Chely Wright & Memories of Coming Out in the South

I just finished watching "Wish Me Away" the documentary about country star and lesbian activist Chely Wright. It was an amazing film and I recommend it. It did however bring up a lot of emotions and memories I haven't thought about in a long time.

I grew up in the Bible Belt like Chely. My hometown is small and not diverse in regards to religion. We were mostly Protestant (Methodists & Baptists) with small Catholic & Jewish communities. Of course people recognized that word "homosexual", that negative connotation. That slur. But nobody knew anyone gay.

Watching Chely coming out was almost physically painful. I remember when I came out to my parents. It was horrible, but it wasn't insurmountable in the end. We still talk and we still love each other.

Flashforward 10 years later. I'm a college graduate. I have a job. I'm in love with a wonderful man. I come home to visit my parents and visit my dad's office to say hello to all the folks that work there with him because, well they're family too.

There is one lady I am particularly excited to see, Patty. She has always been a bit of a Black sheep and encouraged me to be myself. She likes Star Trek, used to rock a nose ring and doesn't like the government. I thought we were almas gemelas, except she's not who I thought she was as it turns out. I remember watching her face turn to stone when I explained to her that my "friend" wasn't a friend but my lover, my one, my man, my boo, my everything. She stated that she loved me always and would respect my "lifestyle choice".

I hate that phrase. My brain turned off for the rest of the conversation. I don't remember how I responded. I felt betrayed and angry. It was worse than coming out to my parents, because despite my mother's hysterics I knew that things would be okay. This time however, things would never be the same. I have never spoken to her since. I lost a friend. Sometimes the truth hurts.

I know now that it doesn't matter. I have a plethora of friends and family that are still by my side. They're not judgemental. They are good people. They're good Christians (or Jews, Pagans, Muslims etc) in that they love regardless. I'm very thankful to have them in my life. And my love is stronger.


Microaggressions: Fat Hatred

Last night I met up with a really good friend of mine at a posh restaurant downtown. She brought along another friend of hers whom I'd met before, and that was cool. I'm a friend with that person on Facebook. However, I am not sure how I feel about her because I've seen some posts that collude with White privilege or posts that are very anti-fat. Tonight was the last straw.
She proceeded to talk about her new gluten diet, how she dropped ten pounds on it (she wasn't fat to begin with) and how great that is. I just pretended to be interested and nodded a lot. Wasn't really that big of a deal. Until dessert.
My friend and I decided to split a really rich (delicious) piece of cheesecake. The other chick wasn't going to order dessert (naturally). After we ordered the cheesecake, she told us a story about her trip back from D.C. and how she was in the Houston airport and how fat everyone was in Houston. She said that she could hear them having trouble breathing and that they were "4 times her size" (not difficult when you're skinny.) She thought it was "so funny" how all the fat people in the airport were getting rides on a cart from the terminal to the baggage claim. When she found the gate for her flight to Portland she said it was all skinny people and "Yay she had found her people." The skinny people.
She kept looking at me when she was telling this story. I was the fattest one at the table. I'm usually the fattest person in my group of friends. I am healthy, I am a fast runner, I don't use a lot of salt or sugar, I go to the gym 4 times a week and I could probably bench press that idiot. I ate that fucking cheesecake because fuck diets and fuck making yourself feel better by making fun of other people. I am not sure if I will be hanging out with this person anymore. We are saturated with fat hatred in society and I definitely don't need to be around it in my relationships.
Check your thin privilege, but pass the fucking cheesecake. 


Portlandia Needs to Check Its Privilege

I've always had the sneaking suspicion that Fred Armisen, SNL darling and co creator of Portlandia, was a smug dickhead. I was right! 

Armisen, who ironically admits to living in the posh Pearl district (a-not-so-Portlandy neighborhood), was recently interviewed by the Willamette Week. The interviewer asked some tough questions of Freddy, which was right on, but he gave mostly non-commital answers. When pressured about Armisen & Brownstein's safe, if not unrealistic portrayal of Portland, this eloquent gem caught my eye: Armisen states,"In fact, that's kind of like, you know, our world, for a lack of a better word. White people, sort of like privileged people."

Let me stop you right there, Armisen. First of all, White people (in Portland) are not "sort of like privileged", you're definitely privileged. It is a privilege to be able to go about ignorant of people of color's experience because your city happens to be overly White in it's racial makeup and segregated otherwise. Second of all, I live in Portland, I'm not White and I can safely say the world Portlandia portrays is not my world. Those people, those characters, are the folks me and my friends (and yes, some of them are White too) don't want to be. We make fun of those people. We don't associate with those people. We try to be aware of our privileges, White, economic or otherwise.

I think the big problem with Portlandia for me personally is that you have the opportunity to make fun of ignorant silly White Portlanders but you choose not to. You can tackle gentrification, you can tackle subtle racism, you can tackle micro-aggressions and cultural appropriation: that shit happens here. Why not make fun of it? That is a way to subvert it. I think I'm giving Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein too much credit though, that they'd actually use their "art" to do something revolutionary. They choose not to, to play it safe, because they don't want to offend their target audience: White people.

Grow some balls, Portlandia. Until then, I won't be laughing at you.