I am in a class right now with four other classmates. It’s a “feminist research methods” class and is focused upon us integrating feminist principles into our own projects. Finally I settled upon looking at gender identity, although my project itself is still a bit vague. But to me, it’s a frightening thing to talk about my thoughts on gender every week with people who are open-minded and liberal, but do lack any background in queer theory and the like. So when I described myself as genderqueer in one class, I think my class took that to mean that I’m a lesbian. We can talk more about that later.
One of the people in my class told me that ze was very happy that ze’d met me and listened to me, and recounted a few stories:
The first is that ze is pretty sure that zir child (who around 20) is gay. As ze said “She doesn’t talk to me about it, but you know, we watch the L word together.” (Yes, I know, I rolled my eyes a bit too; but then did meet that person, who had many of the cultural cues that are associated with non-hetero-ness – short hair, baggy clothes, awesome swagger). Apparently, at one point, the two of them were watching the show and friends stopped by, and my classmate was embarrassed and left the room. Then, in zir room, suddenly thought “What am I doing? I am abandoning my kid, and showing them that I don’t accept them” and so ze went back out.
Another thing this classmate brought up was that zir other child (who’s in midteens) snuck out of the house one night. When my classmate discovered this, ze angrily phoned and then texted, asking what was going on, and said something like “Whoever you’re out with, he or she has no respect.” Afterwards, the teenager thanked my classmate for not immediately assuming the person ze was out with was male, and ended up admitting to finding female people attractive as well.
So my thoughts on this? On one hand, I’m a bit frustrated. It feels like my classmates (and prof) aren’t really listening to what I’m saying about gender, and continuing to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation.
On the other hand, I’m glad that my presence is opening up those thought processes. Really glad – it’s so positive to hear that sort of thing.