Thanks for your offer of KD Lang concert tickets ad an early Christmas gift. I’m just not that big a fan. What I’d really like right now though is an Epilady (TM).
Tag Archives: Queer
A few days ago I had cause to call the telephone company, and when we were finished with the business of changing phone plans, the customer service rep asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Yes, I said, I’d like to enquire about having my partner named on the account. “Sure,” she said, “what’s his name?”
Here we go, I thought. “Her name…” Immediate profuse apologies followed, and my partner’s name was duly added to the account.
Well. For as long as I’ve been in same-sex de facto relationships, I’ve been told by utility companies that you can only have two names on the bill if we are blood relations or married or in a heterosexual de facto relationship.
Every relocation or change of provider, we try again. The closest we got was with a gas company who listed my partner as Mr., much to her annoyance.
Two years ago, with both our names on the mortgage? Still not good enough.
So strike me down, After ten years living together, we have a phone account in both our names.
I don’t know exactly what just changed in the world, but apparently 2010 will go down in history as the year we gained the right to adopt as a couple, and the year the phone company decided we exist.
I’m being somewhat facetious, but honestly, it feels good to be acknowledged as a couple even in such a tiny tiny way.
Sometimes it’s best just to dive on in. I don’t like to say I’m a lesbian, because that is a noun and I don’t feel like I’m a noun. My sexuality is not my entire being, it is a small but significant part of me. Significant because other people make it so.
When labels are called for, I tend to opt for gay, maybe queer chick. Not that I feel particularly queer, it’s just a slightly funkier word.
People try to tell me that it’s easier to come out now than it used to be. Well, for me it is, because for the last (cough) years I’ve been coming out nearly every day, so yeah, it’s not that much of an effort. It’s going to be different for everyone, but for me, the biggest step was shedding my own assumption of heterosexuality and all its attendant expectations.
Why is coming out so hard? Internalised homophobia is a powerful force. It is the dark little voice in our heads telling us we are somehow flawed, imperfect, deviant, queer. Other. Ugly. Weak. The social constructs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, are wrapped up in stereotypes and assumptions. Is this me? Do I sign up for this? Am I really like that? Can I change my mind?
It’s little things, like how do you know you’re a lesbian if you don’t have a girlfriend but I didn’t raise you to be like that and what about children. Not being able to get a phone account in both our names.
It’s big things, like getting heckled, harassed, beaten up. Not getting that job. Being kicked out of home. Not being able to get married or adopt a child. People counting us as less, trying to prove us wrong.
I was in the army reserves for a while, and I kept my mouth shut. I segregated that part of my life from all the rest. I never spoke about my partner, my work, I ducked through the personal pronouns. I avoided the girls and I let the boys down gently. I lied. That’s no basis for friendship. When I finally came clean, my friends were hurt that I hadn’t trusted them.
Of course, it’s not my friends who are the problem. Most people catch on after a while that I’m no different. It’s the jerks who think I’m there for their sexual titillation, that it’s a phase, that I need converting, or that I should be kept away from their kids. They are the problem.
I can understand not coming out. It’s not easy and it’s not always safe. And I know in this big boy’s world of medicine it’s not going to always win me fans.
I just think not taking the risk, not trusting that someone will be there to catch you, not believing that people can love you for who you are… I just think it’s sad. That’s all.
Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so I called, and we had a virtually normal conversation for thirty-one minutes. Followed by three minutes and forty-seven seconds of infuriating weirdness and a fairly uncomfortable silence.
Until I was seventeen, I thought my mother was this open-minded, accepting, non-judgmental person. Then she decided I was a lesbian, and subjected me to an overnight train trip from Melbourne to Sydney in which she explained at length, no doubt to the delight of the entire carriage, all the reasons why she had not brought me up that way. According to her, her gay male friends were fine, but narcissistic. In her steel-trap mind, lesbianism was not about loving women, but about hating men.
At this point, though she had made her mind up, I had not. Sure, I liked girls. But at seventeen I did not feel the need to rule anything in or out. And I certainly didn’t hate anybody.
Cut to now. I’ve been out’n’proud for nearly eighteen years. It hasn’t all been easy, and at times I’m sure I was a caricature of myself. I did some damage. I got better.
My mother lives with her father and takes in strays. At the moment her project is the daughter of a family friend, who is now working with my grandfather and helping around the house. Or something like that. The three minutes of weirdness started with my mother telling me how this woman had come out to my granddad and how terrible it is that the girl’s mother is uncomfortable with her being a lesbian. Hello? Fuck that. My mother has never been able to look my girlfriend in the eye. She uses me for street cred: my daughter is a lesbian and I’m ever-so-together about that. She needles and she picks and she judges. She wonders why I can’t just find a nice Jewish lawyer and give her some grandkids.
“Tell her about the Glum,” says my granddad in the background. “You tell her,” says my mother, who is trying to bridge the monster gap that has grown between me and the old man these last few years. My skin prickles and I sense that this conversation is not going to build any bridges. The phone is thrust into his hand.
“Oh Hi. Carmen* and I were talking the other day and she said, they shouldn’t call it Gay and Lesbian, they should call it Gay and Glum. Even at the wedding the other day, the lesbians there were all Glum. Aha ha.”
Right. Where am I supposed to go with that exactly? Hate yourself, much?
“I’ll give you back to your mother.” Ok, bye. Whatever.
“So, what do you think GLUM stands for?” she says.
“I have no idea.” All I can think is fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
“Your dinner must be nearly ready.”
“It is, and I’m starving.”
Silence. Fuck you. The end.
So, Carmen*, whoever you are, I’m sorry that you and your friends are so goddamn glum. I’m not. And that’s probably because I don’t spend a lot of time with people who feed off conflict, negativity, and self-loathing.
This morning there will be a text message on my phone. It will say “Pinch, punch, first of the month. Happy November. Love you xR”. I will delete it as I do every month, and go back to my cordial detente in which I don’t call, don’t reply to emails, and don’t answer the phone when I know it is you. Happy Birthday. Leave me alone. I’m happiest when I forget you exist.