last night i went to an ithaca diy-style pride event, which was pretty friggen awesome for many, many reasons. i am super glad that other queers are interested in kick-re-starting the lgbtq+ community here. hopefully much more on this to come!
but in the meantime, i wanted to share an anecdote from the event that highlights the *fun* i get to go through with my identity/expression, even in the presence of other queers. i almost feel like the straights get it better sometimes…
at least 4 queer people openly, verbally misgendered me while i was in earshot. i’m sure more did so in their heads. as i’ve written about in the past, this is not something that i get mad, sad, etc. at anymore [or at least i try not to, and i didn't last night]. so this isn’t a complaining session at all.
but 1 of those 4 interactions was a new one for me. and it brought up a really interesting point that i want to share. it went like this:
i arrive at the gathering at the park and am standing in the midst of a group of ~5-10 people when someone i have never seen before asks me blatantly:
“so, what’s it like being a gay guy in ithaca? what’s that community like?”
“i’m not a gay guy.”
“ummm…ok” [they clearly are taken aback and trying to figure out what nuance game i'm playing] “what’s it like being a bi guy in ithaca?” [swing-and-a-miss, strike two.]
“i’m not a bi guy either.”
there’s some awkwardness developing and it’s getting weird, at which point a friend chimes in: “l…g…b…t”
“yeah. and trans*.”
i don’t know quite what to make of the sounds that came from this person’s mouth after i uttered the word “trans*”, but it was clear to me that even as they labeled me “genderqueer” they were still thinking “guy”.
oh, so glorious the shit to be unpacked in that part of the interaction. but that’s not the best part. that’s not the new part.
later on, we have migrated to a bar, and i am standing by this person as i wait for a drink. a nice gentleman is walking by and excuses himself to get past them and he totally misgenders them. both of us hear it.
he catches it, apologizes, corrects himself, and moves on.
ok, here is the moment of truth.
they turn to me and say something like “i guess that’s what this genderqueer thing is about, eh?” in a very chummy tone. i don’t remember the exact words, but the notion was clearly “see, he misgendered me, so it’s ok that i did it to you, too.”
i had to breathe deeply. very deeply. i muttered something, got my drink, and moved on. i don’t need to confront bullshit at every turn. sometimes it’s best to walk away. i do not need to turn every interaction into a feminist rant.
if you haven’t gotten it yet, here’s the point i want to make:
using someone else’s fuckup to justify/excuse yours is, well, bullshit, backwards, and cowardly.
this person, they didn’t know how to apologize to me and own up to their own mistake, and so they took the opportunity of someone else wronging them in a similar [albeit not the same, holy shit, so many reasons why what they said to me and how they did it was WAY WAY worse, but whatever] situation to excuse their misgendering of me. they even turned to me so quickly as to not even acknowledge the guy’s apology!
the issue for me is that their crutching on this guy’s mistake sets a baseline of: “it’s ok if i misgender other people because other people do it to me.” no mistake owning, no apology, no progression.
why not instead go for “it’s easy for me to forgive other people for misgendering me because i sometimes do it to other people.”?
flip the script. use your own fuckup to forgive someone else’s. forgive the other person. own up to your mistakes. progress.
now that’s a sentiment i can get behind.