Ah, the strange and wondrous things that happen when you go traipsing around The Internet.
As you know, I’ve been hanging around the comment threads at Family Scholars Blog for awhile now. In part because I’m interested in how the other half
lives thinks. In part because I like to argue.
And in part because, in the very selfish, immature corner of my brain-heart-body it irks me that there are people out there who really think that I’m “depraved on account I’m deprived” (or some variation thereof). I’m fascinated and appalled that people feel so threatened by my existence as a (gay) married, sexually-active bisexual that they try to pass laws to erase my (gay) married existence, and — when that fails — simply say that my marriage isn’t real.
It’s fascinating, as I say, and appalling.
And not a little frightening. To know that my life excites such fear, angst, anger, and loathing.
I like to keep all that in sight, watchfully.
Well, then a couple of weeks ago they invited me to blog with them, as a regular guest blogger.
And my first reaction was absolutely not, no. But I said I’d think about the offer. Talk to some people. Sleep on it.
What could I possibly bring to that site, as a guest blogger, that I wasn’t already bringing in comments? And, more importantly, why did they want me? I admitted to myself fears that I might simply be being recruited as a Poster Lesbian: “See? She plays well with others!” they might say, and when accused of anti-gay bias the group could point to my guest blogger bio: “See?! We even have a Queer Feminist Gay-Married Bisexual writing for us!”
Wouldn’t I be risking, on some level, being their Queer Cover? The sexual-identity equivalent of the Black Friend?
But then I started to think about what I might be able to offer in such a space, to those who were truly open to listening (and, yes, though I complain about those who revile and erase me more, the more contemplative conservatives exist).
And this is what I thought. That much of the conversation about queerness, feminism, and other lefty-liberal modes of being at the Family Scholars Blog (FSB) takes place without reference to — let alone centering of — actual queer / feminist / lefty-liberal voices or experiences. Even when those voices are referenced, it’s generally in the form of a sound bite we’re all supposed to know is ridiculous or wrong-headed (“pfft, look at those hysterical feminists with their foolish notions about gender equality — what do they know”).
Well, I’d like to talk about what it is we do know, and what life looks like from where we stand.
So I’ve accepted the FSB offer, and I’m going to start a monthly series there (cross-posted here), “The Feminist Librarian’s Bookshelf,” with 3-to-5 titles per post as suggested reading on a theme (“gender and neuroscience,” “teenagers and sexuality,” “queer families”). My hope is that I can offer a glimpse into the literature that informs those of us who take a quite different view than many, if not most, at the FSB, with regards to family life. I’m not particularly aiming to convert, although obviously it would be nice if some of my favorite authors resonated with readers here and there. My goal is to encourage people to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” and think about what it might be like if you were to look at the world through the eyes of a lefty lesbian teenage, a liberal Latina mama, a feminist trans* woman, an asexual anarchist, a socialist living in poverty, or hippie home-educators.
There’s talk over at the FSB about civility of discourse, about meeting people halfway and compromising, about being willing to doubt (one’s own truths) and being open to having one’s mind changed.
I’m not sure how I feel about these values. I sometimes feel there is a type of privilege at work here, in which unexamined certitude is disproportionately a problem of those whose worldviews and values are reflected back at them from mainstream culture. Those on the margins not only have the value of self-doubt shoved in their faces 24/7, they must learn to see the world through the eyes of the privileged and powerful in order to survive. Indeed: part of my fascination with the religious right comes from growing up a liberal-progressive (dare I say radical!) minority within a conservative Christian culture. I had to learn how Christian conservatives understood the world in order to survive. They didn’t have to learn anything about me, if they didn’t care to.
So I’ll be walking a mindful line over there, at FSB, between recognizing the true values of civil conversation, of lovingkindness and compassion, of being open to new experiences and viewpoints, of being open to the change those experiences and viewpoints will wreak within me — and at the same time holding my own, in part by example demonstrating that it is possible for a diversity of individuals with very different lives to co-exist in a democracy without the world imploding. We don’t all have to be alike, and that’s okay. We don’t all have to fear others who are different from us and/or those who choose a different way of life. Their different choices don’t, for the most part, constrain our own freedom of choice unduly.
You can read my self-introduction over a FSB and I’ll be cross-posting Thursday’s bookshelf post (five novels that influenced my adolescent perspective on love and romance) here.