Spaces: County Hall meetings

This one’s for you, Edith.

Yesterday was a big day in queer life for me. Edith Windsor, a lesbian and human rights activist who was instrumental in the fight for marriage equality, passed away (may she rest in power). In a more local sense, also yesterday, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, a human rights ordinance was passed that allows people who are discriminated based on their sexual orientation or gender identity to sue locally.

I heard about Edith’s passing on Twitter, and as I read her story, I cried. I celebrated marriage equality when I learned of it years ago, but because it didn’t then affect me, I didn’t feel a personal connection to it. After reading about the way she personally fought for the rights of same sex couples for so many years and about the way she loved and lived so intensely, I was moved and inspired and so proud. She’s a hero and an icon and I’m so glad that she lived and fought so intensely. I am so grateful for her and her work.

Yesterday I was also able to be present in a County Hall meeting regarding St. Joseph’s recent policy changes which added protections to prevent discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, the county previously had no way of handling any related lawsuits which meant that people would have to travel to Indianapolis, which is a burden. But, thanks in part to the hard work of some of my friends on Student Government at Notre Dame (which is located in St. Joseph county) who spoke in favor of the human rights ordinance at the county hall meeting last night, the South Bend will now handle all of the lawsuits. I was there when the measure was voted on and I am so amazed at and thankful for everyone who helped to pass it. I also wore a rainbow shirt to the county hall and I felt super welcome so that was also a win for the day.

This one’s for you Edith.

suggested listening: “Rainbow” // Kesha

Life Updates!

Yikes! It’s been about three weeks since my last blog, and honestly I don’t know what to say other than without Prides constantly, life is much less colorful. I am currently finishing up some paperwork for my internship at TREES, Inc. and have officially moved into my dorm at ND (my room is affectionately known as the Gay Cave and is mostly rainbows). I am super excited about an Instagram sponsorship that I am currently working out. Life is good, especially when you’re finally excited to be out at your Catholic university.

More soon, I promise. xx

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.