Spaces: Being Queer in Nonqueer Spaces

“I’m not used to seeing queer people in spaces that aren’t specifically for us”

A few nights ago, at dinner, I was sitting with my friend’s mother at the bar of a restaurant waiting for our table to be ready. (This was a popular establishment and we had been given an hour wait time.) At some point as we chatted, the man seated next to me asked us if we would like his leftover chips and queso. Gesturing to himself and the person next to him, he said “we” didn’t double dip or do anything weird to it. I was hungry and I am a trustworthy person so I said yes and thanked him.

He laughed and told me not to worry about him hitting on me or anything because he was gay. He leaned back and introduced me to his partner. I laughed and said I was gay too. We wished each other a happy belated Pride month and swapped a few stories. It was great.

I’m not used to seeing queer people in spaces that aren’t specifically for us. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing others at Prides because basically everyone is queer, but I still become giddy when I see two girls holding hands while walking on the quad at Notre Dame, a same-sex couple buying groceries, or even just when I see pride flags displayed. I am constantly (and pleasantly) surprised to see the normalization of the LGBTQ+ community. This visibility is a clear sign of our acceptance. It also causes us to be more accepted because the world becomes more used to it as a normalcy instead of a quirk. (#RepresentationIsImportant)

Yesterday, I spent about six hours at the South Bend farmer’s market tabling for TREES, Inc. Unlike the Prides I have worked before, it was not a specifically queer event. I didn’t just talk to young kids wearing pride flags like capes and their parents and others who were in and loved my community. I talked to older millenials on health kicks, baby boomers from agricultural backgrounds, families with little babies, etc. No one was outwardly presenting in a million rainbows, but everyone was accepting. People thanked us for the work we do and donated to the organization. It was incredible. I wore a button that said “Pretty, Gay, and Pretty gay” and it was the first time I was in a nonqueer space that I felt totally safe in. Granted, South Bend is pretty liberal (we have a gay mayor!) but this was still huge for me.

I’m not saying that these experiences have changed the world for me, but it is really inspiring to see that you can be safe while being out. Of course, I am a white, straight-passing lesbian and I can only speak to that experience, but hopefully in my being out and outspoken, I can help normalize queerness and make the world a safer place for others.

I’ve learned a lot about being queer in the two and a half months since I’ve been out. I’ve gone on dates, started a blog, and worn more rainbows in a month than most people wear in their lives. I’ve learned that coming out and being out is liberating but can also be exhausting. I’ve struggled with unlearning internalized homophobia. I’m making a lot of headway, but I’m still learning that at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be forced to confine our queerness to Prides.

Thoughts on my First Pride Month

“Rainbows give me so much hope”

Now that my first June being out is over, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the month as a whole. Sadly, I had to live my first Pride Month in an America under the Trump administration, from which the LGBTQ+ community has been given significantly less love than from the former administration. I’m not complaining, (because America is still a very safe place for white lesbians compared to other countries and demographics) but rather pointing out that this is one of the biggest reasons why every Pride event I went to in June had an air of resilience instead of joy.

In all of the “spaces” pieces I’ve written so far (here, here, here, and here) I’ve tried to emphasize the ways that hate still invades these safe places and how we fight and reconcile that. We cannot exist without protest when our very existence is protest and resistance. As we gather in queer-positive spaces, we strengthen this resolve in each other. We’re a community. As my boss loves to say, we’re a family. We’re here for each other. When one of us comes out, we celebrate. When one of us dies, we mourn. We support whomever we can however we can. It’s beautiful.

I love the bond between queer people more than anything. If you read articles about lesbian dating, one of the things that is always recommended is “gay eye contact.” Supposedly, this is when you look at someone the right way and both of you just *know* that you want to hit on the other. I don’t know if it works because I’m a single baby dyke, but everyone recommends it for dating. However, I do know that in queer spaces, every act of body language means more. Every smile and hug and kiss and hand hold and high-five is more special because it expresses the phenomenal solidarity and love in the queer community. Touch is incredibly powerful.

In this month, it was also just really amazing to see the support from and the history of the queer community. I love happy, older queer couples. I love learning about the riots that began pride and the queer civil rights movement. I love people congratulating me on coming out. I love little ones at their first pride. I love rainbows! Rainbows give me so much hope.

So remember that pride shouldn’t end in June. Keep being out. Keep voting for queer politicians and lobbying for queer-positive laws. Keep advocating. Keep being you.

I Don’t Know How to be a Lesbian!

“I am a baby dyke!”

So far, I have had limited experience acting openly gay. I (foolishly) assumed that coming out would be the beginning and end of it and suddenly life would be sunshine and rainbows and everyone would compliment me on my apparent homosexuality and I would be swimming in ladies. This was honestly just very wrong and I should have realized it sooner.

I had a fairly straightforward self-discovery and coming out process. I knew I liked girls for a long time but was confused as to why I wasn’t attracted to guys and didn’t want to date them and then I kissed a guy and a girl in one night and then EVERYTHING MADE SENSE. Really. I went from thinking I was broken to being just ridiculously excited about finally figuring myself out and being a lesbian. Because I was so happy about it, immediately after coming out I had what I can only describe as a “post coming out high.” I was elated and I joyfully told everyone I knew. I figured that I had already gone through the most difficult part and it would be easy from then on.

Of course, I was incorrect. I still get hit on by boys and I am rarely hit on by girls. I find myself constantly wishing I “looked like a lesbian” even though like, that’s not a thing? Like lesbians are very diverse? And I am a lesbian so like no matter what, I can’t not look like a lesbian? I just want to be out of the baby dyke phase (watch the video it’s hilarious). ¬†And I am a baby dyke! I jam to Tegan and Sara all of the time. I love all things related to the comedy of Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito (and their relationship!!!). Ellen rocks. I read Autostraddle daily. I salivate over button up shirts. I get overly excited at Prides. I smile so hard when I see girls holding hands. I love being gay! I am so gay!

I’m not where I want to be but I’m getting there. I still am fighting internalized homophobia, but I’m also the most free I’ve ever been. Basically, I’m trying to keep reminding myself that there’s no lesbian manual, and as such there’s no wrong way to be gay.

 

(super cute pic is a mural at Eastern Kentucky University by @botanical_bedroom on Instagram)