Maybe you’ve heard it, been asked it, or wondered about it yourself: Why do queer women and lesbians date masculine-presenting women instead of just dating a cisgender dude? Well, let’s break it down and answer the question. But most importantly, let’s examine why this is such a common question – and come up with some more respectful and supportive questions to ask instead.
Am I mad at myself forever? Can I forgive myself for my own illness? Can I hold my own fear as I go through my own treatment, whether it’s a canoe ride or a therapy session or a run through the Brooklyn streets just when the weather starts to turn from freezing to perfect? Can I stop scouring my body or brain for imperfections to hate? Can I start recognizing that I crafted this one beautiful life? I made it for myself. I made it, for myself.
Self-care has seemed literally impossible. Yet we all know: It is at these moments when it is the most necessary. When turning inward to fight for yourself seems like the last thing you can do, it is the most essential thing.
I survived a household of religious violence by looking it in the eye. I named the demon for what it was, and that didn’t banish it, but at least it brought the beast into the light. I’ve turned my back on its ways, but that doesn’t mean I’ve left it behind for good. Its heat and hurt will probably always be with me.
I’ve begun to realize that I’ve internalized a lot of stigma about various marginalized identities. I’ve spent a long time working the process of unlearning the body terrorism that surrounds mental health, sexuality, gender, and romance. It’s difficult for me to accept that I still have so much of it left inside of me that I often hide who I am out of shame.
I want to talk about the idea that self-love is complicated and challenging. I want to talk about how, despite the fact that I champion self-love in my work and writing, the reality of it is arduous. Self-love is not some glorious space of unending enlightenment. It is not a place you reach upon pure reflection and will. It is tiring and hard. It is valuing yourself even when others do not. Let me tell you — It is thriving even when you feel the world pushing you down.
We have the RIGHT to be seen in our large bodies, our bodies with cerebral palsy, our Arab bodies, our Black bodies, our bodies with amputations, our gay bodies, our bodies with Bipolar disorder, our bodies with acne or braces or stretch marks. All of these bodies have the RIGHT to the visibility of humanity.
I know that, as long as I live in this country, I will be affected by those who need to cater to their delusions of supremacy based on the melanin in their skin. However, I’m no longer going to engage in unhealthy, self-deprecating behavior to minimize myself and to appease a beast that will never be satisfied. That is a futile and misguided effort.
The focus on gay marriage (and its attendant promise of access to privilege) is a declawing of more radical goals that seek to dismantle the power structures that provide privileges to only a few. Gay marriage in its current form seeks to normalize gayness, to assimilate it into the straight, white, middle-class power structure. The issue is that approaching human rights from this angle guarantees that only some queer people can access those rights.
I want to reiterate to you that you are enough. I have to say that again because I know how hard it is for you to believe that. You feel like you always play the supporting role to the prettiest and smartest girls in school. But you are just in great company. Your fierceness and honesty inspire you to do all that you do. As you get older, you should always trust in yourself because you are your own guiding light.
So I poke fun at the lines around my throat, and I get snarky about my facial hair, and I joke about my sagging boobs, but none of the words quite fit. The words aren’t entirely wrong, but they feel too much like someone else’s story and not my own. I’ve been wondering lately about this lack of fit.
The challenge for the young and the old, then, is not to simply cease criticism. It is to cease shaming and to interrogate one another with honesty and respect. Calling anything better just because it is old is how old evil thrives under the term “tradition.” (Ask any southerner. We’ll be happy to tell you.) Calling anything better just because it is new invites poor and reckless decision-making.
Look at those lines around my throat. They look like a multi-strand necklace. Look at them all! They just go on and on. And the facial hair. That’s new. Where did that come from? Menopause? Whenever I look at this photograph, I feel as though I’m looking at my grandmother. How can I be looking at my grandmother? It boggles my mind.
Aunque las ideas y términos que usaba para describirme eran nuevas y desconocidas para ellos, mis seres queridos nunca dudaron que mi experiencia estaba siendo real e importante para mi. Nunca desafiaron la validez de mi género. En vez de eso, me hicieron saber que confiaban en mi propia percepción.
All too often, depression doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Too many find it impossible to reconcile depression with our fast-paced, wealth-, success-, pleasure-driven world. We tend to avoid our more difficult feelings, so depression gets denied and dismissed. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, but many feel (or act) as though it is.