I learned to stutter

What I learned from being with John is that the society suddenly treated me as a woman, as a woman who belonged to a man who is one of the most powerful people in our generation. Some of his closest friends told me that probably I should stay in the background, I should shut up, I should give up my work and that way I’ll be happy. I was lucky. I was over thirty and it was too late for me to change. But still, still, this is one thing I want to say to the sisters, because I really wish that you know that you are not alone. Because the whole society started to attack me, that the whole society wished me dead that I started to accumulate a tremendous amount of guilt complex, and in result of that I started to stutter. I consider myself a very eloquent woman, and also an attractive woman, and suddenly because I was associated to John that I was considered an ugly woman– ugly Jap who took your monument or something away from you. That’s when I realized how hard it is for women. If I can start to stutter, being a strong woman and having lived thirty years by then. Learned to stutter in three years of being treated as such, it is a very hard road.

-Yoko Ono at the First International Feminist Conference, Cambridge, MA 1973

Last week I was interviewed by Bill Grady for his show You are the Guest. I was quite nervous about appearing on the show, knowing that politically we have very different leanings, and knowing that I don’t yet have the knowledge to hold up against someone who doesn’t already agree with me. I haven’t been able to listen to the show all the way through. I hear myself stuttering, stammering, and never really getting out there and saying what was in my heart.

While there are a number of things that bothered me about how I presented myself on the show, the thing that I find most troubling is the fact that I avoided saying that I am gay. Internalized homophobia? Gay shame? Not wanting to make “an issue” out of my sexuality? I don’t know.

These questions combined with Willing Warrior’s excellent interview with Joshua, and some brief behind the scenes conversation I had with Ragan Fox has me doing some serious thinking about my own homophobia.

From the beginning of my podcast, I have struggled with finding a balance between doing a gay show about my experiences and a show about my experiences as a man who is also gay. The more I struggle, the harder the line between the two is to discern. I make no bones about the fact that I do not want to be labled as a gay show, or as a “queercaster” because I want to produce content that is of interest to more than just a gay audience. To be perfeclty honest, I dread being lumped in with the plethera of gay podcasts that are limited to talk about casual sex, alcohol and drug use, bitchy humor, and celebrity gossip. Then I think, doesn’t this disdain for gay culture keep me divided from my own community? We are a community, even if we don’t always act like one.

So then I hear Joshua’s story and I remember what the cost is to real people when this cycle of intolerance is perpetuated. Do I contribute by keeping my mouth shut about my gayness when I have perfectly good reason to bring it up? Do I contribute when I don’t speak up about modern day minstrel shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Will and Grace? How about when I didn’t speak up about the fact that even though Richard apologized, I still believe that Adam Curry was dead wrong, and that his reaction to Madge’s accusations proved what a homophobe he really is. Then there is the waiter at breakfast this morning–I caught myself internally rolling my eyes and asking “why does he have to be so faggy?”

The heart of all of this is that it’s time for me to start asking myself if I am working against the gay community I would like to see, or doing something to contribute to it. How this relates to the content of my show remains to be seen. I guess I will always fear alienating listeners, but the cost of failing to speak my mind has become too clear to censor myself anymore.

5 comments on “I learned to stutter

  1. Davy says:

    God you are brave…

    Ragan has really made a big difference to me too. Of all the things Ragan may pretend to be on podcasts, he is sure as hell never ashamed of being gay – even “faggy”.

    I recently heard a podcaster talk about how he is not as gay as some guy he knew and how nelly some of his friends are. In the same show he talked about how much he loved Ragan and Wanda and it kinda shocked me. I really don’t think he even realized what he had said earlier. “Crying nelly” is just kind of a gut reaction. A reaction that has been built in to so many of us.

    You know, in my heart, I can not even imagine not being gay. The thought of trying to “pass” as straight has never even been something I wanted to attempt. I knew it was not even possible. However,when I see people on TV talking about the “Gay Agenda” and how evil homos are, I do not even really relate it to myself. I have kind of learned to disconnect myself from it. You know? Like it had nothing to do with me really…

    I have been through so much over the past five years that has changed my life. I see things in a totally different way now, and I have come to realize how much most people really do not like us. I mean, many do not come out and say it – but still – there is this wall there that people put up. They think we are sick or pervs or whatever – and I guess I have heard that all my life just like everyone else – but when they say that shit, they are talking about me. They think I am a sick perv – that we all are. For many hetros, it goes even further – they really and truly hate us – which means they really and truly hate me.

    Why do we have to be different and why do we have to be hated for it? We did not “choose” this. Noone would choose this. It makes life so much harder in so many ways – I guess they think we chose being gay so that we could feel special or something? Like we decided to join the “Gay Club” because we wanted to be different?

    Mikeypod, I really think so many struggle with this but do not want to admit it from fear of being scorned by the gay community for not being a proud queer. It is not our fault. We all grew up in a world that sees us as wrong and even useless. I am one of the people who is not able to hide being gay. I am not trying to be nelly, I just am. I always have been and always will be. It has made life tough, but the older I get, the more I realize what bullshit it is to be ashamed of my nellyness. At the same time, gay is not all I am, it is a very small part really. Or is it?

    I guess I am just tired of it all. Tired of feeling like I owe someone an apology. I am here. I am queer. I am just not sure the world will ever be used to it. The fact is – no matter what I say, or how much I act like I do not care, I do. It is still tough. I guess it always will be. I am not yet at the point where Ragan is. I am not shamed, I am just not yet as proud as I need to learn to be.

    I really like being me – it is just hard how much the world doesn’t like it. You know? Sorry for the babble. So damned complicated. Later.

  2. peter says:

    g’day

    I have done two shows with bill … I know just what you mean about being nervous

    and as for the gay thing …. I find so many aspects of gaydom utterly revolting that I try hard to distance myself it … I have never been to a gay bar in my life and I choose to live a celebate lifestyle

    being gay is only a big deal if you want it to be

    I have never seen it as a badge I have to wear

    can’t wait to hear your show … I listen on saturday mornings when I am on the road

    take care

    peter

  3. bicyclemark says:

    I consume plenty of personal media from the gay community online… and one thing Ive observed over time.. is that it is hardly the cohesive group united in one goal that perhaps some of us would like to see. Autocriticism is a good thing but at some point you have to get beyond just doing that and start doing more of the truth seeking and investigation (as youve been doing) into the world around us to get to the source of what is truely holding humankind back.

  4. epilonious says:

    Here I go… with the analogies and the silly witticisms and a shotgun approach to the big picture.

    Gays are a community… and like most other communities… there are going to be tons of individuals with their own characteristics, motivations, and rationales. Some people will feel the need to hide their thoughts, while some people will wish others would hide their’s more often… people will agree and team up but there will often be ideology clashes that result in fueds and skirmishes. But more often than not everyone will interact and relate on some level whether it be good or bad.

    Multiply this by 20 and you suddenly have the reality that is life… dealing with the 20 little communities that you inhabit, follow, discuss, and think about. Which people you want to interact with, which people in which communities you want to bring together, which people you want to keep apart… from yourself or others.

    At the end of the day, you are you. It’s probably better to not hide you… or if you had a gut impulse to hide a particular affiliation, you shouldn’t lose sleep over it. Anyone who is offended will react appropriately and you’ll have a chance to respond appropriately, and as long as you are part of the 95% of the population that is not actively trying to screw other people over… it’ll all be good. Don’t let the labels get you down.

    Take it from me. The gay, partnered, DDRing, Podcast-listening, Ragan-blasting, VW-Hating, liberal with a libertarian streek, multi-platformed, computer scientist biologist, Mazda driver thankyouverymuch.

Comments are closed.