Eleanore Vs. Gender and Sexuality

Dear WordPress,

I really like your updated layout because it shoves the 500 drafts I have piled up right in my face. Thanks for that!

Anyway! This past week we had our Pride celebrations here in St. Louis which I experienced none of because all my spoons went into working at the salon instead. It was okay, because I’m beginning to actually like my job a little bit, but I was bummed since I have never celebrated Pride which is somewhat dissapointing. And if you’re thinking, “well, it isn’t for you, because you’re straight since you have a boyfriend,” you would be wrong, because I am an extremely open bisexual; I just don’t think about it much nowadays because when my body is wrapped in far too many chronic illnesses and traumatic situations, many other qualities of myself tend to get lost in the ether. However, my sexuality is still extremely important to me. I have actually alluded to my sexuality in my posts though more frequently than I probably realize, like a while ago when I said fawning over Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy is something I’m always okay with doing. Sneaky.

I knew I was bisexual when I was 13, but due to being raised in a homophobic (and what can only be described as “conservatively democratic”) family, I didn’t admit it until I was 24. The eleven years in between were mostly spent overcompensating by being homophobic myself in attempts to not slip up and have anyone find out that I like girls just as much as I like boys. In my family especially, sexuality, gender, and related subjects were just not talked about. My family was always awkward about anything remotely sexual, and I was the same until I turned 23 and became friends with people who (thank god) were far more open and comfortable with everything sex related. Now, I have no problem screaming, “IT IS HOTTER THAN SATAN’S VAGINA!” As I walk downstairs into this awful Missouri heat.

Although my last group of friends were accepting and comfortable about sexuality and gender, the people I knew of different genders and sexualities were quite scarce. When I moved here to St. Louis, I was fortunate enough to become close to my boyfriend’s friends and family, most of which are LGBT. Though I am not Christian, I also began to attend church on Sunday with my boyfriend’s family,to an LGBT, all inclusive church called MCC. For so many reasons other than religious ones, it has become one of my very favorite places. The majority people there are diverse, kind, loving and as open hearted as can be, and without question, fully accepted me; the strange, sick girl from California.

Not only was I fully enveloped in the LGBT community from the very beginning of my life here, but I also was introduced to a term entirely foreign to me; non-binary, also sometimes know as being gender queer. My now dear friend Nat was the first person I had ever met who described themselves as non-binary. Even for an ultra-liberal power flower such as myself, this idea was unique to me. It’s interesting how life will often remind us that even when we think we know so much, the reality is that we actually know very little. It’s difficult for most people to admit that they are ignorant about most subjects, and that includes myself. However, because I love my friend Nat and my other friends like them, I have no problem saying that I was (and am probably still somewhat) ignorant about this concept.

At first I could not fully understand why someone would want to not be associated with a particular gender. As I began to learn more, I realized it actually wasn’t difficult at all to understand, because I have been through my own gender discovering journey that was far from easy, and as it turns out, I’m much closer to the concept of being non-binary than I originally thought.

On top of the communication and emotion inept family I was born into, it didn’t make life much easier being a young girl who could never seem to get along with other girls. While I had female friends, I always seemed to get along better with boys, and I had more in common with them. In my generation, it was common sense that if you were a girl that got along with boys or liked “boy things,” you were a tomboy. So, I was indeed a tomboy, sporting baggy clothes with little care for my appearance. As I grew older, I felt massively conflicted, because I was beginning to discover my femininity, while playing video games, listening to punk rock, and rough housing with my male friends. I was constantly told that I was never “ladylike enough,” but I was also obviously a whore because I had so many male friends. My mother would frequently accuse me of being a lesbian while also accusing me of having sex with every boy I knew. To say it was puzzling doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

When I was in high school it seemed that I had to make a decision, because I simply couldn’t play bass guitar and cuss like a sailor while dressing like something out of a Zooey Deschanel movie. Society had taught me that I was not allowed to have a wardrobe that was half dark, studded clothes and half lacy, flowing ones. I had to be a tomboy, or a princess. I had to be “punk”, or I had to be “preppy”. Under no circumstances could I express myself in more than one way, and I certainly couldn’t flip flop between clothing choices as I normally did.

I felt as if I was being stretched through a taffy puller, and was getting terribly close to snapping. The constant ridicule and scrutiny of my family (minus my sister) didn’t help. Then all at once, I realized that I just didn’t fucking care anymore. I didn’t look like the punk girls I both admired and desired with their dyed hair, tattoos, and black, studded miniskirts. But I didn’t look like the flirty, girlish ladies either that seemed perfectly charming in every way, nor did I look like a tomboy. I didn’t really look like anyone, and I didn’t feel like anyone either. I was just this mix of a person that liked all kinds of different things and got along with all kinds of different people, and finally, after 20 or so frustrating years, I finally came to the conclusion that it was okay to be Lucille Ball and Tom Delonge at the same exact time (and that it was okay to find them both attractive, too).

So, back to my friend Nat. In the beginning I said that at first I could not understand why someone would want to not be associated with a particular gender. I was entirely blind to the fact that it isn’t that they don’t want to be associated with a gender. In fact, it’s completely the opposite; they don’t believe they should have to associate with either, because they have qualities of  multiple genders, and being forced by society to be crammed into the box of one leaves the rest incomplete. Just as being called “she” and “her” is valuable to my identity, being called “they” or “them” is just as valuable to Nat, and therefore is exactly what they deserve from those around them. 

I take deep pride in my femininity and being feminine holds so much power and comfort for me. Understanding this made my body feel more like home, even though I am constantly told that the way I dress doesn’t at all reflect my personality. I must always disagree, because the lace of my bright dress is as much a part of me as slaughtering bitch ass spiders in Diablo is. SERIOUSLY THOUGH, WHY IS IT ALWAYS SPIDERS?! 

Before I came out and finally stopped denying that I was bisexual, I had always felt that there was a part of me missing from my puzzle. It honestly made my skin crawl, feeling as if I wasn’t a whole person, and I kept catching myself staring at girls I found attractive as much as I stared at boys. Regardless of who a person is, everyone, and I mean fucking everyone, is deserving of feeling at home in their own body. No one has the right to tell anyone else what they are or should be. Even within the LGBT community, those who are bisexual and genderqueer are often told that we don’t exist. In fact, not two weeks ago I got into a conversation with a cashier who, despite describing himself as pansexual, set out to prove to me that I was confused about my sexuality because being bisexual “isn’t a thing.”

I can never seem to comprehend the thinking of those who are so sure that they understand a person better than the person understands themselves. Not only is this an issue when it comes to gender and sexuality, but even with my chronic illnesses, I am so often told that I am not as sick as I think I am, that I am making it up, or that some of my illnesses don’t exist. It is so incredibly infuriating to live with erasure in two of the largest parts of my life; my health and my sexuality. Whether a person believes that it is only a higher power’s place to label people, or they believe it just simply isn’t their business, the fact is, it. Is. Not. Your. Place.  No one understands my sexuality, my gender, my happiness or pain better than I do.

I feel so incredibly fortunate to have accidentally landed in a wonderful LGBT community here in St. Louis. While of course it is far from perfect, it is the first time I have really belonged to any community at all. Not only have I made friends from different kinds of backgrounds, but Rose and Sheryl, the couple who declared they adopted me because they love me and want to make up for my lack of parents are so dear to me. My boyfriend’s grandmothers are also incredibly important to my life, and regardless of what happens with my relationship, I really can’t imagine my life without them.

Sexuality and gender, at least when you struggle to understand them, are such a big deal. Nowadays when I see my friends, it doesn’t matter at all that I’m bisexual, that Nat is non-binary, or that Rose and Sheryl are lesbians. Aside from making sure I use the proper pronouns that those people desire to be called by, there’s very little that is affected by our sexualities in our lives when we aren’t being judged by those outside of it. In the end, we’re just regular people with our particular preferences that make us more comfortable, and make us feel happy to be ourselves. Nat isn’t my non-binary friend, they’re my kind, loving friend who loves brownies and New Found Glory as much as I do. Rose and Sheryl aren’t my lesbian adoptive parents, they’re simply my ridiculously kind mommas who I love laughing with. We’re all just clusters of stardust that make up some wonderful people.

Except for me. I’m more like endless dick jokes wrapped in floral.

P.S.

Of course,  it is hard to talk about Pride month and LGBT Community without mentioning Pulse. So, instead of posting a song this time, I encourage you to watch this video made by Vlogbrother John Green, where he reads out the names of the 49 people murdered in a horrible tragedy fueled by homophobia, and offer a prayer, a moment of silence, or whatever you feel is appropriate in remembering these people and wishing peace upon them and their families, as well as a change in our society so that we, as a country, never face this again and people of every kind can call this place safe.

 

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