Invisible Queer Living In Patriarchy
Dear Medium Readers, firstly, you should go to my yoga blog, and subscribe for great, monthly content, really:
I risk saying everything wrong if I instruct you on How To Feel Alive. I’m on a new anti-depressant medication, and every time I take it, I want to lie down and take a nap. It messes up my appetite; I feel nauseous every day. I don’t actually know if it’s working. The worst part to me is that my body could get used to it; I could get used to it; and then find out my new health insurance doesn’t cover that medication.
I hate being on medication, but what I hate more is when someone gives me unsolicited advice on alternative ways of healing like this disease is an extra three pounds that came up after a very specific break up. Like this person has any idea what it’s like to be very, very, very queer and be read still as straight which means you are constantly invisible. Like eating enough spinach and stretching my spine will erase those Prop 8 signs from my mind and California lawns, forever. I could pathologize my entire experience so that it’s something you can look up word by word: invisible queer living in patriarchy too much feminine energy. But honestly, those phrases don’t tell a story; they stimulate simple imagery kind of like Instagram.
So I won’t instruct you on How to Feel Alive. I will tell you about how I’m feeling.
Why I’m feeling more alive.
Maybe I’ll tell you what’s missing.
On Sunday night, I went to a poetry slam with a new friend, and felt something I don’t feel nearly as often as I’d like to feel. Connected and nervous. I’ve always loved the type of spoken word that reads like a long run on sentence without any breath left to spare. The poetry slam took place in a backyard behind an apartment complex. People sat on picnic tables and those L-shaped chairs that allow you to sit on the ground while supporting your back. Mint grew like weeds in the messy yard; and the smell of weed drifted over the fence, or maybe I didn’t see that someone was smoking a joint right in front of me.
When I moved to Portland, I loved to watch the mushrooms pop up around trees and the moss grow up on the rooftops after a long rain. I loved living across from a white craftsman with a purple door and a cat named Cupcake. I loved that bike tourist was an actual job; and that you could go to a store called Scrap to buy old paper clips and construction paper. I loved when I taught myself simple bike routes to Trader Joe’s; to my favorite coffee shop; and to my weekly dance class.
Recreational marijuana became legal a month after I landed here; and that worried me a little. In July, I celebrated my 4th year sober, and I am still suspicious of marijuana the way some people are with sugar. I think I worried more than anything that I would be surrounded by the sort of checked out hippie that I find often more frustrating than Republicans. The sort of person who has stopped voting.
But there has been some truth in Mary Oliver’s poem, “You strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do, the only thing you could do — , determined to save the only life you could save.”
I came to Portland because I wanted to live somewhere literally with more trees where I could ride my bike more often. And a lot of stuff felt off even though I’d thrown myself into a voice class; developed a really satisfying 5 Rhythms dance class; and was genuinely moving closer to who I wanted to be.
I had been frustrated with the vapid and insular yoga culture in Los Angeles for a long time. Much of the culture seems to thrive on two principles: A. obsession with the idealized, Hollywood-ized feminine, young, white body that includes long toned lines, and little bulk. This body is not the kind of body that will keep you alive in an apocalypse. B. Quiet and polite liberalism that slowly accepts mainstream liberal ideas when it appears to be good for business. This sort of liberalism does not involve action or sticking up for what is right, but being on the right side at the right time.
There’s a big difference between someone who sticks up for their principles no matter who is looking because that is right; and someone who is scared shitless to be on the wrong side at the wrong moment in history.
For those that are itching for examples, after Orlando, I had diarrhea for two days. As a queer person, I did want people I loved to reach out to me, but I was met with empty liberalism on Facebook. Posting “we love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters” when you’ve done nothing in person to get behind us is hypocritical. Moreover, I’ve had people who had divulged relationships with the same sex that they were in the closet about making every effort to appear supportive on social media.
The reason this sucks is:
1. Hiding a gay relationship is different than being private.
2. Most gay people who have had more than several relationships have at some point been in a romantic relationship with someone who was ashamed of them. Who felt the need to keep the relationship private while taking very different actions in their equivalent heterosexual relationships.
The Brene talk about shame would be so much more powerful to me if Brene knew the shame that we feel; and have had to battle just to get up every day.
I’m completely over the vapid yoga culture. Done. Finished. I’m done having my queer culture explained to me by straight people; I’m done having my culture represented for me and written for me by straight people on tv; I’m done explaining why short hair and button downs are much hotter than high heels, and how not only are gay people not inferior, but we don’t have any Kardashians in our midst because we plan to survive the Apocalypse. I’m done trying to explain to all my straight friends why I spend most of my social time now at gay events because I want a community. I’m done essentially comforting the heterosexual.
If you’re reading this for the first time, maybe you feel I’m going on a tangent. You signed up for my yoga blog. Right now, I have nothing really to say about yoga. I can tell you that stretching breaks up abrasions in muscles (knots, abrasions are knots); and I can tell you that if you shorten the trapezius and you pinch it to grab the fasciae, and just hold the pinched tissue, you may help improve metabolism and circulation in the tissue. I can tell you that my physical body is in more pain since I stopped doing yoga five days a week.
In the May 11th issue of the Portland Mercury, Megan Burbank interviewed Andi Zeisler about her new book We Were Feminists Once.
“I’m much more interested in what does it mean when people [who] are made possible by industries that are intrinsically inequitable…become mouthpieces for feminism and for progressivism? And how far can their feminism and their progressivism really go when it’s so entrenched within capitalism and within the need to sell stuff?”
Me, too, Andi. Me too. So if you are still reading and care to play a mind game with me, send me the name of someone you consider a mouthpiece for feminism that maybe is too invested in making money to really change the system?
You choose whether you want to be anonymous or tell it to me direct. Also, this month’s video shall go up in the next week.
Namaste y’all, from a disgruntled yogi,