into my shoes, or rather, flip-flops

If you aren't reading Soul Pancake, even every once in a while, you totally should be. I love that there are many people all thinking about "life's big questions" together. It's a cool site chock-full of stuff to think about, which, as an academic, is one of my most favorite things to do. Recently, there was a prompt to "write someone else into your shoes" in 300 words or less and post it in the comments. I kept thinking about this all day that day as I ran errands and tried to cheer up M who was having an off kind of day where life just seems really annoying and full of people and things whose job it seems to be in your way and prevent you from doing what you need to do. I kept returning to this idea of writing someone into my shoes, of thinking about "those times when no one really understood how hard/confusing/frustrating/overwhelming it was to be you. Who do you wish could spend a day dealing with the hand you'd been dealt? What would they realize?"

Today is CU's Pridefest, which, of course, got me thinking about pride in general, about being proud of something and all the implications of what it means to be proud of being gay when a huge portion of the American and worldwide population actively work to shame us. I've had pieces of this post sitting in my drafts folder for some time because I wasn't sure what the reaction might be. I wasn't sure I could express what I really wanted to say. I don't want anyone to feel alienated or defensive or targeted, in any way. But I feel it's important, as a storyteller, to tell all of the story.

So, while I could focus on the many weird quirks and eccentricities and neuroses that make it exhausting to be me, and there are many, this one significant thing came to mind.

I wish that the people who are afraid of difference or who point-blank abhor it, the ones who are so smug in their heteronormative lives, the ones who feel completely comfortable voting for Prop 8 while they express overt and obnoxious PDA at the mall could, for once, understand what it's like to be gay.

What I'd like most is not that (and I don't mean to stereotype or lump everyone into one big group because there are many amazing allies who are not gay who work to resist "the system" and I understand not all "straight people" are the same, just like all gay people are not the same, all women are not the same, etc.) straight people would know what it's like to be discriminated against, to be ridiculed or made afraid to be your true, authentic self (though such realizations might come in handy), but rather that perhaps, we aren't so different.

A typical summer day:

In the morning I wake up either to M's alarm or to her waking me up by singing a silly song. I am grumpy and impossible in the morning and it usually takes me at least 10-15 minutes to even realize I'm up and walking around. I brush my teeth, throw on something comfy to wear, help M find socks or a shirt or whatever it is she needs for work. We head out for coffee, breakfast, whatever. I drop her off at work and then come home to pack or write or work on syllabi. Sometimes I watch episodes from last night's DVR. I answer email. I do laundry.

I walk outside, wave to the neighbors, do some unpacking, etc. I go to lunch with M. We make plans, schedules. We talk about the upcoming week, about what is left to be done. We tell jokes and stories, make each other laugh.

I pick M up from work sometimes taking her to her second job. Sometimes I go to Border's and read magazines, or go to the pool or bowling with friends. Sometimes I head home, do laundry, TV. I read, work on websites. If M doesn't work, we watch TV. We unpack and go through stuff. We play video games or watch movies. We sit on opposite couches and talk. Sometimes I rub her feet as we try to decide what to have for dinner.

The point I'm trying to make is that we are ridiculously boring and not unlike you and your spouse, or boyfriend, perhaps. We make decisions together, have morning routines, make time for affection like making one another laugh or cuddling or rubbing each other's feet. It is difficult for me to understand what is so appalling and horrible and threatening about that.

I wish the people who are so full of hatred and rage or even those full of misunderstanding could see the difficulty in being who we are on a daily basis. This isn't meant to be said in a pity-party way but rather in a way that elicits compassion. I wish they could fully realize the challenge to our egos, the fight to be proud of something that society seems hell-bent on shaming us for. We fight every day to simply be ourselves.

My brother once asked if I thought it would be easier if I were straight and I'm sure it would be easier for my family, for society, for a lot of people if we were all the same. But easier for me? I think the question is a bit like asking would it be easier if you were skinny, white, male and rich? If you were popular and able to fit in? If you were afforded privileges you currently don't have... of course from the outside it looks like it would be easier. It would be easier not to be ridiculed or shamed by the medical profession with offhanded comments, easier to not be concerned when I reach for the hand of the person I love, easier not to constantly answer the question if our dinner bill should be separated or not, easier to get married and have children, buy houses and have joint bank accounts. But it wouldn't be true and therefore, not easy, at all.

We don't fit in. We push against the message that there's something wrong with us, that we're damaged in some way. We refuse to believe that love and who we love is wrong. That's what I'm proud of, the continued desire to be ourselves no matter what anyone else says.

I am proud from Dev on Vimeo.