Jenna Karvunidis, author of High Gloss and Sauce, is a veteran blogger here at Chicago Now. Her first blog appeared way back in March of 2010 and she has garnered a little media attention along the way with her insightful and outspoken views. Jenna was one of the bloggers that has welcomed me into the fold with open arms and through the conversations we have had, I have come to love her and respect her, not only as a writer, but as a dear friend. She is my third guest blogger for this month - please welcome her.
Sometimes I feel like a real-estate-agent-cum-rush-week-sorority-hopeful when I meet a transgender person. I'm pretty use to gay people, but every once in awhile I'm all teeth and sequins with them too. Like me! I like you! I'm like a fleshy welcome mat, so excited and intent on showing my acceptance of gay, lesbian and transgender people that I go overboard. Of the five people you meet as a gay dad, I'm Number 1, no question. Sometimes straight people turn into Doberman puppies when faced with members of the LGBT community, wet kisses and trampling love everywhere. I'm cool with it! Let me sit in your lap and tell you how much!!! Or at least that's what it feels like I'm doing sometimes. I don't usually chat up Target employees, for example, but there was a transgender woman working the dressing room and I think I invited her to move into my house. Hi, I'm scary.
The problem with this over-love is several fold:
1. Am I counter-productively marginalizing a group of people? Is it the epitome of "othering" to assume a GLBT person wants to be my best friend in the first place? Oh, you are not like me! Let me point that out and smother you more than normal! Showing affectation because of someone's minority card might be taken as patronizing - and yet I can't stop myself. It's like my body gets invaded by the genie from Aladdin and I'm hugging very inappropriately before I know it. That is not to say my affection for my GLBT friends is not genuine, it just takes on a more urgent tone.
I wouldn't call it the worst thing in the world because at least it's love not hate. Right? Err. See my next point . . .
2. The jubilant embrace of GLBT culture by some straights might be indicative of deep-seated value judgements we aren't even aware we have. Lots of times straight women are in gay clubs for the great music and freedom to enjoy an evening without meat heads pawing all over them. It's refreshing to go somewhere to dance, where you feel comfortable and can wear short skirts without worrying about some a-hole grinding up on you. How do I know this? Because it's how I spent my 20's. While I've never had a shred of bad intentions going to non-straight clubs myself, it isn't always perceived that way. Sometimes spending time in gay clubs crosses the line into entertainment for straight people. It's a little dehumanizing for the regulars. Some gay clubs don't allow group of straights in because it feels like mockery on the receiving end. When we with our straight, "socially acceptable" lives, just barge in to club full of "others" and laugh at their ass-less chaps, is that laughing with or at? Gay people don't like straight people taking over their bars! In the famous words of Stephanie Tanner, HOW RUDE.
3. At the heart of it, I don't really like over-compensating for society's flaws with my wet kisses. I know GLBT people get treated like crap sometimes. So do blacks and immigrants and short people. Truthfully, sometimes I over-love on them too. I hate that it takes a combination of guilt and empathy for me to break out my tap dance shoes and, at the root of it, treat someone how I should be treating everybody. Sure, I could relax on the instant Facebook-friending but maybe if I stepped into the role of Vanna White for everyone I met, I'd have more friends in general and the world would be a better place. After all, no one knows more than me that exceedingly generic people have feelings too.
So. Let's brush each other's hair everybody! Party at my place!
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