This is a safe space for us to better understand the LGBTQ family experience by reading, writing and sharing letters.
Culturally Queer

Culturally Queer

Dear V—

I know there are close to twenty years between us, and if I am patient and wait, eventually you may have an understanding of my position. I know you see me as old and irrelevant—you said as much on my Facebook wall. But I am not good at waiting nor brave enough to continue our social media argument. Yet I can’t stop rehashing what I wished I said before deleting that post.

You wrote that LGBTQ spaces were sacred for queer people, and that they fought too hard for them to allow them to be coopted by queerspawn. That being “culturally gay” wasn’t a thing, that trans people had to fight to be welcomed in LGBTQ spaces and it wasn’t safe for them to have these extraneous people around. (I’m paraphrasing.)  

I want to ask you a few questions.  Do you want children some day? Or do any of your friends? And will you take them to Pride events, like my mother took me, and to the local Gay Alliance or LGBT Community Center? Of course you will, because the queer community is your family, and your children (or your best friend’s children) will be your family as well. It’s not natural to segregate parts of your family.

So then the next question is at what age do you kick them out of the community? Since you have stated that they don’t belong in it, and it’s unrealistic to think that these children will never go to a LGBTQ event (our Pride festival has bouncy houses) at what age do you kick them out? When they hit puberty? When they turn 18?  When they first kiss someone of the opposite sex? How sure do they have to be that they only want to kiss people of the opposite sex in order to be excommunicated? Can they be only 75% sure?  Will there be a test?

I know all about straight people excluding, harassing, and abusing queer people. They do the same to queerspawn. My family tree was cut off by the word lesbian. Most of our cousins couldn’t get away fast enough. Dyke, lezzie, lesbo aren’t fun words to be called, rocks thrown through my mother’s window shattered my glass as well, because I lived there, too.

The Michigan Women’s Festival said that we weren’t welcome when my brother turned five. Plenty of other lesbians considered my mother a “breeder for the patriarchy” back in the seventies. I know all about not being welcome in queer spaces, too.

I don’t ask these questions for myself. The essay you commented on wasn’t even something I wrote. As you said, I am old, and I have come to terms with my place in and out of the queer community. But I was once 18, and 25, and desperately lonely for my community—one in which I no longer fit. And plenty of young adult queerspawn already feel the ostracism you advocate.

I want to say one more thing, which is about sacred spaces. Do you really think that a child who grew up like I did, where New Year’s Eve was a room filled with same-sex couples, who knew trans people before they knew the word trans—who just knew them as people without qualification—that we aren’t safe to be around? Children are naturally more accepting than grownups in many areas, and children who grow up in a community of acceptance are excellent allies.  In my experience, we can be more accepting than queer people of older generations.

I know that it is unlikely that anything I say to you will change your mind, which is why I chose an anonymous letter over further confrontation. All I can do is wait for you to have children, or your friends to have children, and see if it changes your mind.

I really do wish you well.


The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones

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