Somewhere around 2005, when I was still running SLAMBoston, we did a lesbian play I wrote, and I had the privilege of really learning minority politics. I was in the play, and the woman playing my girlfriend–African-American, straight–asked me a question about lesbian relationships. And then she listened. I mean, really listened. She nodded a little, but didn’t say anything.
I kind of didn’t know what to do. So I asked her what she thought.
And she said, “I was taught that when someone in an oppressed group told me about their experience, I should just shut up and listen. And give them respect.”
I had, of course, heard this, tried to practice this, but I’d never received it before that moment. Someone curious enough to ask what it’s really like to be gay? Someone respectful enough to just listen?
And this woman had had a tough life. But she didn’t compare, didn’t compete for who had experienced the worst prejudice. She just listened.
I’m on a Facebook diet because no one’s listening. I’m super activated and pissed and very amygdala every time I get on the thing–and it sure seems like everyone else is, too. It’s an election year. No one is listening.
I’ve hypothesized, to myself (because no one’s listening), that a presidential election pushes every survival button we have. It’s all worst case scenario, all the time. Like, if Trump gets elected, will me and mine survive? Will racism and fascism dominate our country? If Rubio overturns gay marriage somehow, will I end up in a camp? If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, will the possibility of getting big money out of politics end up as dead as it has every time it’s come up before? If Bernie wins, will his ideals fall by the way side? Will my hope last? Can the earth itself be healed? Will we lose our privilege? Will the distribution of wealth keep going the way its going? Will me and mine SURVIVE?
So we scream at each other on Facebook. I’ve tried, in the first days of my FB diet, to put up humor, and people criticized and tried to suggest edits to my posts, basically turning fun into their opinions of my underlying politics, which they had, by the way, misinterpreted. Seriously? I find this so offensive and over the line. I understand they didn’t get the joke, but suggesting that I not speak? I have to say that I’ve unfriended, unfollowed, and basically been on the verge of a FB temper tantrum. Ohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..
I want to return to the listening that I was taught by my colleague in 2005.
I believe that if I am not a peaceful person, I cannot do worthwhile work for peace.
I’m only a pseudo Buddhist Queer Hothead, but it’s enough to make me stop and say…all this arguing? It does not a peaceful soul make.
Not even a Queer Hothead peaceful soul.
I have surrendered my long resentment of Hillary Clinton. I will not vote for her, but she’s become just another struggling human to me, and that’s a good thing.
The problem is, I seem to have replaced that resentment with about five others for people who comment on Facebook in ways I don’t like.
I definitely need to sit and meditate.
In one of my last posts, I threatened to step back and just meditate for the next 8 or so months. It was a joke, but I’m thinking it’s a good idea. I will sit…with my resentments and hurt feelings, with my loneliness and irritation, with my fears and feelings of being disrespected, with the difficulty of relating in this new world…a world in which because gay marriage is legal, straight people assume they know what gay people are like. They feel free to comment on gay issues and gay politics, to interrupt gay people and tell them what their experience is or should be.
No one has asked me, since 2005, what it’s like to be queer. And me.
I’m sitting with that. It may be the hardest thing with which to sit. For anyone listening, watching my closeted lesbian mother lose the only person she ever really loved to the homophobia of a Catholic community, and then being sexually harassed and bashed myself for being lesbian, being told my writing was too gay by agents and editors, having my car vandalized (they scraped the word FAG over my diversity sticker), has not all been erased by the passage of gay marriage. Helped, yes, but I recognize that the attitude that we’re all so liberal we don’t have to talk about homophobia is, guess what? Homophobia.
Of course, it’s never, at least in my lifetime, been an easy world. It’s all just sitting with one thing or another, sinking down, down, down, to the cornerstone of just being, which is Light.
I don’t want to have a big temper tantrum on Facebook. No matter how deeply I care about this election–and I do care, and of course I’ll vote my conscience, and I’ll continue to give money and work–I have to sit, first, last, always.
I do want to be heard, to tell my story, to heal what hurts in me and whoever else I can touch, but…
I can’t work for peace if I don’t know what it is.
Facebook diet. Ohhhhmmmmm.
There’s peace in here somewhere.
I have absolute faith in that.
We are all capable of being kind.
So I will sit. To be peace. To find kindness. To not have temper tantrums…or at least not ones that I really mean.