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Author Topic: It's not a mental disorder, hells no.
Djuna
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So today, I should tell some backstory. I have a friend named [A] who is the RA at the international house at our university, and visiting him I got to know some of the other international students lately, and they seemed pretty cool. Anyway, he came to me today to say he thought I should know (not that he wanted me to think he was saying any of this) that two of these students who I actually get on with very well and who are very friendly (although haven't known them long) went to him to say that on account of me IDing as "pansexual" (which they thought was a term I'd made up) and coloring my hair red recently (which they claimed was attention-seeking) that they are worried that I'm "a very confused individual." One of them who I'd texted something to the effect that I'd like us to be friends - I used the word friends - claimed that text was me hitting on her and pressuring her to have a relationship.

So, UGH. I have pretty much decided to cancel the set I was going to play at my university's open mic night tomorrow, because rehearsing today my confidence was gone, and I sing in a pretty high-pitched voice (roughly similar to Tegan and Sara for example) and now I feel stigmatized. I went to my favorite, super-authentic Tex Mex restaurant nearby to try to make my mind off it but I had no appetite and they wrapped my food for me, the guy could tell I wasn't right so we ended up talking for a bit which was nice. I can't figure out what to do about that! I get on with these people somewhat well and they seemed interesting to get to know, it's not like I can avoid seeing them because they live and socialize with my closest friend. So I have to talk to them and explain "101. Queer sexuality is not a mental disorder." ERGH. RAH.

The general theme seems to be that the two of them are finding me creepy, and to an extent some of this will be explaining (somehow) that they're wrong, but I also don't want to rubbish their (perhaps valid) wondering about someone new who appears to be male being a potential-creep-until-they-get-to-know-me, if that makes sense. Does anyone have any tips for running that conversation?

[ 11-12-2011, 05:00 PM: Message edited by: patrickvienna ]

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
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I honestly don't have words to express my sympathy with you dealing with this. This all sounds really frustrating and really awful.

I think whatever you decide to do about the set per what feels best for you is fine, but I also hope that you can do some processing and get some support around this.

People in the world aren't always going to get us, no matter who we are. Now and then, people will be closed-minded and jerky. None of this is news to you, I know you know this stuff, we all do.

The first thing I'd check in about is if you feel it is wroth trying to have this conversation with these folks at all. I get that you like them, and that as it stands, things are uncomfortable for you and socially awkward. But what I'd want to think about is what you want and expect from a conversation with them, including if you're ready for the emotional effort that requires from you to result in them leaving the conversation the same way they started.

I ask that because it sounds like you are, understandably, feeling very vulnerable right now.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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Well, I at least just got back from playing that set, which was pretty good but got home feeling lonely. You're right, I'm feeling very vulnerable lately and I don't know that it's that worth even trying to fix this. But I'm tired of being rejected like this, I went into the campus bar next door next to where I was playing tonight to get a drink to bring back, and within about seven seconds of standing at the bar to get a drink someone hit me over the head and screamed "gay boy". I feel like I have no self worth.
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Redskies
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Patrickvienna, I have no idea if it makes the slightest bit of difference from someone-somewhere-on-the-internet, but I just wanted to say that from what I've read from you on this site, if I ever met someone of your description "irl", I'd be delighted. I'm so sorry that you're being confronted with this behaviour and these prejudices from people. You sound awesome.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I feel like I can absolutely verify that patrickvienna is, if fact, full of awesome. [Smile]

I am SO glad you went ahead and played that set anyway. Like I said, would have understood and been supportive no matter what, but I tend to think of the show going on at times like these as healthy, rebellious victory moments that tend to be powerful, and I'm glad you got to have that.

That it all ended with a physical attack and an attempt at a verbal slur seriously stinks, though, as you know.

I know that this is likely cold comfort, but can you at least recognize, in moments like that, and just remember, that it's not YOU who is showing a lack of self-worth in those kinds of instances? People who really feel that about themselves, after all, don't attack other people. That doesn't mean you need to like someone who does that or even be forgiving, but what I'm hoping for is some kind of layer of armour that guards your own sense of self when it happens. Know what I mean?

Right now, how is your overall circle of support IRL? Do you feel like you have at least one or two people you can always count on to have your back, people who love and accept you for the fantastic person you are?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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Thank you so much, Heather and Redskies! [Smile]

I am glad I went ahead and played my set but I still felt a bit stigmatized. I don't know. People said they liked what I played but I wondered why I was there and if I was in people's way.

I know what you mean, I think I've been struggling to feel like I'm worth much at all lately and these things have reinforced that. I don't know.

I don't really have a great IRL support circle, my really close friends who I would go to for deep talks, I can think of maybe three or four and I talked to my best friend tonight to feel better but she's way in Oregon. I have friends here but either they're straight men who seem visibly uncomfortable with emotion or physical contact or they're people I don't know very well yet because they're newish friends. I don't have anyone to have a cry and a hug with.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Redskies
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I'm so glad people said they liked your set. How about you just take a moment to sit and really digest that - people said they liked it. That's why you were there.

I have no idea if I've felt what you felt, but what you describe, I recognise that. Big-time. It's a crappy way to feel. I think that in performance, we can usually "feel" the atmosphere around a performer. If we're the performer and we're feeling a bit grim about ourselves, it can be so hard to let a positive atmosphere in. Those are the times we probably need it the most! So just really recognise that people said they liked it and that you shared something with people that they enjoyed.

I reckon you know this, but perhaps it bears saying anyway: the people behaving in these bad ways, it is them, not you. You are just fine as you are, and if they don't think so, they are wrong, and the problem is with them, not you. You have a right to be somewhere you want to be and you have things that are worth sharing with the world at large.

Edit: I don't mean to imply that one's self-worth should come from others' recognition or appreciation. I was thinking of a specific performance-context, which I think of as performer(s) sharing something with others; if the sharing is appreciated, to me, that makes a very worth-while and meaningful performance.

[ 11-09-2011, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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eryn_smiles
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Hello Patrickvienna [Smile] . Good on you for doing your performance, I think that's really brave and not something all of us could do. I'm so sorry about what happened afterwards and about how your friend's friends were behaving towards you earlier. If it were me, I'm not sure I would attempt further conversation/explanation with them. I hope that you soon develop a circle of really supportive friends in your new community. Are you also involved in any local queer and trans groups on or outside campus?

I agree with what Redskies said about "why you were there". I think another reason you were there was perhaps to inspire others who might be a bit different from "mainstream" to get out and perform, to be their own proud selves [Smile] .

I also concur with Heather and Redskies that you sound like an absolutely awesome person and I wish I knew someone like you in my own university hostel days!

Having said that, I hope it's ok for me to share another opinion. When I read the title of your thread and the first post, I felt a little stigmatised and hurt, as a queer person who *is* affected by mental disorder/illness. I'm sure this was unintentional on your part and may even be due to my own vulnerabilities. But I felt this was important for me to voice. I certainly agree that queer sexuality is well within the normal spectrum, natural, common and not a mental illness. However I also think that when someone *does* have a mental illness, they need as much friendship, social inclusion and acceptance as anyone else. In some ways like a queer person, what they do not need is social stigma, stereotyping (eg. mentally unwell people are "creepy") and exclusion. What I would like to express is that mental illnesses are common illnesses like any other, and there's no need for people to be scared of those of us affected by them.

[ 11-10-2011, 03:12 AM: Message edited by: eryn_smiles ]

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Redskies
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I think Eryn's point is interesting and important.

My own perspective as a queer person with mental health issues: I really related to "queerness isn't a mental disorder!" Of course it's hugely important to recognise that No-one is deserving of stigma, mistreatment and isolation, and that people with mental health difficulties get those things disproportionately in bucket-loads. For me, mental health difficulties are something that I as an individual would want to address, change, limit any negative impact on my life, get treatment for. Queerness? Needs no treatment, needs no changing, is no problem.

What I understood from patrickvienna, especially in the first post, was frustration and hurt that people seemed to be suggesting that hir queerness (hope I'm ok on the pronoun and categorisation there, trying not to forcibly gender you) was an indication that something was "wrong" or "fixable" about hir or hir life.

Totally agreed that exclusion and mistreatment of Anyone purely because they seem in some way "peculiar" is totally unacceptable.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Djuna
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Eryn, you're right, I apologise. While I think the difference between queer sexualities and mental disorders is important to draw, I didn't mean to stigmatize people with mental disorders at all (including me). Though I think that that stigma was the way I experienced the comments in the first place, and that's a part of what upset me, I'm sorry for passing that stigma on here, for example with the title I used on this post. D'oh, my bad.

But eryn and redskies, and Heather again, thanks so much for your comments! I'm feeling a lot better today from being really upset the last couple days. By the by, "ze" and "hir" are just swell for me, those are probably the ones I use most of the time. [Smile]

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eryn_smiles
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Thanks for that, I'm really glad you're feeling better patrickvienna [Smile] .

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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