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Apr 29, 2008

Just Wondering

Over the weekend I cracked a few lesbian jokes with some straight friends. They didn't laugh. They didn't get them. Not really. I pointed out that it was no fun telling lesbian jokes to straight people. They tittered and that was that.

No offense, no big deal...But it made me think about race and prejudice and how in some small way, I can relate to how it feels to feel perceived as an outsider. It's impossible to escape this. Even in writing this down, I thought about how some people will just turn off because it's just lesbian agenda stuff-

Oh, well. I write for me.


It's odd this, and perhaps other people (white, straight people) feel it to in a way that I don't understand because I don't walk in their shoes. A part of me wants to force the knowledge of being different than the norm, feeling different than the norm, down everybody's throat- screaming "don't you get it???". How could they though? We all live our lives. A man could no more perceive what it's like to live as a woman even if he behaved and dressed like a woman, because inside he is culturally, biologically, and socially a man.

Which makes me wonder about transsexuals. I have never known one well enough to observe or ask their partner if they acted like a bona fide stereotypical woman or man..hmmm. Maybe there is a study out there. I'll check into that as soon as I can figure out the right phrase to google.

A long time ago I read Black Like Me- a fabulous book about a man who took a pigment changing medication to become "black". I put that in quotes because inside he was all Caucasian. So while he conducted this social study and wrote a book about it- it was all from a white perspective. I am not criticizing the author. I am simply pointing out that he writes of his experiences traveling as a black man, but he isn't. As a side note, I should re-read this book .

Back to my point... Other lesbians get the lesbian jokes- they laugh, if they are funny. I don't know if I would laugh at a black joke told by a black person for fear of offending the person. What if it was not really meant to be funny and I laughed. Would I hurt their feelings? Would I be acting prejudicial?

I was raised by straight parents to be a straight woman. And I have lived as an out lesbian for the last twenty some odd years. Essentially half and half. I can go both ways. And mostly I behave myself in the ways of the straight world. When I am in a group of straight women who are talking about their sex lives, I rarely contribute- they don't want to hear about my sex life. It's uncomfortable for most of them- and straight men? please..let's not go there.

It's confining. Some days I yearn for lesbian company so I can drop the pretense, talk about sex, not have to explain everything, just for it to be easy. Mostly, it doesn't matter, much.

And while wildly different, I wonder if this is what it is like all day for a black person to walk in an environment where the others are all white?

8 comments:

Gretel said...

I can appreciate how frustrating and isolating this must feel. (People often don't laugh at my jokes, too...but that's just because they're not funny) My circles include plenty of lesbian parents and while there's no real limitations on our abilities to talk about sex and child-rearing, there are certainly times when I feel like I cannot provide the level of empathy and support I'd like to around where they come up against challenges that relate specifically to being a lesbian parent. If you and I hung out at the park together, talking about sex would be fine, fine, fine. Is it any comfort that I get frustrated when I want to talk about sex and I'm surrounded with other straight parents that I know it would not be cool with? Funny you mention 'Black Like Me'. I was recently thinking about that book and considering reading it again to see how it survived the decades and whether it still seemed relevant and what my perspective would be on it now.

Torina said...

I've been reading for a while but don't think I have commented yet. I get what you are saying. Though I am not gay, several of my good friends are. They are very open about it. I had never given the prejudices they face much thought until I experienced it alongside them. Then I realized that they walked a fine line at any time. They could at any point, face extreme hatred from other people. I know how angry it made me feel, and how I had the freedom to speak up for them. Yet, there was such animosity from some people that they didn't always have the liberty to speak their minds. And those subtle things, like not getting jokes or worrying if someone would really "get that", takes away some of your freedoms to truly be who you are. I will never know how it feels but I do know that it cannot be easy. Good for you for always being out and proud, even when it is not easy.

--Torina

Cindy said...

Maybe those straight friends are just kind of thick like me. Hard to laugh at something you don't get. But if I don't get a joke (you have no idea how often this happens) I usually try to smile appreciatively. If I get it I usually laugh my ass off regardless of who's telling it or whether it's about my demographic. But then I'm a big moron most of the time.

Amy said...

Tricia, if you've dropped a lesbian joke to me, I've likely just missed it because of the thickness that comes with sleep-deprivation and a new baby! When D's birthdad came out (while we were still married), I got drunk and spent an entire night coming up with jokes about the whole situtaion. It was either laugh or cry at that point and time. I can still drop a random gay-exhusband punchline to my Mom every so often and get a good chuckle.

I think we all can get better at being more comfortable with our differences. I can certainly aim for that.

Mom24 said...

It's an interesting perspective. But, here's what I don't understand. I am a straight female, and I do not talk about my sex life to anyone but my partner. Too much information for anyone else. I don't want to hear about anyone else's sex life either--gay, straight, or transgendered. I think that's where some differences come from. It's not that I don't want to know about someone's intimate relationship because they're differrent from me, I don't want ot know about anyone's intimate relationships.

Nicki said...

It might really be that people are worried about offending you. Even if you're the one telling the joke, trying to make them laugh, they might be like, "What do I do?" Maybe they're just paranoid about being politically correct?

Tricia said...

Nicki-

I think that is mostly the case.

Mom24-

Many times when I am with a group of folks who know each other pretty well, sex comes up. Sometimes, in a joking manner, sometimes more serious. I'm comfortable with it and so are they. I'm a pretty open book and tend to hang out with those who are similar. Everything is fair game..

Amy-

I had no idea about your ex. That must have been quite a shocker!!

I can just imagine the jokes! ;)

Cindy-

I think it is true that sometimes they just don't quite get it. There are some things that only fellow lesbians seem to get. We are a bit of a subculture...

Torina-

Yeah, it's a bit weird. I think I experience pieces of prejudice at a different level. I think sometimes it is self imposed...

Gretel-
Meet ya at the park, say 10:30 tomorrow? :)

MaryP said...

I've been reading for a while, not sure if I've commented before.

I have a neighbour whose husband is in a wheelchair. She often jokes about it, but I've discovered that if I respond to one joke by bouncing another back at her, she does NOT laugh. The message is clear: she may joke about her situation, but I may not. Fair enough.

Could it be that some people are concerned that they not offend by joking about a reality they don't share?

And now I'm really curious. I've never heard a lesbian joke! (Or maybe I have, and, thick straight woman that I am, just plain old didn't even hear it... Eep.)