Tuesday, May 6, 2008

the watchful eyes of others

This post will be kind of a new direction for me I think, because in general I have way more fun talking shit about other people and why they suck than like, self-reflecting. But what can I say, I’m in a kind of self-reflective mood. and I suddenly realized, after reading a very good blog post last night, that I have a thought other people might actually be interested in hearing.

So first-off, the blog post that inspired this ramble: its called “take my arm, my love,” and is more or less just about what it feels like to be gay in public – to constantly be aware of yourself and to be constantly aware of everyone who can see you in a way that straight people don’t need to be. The author talks about PDA specifically – how she always takes her girlfriend’s arm rather than her hand so that the action could potentially be read as nothing more than friendship, how she “stops, looks, and listens” before doing anything that might give them away as a couple. I’ve been especially aware of this recently because in new york you can’t help but always be in other people’s business, and things like the morning subway ride turn into daily reflections on how much straight people take for granted. I don’t think a morning has gone by in quite some time when I haven’t been on the train near a straight couple riding to work together. They cuddle, they kiss, they stare deep into each others eyes, they hold hands, and I always find myself being excessively repulsed by the whole affair. Which maybe is just because I’m not a huge fan of PDA, but I think more to the point, and what this other blog post was trying to get at, those are all things that I would in no way feel comfortable doing on the train. even little things like the kind of eye contact you make with someone you're dating, or how close you sit next to them on the train are things i'm constantly aware of. Not to say that I wouldn’t do any of those things mentioned above, but just to say that if I did, it would be a conscious, rebellious action – it wouldn’t be about just being madly in love and lost in the glorious wonderland of each other’s company or any bullshit like that, it would be about trying to prove I wasn’t scared of anyone else on that train. Which is kind of fucked up.

This past weekend I went to a friend’s wedding, and was sort of shocked by how many different emotions it made me feel. As some of you may know, I’m not a huge fan of “feelings,” so needless to say it was unsettling. The wedding was beautiful, and everyone was super-happy, and it was just all-around pretty great, but I found myself getting sort of sad at various points, which is weird because I have literally never wanted to get married – not that I actively don’t want to, I just never really thought about it as a kid, and then recently just sort of assumed I wouldn’t. it hasn’t ever been that important to me, but seeing how happy everyone was, how happy the bride and groom’s families were, etc. etc. made me all of a sudden super self-reflective because I was like, “oh dang.” It’s a pretty big deal to be able to get that kind of affirmation from your family and friends. And I don’t think its “necessary,” per se, but having the option is probably a nice feeling, huh?

But actually maybe “nice” is the wrong word. As teh portly dyke points out in her blog post, most straight couples (or single straight people for that matter) would have a horrible time trying to live for even a few days being as conscious of their every move as I usually am. But frankly I’m not jealous of that. I’m MAD about that because I’m just in general irritated by people who are not conscious of their surroundings or their place within those surroundings, but I don’t want that. Sure I want the safety that comes with being straight, or being white, or being a man in a racist, sexist, homophobic society, but thank god I’m not any of those things. And I think not being any of those things has forced me into this kind of hyper-awareness of my surroundings that I really appreciate. Its just not every day that I stop to realize how many people in the world, or even just in my subway car, don’t need to and don’t want to be conscious of the watchful eyes of others.

moral of the story, i guess, is that yes i will hold my girlfriend's hand in public, but no i won't feel completely comfortable (read: safe) doing so. but at the end of the day, i'm cool with that, because the discomfort means that i'm making a conscious choice, and it means i care enough about her and about myself to make that choice. which is a good thing.

2 comments:

kidbonita said...

i'm jealous of the people who are unaware of their surroundings, and when they act like asses i get angry. i am constantly acutely, if not painfully, cognizant that i'm not like everyone else. and yet, i am more likely to fit into their picture of the world than what you describe.

Rawi said...

"Sure I want the safety that comes with being straight, or being white, or being a man in a racist, sexist, homophobic society, but thank god I’m not any of those things. And I think not being any of those things has forced me into this kind of hyper-awareness of my surroundings that I really appreciate."

This right here is the birth of a true critical consciousness! I'm struck because I have heard from, and shared with, many friends this exact sentiment...