A Story About Being Queer and Quirky
As I sit on a plane to the East Coast, I am bracing myself for a week with my extended family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, especially my parents and two sisters. But once you add in a handful of aunts and uncles, a few cousins and a couple more of their kids, now we’ve exceeded two dozen folks in one beach house, and things can get a little crazy. Oh yeah, did I mention that I’m a queer, vegan, bald cliché?
I’m sure you can relate: spending a week with a big family feels like a not-so-gentle reminder that living with other folks is hard. It’s difficult to share a kitchen if someone keeps plopping a rump of ham on my vegan cutting board, but most of us don’t think about these “other” things in the comfort of our own homes because we don’t have to. We get in our patterns and our habits, and we only adapt to the close people around us when it’s necessary.
This year is a little different because I am bringing my fiancé Glo with me for the first time. She’s met a lot of these relatives, and I don’t worry about her holding her own. She’s smart and funny and easygoing, and my family is actually pretty supportive of the whole gay thing. She’s also vegan, and we love to cook together, so I’m looking forward to sharing a meal at our enormous table with someone who appreciates a good BBQ tofu bite. I am lucky to share this vacation with my partner, my best friend, someone who goes out of her way to understand me. And when she doesn’t understand, she asks. That’s something really special about our relationship– we ask, we listen, we talk.
Even the word fiancé was a chance for inquiry in our relationship. My fastidious relationship with spelling and the rules of language meant that I originally described Glo as my fiancée, of course– the word comes from the French, and the second E shows that the word is feminine because Glo is a woman. But recently I asked her what she’d like to be called, and she said she wanted a single E. She describes herself as masculine of center, so why would she go for the feminine form? To be honest, she didn’t even understand the second E until I explained it to her, but in retrospect, the word fiancée seems wrong, so I’m glad I asked.
We’re talking a lot about our wedding these days, certainly in terms of ALL THE DETAILS, which really never end. We stayed up in bed until 1:30 am the other day looking for a theme I dreamt up for my wedding… dress? I don’t know yet if I want to wear a dress or suit or maybe even pajamas, so it’s hard to choose a style! I was surprised and a little delighted that my search terms turned up literally nothing on Google and Pinterest– does this mean I am original?! Ah, but it also means it will be harder to design and create this dress from scratch, and believe me, I am no designer! But we also talk about bigger, more abstract things that maybe most people don’t think about when planning a wedding and then oh yeah, the actual marriage itself. What do we call each other? We sometimes jokingly call each other ‘wife’ and ‘wifey,’ but that comes with some baggage we don’t want to take on. Why adopt a traditional division of labor, gender roles, and a history of oppression if we don’t have to? I saw some cute terms of endearment the other day including husbian, spice (spouse + wife, get it?!), and my current favorite, heartner.
An important part of being a woman partnered to another woman… scratch that, I won’t generalize. An important part of being THIS woman partnered to THAT woman is that we talk a lot to understand each unique situation. I grew up in a very female household and learned a lot about communicating from my two sisters and my mother. Living with that many women can certainly be challenging (sorry Dad!), but I really appreciate the compassionate, nurturing women we have all become. My older sister is a nurse practitioner and a mother, raising two incredible kids and eschewing traditional gender roles. (Her son loves superheroes and her daughter often goes for pink, but they both play with monster trucks and I’ve made a special point to buy science toys for both my niece and nephew.) My younger sister is independent and talented and has created her own non-traditional marriage with her wonderful husband. We live far apart now, on two different coasts, but we’re still learning from each other via FaceTime and email these days, and spending a week waking up together in our beach house is a special treat.
I know that getting married to my love next April is not an act of defiance. It’s our quiet way of organizing our lives and relationship in a way that feels good to us. It’s also something I know that not everyone has equal access to. I’m lucky to live in a state where being openly gay at my workplace is protected by law. LGBTQ folks are still discriminated against, and in 32 states, they may risk losing their jobs or being denied other services for being out. Trans people and queers of color experience disproportionate violence and poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and other forms of discrimination. Marriage Equality is not equal. Our marriage is only that, it describes just us and does not represent that queer community.
Glo and are building a really lovely life together, in our small form and also as a part of a larger community in the Bay Area. We have an apartment that gets dirty, a dog that needs to be walked, chores to be done, work and playtime, fun and frustrations like everyone else… But every step of the way, we have the choice to examine the way it’s always been done, and now how exactly we want to do it. We bought rings for each other more than a year after we got engaged because they were the right rings and it was the right time. So they’re not really engagement rings, and they’re not really wedding rings. They’re just a couple beautiful pieces of jewelry on our fingers that serve as a reminder to me that I’m partnered to someone that I love and respect. They serve as a reminder that we are creating something unique.
Sonya Harway is a musician, educator, and vegan chef, a curious mix of someone who loves attention but is simultaneously shy. She lives in the Bay Area with two loves: her partner Glo and their sweet old dog Guacamole. You can find her online at: www.thevlist.net
The Quirk Invasion 7 Day Challenge
Join us for the 7 day Quirk Invasion to explore and celebrate being quirky!
Day 3 :: Inspiration
~> Who in your life has a quirky way of being that inspires you and lifts you up? Share and tag them to let them know!
Respond and share your thoughts via the interwebs!
So we can find you, add the tags: #quirkinvasion and @livingquirky!
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