i think i could have guessed, deep in my unconscious, that two days in the car with my older sister might prove to be a less-than-optimal combination…..
my visit to DC was what i would call ‘trying’.
my older sister was in a funk, which manifested itself in an absolute absorption in the book she was reading. as in, when it got to be the time the three of us had agreed on for leaving, she was still lying on the couch, unshowered, reading her book. when reminded that it was time to go, she would sigh heavily and say ‘i know, i know, i’m getting there’. then continue reading.
it honestly went beyond frustrating and into funny.
then the fourth of july pool party happened, at my little sister’s straight ex-mormon friends’ house. latent homophobia lurked just underneath the surface of the conversation, in ways that it would be impossible to explain to my sister without enrolling her in a six-week consciousness-raising endeavor. she is very close to this couple, and with good reason. they have been steadfast, loyal friends to her.
and homophobia, especially when people know to hide it, doesn’t really come up when you’re straight people hanging out in straight contexts. it lurks subtly in conversations, when a former roommate is pronounced ‘…creepy…and probably gay.’ right? that’s an ‘and’ there, not a ‘because’. and yet, do you think that word would have been so frequently used if the former roommate hadn’t been presumed gay? if the roommate had been a straight woman, and had had an unfortunate crush on the husband of this couple, would that have been creepy? or would the wife of this couple have been jealous, or angry, or pitying, or any number of other reactions that wouldn’t have involved disgust and revulsion?
and it didn’t help me feel more comfortable when my sister chimed in with, ‘and [husband] is the straightest man alive!’
well, probably not, all things considered. most men aren’t 100% straight, as anyone who knows anything about men who have sex with men knows. vastly high percentages of straight men are perfectly willing to be sucked off by another man. and why the protestations and affirmations? my entire family uses this kind of language; one friend is ‘so straight’, another is ‘straight as an arrow’, another is ‘the straightest person alive’. even my sisters are ‘really, really straight’.
that’s fine, i refer to myself as ‘really gay’, or ‘super queer’. but i think when this kind of affirmation is used over and over, it reveals a certain panic that is underlying. my family didn’t use that language before i came out. why? because they weren’t worried about it. they didn’t think about gay people. the more it comes up, the more they have to assert how straight they are, and their friends. it’s not about gay-bashing; i don’t think my little sister would tolerate outright hate speech. although, i don’t know. i don’t think she would bring me into contact with friends of hers that participated in it, but she might continue hanging out with them.
another priceless moment was when my older sister said that she is annoyed by people using foreign languages to communicate with each other here in the US. she thinks if you are here to live you are obliged to learn english with no delay. you ‘can’t be part of society’ if you don’t speak english, also it inconveniences her if she’s trying to communicate with someone and they don’t speak good english.
at this point the top of my head almost blew off, and i had trouble remaining in my seat and not throttling her. i wonder how long it would take her to learn a new language if she endured massive privation and danger to cross a border, landed in an extremely marginalized community that spoke her language when she got there, and had absolutely zero resources to ‘learn the language’ once there. also once there facing massive discrimination and economic hardship, and [since this is the norm] managing to put some of her meagre earnings aside for her family back home.
gee, i wonder why so many immigrants don’t speak english so well?
and, obviously, if you really feel that strongly about it, the ONLY WAY to respond and save your self-respect is to 1. volunteer as an esl teacher and 2. donate money to organizations who teach esl.
but, instead, she’s enjoying her $8000 tax credit for buying a yuppie condo and is happily planning a two-week, several thousand dollar trip to hawaii.
ok, i will stop ranting now.
so glad you stopped by for your weekly dose of invective…sunnier FG times coming soon, in which i will introduce you to my amazing porch garden.