Welcome to Black Sheep Yoga. If you are new to the blog, I’m focusing on depression right now. My intention is to tell my own story (this week’s focus) in order to draw light on the significance of many things, today, it is homophobia. Also to provide light entertainment here is a clip of Jody from the L Word fighting in sign language, and another L Word clip of Shane, Alice and Dana discussing Gaydar.
Playing my guitar tonight I realize there’s 8 beats to call out but my foot is sometimes at 7 and sometimes at 6 1/2.
My foot is always more concerned with the side story.
It observes its own latent beat. Perhaps this is too crass or too poorly said, but aren’t the latent beats in fact the songs? And without them everything would be really bad pop music?
If you were to set your body in motion at 4/4 time all day you’d probably turn into a manic determined militaristic jumping bean; we are meant to dance 6 ½ in the 8 sometimes. In fact, we find the beat only to break it apart? To find the stories buried beneath it?
Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot about Internalized Homophobia and Depression. One thing I’ve noticed is that I had to quit nursing school; and publish a pretty public coming out post to let the flood gates draw back and release All the Flavors of Pain. I can tell the Flavors of Pain are rather complex because I can only handle them slowly in small doses with plenty of gentleness and compassion. And they are like latent beats; they are absolutely there but you have to slow down and pay attention to see them.
It’s like Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave where a bunch of men are chained facing a wall and can only see the shadows on the wall. What’s significant is the men are staring at shadows, but because they have been staring at those shadows their entire lives they think that the shadows are in fact reality. But reality involves more than the reflections that the sun casts on objects. And in some ways, we are all chained and facing a wall; and unable to see the truth. Or to put it another way, however brilliant we are in one area of our thinking, we are probably lacking in another, and that is part of being human.
It takes a big mind and a more open one to see that Internalized Homophobia happens because Straight Well-Intentioned People Everywhere Enforce Homophobic Standards Without Even Realizing It. An example in point, “How come you don’t like men? Do you like men? What do you think of men?” We live in a society that privileges heterosexuality and masculinity, and it is inherent in the questions we ask and the questions we don’t ask.
I don’t bring up Straight Well-Intentioned People to scare anyone into politically correct silence. In fact, there’s another complex piece I’d like to write that examines the realities of racism, sexism, and all other–isms with the room to understand that all human beings everywhere suffer and all deserve compassion. Meaning, being politically correct is not going to rid a well-intentioned person from working with his or her own suffering. It’s just that as we become stronger, we really should be taking more Diversity into the picture. And this requires being humble; and that I would argue is a feminine virtue (oh, and an underpaid one too).
I am not the thought police; and I don’t think anyone should be arrested for their thoughts. I think we should be encouraged to look at where we are missing information; and where we are being lazy; and where we are simply accepting mainstream values because they are presented in simple packages.
As someone who came out at 18 and has been out for 15 years, I still am processing internalized homophobia. I’m not immune to being told I should adopt (people don’t say or assume straight women would prefer to adopt, but they do assume lesbians would Prefer to Adopt); or to being informed by a straight women about how women are in bed (how gentle we are like schoolgirls, excuse me!); or to other stuff that involves heteroflexible and sometimes bisexual horny women that privilege the man but use the lesbian when they see fit (this happens to black men and other marginalized groups as well).
I recently came to the conclusion that my big wonderful healing will happen at its own pace thank you very much; and it will continue to make straight people uncomfortable because they’d like me to be done with all this nonsense. Because having a pretty bold, intelligent queer woman still carrying so much homophobia in 2015 must mean that we still have work to do.
The work is present in our masculine statistics.
The statistics remind me that Straight Well-Intentioned People Everywhere Enforce Homophobic Standards Without Even Realizing It.
And so you should know a couple of really important things. From the age of 10-24, LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight people. In addition and this is worth really focusing on here, 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicide ideation. About 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances compared to 9% of the general population. One of my biggest complaints about the yoga community is that there has been a huge drive to promote veganism without looking at actual human suffering. Most of the yoga teachers I know who are queer or who behave queerly have chosen not to emphasize their queerness; this, interestingly enough, happens to be amongst very economically successful teachers.
I have been out of the closet for 15 years (I came out at 18, and then again almost every single week after that and sometimes five times a day because coming out of the closet doesn’t happen once); and yet the Internalized Homophobia still Pops Out In My Own Damn Insensitive Words and In My Own Head All The Times. The Flavors Are Complex; being portrayed over and over as fat and kind of slow and stupid and poorly dressed on tv really sucks. Having straight people explain how lesbians have sex to me is annoying (and more revealing of how limiting linear sex may be when you just think that sex is everything up to penetration-climax-now-its-over). People praising Ellen DeGeneres to me is annoying because it assumes that we have things in common; and is a reminder that there’s simply no one else that comes to mind.
For a long ass time, I thought this Internalized Homophobia was my exclusive doing. Which made it worse. But then I looked around at my life; my yoga teacher is straight; my dance teacher is straight; the scientists I admire who taught me biology and microbiology are straight; the big yoga teachers I know who are queer females do not talk about it (and I consider that problematic); and there has yet to be a song written by a woman about a woman that makes me fall to my knees like a Johnny Cash song.
We are small; we are in the crevices; we write for Small Presses; and get to make less money; and get to be told to get over our Internalized Homophobia. We, queer women, have a lot to say; and we are able to, say, think out of the box because in order to love ourselves and survive we’ve had to step up to the plate and Be Brave.
So I’m here hoping that you are going to keep reading; and not run away because what I’m talking about is somewhat uncomfortable. I’m hoping as I grow more honest and work harder my audience grows rather than shrinks. I’m looking for the brave ones. They are my people so hopefully you are amongst them.
And if you haven’t read it yet, you really should read Beauty and Bitterfruit; which is a nonfiction piece I wrote, and am very proud of.