Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Where To Find Us This Weekend: Pride St Charles!

This weekend is going to be awesome!  For Saturday we'll have a table at Pride St Charles with our books, new costumes and an awesome new rainbow pixel quilt! If you're in the area, come say hi and check out our queer magical girls!

Also we have new stickers specifically for the event!

See you there!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pride Month and Where I Fit (or don't) Within My Family

Photo by Ekyse Lavonne

So, its Pride month. That time in our lives when we’re supposed to celebrate how queer
we are and remind the world we exist, before the month is over and a large number of them
can go back to pretending we don’t. There is a portion of my family who are included in
that group and, with recent things that have happened, I needed to write the below and get
on with my life. This is super personal, but honestly I do hope it helps others, or at least will
help explain what happened recently and why I’m 10000% done with this bullshit.
My grandmother passed away recently and, as most families do, my family and their friends
gathered together to talk about her and attempt to lay her to rest. However, in the world of
passive aggressive Minnesota, it’s not really that simple. Let me back up. Once upon a time, back in middle school, I told my parents I thought I was gay. I came
prepared, I had the proof. A close attractive female friend, check. The desire to only
sketch beautiful women because curves were easier and prettier, check. My complete
lack of a dating life in any shape or form in spite of having several male friends who
shared my interests, check. I was positive. I knew what the word meant and it fit me,
I was so sure. What else could it all mean? “No. You’re not.” my dad said and that was that. I was told to never talk about it again. Once upon a time, fresh out of college, I moved back in with my parents. I was an adult.
I had a full time job, a handle on my bills and was ready to strike out on my own. Oh and
I had a girlfriend. One I met in college over the internet and spent nearly all my free time
online with. We were in love, I even bought her a ring. Eventually I gathered up the courage
to tell them that, once again, I liked girls. This time my proof was indisputable. I had a
girlfriend, a lover of the female persuasion. Surely this would be enough. They refused to say her name. When my mom mentioned her it was always as my
roommate and nothing more. My mother even took the time to gaslighting me,
accusing me of being the problem for being so concerned with ‘labels.’ I skipped
Christmas that year, instead we went and got a cat, trying to fill the gaping hole. This is how it went, on and off for years. Briana’s a part of my life and when my
parents called she would come up in conversation. There was some headway,
here and there, with time passing and small comments. They started to say her
name, my dad even referred to her as my partner once in front of others. I wasn’t
crazy, they were getting it. Surely it would eventually be enough kind words,
comments of understanding, I’m not insane really, I’m still your daughter I’m
just in love. But each time, even when there seemed to be progress, that brick
wall came crashing down to remind me that no, I was wrong. It was never outright hate, my parents don’t do that. Instead it was small things,
like ignoring her until I brought her up. Gifts purchased from the clearance rack
with the sticker still left in place, just so they had something to wrap. Complete
silence at the mention of a wedding, especially when they had mentioned paying
for when there was a hint of my being straight. My parents became masters of
microaggressions that I could never bring up, because I’d be gaslit into confusion
and silence, somehow never able to communicate to them why it hurt so much. Which brings me to the funeral with the eulogy written by my own mother’s hand
and my complete and utter rage during what should have been a time to mourn
a loved family member. Sitting there, in the pew, with my ever supportive wifey of 16+ years, I sat looking
at a lovely one sheet of paper about my grandmother. She was a sweet woman
who had mothered a large family and lived on a farm for most of her life. She
loved animals and taught her daughters to sew, spending all the time she could
with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was survived by an entire
family… a family which included her children and their loved ones. My parents
and their children. My brother and his wife of less than a year. And me. Just me.
Partnerless. Sitting there, in that funeral home, the person next to me was reduced to
invisibility yet again and I felt like a piece of me was cut away, not suitable for
public consumption. She wasn’t good enough. I wasn't good enough. And in
spite of my continued efforts, we never would be. So it was time to stop trying. There’s this nice little fantasy that’s passed around, that family is the
foundation you build your life on and that one safe place you can always
return to when times are hard. This is a truth that so many people cling to
and write their lives on that when you realize your family doesn’t fit this mold
there’s a sense of panic. Children like me run forward and try to pretend it’s
ok, burying the painful truth so deep that it’s continually forgotten and denied.
We try so damn hard. Just one more chance and they’ll get it. Just one more look,
one more phone call, one more conversation. One more awkward get together
and it’ll all turn out ok. The fantasy says if it doesn’t work it’s our fault. Our
family isn’t to blame because they’re still there and still a strong foundation -
instead we’re the odd piece out that doesn’t fit and we did something wrong. It’s
our fault that we’re different, because we don’t fit.

That fantasy is a lie. It's not our fault. It never was. What I failed to realize is that this wasn’t my job. I could twist and turn all I
wanted, but it wouldn’t matter until my family actually made a space for me
to fit into. I would never be able to fit into something that wasn’t there to begin
with. Pretending to be something I wasn’t to fit their tiny little space - or worse,
amputating a part of myself just to be around them - wasn’t helping anyone. It
was hurting me. A lot. And I couldn’t do it anymore. That day, on the way back from the funeral home, we ranted and I cried. A lot.
No part of that night was about my grandma, as it should have been. I’d come
to terms with my grandma’s death before the funeral, honestly, that part I’d
already worked through. Instead I was angry and I was in pain because of the
family it was killing me to hang onto, and I needed to let them go. It would never
matter how much I tried or how many chances I gave them. The ball was in their
court and it always had been. There was nothing I could do until they actually
picked it up and moved on. No amount of me trying was going to force their
hands, no matter how much I wanted it to. ‘Coming out’ is the moment in a queer person’s life where they step out through
a closet door and finally show the world who they are. I’ve come out, many times
since middle school. I haven’t always been accepted, but it’s always felt like some
sort of progress was made - except with my family. Somehow, there, my queer
self was revealed only to be shoved back in the closet and hidden away with
every other dark denied secret. It didn’t matter how many times I pulled it out, it
was always pushed right back in, ready to be ignored for another day. I think, sometimes, ‘coming out’ is simply a door. A door to leave behind yourself
and the others who won’t accept you. In this case it was leaving my parents’
house and walking down the street to join my partner in the home we’ve created
with my friends and chosen loved ones. From the outside I can see how damaged
and condemned that old family house is. I can also see that I’m not the one doing
the damage and it’s not my job to fix it - because that’s not where I live anymore. I’ve built for myself a life and a home that’s much more stable. One where I fit in
and don’t have to explain myself to anyone and pray that they somehow still
remember what I said. There’s a stable family inside, but they’re one I’ve built
and they accept me for who I am. I moved away and made a place for myself.
It still has a phone to get those calls and a door to be knocked on, but for the
first time, I’m done being the person who needs to initiate that contact. Beyond that, there’s another piece that’s just as important. I don’t need a reply.
At this point, whether they come knocking or not, it doesn’t matter. My identity
doesn’t include them, and I’m no longer me: whether they like it or not. Instead
I’m just my queer ass self, living here with my partner and our three cats. No
part of that identity is theirs, acknowledged or denied. I’m just me. Period. Happy Pride.