National Coming Out Day was October 11. I am currently watching the final season of The L Word. I didn’t come publicly come out on Sunday, October 11. I didn’t post a profile picture or a status because I didn’t think I needed to.
- I talk about my love of women all the time. Romantically and aesthetically.
- I have openly dated women.
- I have had a live-in girlfriend/fiancé.
- I am mostly transparent.
- I am me.
- I’ve not been very secretive, so people know…
I first came out to my birth mother, in 1997 or ’98 at my aunt’s wake. We were sitting in my great-grandmother’s apartment in Southeast Washington D.C. When I told my mother, I asked her not to tell anybody. A few minutes later, she was across the room telling an aunt. That aunt told a cousin, that cousin told another aunt or uncle. The news spread throughout the room, like a wildfire consuming the dry underbrush of a California hillside. By the time we made it to Courtland,VA to bury my aunt on the family land I was flush in questions about the who, what, when, where, why, and how.
In 2001, I came out to my then husband. This was the death knell for a relationship that had been plagued with an on-going series of unfortunate events. I devastated my friend. I created a wound, which even when we reconciled 2 years later and still now has yet to heal.
I came out again Thanksgiving of 2010 to my maternal family. A defiant response to “Why aren’t you dating, and why aren’t you dating him?” When I asked my grandfather the next day, who turned in early and missed the conversation, he said, “So, I knew when you were 13. Wanna watch a Western with me?”
The last time I came out was to my children. Standing in the kitchen of my Midtown Memphis home, with tear-filled eyes and fear in my heart. My beautiful children heard me out, embraced me, loved and supported me. Their shared sentiment: I taught and showed them love and acceptance. I told them all I wanted from them was to be good people in life and that if they ever came out, I would totally love and support them. They offered me the same.
After that I didn’t EVER feel the need to come out again. Not as bi-sexual, gay, or sexually fluid. I am QUEER, in most ways.
What on earth does that have to do with The L Word…
I’m watching the the final season of The L Word, “the longest running Showtime series features intertwined stories about the lives and loves of a group of lesbians and bisexuals in Los Angeles.” — Google
- I didn’t and haven’t had the benefit of being gay in posh West Hollywood. For lack of a better phrase, I was closeted until I left California and wasn’t really out,ironically until I moved down South… *that sure is a pun*
- I didn’t participate in an openly same-sex relationship until I was far away from my family-of-origin.
- I’ve been in Memphis half of my adult life now, I’ve been out in Memphis, almost the entire time.
- I’m just now watching the much-lauded L Word, binge-watching as it is now on Netflix and I avoided it in syndication, as I tend to do with wildly popular shows.
- I’ve never seen Queer As Folk.
- I watched Noah’s Arc in syndication, after accidentally stumbling upon it. I loved it. I was sad when it ended. I lived and loved The Wedding. [Honestly, that is where my love for Solange was solidified. It is also where I found the music group Fol Chen (sorry guys no link available, but look them up)]
- I watched The Real L Word almost religiously. I was sad when it ended. I was even sadder, not to see more representations of Black Women on the show and I was still addicted…
- I was profoundly sad when Netflix changed it’s categories and Gay & Lesbian films was no longer an option.
All Wrapped Up In a Pretty Pink Bow
What does one have to do with the other, how does this all come together? I’ll tell you. In my binge-watch of Le L… I have been critical, angry, and sad. That world isn’t my world. My Black, Queer, Southern world. I have little to no frame of reference for the world I see in the series. Recently I talked about it on a podcast I co-host. I talked about how it’s these pedestrian hook-ups between white and vanilla women, that involve intimate eye-contact, then sexy and/or sloppy hookups with hands being shoved down pants, up skirts, against sinks, walls, all over beds (seriously, it is rare that they have heads turned towards headboards). Everybody in the show is beautiful: among the sexy, waifish, Hollywood aesthetic of beautiful women even Pam Grier is positioned as the sexy, seasoned, sassy sister and even Cybil Shepard is presented as a sexy, intelligent, late-life lesbian.
I’m sure that in the 6 seasons the show ran, it also ran into it’s share of criticisms. I’ve seen so much critical acclaim for the show and now that I don’t have to buy the box set to see it, it’s much easier to watch and form my own opinions. And my opinion, 6 years removed from the final season is that they wrapped up Lesbian Life in L.A. in a pretty pink bow and shipped it like so many 1-800-FLOWERS on Valentine’s Day. It appears to be presented with some careful consideration for storylines, same-sex adoption, cheating, lust, promiscuity, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, interracial relationships, marriage equality, self discovery, and Transgender transformation. And even having packed all of that into the gay bouquet there is so much missing for me. Unanswered questions about safe spaces, racial politics within the LGBTQIA community, agency, socio-economics, and divisions between the L-G-B-T-Q-I-A.
I understand in an era where there wasn’t nearly enough mainstream media that focused on gay lives, why this show was pivotal. I understand that I am late and that this show may have paved the way for more shows and discussions to happen. I am aware that there are now successful lesbian authors, like my friend Author Skyy (find her and her books here), the Between Women network and it’s highly-successful web series of the same name. I am equally aware of the number of out black lesbian, gay, and trans people who are making strides in gaining rights and visibility.
- Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2012
- The Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in all 50 states in June of this year.
- Kim Davis made headlines repeatedly for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses as court clerk.
What does all of this mean? It means that as a Black Queer woman, watching the news, watching TV shows and series, and reading books I wish that there more mainstream representations of people like me, that there had been more people like me in all of my coming out. I am grateful for all there is now and that I still I want more. Selfish, maybe? I selfishly want more people to see people like me. I selfishly want inclusion. I selfishly want inclusion. There is no pretty pink bow for me, now yet… And still I hold out hope because there does seem to be hope, at the very least, at the end of the rainbow.
- This post may actually surprise many people who know me.
- I about 95% gay. 100% queer.
- I’m out.