I'm tired. This is the 19th day in a row I've published a diary. When my creative juices are flowing, my OCD sometimes starts to take over. That's what lead to the 100 poems I wrote and published in BiPM's wonderful Cheers and Jeers or the six I wrote for Top Comments. That was by way of introduction in case you didn't quite get that.
At the beginning I posted some of my best stuff in diaries which had almost no readers. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Friday or Sunday may be the end of my story. At least the end of that part of the story...
A few words about the series:
Feminisms is a series of weekly feminist diaries. My fellow feminists and I decided to start our own for several purposes: we wanted a place to chat with each other, we felt it was important to both share our own stories and learn from others’, and we hoped to introduce to the community a better understanding of what feminism is about.
Needless to say, we expect disagreements to arise. We have all had different experiences in life, so while we share the same labels, we don’t necessarily share the same definitions. Hopefully, we can all be patient and civil with each other, and remember that, ultimately, we’re all on the same side.
If I have failed to convey that my life journey has been about finding a place where I belong, then I have managed to gloss over a large part of that which defines who I am. My adult life has been built around teaching, which to me is about helping others find a place where they belong, where they are valued. I've spent most of my life being told I should go away because I didn't fit in, that if I had any value, it lay elsewhere. Or at least that's the impression I received. As a kid. As a hippie. As a Christian. As a PFLAG parent. As a GLBT person. As a human being. As a woman. As a lesbian. As a transgendered person.
Yep, I've even been attacked by my own communities from time to time because I was somehow different, sometimes based on issues like emotional sensitivity or body morphology, but more often because of my views on life. And my views on who belongs. And where. And why.
Pencil and Wax
In the last 15 years of my life I have learned that I can address that. I found the value of my words, which I mostly confined to the classroom in the middle half of my life. I wrote emails. A wise woman (Kate Cummings) told me I was writing poetry. I was stupid enough that I began to believe her. And I tried to explain what they meant. I'm still doing that. You may have noticed.
I've found some of those places. It took most of my life and a huge investment of self, but I have found places where I could just be me and not be told to go away. And I've had to build some places of my own. I've always hoped that my diaries have had the feel of Me in them, that they resonate with my Voice (Kate's term).
Always in the back of my mind has been the thought that it is not enough that I find the doors to those places, but that I should also make sure that after I pass through them, they remain open for whomever else wants to follow. Just like Kate did for me.
I've found where I belong. For now. I've created bridges when there appeared to be none, out of the words I've found to express who I am. I've listened and learned when it was needed. I've taught when it was necessary. I've asked for help when I've needed a hand. People...mostly women, but a few men...have seen fit to extend me a hand and help keep me from losing my way. I know enough that I can never repay those folks for what they have done for me in any better way than to try to help someone else behind me. We don't live forever. New Voices must be found.
And being admitted has cost me some friends from time to time. Some have thought I should leave one community behind when I have become accepted in another. It certainly did not go down well at the 1995 Seattle Gay Pride Parade when I marched with my transgender friends rather than my lesbian ones, even though I had marched in the Dyke March with them the night before.
And it didn't go well with some of my transgendered friends when I found acceptance in women-only space, apparently since entry seemed to still come with limits...like learning how to behave in women's space. Partly since I didn't need the vitriol, I chose to leave the online gender community when I moved from Arkansas to New Jersey in 2000. It was also partly because I felt new Voices need to be created and I was getting old.
Even here at Daily Kos I've been told that I should get over being transsexual and just be a woman. I don't even know what that means. I cannot forget who i am.
My brand of feminism informs me that wherever there are boundaries placed on the human condition, people need to push against those boundaries. Even when they are not my personal boundaries.
Having found or created places where I belong...and hopefully leaving doors open for others, where do I go from here?
Becoming. Being. Belonging. I would guess that Doing comes next. I've lived in my head for so long, I'm not certain what that means.
But I'm willing to listen. Words of wisdom? Stories of your own?