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November Write 17

Star posted this earlier and I think it deserves a post.

Especially this portion:

Look. I know we’re all hurting. And when the world is confusing and we’re feeling lost getting righteous and angry becomes a feel-good release. But shutting people down who are trying to help is not good. It is not helpful. It’s not how we build a movement.

We need all the people to do all the things. Period.

There have been a lot of takedowns regarding the whole safety pin thing, and some of them are very fair concerns: co-opting by non-allies and people not being willing to back up the symbol with actual action (physically if needed) being the two that come first to mind.  

But here’s the thing, well, actually two things:

  1. At least half, if not more, of the articles I’ve seen criticizing the use of the pins are from people with relative privilege – often white cis-het men.  Not that they shouldn’t criticize – I’d say the subject is fair game to all involved.  But sometimes it seems like they are talking to drown out the voices of the people actually affected.  Why don’t we ask the queer, trans, female, Muslim, Jewish, black, chronically ill/disabled (spoonie), native, Mexican (among so many other groups) folks, ya know, the people who are getting harassed, what they think about it?
  2. Which brings me to the second point.  As someone who fits in several of those categories (and is read to fit in another), I actually appreciate the effort that people have put into making this a thing, especially when they are willing to put action behind this symbol.  I think a lot of the people who might have worn it and followed through may be getting discouraged by all the criticism.  I’m not going to give them a cookie for something they should be doing anyways, but it is nice knowing who I can count on.

This whole movement, made much more urgent by the results of the presidential election, was a catalyst for me choosing to identify as non-binary transgender instead of just non-binary.  I cannot step back further into the closet – that is not a direction I feel is an option for me, so I press forward.  

However, I do recognize my relative privilege in this.  I pass as a white, straight, cisgender woman when I am in public with my two male partners.  When I am out with my girlfriend I pass less, mostly because I am privileged enough to act queer in public without much consequence. 

So I do wear the safety pin, because I cannot use that privilege as a shield when others are on the front lines of this battle for basic human rights and considerations.

I will fight.

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November Write 13

To my metamours,

Thank you.

And I’m sorry.  For every offense I have made, for every time I made you feel left out, for every time something I’ve done or said something that has hurt, offended, or made you uncomfortable – I am so very sorry.  I am sorry if I missed you in my round of apologies for the mess I made a couple Saturdays ago. I want to say this all upfront.

I am consistently awed by you.  You have gone above and beyond in welcoming me into your ‘cule.  You are one of my blessings that I can count every day.  You inspire me to do better.  You inspire me to face my concerns and challenges head on, to grow beyond where I started about 7 months ago.  It has not been an easy path, sometimes for any of us, but thank you for choosing to walk it with me, for however long we get to walk together.

Thank you for the wisdom you have shared and the experiences you have conveyed to me.  Thank you for occasionally being my sounding board.

You make me happy from several different angles.  I am happy that you make our shared partner happy.  I am happy when you are happy in your relationships.  I am happy when we all get to spend time together, whatever we’re doing.  I am very happy that I have been given the chance to get to know you.  I love seeing the love you have for our shared partner in action.  You have reminded me what compersion feels like. 🙂

This is not the first time I have had at least one wonderful metamour, including a couple metas that are still my friends – a bond that lasted even after the end of the relationship.  It is, however, the first time I’ve had more than one amazing meta.

Sincerely,

V

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November Write 12

I want to write letters to those in my life, split over this write and the next two.

To my friends,

I am very proud of you.  I am amazed with the breadth and depth of your response to this horrendous election.  I have seen those people who do not often post on Facebook, come out with beautiful diatribes, full of understanding and an acknowledgement of just how bad it could be.

I have seen the beginnings of a new movement burst into life, fresh and full of energy.  I used to be skeptical of the power of the Internet and social media sites to create full social movements with power, participation, and enthusiasm, simply because we simply do not have many years of the internet to look at the history of how social movements interact with it.  But the last few years have shown me that it is simply not the case that a social movement can’t form on the internet and take flesh in real life.  I have seen you do it.  I have seen you take your convictions to the streets, willing to protest and potentially even be arrested for the sake of a social movement and be willing to come to the aid of any person from a marginalized minority, even to the point of physically fighting to protect them.
To my fellow queers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities: you are astounding!  Your reactions have galvanized me and my conviction to be visible as a queer person.  I will support you, whichever path you take in regard to this presidency – going back in the closet, retaining you outness as is, or step any further out of the closet.  I cannot choose for you – if you think it would be safer for you to retreat, I will give you whatever support you need (short of large sums of money – I am limited in that regard) to remain the safest, sanest, and most secure during this time.

To my friends who voted for TOWSNBN: I hold you responsible for protecting the rights of your minority friends.  You elected him – now, hold him to, at the minimum, basic standards of human decency, to genuinely make this country great.  I don’t care why you voted for him – it simply does not matter.

Sincerely,

V

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November Write 7

I have been thinking about what we went over in class on Sunday. One of the things that came up in regards to negotiating is the idea of power dynamics in relationships. Not even just kinky power dynamics, but ordinary things that show up in even the most vanilla of relationships.

My theory: power dynamics follow privilege.

Think about it. Who has power in society, particularly American society? White, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, rich, neurotypical men. Especially those who are older and pass as butch, but those aren’t such a huge predictor as the other factors.

In a vanilla relationship what gives a person power over another? Money (and the ability to generate it – which can be dependent on having a degree of both physical and mental ability, as well as not belonging to a sexual orientation or gender expression/identity that you can be fired for in the area you live in). The ability to pass through society as the “default” – the people in power look like you (see white, cisgendered, able-bodied, and mostly older men) – so you don’t have to worry about them taking away your rights.  Age certainly does convey a certain amount of power because you have had time to accumulate resources and certain experiences can certainly convey power on one party or another.

Also there is the concept of gatekeeping.  The person who desires something less has power over the person who desires something more, as they tend to be able to control access to it.  The desire in question can take many forms: sex, time, resources, food, and medical care, just to name a few.  Gatekeeping is the one place where I think that power does not necessarily follow privilege. Sex is considered one place in society where women always have power over men – men are considered to have the greater libido, and women the lesser, so they get to choose how to exercise this power – withholding sex when they wish for something else.  But even this is not strictly true.  Women can desire sex more, can be the higher libido partner.  Throughout history, men have sought to control the seuxality of women, to exercise their power in other realms to control how others choose to gatekeep.

I probably have more to say on this, but I’ve run out of steam and have to go to class now, so I guess this will be it for the day.

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Saturday Debriefing

I went to a birthday party on Saturday for one of the other members of the LLC at their place – a costume party of course.  I had a bit of an upset with my costume at the last minute, but managed to pull something together at the last minute (somehow, not sure how).

Trydaen and I were the first ones there, but the party picked up pretty quickly.  I got to try Manishevitz for the first time.  Quickly decided that it needed vodka, so that was my first drink.  Lasted me a bit more than an hour (trying to cut down on my drinking at parties).

Spent some time watching one of my friends play games and talking to them and whoever else walked into the room.  Then decided it was time for some hot-tubbing, naked, of course.  The tub was full of people, but I still managed to find space.  Then moved around to make out with a friend of mine (we’ve made out before – it’s quite nice).

The cast of the party was a wide web of relationships by the end.  My partner.  Grey Sky and his partner, my friend(?) Asa – everything went well on that front.  The friend I made out with, who is another ex of Grey Sky’s (we were only metas for a short amount of time) and one of his current partners, who was my Girl Scout day camp counselor, among other things, since I was about 10.  So, a bit odd to see naked, but whatevs.

Spent the last couple hours after getting out of the hot tub in a borrowed flying squirrel kigarumi.  It had wings so I got to do some flying down the halls.  Lots of fun.  Then had to put boring clothes back on to go home.

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August Post 30

Feeling: stomach is icky, mood is contemplative

So, most of the people I know, especially those who have known me awhile, may have noticed that I tend to wear rings.  They are my favorite type of jewelry after all, despite my many piercings.

Why?  Rings are a connection to my mom’s side of the family.  Everyone wears them, at least within one step of distance.  Gender does not impact this, nor does marital status.  They are a gift of connection.  They are symbolic, given whatever meaning we wish to impart.  My rings have tended towards the androgynous – plain bands and simply adorned ones.  They are a reminder that I belong to something a bit bigger, that I am part of a never-ending circle.

I used to wear far more rings than I do now.  Due to some medical reasons, my fingers have had some issues staying the same size, so I’ve had to switch them around and eventually take most of them off.  These days I wear two rings, each on the ring fingers of opposite hands.  

On my left hand, a titanium band with a rainbow inset.  I got this custom made, with a matching one for Trydaen, for our hand fasting more than a year ago.  It is meant as a show of commitment, rather than a marker that I am off the market.  I chose titanium because of its durability, the color to add character, and custom made because I wanted to give my money to an independent artist.  The rainbow is lovely, but also has symbolism – little known fact that rainbows are actually circular, we just can’t see the rest of it.  We did not exchange rings at the ceremony – we had “engagement” rings we wore beforehand and a couple hours before the ceremony we exchanged them for the ceremony rings in only the presence of my sister and (former) roommate.  To have that be quiet and private was just perfect.

On my right hand, a black tungsten carbide ring.  I have, for a long time, worn a ring on this finger.  It is meant as a reminder of the commitment I have to myself, to my relationship with myself.  It is a reminder that I should nourish and strive to grow within this relationship and I am very glad that, to this day, I have been doing exactly that.

Others’ Rings

Trydaen: He has taken to wearing the “engagement” ring on his left hand lately.  He says it is for no particular reason.  I think, like me, he enjoys having something to fidget with.  But I do find this interesting – he never wore his wedding ring when he was married.  Does it mean anything?  I’m not sure, but I do really like that he does wear it.

Diplomat: For some reason, his wedding ring really reminds me of my father’s.  I’m not actually even sure why, as they are not even the same color.  Maybe it’s just a matter of its simplicity and the beauty in that?  I think this bodes well.

My father: My hands are mostly shaped like my father’s – short, stubby German peasant fingers.  But they are hard-working hands, with a family history of hard work.  So my father’s wedding ring stands out a bit from all that.  It is simple and copper colored.  I have never seen him take it off.  From him, this is a symbol of his love and commitment to my mother, and his dedication to their cause.

My maternal grandmother: She of the rings.  My grandmother admired beauty in all its forms and I only ever saw her a few times without a full adornment of shiny rings (when she was in the hospital and nursing homes near the end of her life).  There were a few she always wore and she’d tell their stories with a look in her eye of something loved and long past.  I think she collected them as a reminder of times gone past.  Her rings were something that were carefully arranged for in her will – those that weren’t specifically mentioned were to be distributed to whichever child or grandchild wanted them.  Our ring styles are much different, but I prize these bits of her memory that I can hold onto.

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What I mean by “love”

So, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time, even before I wrote the last one, but I’ve been refining it – pulling it out of its box, mulling it over, shoving it back in the box, over and over – and finally I think I may be ready to write it.  So here we go…

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Trydaen

Every morning I wake up at my own house I tell Trydaen that I love him.  Usually before I leave for work in the morning.  Yes, it’s a routine, a very well worn one, but it’s a routine that has meaning for me.  I want him to know that, no matter what else happens, that I do love him.  And I know it’s reciprocated.  I know he won’t say it if he’s not feeling loving towards me and vice versa.

In those cases I usually mean something along the lines of: I’m glad for your continued presence in my life, for you being you, and I want you to know this in case anything goes wrong today.  In other moments it can mean: I desire you, I appreciate your willingness to cuddle with me even when you’re too warm, I am thankful that you are a steady presence in my life, I am thankful for your honesty, I am happy with the food you made…and so on, etc.

I’ve asked him a handful of times over the years why he loves and what it is about me that he loves and it seems, from what he says, that there is no solid answer, that it varies and is not always vocalizable.  And that’s fine.

Diplomat

Background: I always get really nervous for awhile when I’m desiring to tell someone I love them for the first time, even if we’ve been open about our emotions, doesn’t seem to matter.  My brain just goes into stress-out mode.

So, somehow in that mess, I figured it would probably be best to tell Diplomat in the moment that felt right, and stop trying to plan it.  I also resolved to be clear about my terms.

So I did – I said “I love you” (in one breath) and then followed it up with “…and by that I mean…” and out came a messy jumble of words that summed up what I was feeling for him at the moment.  And he reciprocated, without any hesitation.  This warmed my heart practically to the point of boiling.  So this is how we do it.  Saying “I love you” is just the first step in the journey – there’s so much more to go!

I’ve only said it a few times since – not because I’ve stopped having those feelings whatsoever, nor because I am less committed to that idea.  It’s simply that I realized that what we have takes on a different form than what I have with Trydaen.  I don’t need to say or hear it as often because I feel it in what we do and say with each other – saying/hearing it feels like an extra scoop of ice cream on top of an already delicious cone.

Right now, if I were to say it, I’d mean that: I really enjoyed yesterday, really loved cuddling with you this morning, am very thankful for your openness with me, I am looking forward to doing the fancy date thing with you next weekend, I am glad of all the things you do for your partners/my metas, and I hope you have fun this weekend.  Other times it might mean: I desire you, I am happy to be involved with you, I am brimming with joy to see all the lovely people in your life, I am thankful for your support, I really love talking with you, I am looking forward to where we go with our relationship…etc.

Butterfly

Yes, we did date for awhile, but that’s not what this is about.  This is not about romantic love.  If that was ever a thing, it passed away a long time ago.

Right now, if I were to tell Butterfly that I love her, it would mean: I am glad for your presence in my life, I am thankful you chose to invite me to your house almost 7 years ago to meet your family and friends, I think you’re lovely inside and out, I wish you only the best and brightest.  At other times it might mean: I am thankful that you wanted to play that game with me, I appreciate your curiosity, I appreciate you sharing your tea collection with me, I am thankful that you still occasionally want to do things with me, I am thankful for your honesty, I love your work stories…etc.

Others

And so many others, some with just simple reasons, simple meanings like: I enjoy your company, I look fondly on the past we had together, I am glad to see you happy with the person/people you’re with, I’m glad you’ve found peace, I am grateful for their honesty, I appreciate their support in my journey, that I am looking forward to sharing future journeys, that I am looking forward to getting closer to them, and I am glad that I have known them so long and that that hasn’t faded.

Polyamory taught me that all kinds of love are possible and how to open my heart to whatever kinds are out there.

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Chosen Family

Today I have been thinking about what I want to write about.  Maybe consent or feminism?  I do have a lot to say about those, but there’s a lot I’ve already said, so I want something else, something a bit closer to home.

A lot of people have a chosen family because their biological family was shit or they’re physically distant.  This is not the case for me – my bio family mostly lives within a couple hours driving distance on the heaviest of traffic days and they’re mostly ok.  My parents raised my sister and I well.  There’s a few decisions that they made and a few pieces of their child-rearing philosophy I disagree with, but overall, they are/were sane and intelligent parents.

I have a chosen family because when I became an adult I grew apart and beyond what I grew up with.  I learned about identity politics and started identifying outside of what I knew was a possibility as a child – as a feminist, bisexual/queer, as non-monogamous (eventually polyamorous), and now as genderqueer/fluid – and with that came people who challenged me to grow beyond childhood, beyond a childhood understanding of the world.  I learned that love is not necessarily romantic and can take on so many forms.

My chosen family, on the basest level, are the people I choose to have in my life.  I remember reading once about the idea of love being a series of choices; waking up each morning and asking yourself, “Do I still want to be with this person/these people today, whatever that means today?”, and confronting what that means if the answer is hesitant or negative.  My chosen family is made up of the people that I keep saying yes to those question – maybe not every single day, maybe missing days, but a great majority of the days.

Seeing these families in action surrounds me with a sort of compersive love, like a safe hug.  And it isn’t even the big things.  Lately it has been smaller things – picking people up from the airport, spending time with them at the hospital, putting together a schedule to take care of someone who needs it, and with my LLC, building plans for a future home together by getting together for dinner, drinks, and nonsense with our business.

I love it when I feel safe enough with people to expand my chosen family – not just by taking on new partners, new lovers, but taking on the people near them, my metas, their metas, those they have chosen.  And I like it when I can help expand other people’s families as well.

This is not to say that this is the perfect family form.  We still have conflicts like any family, sometimes we drive each other up the wall, and sometimes we fall apart a bit, but that choice is what matters – I can choose not to have someone as part of my family if the relationship is too toxic, or distance myself a bit if I think that the relationship is not currently healthy, but may be salvageable in the long run (and is worth the effort to do so).

I love you all, in some way, and I hope to see that grow and change every day.

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Update: Letter to My Dad

So, I received a response letter from my dad, apparently a few days after I sent the letter (Delayed mail? Me not checking my mail often?), I thought it was worth retyping:

24 June 2016

Dear [my first name],

Thank you for the letter you sent me a couple days ago.

I appreciate it very much, and I’m flattered, that you care enough about my opinion to send it.

I’m a child of the sixties, and my cultural conditioning tells me that polyamoury leads to trouble.  That may or may not be true; but it still makes me a bit uneasy when you talk about your new boyfriend and it develops that he’s married.  I worry that your loving heart could lead you into heartbreak, unpleasant scenes, disaster.

However, your mother reminds me that you are an adult, a smart and well-educated adult, and undoubtedly more in touch with the cultural zeitgeist than I am.  And of course, I have to accept the truth of that.  So I wish you the best of luck in your romantic endeavors.  Keep your mother and me posted; when you’re happy we’ll be happy along with you, and of course we’ll always be ready to provide unconditional love and support if anything should go wrong.

Your loving father,

Dad

I think this shows hope – my dad can be a bit, well, behind in his thinking sometimes. But the thing is, I know his intentions are good.  There’s room for growth here – my thought is that the Dan Savage approach here is probably best – keep exposing them to it in a “this is part of my life, part of me” kind of way so that they can see how happy this makes me.  It becomes something they get used to over time.

What do you think?  Good approach?  Could use work?