This week we were asked to blog on this topic. We are so grateful because now we don’t have to think about it! Although we certainly don’t have any particular specialization in this areas we are happy to share our opinion and experiences…
Here we go…. I will go first and Dragon will follow
What does it mean to be gay according to Bunny.
For me, it means not being in a heterosexual relationship and not self identifying as hetero but let me be clear, that for others this might mean something totally different and I am not presuming what this means for them.
This blog is about me lol… now you know why I like blogging so much! Me me me….
Ok, back to the question. What does it mean to be gay?
Well, as I said, I can tell you what it means to me. I identify as a lesbian. This feels right for me. Although this hasn’t always felt as clear. I have listened to the comments of others who have challenged this, asserting that I couldn’t be gay and that it is only Kuki that I fell in love with or that I must be bisexual because I had only ever been with men prior to her. When I first came out in the Fall of 2011, I was scared and uncertain and let people openly draw these conclusions. I was confused and trying to make sense of the situation myself.
I’m not sure when it clicked but suddenly it did. Just like that I realized that I had the agency to identify for myself and this wasn’t open to interpretation by others. I think the clarity came for me when I began to consider the letters in the acronym LGBTQ+ and became curious to learn about other members of the community, in particular those who identified as trans. I started to read books and watch documentaries and queer films and listen to the stories of the community. I found this very helpful. I learned that some people know they are queer and / or are same sex attracted and / or feel misidentified by their biology from a very young age while others come to terms with this much later in life. Again, this is not open to interpretation. This is based solely on the experience of the individuals in question. Period.
I would often hear, “You can’t be gay, you were married to a man. You would have known” and I would think yes. That’s true. I can’t be gay so what is going on then?
But the more I learned about people whose life doesn’t follow a linear path or make sense or subscribe to the social norms and boxes that we so dearly love, the more I realized that it was possible to be gay even though I was married to a man and even though I liked pink stuff and played with Barbies as a child. (My mother actually did say that to me at one point … but you always liked Barbies, aren’t you supposed to born gay? God bless her)
So, what does it mean to be gay? I don’t know what it means to you because it is your absolute right to be who you are, however that looks, and to allow yourself the freedom and opportunity to outgrow your gender or sexual identity and to expect your friends and family to allow you to flourish. I can only tell you what it means for me.
Our book The Butterfly Trap was not only important for us creatively, it also deepened our relationship and it felt like another step in our coming out journey. Queer people often describe coming out as something you do over and over. First we came out to our friends and fam, then at work, then we got married and stood in front of our whole community and the court of law, then we collaborated on and published our book. The assumption is always that you’re straight so our bio is unapologetically there on the pages of our book and we just decided to put it out there for all of our readers. We’re here and we’re queer lol
This is what it means to be gay. Being unapologetically and unwaveringly me. (and loving it) lol
Ok, now it’s my turn, Kuki aka Dragon to answer the question: What does it mean to be gay?According to Dragon
Honestly, it means to be ME, corny and cliché as it sounds, it’s true. I knew I was different when I was little. I was the stereotypical “tomboy” although I disliked that term when I was little until I came across a soccer add featuring Julie Foudy:
I never felt like a boy, I just liked the same stereotypical things. I liked Ninja Turtles not Barbies. I played sports and cops and robbers. This was my experience, these were my interests, but please be aware this did not “make me gay” I was born this way.
During my process of coming out there were comments made to me that questioned my interests and activities as a youth. Was it because you played sports? Was it because you went to an all girls school? No and No. I always knew, but didn’t know; I guess the same way a person who likes the opposite gender just knows.
I went through a phase where I tried to be girly and wear high heels and dresses, even pretended to have a crush on a boy but it never felt real. It felt like I was always in costume. I couldn’t recognize myself as that person. Slowly, I started accepting that wearing pants and dress shirts are beautiful as well, and that it’s ok if someone “thinks I’m gay” because I AM! I now proudly define my style as Ellen DeGeneres meets quirky preppie. Although I still have some students draw me wearing a dress, more and more are taking note that I wear pants and that I do look different. I think this is a great opportunity to show them that girls don’t have to have long hair and wear a dress.
Being gay is not easy, I do have a fear that someone will not like me simply because of who I married, I do worry that I will be stared at and judged for kissing my wife in public.
I was terrified when I first came out to my colleagues at work, but they embraced me/us with open arms and have been such a tremendous support ever since. The thing is, I was afraid we weren’t going to be acknowledged, but we were treated like any other couple who were about to get married. The staff collected money and bought us a lovely gift and a very thoughtful card. You see, the fear of not counting, of not being seen was huge and that is why I felt the push to be out with my students.
I want all my students and especially the ones who have same sex parents to hear about my wife and all of our adventures. I want them to be represented, to have stories that mirror their life. And that is why our character Luki, her family and “The Butterfly Trap” is so important. It depicts Luki’s mother in pants and a dress shirt woodworking in the attic. In this story we can’t tell if Luki has one mom, two moms or a mom and dad or another guardian. There are such great books already written about same-sex parents like “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and “Heather has Two Mommies” by Leslea Newman. In Luki’s next adventure, we plan on introducing another parental figure, and not making it the main purpose of the story. Stay tuned, Luki’s adventures have just begun.