Monday, December 20, 2004

Mars & Venus

I know men and women are different, in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. I refuse, however, to believe that there is a great gaping chasm between us. Our relationship isn't a perfect one, but then what is perfect?

When I came out in 1989, I thought the "gay" world was an idyllic one. Men would never be sexist. Racism wouldn't exist. We'd all live in a fabulous queer utopia where everything was beautiful and clean and fun. And then I started visiting New York's Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center (as it was called back then).

I mean no disrespect to The Center. It was then, and still is a a great place. I soon learned though that the gay community wasn't all I thought it would be. Older men attending SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) meetings would alternately hit on the young gay men or talk about the ones of color and how "criminal" they were. Young people coming to the now-defunct GLYNY (Gay & Lesbian Youth of New York) meetings didn't like the old coots. The women in the women's groups didn't like the men, and White women who identified as third world didn't understand why they couldn't attend meetings run by women of color. As strange as it was to my youthful eyes, it was a wonderful place, full of possibility. I wouldn't trade any of my experiences.

In late 80's New York, gay men and lesbians rarely, if ever, partied in the same places. Lesbians were a bit aggresive, and I don't just mean the butches. If you heard about a fight in a club, chances were good it was between women. Guys didn't fight much, but there was a lot of sex -- chasing it, having it, and chasing it again. I didn't make a lot of male friends in the clubs -- okay, I didn't go to a lot of clubs, but I did make friends through community work. I was a member of Lavender Light: The Black and People of All Colors Lesbian & Gay Gospel Choir for about 12 years. I belonged to Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Women, Inc.(now called African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change -- what's up with the really long organization names?) and it was through these groups that I began to relate to my gay brothers.

I was blessed with the love of incredible Black men, beautiful in heart and spirit. People like Rory Buchanan and Craig Harris, Dwayne McKinley, James Moody, and David Macedon. Tony Teal, Chas Brack, Lidell Jackson. I listened to them tell their stories, I laughed with them. I cried, and still do sometimes, at the loss of Rory, Craig, Dwayne, James, and David. I can still hear Roger Carroway and Darnell Pritchard sing. I still see William Cox's smile, his ever-present camera and lilting Panamanian accent, and remember how graciously he served the guests at my wedding. I've lost touch with Tony, Chas, and Lidell, but the things they've all taught me have affected me deeply.

Things have changed. Yes, there are still some queens who refer to women as fish. And there are some dykes who think effeminate men and drag queens are scum, but much has changed. You won't find many man-hating radical feminists itching to overthrow the patriarchy (although I'm a bit challenged by women's events that won't let mothers bring their sons). And, a lot of gay men are emulating lesbian homesteading patterns -- a little less sex and a lot more settling down. Men and women even party together -- females are even DJ'ing boy parties. The supposed rift between us is closing, and I think both men and women are benefiting.

I have to shout out to the fellas in my life, the brothas who taught me not just about manhood, but about humanity. Bishop, Archbishop, Calvin, Mark, John, Anthony, Jaysane, thank you for shaping my early adulthood. Jess, Byl, Louis, Allen, Isaac, you are my newest brothers whom I love deeply. Rev. Gary and Bill (ya nut!), thank you for helping me see that White men can jump. To my heterosexual brothers Orlando, Dallas, Roy, who appreciate and embrace my unconventional femaleness, thank you for your openness. I'm sure it ain't easy dealing with a woman who doesn't fit the mold.

My sisters, every man is not a bad man. To my lesbian sisters, give up the women-only vision. It won't work. There are times when it is necessary and appropriate for women and men to have separate time, but that is the exception, not the rule. Stop judging your gay brothers for remaining single, if they choose to, or having lots of sex, if they choose to. Yell at them if they're having unsafe sex, but don't judge. To my gay brothers, some lesbians do need to lighten up, but we're not all tight-assed prudes. Ask us for relationship advice, but don't think we have all the answers because we're far from perfect. Don't be afraid to fall in love. Love occasionally hurts, but so does that intense gym routine you're so into. Please wear a condom. We really don't care if you have 20 or 200 sex partners, but please practice safe sex with every one.

With all that's happening in the world, it's far more important that we stand fast and together. Who cares what planet we're from?

1 Comments:

Blogger Elyaqim Mosheh Adam (Mark) said...

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2:18 PM  

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