Last night, DJ was recounting to me her day, specifically an interaction she had with a club she belongs to – Queer Alliance Club. They were talking about identify and using a tool that was created to show that nothing is black and white – and there are a lot of grey areas between how people can identify. DJ found things lacking in the tool as it was definitely a work in progress, but the discussion took a right turn before she could put forth her feelings.
“I have a problem using something created by an obvious straight, white man – how he can he put forth such a document when he had no experience like I have as a queer female.”
Those who were also identified not as cismale or cisfemale, all piped in their agreement. They objected to even using the tool as it stood because of the author behind it – someone they could only infer things about based on his name. This bugged DJ a lot. She felt shut down as being able to participate as part of the dialog simply because she had not chosen one of the acceptable labels. They in their ranting shut down anyone who was not trans or queer or the like. Even though DJ does not identify as straight, it was not the right label for the discussion.
As she was telling me the story, I could hear her annoyance in her voice – her frustration, that someone had taken her voice from her by taking a welcoming, all inclusive environment and suddenly excluding people from the discussion. And while there is a degree of lesson there – one we also talked about – her biggest frustrations was the point of the discussion was totally derailed on account of the tool selected. No one would put that aside for the good of the greater dialog – so it was a wasted meeting. Many left frustrated and annoyed.
“You are going to find, love, that now that you are in high school that some voices only want to hear their own voices with their own language – they are not going to listen as much as they speak. In this case, some people are going through shit you will never understand full – you can empathize with them, but you can’t know because you aren’t them. And while they find their voice and place in the world, it is going to be frustrating for some people have taken a different journey – and who are at a different place. They don’t want to hear about that – it’s about THEIR journey, dammit!”
It’s really funny I had this conversation last night because today I had a similar conversation with someone I know. A few years ago, she got the news she had HSV (aka Herpes) and a mutual friend suggested she talk to me about it given how much education I had to do after G’s test came back positive. I had educated a number of folks in our world about it – what is it, what is isn’t, etc. And yeah, there was an incredible amount of misinformation that led to fear.
I spent a good year trying to answer her questions – but kept running up against her own fear about HSV – that she would never have sex again – no partner would ever want her – that she would never be worth the risk.
So, when she did find people willing, she was beyond safety girl – if there were truly body sized condoms, she would have used them. At one point, she was cutting cock-sized holes in granny panties so that there would be no skin-to-skin contact. Crazy stuff all driven by fear, not education. I finally hit a point where she was so depressed and anxious about this (the number 1 side-effect of an HSV diagnosis, btw), that I told her she didn’t need a friend – she needed a counselor and extracted myself from the situation.
Because, in her words, I would never EVER understand what its like to be rejected like that.
And like DJ, it would drive me fucking mad. No, I do not wear the “I have HSV” button like she does – but I do wear the “I am poly and in a relationship w/ someone who has HSV” button. That little fact has driven many a person away from any play that involves sex. In a few cases, I was grateful for the people who asked questions – wanted education – because, many times they would later change their stance on it – maybe not with me, but with others. It lead to discussions about precautions and all. Been there, done that – have the “rejected due to HSV” merit badge.
Recently she went on a rampage about people and how stupid they are about STDs. I reminded her they are really STIs now. “Well mine’s a virus, so do I call it an STV?” Nope – still an STI. “Well, I’m sick of having to educate the masses about HSV – I am the only one doing it.” Yeah, she’s venting that to the person who gave her all of the facts, figures and websites that she now uses in her “education” quest. Oh, and she still spreads misinformation like “if I wear panties with the crotch cut out – and a female condom, then you will be fine.”
After going on and on and on about how much she is having to do because “no one else is”, I flipped. “Look, just because they aren’t splashing it all over the message boards does not mean it’s not being done. Plus with HIV and hepatitis and other things out there that are of much greater health impact, they are going to always focus on those first – as they should. Going out there and scaring people does the opposite of good or making them take it as serious as the truly serious ones is counterproductive. Be happy people ARE asking questions – they could just be shunning you.”
“Oh, they still shun me” was her only reply.
With an attitude like that, I can’t imagine why.
Sigh – I only wish I could tell DJ that it gets better – but sadly I cannot. Even as adults, people still have to process by being the only one going through something – the only one ever gone through it – and push away those who want to help, have empathy, and all. Just like those kids did in her club.
I guess maybe I lied – it isn’t exclusive to kids as they discover who they are – oh well, sometimes all you can do is hope they figure it out…..and go ——-> over there.