being human in a body

i'm a girl



 In college, I dated a woman, Elyse, and we moved together to ABQ after we graduated. I dated a few other women, then met and married Pat. We owned our home together, and she gave birth to Eric in 1990, who I was co-parenting for a few years before we divorced. That was hard. Then I met Hugh, whom I married.
 
At that point in time, everyone was required to take a side. You were straight or gay. Anyone who identified as bisexual was considered suspect. When I began dating a man after divorcing Pat, a mutual friend commented that at least I had figured out who I was. That comment wasn’t meant to be hurtful or exclusionary but it still felt as if it were diminishing the relationships I had forged with women.
 
This is one reason I am appreciative of the word “queer.” It’s much happier and quirkier than “non-conforming.” I’m queer, which means my history includes loving both men and women. I plan a long, happy, healthy, monogamous future with my husband, thank you very much, and that doesn’t take away from my history or sense of identity.

I was told something very important and powerful recently when I asked for help in dealing with a difficult person. The rabbi told me that generous listening does not signal agreement. I can be open and kind without having to agree with who or how someone is. My kindness and support does not mean I agree with that person. 
 
Ijeoma Olu, a Nigerian American writer, wrote on Twitter in July, 2019, “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And that’s the only way forward.”  The same can be said of all the other ways we may hold a place of privilege – gender, sex, wealth, education – and wish to make the world a bit less violent and more equitable.

It’s not enough to tolerate people who do not identify as male or female, or who are not heterosexual, or who are any of the many variations of being human in a body. We must be kind and generous in our listening and our actions. We fight for the right of everyone to live in peace and with justice. We stand up and speak out. We learn the history of the discrimination and violence to which others have been subject. We educate ourselves. Every day. Finally, importantly, delightfully, we celebrate.