Saving Grace

No, I’m not referring to the tv show. I’m actually talking about a group I recently joined here, GenderQueer Chicago. I’ve only been to two meetings, but it is changing my life. I know that sounds incredibly hyperbolic and melodramatic, but I’m actually serious.

I’m partly referring to the group itself, but I more mean the people in the group and the cameradrie they have so freely extended to me. Last week, a group of us went to eat afterward. This week, a largely different (and much larger) group of us took over the back corner of a nearby bar. Beer and wings were consumed, much conversation was to be had, and there was even a particularly queer (and awesome) makeup application session going on. It was grand.

It’s especially great because I just moved to Chicago, and the only people I really know are my two roommates (only one of whom did I know before moving here). They’re straight, cis women, and most of their friends are also straight and cis. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I’ve definitely been feeling the stress of being the only queer and the only trans person around. A community of one is very lonely.

A few weeks ago, I emailed a friend about some of the issues I’d been having, largely having to do with the fact that everyone with whom I’d interacted had thought of me, and treated me, as a cis woman. They emailed me back telling me to find some kind of queer community, find some queer people, trans folk, people who won’t just see me as a girl. Less than a week later, I went to my first GenderQueer Chicago meeting. I left thinking that it might actually be possible to patch together some kind of community.

It’s so wonderful. I feel like I can be myself and still be recognized how I want to be seen. I bind, yes, because I’m not really comfortable going out in public without doing so, but I’m not quite so worried about whether my shirts hang the right way so as to disguise it. I get squealy and hyperexcited and bouncy and talk with my hands, and I don’t worry that it’ll make me seem like a girl (perhaps because there are a lot of genderqueer people there who are really animated) – even though normally, I feel self-conscious about that. I envy some of the others’ ability to just be (seem?) confident – some of the hand gestures and body language and ways of speaking are very much so not a part of conventional masculinity, but they seem completely un-self-conscious, and they don’t for a second look like women. I want that.

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