I think I have written and re-written this post a dozen times in my head. Sometimes I have even tried to put it on (virtual) paper but something would happen that would make me (read: give me an excuse) not to write it. And yes I know this is probably another one in a list of posts that won’t make me lesbian of the year, but it is something I feel I need to say out loud. Continue reading
As you may or may not know I had the pleasure of attending the Miami premiere of HBO’s OutList last week (or maybe the week before now that I think of it). I walked out of the screening with a more honest understanding of how my race, my socio-economic status, and my relationship with God, affect my identification as a lesbian.
Being black in America is one thing. Being a lesbian in America is one more thing. Making less than 6 figures in America is yet another thing. But being a black, lesbian, making less than 6 figures, who loves the Lord and can’t wear a bodycon dress unless it has maternity elastic… Chiiiiiile.
No no this I didn’t learn from the OutList, but I did want it to be very clear that I am aware of it all.
Back to the screening…
I wanted to talk about each of the people included in the project individually but my heart and mind won’t let me.
I love the work Janet Mock is doing. I support her passion. I support her success. I support her journey. I can do all of that and still say, Janet Mock‘s story is not my story. And that is perfectly fine with me.
I must say I was excited to see Suze Orman. But I was reminded very quickly that Suze Orman is a rich white woman…. that happens to sleep with other rich white women. If one of your biggest issues is that is your rich wife won’t get your money when you die, we don’t have the same reality.
Did you know that:
A UCLA study found that 7.6 percent of lesbian couples live in poverty, which is higher than the 5.7 percent rate for married heterosexual couples and the 4.3 percent for coupled gay men.
Keep in mind that in 2012, the poverty line for a two-person household was $15,079.
Wanda Sykes mirrored a lot of my sentiments and past experiences. For those who know me and/or took the time to read my bio on here, you know that I am not a gold star superlesbian. I have dated and even almost married a man. Did I have an epiphany while watching her portion? No not really, do I still love her long time? Yes and ma’am.
The most shocking thing to me were the two portions that stayed with me long after the screening was over. If you had asked me beforehand, who I would have connected the most with, I PROMISE YOU, neither of these names would have been on the top of my list.
First was R. Clarke Cooper, the former Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans. He said something that I was happy to hear someone on the national stage say. When talking about how it was to be a gay republican, he said that though the perception would be that the republicans gave him the hardest time, in reality the gays are just as judgmental. I find myself saying things like that ALL THE TIME. I won’t say there is a cult mentality in the LGBT community… no no I will say it. There is a cult mentality in the lgbt community that irks me to no end. The only requirement of being a lesbian that I read in the member’s packet was that I eat p*ssy… so that’s all I got. How dare I say that I wasn’t overcome with emotion at the repealing of DOMA? How can I possibly believe black civil rights and gay civil rights aren’t the same thing? Blezphamy!
The second person that left an impression on me was Cynthia Nixon. I will have to paraphrase her because I didn’t intend to quote her but the basic sentiment was, Gay people should have never conceded God to the religious right. YES!!!!!! I have had similar conversations with friends about this before. Why do many have such a tenuous relationship with God? Is it because unlike with friends and family, it is the only relationship that they can have (or not have) on their own terms? Is it easier to not be a Christian than to be willing to express your faith and express your love for you partner in the same voice? I don’t know… but I would really like to. Whether we want to talk about it or not America is a largely christian country. And even if they only go to church on Easter and Mother’s day, there are a large segment of the country will fight tooth and nail against anything that goes against their belief system. Oh and pretending they are just “religious nuts’ or “fanatics” isn’t going to help anyone…
You know what let me wrap this up. *forced smile*
Did you guys see it yet? I believe it’s on TV now. Please share.
First let me say I am sorry that I haven’t written much (if anything) in the last two weeks. My stepfather succumbed to pneumonia (after a lengthy decline) on February 16… Thank you for the thoughts and sentiments I received from those that knew about it.
Now back to the regularly scheduled K Word.
I’m sure you all think I am always writing about the black lesbian community more than the lesbian community as a whole… and this won’t change your mind. shrugs
Oprah. Whitney. Queen Latifah. Alicia Keys. Missy Elliot. Beyonce. What do these ladies have in common?
They are all powerful and successful women of color AND I have heard “secret lesbian” rumors about all of them in the last month… Okay maybe not Missy Elliot but that’s only because she hasn’t dropped a CD in a while.
First let me make 100% sure that no one reading this thinks that this is a National-Geographic-Yogi-Bear-esque personal ad. I am not interested in having sexual relations with a bear or a woman in a bear outfit for that matter.
*giving those who need it a moment to click off*
Okay now that we have gotten that out of the way, I am indeed searching for lesbian bears. For those who may or may not know, bears in the gay community are “men that are commonly, but not always, overweight and often having hairy bodies and facial hair. ” (I didn’t define it, blame Wikipedia). And no this is not a term used to throw shade. These men are HAPPY to be bears. There is a Bear Magazine, Bear annual events, hell I’ve watched two different movies about bears on Netflix this weekend alone.
So my question is whyyyyyyyyy aren’t their lesbian bears? I’m not saying that we should all ditch the razors for a more “natural” look. I’m asking why aren’t their organized groups of lesbians that combat the hyper sexualized notion of lesbians. And don’t say that non-skirt wearers are inherently that group. Have you been online recently? I’ve seen more “studs” in bras (and nekkid) on instagram than I have ever seen in my life. Aside from just that, though different from their femme counterparts, studs are held to a rather high standard from their workout regiment to their attire.
I don’t think we would ever see a group of lesbians with their bellies hanging out dancing around the pool. And before you try to say “What about the BBW lesbians?”, I don’t buy it. Most of the BBW lesbians I know hold themselves to extremely high standards when it comes to their personal appearance. Are women too self conscious to “let themselves go”? Is it because there are defined groups of gay men that are attracted to bears, where there wouldn’t be a female equivalent?
Discussion: Are you a bear-ette (and willing to admit it)? Do you know any bear-ettes? Are they even possible in the lesbian community?
Just a little extra, here are some bear terms. Any lezzie equivalents (other than just adding -ette to the end)?
- Bear run – a gathering or circuit party for bear/cub types and their admirers.
- Baloo – an older bear who befriends and welcomes a younger bear (Cub) into bear culture.
- Black bear – a bear of Black/African-American descent.
- Brown bear – a bear of Hispanic, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent.
- Chaser – short for chubby chaser, or a man who likes overweight men. Is also used to generalize bear admirers.
- Chub – a heavy set gay man. May or may not be a bear (chubby bear is a common term).
- Cub – a younger (or younger looking) version of a bear, typically but not always with a smaller frame. The term is sometimes used to imply the passive partner in a relationship. Can be hairy or hairless.
- Daddy bear – an older bear, sometimes looking for a daddy/son relationship with a younger man.
- Goldilocks – a female, often heterosexual, who is often in the company of bears (a bear’s fag hag).
- Grizzly Adams – a man who is hairy and is attracted to bears; but does not self-identify as a bear.
- Grizzly bear – a very dominant, heavy, tall, or hairy bear.
- Koala Bear – a bear of Australian descent.
- Otter – a man who is hairy, but is not large or stocky – typically thinner, swimmer’s build, or with lean muscle or no muscle.
- Panda bear – a bear of Asian descent.
- Pocket bear – a short bear.
- Polar bear – a silver- or white-haired bear.
- Redwood – a red-haired bear.
As a child I had always heard comments about the illusive brown paper bag test. For those who don’t know the brown paper bag test was the practice of only allowing people with complexions lighter than a paper bag entrance to certain African-American social groups and events. Even though by “my time” it was more a casual reference than an actual practice, it was always something that stuck with me. Well that and the FACT (per my grandma) that coffee made you black. All I knew was light was right, and that I would never drink coffee (that didn’t last).
As a sociology major at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) I read countless essays, and books about the environment we live in. It was there that I first studied in depth the privilege that one group has over another, be it the color of their skin, their gender or the zeros in their bank account.
I started to think more on the luxury of being “light skinned” since I wasn’t and how easy white people had it, because I wasn’t one of those either. Even as an adult, I can very easily spot the privilege of being in Hispanic in Miami. Why? Because I am not Hispanic. Yet when it came to the femme/butch dichotomy, I was oblivious (with a side of disinterested). Why? Because I am on the winning end. It wasn’t until a recent conversation with two of my readers, AJ and BK on another post regarding black lesbians obsessions with labels, that I decided to tackle this head on.
Much in the same vein that Peggy McIntosh confronted white privilege, I will attempt to identify some daily effects of femme privilege in my life. I too, will attempt to choose conditions solely related to me being a femme, withstanding my race or gender in general. I look forward to hearing from you all on things that I should add or subtract.
- In most cases my sexuality won’t be in question on first meeting someone, unless I specifically bring it up.
- I won’t have to have a plan for the first time someone asks my child why their Mommy looks like a boy.
- I will not be barred participation in any of my social/fraternal organization’s
events because I refuse to wear the required dress/skirt ensemble.
- I will never be given an evil eye, or worse confronted, when I enter the women’s public restroom.
- I will never be called young man or “sir”.
- If I don’t desire to be penetrated sexually, it won’t be regarded as me forgetting I’m a woman.
- I will never have to explain how I have children.
- I can play contact sports, or dress in athletic clothing, without having people attribute these choices to my attempt to emulate men.
- If a traffic cop pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my sexuality.
- I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring women of feminine appearance.
- I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
- I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person that dresses as I do would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
- I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my gender identity will not work against me.
- I can shop for clothes and shoes without having to go into another gender’s section.
- I can wear personal garments that make me feel comfortable without having to alter them or create substitutes.
- I can travel alone or with another femme without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
- I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
- I will not be expected to financially support my mate because of my appearance.
- If I am ever physically attacked, my appearance will never be given as an excuse by my attacker.
- I will never be rebuked by a lover for being too feminine.
Any to add? Comment below or tweet me @kristiweb
I know I have said before that I am definitely not hip or cool. I am not a superlesbian and actually prefer to see myself as an unfashionable femme. So I really have no business being bewildered by a conversation I recently had, and definitely not enough to write a blog about it…
But I am and I am so there humph
Let me give you a little K background before I get any “You are sensitive” eyerolls….
Growing up, there were a total of 7 black students in my elementary school, a whole hell of a lot in middle school, and a whopping 3 in my graduating class. I was always the cool black girl, without much effort. I even had a girl tell me that I was one of the only black people she knew (keyword: knew, not saw at the mall or shirked from in the elevator). Sidenote: I grew up in Miami, not Mayberry… just in case you were wondering. It was never a big thing, I just grew up with the belief that I was a universally cool cat (though using the term “cool cat” probably just lost me some points).
Did I have to check a few in my day about a pre-Imus Nappy headed hoe-ish comment? Probably.
Did I give a side eye to a “Yo, what’s up my n*word?” salutation between two melanin-free jocks from across the hall? Mmm hmm.
But one thing is for damn sure, I never in my life was told to my face “I don’t deal with black people…” followed up with a “No no K you aren’t like themmmmm”.
Fastforward to this weekend. Picture it Sicilly 1923… well actually South Beach a couple of days ago… Continue reading