Picture of the month

Picture of the month
Life is circular

Friday, February 16, 2007

marquites cobbler

Monday, March 06, 2006 : Femmes have a responsibility to the community

I had to do a guest lecture for my public relations class this past Saturday. I'd known about it since last Saturday and had briefly put together how I would structure the lecture in my head. It was a simple task really but I had to ask myself if in doing my lecture about my event planning ventures if I would reveal the TYPE of events I put together. I questioned this because my teacher is African and I feared his particular cultural bias and my class just split up into groups and I questioned whether or not my group would respond to me differently if they knew I was gay.

I was scheduled to do this lecture next Saturday but my teacher asked me if I could just do it this past Saturday instead. Ummm, sure, I guess.

I'd already decided that I'd talk about the fact that I throw parties for women because I felt that it really was integral to my presentation and because I didn't feel right "passing". (For those of you not familiar with the term, "passing" is what it's called when fair skinned Black people "pass" for White). Last year at Sistahfest, the question was raised if being a femme was a modern-day form of "passing" and at the time I didn't have an opinion one way or the other but I felt that this was one of those moments when as a femme had an obligation to speak up.

I don't have very many femme friends so most of my conversations with gay women are with those women whose sexual orientation is announced everytime they enter a room. In talking with them, I realized that their business is on the table everytime they go to the bank, a restaurant, get a cab or simply put one foot in front of the other. For them, every interaction can turn into a question of who and what they are and why they are what they are. As a femme, I have very few such experiences because assumptios are made about me based on my high heels. I choose who to tell and when to tell them. I have the luxury of sitting a person down and revelaing what's what if I feel safe enough to do so. Many of my other sistahs do not have that same luxury.

So, my second day in class, in front of my African teacher and my entire public relations class, I had a decision to make. I could take the "it's nobody's business" route or I could be honest explaining that I started throwing parties because I was disappointed with the lack of social options for queer women of color. I could go on to talk about how I had to use my original motivation of wanting to unite a disenfranchised community when things got really complicated and daunting.

or...

I could pretend that I was throwing events for a mixed crowd, leaving out key points and not entirely lie but tell an "untruth" just to get by.

So, I stood in front of these people and I said....

"In 2002, disappointed with the social options available for queer women of color, I decided to start a social, networking and activist organization for queer women of color..."

and they just blinked at me. In unison.

and then I got nervous because it was just out there but I continued on...and on..and on.

and they exhaled.

and they wow'd...and then they applauded.

And then they thanked me.

They asked lots of questions about what I was doing and they smiled at me with their eyes, genuine in their appreciation for lecture. The chick who sits in the front (who I KNEW was a dyke) asked for my website address and my African professor who said he called me a week early because he knew I'd set the bar high for the other guest lectures said that was he was genuinely impressed and asked me if I did any consulting.

Anyway, patting myself on the back aside, I would have felt like a traitor had I chickened out by "passing". I feel that if we as a community want to change how straight people look at us, we have to give them the opportunity to look at us, really look at us and see that we're in their classrooms, at their jobs and approving their loans. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes, in Tims and high heels, long hair and short.

Have you told anyone you're a dyke today?