At my nephew’s graduation in the small city of Tunja, Colombia, the graduating class was around sixteen kids. They entered in pairs from either side of the stage as their names were called meeting in the middle, then walking down the steps that led to their seats. Couples were mostly male/female and there was one couple of girls. When they met in the middle they all stopped, grabbed each other’s hand and walked the rest of the way hands held. When the last couple was called (which happened to be the one my nephew was in) they were both boys and meeting at the center of the stage, they paused, stared at each other, and clearly decided not to hold hands, at which point the audience exploded in sweet laughter before walked down together the rest of the way.
Such a small thing. Almost imperceivable. But see, I’ve been queer all my life. That’s all 41 years of it. I grew up feeling there was no other option for me than the status quo. When I am home, even today, I am always tucking and curbing and dressing myself up to be the least amount inflammatory and get the least amount of attention. I don’t succeed as you can well imagine. But I try, in order not to offend anyone on their turf. And it’s in really small things, but over time they amount to a lot. And they are deeply fatiguing. We all do that to some degree through life, I know. For queer people and trans people, it is amplified. We will all tell you we are extremely used to doing this. Speak to any of your gay friends. We live in a straight world after all. And though things have changed/ are changing it is still there.
This tiny capsule-size moment made me sad. That boys holding hands was such an obviously innocuous ridiculous notion. That holding hands would make them seem gay. The toxic underlying precept that being gay is gross. That boys don’t get to hold hands anymore past a certain age. I wonder if they miss it. I wonder if these unexpressed tendernesses don’t sneak up on them in less pristine and innocent ways when they are older. These homophobic subtleties abound. Sometimes they are so insidious they are hard to recognize. Why was I laughing as well? Well their faces and reactions were cute. I mean, what’s the harm? It was just a lighthearted moment. But the why bothered me.
Later, we were all at lunch and were trying to help him budget for his new life to come, and someone asked him point blank how much money he needs weekly in order to take girls out on dates. Now, mind you, he has never ever expressed any interest in girls other than as friends. Something that hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed by everyone. Maybe he’s a late bloomer. I’m not even implying he is gay. But he might be and I am fiercely protective of him and know full well the dark consequences of going down what seems like an unavoidable path for way too long before you realize you have ended up in completely the wrong place. So I refuse to pretend to make that decision for him. As far as I’m concerned it is his birth right. And because I love him. I love him for who he is. Not despite. And whoever gets to love him will be lucky. He is amazing. Regardless, how different a more open ended question might feel to him. Just replace the word ‘girl’ for ‘someone’. Relieve some of the pressure.
I’m not saying the question was ill intentioned. I’m mentioning this because I think we assume the status quo far too often in life. In this time of deep exploration of our own privilege we have to keep walking through the mire together. Those assumptions though not coming from a bad place, do send out the message that it is best if you stay within the agreed lines. What a world this would be if instead of saying to someone, “I love you no matter what.” (Which I can’t begin to tell you how many times has been said to me and implies that you love me despite my heroine habit and the fact that I lay with sheep), we said something like “I love you because of who you are.” Or simply “I love you.” These seem like such small things. But are they? I’m not so sure anymore.
It might be nice to consider as we spend more time with our families over the holidays. And as we try to help young people pave their brave new world. Part of being a yogi is taking responsibility for what we say and making sure what we say is aligned in a deep way with our values. Cleaning up our speech in service of clarity is a worthwhile and meaningful undertaking with a subtle but high impact.
Sweet Offerings to Get You By:
The group is shaping up to be delightful and there are only a few spots left. Whether you want to surf the hammock or the water or simply just enjoy full practices and a book, it is the best space I know to let my guard down, process and heal to gear up for the year. It also gets you out of NYC the coldest week of the year. Come with us!
With Isaac Peña and Miles Borrero
Naam Yoga, NYC
Saturday, Dec. 15, 4-6PM
Isaac and Miles are combining their super powers in an awesome mash-up class. I don’t really know what else to say. It’s going to be awesome. You won’t want to miss this! We are selling out quick so email me to save your spot.
To sign up, email Miles.
Touch, of course can also be the most healing thing, respectful and wanted. If you would like to come in for a session email me and let me know. Let’s make it happen.