Archive | Queer Matters

Every Day Is Coming Out Day in Middle Age

There are no pictures online of Adrienne Rich (above) with partner Michelle Cliff, which says a lot about how recent LGBTQ visibility really is.

Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
Did I lean from any window over the city
listening for the future
as I listened here with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move toward me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer,
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.
–Adrienne Rich, from 21 Love Poems

It‘s been almost a year since the Legend and I left each other, and we were right to do so. We were doing each other no favors and much harm. But this poem fell out of a notebook today, and it made me cry in the middle of a busy morning.

Dowager chic (I think).

We passed it back and forth the first few months we were together, and it made him so happy that it made me happy too. People who didn’t know him well might have been surprised by his appreciation–his official shtick was all broad strokes. Also some might be surprised now to learn he wasn’t cis-male.

That’s not what surprised me, though.

What surprised me was that, like Adrienne Rich and her love, we were in our mid-40s when we found each other, and thus were lucky enough to recognize our connection as a gift. Finding a friend of your heart at any age is a gift, but when you’re not young it’s downright precious. By then you’re distilled to shining terrible essences: beauty rather than prettiness, joy rather than fun. Truth rather than tall tales.

Listen: Just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it doesn’t move your soul forward. And just because you leave doesn’t mean love does too. Love never leaves. It just changes form.

Things I Don’t Need Mansplained (Missive from the Frontlines)

1. Parallel parking. Trust me, I’ve been parallel parking since you were in nappies, son. Actually, I’ve been parallel parking since I was in nappies, too.
2. Movies. Read the room, Einstein.
3. Technology. My dad is a computer scientist; chances are good I can fix it before you can diagnose it.
4. Donald Trump’s psyche.
5. Any male psyche.
6. Definitely not my psyche.
7. Anything, actually.

Dating cis-men has been such a drag lately that I may have to put the kibosh on it entirely (not that many will cry in their beer over an ornery 40something who can’t massage a male ego to save her life, yeah I should take this down).

Change the Record, Change Your Life

I woke wanting to listen to Aretha. No big surprise there, though I haven’t been listening to my queen lately; it’s still too painful. What I really wanted to hear was new music by her, but this is no small feat when you’ve been obsessed with a now-deceased singer since you were a child.

It was a desire sparked by seeing Malcolm X at BAM last Saturday. It’d been so swampy that weekend, and R and I had been casting about for something to do that would diffuse the intense awkwardness of feeling like strangers after having been lovers for years and then not speaking for years after that. So it wasn’t just the prospect of seeing the Spike Lee biopic on a big screen that had dragged us three neighborhoods from our own as temperatures climbed into the 100s. We’d had to balance the prospect of sitting in pools of our drying sweat against the promise of a hefty distraction, and the latter had won.

The joint was packed, and not just because of that AC. Everyone in attendance was agog over the choreography and catharsis and craftsmanship and charisma and certitude. This was a 3.5-hour film, yet there was none of that BS chatter and smartphone-checking you find these days at a public screening. In the last 10 minutes, the late, great Ossie Davis delivered his eulogy for Malcolm over a montage of the diaspora of his influence, and all around me people sat silent except for the occasional nose-honking.

Over the credits sailed an Aretha recording I’d never heard before: “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

Until the last credit R and I sat still. At the beginning of the film he’d reached for my hand and I’d been stiff, like a child afraid to disappoint a needy elder. Always sensitive to rejection, he’d dropped it after a bit and I’d forced myself not to soothe his ruffled feathers by reaching back. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t initiate any physical contact I didn’t desire. He’d done that enough for us both. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy