Pride in Nanette

It’s June 30th. Literally, the last day of Pride month. And I’ve skirted around my own celebration. I haven’t posted anything, here or on any other social media platform. I haven’t raised any flags, and I don’t own a thing in rainbow.  And while I’ve always been loud in my support of the LGBT community,  I have never really been loud about myself and my place in that community. Mostly because, I have so easily been able to pass these last 20 years or so.

But I am a B. I always knew I was a B. There was a really frightening time in high school where I was scared that I was really only an L, pretending to be a B out of fear. (I’m a B, though. A big B, if I’m honest.)

Despite being on the L side of B, I fell in love with a man. A man so wonderful that he inspired me to be nothing other than my absolute self, and so subsequently became the first person, woman or man, whom I officially came out to as bisexual.  Years before any of my friends or family.

Now, in my heart of hearts, I swear to you that I just heard a collective raspberry. Being a bisexual woman in the queer olympics of struggle, is no where near the gold standard heroics that others have to go through. And of course, there is a reason for that. We can hide. We hide everyday, often in plain sight. It’s not obvious what we are. We don’t wave our flags and we rarely have any tells. So, everyday is a choice that we have to make. A choice that I make, not to say anything.

And for most of my life, this wasn’t really a problem. I felt that it was my identity, and I had no need to broadcast it.  It was cooler to keep it to myself, to hold some of my cards to my chest.  I am pretty darn awkward, so if there was a chance for me to have any kind of secret mystique, I was gonna take it.

But then, something happened. My drama students started to friend me on facebook. And since it was the more heady unsure days of facebook etiquette, and I was still young myself, I went ahead and accepted there facebook friendships.  So that meant, for some of them, I got a virtual front row seat to their coming out. Pictures of their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their two dress prom dates… and suddenly I felt like a fraud. I could have been supporting them that whole time. They could have known, long before, that they were accepted and not alone. Because when I say that I was scared of being a lesbian in high school, I really meant I was scared of having to tell people.  And truthfully, back then, when I started to see their sweet pictures, I still was scared. Truthfully, part of me now, both married and a mother, still is. So I’ve watched them post rainbow flags and wear their rainbow knee high socks with their converse sneakers, and smiled from afar. Loving them, but still not saying anything.

Then I watched Nanette on Netflix. I think I have mentioned before that when I am feeling a little manic or extra self conscious, I like to watch or listen to comedians. So one bad day, I saw Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special, Nanette, waiting in my “Recommended for you” queue. What I didn’t know, is that this was not a comedy special. Not really. Hannah Gadsby was actually a trickster woman who took what started as a simple lesbian stand up comic special and turned it into a blisteringly humane and raw treatise not only on gender politics and equality, but art, comedy, mental health and, my personal favorite, stories.

I won’t lie to you. I wasn’t ready for it when the turn came, when she turned her wrathful keen eye on society and sucker punched us with her own personal revelations.  And if you are a person with anger, abuse, or rape anxiety triggers, you’ll need to prepare yourself before you watch it.  But you should watch it. Everyone should watch it.  Everyone who likes to write, especially everyone who likes to write comedy… but mostly everyone who wants to be a good human being  (like I said, everyone) should watch it.

Anyway, after Nanette ends, and I am breathlessly considering my own impact on society, one of my favorite former students, a college student now, almost ten years later, posts this charming little LGBT Harry Potter meme on facebook.

And I know that I have to say something this year. I have to yell out “me too!” to Hannah Gadsby, to my kids, and to the rest of “my people” as she puts it. Not because of any great tragedy or struggle I have faced as a bisexual woman, but because another voice saying, “me too” is one more voice saying, “you are not alone.”

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Now on to my next struggle…finding something to wear in a tasteful, age appropriate, shade of rainbow. Hmm… this one might take a while.

Update: Since writing this I have found out that Hannah Gadsby is also Autistic. So she’s “my people” in more way than one. I knew I liked her.

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