"When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty will I be rich...."
It was a very long time ago when I first heard Doris Day sing these words.
These were words I could never say out loud. I am pretty sure my mother never knew that I was once a little girl. Parts of me knew it, for sure. But that little girl stayed hidden for such a long time.
I am not a fan of labels. I recently saw a show here in Boston, written and directed by my friend Natsu Onoda Power, called The T Party, and loved one of the scenes where the cast sang that labels are for soup cans. Yes, they are indeed! But labels are always with us. I understand they have a purpose and they serve a purpose. So many of us need and want them to know where we fit, where we belong. They can help us articulate our identity, even if the words may not be totally accurate. They may get as close as we can without the ability for a Vulcan mind meld, which I am pretty sure few of us have mastered.
Most of you who are reading this now are probably aware that this is published under the section labeled "Queer Voices" on the Huffington Post. When I started writing here, it was called "Gay Voices."
When the name - the label - was changed, I noticed that I had a strong negative feeling about it. I sat with it as I watched the emails back and forth; pro and con of the use of the word "queer" as the thematic label of the work in the LGBTQ.... Community. I had a part that wanted to fight it; argue against it; talk about the negative feelings it rose in me from growing up in the fifties and sixties, but I just sat with it instead. This was atypical for me, but I did it just the same. I tried to understand why I felt...felt, violated by this name, and where that energy was coming from, while there were people who felt ever so strongly that this was the right thing to do.
I have to admit, that whenever I hear the word...Queer...(there, I said it).. it is a word that drains my energy, not grows it. However, I also said I am not a fan of labels so I asked myself if I can learn to dampen the negative power of the word and learn how people are using it now.
I have learned that my response is perhaps a generational response. For the boomers like me, it was used in a negative and pejorative manner. It seems to be the term was then taken over by part of the community as a radical rebellious way to claim their power. I get it; I understood it; and yet my own personal response was still uncomforting. Today when I meet young people...the millennials, they seem to feel the word is unifying and community building. I hear this a lot.
I, as well as anyone, know that things and people change all the time. Words can change meanings, and this can happen quickly or over time as different groups make use of it. For me, the meanings internally that my body has taken on has been a bit harder to change when it hears some words. The labels and boxes in my brain that trigger my emotions have needed some significant reprogramming. I should not be surprised how challenging this is.
However it does provide me insight on how difficult it must be for some people to understand that people like me not only want to and need to and choose to change their outward expression of gender, when their built in programming has no branch to understand this. I am saddened when the people who do not understand us, choose to negate us, and fight us, and believe there is something wrong with us.
I wish that they would be able to do as I did, and just sit with the feelings they might have, and be open to looking at the world and people and labels in a different way.
I wish that they would be willing to reprogram their emotions and let love and understanding and acceptance choose the path of their reactions.
Times always change. What will be will be.
Labels can change. What will be will be.
Meanings can change. What will be will be.
I scratched out a few letters from the chorus, and it helped me dampen some of my emotional responses. I am surprised how this helped me...
"I asked my sweetheart
What lies ahead
Will we have rainbows day after day..."
Yes, I am glad that we do have rainbows in our community day after day.
What will be will be
Que sera sera
Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life! She is an inspirational and motivational speaker specializing on intra and interpersonal relationships. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .