You have to have some thick skin to work on the internet. The things people might think but never have the courage to say to your face in person are somehow permitted on the web. As a writer who critiques other people’s work, whether it’s a TV show or a live concert or a book, I am open to feedback and criticism. It comes with the territory.
But it’s rare that someone takes the time to send you something like this. It reminded me of the Jennifer Livingston situation recently, and how the news anchor answered the viewer who sent her a “helpful” message about her weight on air. So in response to this email I recieved tonight, here’s an open letter I’ll be sending to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Jamie (if that is your real name),
Props to you for still using Hotmail. I often wonder if people still do. Anyhow, I wanted to respond to you because hey, you felt you had the right to ask me such a personal question.
I don’t know you, or at least I don’t think I do, but if I did, you’d know I haven’t had any terrible situations with men. At least not any more than I have with women. In fact, I’ve been pretty blessed to not have experienced any kind of particular abuse or tragedy thus far in life, and if I had, I would like to hope it would have no affect on who I fall in love with. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t, actually. I have many male friends. I’ve always had a supportive father. I have almost entirely all male cousins. None of them have damaged me in any way.
I write this as if it were your business in the first place. It’s not, really, but considering I have opened myself up in certain ways by writing and talking about my life on the internet, I can venture as to why you though it appropriate to send me such an email. I can’t speak for Beth Ditto, but I can tell you what I gleaned from her memoir: She’s attracted to who she is attracted to. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. If she and I are attracted to similar kinds of people, that is something I’ll gladly accept. We both identify as femmes, and our partners identify as whatever they’d like to on any given day.
Speaking of my partner, Julie is a very private person. She deals with me putting our lives on blast on the regular, as I accept every Facebook friend request from AfterEllen readers and don’t really utilize any privacy controls. I have nothing to hide. She’ll probably be super psyched to know I have videos of her on YouTube. (I’m kidding, she knows they’re there. I play them all the time when I want to laugh.) But I married her not only because she’s a gorgeous butch woman, but she’s kind and smart and unintentionally hilarious. She’s also been working out lately, so I might need to encourage her to update her YouTube presence for people like you that are so interested.
While you were on my YouTube channel, I wonder if you happened to watch the clip where I read my coming out essay from Dear John, I Love Jane. It’s where I talk about growing up and not really feeling anything for anyone until I started to meet women I connected with, and how that felt to fall in love for the first time. You’ll be disappointed, I’m sure, to find out that my attraction to women had nothing to do with anything that happened with men. So thank you for telling me you’re “sorry” I had to go through something to become queer like I am, but really, there’s nothing to be sorry for. I’m not “resisting” anything but the urge to say “Go fuck yourself” instead of explaining anything further.
So you’re offended I call myself a lesbian based on the ideas you have about my relationship. We may be a butch/femme couple, but let me tell you, I am no meek and mild housewife. What are these male/female dynamics you consider to be present in my marriage anyway? Is that you, Mitt Romney? Because I am a terrible cook. Mostly I just refuse to do it. And I am fine with heavy lifting or other things you might assume that men or butch women do. I do that shit in heels.
“When you love women, you love them the way they are which means you love their femininity.” Actually, when I love someone and that someone is a woman, I love them the way they are, no matter how much femininity, masculinity or a mix of the two exists within them. Because I love the person; their heart, their mind, the way they treat you. There’s no rule book on how to be a lesbian. If there were, I’d say you hadn’t read it. What we’re fighting for as queer people, as a marginalized group in American society and the entire world, is for people like you to realize that humans fall in love with other humans, gender or sexuality be damned.
I’ll be real with you: If I wasn’t married to my babe butch wife, I’d probably be trying to find another one just like her. Like her on the inside, like her on the outside. And if one day she decided she wanted to borrow one of my dresses and get femme on me, I’d be like “Sure, but it’s probably too big for you.”
Julie does get mistaken for a dude sometimes, it’s true. And we laugh about it and tell our friends because it’s ridiculous that someone would just glance at a haircut and a T-shirt and assume someone’s gender or preferred pronoun. That’s just one of the realities of being someone who is different from what society assumes you should be or should look like. I’m constantly being assumed straight, and I’d laugh just as hard if I was with another femme woman and we got asked if we were sisters. It seems to come with the territory.
I guess what I’m trying to say, Jamie Hotmail, is there’s someone for everyone and I’m lucky to have found mine. There’s no need to worry about me and any repressed memories coming back to haunt me and change the genetic makeup of who or what I’m attracted to. Same goes for Beth Ditto, I’m sure. She seems to be doing just fine.
p.s. Go fuck yourself.