I thought about blogging about the Slut Walk that is taking place in Dallas tomorrow because it’s important. And because I know how to be a feminist. I know the chants, I have the t-shirts, I am on all of the email lists, and most importantly I am passionate about ALL human rights, but especially the ones that pertain to me specifically. Writing about and being a feminist is easy for me because I was given a simple and direct path to becoming one. You read Manifesta (and many, many other books), join the Feminist Majority Leadership group at your University, participate for 4 (ahem, 6 for me) years and when you graduate the FMF will keep
tabs on you informed until you tell them not to.
But writing about the SW would be taking the easy road for me. When I started blogging for Queerious last week I found myself struggling to come up with something to write about from my queer perspective. Because I don’t feel like I have one. Other than being physically and emotionally attracted to women I have no idea how to be gay. Also, the Huffington Post wrote a wonderful article about the Slut Walks so there isn’t really any new ground to cover there.
How do we learn to be gay? From TV? From gay bars? When I sit around with my peer group of lesbians (who all came out about a decade before I did) and they start talking about “Tipping the Velvet”, “Bound”, and “Go Fish” I’m lost. I grew up in a tiny Texas town. We had two lesbians (that I knew of). A divorcée teacher and a tennis coach (my tennis coach actually). They went to church with everyone else, raised five seriously exceptional children (from the divorcée’s previous marriage, she had joint custody with their father) and were just like everyone else in town, God-fearin’, football lovin’, Texans. So when I started the coming out process I thought back to the first lesbians I ever knew and figured that there wasn’t really all that much to know. You just lived your life and didn’t really talk about it. Because despite living together they never openly said they were gay. I didn’t know anything about the Stonewall riots, Harvey Milk, Del and Phyllis, and I didn’t have anyone lining up to teach me. I asked my lesbian network how they all came to share this cultural intelligence and one by one they all said, their “gay big sister”. A lesbian (or gay man if you’re a baby gay) who takes you under their wing and guides you from baby dykedom to capital D Dykedom. And I was so sad that I never had one.
Now that you can literally google “how to be gay” these gay mentors may no longer be necessary. I can only hope that the younger gay generations are studying up on their queer history in between Ke$ha downloads. How our culture and our history are shared isn’t nearly as important; what’s important is that it is shared. What do you think is quintessential in our queer history?