Generations

October 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Right now, I’m sitting on the living room floor with my back to the warm fireplace, writing and drinking homemade kombucha and tending the fire. My mom and Margaret and their friend Susan are playing some complicated colorful card game, and Margaret’s cat is sprawled out on the floor purring because we’re all in the same room. It’s fall for real – we’ve been raking leaves and stacking firewood. It doesn’t feel like I should have been here through three seasons already, but all the seasons are short in Maine besides winter.

Last night we had a going away party for two of our friends who are leaving town for the winter. I try to describe to people what it’s like to have this multigenerational community of lesbians through my mom and Margaret, how amazing and rare and complicated and challenging and hilarious. It’s hard to imagine living here if it wasn’t this way, if my mom was straight and in some nuclear partnership with a man instead of in this interconnected, involved queer community. When I was fourteen and my mom came out (at the same time as I was coming out), she and her partner Nancy and their friends saved me from highschool loneliness and alienation. I loved them, and I loved hanging out with them. Nancy and a friend took me out to breakfast and answered all my questions about lesbian sex. I smoked pot for the first time with my mom and Nancy. We had parties and did rituals and made art together. Even as a kid, I knew how lucky I was to have adults in my life who I looked up to and respected, who respected me.

I still never take it for granted. I love having a queer family of origin in addition to a queer chosen family. I love that those families have intersections and overlap. I need queer elders, we all do. I even (mostly) love navigating the complexities – how I’m an outsider in some ways, as a “kid” and as a trans person. Mostly they try to get my pronoun right, but mostly they don’t understand it. (And some of them are even bothered by it.) And given our very different contexts and communities, I don’t really know how to explain it.

We don’t agree about some things. It doesn’t all have to do with generation, but a lot of it does. When the subject of gender and trans stuff comes up, things can get dicey (by which I mean offensive) pretty fast – especially if we’re talking about trans women. We don’t always agree about what we want queer (“LGBT”) movements to look like. (Although last night I went on my usual rant about how marriage and DADT are terrible goals, and some people actually agreed with me.) Our contexts and histories are so different. It was a lot easier, safer, and more comfortable for me to come out as queer than for most of my mom’s friends. Trans people are visible in queer community in such a different way than 40 years ago. I have the values and principles and analysis that I do because I was shaped by the communities I came out and came of age in. It’s worth it to me to have these conversations, and I’m still figuring out how to do it – to be humble and respectful but to push and challenge too, to do it in a loving and long-term way.

Still, mostly when we have these conversations, they are good. Mostly they are even fascinating and hilarious. Last night was filled with raucous laughter, serious political conversation, and running dirty jokes about polyamory and testosterone gel that were not in any way initiated by me. Sometimes I wish I could document all of this stuff, especially in the moments that feel especially strange or rare or deep or funny or precious. There are a lot. Here is a snippet from last night:

Where Am I?

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