Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Inner Circle

Have you ever noticed illegal immigrants that cross over from whatever country they are from, usually all flock together within their ‘same people’? They all know one another, and work in the same fields sometimes. Mostly all of them will rent out an apartment and have numerous roommates to help with the rent. Almost all of them that are living within a one hundred mile radius all know one another. It’s comforting for them to know their own kind in a society that is foreign to them, and a society that most likely will not be so accepting to ‘illegal immigrants’.

I almost find the same situation in our own gay & lesbian community. We all know one another most of the time and we hide out in our ‘hang out spots’ that are mainly for our community. We even have some that team up as roommates as well. It is comforting for us to know that there are other people like ourselves. Discrimination has run so freely among society that it has all of us scrambling for a ‘safe zone’, and remaining in the comforts of our own people. Now there are advantages and disadvantages of this inner circle that we have now created.

One advantage is, we can all relate to one another. We can share the challenges that we all face being homosexual and living in a heterosexual world. We come to each other for support and understanding. We can be ourselves in these ‘groups’ of ours, where holding hands with your partner at a gay establishment wouldn’t give anyone a heart attack if they seen this public affection. We’re able to come out freely, not fearing the possibilities of discriminating cruelty. I relate foreign immigrants to our situation because they face the same challenges as well. Some people do not mind that they are here, living among us. A lot of people hire them for work due to the opportunity to pay them off the books. They are hard working, and they are trying to make a better life for themselves, here in the U.S. A lot of people would disagree with illegal immigrants being here. It is a challenge for them to even come here, no less gain acceptance from society. Isn’t that true for us though? Some people do not mind at all that we live among them, but in other cases, they are outraged that there are gays and lesbians living in their neighborhoods. It’s no wonder why we make groups for ourselves and establish places designated for ‘our kind’---however, don’t we make room for heterosexual people too?

That’s the difference. We accept society, but why don’t they accept us? That question is so vague and so many answers can be given. Why they don’t accept us is a question that each person can answer differently—whether it be for religious reasons, social reasons, the fear to reveal their ‘true’ feelings, and fear of rejection, etc. If a person is comfortable with themselves, then they will accept you---for who you are…whether you are gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual, or even if you are a holy-rolling pastor who constantly throws scriptures at us telling us we’re an abomination to God.

My point here is that whether we like to admit it or not, we are in a circle. I poke fun at the fact that we are in this vicious circle of lesbians who know one another. We have to scan our little black book so we don’t offend one of our buddies, if a girl we start to date is one of their ex’s. One of my biggest fears about these social events and gay establishments is walking into an ex-girlfriend. Why am I scared to run into one? It’s just uncomfortable for me in general, and another reason would be all the gossip that flows like a babbling brook on a steep mountain. We all talk, especially if we know someone who is dating a friend’s ex or dating our own ex, we are women, maybe not all of us are washwomen, but regardless…women are known to talk, talk, and talk! We’re like a bunch of hens tossing around our private stash of rare eggs that we’ve been sitting on for so long, until the right time comes for those to be hatched. We anticipate the hatching of a new story, news regarding an ex, news regarding our own friends, and news regarding our own situations at times. Were we born with it? Or is this a choice; to gossip?

One fact remains to stay true is that we all have our little ‘cliques’. We tend to stay in this particular group of friends almost as if we were protecting ourselves in a bubble. No one can penetrate this bubble unless there is a weak link within. One of the weak links within may have possibly over stepped her boundaries with making inappropriate gestures, insinuating her admiration for a certain party in that group. At times, there are secret affairs within the circle that eventually comes to a head once it is out in the open, or once they get caught; making this ‘clique’ and unstable one. Usually, in this case, the two parties involved have to make other arrangements as far as leaving this clique, for another group who will accept this new couple.
In my personal experience, my cliques seem to change every six months or so. I believe it has a lot to do with the ~six month wrap up~. It’s much like the seven year itch with heterosexuals. People meet, fall in love, try and make their new relationship work as healthy adult lesbians, but there is an underlying tug that rattles up this beautiful partnership—leaving them to make crucial decisions at that six month mark. If they pass it, then I believe that these two may work well for the long haul. If they can’t pass the six month mark, they are going to experience either a break up, or a rocky on & off type of relationship. Why does this affect the ‘clique’? Much has to do with new relationships, leaving their buddies to discover this new found love they have just experienced. It’s normal and it happens frequently. We tend to make choices much sooner, and end this much sooner as well.

The classic way for lesbians to meet is through the personals, usually online websites. Even lesbian couples put their ads out to meet other couples to go out with, for friendship only. This makes it easier for us to expand our circle of friends through a discreet (or not so discreet) method of meeting new people. Don’t be surprised if you live in Ohio, and a person in Alabama knows your whole life story. Gossip is spread via internet as well. It’s almost as if we have this great power in our hands—the computer; our communication launcher, our ways of reaching out to those lesbians in different parts of the country, as well as the entire world. Have we opened a whole can of worms by tapping into a personal website, and communicating with lesbians from different areas? Does this make us susceptible to becoming targets of gossip? Has this made our community vulnerable to the gripping pull and tug of the inner circle?

Regardless, if you have more than one ex-girlfriend out there in the ~loop~, then most likely you will be apart of this circle. Many times, lesbians will stay content in their circle, not venturing out into the world that we are apart of. They start to enable this defense mechanism by avoiding social heterosexual settings, and having resentful feelings towards innocent people who have done nothing wrong. We then start to ‘stereotype’ our heterosexual community. We then, begin to discriminate at times, automatically thinking that the world is against us. Remember this, not everyone is going to like you, or me. We can’t satisfy our happiness by feeling loved by everyone, because that’s just not going to happen. We want to feel accepted and loved; all of us do. We need to accept that people are different, people will either accept you, or they won’t. We can’t force society to just put their hands up and say, “Hey, I’m okay with it now!” In most cases, the reason why they focus so much on discriminating against us is because they are unhappy with their own lives. We need to stop hiding out. Let’s meet at a heterosexual lounge/bar or restaurant. We should let others know that we are here, we are people too, and we’re no longer going to hide any longer. We need to accept ourselves more, love ourselves more, and most of all, respect ourselves more. I was speaking to my girlfriend’s mother on the phone one day. She made a valid point. I was telling her how we were going on vacation to Provincetown, MA—a fun gay community. She asked me, “Why do you two always feel the need to hide out in these gay communities when there are so many other beautiful and fun places to visit?” I immediately put up a defense and said, “Oh we don’t hide out, we just love that place and we are familiar with it.”

Come to think of it, we do go there for ‘hiding out’ so to speak. What I mean is, we go there so we can be with our ‘own kind’--- we can relate to the other gay and lesbians out there who are vacationing from the heterosexual world. It’s true though, why are we hiding ourselves when we’re losing all concept of the wonderful experiences of traveling to places that we fear may be ‘too straight’ for us to deal with? Maybe we have good reason to hide out if you really think about it. There are people out there with harmful intentions when they witness any homosexual. It’s scary how many hate crimes are out there that we don’t hear about. That is one of the many reasons why I headed over to the gay communities, so I wouldn’t have to deal with prejudice people. Now on the other hand, my mother made a good point one day. Perhaps not a good point, however, a scary scenario. Think about it, these gay parades that fill the city streets with our ‘brothers and sisters’, the streets are flowing over with proud homosexuals. Whether it is a gay pride parade, a huge gay & lesbian community, “or” even a gay & lesbian bar, we can still be at risk of being targets of hate crimes. There are people out there that will go out of their way to make our lives miserable. I remember one evening while enjoying a cocktail with a friend at a gay & lesbian lounge in Nyack, New York that had live entertainment every night, people of all walks of life enjoyed this café, and it was a place where you can feel comfortable being ‘you’. As the café started packing in more and more people, I noticed a very scruffy looking man. He wore a huge beige hunting jacket and hat that matched, old torn up jeans, and dirty old work boots. He wore sunglasses in the café! It was 11:00pm! He had dirty blonde hair that straggled out of his hat with a full beard that looked as if he had been in the mountains for months. Okay, so I accept the fact that people are different and come in unique attire to establishments, but there was one thing that stood out from all the rest. He was holding a big duffle bag; big enough where he had to place it under his arm to get a grip—due to the heavy contents. What disheveled looking man comes walking into a nice café like this? I left immediately out of fear of what could happen. I still remember that evening as if my life was in danger.

Now, if we were all spread out and walking among the heterosexuals as if it was our ‘own community’, wouldn’t it be true that we’d have more places to go? We would definitely have a lot more places to vacation as well. Let’s get out of our cliques and safe havens and start branching out so we can be comfortable almost anywhere. Our inner circle can expand a bit more.

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