Wednesday, December 3, 2014 Y 5:26 PM
It’s funny because this morning pushed me over the edge of a problem that I thought I was over trying to combat. I’m currently wearing this beautiful Deborah Lipmann (Glitter and Be Gay) polish that I got from Sephora. It’s partially holographic, and it’s a glitter polish which is pretty dimensional in terms of what most glitter polishes tend to be. This is especially true of polishes that are standards, like OPI and essie, because as we (the nail polish lovers of the world) know the majority of glitter polishes tend to have too much silver glitter which tends to overpower the rest of the color. This is partially a reason why I love Deborah Lippmann – her polishes are always, mainly, glitter polishes but they are far more than that. These polishes are celebrations, they are unlike what most polishes tend to be, and they are – when they are being worn – something just special. But in my world only a fraction of the people that truly matter will express the same joy I have for the color that I have on. I mean this morning my mom was talking to me about how we’re going to need to have a conversation (a deep one according to her) about how my sister (the younger one) is having a huge problem, more so than normal, about me. Me meaning my lifestyle. Which really means how fucking gay, and or, how much of a fag I am. It’s normal for my sisters, and my mom, to express their displeasures with me, mainly (my brother is also gay) because my appearance to them is way over the top. Sometimes when I’m being discussed I feel like I’m actually wearing something more on the drag queen scale, which would be great, but that’s just not me. Anyways, their huge issue is not that I’m in full face, or that I walk like I had butter lubing my hips – the problem is always that my nails are painted. Now the reasons of why I do them are independent and not even important to this, but I definitely got into them because my friend Marta always had super pretty polish on and well, why the fuck not?! So anyways, the problem earlier one used to be about what my cousins would think and what my family would be accosted to (visually) upon seeing me wearing color on my nails. This situation got so heated once when my (older) sister was going to move back into the house and the family pretty much wanted to kick me out of the house because by me being there, with painted nails, would expose my nephew to deep psychological damage. In their words they were saying things like “what will children say to him when you come to pick him up from school?” “what example are you giving him?” “what if he came up and wanted his nails painted?”. The problems were based on this idea, that in their mind is deeply imparted by folklore, that my existence, my way of being, and my “lifestyle” were the equivalents of visual rape. By me being around him, and growing up around me, that somehow I was exposing him not only to harm but also to an eventual psychological crisis. Somehow my mother and sisters (the main complainers) believe so much that I am not only a disrespectful selfish fag, but also that my visual expression is somehow throwaway. As if who I am, how I look, and how I walk around in this world is nothing more than an option that I choose to impart upon myself – which in turn means that I have somehow slapped them in the face by making their lives harder than it should be. In their thinking they can not understand how I can’t just adapt to their standards of how I should be, how I should speak, and even the people that I’m attracted to. The conversations are never celebrating my beautiful new shirts, or nail polish, or hair – the conversations between my sisters and mom tend to be hostile because to them I’m, metaphorically speaking, stabbing our family in the heart. I’m somehow constantly, in their mind, constantly smearing the family name, and in turn how people see them, because I choose to be just a goddamn problem. Because I don’t look like the brothers of their friends, or the sons that other mothers raised. I’ll never be walking around looking like every other ‘guy’ that they see, dated, and the like. I’m like this amalgamation of queerness that is fine for their friends to have but not me, because they have to live with me. And the consequences that being one of my family members bring. This is of course the realities for anyone, in any family! This is the truth when my sisters didn’t like people who were my friends, or when their exes saw me walking down the street. But the problems are not rooted in reality because my brother is also gay, but he passes. His boyfriend passes, and when they are together their gayness is not being smeared onto them like butter on toast. Rather, when the neighbor boy saw my brother and his bf making out my mom was more worried about what would be said about her, and our family. And I don’t blame her for thinking like this because the realities are that I have a vast amount of privilege over them. I’m able to be in worlds where people like me are celebrated. I live in a world where my differences are the same thing that have made me so successful, but to my mother and sisters their realities are more grounded in a world where people like me are perverts and clowns. A world where people like me are pervasive for children and where my influence would corrupt anyone of a pure mind. The seeds of this is linked to an idea that self-censoring myself would make these issues go away. Now it must be said the only problems with me being gay tend to come from their own homophobic lovers, and also their own homophobic worldviews. They have gay friends, gay acquaintances, etc. but the difference is that they don’t live with them. These people are ‘adult friends’. These are the people that you bring into your world when children are not around. We are ‘after-dark’ friends and our existence and expression of self is something that can be turned on and off like a lamp. But what bothers me the most is the sheer hate that come from my families lips, without them thinking that what they are saying is not hateful. Sure, I can be the educated well-mannered intelligent brother but only if I don’t show any of the gay parts. My mom, in my own head, would rather have a thug for a son vs me. Because the people in her mind who are deserving of awe are people who pass and have a wife. In her worldview these people fit and don’t cause murmurs around her inner circles. But the problem with this thinking is that: ALMOST NO ONE FUCKING CARES. And if they did, SO FUCKING WHAT. Instead of them standing up to their bf’s or their friends and defending us for being gay, or for me, or my nails, they don’t. Rather I am the problem. I’m the problem and I continue to choose being so by not turning ‘me’ off.
The problems have only risen now that I moved in with my boyfriend, and now that my younger sister is pregnant. The problems really rose when I brought my bf to Thanksgiving. The only person who was livid that he was coming was my younger sister because we didn’t allow her baby daddy to come to the dinner. Rather, my sister chose to argue that my mom is basically allowing a perversion to come to dinner as opposed to allowing her to bring her asshat of a partner. My bf, the same one who was in the kitchen helping out vs. a guy who makes her life horrible. Now I will not sit here smearing her and her choices, but rather I am shining the light that to my sister my relationship is the equivalent to lighting the house on fire. She screamed, called my brother and I fags, and so on. Now that her baby shower is approaching the conversation has begun again. My mom began to say to me early on that I can come to the baby shower but that my sister had expressed that she didn’t want me to have my nails painted. And the same reasonings came out. “You have to respect the house” “You have to respect your sister”. But what she and my sister continue to fail to see is that I’m not a valve, and that the way I present myself is an inherent part of who I am. Just because it’s something frivolous in their mind, does not mean it is to me. To me this is part of who I am. And that alone should warrant my right to be whoever I fucking want to be without threat that somehow my sister is going to shout at my family, and me, and my bf, because she sees my life as an option. This of course has a lot to do with how engrained culturally how our being, our ‘self’, is for sale. It’s like this morning when I was listening to Feast of Fun (interview with Johnny Mcgovern from Hey Qween) and they were discussing how his friend put on full face to go to a taping of Wendy. The producers, in their minds, saw the ‘drag’ as a costume. And minimized the possibility that perhaps this is how said person sees themselves. Like the guy from Nordstrom who recounted, to my boyfriend, the story of how he can’t paint his nails at work (but loves nail polish) because he works in the Men’s department. It’s all bullshit being reasoned in the name of respectability. The idea that what someone wears, or doesn’t, triggers being respectful or disrespectful. It’s like every job requires an extensive, and overreaching, agenda that requires the person to be someone who they maybe aren’t. And if it isn’t that changing themselves is just a mere option that doesn’t harm said individual. It’s these same ideas that are backed time and time again by my family who thinks that my nails are nothing but frivolous and to whoever reads this and questions why it’s such a big deal. I love my family dearly and this is me not ranting about them or wanting to hurt them. Rather I am just tired of feeling like somehow I have to suppress myself for their sake. I’m tired of feeling like somehow I’m a perversion and should hide in a closet because I’ll corrupt children.
As the holidays approach I know my mom will once again have her tantrum that includes telling me to unpaint my nails. Threatening to cancel xmas, and then just giving in. I’m sick of allowing a system that allows corporations to dictate how we look based on their ideas of what respect is. I’m tired of people being expected feel less than if they can’t conform. My way of being is nothing compared to what other people express but that can only make me feel a fraction of what people like that have to face every-fucking-day-of-their-fucking-life. It saddens me that I can’t have a safe space with my family, rather the safe space is actually in public. The public has become my shelter where compliments are given to me by women, or by the public that celebrates my work. I just wish sometimes that my family would see how great of a person I am as opposed to seeing all my greatness devalued by my faggotry. I know that I’m strong enough to handle things like this, and privileged enough to deconstruct and know why things like this occur. But that doesn’t make the situations any less tiring and irate.
At the end of the day I am going to continue painting my nails, and having these same conversations with my mom. She may never change, and I’ll never back down. Fuck, I may not even attend my sisters baby shower just to spare her any sort of rage that could be caused my me being there (and to spare myself the possible humiliation that she may place on me and my boyfriend), but I feel like I needed to write this because I know other people face this, and will face this – especially since it is the holiday season. But who knows, maybe one day my family will come around but until that day I’m going to continue being me because if I don’t do it for myself then I’m not living my reality. And if my reality to them is nothing but a perverse faggot who should be tucked away like a dead corpse than so be it. I’m not going to hate them, or fight them, rather I am going to continue being my own fucking advocate, because sometimes in this world if you don’t do things for yourself no one is going to do them for you.
Finished 4:19 @ Harper College
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