queer, nor does it automatically make my relationship with my girlfriend automatically a gay relationship. It's a frustrating connection that a lot of people try to impose upon trans folks and their partners, and I think it's a delicate operation to properly refute their flawed reasoning without resorting to either reactionary homophobic statements or keeping separate two things that are, in fact connected.

That is to say, my trans experience has contributed to my queerness: I remember what it's like to be a dyke. Though I feel compelled to add that I have no way of knowing what it's like to be a dyke who doesn't feel like a guy on the inside, so my experience of lesbianism is possibly (if not probably) pretty different from most lesbians. And there's also the fact that I feel a little silly saying something like "Oh, I only date women!" when I know the huge range of people and bodies and genders contained in that statement, not to mention the ones who ought to be but get left out.

So those are some reasons that I'm queer. But there's also the fact that I'm a guy, and while I mostly date women, I am into guys as well. Hypothetically, for the most part, since I've been in a committed relationship for most of my transition, and I didn't really date or hook up with men before my transition. That is, I believe, mostly due to gender issues- I didn't want to hook up with a guy who thought I was a girl, because I couldn't handle it mentally, or could I handle being intimate with a masculine body before I'd changed my own body...the disparity would've freaked me out.

So. Coming back to my original topic. There are a lot of reasons that Rochelle and I have a queer relationship. Her queer identity is just as complex as mine, and it all adds up to us not being straight, but often being perceived as straight, and how to deal with that.

It's uncomfortable sometimes because we often get (appropriately) read as queer individually, which means that we get looks from people thinking "Why is that dyke holding hands with that fag?"

And just as there's an uncomfortable omission of queerness when the straight world takes us at their own face value, I am hesitant sometimes to say the words "my girlfriend" when I'm talking to other gay people because I don't want my queerness to fall away from me. This is especially problematic when gay dudes are hitting on me. The most forthright thing to do would be to work the words "my girlfriend" into the conversation, right? But this is complicated by the fact that I am still new to being welcomed into the queer guy club, and I like being there, and I don't want them to step back and start assuming that I'm straight. I don't want to be kicked out of the club! I'll say "my partner" sometimes because it feels less straight.

Going to her world is going to be an adventure in masquerading in straightness (not least because she's from the South!), and I know we'll be talking about how to handle it without feeling like we're invisible, or making any molehill mountains. I know it's not necessary to defend our queerness to the entire world- enough of this is about our sex life and our romantic relationships and our personal identities that it doesn't need to come up all the time. But hey, the personal is political, too, and there's a raft of heterosexist baggage that I don't want to be carrying around all the time.

I don't want my trans body to become the battleground for any ideological skirmishes, though. We're not straight because we're both queer. And I'm queer in (small!) part because I'm trans. but that doesn't mean that we're not straight because I'm trans.
But I don't want my

1 comment:

hittme said...

hey you - happy holidays! i've got your slides still, and will be sending pictures soon. . . hope you're doing well! i miss so much lately, especially sunday bowling.