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Brown Cows

Yesterday I got some rude comments from a shockingly-ignorant person. I wasn’t even offended because the comments were so ridiculous. Here's what I mean by that:

Imagine if I was a dairy farmer and I posted a picture of one of my Holsteins on Instagram with a caption that read; "Try our award winning chocolate milk! Now available at our local co-op!" and someone replied with the comment, "You sell chocolate milk now?! A likely story, because none of your cows are brown! LIAR!"

Most of us would assume that comment was a joke, because we understand that brown cows are not the real source of chocolate milk. But maybe you were told that as a kid? Maybe you even believed it longer than you should have because you weren't around farms or livestock, and some older kid told you it was true... But now, at this stage in your life, you can admit you were wrong because you know realize a cow's pigmentation being responsible for lactation flavoring it is a ludicrous, unscientific, borderline-unhinged thing to still believe as an grown adult!

This person's comment on Instagram was similar, just about homosexuality instead of milk. She didn’t understand why “I’m gay now” when back when I started writing my books and blog I wrote about wanting a man.

I laughed when I read it. Thinking she must be joking or a troll. I was going to leave that comment up because it really was self sabotage. It was the kind of comment your children would be embarrassed over and friends would pull you aside to talk about, like your one older family member who still calls their east-Asian neighbors "orientals" like they're rugs...

I replied with: "I was gay then, too. Happy Pride!”

She'd get it, right? Clearly I was in the closet back then and couldn't write publicly about wanting to be with a woman. But I did write about being lonely, and scared, and wishing I had a partner. So I used he/him pronouns and talked about men because:

  1. I knew that was socially safe.

  2. Maybe if I kept writing it, I'd believe it.

That trolls's response to my short reply was rambling and incoherent, but to summarize; she admitted, in public, that she thought being gay was a fad in which young people avoid "real" relationships with the opposite sex by choosing to have sex with one chosen, platonic, same-gendered, friend?! That I was debasing myself by *insert crude sexual language here* instead of looking for a boyfriend.

Basically, she thought bringing up that I used to identify as straight under duress was her "gotcha" moment. With a lot of really messed up confusion over platonic vs romantic relationships, zero nuance on monogamy, and the self awareness of a plague rat.

Friends, it's one thing to be completely aware of same-sex attraction and believe it's immoral because of your religion or culture. But it's an entirely different thing altogether to think being gay means settling for a woman because I gave up finding a suitable boyfriend?!

I don't want to upset or alarm anyone. But there are plenty of single men around here. Like, dozens. However, they are as romantically interesting to me as tree bark. Less so, actually. I've seen some great bark.

Yes, her comment was laughably ignorant. At least upon the first reading. But then I realized this older woman may actually have no idea what she was talking about, like this person is not fully aware of what they are saying or doing? She could be experiencing something like dementia or off her medication? Maybe I am not being compassionate enough about what kind of life this person has? This, I considered. But I fear she wrote that comment because it is what she actually believes. Because she, and people like her, haven't ever really thought about sexuality outside the in-flight menu. Because her generation grew up in am extremely-homophobic time when gay and AIDS were interchangeable concepts. Because this woman has carried this ignorance with her without a single person calling her out on it, for years, and it's how the world makes sense to her.

Folks, when people with a history of dating the opposite sex come out as gay later in life, it doesn't mean they were straight before. It means they were trying to make you comfortable. Because we were trained that making you uncomfortable will eventually kill us.

I've blocked this person, obviously. Because she's either ignorant beyond my ken or willfully cruel. Either way, she doesn't have the self awareness to understand how bad that makes her look in public, and I don't need that kind of flight risk following my life online. I have enough to worry about.

I am a lesbian. I have always been a lesbian. I was a lesbian when I was a kid watching JEM in the 80's on our rec room TV. I was a lesbian at Girl Scout summer camp and after school activities. I was a lesbian when I was dating my high-school boyfriend. I was a lesbian when I was trying to convince myself I was straight in college. I was a lesbian when I was single in my twenties, moving from state to state trying to find a place that felt safe. And I am a lesbian now, writing this.

This didn't happen to me because Hillary Clinton ran for president or because I watched Pitch Perfect too many times. It didn't happen because of a book I read, or tv show I watched, or because men hurt or abused me. It didn't happen because I wanted to try something new, or piss off my mom, or buck convention. It didn't "happen" at all, because being gay isn't something "that happens." Your sexuality is hardwired from the jump. What happened to me was being a terrified gay kid in a culture that desperately wanted me to conform.

Thanks to this farm I was able to cultivate the strength and confidence I needed to accept myself for who I was. I've given myself the life I have always dreamed of, and not to brag, but at no point was a husband responsible for any of it.

Everyone's story is different. For me, it took a total separation from the life I was raised in to feel safe enough to be out. Years of isolation and self-work just to feel okay about something that young people today don't even have to be afraid of anymore. Because there's good news! Times are a changing!

Little girls can watch cartoons and read books where girls like other girls! They can see themselves in their shows and books and see adults like them leading happy lives! They don't have to spend decades putting together this broken puzzle I was handed. They don't have to look for their worth in a husband or boyfriend or some 1950's fantasy their parents bought and sold. Little lesbians can see a life FOR THEM!

And guess what? It doesn't matter how many queer cartoon characters, or rainbow shirts at Target, or Pixar movies with two moms exist. None of that representation is going to make a straight kid gay or a gay kid straight.

Some people hate to be reminded about that. Hoo.

I think in our hearts, we all know that being gay isn't a choice. But there is this insidious undercurrent in America right now trying to repress queerness. These people making these anti-LGBT laws know gay people are valid and real. They just don't want to accept it, because gay people don't agree with their politics and disrupt their vision for America. And if queer people go back to being less-than equal again, maybe more of us will stay afraid, and stay in the closet, and eventually be too scared to hold hands in the street again.

"Don't Say Gay" laws have passed in some states, and more are in the process of being based right now. These bills aim to remove any mention of gay people in schools. Teaching gay kids they aren't like their peers. Teaching straight kids that being different is bad. So bad, we can't even talk about it. The anger I vibrate with when I read about Florida could hurl a fridge across a room.

Folks, some kids already are gay. I was one of those kids. And to grow up in a school where you're being told it's okay that we watch movies where princes kiss princesses, but not movie where princesses kiss each other... that starts harvesting shame so so fast. I can remember every single homophobic comment said about me (or around me) in my life. I can't remember any details about boys or lessons or booster club. But I remember every single time I was told I was acting like a dyke. I was told that a hundred different ways from age 5 to now. And little girls in Florida are still putting up with that shit.

And you know what I fear those conservative parents actually hope? That their kids, even if they are gay, never deal with it. That they stay ashamed and afraid and underexposed to different lifestyles, because maybe, just maybe, if they don't get to see any possibilty of a happy future they'll tow the line and repress it. Get married and have kids before they even know who they are... Or worse, those parents really do believe loving the same gender is morally wrong and their kid is a sinner. Either way, I can tell you this much for free; those kids are gone soon as they have the ability to get away from parents like that. If there's one thing all queer people learn on their own, it's where we're wanted.

Don't you understand that there has always been queer people? That the reason you are seeing so many more queer couples, and movies, and shows, and out teens at Prom, and trans kids being able to play on the right sports teams and wear the right clothing for them isn't because of "some trend"... it's because as society progresses and people feel safer, more people live their authentic lives! They aren't growing up with the same fear and pain older queer generations did. And if your generation (If you're older than me) grew up with more acceptance, there would be a lot more people out in your age group as well!

I know right now I am either preaching to the choir or falling on deaf ears. But if you're one of those people who found me over a decade ago, a young woman with a dream of a farm of her own and a ruthless desire to have the life she wanted... That girl is still me. I was gay when Made From Scratch came out. I was gay when I wrote something that made you laugh or brought you to tears. I was gay when you realized you shared the same dreams and ideals I had of living with nature and growing food. All of those things taught you about my hope and humanity. And to see people learning the truth at the core of me, and forgetting everything else because now I'm One of Them. It's actually terrifying. How fast you lose your humanity.

If you're straight, that's great. I don't have a problem with your lifestyle. Some of my closest friends are straight. But if you're the kind of straight person that's never, I don't know, "allowed" yourself a window into the queer experience because you either feel it isn't for you (or possibly sordid) I'd like you to do something for me? Can you try watching something wholesome and queer? Can you put on the first episode of Heartstopper on Netflix? Or can you watch The Half of It? Or Love Simon? Or anything family friendly that shares a queer story about love and acceptance?

Because gay representation isn't just for scared kids, it's for adults too. It's for all types of people that are still learning that some of the things they were told long ago are not true. And that there isn't anything embarrassing or wrong about admitting the chocolate syrup can be added to any colored cow's milk. Because the real danger out there isn't gay people, it's the growing hate towards us. Fascism is always waiting, pacing right outside the garden gate. People love being told what to think. They fucking worship it.

Listen, I know people don't want to adapt to a changing future if it means questioning an unchangable past, but folks, this is getting ridiculous. And while I do have some compassion for people too set in their ways or too afraid to ever accept they're wrong...I will say you this to you, directly:

You look like a fucking idiot saying that stuff about brown cows. Grow up.


If you appreciate what you read, I encourage you to contribute towards my writing with a tip. To be clear; no one has to pay anything. I will still write here and it's always available for free. But if anyone wants to volunteer to venmo/paypal at least one dollar, it means I will write a post the next day. If no one does, then I'll update when I feel like it. Might be the next day, might be in a month.

Please understand, that I do not mean a dollar for every post or from every reader! I mean, quite literally, if a single person anywhere in the world sends a single US dollar, and that's all the money I earn that day, I'll write tomorrow.

Venmo: jennawog (preferred)


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