Coming out of "My Hetero phobia" Closet Growing up in a heterosexual world as a Lesbian who remained in many closets, has shape my identity and the way I will transact with people for the rest of my life. Upon coming out of closet, or being pushed out (by suspension from parents and friends) at the age of eighteen or nineteen I quickly assumed the bi-sexual title because it meant at least there was hope for me in the future. This proved to be worse for my self-esteem, and may have caused the most damage because even though I was free to come out, I was still afraid (somewhat) of taking the big leap and being totally ostracized by my friends and people I know. So I felt one million times worst trying to be bi-sexual than I ever did being heterosexual, I knew I was betraying myself before, but now it felt like the ultimate betrayal.
During the next year or so I finally got the courage to come out as a full blown Lesbian, and life has never been better. I wanted to shave my head and start over fresh as a new person who has this fresh new identity because I wanted nothing to do with the heterosexual and bi-sexual life I had lived in the past; I was on a mission to prove I could be as gay as anyone else. That meant forsaking all straight clubs and hanging out with the straight friends that I had, cutting my hair and actively searching out other lesbians. I went to gay clubs and events and made new friends with total lesbians; I was ashamed of my straight background and even claimed to have been out of the closet for many years when in fact I had not been, I didn't want to be a new be.
I wanted to show my friends that if they couldn't deal with me as a true lesbian, none changing, then I didn't want them around me. I took this class because I wanted to know more about our history and try to put a face to gayness for others, an African American face, an educated face, a female face, but most of all a human face. When I found out that ninety five percent of the class is straight and homophobic for the most part, I was thrilled yet sadden (because I now had the opportunity to look them in the eye and have them call me all the names I would have been called had I possessed the courage to come out sooner) but mostly thrilled because it felt great being around more gay people, even if only five more. When we were placed in groups (honestly) I was dismayed, because I would have chosen the other gay people in class since I have for the most part severed ties with standardized "normalcy." Since they were all girls it made the transition easier I must say, but I knew they would not want to do anything with substance because I feel they don't take us serious. I offered to take them to gay theatre and plays, to Orlando's Gay Days, to Parades and to any Gay event that would allow them to see us as productive members of society. They instead wanting to go to a Club, obviously I know where they are and didn't hesitate in going, but I wish we had done other things, so to make it up to myself for betraying my feelings I got involved in other group activities: I went to Madams with Chris, Leah, Maria and Ingrid because I wanted to see Chris in a different light.
I was curious and I didn't want to forever remember him as homophobic because I believe he isn't, and wanted him to be better than that. He shocked me beyond my expectancy, because he was not the way he is in class. He was receptive, he complimented them on their beauty and clothing, and he didn't shy away, turn his nose up, laugh, put his head down or refuse to eat their cooking. He surprised me in more than one way and I was thoroughly impressed. I got to see a side of him that he shelters when he's in front of his friends and heterosexual friends for whatever reasons. Then I helped out Trisha and Herechio's group because no one wanted to hold hands with her even though it was crucial to their assignment.
So I took Saturday off work and walked for hours, up and down Coconut Grove in the sweltering heat so that I could aid heterosexual classmates because I realized that maybe I am victim of volunteered segregation from Heterosexuals. I wanted to see how they would react to their project as well, I needed to know if they believed in it, surprisingly, they did. By the time my group decided to go to Ozone (in Coral Gables) one Friday and Elements (Wilton Manors) this next weekend for gay pride week in Ft Lauderdale, I was more receptive to being around straight people. I'm not embarrassed to say that I would rather not have much contact with heterosexuals, because I have pinned up anger towards the society that says I don't have a right to life, liberty and justice; the self same liberties that my father fought for in Vietnam for me to have. On the other hand, I want to not be so angry because it doesn't help any cause. Once I was in the club with my group mates and their boyfriends, I was very uncomfortable; I even arrived late because I was afraid they would back out at the last minute.
I didn't want to drink or dance I wanted to get as far away from them as possible, but I remembered that I set out to show them that we are mostly (not all) alike. We drink, eat, sleep, use the bathroom, go to school etc. we are humans and deserve respect as such. I was surprised, the boyfriends were talking to the other men, the girls were getting hit on and they didn't ask disrespectful or disgusted.
Overall, it was an enlightening and awakening experience because I crossed boundaries that I had set up for myself as a "true Lesbian." I thought that if I associated myself with them it would somehow make me less gay, and I would be betraying my people. What I have learned is that, ignorance, bigotry, self-hatred, denial, phobias and discrimination know no color, race, creed, sexuality or gender. I never thought of myself as a person who discriminates against anyone, but I do, and I did. I have discriminated against the football players in class, the other black older Lesbian (because I take offense that she can tolerate them and their ignorance against her, when she is gay) and most of all, the straight people because I automatically think they are against me so my guard is up and I'm ready to fight. I have decided after this field experience with the different groups and the trip to Orlando with them, that in order for them to accept me, I would first need to accept them and give them a face for an African American Jewish Lesbian, who is very well educated and from a upper middle class family, who attended the best private schools and has not become a statistic in any way. I'm happy I took this class, and actually am planning to get a certificate in Gay/Lesbian studies as soon as it is offered by the Women Studies Department.
I never thought that people like Chris, Holly, Leah, Horacio and a couple like Su armis and her boyfriend could change in six weeks what it took me years to build. I am not exempt from ignorance and acts of discrimination, the differences are I am willing to recognize them and make adjustments to my character, so that when I decide to raise children I do so unbiased. I will even try not to take the easy route by having only gay friends I will actually start communicating with the rest of the world, now that I don't feel they are out to get me. Thank you for a class well taught and I wish you well in retirement. I wish I had the honor of studying under you in another class for another semester.