#1941

Queer Club: I Wanted To Do The Thing, So I Did The Thing! (Is this how you adult?)

A few months ago, I was lamenting the lack of local queer meetups while my fiance and I were grocery shopping. Living far from major cities like Seattle and Olympia makes it hard to take part in queer culture – being on the wrong side of a toll bridge and in a town full of old people makes it even worse. I don’t feel unwelcome in my hometown of Gig Harbor, but neither do I feel like my queerness is necessarily nurtured here. Besides the occasional Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker or the cool Safeway checker with the queer pin, it’s difficult to identify and connect with my own kind.

This wasn’t the first time I complained about being too far from the queer city hubs, and I’m sure it also wasn’t the first time my fiance suggested I start my own meetup. Here’s what made this time different: When we got home I actually did it. I sat down and made a Facebook group and invited the few local queer friends I had. I posted on Craigslist and Tumblr and Twitter. And when we went grocery shopping the next weekend, I nervously asked the Safeway checker if she wanted to come. After just a week or two, we had a total of 15 members – not bad, considering I was pulling from what is likely a small pool. The group was a nice mixture of people I knew, people who knew someone else in the group, and people who didn’t know anyone. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the results.

And then I realized I was in charge and would have to plan the first meetup, and I panicked.

Okay, not quite. But I was definitely SUPER nervous as I waited for people to arrive at that first meeting. I had a million worries buzzing in my head. What if no one came? What if no one knew what to say and it was really awkward? What if I forgot someone’s name or pronouns or didn’t have anything for a vegan to eat? What if everyone liked everyone else except for me, and they decided to kick me out of my own group? What if we just didn’t really have anything in common and the group fell apart immediately and I never tried to do anything like it ever again and became a recluse and my fiance had to cover all our windows with newspaper? You know, the usual fears of a totally normal person.

As you can probably guess, none of those things happened. The meetup went better than I could possibly have expected and people stayed until after midnight (for reference, I’m usually in bed by 8:00 PM). After our guests had left, I was too exhilarated to sleep and practically bouncing off the walls with relief and happiness. I had made a thing! That people had attended! And had liked enough to make plans for the next one (and to form a D&D group)! I couldn’t believe it. Somehow, I had managed to gather together a group of local queer folks who were all amazingly nerdy and hilarious. I liked them all. They seemed to all like each other. Was this how you made friends? Who knew it could be so easy!

I have no idea what the future holds for Queer Club – honestly, I didn’t plan past “make a Facebook group” so I’m 100% playing this by ear. It seems to be going well so far, though, and there’s already talk of attending SakuraCon together, so I’m feeling hopeful. At the very least, Queer Club is an excuse to get myself (and my fiance, who’s along for the ride) out of my antisocial comfort zone and interacting with, well, anyone. If I can help create a little network of local queer folks for attending prides and playing D&D together, even better.

We’re an open group and love meeting new people. If you live in the south Puget Sound area of Washington state, consider stopping by one of our meetups! You can find us on Facebook under the name “Gig Harbor/Kitsap Queer Club” – and no, you don’t have to live in those areas specifically. Anyone who identifies as being somehow under the queer umbrella is welcome, along with significant others of whatever definition. :)

#1940

Do you ever experience a piece of media – a book, a song, a movie – and get hit with the knowledge that this thing would have totally spoken to your younger self? That if you had experienced it at, say, sixteen or seventeen, who knows how it might have changed you?

Flashback to myself in high school, circa 2006. I hadn’t yet discovered asexuality and assumed, for all intents and purposes, that I was straight (despite having zero interest in dating). If you had asked me then why I so adamantly adored Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, and Clea Duvall in The Faculty*, I would have said it was because they were so cool, so badass, so confident. I might have said it was because I wanted to be like them in some way, or just tag along on their adventures.

Um. Yeah. I was pretty oblivious to things. In my defense, though, my peer group didn’t use labels like sapphic, homoromantic, or really anything besides the L, G, and B. I didn’t know it was possible to like girls without, well, LIKING girls, so I never analyzed the feelings I was having at the time. Even after I learned about asexuality at the age of nineteen and officially adopted the label for myself at age twenty-one, I still spent several years agonizing over what my strange attraction to girls meant. It wasn’t until I was almost twenty-six that I finally opened that door a crack – just enough to let in the girl who would become my fiance.

I say all this with a purpose, I promise. See, a couple months ago I started a local queer meetup. We happen to all be in one way or another attracted to women, so when we held a movie marathon last week, we watched sapphic movies. One of these, But I’m a Cheerleader (BIAC), was a late 1990s comedy featuring Natasha Lyonne as a closeted lesbian sent to a conversion therapy camp by her parents. It’s a very silly movie with an undercurrent of dark realism that makes the friendships and romances all the more poignant. It also, to my embarrassingly giddy surprise, features a Clea Duvall who looks exactly like her Faculty character Stokley. On whom I have had a raging crush since high school. Oh, and should I mention this is a movie where you get to watch Stokley make out with another girl? How the internet didn’t let me know this movie existed sooner, I will never know. And I will always be bitter about that. You let me down, Tumblr!

Anyway, all this is to say that the ending of the movie made me cry. Not Carol, which we watched first, oh no. BIAC made me cry. Why? Partly because the ending is so sugary sweet (a sapphic movie with a happy ending? yes please!), but also partly because I watched the whole movie thinking This came out in 1999? I could have watched this as a kid? As a confused teen who had no idea why she got so mad that Stokley wasn’t a lesbian after all? You mean I could have had an actual queer Stokley to obsess over all these years??

I mean, SERIOUSLY.

I’ve read and watched a lot of queer media since I was a teen, but none of it quite hit me like this movie did. I sincerely think that if I had watched BIAC as a teenager, I would have known ten years earlier that I was sapphic. Ten years! Ten years I could have spent learning to embrace my identity, instead of agonizing over it. Ten years I could have spent making friends with other queer people, instead of feeling unwelcome in those circles. Ten years I could possibly have spent dating and exploring my desires and boundaries. Ten years of angst and loneliness that could have been ten years of friendship and pride parades.

That thought kinda hurts, to be honest. I’m in a good place now – proudly ace and proudly sapphic – but I wasn’t for a long time. I struggled, especially in college. There are songs I can’t listen to because they’re just filled too much with that old longing. When I see queer representation in media these days, especially in shows like Legend of Korra and Steven Universe, I feel simultaneously joyful and jealous. Joyful that representation like this might save someone years of hurt; jealous because I could have used that representation, too. As a kid, I was too deeply in the closet to even think of seeking out queer media. I can’t imagine how much seeing queer relationships in “regular” media might have opened my eyes. I know being a queer kid today isn’t easy, but I’m still so happy to think that even one kid might be saved the emotional bog through which I had to wade.

*and Michelle Rodriguez and Gong Li and Fairuza Balk…

#1926

“Triskaidekaphobia”

numbers betray me:
the number of ways in which I have
or have not
the number of ways in which I will
or will not
the number of ways in which I am
or am not
the number of ways in which I can
or cannot ever
add up
to a perfect integer

#1903

I used to wonder, late at night when I wandered between streetlights and shadows on a chilly, quiet campus, what it would be like to sing with you. Listening to the songs that conjured your spirit, if not your presence, I wondered which part you would take; would your voice be higher than mine, light and lilting, or would it reach even deeper notes than I could? I’d sit on cold stone steps and imagine you huddled against me, us sharing scant body warmth as we watched our voices drift away in ghostly breaths of melody. You were for so many years a siren calling to me from third-hand sources, and I the lost sailor traveling sightless in the hopes of finding you at the end of my journey. What I did not know I heard in this music was my willingness to break upon the rocks, should that be my only way to glimpse you. The lyrics did not speak this immutable truth; the notes did not spell it on their staves; yet I absorbed it nonetheless. Thus when you did finally find me, I came to you as the sailor longing to wreck, as the tower maiden eager to jump, as the innocent girl who wanted never to find her way home from Wonderland. And you? You remained as I had imagined you: the siren calling, calling, calling in the dark for the only one who could hear her voice. Now I know exactly what our voices sound like blended together, and all the words in the world can’t describe such beauty.

Attention South Puget Sound Queer Folk!

There are a lot of queer meetups in the Puget Sound, but most of them are in big cities like Seattle and Olympia. I want to create a casual queer group that meets in the Kitsap/Gig Harbor area for the folks around here who don’t want to or can’t drive that far**. I envision this meetup as being very casual and maybe focusing on sharing queer media (books, movies, TV shows, music, etc), doing fun activities, and being a general safe space for local queer folk. Also, if we meet at my house, you can rub my cat’s amazing tummy.

This will be a group for anyone on the queer spectrum (no gatekeeping allowed!) and their partners/family/whomever. The socially awkward and/or neurodivergent are especially welcome, as are people of all faiths, nationalities, etc.

You can find us by searching “Gig Harbor/Kitsap Queer Club” on Facebook; the group is closed but if you send a request to join, I’ll add you ASAP. We may grow big enough to warrant a Meetup.com group or something beyond Facebook, but I’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re at 9 members already, though!

**Tacoma folks, you are more than welcome too; I’ll try to make up the bridge toll in snacks or something. :)

#1888

Holy Shit My Girlfriend is Awesome: An Essay

It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day, which means an overwhelming amount of heteronormativity being shoved in our collective queer faces. What better time, then, to write about the woman I am fiercely, ecstatically in love with? This is the classic story of awkward-asexual-girl-who-has-never-dated meets awkward-bisexual-girl-who-has-dated-too-many-bad-eggs. On Craigslist.

Our story doesn’t actually start in May of 2014, when Chriselle and I first started communicating via email. It starts years before – in early childhood for Chriselle, and early high school for myself. Being the budding queers we were, we found ourselves unknowingly following the same path to self-discovery. She habitually wrote letters to a mysterious figure she called her Stranger; I wrote longingly about an undefined girl I called Shakespeare’s Sister, after Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Years before Chriselle and I ever met, we both imagined this perfect person whom we wished would come into our lives.

Fast forward to 2014. After years of internal sapphic angst, I woke up one morning and thought fuck it, I’m going to post something on the Craigslist w/w forum. So I did. It was super vague and focused more on my search for a writing buddy than a romantic tryst. Chriselle answered and we hit it off immediately. We flirted, bonded, and eventually I asked her out – with about a thousand butterflies whirling in my stomach. From there, the story follows the lesbian U-Haul cliche embarrassingly close. We bought matching rings on our second date, were talking about marriage by the second month, and had rented an apartment together by the ninth. 44 months later, we’re engaged and planning an October wedding. Gross, huh?

I think I would love Chriselle no matter what, because of fate and soulmates and stuff, but she also happens to be someone who deserves to be loved for a thousand different reasons. She is passionate, altruistic, and unfailingly honest. She is intelligent, literary, and refreshingly open-minded. She is sarcastic, unapologetically queer, and one of the biggest geeks I have ever met. She is a dedicated daughter, a loving sister, and an extremely patient aunt. She is a beautiful, curvy, brown-skinned immigrant who is tough as nails and won’t back down from a fight (physical, emotional, or moral) she believes in. She works a job where she watches animals die every single day, and yet she always goes back because she can’t stand to not do something for them. She is more confident than she knows, and more capable. She is, above all, a truly good person.

But there’s more. Those are some of the big, overarching reasons why I love this girl so much, but some of the smaller, more specific reasons are just as important. I love the way she cackles when she kills someone in Assassins Creed. I love how irrationally angry she gets when I mention Paul Revere. I love how she can quote the Harry Potter movies by heart. I love how she calls her beanies “bonnets”. I love how she supports my various weirdnesses. I love that we can have long, in-depth discussions about anything from morality to Lord of the Rings. I love how she gets super loopy whenever she is sick or has taken pain killers. I love that she puts like a million sugars in her tea. I love that sometimes she forgets the English word for something, and only remembers the Tagalog one. I love that she drinks soda instead of hard liquor when she’s had a bad day. I love that she cries if you give her a gift for her dog. I love her freckles and her wavy hair and her callouses. I love her tattoos and her piercings and the little scar on her eyebrow.

I’m not naive, and our relationship isn’t perfect; we have our share of struggles just like everyone else. At the end of the day, though, a lot of those struggles come from us loving each other too much, instead of not enough. And no matter how neurotic or disappointing or frustrating I can be, I know nothing will drive Chriselle from my side. We may be planning to say “for better or worse” in front of our family and friends next fall, but we already made those promises to each other three and a half years ago. We spent so many years searching for our Stranger, for our Shakespeare’s Sister, that we won’t let anything come between us now.

#1883

I find myself suddenly very bothered by the phrase “special snowflake”. I never liked it, nor the sentiment behind it, but I have recently been gnashing my metaphorical teeth over it. What bothers me is how illogical it is. In essence, a “special snowflake” is supposed to be someone who has many identities, aspects, and labels. This is bad, apparently. What is illogical about this is that we all have a long list of labels – the only difference is that we aren’t always vocal about as many of them. If I say I’m just a girl from Washington state, well, then I’m not a special snowflake. I’m “normal”. Yet if I make a list of even just a tenth of the labels that apply to me, then suddenly that’s too many and I’m just trying to be special. But it’s just a list. All of those things are true about me whether I say them or not. What difference does it make if I state them or leave them unsaid?

I decided to make a list of whatever personal labels I could think of off the top of my head. Let’s see how special snowflake I can be:

I am female, a daughter, and a sister. I am an Italian by descent, an American by birth, and a Washingtonian by choice. I am queer, asexual, sapphic, and engaged. I am a lazy femme, anti-makeup (for myself), and pro-leg hair. I am a feminist and a vegetarian; I am pro-choice and anti-Trump. I am lactose-intolerant, nearsighted, and a supertaster. I am allergic to salmon, kiwis, and oats. I am chronically ill. I am pagan, Kemetic, and a follower of Bast. I am anxious, obsessive-compulsive, and depressed. I am seismophobic and trypophobic. I am a Research Administrator. I am a writer and a reader. I am a nerd and a geek. I am a Fannibal, an Assassin, and a Ravenclaw.

That’s pretty impressive, but does it make me a special snowflake? I don’t think so. Anyone alive long enough to have formed a conscious understanding of who they are could make a list that long, or longer. We all have hundreds of identities, some we are born with and some we choose willingly. We’re all special snowflakes, whether we like it or not. Calling someone a special snowflake just makes you sound like you oppose having a full understanding of yourself, or using descriptors to define concepts that apply to you – in essence, “I hate that you’re using words to describe things”. Well buddy, I have some bad news for you: that’s literally what language is. Words for stuff. If you can’t get over the fact that people like to describe who they are, then you’re going to have one miserable life. Anyway. All this was to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a special snowflake, because all that means is that you’re different from other people, which is literally true for everyone on earth, even identical twins. The end.