Tag Archives: homosexual

Wristbands, really?

I’m just a little flabbergasted.  Apparently we need to brand single people now so you know they’re single (like how you totally know someone is unavailable if they wear a ring their left ring finger).

There are two major problems I see with this concept:
(1) Despite Facebook’s insistence that you’re either are, were or wish to be married, there’s actually a lot more nuance to relationship statuses, even if you’re single.  I mean, heck, at the moment I’m “single but seeing someone,” what color wristband would that be?
(2) It’s downright degrading!

Jezebel’s coverage of the issue is actually pretty thorough, and I appreciate the seething sarcasm.  They certainly cover the problem of nuance, “seven colors cannot possibly contain the multitudes of relationship statuses within singleness.” True story.

Perhaps the creation of these isn’t as insidious as I suspect… Creator Rob says: ‘Whilst working at my previous office of 3,500 people, I realised that I saw hundreds of people each day that could potentially be a suitable partner, yet there was no way of knowing their relationship status.’  Then again, maybe it is.

Really, Rob? NO WAY of knowing? So it’s safe to assume you cut out your tongue to win a bet and that’s why you can’t simply TALK to people to find out what their deal is? REALLY? I mean, it’s not even hard nowadays: you can talk, text, skype, chat, tweet, post, like, etc. etc. The ways we communicate keep expanding, but you need a special colored wristband to know who’s single so, HEAVEN FORBID, you don’t accidentally have a conversation with someone who’s romantically unavailable but may, nevertheless, make a great friend? I call shenanigans.

I really do find this degrading.  Maybe that seems a little out of proportion.  Granted, it’s hardly the same as the pink triangle, and it’s still a form of branding.  Branding a person to reduce them to a single characteristic and separate them accordingly.

Not only is it degrading because it reduces me to my status as “single” and nothing else, but it also springboards off the assumption that there’s simply no way I would willingly choose to be single.

“The new MY Single Band bracelet aims to take some of the complication out of looking for love, enabling singletons to easily spot each other.” 

Clearly, I am a “singleton” against my will, but thanks to this nifty colored wristbands (that happen to look exactly like the colored wristbands people wear for causes or those “shag bands” kids were into for a minute) will solve all my problems!  All I need to do is find someone wearing the right color wristband– no need to waste time talking or getting to know people!

Sinceriously– it’s degrading.  And they absolutely reinforce the idea of there being ONE TRUE LOVE out there, waiting for you with baited breath.  “The silicone wristbands are embossed with the words fate, destiny and future.”  I think I might gag.  If “fate” and “destiny” were REALLY at play here, then why would you need a stupid silicone wristband to find each other???

This idea does vaguely remind me of a quirky film I saw on Netflix called “TiMER.”  The concept is that science knows who your soulmate is and you can get a timer installed in your wrist which will tell you when you’re going to meet them!  It’s an interesting idea, and despite my general cynicism I actually adored this movie.  Why? I thought it did a fabulous job of challenging the traditional narrative about how you’re supposed to fall in love and raises some interesting questions.  In a world where you can know who your soulmate is, does dating have a purpose? What if you meet someone you like, but know they’re not your soulmate per the timer?  What if you meet someone you like and they don’t HAVE a timer?  Ultimately, the point I took home is that there isn’t a right way to love.  There’s just love.

So, in response to disgusting wristbands: No thanks, I’d rather continue having meaningful conversations and getting to know people without being focused on their relationship status.  Cool?

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End Game

Thanks to prolonged peer pressure from some of my coworkers, I finally caved in and watched Orange is the New Black, which I highly recommend.  For those who are unfamiliar, the show is based on the memoir of Piper Kerman about her time in a women’s prison.  The show itself is rife with prison and lesbian drama and while I certainly wouldn’t call it a comedy, it has it’s lighter moments.

Towards the end of season one, Piper asks her on-again-off-again lover what exactly the “end game” of their relationship is.  That is, are they going to move to Vermont and have a baby, or will they hop around the globe from one fabulous party to another, free-falling through life? These are but two lesbian stereotypes in an ocean of possibility, of course, but the point is clear: Most of us date because we’re in search of a particular end game.  And, for many of us, that looks like monogamous marriage with kids and, yes, a white picket fence.

I’m not knocking marriage or monogamy, but I don’t know what the rush is to get to the end of the game.   I mean, the world we live in is such that many people live into their 80s, 90s and beyond– so why the rush to pop out a kid by 25? Why the need to plan your wedding when you’re not even engaged? Why the insistence on labeling a relationship (and the associated expectations) so quickly? What ever happened to living in the moment?

I reconnected with someone a few weeks ago who’s company I’ve been thoroughly enjoying.  I guess it would be fair to say we’ve been enjoying each other.  It’s rare, at least in my experience, to find someone you’re just comfortable being with– where silences are just silences without the awkward, where looking at one another is endlessly engaging, where you’re free to be yourself, whatever that looks like.  But that’s how it’s been with us.  We sincerely like each other, we enjoy spending time together, and beyond that their are no expectations.

I think it’s kind of perfect, actually.  I love adding interesting and passionate people to my life, so why not do so without worrying about labels?  Why not enjoy the company of those around you without concerning yourself with where you’ll all be in ten years?  Not everyone sees it that way, though.

One of my closest friends is getting married next Spring, and unlike me she’s all about the wedding planning.  But she’s also all about monogamous marriage and sincerely doesn’t seem to understand that I am not worried about the long-term right now.  My last relationship was all about the long-term, empty promises and sweet nothings.  I don’t want any more of that… but the idea that maybe I changed my mind, that maybe I was wrong about what I wanted (a long-term committed relationship, for example) and just want to have fun in the NOW is very foreign to my soon-to-be-bride friend.

To use an analogy, our conversations feel like this lately:

Me: Oh wow! Look at this delicious cake! I’m so going to eat this cake! 
Friend: NO! Don’t eat the cake! You might get diabetes in 10 years! 
Me: Yeah, but, I want cake right now and right now I don’t have diabetes. 
Friend: But you have to plan for your future! 
Me: … *shoves cake in her mouth* 

I know she’s concerned that I might get hurt (that’s a risk you take when you put your heart in anything, I’m prepared for the consequences), and that she’s concerned because she cares about me but… it almost feels like concern trolling.  Even worse, it feels like she’s condescending to me.  I tell her about how happy I am and she says things like, “That’s so nice” as though what I’m doing is some kind of quaint placeholder until I wise up and go on a husband (wife?) hunt.

But what I’ve realized is that I don’t need to hunt– I don’t need another person to complete me or make my life work, and my life is full of dear friends who love me very much.  While sometimes it’s hard to separate the peer pressure (thanks, Facebook) from my actual wants and desires, I’m finally starting to accept that maybe I don’t want what most people seem to want, and maybe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, I have a lot of love to give, who says I need to give it all in the same place?

I came across this comment on an article recently and it really resonated with me: “As mentioned above, I’m older. I do NOT want to get married or have kids. The best relationships that I’ve ever had consisted of sex and dinner a few times a week, peppered with intense conversations and some social outings as a couple. I’m fairly self-sufficient, and don’t really WANT someone who is too deeply ingrained in my daily routine. I’ve been accused of everything from being a heartless bitch to a total evil slutsicle for articulating this.”

Well, I’m “younger” by many standards, but otherwise I feel very similar.  I don’t want to get married, and while I do want kids someday, that’s something I’m really not going to start thinking about for at least 5 more years.  I love having my own place and I don’t want to move in with anyone or infuse myself into their daily routine.  But I do want fun and great sex and intense conversations with someone with whom I share a sincere connection… yeah, I guess that does make us sluts, Internet Sister.   At least by the standards of the penis-barers.   (This is one of many reasons why I only sleep with feminists, no joke.)

Suddenly, English is failing me yet again.  How does one even refer to the types of connections I’m talking about?  The rhetoric we have surrounding dating and relationships reinforces the idea that the end game is, should and shall always be marriage, kids, house, dog, fence, etc.   If you’re “dating,” it’s for the hope that you’ll turn out to be great life partners and decide to get married.   I could effectively say I’m dating right now, since I’m going out on dates and having fun, but my end goal isn’t a long-term relationship and that’s the expectation with “dating.”  It’s a kind of courtship, at least it’s assumed to be.  So how do I say I’m non-exclusively dating and not looking for a spouse?  What a mouthful.   No wonder I’m a quirkyalone.

My friend says, “I’m just concerned that there is potential for you to fall madly in love with someone who won’t give you everything you want in life.” and I can’t help but laugh out loud.  Is this a common sentiment– that we’re supposed to get “everything we want in life” from ONE person– one person who isn’t even ourselves?  It’s just so ludicrous, I have to laugh.  If I’ve learned anything from my last relationship, it’s that making yourself happy is crucial and it’s nobody else’s responsibility but your own.  When we depend solely on others to make us happy or “give us what we want,” we’re not only setting ourselves up for failure, we’re being outright unfair.   I don’t know any psychics  so I’ve always found it good practice to ask for the things you want or need from others, rather than waiting for them to figure it out and pout passively in the meantime.  But I’m single and unmarried– what could I possible know about relationships?

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Recalibration

I wonder if this is what Peter Parker feels like when he goes home to MJ and finally takes off his mask.  

After a sincere, year-long attempt at a relationship, I’m actually pleased to be returning to single life.  Breakups always suck, and this one is hardly an exception, but singledom feels so natural to me– truly being the master of my own life, my schedule, my activities and, perhaps most importantly, with whom I spend my time.

I’ve never understood how some of my friends could hop quickly from one relationship to the next with barely any time in between to find themselves again.  I always find myself needing more alone time than usual after a breakup, time I often refer to as “recalibration.”  It’s not only that you need to figure out who you are independent of the relationship, but you need to figure out who you are after the relationship.  Every relationship we have, no matter how short, changes us.  Some teach us what not to do, some inspire us, but either way we are changed, even if in only subtle ways.  

I’ve learned a lot of what not to do this time around, but I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself, and that, being the “free spirit” I am, maybe the standard courtship mold doesn’t work for me.  After all, I really love living on my own, I don’t know that I want to move in with someone else, get married and start a family.  Maybe down the road, but right now I want to just meet interesting people and have great connections.  I don’t need a marriage end game, even though it’s a lot less illegal for me now.  (Bye, bye DOMA!) 

Anyhow, it’s good to be back.  I’ve missed blogging a lot, and I felt so out of place not being my single self, even though it was nice to feel a little bit “normal” for a hot minute.  And I can’t forget the love I’ve shared, even though things were hardly perfect most of the time.  I try to hold on to the good and let the rest fall away, but it takes time. 

Cheers to Single Life! 

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Eight Things I Don’t Need To Hear From Straight People

Fabulous video! “Dear Straight Allies– Thank you! More please.”

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Dear Straight People…

I’ve been over my slam poetry phase for a while (I still think it’s a wonderful endeavor for budding poets), but this was too good NOT to share.  Enjoy!

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Some dykes are fat, so what?

Oh boy, did my hairy-lesbian-HULK ever come out to SMASH today.  

Today, I happened across an article about a study the National Institutes of Health is funding.  Brace yourself.  They want to find out why lesbians are fat.  And no, sadly, I did not read this on The Onion.  In fact, they want to find out why lesbians are fat so badly that they’re funding this study to the tune of $1.5 million dollars.  Let me repeat that– ONE POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS TO FIND OUT WHY SOME LEZZIES ARE FAT.  Holy Crap, and we wonder why the country is broke?? 

What gets me about this is that you don’t need a freakin’ study to answer this question.  You merely need a survey.  Especially since they also want to know why gay men, compared to straight men, are less obese.  Really now.  An hour alone with a dyke and twink and you’d have all your queer mysteries solved.  But, no.  Let’s spend $1.5 million and treat LGBTQ peoples like lab rats instead of, oh, I don’t know, just asking them why they don’t feel a need to conform to the same beauty standards as heterosexuals.  That makes so much more sense. 

But don’t fret, dear readers, Jade is here to clear things up.  Let’s start with the gay men.  I am actually REALLY glad I’m not a gay man– the beauty standards in the twink community are even stricter than they are for women in general.  You have to be lean, hairless, tall, fair-skinned… Hmm, ironically (or intentionally?) this sounds an awful lot like the beauty standards women in Western society have hoisted upon them daily. Gay men are expected to work out, obsessively, and spend the same kind of time and financial investment on their appearance as heterosexual women.  Yikes!  The only way to really escape this as a gay man is to be a “bear.”  Bears are big, hairy guys (and often leather men, but not necessarily) who love other big, hairy guys.  Bears make me laugh out loud at the idea that gay men must all be effeminate– can you think of anything more masculine than two big, burly guys? This image jumps to mind. 

Long story short, gay men are generally less overweight than straight men because straight men are rarely held up to any kind of beauty standard, while gay men are (by other gay men).  I guess that’s where the similarity between female beauty standards comes in– both are enforced by men, either gay (for other gay men) or straight (for women).  But gay women don’t seem to hold other gay women up to the same strict beauty standards as men do.  I’m generalizing, of course, and the media certainly has a VERY narrow view of what a lesbian looks like.  It’s actually only different from the narrow view of women already depicted by the media in that they’re sometimes a tiny bit butch (by which I mean they’re wearing pants or maybe a vest).  Maybe.  But lipstick lesbians are much more likely to show up in media depictions of lesbians because the media is targeted towards heterosexual males and what heterosexual males find attractive is not the same thing dykes find attractive.  It’s why we don’t fuck each other. 

So moving on to why a higher percentage of gay women are overweight than in the general population of women.  If you dare to read the comments in the article I linked to (and I wouldn’t suggest it, unless you really love trolls), you’ll find we already have a number of mindbogglingly ignorant theories.  Here are my top three: 

  • Women aren’t fat because they’re lesbians, they’re lesbians because they’re fat! 
  • All lesbians have been raped or sexually abused in some way, and like all survivors, they bury their emotions in food in order to create a “fat shield” around them to repel men. 
  • We don’t care what men think of us, or we don’t want men to look at us, so we get fat on purpose.  

An honorable mention goes to “Because they eat out all the time!” which, while I’m sure was written with malicious intent, I chuckled at.  

So let’s dissect this.  First, the idea that women “turn” lesbian because they’re fat and can’t land a man.  It goes without saying that this is utterly absurd.  For one, you don’t “turn” gay, you’re either queer (gay, lesbian, bi, etc.) or not from the day you’re born.  The only choice involved is whether to embrace your sexuality or deny it.  Though, I suppose to someone forced into a sexless lifestyle due to being a raging douchecanoe, the idea of “turning” to a particular sexual orientation might make sense.  Secondly, there are plenty of men out there who not just tolerate larger women, but actually love and prefer larger women.  Don’t believe me? Check out the Museum of Fat Love

Point two: All lesbians have been sexually abused and that’s both why they’re gay and why they’re fat.  It really pains me that I have to explain this, but here goes: 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in her lifetime.  All lesbians are women.  Therefore, it logically follows that at least 1 in 3 lesbians has been sexually abused. FUCKING DUH.  Furthermore, lesbians are far more likely to be assaulted because of their sexuality than straight women.  Hate crimes, anyone?

That aside, the asshats who keep bringing this up are using ancedotal evidence: “Every lesbian I know has been sexual abused.”  And how many lesbians do you know? One, two? Are you just assuming they’re gay?  Well, guess what, I’ve got ancedotal evidence too.  Personally, I’ve seen absolutely NO correlation between abuse, size and orientation, let alone evidence of causation. I have both heavy and thin friends who have been raped but are straight; I have dated both heavy and thin lesbians who haven’t been raped; and me? Well, I’ve been sexually abused by both men and women and am still, historically speaking, attracted to both. But, you know, since I’m not a man, my experience apparently means nothing.  Also, the idea that all survivors react to their abuse in the same way is deeply insulting.  But that’s another post. 

Lastly, lesbians don’t care what men think and therefore let themselves go.  You know, this one is actually in the same universe as the real answer, so thank goodness for small favors.  It’s true, lesbians DON’T care what men think.  That’s why they’re LESBIANS.  But that we “let ourselves go” because of that? Missing the mark.  

You ready for the real answer? Why are more lesbians fat than straight women? It’s REALLY simple: We’re already othered.  Think about it, it’s similar to why more queers are kinky– we’ve already gone so far as to question our heterosexuality, why not question your vanilla-ness too?  In this case, it’s a matter of already being othered because of your sexual orientation, so why are you going to adhere to a beauty standard enforced by the mainstream when you’ve already been ousted by the mainstream? Lesbians and gay men are going to follow a beauty standard that exists within our OWN community.  For some gay men, this happens to look fairly simliar to the mainstream beauty ideal held up for women.  

But dykes? I mean, there are certainly plenty of femmes out there who love to shave and do their hair and wear make-up.  I do not mean to exclude the femmes.  But as a butch, I can tell you that this isn’t generally expected of femmes the way it’s expected of straight women.  And body size definitely goes out the window.  (Again, there are exceptions to every rule and if you read the comment thread on that article, you’ll find some douchey lesbians trying to gain access to male privilege and approval by trashing other lesbians.)  But as a dyke, let me tell you what I’m attracted to: Natural faces (i.e. no make-up), hairy bodies (I love it when my GF doesn’t shave!), curves and cuddle-ability (I can’t fuck somebody I’m afraid I might break, and I love to cuddle), queerness (anything outside the gender binary) and an unabashed willingness to be yourself.  

Notice how NONE of that fits into the beauty standard we’re taught as young, assumed heterosexual women? And no, I don’t expect those things to be attractive to the average male.  But, NEWSFLASH, lesbians aren’t trying to attract men! A point the troglobites commenting on this article seem to be deliberately missing. 

I know, on some level, it’s silly for me to get worked up about this.  Haters are gonna hate, and my anger is exactly what they want.  I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the perfect storm of bigotry, ignorance, prejudice and hate since the trolls get to talk about women, fat and homosexuality all in one place.  I certainly have plenty of my own privilege, white and able-bodied, to name a few, but as a fat, butch, lesbian, I know there is little love for me in the world.  What I truly can’t wrap my head around, though, are comments like, “Imagine a world without fat lesbians.”  Huh? What is it to you, straight dude?  Sincerely, why in Trogdor’s name do you care about what women who will never, ever, EVER sleep with you look like, think or do? How does it impact your life? Why the hell can’t we all just mind our own business? You know, live and let live? 

Maybe I’d understand if I had a penis and the world revolved around it.  Thankfully, mine is detachable so I’m allowed to re-engage my brain afterwards.  

Moral of the story, Asshole Institutes of Health? Some dykes are fat– get over it!

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Our Job

I know what you’re thinking.  “Hey, Jade, where’s the bitter Valentine’s Day post?”  After all, what else do us singles do on V-Day beside grumble? Truth be told, I was earnestly trying to ignore Singles Awareness Day this year.  And I thought I was going to get away with it, too!  But then the sun came up.  I rolled out of bed, got myself to work and had the misfortune of witnessing this encounter:

Coworker1: “Hey, why aren’t you wearing red today?”
Coworker2: “Oooh, I don’t have a Valentine.  I’m a rejected Valentine!”
CW1: “What?? Noooo, we love you!! We all love you!!”
CW2: “No, no, it’s OK, you don’t have to cheer me up.”

This was around the time I vomited all over everyone and promptly put a stop to the conversation.  No?  OK, that didn’t happen, but I wish it had!  Because all this Valentine’s self-pity makes me nauseous.

Listen, I agree that V-Day mostly blows.  It glorifies couples (heterosexual couples, in particular) and shames single people into hiding.  It’s a dumb holiday created for profit– and as such greeting card companies, chocolate makers, florists and restaurants alike rejoice.  But if you do not own one of these establishments and you’re single, Valentine’s Day probably sucks.  Because it’s not just about “celebrating Love,” that I could get behind!  No, it’s about flaunting your coupled privilege if you have it. (Which is pretty rich considering how we constantly talk about gay people “flaunting” their relationships with hand-holding .. Can you imagine what hell would break loose if we behaved like straight couples do on V-Day? Kissing– in public?! Why I NEVER!)

I’m sure there are plenty of couples out there who celebrate V-Day quietly.  And for every one of them, there are pairs that have to have the BIGGEST Teddy Bear, the MOST flowers, the FANCIEST dinner and overall the most adoration poured over themselves.  In high school, I remember the popular girls would compete over who got the most flowers/gifts/admirers on Valentine’s Day.  Sadly, life after high school isn’t much different in this respect, except some of us have figured out how trivial it all is.  So you’re pretty and someone brought you flowers.  BIG DEAL.  What have you done to contribute to society besides look pretty?  No, seriously.  Looking pretty isn’t in and of itself something commendable, yet there is nothing we commend more (in women in particular).  No wonder this holiday has turned into a kind of pissing contest.  It’s all about being superior!

And the whole thing just makes me sad.  It seems like if you’re not busy feeling superior to the singles, then you’re busy throwing yourself a pity party.  JEEZEUS, Stop!  Seriously, stop competing with one another for the titles of Most and Least Loved of the Year.  Can’t we just Love? Can’t we just be grateful for the people in our lives who Love us and those whom we Love? Can’t we just see this as an opportunity to remind them that we care?

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.
-Thomas Merton

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Sad Singletons Go Hungry

Hey Singles,

Did you know we apparently can’t even cook for ourselves?  OK, maybe this article didn’t say that explicitly, but I don’t know what else to make of the title: Sad Singletons Go Hungry After 500,000 Lean Cuisines Recalled Because They Are Full of Glass.  The rest of the article doesn’t mention single people whatsoever, so why the cheap shot in the title? What the hell does this story have to do with being single? Absolutely nothing.  I’m guessing the author thinks she’s using some witty alliteration, but the title annoyed me so much it distracted from everything else about the article (like what it’s about).

Why am I “sad singleton”? Am I sad because I’m single? Or because, as a single person, I don’t know how to cook for myself and/or don’t think it’s worth cooking for just myself and eat only Lean Cuisine? Seriously? I’ve never even had a Lean Cuisine. I don’t even like typing Lean Cuisine.  Which isn’t to say I don’t indulge in junky food sometimes–I definitely do.  But if I’m going to buy something frozen and processed, let’s be real about it.  Don’t “lean” me anything.  I don’t drink “diet” soda for the same reason (also aspartame tastes terrible, but it’s mostly on principle).  I’m not being proud.  I definitely eat Hot Pockets when I’m depressed (and who doesn’t love the theme?), but not Lean Cuisine (fortunately– since apparently it is full of glass).

More to the point, though, what’s with the stereotype that single people can’t or won’t cook?  I know Ms. West didn’t invent the trope, but if anything shouldn’t single people have more time to cook? Fast food seems handy if you’re running late and you don’t have the time or energy to cook for 6 people.  So why the reverse that single people are just sad and depressed and either don’t know how to cook (many folks don’t know how to cook– but many still do, men and women alike) or won’t because, why just cook for yourself?

And I guess this is why the whole thing sticks in my craw so much.  I think this is an extremely important question, one I ask myself often– why just cook for yourself?  I have come to the conclusion that cooking for yourself is an act of radical self-love and is therefore one of the most beneficial things any person, especially a single person, can do for him/her/zirself.  I’m not saying you have to cook if you really hate it, or when you’re tired or just don’t feel like it.  I have just found that, occasionally,  the idea that it’s not worth cooking for just myself enters my mind.  It’s one thing to be genuinely tired or to eat out instead of eat in, but out of laziness or loneliness… that’s a problem.

Cooking is actually fun.  It’s part science and part art.  And thanks to the Internet, recipes are easy to find.  I like to read a bunch of difference recipes for similar dishes, and then improvise it in the moment.  Think of cooking like a kid would– like you’re a mad scientist searching for the perfect concoction!  You will fail sometimes, but those will always be the best stories… as long as you don’t burn the house down.  Don’t burn the house down.  (TIP: Always put food on a tray when you’re cooking it in the oven or toaster oven; things that drip catch fire.)  And if you’re concerned about the expense of fresh food like me, look around for local farmer’s markets and farm shares– they’re usually a great deal!

Most of us probably associate cooking with something our mothers did for the family (though I have a lot of fond memories of cooking with my Dad).  While it is essentially a domestic chore, we also consider it to be nurturing.  And why shouldn’t it be? Food is supposed to nurture our bodies.  I hate that so many of us wage war on food, or don’t have access to it, or have too much and throw it away.  I hate that we demonize calories, cause people to fear and love and loathe food at all once, this thing that is supposed to be just fuel and nutrients (and pleasure to some extent).  So why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves? We cook for our families, of course, but why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves also? Make our favorite dish, just because we can? Just because we like ourselves enough to put time and energy and imagination into something nurturing?

Sad Singletons Go Hungry? Nah, I’d rather cook.

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Normalcy

I’ve been thinking a lot about normalcy lately, and the fleeting desire for it.

Let’s get this straight (pun intended)–I’ve never felt normal.  And I’ve probably never been “normal” by anyone else’s standards either.  I’m part hardcore, bibliophile introvert, more likely to be seen with a book than a buddy, and part “Dyke Diva”– with the right genderbending attire, I’ve been known to strut and even swagger.  But none of it makes me normal, except insofar as my proclivity for emotions is just as human as anyone else’s.  But let’s face it, there is a difference between human and “normal.”  After all, we made up the latter.  Social construct–it’s all relative, yadda yadda yadda.  You know the drill.

So what IS “normal,” anyway? Is it routine? Is it commonality or majority? Or is it simply whatever is familiar? We like to talk about “normal” as though it’s some fixed, universal principal, but in reality whatever seems “normal” to us only seems that way because it is familiar to us.  What’s “normal” in the West is unlikely to be the “normal” in the East (though, globalization is quickly chipping away at that via television, business and the internet).  Leviticus, which people so love to cite to bash gays, is really just a list of normal practices for Jewish tribes back in the day.  Leviticus is the rules that separated them from outsiders.  Nowadays, though, eating dairy with your meat and getting haircuts are commonplace.  “Normal” is anything but fixed and universal.

So why worry so much about being normal?  Well, I must say friends, there is some comfort in normalcy.  There is comfort in being able to fly under the radar unmolested.  And as someone who’s spent much of her life as a painfully confused wallflower, normal seems pretty appealing. It’s the chance to not have an entire room stare at you and not having to pretend you don’t hear them talking under their breath about you.  (Though, I’ve taken to inventing my own dialogue when I hear people talking about me– “Oh Jade, she’s so cool! I’m so jealous of her cool, collected nature.”  It works better than you’d think.)

The “normal fallacy,” as it were, can be quite tempting.  Heck, I even fell prey to the assumption that I was normal during puberty.  As a queer person, I get asked about my coming out quite often.  And, frankly, it’s a little embarrassing.  When did I know I was gay? Well, it’s a bit murky.  I knew that I was attracted to women by the time I was 15, but I didn’t make the connection that said fact meant I could date women or that, heck, I might be gay, until I was 20!  Ridiculous, right? But it truly never occurred to me that (1) my attraction to women was out of the ordinary or (2) that it said anything about my sexuality.  After all, we’re all born straight! Right? Right..? Wait…

I even went so far as to date boys (rather, a boy) for nearly four years before I finally had to admit to the world that I was a raging dyke (and so many other parts of my life suddenly made sense).  I could not have been more oblivious at the time.  “Well, yeah, of course girls are sexy! Have you met my boyfriend? He’s pretty, isn’t he?”  The desire for normalcy is powerful and blind.

And so it is with relationships too.  That is, sometimes I wonder if my occasional longing for a relationship isn’t just a longing for the path more traveled.  In some ways, being a part of a couple is like getting into a special club.  You can go on double dates with other coupled friends, you get a plus one at weddings and special events, heck you have built in company for just about any event, and you can even bring your partner to a class reunion as a big middle finger to those asshats who said you’d always be alone.  Especially as you get older, others expect you to pair off, and reality becomes ever starker as your friends gradually pair off and you remain the ever-vigilant quirkyalone, who receives pitiful offers from friends to “live with me and my husband and kids someday,” as though all I ever wanted was to be a gay, glorified nanny for my straight friends.

None of this even mentions the financial or emotional benefits of being in a couple, just the social ones.  Sometimes it just seems like it would be easier to be part of a couple (which is ironic since any worthwhile relationship actually requires a lot of work and commitment!).

But there’s some trouble with normal… The Trouble with Normal… I kept  uttering this phrase to myself this morning until it hit me– I have a book with that title! (As a bibliophile, I often go on book-buying-binges when I’m depressed, and hence have a lot of books I adore, but have yet to read.)  I ran to my bookshelf and yes! There it was! The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life by Michael Warner.  I just started reading it, obviously, but I am so excited about this book.  Mr. Warner promises to present some seemingly radical ideas–like that marriage is itself unethical and there’s a principled defense for pornography–and I’m really quite giddy about the concept of dismantling sexual shame.

The culture has thousands of ways for people to govern the sex of others–and not just harmful or coercise sex, like rape, but the most personal dimensions of pleasure, identity, and practice.  We do this directly, though prohibition and regulation, and indirectly, by embracing one identity or one set of tastes as though they were universally shared, or should be.

And who says they should be?  I’ve felt like a total weirdo, sore-thumb sticking out, my whole life.  Or, almost my whole life.  Times when I didn’t feel weird? At NYC Pride.  At a drag show.  At queer dance parties.  I don’t feel like such a freak of nature when surrounded by my LGBTQ friends and allies.  In these queer safe spaces, I’m not constantly hearing about what an abomination against God I am, how I’m flaunting my sexuality just by being true to myself, or how the way I Love is “unnatural.”  And that makes all the difference.  We are what we fill our heads with– and when our heads are constantly filled with damaging messages about how we’re freaky, or weird, or flat out immoral just by being who we are… it’s easy to see why we sometimes feel like “normal” is right and we are “wrong.”  Pile this on top of all the other messages we’re bombarded with–about gender, about race, about creed, about body size and type–it’s perhaps a wonder that we aren’t all huddled in a corner in the fetal position.  There are so many qualifications to be “normal,” and none of them guarantee you happiness.  Just ask Ashley Riggitano.

Friends, I end this entry with a call to action:  Do not be satisfied with normal! Do not be satisfied with what you already see in the world (especially on television/in movies)! Go out, create, be true to yourself, be what you feel in your heart, and confidence and happiness will eventually find you.  I commit to this, too.  That I will embrace my “Dyke Diva” side instead of my social anxiety, and I bet you that “normal” will quickly lose it’s shine.  More reviews of The Trouble with Normal to come.

Oh, and I’ve said the phrase “Dyke Diva” enough times that I’m now required to show this:

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