Over a week ago, we sold an old entertainment center that we built to a guy off of Craigslist. I know–we’re crazy. We are aware. Anyway, we had been texting for a while about the piece and when he finally came to pick it up he mentioned how impressed he was that we built it ourselves and that for two girls…blah blah blah. We consistently hear things like that so it really didn’t phase us. Now, I would normally never point out someone’s physical characteristics, but for the point of this story it is necessary. This guy was much shorter than me and seemed to have a walking disability. He brought a friend with him so I politely asked if they needed any help carrying it to their truck, and respected their choice to carry it on their own. I knew he was capable, but was simply throwing out my helping hand. He was struggling a little bit, so I stayed close by in case he needed me. They got it in the truck, paid me, we said our thank you’s, smiled and they were gone. Craigslist sale=check. I was still alive=double check.
Later that day, I got a picture message of that same entertainment center from a co-worker. Super strange, I know. I was completely weirded out. Well, it turns out my co-worker was friends with that guy. Small world. When he asked the guy where he got the piece, he replied, “Two cute lesbians in Ypsi.” My co-worker knows I live in Ypsilanti. He knows that we build stuff and he knows I’m gay, so it wasn’t really hard for him to put it together who exactly his friend bought it from. We laughed it off and that was that.
On that following Wednesday morning, post-election, I woke up with a heavy heart. Donald Trump was elected to be our next president. What. In. The. World. America. I barely spoke before I went to work. I truly wanted to lay around all day and sulk in the disheartening decision that was made on Tuesday night. I was sad. I was hurt. I was fearful and I was genuinely disgusted. I couldn’t, and still can’t, believe it.
My co-worker came into my bosses office shortly after we came in that day and I could overhear him telling her about his friend, the entertainment center, and how he found out it was me who sold it to him. Except this time, he didn’t hide the fact or spare my feelings relaying that his buddy actually said that he bought it from “two dykes in Ypsi”. Wait…what? I mean, really, that’s how that Craigslist guy described us? C’mon, dude. It is irrelevant enough that he mentioned he bought it from two lesbians, but then to throw in the fact that he used degrading slang…? How outrageously ignorant.
I sat just sat there, in my office, alone and nearly in tears. Yes–I’ve been called that before, yes–it was to my face, and no–it wasn’t a big deal then, but this just felt different. Maybe it was because I was feeling overwhelmed with the election and all of the hate, bigotry, racism, or sexism that Donald Trump represented in his campaign, or maybe it was simply the nonchalant usage of the word a stranger used to describe me. Probably a great deal of both.
Not once did I judge him for his disability. Not once did I think of describing him as a short man with a gimpy leg. Even after we stood and discussed how we built the entertainment center, after we talked about other pieces we have built, and after he told us over and over how impressed he was with our work, that’s the word he chose? Why not two talented girls or two impressive girls, shoot, why not just two girls? I would hate to think that from our entire interaction and of all the adjectives he could have used to describe us, dykes is the most appropriate and relevant. I’m sorry, but I’m not quite sure where my sexuality comes into play with a simple business transaction and if I am missing something, please enlighten me.
Because I am more than my sexuality. I am a leader. I am someone’s best friend. I am a sister. I am a niece, an athlete, and a professional. I am a creative thinker and a growing writer. I am a strong woman and I am god-damn brilliant. I am proud to be born into a way of life that keeps me grounded and humble. It’s what has allowed me to be open-minded and remain accepting of people who are different than me. It’s what has created a yearning in me to explore our humanity and human connection on a deeper level. Being gay has given me a stronger self-worth and it’s what has provided me with the knowledge that I am valid. It has given me the ability to pull myself out of the box society has put me in and understand that I AM more than my sexuality. So go ahead, use your slang words to describe me. Classify me. Stereotype me. That’s okay. Just know that while you’re categorizing me, you’re quickly putting yourself into another one. I feel fortunate that I am a part of the LGBTQ community. I wouldn’t choose another way of life, even if I could.