The Gender Thing

As I watched the Oscars…and how could I not watch, wondering how many people would include the new administration in their speeches?…and as I listened to the creators of Moonlight talk about representation, about the need for queer youth of color to see themselves, to know they have a place, I started thinking about straight women, and this gathering in which straight women, all white, all at least middle class, spoke to their common pool of understanding about Hillary Clinton.

Of course, it’s not my common pool, even though I understand the basic liberal thinking.

And I thought, watching the Oscars, as I thought at that gathering, that the truth is that gender non-conforming is at the heart of being queer. That’s why trans people are so radical to the binary straight. That’s what a gathering of straight people often won’t get…I’m standing here, not just different in who I love, but different, essentially, in my stance in the world and my experience of my own gender.

And think, what the straight world needs most to learn IS this non-conformity. The binary leaves men stranded on the island of “I-can-never-be-weak.” It leaves women focused on the male gaze…in ways so deep we can’t even see it ourselves.

I love being queer so much. I love how it saved me, how it set me free, in my very young loneliness, to think my own different thoughts, to struggle through to my own identity, even though it was hard, and troubled….and, of course, hurtful to face prejudice time and again. I have three sisters, and I cannot explain how much deeper the track of our mother’s and father’s lives burrowed into them.

And maybe someone would say that’s not because they’re straight. But that someone would not be me.

To be in this world unencumbered by our own conditioning…or, as the Buddhists say, to witness it, and therefore to release ourselves from its power…

Queer is a way to get there. Gratefully. We don’t just need to represent. We need to teach.




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