I suspect I could fool them…

This week, America’s fundamentalist “Christian” right continued to show its hand with laws that are based on segregation, discrimination and—let’s cut to the chase—hatred.  Clearly the human evolution is running backwards for those who feel the need to pass laws that reduce the rights of one group or another. Coming on the heels of a federal decree that married gay and lesbian couples should be treated like…well, married people…Indiana has voted for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, while Kansas and Arizona have decided it’s perfect legal and within the rights of endangered religious business owners to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples…or those they suspect might be.

I could write pages and pages about ignorance and prejudice and the crazy hypocritical bible-thumping theocracy that America is becoming. But why would I? I don’t live there, I’m not subject to those laws and really, what difference would it make? I could rage against this particularly petty and heinous kind of bigotry until my fingers fall off from typing. And all I’d gain is a smaller glove size. Just like one can’t fix stupid, I’ve come to the conclusion in my later years that you can’t solve hatred. It’s just there. The small-mind, the ignorant, those lacking in confidence and independent thought, those needing the crutch of religion on which to base their choices will always exist. They have forever. These are the same people who burnt witches and tortured heretics and gassed Jews and Gypsies – as long as humans draw breath on this earth, there will be those who fear and loathe what (and who) they don’t understand. It’s the dark underbelly of human nature. We should have lost it as we travelled the evolutionary trail, along with our gills and second stomach, but it just didn’t happen that way.

But what I’d like to know is how does one come to the suspicion that someone is gay or lesbian? It’s not like we wear signs. And not everyone looks like a butchy female gym teacher or a swishy male hairdresser–and don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of these people who can wear their difference so honestly and naturally. But still, while maybe the rest of the world hasn’t got their heads around diversity, but we have.

I used to make jokes that I only looked like a lesbian when my lover walked into the room. I spent years trying to convince my sapphic sisterhood that I was a real true for-sure lesbian, not a tourist, not experimenting – because when I came out in the late 70s and early 80s (and yes, it’s a journey, not a destination), I wasn’t really all that good at giving the appearance that I was “in the life.” Granted, my hair has been short most of my life—because it’s very fine and quite wavy and a short fluffy cut is the only way I can leave the house half presentable without spending hours in front of a mirror—that was my most obvious “tell.” That and a studied expression that married a sneer and pout that I used to practice before heading out to bars. The rest of me is all wrong—or at least it was in 1979 and for some years after that. Sports bore me. I’m built with too many curves and too much roundness to ever be confused with the archetypical skinny tomboy type. I like skirts and sweater sets and flowing scarves and dangly earrings and, before I finally had to admit that I was slowly crippling myself, heels that practically make one require extra oxygen. I have drawers full of lipstick and closets full of purses and shoes and hats. At nearly 54, I’m still a raving clotheshorse, who just picked out three sweet little dresses to add to the summer repertoire.

That’s me. That’s permanent.  Even when it’s time to go into the light, my earrings better match my sweater or I’m not going until I get changed.

The point is…would I be suspect? Would I be served by these legally sanctioned religious fanatics? Not that I’d drop one thin dime in their holy establishments? But would I pass? Would I totally make a fool of them all?

Unless someone comes across a couple in the act of making love—which I presume wouldn’t be happening in a bakery or car wash or shoe store or whatever kind of business in question…how would someone become suspect for being gay?

Years ago, when my love and I would shop for groceries, the two of us would put the groceries out on the belt and stand together and wait. The cashier would get flustered trying to figure out where my love’s groceries ended and mine began. Clearly two women couldn’t be buying food for one household–lock up your daughters! It was amusing but telling. But that was twenty-odd years ago… it would never happen now.

“Suspected of being gay or lesbian” is probably the craziest aspect of these ugly laws.  Anyone can suspect anyone of just about anything. But unless you can prove it, you best keep it to yourself. Or someone’s going to court. Granted, I’d rather be suspected of being a lesbian than of being a problem gambler or a closet kleptomaniac or for that matter, a bat-shit crazy Christian fundamentalist. But that’s me.

Basically what these laws mean is the legal sanctioning of shunning. Isolated, now-extinct societies did that to keep the community pure. Sects do that when they feel they have a deviant in their midst. It’s nothing but a control mechanism designed to create fear and division and a sense of us against them. Group bully mentality. And in the year 2014, it’s a travesty.

I don’t write in this blog about being a lesbian very often. But I also don’t write about being white or right-handed or grey-haired, that I have brown eyes, or that I have never been able to correctly pronounce the word “aluminum.”  That’s just who I am and frankly, I don’t feel I have anything to prove or defend or any need to convince anyone that who I am and I what I am is right. I left the more militant politics behind because I felt being gay was only one aspect of who I was and there were so many other things to explore.

But the way things are going, I SUSPECT I’m going to have get more vocal and let my inner bad-ass radical out to play.


2 Comments on “I suspect I could fool them…”

  1. jimmcg1 says:

    It’s too bad that we have such senseless discrimination against entire classes of people. Not people who have proven themselves worthy of disdain, just those with a discernable difference from the discriminator. The other.

    The laws are rapidly moving to do away with the legal aspects of this, with small, reactionary pockets of yokels trying to turn back the hands of time. Doubtless the overt efforts of these pathetic souls will fade.

    We’ve seen other groups facing unfair treatment and the laws are the first steps toward people as a whole taking different attitudes. This takes a sadly long time. Ask any African American (apologies to any members of that group who prefer another term). Legal discrimination against them has been gone for some time – but the negative effects linger. How many generations does real change take?

    What is the best way for a group facing discrimination to turn the tide? That’s a tough call. Especially when you can “pass”, do you keep your head down, rub it in their faces, or take some middle path? It’s a tough call, and no single approach will be perfect for every case. I know you will choose your battles wisely. Good luck winning those you choose to fight – some of us are already in your corner.

  2. Chris says:

    Well said, Joy.

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