We are fam­ily, let’s act like it

Ash­leigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in Atlanta, GA.

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“It’s frus­trat­ing for some­one like me: a late bloomer that may or may not be all the way les­bian. Where do I fit? Where is my com­mu­nity? Can I en­joy my­self at both Prides with these ques­tions float­ing around? I don’t know.”

I didn’t come out to the world un­til I was 23 years old.

Prior to that, I was in a long-term het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ship that be­gan when I was a 19-year-old col­lege sopho­more. The first few years of my young adult­hood were spent liv­ing a lie and at a month shy of my 27th birth­day, I’m still play­ing catch up.

When other LGBTQ peo­ple speak of their es­capades and baby gay ex­pe­ri­ences, jeal­ousy sweeps over me. I don’t have sto­ries be­cause I spent so much of my time hid­ing. I don’t feel like I have a true com­mu­nity de­spite not only liv­ing but be­ing born in Atlanta, a sup­posed LGBTQ. I don’t know where I fit.

These feel­ings usu­ally sit in the pe­riph­ery of my mind but ATL’s im­pend­ing Pride sea­son have brought them to the fore­front. Not to men­tion, this city doesn’t have the best so­cial cli­mate.

Atlanta is a seg­re­gated city and that ex­tends to its LGBTQ pop­u­lace. The white LGBTQ and black LGBTQ are sep­a­rate to the point where the lat­ter has its own Pride cel­e­bra­tion. The lines go even deeper than that. Gay men and les­bians main­tain sep­a­rate spa­ces and it’s def­i­nitely a man’s world. Les­bian spa­ces are hard to come by es­pe­cially if there isn’t a party in­volved. We don’t have well-known apps like Grindr and Jack’d. It gets worse for peo­ple who are transgender or bi­sex­ual. De­spite trans is­sues be­ing more vis­i­ble than ever, trans­pho­bia and trans­misog­yny are ram­pant. Trans peo­ple are a spec­ta­cle or odd­ity and god for­bid you tell a Mid­town gay he isn’t al­lowed to say “tranny.”

Septem­ber 2, 2016

Bi­sex­ual peo­ple are stuck in the mid­dle of two com­mu­ni­ties that want to dic­tate their choices. Straight peo­ple be­lieve women are just ex­per­i­ment­ing and men are just gay. Gay peo­ple have some sort of aban­don­ment is­sue. In the les­bian groups I fre­quent, bi­sex­ual women are out­casts and re­garded with vit­riol.

This is a sad real­ity con­sid­er­ing the his­tory be­hind our Pride cel­e­bra­tions. De­spite what Hol­ly­wood wants you to be­lieve, an an­gry white twink with a brick didn’t start the Stonewall Riots. Peo­ple like Mar­sha P. John­son, a black transgender woman and Sylvia Rivera, a bi­sex­ual Latina, did the work that started it all. Ru­mor has it that Mar­sha was the one with the brick and Rivera was a sea­soned ac­tivist be­fore and af­ter the riots. They ded­i­cated their lives to this move­ment de­spite con­tin­u­ous dis­re­spect and abuse. Rivera was fa­mously booed dur­ing a Pride cel­e­bra­tion less than five years later. John­son’s cause of death is still un­solved 25 years af­ter she was found float­ing in the Hud­son River. His­tory is re­peat­ing it­self. De­spite us gal­li­vant­ing down the street in glit­ter and rain­bow feath­ers, trans women are dy­ing at an alarm­ing rate and we’re ig­nor­ing these deaths. If any­one bring this or bi­pho­bia up, they’re con­sid­ered a wet blan­ket.

It’s frus­trat­ing for some­one like me: a late bloomer that may or may not be all the way les­bian. Where do I fit? Where is my com­mu­nity? Can I en­joy my­self at both Prides with these ques­tions float­ing around? I don’t know.

I just want us to be bet­ter to each other. We call our­selves a com­mu­nity, let’s act like it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.