This Dispatch is part of the Tough Questions series.
“What is this a faggot party? Y’all a bunch of faggots. I wish I had an oozie, man I wish I had an oozie. You mess with God, you mess with me. Man, I wish I had an oozie.”
A man yelled at a group of friends and me as he walked past our outdoor table at Yum Yum Too in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. I knew when I came out that people would think about me differently and treat me differently. Harassment and fear of violence because of my sexual orientation and gender presentations is a constant reality.
Can I handle it?
Michael Vacha Jr. said,
Being “out” doesn’t always mean someone has become self-affirming or unabashed about their intimate relationships: “I know we’re not in West Hollywood anymore, but will you hold my hand anyway?” :)
I expected there to be some definitive time in the future when everything fell into place and just felt “right.” That never happened. Not that I don’t feel good about myself, I do. It’s more that when I was a child, I expected being a “grown-up” to be some magical, static, completed thing. Real life is fluid and complex and beautiful. It’s a journey.
In the early stages of coming up, I worried what people would think, what they would say. Would it be uncomfortable? Would it be worse than uncomfortable, would it be hurtful? Would I be able to handle it all? Am I strong enough to survive?
I practice noticing my body and my reactions. When do I feel the urge to uncross my legs, scoot away from my male friend, or let go of my boyfriend’s hand?
Sometimes, I let the urge go and I continue carrying on my business. Other times, I recognize a need for safety and I go with my instincts.
The practice is paying attention to the moments when I feel uncomfortable and discerning when I need to act on that discomfort and when I need to let it go.
“Will I be uncomfortable? How will I survive” is a question I continue to ask myself.
Would you consider responding to this prompt? If you blog, write there (and link back here so I can read it too). Or respond on your social network of choice. Or write it in a journal for no one else to see but yourself.
What does this Tough Question bring up in you?