Here’s one from my own life. – Cha-Cha
This is how it happens:
Sitting at lunch with two pals of the lady persuasion. One of them’s never been with a man, the other has been with more than I and for longer. We’re chilling. They want to talk about the girl I’m sexting. I have no idea where that’s going – but I did something fun the other day, with my boyfriend.
And they don’t want to hear about him – just the girl, thank you. I make stuff up. It feels good to bat for the the team. Afterwards, I feel shitty, and shortly after that stop texting her for good.
I come out to my parents.
So… pretty much, I think I am, and I don’t think it’s going to change.
My dad doesn’t look at me while he answers. Three words suffice:
No you’re not.
My mother looks at the wall. I look at the floor. We never talk about it again, the three of us.
We’re out on a date, and it’s a beautiful day. She must have spent serious money on this. I’m intimidated – what happens when she finds out that, as a musician, I make roughly $2 an hour? – But also fascinated – she’s a whip smart tough-ass lady, who can kick my butt both physically and intellectually. Hot.
I’m watching the ocean waves come in with the tide and trying to find out more about her family back in the southwest, when all of a sudden, she brings is up: “So. I heard you’re still fucking one of them.” The world spins, and falls, and sucks. I feel dizzy. Why’d you have to do that, I’m thinking. Now I have to protect him from you. Now I can’t see you anymore. When she texts months later to ask if this is ever going anywhere, I make some excuse about not having enough time in my life to be serious. She texts, okay, and I feel like I’m a liar to him and her both.
I’m SO drunk, and we’re all having a good time, and I barely know her but I like her and her boyfriend – they’re cool. When I fall down and so does she and she kisses me, I’m like, awesome. And I’m a little worried – is her boyfriend going to get mad? Hell, is mine? But they’re both there, laughing, and it seems good. I mean, it is. She just wants to touch my boobs, nothing else, and I’m having a good time, and it’s so awesome.
For months afterwards, I feel confused. It was a good time, and I’m glad no one got mad. On the other hand, were the guys okay just because it couldn’t have been serious? Was I only worrying about their anger so much because I could have been?
We’re drunker than I’ve been in years, I literally can’t see where I begin and end, and we’re in his buddy’s shower fucking each others brains out. Part of me is like oh what the hell? THIS is really gonna uncomplicated a friendship, but most of me is totally in the moment and loving it, a sweet couple hours of forgetting myself. As we use each others bodies for sex, I find that somewhere in my stack of emotions is a vague, malicious satisfaction at using him as he uses me. A man, I’m thinking, I’m using a man this way. This must really prove how queer I am, the fact that I’m fucking him without any love.
She misses me. That one time was really great, wasn’t it? Didn’t you have a good time? I have to agree: that one night was really great, but I’m still not feeling a repeat, and don’t know how to tell her. You can’t be satisfied with him, she’s saying. Be real. The guilt crashes down in fucking waves. It’s true: something is missing, something my relationship with him isn’t taking care of. Something, I sense, that I need to take care of outside of that relationship. Come on, she says. I’ll take care of you. But I don’t go for it, and as I walk away, I sense in her last look not just a disappointment that we’re not going back to bed, but a deeper disappointment, in me. A betrayal, almost.
That night, I don’t feel like I turned down someone I just wasn’t into. I feel like a fake queer, who just proved what a fake I am. Otherwise, I would have gone with her, right? Right?
Stop looking at her! he snaps.
I look over at him in the drivers seat, sort of dazed – I really hadn’t been paying attention to anything much, just leaning on the passenger side window, daydreaming. You’re always looking. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the girl turn the corner. I hadn’t even realized she existed, before he got all pissed.
I want to give him a piece of my mind, but I don’t. This time, he’s wrong. But how many other times have I stared longingly at a woman, while we’re together, while he’s being so kind, and he hasn’t caught me?
I get the mail off the front porch. A skin mag has arrived, with my name on it. He’s gotten me a subscription: to be understanding, to be supportive. To help with my urges?
I’m not attracted to the girls in the pictures really, but I read the mag anyway, mostly out of anthropological interest. It’s a sweet gesture, I think, but something in my stomach is clenching up quietly, and all I see is blood gushing past a bandaid.
I stop wanting to have sex. I don’t know why. He doesn’t either. He doesn’t ask any questions. I feel guilty, and the weirdest part is, I still think he’s awesome and attractive, and I want to want to do it. But I don’t. And now, neither of us knows what to do.
The silence fills up the space, and the things we do talk about don’t make it go away.
Every night after he’s been kind to me, I go to bed, as I have so many nights before in so many situations and relationships, thinking basically that I’m bad. If I wasn’t, this wouldn’t be happening.
I’m curled up leaning against the foot of the stove and I’m sobbing. It’s all falling apart. It’s all my fault. And the worst part is, he thinks it’s because of what I did, but I know it’s because of what I am.
It isn’t your fault. None of this is your fault. God I love him so much, and it doesn’t matter. Love isn’t enough. Maybe if I just say it enough times, it isn’t your fault, maybe someday he’ll believe me enough to heal. After all, it isn’t. And love isn’t enough to last, but it’s enough to hurt. God it hurts it hurts.
Somewhere in my psyche, I’m adult enough now to know that it really isn’t my fault either. I can’t help what I am – I know that now. I can’t help what I want. I thought, for him, I could. I tried. And I can’t. I feel so weak, so stupid, so unable. I didn’t know myself, I’m sobbing. I wish I’d known myself. If I had known myself, I wouldn’t have gotten you into this, wouldn’t have hurt you. I love what we’ve had, and it wasn’t worth hurting you. God I never wanted to hurt you.
I know that this isn’t my fault, but my heart is breaking. I truly thought that my love for him would change me, that through the power of his love I could drop the mask, could actually become in fact the straight girl everyone always suspected I am, the confused straight girl queer chicks always told me I must be. He’s not buying it – after all, I’m falling for another dude, right? But that’s not it. I’m just being me, what I wish I wasn’t, again – falling for a person who offers a relationship in which I can be all of me, even the parts I deny, and it is too much to resist, those beginnings of a sustainable and completing love…
This is killing him. He loved me the best that he could. I did my best for you, too. It doesn’t matter. Love isn’t enough. You can offer someone your heart, but not your soul, and I tried to promise something that wasn’t mine to give.
I leave, and I know it’s the right thing to do. But something is shattered, and it never grows back.
I have actually made it out to the gay club. Good for you: you’re not at work! I’m proud of myself. Well… you’re visiting a friend at work. Here to help and all that! But, not at work! Let’s get wild: I’m gonna have a beer. Awesome! Progress for the work-a-hol.
I’m getting THE LOOK again. I’ve come to recognize it at these establishments: (a) what is a woman doing here at the boyz club, and (b) WHY did he bring that annoying fag-hag straight girl, I so wish she wasn’t in our place. Sure it’s infuriating, but I’ve gotten used to it – in fact, I’ve never been to a club where it hasn’t happened, even when my head was shaved, minus my blond mane I wear these days.
My buddy and I both have to pee at the same time. He heads to the guys room and I to the ladies… past the pool table, where a crowd of guys shoots me some unfriendly looks. I hold my head high even though my cheeks are burning. It’s a free fucking country, right? And I’m as queer as they are, even if they don’t believe it. Fuck them. It doesn’t matter.
I come out of the bathroom first. They see me. And then, in what seems like no time at all, they are there… three of them, tight shirts, blue and black, crew cuts, muscles, chiseled faces, so close, on me, grabbing my breasts, my waist, my butt, my crotch… grabbing everything, laughing, playing “straight” with each other, oh I just LOVE to get me some girl for the evening…
I can’t do anything. I think, maybe, some part of me remembers to protect my face. All I hear is my stunned brain: Here? This is happening HERE? But… but this is MY place! They just don’t know who I am! You don’t understand, I BELONG here! This is MY place – somebody tell them, oh God, soon, now, somebody tell them to stop because I BELONG here…”
No one says anything. And they don’t stop. Not until my friend bursts out of the bathroom with his fly unzipped, throws them off me, pulls me out back, and holds me while I shake. I don’t cry. Eventually, the shaking stops.
For years after that, I go back to that club, passing out condoms. Half the guys are nice, half treat me like shit for being the “straight” condom girl at “their” place. I never, ever mention what happened to me. Neither does anyone else.
For the rest of my life, any time some queer says “community,” I repeat it back and smile, but I feel like reaching for a gun.
Invalidations… the big and dramatic ones are accents like cuts, and the blooms spread like bruises over the years. But it’s the small stuff, mostly, that does the damage.
Endless, in my own life:
“What is your deal?”
“Why do you confuse everyone?”
“What about being honest, huh? Ever try that?”
“How can you live with yourself, hurting your partner like that?”
“Yeah, people like you give the community a bad name.”
Endless, like the unspoken borders of a painful conversation:
“Well, what do you expect?”
“At least you weren’t jumped.”
“At least they didn’t scream ‘dyke’ at you.”
“Stop bitching. You pass. Why don’t you go put on some lipstick.”
Endless, I stop protesting, I stop correcting, I learn to accept it, I take it as a given, I take it as something people like me deserve:
“Stop trying to get attention.”
“Yeah well it’s all part of being a rock star I guess…”
“I bet your boyfriend loves it three ways.”
“What is your deal?”
It has been endless.
It has to end.
WHEN will it stop?