Rain to Rainbows

Pride 2014.

I ate frozen yogurt with gummy bears, and my day was brightly colored and cold. We cheered a truck with an 8-foot pink sign: “Queer Community, NOT Gay Capitalism.” The SDCC credit union tipped its great big blue inflated ship to fit under the traffic lights at University and Richmond.   I walked a lot, in heavy combat boots, and I drank a lot, mostly Alesmith’s Horny Devil.

In Balboa Park, I sat in a swing and twisted the chain, over and over, so I could spin in circles. So I could grope for the delight in momentum. I did so much spinning. My friends devised a high-five chain and we rotated like gears, teeth meeting or hands slapping. I remained with just one friend; the rest fell away dizzy. I could discern just his hand as the only interruption in the horizontal lines. No matter how much I spun, I could not gather enough centrifugal force to spin my malaise out of my ears. No matter where I followed my friends and which delights I encountered, I could not stop leaning on the wall that held back tears.

So much walking made my feet blister. Mostly, I focused on not complaining about my feet hurting. Maybe my face was full of pain. Are you okay, Sami? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” When we got back to our friend’s house, I snuck away to the courtyard by myself and put my forehead down on a table.

I cried slow tears into my hands. Neighbors interrupted me. “I’m just sad.” Who broke your heart? “I’m just sad.” My friends found me. Are you okay, Sami? “I’ve been better.” Do you want to talk about it? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I started really sobbing. Do you want to go lie down? “Yes.” So I was taken to a bed and spooned.  I sobbed, and I said, “I don’t want to be this person right now.”

Pride 2015.

I grinned and gripped my friend’s torso as I ducked in closer under our shared umbrella. The rain was warm, like the air. I walked a lot, in borrowed galoshes over thick fuzzy socks, and I drank a lot, mostly mimosas and tequila. We watched the Bears San Diego truck drive past. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in full-face makeup, seemed unfazed by the wet weather. When thunder boomed, the crowd screamed in fright and excitement.

It always mattered to me, to be granted the symbol by my society that is marriage equality. Yet it did not land heavy on my shoulders like the honor of a sacred mantle — no it burst with scattered feathers to the big sky. I had been living in unwilling rebellion, a part of me deemed “illegal” by my country, like I were a fugitive. Now, I feel weightless, and I know that this July, San Diego has seen its biggest summer rainbow.

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Why do Straight People Pretend to Be Gay?

First of all…. WHOAHHHH GUYS!! I AM LEGAL NOW!!! I JUST WANT TO YELL THIS AT EVERYONE I SEE!  I AM SO HAPPY AAAAAAAAHHHH RAINBOWS POURING OUT OF MY EYES LIKE TEARS.
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Anyway.

Now, I don’t mean straight men and women are committing to a daily lived performance of “being gay” in the way that I survived my own closet for countless years (and sometimes re-enter in certain professional and public contexts). I’ve never met a real-life “Lisa” (of the L Word) and anytime a man has told me he’s “actually a lesbian” I know he’s not confessing that he’s trans and he’s definitely being annoying.

Instead, I see straight men and women momentarily pretending to be gay, often on Facebook. Sometimes it’s a one-time comment in the context of an argument or a joke, other times it’s as elaborate as a fake relationship, maintained for several days or even months. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of responses by my straight “allies” to the Supreme Court marriage equality decision that are more or less, “Now I need to find someone to get gay married!!”

Photo courtesy of Katie Seibert

Photo courtesy of Katie Seibert

I didn’t know right away how I felt about this, but I knew something was wrong. First of all, these folks are making the distinction by calling it “gay marriage” so I’m not sure they’re imagining something significantly different than just “marriage” — maybe something with extra rainbows — but that much is immediately off-putting. So is the idea that “gay marriage” is something you just off-and do on a whim and not a right that was hard won after years of violence and oppression.

My friends and loved ones who attended SF Pride this year are reporting the sense that there were a lot more straight people in attendance than years prior. An article about this is unsettling in its flippant headline, When, Exactly, Did Pride Become A Party For Straight Teens?, despite touching on the recent and possibly related violence. That’s right, shots were fired at SF Pride.

So, I find myself wondering with increasing urgency why exactly do straight people pretend to be gay and how exactly should I respond to that?

With no initial judgement either way, I present the cases I most often see:

  1. Because women are objectified as sexual objects, lesbians are seen as less threatening and often sexually desirable to straight men. Some straight women borrow this objectification and perpetuate fake encounters or even entire relationships in order to enjoy the attention and to feel desirable. Because they are straight, however, they maintain control over this interaction, unlike me — I can’t choose to retreat from this objectification and it permeates my life.
  2. Some straight women may or may not do the above while also perpetuating a loving “advanced” friendship, calling a woman “wifey,” and elevating a particular best friend. These women may also or merely be enjoying the intimate and affectionate closeness possible between two women that is less possible between men due to male homophobia, without trying to overtly attract men. They may be filling a void due to inability to find the relationship with a man they desire, or they may actually be avoiding relationships with men by appearing “taken.” It can be a placeholder or a replacement for romantic relationships. Facebook posts might avoid any sexual implications, but there is certainly enough PDA in the form of “loving” wall messages to suggest there are external social motivations.
  3. Straight men and straight women will momentarily pretend to be gay in the context of a joke. If it’s supposed to be funny because it’s so improbable, I’m not amused. If it’s supposed to be funny because two people of the same gender have an uncommonly close friendship and love each other a lot, I might think it’s cute, or I might think it’s shitty for people to think it’s not normal to love your friends. Daniel Tosh is funny because he might actually be gay or bi, but he’s toying with the fact that it is not actually any of our business and we may never know.
  4. Straight men and straight women will momentarily pretend to be gay in the context of an argument. If my dad was dealing with a bigot he might feel like pretending to be gay to personalize the argument and hope to make the bigot feel like an asshole. He feels an enormous amount of pride for me as a human being, but he also enjoys laughing in the face of people who think their “ideological” arguments are so important but can’t do more than sputter when it comes to actually applying these arguments to me, a real (and adorable) person. Straight men and straight women leverage their relative safety in order to “borrow” a gay perspective in arguments and force their opponents to recognize their targets as people.
  5. Straight celebrities will pretend to be gay for notoriety and attention (Tosh not excluded). Writers will pretend their characters are gay for the same reason. It’s called queerbaiting and we hate to love it and love to hate it. Seriously though, Hollywood, can you just put homoerotic tension in everything (or how about just homoerotic)?

…You might have picked up my preference for the even numbers in this list.

I can’t say definitively that it’s never appropriate to “pretend” to be gay. Sometimes it even seems to help push along the conversation. I only caution my friends who are used to making the “I need to get gay married” joke (and any similar faux-homage, or should I say homoge?) to reconsider making it in the upcoming months. There is already a dangerous and hateful backlash to the Supreme Court decision and it will probably continue to worsen. It is hurtful for anyone not affected to make light of something that is so serious for the people who are affected. Even if we don’t want to get married, there is something legitimizing about knowing we are recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. Most of the time, I feel ready to dare anyone to defy me because I can tell them love has won.

But sometimes I feel less safe in my “acceptance,” because I see so-called-allies using this acceptance to entitle themselves. I see a guy at Brass Rail last night videotaping a female go-go dancer on his phone, and returning to videotape her even after another patron told him to stop, and resisting my efforts to also make him stop. Someone I care about sees a straight guy actually fucking ask where he could “see some boobies” at her pride parade in SF last weekend. I see straight men lurking at gay clubs for the straight women who have always tried to find a safe place to party (and have been welcome for years), straight men waiting for the end of the night when women are drunk and tired and trying to get home. I see people who earlier this month insisted calling Caitlyn Jenner “Bruce” now “celebrating” this “LGBT” victory. And then I have to see straight people on Facebook with a rainbow filter say they’re going to get “gay married.”

Forgive me if I don’t think that’s hilarious.

Why does a party lifestyle blog need feminism?

Why does a lesbian need feminism? Why does a lesbian going out to a gay bar during San Diego Pride week need feminism? I mean, I’m categorically sexually disinterested in men, I’m in an environment which should not have friction or competitiveness or predation between women and men, and this week is, in theory at least, all about solidarity in our minority status as LGBTers. So you’d think I could take off my feminist hat and just enjoy my Adios, right?

Actually, my interactions went fairly well last night. The only example I can truthfully give is that a friend-of-a-friend started to tell a story and stopped at the word bitches, “Sorry, I always say that word. Anyway these bitches…” So, at least he was aware. Fuck though, I hear the most misogynistic crap come out of the mouths of gay men.

Part of me wants to give them a break. If the world has been trying to force-feed you women on a platter like they’re juicy delicious burgers (every Carl’s Jr ad, ever) and you finally want to express your right to want something different in life by proclaiming, “ewwww vaginas,” who can blame you, right?

I’m full of empathy until gay men I’ve barely met spin me around like I’m a little doll (ok, sometimes I like that because my shoes are awesome — but it doesn’t matter if I like it; he should get my permission first) or whistle at me in a drive by or slap my butt or (and, of course this happened) touch my crotch. They basically do this because there’s some sort of agreement between gay men and straight women that she can treat him like a little pet –hashtag gaybestfriend!! — in exchange for a boost in confidence from his (male) approval, and he can…well I’m not sure what he gets out of the arrangement but I’ll have to talk to my gay male friends and get back to you. Perhaps the social mobility through her straight world? Anyway, whatever the deal is, I think it’s a weird and kind of fucked up relationship. And it certainly doesn’t work for me when I’m assumed straight and so desperate for validation from a man that I will accept it gladly from one who isn’t even sexually attracted to me. More willingly, even, because I’m not expected to “pay out” for the favor.

Even when I attempt to retreat from the pressures of the straight world — when I try to go somewhere where I’m not going to be bombarded with cheesy pick-up lines or creepy staring — even at a gay bar, my interactions are still colored by the gender roles which filter and mutate into my environment. Sure, I’ll be able to relate with a gay man on many points about our shared queer space. But there are still going to be moments here and there where his viewpoint as a man means he’s going to trample over me. I will grant a few jabs because of my femme privilege — in that I blend into the straight world so easily and by choice of appearance or whatever he might not. But, I think there is a point where a negative attitude against women goes beyond the objection to the oppressive straight culture and into just mirroring sexism from that same culture. There are moments where I am made the object of a joke, or I have to witness a drag performance which is overly mocking of women rather than gender roles in general, or I’m actually molested, or I see other women treated this way. These things remind me of why we need feminism.

Just because it is to a lesser extent does not mean it should be ignored. Party environments can of course amplify misogyny — hello booze and hook-up culture. But environments which are expected to be safe can still host some of my most uncomfortable moments. Even a party thrown by a particularly enlightened bunch of hippies. Not every moment is going to be puppies and rainbows, but as long as the risks are so dire (rape, violence against women) I’d like to not be reminded of them. Not when I’m trying to get drunk on blue liquor, especially.

And that’s just the gay bar. Like I hinted at before, booze and hook-up culture makes for some pretty desperate maneuvers (and upsetting behaviors) at any party. All I really need to say is I live in a world where telling a man that I’m a lesbian does not turn him away; it turns him on.

There is no escape from the restrictive narratives which police gender. There is no escape from the entitlement that many men feel they have in regards to women’s bodies. Not even parties, and especially not parties in a lot of ways. People are trying to get drunk and fuck, after all. So long as I am surrounded by people who are trying to have sex with each other, and our larger cultural example of how to negotiate around sex and gender is so broken, I am going to be a witness, collateral damage, and/or a target of sexism. And I’d like to help fix that. So I can drink in peace.

FOMO NO MO’ (How to Cope with a Fear Of Missing Out)

So the strep and its zombie cousin stole 4 weeks of my summer.

I MISSED PRIDE.

I had some serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) anxiety that could only be staunched with coping strategies of questionable healthiness. Please benefit from my guide and learn how to conquer your FOMO.

FOMO Coping Strategy #1 — Disparage their fun!

pride-freebie-trash-rainbow-flagNope to the festival, I’m not going to pay to let people hock their merch at me, even if their merch has little plastic rainbow flags stuck in it. Last year I did get free stuff. Free TRASH stuff. The only thing I even wanted to see this year was the parade, but ew parking and ew getting up early and ew the sun.

Nightlife? Who wants to pay $20 for a block party that ends at 11?? And how much did Rich’s charge for cover? I heard Brass got up to $30.  You know what, people said it wasn’t as fun as last year (even though it only was the most historical year of Pride in my life as an adult so far…) But like three people said it wasn’t as fun.

FOMO Coping Strategy #2 — Your alternate plans are so much cooler/mature/subversive

wine-F-1-locations-if-you-see-kay-menage-a-trois-recordsYes, I had to stay in, and yes for my health I didn’t want to drink. But wine is just juice. I can have juice. I also invited over a couple of attractive people. Attractive people who recently went through antibiotic regimens like me! We covered the floor with records: Steely Dan, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Undertones, Elvis Costello. Our tastes are so sophisticated. And we got all artistic with some body painting. And we went night swimming. (Because swimming in a pool at night when you are sniffling and coughing is sound decision-making. Thanks, wine juice.)

FOMO Coping Strategy #3 — Escapism

minecraft-custom-skin-princess-village-pigsI’m not into minecraft anymore; I’ve just played too much of it and you can only put so many low resolution cubes in your castle before… Oh, heyyyyy there, Minecraft. On a new server. With my brother.  You build the farm. I’m going to go chop some wood. Let’s put the mine shaft outside the main house instead of underneath it, this time. Holy what happened to 4 hours?

FOMO Coping Strategy #4 — That-fun-thing-you’re-missing actually would have killed you. Obviously.

chloraseptic-cough-drops-meds-sick-sinus-robitussinWe all know that the Zombie Strep is activated by heat and debauchery and I’m sooo glad not to spend a boatload of money to 1) get sunburned at the parade and 2) get drunk in a pit of attractive queer women who want to make out with me. Do you realize how many strains of new and exotic viruses are flying in from around the country, world even?  No thank you, spawn of swine flu.

FOMO Coping Strategy #5 — You are going to have way more fun! IN THE FUTURE. It will just blow away all the fun you used to think was so important, haha, silly you

pspride-palm-springs-pride-laptop-sunglassesOther cities have pride, and on weekends that don’t coincide with the nastiest string of sicknesses I’ve had since I was too fever-delusional to watch anything with more emotional intensity than South Park. Palm Springs Pride, woo here I come! Palm trees! Warm weather! Drinking! Everything I would have got in San Diego but not in San Diego……..Oh, heck yes, Palm Springs night…life…?

Anyway.

How are y’all nerds coping with your SD Comic Con FOMO? I’m using my family reunion as an excuse to dip town, as well as strident self-affirmations that I don’t care about Comic Con because I suck at geekitude anyway and it’s not like all my friends are going (all my friends are going).


Unrelated Life Update

lookin-sultry-in-the-sun-balboa-pink-sunglassesHey you. I’m going to do Novel November. Exciting! By the end of that month, I’ll crank out a swanky first draft of a book I’ve been prepping since last year. I’m sort of anti-procrastinating by doing some of the legwork right now. Feels like I’m breaking the rules. I love breaking rules.

One of the most important steps to successful novel-ing is developing your “Elevator Speech,” which starts with an intro/summary that you can say in one breath. To some schmuck in an elevator. Who you found out is a publisher/agent/millionaire/popular-kid. And you need them to like you. And you have 1 minute of juicy trapped-together-in-elevator time. Go.

Through conversations with her father, a daughter discovers the ghost of her dead brother inside her childhood alter ego as an alien princess.

Maybe sort of interesting, ya? Let me clarify. I’m writing a book that is a true story. Nonfiction. About me.

Through conversations with my father, I discover the ghost of my dead brother inside my childhood alter ego as an alien princess.

So, it is really important that I get honest reactions to these scripts. Please respond privately in the box below, or with your real face on the facebooks.

Your reaction can be one word. Even if you just type “WTF?” into the box, it will give me some idea of how the world feels about my story.  Be as critical as you want. I haven’t even started writing the book yet. Maybe I’ll write a book about belly button lint instead. Anything can happen at this point.

Thank y’all <3