Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Quick Post: Talking Without Training Wheels

I haven't posted anything in much longer than I'm comfortable with. Such is the power of the magic of finals. Beltane, May Day, and Pagan Coming Out day all fell by the wayside since my last post, and while I thought about sitting down to right something related to them if I didn't handle school first it would have put at risk my future prospects for school, housing, and insurance. None of this is what I want to talk about today, though. I'm picking and poking at some more important posts but today I have positive up-beat news for once.

I'm in a relationship again. It's been quite a while since this has been true and I'm all warm and glowy about it, even though most of the interaction between us occurs at a distance. I also have metamours (people that are dating my partner but not myself) for the first time and it's a unique kind of experience. As it happens my partner seems to draw in Queer loves like a magnet, and I can't blame them for pursuing zir.

Over the last weekend I had many incredible experiences as my now-partner visited and we formalized our relationship. I don't have zir consent to discuss some of them, although I will say they were revolutionary praxis at its best. What I can talk about is how amazing it is to talk to someone at a similar level. Not to suggest that most people I know are lacking in intelligence, nor to suggest that the conversations I do have involve someone that knows less about most subjects than I do (often quite the opposite) but rather that most people I speak to do not have the particular range of experiences and knowledge that I do. This isn't a value statement, most people just don't have the privilege to be able to spend six hours in a day delving into sex worker blogs to make up for not knowing what the views of actual sex workers are. All I can claim to be is incredibly well read and fairly well spoken. My partner shares these traits, which was a large part of our coming to connect with each other.

When the two of us talk we touch on a variety of subjects, but being activists most of them have to do with queerness or other maligned identities. Normally when either of us discusses these subjects we bump into some problems. We're often speaking to people from outside our respective communities that don't have the background on issues we feel passionately about. Other times we're speaking within the community but about subjects that aren't on the radar of the average (if there is such a thing) Queer student just trying to get by. Why more people don't spend their time thinking about ways to clarify concepts of privilege and oppression in their daily lives is largely beyond me, but it's the sad truth of the matter. This all means that when we bring up complex ideas put together from a dozen different sources we're more likely to spend the conversation explaining background than diving right into things. I'm thankful to know a lot of people for whom this isn't the case, and when it's not we get to do something my partner playfully referred to as "talking without training wheels."

It's amazing to talk to someone that self-analyzes and self-corrects. Someone that doesn't need to hear zir argument is ethnocentric because there's already a clarification of the limits to which the argument would reasonably apply. Someone that says things like "not that that isn't also valid" and "because clearly that makes a difference" and knows just why I'm smiling in response. Someone that not only has a broad understanding of zir own identities but of the needs and identities of others. These aren't things we get to take for granted in a heterosexist, racist, classist, tranphobic, and otherwise oppressive world. They are not givens, even if they should be. So when we talk with someone like ourselves, someone that knows that anger is justified and when a phrase is problematic, it's an incredible thing. It's beautiful. It can cause a deep and abiding connection over the simplest of topics. It's something more people deserve to feel.

While it's not easy to explain the value of abstract learning until you've actually had it, this is definitely one of those things more people need to do. When you realize you've spent so much of your life talking with training wheels, bumping into people with your words and crashing awkwardly against concepts, the freedom to converse down mountain trails and through shaddowy woods with someone you love is intoxicating. I highly recommend taking the time and learning how.

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