Someone’s Blog Made Me Come Out of the Closet – For Real

Gentle Readers,

I had the pleasure of meeting Tanja and Mark from www.ournextlife.com this weekend and it was a blast. If you ever get the chance to share space in a bar with them, I would definitely recommend it. Double-points for a bar with good cider options to go along with the dark beer I love.

There were a ton of local PF/FIRE bloggers and folks who enjoy reading said blogs. I confessed repeatedly that my blog is extremely personal. It is the height of navel-gazing. Its sole purpose is to help me navigate out of debt on the way to FIRE. I sometimes write about more broad personal finance topics, or homophobia, but most weeks, I only have the capacity to post my net worth numbers. It is basically a public diary with myself. I love that people read what I write and encourage me, but I honestly do this for myself and am not entirely sure what others get out of this. Even if you did not read this, I would probably keep writing this. It is a space for me to learn and grow.

I was reminded this weekend that blogs have had an immense impact on my life. Even navel-gazing ones that are “too personal.” I came out of the closet very late in life, and I did it because of a blog. There were good reasons for staying in the closet having to do with my own safety. But, eventually, that changed. I did not anticipate it changing. I actively worked against it changing. But change it did.

In my mid-twenties, I was in grad school in a new city for me; this was a miserable and expensive time in my life. Part of the misery was how sexist my particular school was. I sought refuge with other feminists, and found many of them online. I was looking for like-minded folks to reassure me that there was good in the world, and that this situation would pass. That I was not wrong for wanting women to be treated as equals.

I found someone. She lived in my city and went to a nearby school in a similar program. She was older than me and fierce and feminist and very queer. We began communicating through her blog about our hatred of the kyriarchy (it’s like the patriarchy, but includes all the ways that people are marginalized) and our love of full-fat food. We were soon sending each other long, personal emails about everything in our histories and lives. It was intense and beautiful.

At the time, I was a Christian. My response to some very dangerous homophobia I experienced earlier in life was to try to conform to the religion of my parents. For many years, it worked. As a good Christian woman of a particular type, I could not be expected to date wily-nily. I was able to avoid the question of why I did not desire men by being a good religious observer. There could be no sexual intimacy without marriage. I was safe.

Except that the religion I was part of was not good for me as a woman or a lesbian or someone who cared about the world. It hurt my soul. But it provided cover for my closet. I was miserable, but I felt safe-ish.

But this blogger changed that. She wrote about feminism and sexual violence and what music she loved. I fell for her before I even met her. She told me she loved me over email before we had hugged. She loved me as a friend, but my brain ignored that tiny fact.

I knew I was in dangerous territory. I knew that she could see right through me. I knew that she knew how much I wanted the freedom she had. How much I wanted to be with her. I also knew that nothing could make us be together. She had no interest in me and I couldn’t even write the words “I’m a lesbian” without panicking.

Even still. I read her blog. I saw what possibilities life could have through her posts about Mad Men.

And I jumped.

I finally said out loud that I was a lesbian.

I lied and told her that I never knew before and that my particular brand of religion hadn’t impacted my closet.

She knew I lied. I could not hide how much I wanted her life.

We were only friends for that summer. While it did not feel like it at the time, she mercifully stopped being my friend shortly thereafter. I was bereft. I had to look at myself and go for what I wanted. I had to tell people. I had to pursue people who were kinder than she could ever be. I had to figure out what life out of the closet felt like.

I cried a lot that summer. To my brother. To my erstwhile best friend. To tertiary friends from college who helped me plan to come out to our far more conservative Christian friends. To anyone who would listen.

But then, eventually, I stopped crying. I was excited to be living life truly for the first time. My classmates noticed a change in me and were actually much better to me as an out lesbian. I was happier and folks were happy for me. It was beautiful, but I had a lot to learn about HOW to date. My roommates helped me set up dating profiles and even went to crappy lesbian bars with me when I was too afraid to go alone. They listened to me kvetch. They helped me pick out outfits. They were wonderful.

All of this happened because of someone’s niche blog about feminism and music. I fully intended to remain closeted my entire life. But a glimpse into someone’s personal truth changed everything about how I live.

So I’m glad you read this navel-gazing blog about my money situation. I hope that something here is what you need to read. I hope that you can live life on your terms.

Has a blog ever impacted you like this?

 

Baby Shower Gifts When You Fear How They’ll Raise Children | baby shower gifts

Gentle Readers,

A small contingent of the family that I actually have a relationship with believes that I should stop being a lesbian and marry a man. I don’t know why this younger relative has decided to be such an ass, but he has. I don’t argue with it. I just avoid him as much as possible. I don’t have time for such ridiculous ideas. I am a lesbian. It’s not up for debate.

However, he also has a baby on the way and I have a family duty to let this little girl know that there are many ways to be a good human.

Thus began my quest to find baby books that would not be overtly LGBT-friendly, but covertly allow her to know that there are many wonderful differences in the world.

It’s a fine line. Nothing can say, “Hey your relative is a lesbian and she’s okay,” outright. I just need to plant the seeds that diversity of thought, ethnic group, and sexuality is okay.  To be extra covert, I bought some books that had no such intent, just some wonderful books that any baby would be delighted to chew on. I’m hoping the parents don’t notice what I’m doing.

The baby shower gifts I chose

Spots and Dots (Art Baby) – A beautiful book that can attract a baby’s eye. I think that there should be more art and beauty in everyone’s life.

More More More –  A book about being loved and cared for by parents. This concept is harder for my family than it should be. I hope that the cycle ends.

Spot Goes to the Farm – Dogs need adventures, too. This family member is least likely to leave a fifty-mile radius from his home. He would be well-served by learning about other ways of life. The world is less scary than he imagines.

Baby Loves Quantum Physics – Introducing hard concepts early even just briefly does wonders for expanding imaginations and belief in what is possible. And I’m a nerd who hopes to contribute to other people becoming nerds. My house growing up was filled with upper level books and I remember reading encyclopedias of science. I loved the concepts and hope she does too. I am no scientist now, but my life is enriched by hard concepts.

Whoever You Are = Accepting our differences and our similarities and loving that. This focuses on ethnic groups and nationalities. It’s a Reading Rainbow book and Levar Burton is hard to argue with.

We’re Different, We’re The Same = Sesame Street is hard to argue with, as well. Another book that focuses on visible differences rather than sexuality and gender identity.

Did I toe the line close enough? No rainbows, no two mommies, no genderqueer puppies. Just the smallest idea that there are more ways to be in the world.  Hopefully the parents won’t shut out this idea, but I must be careful.

How do you think I did in this quest?

Ways To Be An Ally

Gentle Readers,

You know that the LGBT community has suffered an incredible loss in the past week. We are grieving. Each in our way. We know that other people are grieving, too, but that some allies are afraid they’ll somehow mourn incorrectly. You can not mourn human life incorrectly unless you harm someone. I was asked to write what allies can do. This is my attempt.

There are many correlations between LGBT communities and the Financial Freedom community. We are all non-conformists who question everything. I hope that more FIRE folks can question things outside of financial decisions.

Be careful with your words. 

To me, this is the most important advice in all realms. If we are mindful with our language and thoughts, we’ll have been careful with other peoples’ hearts and lives. We will make fewer assumptions.

  1. Stop assuming that people are straight and cisgender. There are so many ways to be and you assuming otherwise often means that your friends do not feel comfortable telling you about their real life. One easy fix is changing your check-in language to “Are you seeing anyone? What are they like?” No gender was assumed. And you just might find out about his hot new boyfriend.
  2. Believe LGBTQ people when we tell you what our worlds are like. Especially when our world sounds alien to you. If we tell you that we have a gender outside of the binary, use google to look up the definitions. Here’s a primer available for free. Don’t ask us to explain the intersections of our lives to you. Learn from other allies and google. There are numerous nonprofits and university sources available for free online happy to explain things. It can be exhausting for us to explain the terms to you, because you have so many levels of learning to do. Do that with non-impacted folks.
  3. Ask us how we are doing during this trying time. So many of our families have rejected us, and maybe we need to know that you are thinking of us. We may not feel like talking, but your support will be appreciated.
  4. Stop insulting men by comparing them to women. So much of homophobia is wrapped up in idea that gay men are insufficiently masculine and gay women are insufficiently feminine. So much of homophobia is rooted in a hatred of things deemed feminine. I read a piece recently where a blogger said that the worst thing that could happen would be a for a girl to beat him in a race. Imagine what it is like for girls to know that men feel this way. Do better. Consider women to be people – worthy of being in competition with.
  5. Stop telling children to “man up.” Allow all children the freedom to express the full range of human emotions. Don’t tell them that crying is for girls or sissies. Crying is for humans. Joy is for humans.
  6. Stop devaluing femininity.
  7. Stop worrying about who is in the bathroom stall near you. People just want to pee. Get the hell over it.
  8. Learn about “toxic masculinity.” So much of violence in our society is rooted in the ideas about what a man is owed, whether respect, access to sex, access to money, or something else. You know before the headline is finished that the killer is a man 98% of the time. This statistic has stayed the same throughout most of history. This is revelatory. Something about how we raise and treat men causes some men to be very bad in ways that very few women are. We must begin to understand this. We must begin to change this.
  9. Learn about the link between toxic masculinity and domestic violence, and domestic terrorism, and mass shootings.
  10. Read female writers.  Read queer writers. Read “Exile & Pride.” Read writers who are different from you. Try to begin learning what assumptions underlie your life.
  11. Learn about other communities in the US.
    1. Stop mocking the South. All of the US has issues and it is lazy thinking to scape-goat an area of the country. Stop.
    2. Stop referring to “Fly over” states. Learn their names. Learn their value to the US. Learn their cultures.
    3. Stop assuming that LGBT people are safe in cities or safe in gay meccas. We are not. 75% of hate crimes in most cities are against LGBT people.
    4. Learn about other people’s religions.
    5. Learn about other people’s sexualities and gender identities.
  12. Know that you cannot remove queers from the world. We have been part of the environment since the dawn of man. Learn to live with us.
  13. Stop accepting hateful rhetoric against queer folk. Literally, stop listening when someone is telling lies about us. Tell them why you are stopping. Be “rude” in confronting them. Stand up against your people so that maybe they do not kill my people, maybe they’ll stop writing laws against my people, and maybe they’ll let us live.
  14. Don’t take personal offense if an LGBTQ person does not want your prayer – so many of your religions have been used to bludgeon us. At times, to death. If you are praying to comfort us, you may want to consider our actual experiences with people using praying as a weapon to “pray the gay away” and how it would make you feel if strangers prayed about the way you experienced sex and intimacy.
  15. Stop attending homophobic movies and churches. Seriously. Don’t support things with your time and heart and money that tear other groups down.
  16. Learn about LGBTQ history. Learn about the cases that told us that we were perverted. Read about Alan Turing and all the other queer inventors and historical figures who were tortured by their countries. Learn about how the US government responded to HIV when it was a “gay disease” – they literally left us to die. Learn about laws that precluded us from adopting children. Learn that even today 40% of homeless youth are homeless because their straight parents rejected them for being LGBT.
  17. Fight back against the rhetoric rising against Latinx folks in this country. It is significant that this US citizen attacked an LGBT club on Latin night. Rhetoric leads to hatred. Hatred with access to guns can lead to mass-murder. Demonizing a group of people will not help you, and can lead to their deaths and suffering.
  18. Stop assuming that your choices are natural. Your choices are constrained by your assumptions. Every human feels normal. Every human chooses differently. It is not normal to be straight, it is just common.
  19. Please call your governors and representatives and tell them that you believe in worker protections for LGBT people – we can literally be fired just for being gay in over half of these United States.

Our hurts are deep and complicated. The most important thing to remember is that we can treat one another with dignity. There is enough dignity to go around.

Pulse was created by a sister who loved her brother and wanted to honor him after his death from HIV. That is radical love. She took her sorrow and served a community in love out of it. Use your sorrow for good when you can.

There is a gofundme to help the victims of this horrific attack, if you can, please join me in supporting them monetarily. https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund

In solidarity,

ZJ