responding, à la Lorde

March 12, 2008  |  essays

A response to the girl who posted that awful rant against female masculinity on Craigslist from The Closet Musician, one of my very best friends. Thank you.

I feel like there’s no way to properly respond in this particular forum that would have much of a chance of softening the angry girl’s mind about any of the angry things she said. So, what do I do? It’s obvious that all of this hurt and fear is in her from somewhere, and her default reaction is to put it back out in a hateful, anonymous add that anyone, from anywhere, in any place or state of being can run into.

So, what do we do?

Personally, I tucked right back into that slightly tougher skin of mine, so not to have my heart impaled by a hateful, cowardly stranger on Craigslist. This is that thicker skin that queers, people of color, disabled people, anyone different from the “norm,” have been wearing since the dawning of time. The one that at some point, we all have to learn to throw on at the drop of a dime, at any moment, for an immeasurable amount of unpredictable moments of attack. In this case, the one that all of us queers grew or will grow at some point: when we first cut our hair short, the first time we shop in the clothing dept. that doesn’t coincide with our biological sex. This is the skin we put on before we go into a public restroom, or when we are awkwardly sir-ed in a crowded place, or spat at, or threatened, beat up, ignored, laughed at, or when a really close friend or perfect stranger or parent or lover says some of the same things that the angry girl on Craigslist posted. This is the skin we wear when we aren’t butch enough, too butch, faggy, not gay enough, wear makeup, wear a suit, when we are insulted, rejected, fired, not hired, gawked at, thrown out or any of the other plethora of things that happen to us because people like this girl cannot or will not deal with their own internal issues of hurt and insecurity and so shove it on us somehow, carelessly and spitefully in the form of hate and discrimination. This is nothing new, right? We are just taken off guard, angry and offended and confused and hurt … again … or maybe for the first time.

Most of us aren’t counting the hits anymore, but there are some of us that ran into this post and got hit in that soft unarmed place, where our true and fragile identities are trying to bloom, for the first time. Some of us just cut our hair really short yesterday and then walked down a busy street, some of us just admitted to ourselves that we’re queer and that this was okay, some of us braved our first gay bar last night, some of us just had our first queer kiss, some of us just came out to someone and it went ok, some of us finally went out in a tie or a skirt for the first time and were told we looked handsome or pretty for the first time ever, by a pretty girl or cute boy or a parent or a friend or a stranger – and then we read this post and got hit in that soft place for the first time – and that thicker, tougher skin, that I’ve been wearing for a few decades now, that filters what can and can’t get into your heart, started to grow. And this makes me mad, this makes me very, very sad.

I wonder, even though it’s pointless, I wonder why she wrote most of everything she wrote. It didn’t really have anything to do with anything and was so careless and aimless. She just opened fire on anyone who ran into it. She hurt a lot of people.

Regardless, it’s out there now, for most of us as a reminder, for some of us as a harsh awakening, that our identity, our self understanding is just that: it is our own and it is deeply personal and sensitive and pliable and impressionable, breakable, insecure, vulnerable, real and very, very… very important. And as you discover you, you have to wear it, claim it, right? It’s who you are.

And I think that when who you are is hit with hate, go ahead and feel it, give yourself permission to react, just chose your reaction consciously so that maybe the hatred going around will lighten up and so that maybe insight and acceptance can have some room to get somewhere, and so that maybe this girl, who, like it or not, is everywhere, might learn something from you … and …but … maybe she won’t. But, for all of us who are brave enough to be who we are and let our identities free to style our hair, dress us, create our stride, our speech, and any and all of the infinite possibilities of potential expression for the identities we claim – good for us!

Audre Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” As a boi, butchy, lesbian, dyke, girl, androgynous, top, bottom, sister, partner, writer, daughter, friend, gardener, Cher-loving, liberal, sexy, funny, handsome, cocky, fragile, political, sensitive, angry, kind, self-loving person, I really like that quote.

And now my comment directed to the girl that wrote the original ad on Craigslist:

Angry, Anonymous Girl,

If your misplaced hatred is at all removable and you are even slightly open to things that don’t make sense to you, I (by myself) or some of my friends and I (a lovely bouquet of butches, bois, dykes, fags, hags, trans, femmes, studs, bi’s, queers, and straighties) would be more than willing to have an open discussion with you. If you promise to leave your sword at the door, I’ll take off my thicker skin and talk to you from an honest place: girl to girl, lesbian to lesbian, boi to however you so choose to self identify at that particular moment.

If you are going to respond to this letter with hate, please warn me first, maybe in the title, so I can put on a layer first.

Thanks for listening.

 

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6 Comments


  1. This is lovely and powerful… I am so touched, beyond touched even. You acknowledge the complexity of our whole community and in that, bare some of your own. Thank you.

  2. Closet Musician…do you have your own blog anywhere? would love to read more of your writing.

  3. I've been trying to talk her into starting one myself!

  4. Dear Closet Musician,

    I really respect that you condemn this poster's hatred and anger, not her. It takes beautiful insides to invite someone who says such mean thoughtless things to an honest exchange.

  5. thanks for writing this… beautifully worded despite the lack of beauty originally presented.

  6. Please start a blog because I think many of us could learn so much from how you approached this hate.

    I just want to give my whole community a hug right now.

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