Contemplations on queerness, transness, and other Otherness.

Friday, December 16, 2011

gratefully enduring

       i am grateful for my oppression. Let me be clear here, i am not grateful to or for my oppressors. Nor am i wallowing in misery and pretending that this is beautiful in and of itself, although there was a time when i was wont to do that sort of thing. i am also not speaking of the sheer, unbridled pleasure of a resistant gender. i am grateful for the experience of the oppression itself.

       Most definably, i'm grateful for my perspective, for my outlook. i have seen several sides of privilege and am all the more learned for it. i have lived as a man — a white, literate, passable as middle class, possibly, even ostensibly, straight man. i have existed as a willfully poor punk-rock faggot activist. i tried, however briefly, to ascribe to a normative femininity. Now i bask in a gender all my own. It should go without saying that i have been treated very differently at these various points of gender.

       i have known privilege, massive privilege. It feels like a past life, but there was a time when i could walk down any street, beard as shield, unfettered by worry of violence. i have gone to clubs sure that my limp-wristed masculinity would be well received by the punky boys i was interested in. Now, i get patronized and harassed frequently, and even when people are mostly cool about my gender, they typically don't truly get my queerness. Now i get to worry about the very real potential of violence from bigoted strangers and the certainty of systemic violence. Again, this is not a plea for pity. It is merely a remark upon the reality of privilege and social class; and i am grateful to understand this experientially as well as academically.

       The deeper part though, the less linguistically discernible part of my gratefulness is far more important to me. i know that i can endure. This is not to say i'm tough or strong or anything like that. These are only sometimes true of me. But my love, and my kindness, and my honesty, and my beauty, and my insight can and do endure.

       My love has been rendered immutable and is absolutely not a fickle love, because to allow myself to love at all from a position of such vulnerability requires a truly open and unencumbered love. My oppression has taught me to love purely. To be kind in the face of such stark cruelty requires a kindness that springs from an infinite well of compassion. Choosing to be honest, even after making the tough choices queer folk are forced to make daily, requires an insatiable thirst for openness. Being sweet and beautiful and leaving a positive imprint requires a willingness to risk being hurt day-in and day-out.

       In my most self aware moments, i find myself in shock that i am able to feel the things that i do, despite all the motivation toward cynicism. It often feels uncanny. But, at the same time, it feels necessary and natural to respond to oppression in this way. My oppression has forced my hand, forced me to adapt and become. It has taught me and shaped me into the loving, compassionate creature that i am. For this, i am deeply grateful.