On Defining Self

#30daysofpride: day 9: What subculture do you belong to?*

I have never really fit well into a specific group. In high school I hung out with the punks and stoners but didn’t consider myself a punk or a stoner. I hung out with the academic kids but didn’t keep my grades up at all, and over the years that lack of ease in a specific social group has carried over. 

I feel some connection to geek culture, to autistic communities, to non-binary communities, to the disabled community, to the chronic illness community, to transgender communities, to parenting communities, activist communities, multi sexual communities, kink communities, ethical non monogamy communities, art communities, fiber arts communities, literary communities, birth communities, and academic communities. But none of these sub-cultures explain me so thoroughly to leave it at that, to feel comfortable summing myself up as just this one specific thing. Just like everything in this world, each one of those sub groups has problems that need addressed or dealt with. 

In reality, just like anyone else I am not one thing, I am many things, I am none of them. I am myself. I am the sum of all my histories and all my futures yet to come. 

But I really like Dr Who, so there is that. 
*the original question used the word tribe, which is problematic for many reasons. Non indigenous people should not use the word tribe when we mean village or subculture, read more about some of the problems with that word here.

Ageism in Radical Queer Communities

Guest post By Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing

​This is from a thread I participated in earlier this year where folx had allowed  a uncritiqued ageism to reign over me:
“Folx use Elder as a label for all older/aging folx they encounter should rethink that.
The word is loaded with, yes, cultural significance, that is never unpacked in terms of expectations for folx who have that label affixed to their existences.
Most folx who have this label affixed to who they are, have often already accepted it as construct, never having realized there was space to question or even refuse it.
I refuse it.

I challenge it.

I am not interested in having the label and any accompanying, unspecified, coercive expectations that might or might not come with the word affixed to my existence.
If we’re radically unpacking ageism, Elder uncritically used as a term, has no place in this thread.
I don’t need you to keep my words in mind.
I need you to hear me saying using Elder as a general word for all older or aging folx without their permission, given that Elder comes with a whole whack load of historical, cultural and social significance, is oppressive.
Where and when possible unless you’re already dealing with folx who you know have accepted/embraced the term, you really should ask.
I don’t like being referred to as Elder by random qt folx who do not share precisely what they mean when they use this term in relation to me. 
I don’t like not being asked if I’d like to have the weight of their need, hopes and expectations attached to my existence, to my place among young/er politicized folx, to my sexuality, to my resistance work.
Elder, when used by high profile up and coming folx in community can also be a competitive, patronizing death sentence.
I have never been so insulted by the tones of folx I’ve been attempting to engage with as I have felt in this thread.
The perception of who older or aging people are is completely infused with faux gentle, condescending tones that say “hush, hush dear older person. don’t work yourself up into a lather over this. it isn’t good for your heart. here’s your rocker and your knitting.”
Radical anti-ageism is probably not ever going to be a thing because so many marginalized folx who are older are struggling for daily basic survival.
This does not mean that folx who are younger and generally politicized get to uncritically assume a particular power relation/social dynamic. ”

If you learned from and/or appreciate this post. You can pay Rhizome for their labor via PayPal with the email rhizomesyndrigastflourishing@gmail.com

Generations

I have never liked shopping. Years of being hauled through row after row of pink fluffy torture/girl things made me infinitely defensive. Even once I was old enough to control where and how I shopped I did not enjoy it. I surveyed a store for possibilities, went in, checked sizes, made a choice and got out. It was efficient. I was even weirdly proud of it. Hullo unexamined internalized misogyny.

As I got older, came to realize my gender identity, and come out as the transgender person I was and am, I came to understand my shopping discomfort a bit better. Shopping still isn’t really fun for me most of the time. Clothes either don’t fit me right or are way out of my price range (boutique queer clothing companies I am looking right at you). It can be really exhausting and depressing. 

So that is where I was in my relationship with shopping when my daughter came into the world. When I was young and imagined having daughters, I imagined being the perfect tomboy’s mom, the mom I would have wanted. Of course things never turn out the way we expect them to. My daughter started choosing the bright and beautiful things as soon as I thought to offer her a choice. She fully embraces and loves everything about her girlhood…and she is no doubt a girl. She tells us that as well.  Z is in fact every aspect of girlhood that intimidated me as a child. She is everything that I was sure I would never be able to successfully parent, and she makes it an absolute joy. 

She is also, like myself, autistic, adverse to change that she hasn’t initiated herself, and has very specific sensory preferences and needs. So seasonal clothing and shoe style changes have sometimes been stressful for her and I. It can take time to get accustomed to shoes or clothes that touch our bodies in different ways. As such we have been going on sandal test runs the last few weeks, trying all the different types of shoes and walking away if it gets uncomfortable or overwhelming for her. 

It was under these conditions that I found myself sitting on the floor of a shop, surrounded by a pile of ultra femme sandals, two toddlers, my nesting partner, and enjoying myself immensely. She so earnestly loves shopping for frilly, fluffy, pink, and pretty things. It is impossible not to share in her joy as she hunts down unicorns, rhinestone rainbows, pink superheroes, and cute skirts. This week we had success too. She found a pair of shoes that were both glamorous and felt good on her feet. They have silver butterflies. She is stomping around the livingroom in them right now, singing about lunch. 

So at almost forty years old I have learned to appreciate shopping, fashion, extremely girly things, and even the color pink. I am extremely late to the party, my sincere apologies for all the times I thought all those things were insufferable. I have learned better now happily. I have the best, most fabulous teacher. She says she is a princess queen, and I for one believe her.