Posted by mouthyb | Posted in anxiety , gender , orientation | Posted on 5:47 PM
I spent several hours today in the computer lab for my department, researching gun control laws and injury outcomes for children. Behind me, one of my colleagues talked to his undergraduate student about her participation in local OWS protests. I was listening idly when I heard him mention my previous department and use my name.
I turned and talked a little bit about how bad it was while trying not to gawk at his student, who is amazingly hot. After a little bit, I turned back to the screen, sifting through articles in Pediatrics and JAMA. As she was getting up, she called me.
"Hey, I never got your name." She extended a hand, and when I told her my name, she smiled. I'm afraid I babbled at that point, telling her a little more about my previous department.
When she told me I was hot, I froze. She smiled again and walked out. When the door shut, I turned to my colleague and said, "Phew-- you'd have to be less gay than me not to notice how hot she is."
He chuckled and said he had also been trying not to say or think the same thing, and we talked a little more about her before going back to our respective tasks.
I always freeze when someone hits on me, but more so when the person hitting on me is female. It is not from lack of desire or interest; in fact, I think she's gorgeous, but I would hate to date someone that much younger than me. I worry about the power differential.
Lurking underneath those worries are some more serious worries. I don't doubt my orientation, but I find it anxiety provoking.
A few years ago, I had the chance to take a queer literature class. Walking in the door of the classroom caused my heart to start hammering in my chest. The room was filled with queer kids, lots of us in one place.
My repeating thought was that with all of us gathered in one place like this, it would be easy for some of the people I know are out there to come hurt us. I'm fully aware that the thought is less than rational, but I also know what kind of people there are out there. I've met quite a few of them, and I spent a lot of time getting my ass kicked, as a kid, for being a deviant.
It is a brave act to be gay in public, even now. When I do date women and have gone out to dinner, I've had waitstaff refuse to serve me (I was cross-dressed). I've had straight couples make out in front of me, staring at me the whole time, or sneer at me. I've had people try to lecture me about god/sin/going to hell, or stare at the woman I was with and I as if we were zoo animals. I've been asked which one of us was the man, or any of the stupid shit people will ask while they're trying to figure out how to fit you into the pattern they know. I've had people, while I still worked in blue collar jobs, threaten to rape me into normality.
Beneath that fear is another, the fear that I am not gay enough, because I sleep with men. The fear that I am not pretty enough for other women to want to sleep with, that my children will mean I'm a traitor to lesbianity (I've been told this), or that I will be too boring for them.
All this in a few seconds, before my brain has time to kick in and kick me in the pants. I wish I could respond faster, but that's a hell of a wrestling match.