For months I have been going back and forth with myself on what to write, how to write it, and when to post it. I'll start writing a post and then about midway through the post, I'll stop or I'll keep writing with absolutely no inspiration which, at that point, I'm better off stopping. I did that today. I started a post and about half way through, I lost inspiration and found myself writing just for the sake of trying to finish what I started, and I hate that. I hate writing without inspiration because it is so easy to recognize the difference between something that is written with passion and something that is written just to be written. So, I took a break. I took a nap. I made some tea. I checked some emails. And now I am back to writing. And in that little time I took, away from writing, I realized what was going on- why I was losing the inspiration for these posts that I started with such great passion and would fizzle before I could even get out of the first paragraph. My passion was fizzling away because I was purposely trying to make a big deal out of whatever I was writing. When I decided I was going to start this blog, it was not because I wanted to make a big deal about things; it was because I wanted to share my experiences in the hopes of helping or inspiring someone along the way.
So...back to my initial thought. For months, I have been contemplating how I would write this post, how I would position it, when would be the right time to post it. Should I make it funny? Should I make it mysterious? Should I make it serious? Should I pick a special date to do it? Should I build some kind of anticipation around it? Hmmm...ain't nobody got time for that. I have written and re-written and deleted and restarted this post more times than I care to share, and after all of that I have finally realized: "There ain't nothin' to it, but to do it." So, here we go folks...
I am queer.
Well, that was easy! But wait- was it really? Sure, it was easy to type up that three word sentence, sure. But that doesn't discount the fact that my armpits are sweating, my mind is racing, and my hands are shaking just a bit. I can't control the sweaty pits, racing mind, and jittery hands, so I'll just keep writing.
I could write about what it was like to come out to my mom for the third and final time at the age of 26 (the first time was when I was in the 4th grade and the second time was in college). I could write about the years I spent praying to a God whom I wanted so badly to serve with all of my heart, but couldn't understand why this God made me "wrong". I could write about all the times that people have asked me if I have a boyfriend and I've purposely chosen to just say "no" with no further explanation. I could write about all the reasons I have been told I shouldn't be gay (that's an interesting list). I could write about all the times I talked about how gross it was when a girl had a crush on me, even though I may have secretly liked her too. I could write about how scared I have felt that I would have to watch friends and family members walk out of my life if I ever decided to come out. I could write about how disappointed I have been in myself for being an open supporter by day, and living it up in the safety of the closet by night. I could write books about all of those things...but what has really fueled my passion in writing today, has been this...
Last week, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky's prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law by treating queer folks "differently in a way that demeans them." You can imagine the conversation that this ruling has sparked amongst Kentuckians- those who support as well as those who oppose. I have listened to people talk about "the abomination of our nation" and "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." I am not surprised that some people would react this way...I mean, if people didn't react that way, then there would be no need for a movement, no need to fight for OUR rights (ooh, "our"...that felt good). This is not to say that I approve of the commentary, it's just to say that I am not surprised. But what has prompted my writing today has been my questioning people's constant assumption that a) I am hetero and b) I concur with their views and opinion. I would find it rather odd if a man walked up to me and expected me to agree that I should be paid less than my male counterparts. I would be baffled if a white person walked up to me and expected me to agree to use a different water fountain than my white counterparts. I would be baffled with these approaches because it should be seemingly easy for one to look at me and see that I am woman, just as it is also pretty obvious that I am black. But sometimes, I forget to put the "QUEER" stamp on my forehead on my way out the door in the mornings. So, on the mornings that I forget my stamp, I have realized that there is really no way for people to know that I disagree with their views or, even moreso, to know that they are talking about me, unless I actually open my mouth and say it.
For a while, I struggled with the decision of whether or not it was necessary to "come out". Over the past few years, we have seen many celebrities and public figures open up and take this step. And as a result of their actions, we have seen a surge of urgency, awareness and change, as well as a greater sense of community, and individuals building up the courage to share their personal journeys and coming out stories. Coming out is a very personal process; and I have found that once you decide to to come out to the public, it is a never-ending process. I say it is never ending because realistically, you will be forever coming out to almost every new person you meet, especially those who ask about your wife, when you actually have a husband or your boyfriend, when you actually have a girlfriend...it never ends. But back to my point of whether or not coming out is necessary. It depends on what you want. I believe that my sexuality is my own...and this is not kindergarten, so I don't have to share it with anyone if I don't want to. But it's nice when you share, right? You get gold stars for sharing, and I can't lie... I like gold stars. If you choose to keep it to yourself, you are well within your rights to do so. Ideally, I would love to one day live in a society where coming out is no longer necessary because we don't make assumptions about one another's sexuality and homophobia is laid to rest. For now, that is more of an ideal than it is a reality. But if you want see that ideal become a reality and you have the courage to change history...if you want to earn some gold stars, then yes, come on out and make your presence known. People can't know that their best friend, brother, sister, co-worker, neighbor, news anchor, favorite singer, or local coffee shop barista is being oppressed and denied the rights in which their heterosexual counterparts are so happily welcomed partake, unless you open your mouth and say it.
I applaud those who take that step in speaking up and speaking out, because in your doing so, you create a sense of awareness amongst your friends, family, and peers, letting them know that this hits a lot closer to home than they may have realized. You create a sense of community, letting others know that they are not alone, and giving them the courage to also speak up and speak out.
Thank you for giving me the courage to change my "they" to "we", "them" to "us", and "their" to "our." You have given me the courage to speak up and speak out when I forget my "QUEER" stamp in the mornings. And I can only hope, that I might inspire someone else in that same way.
...and my armpits have stopped sweating...in case anyone was wondering.