Monday, February 14, 2011

Six Degrees of Awkward Gay Social Separation

For any of you who have followed my blog to this point, you’ve heard me touch on the shallow subculture pool (and all that entails) and my thoughts on what I like to call musical exes.  This entry is a slight branch out from that, inspired by a friend’s Facebook status (as well as a few other things).

In all my 27 years, I have always had friends that other friends or other people couldn’t understand why I’m friends with them.  They’d meet the person in question and say things like, “She seems angry,” or “a lot of maintenance” or “they seem dark,” etcetera.  I guess it never occurred to these naysayers that what may seem one thing to them was something else entirely to me - that maybe that person fills a space in my life that maybe somebody “easier” would not.

Now, this is not specific to the subculture, but take what I’ve described above and put a subculture twist on it.  I am currently friends with someone whose ex is dating my ex.  I have also made out with the person that one of my favourite people is currently romancing.  It’s been said that we are actually lucky if we have as much as six full degrees of separation here in the subculture pond that is so small you can practically spit across, and for the most part, it’s true.

Situations like this can definitely be awkward.  We don’t always exist in a space where we can effectively avoid each other, if avoidance is our tactic of choice.  So when someone has just ended a relationship with someone and that person starts seeing someone that you may have previously been seeing, life gets awkward.  That part is unavoidable, and certainly not what I’ve come to discuss, because short of expecting people to leave the city, it’s not a problem that’s solvable.  However  . . .

We all know that relationships (romantic or otherwise) rarely end on a good note or with any sense of amicability (at least right away).  Chances are great that if you just ended something and your ex starts seeing someone you know, you’ve got lingering issues and more than a few choice words you’d like to share.  Often, in the subculture, you see a sort of power struggle ensue – two lesbians break up and there seems to almost be some sort of invisible game of marbles happening, to determine who was friends with what friends first and who’s going to walk away afterward with the most of them.  This struggle often tries to take place on margins of who was right and who was wrong, when relationships almost never fit squarely into right and wrong categories.  I disdain this power struggle – my hope is that someday people will understand that we’re all mucking along in the same world, no better equipped than anyone else to be passing judgement on people or relationships and how they best function.

That having been said brings me to the main point.  Gossip.  Or trash-talking.  Or any other way you might like to color it.  People trying to tell other people what person might be bad, or damaged for them.  Where do we get off, I wonder, telling someone that a person we once cared about who may have hurt us in ending something, is somehow too broken, or crazy, or [insert gossip here] to be in someone else’s life?  Who are we to say who is good or bad?  We’re all damaged, we’re all messed up in our own ways, and to sort of steal a line from RENT, just because my baggage may not go with yours, doesn’t mean that it won’t go with someone else’s in a way you’re unable to see.

And yet we do.  We judge, and push, we gossip people away from others.  We whisper in the club and elsewhere.  “Do you know what happened?” and “Oh, I can’t believe you’re friends with that person.”  Get off it, people.  We are all able to make our own decisions, regarding who is ‘too crazy’ for us and who isn’t, or who fills a space in our lives that may not have filled a space for you.  I am pleased to have enough confidence in my own judgement in people to decide whether someone being my friend or lover is healthy for me, no matter how unhealthy that person may previously have been for you.  We are all only human, and at the end of the day, I believe with every fibre of the heart I wear on my sleeve that people are worth the benefit of the doubt, every time.  Call it flaw, if you like, but it’s brought me the best people in my life, and taught me the most important lessons, as well.

So yes, I’m aware that I’ve pissed off my share of people in the subculture.  I’ve got exes; both from friendships and romantic relationships, and maybe some of them still carry enough anger/judgement to want to turn people off from me.  I try to be understanding, and I always forgive.  Because we’re all wandering, and nobody’s really doing it better than anyone else, as much as we’d like to believe otherwise.  The ones who are worth it will listen with their hearts instead of their ears, and stick around to make the right decisions about who is deserving of their time.  To those I have loved and cared about, and those I do love and care about, I wish you all nothing but happiness and truth in your wanderings.  Listen with your hearts, for the ground is level under our feet, and you have all been beautiful to me.

“I know that it’s easier to portray a world that’s filled with cynicism and anger, where problems are solved with violence.  That’s titillating.  It’s an easy out.  What’s a whole lot tougher is to offer alternatives, to present other ways conflicts can be resolved, and to show that you can have a positive impact on your world.  To do that, you have to put yourself out on a limb, take chances, and run the risk of being called a do-gooder.” – Jim Henson

~ Mar

1 comment:

  1. I agree completly. I am having a lot of trouble with my sister-in-law at the moment. I have a lot of good things to say about the old her but the new her I hate. She makes me mad and she makes my hubby weep.

    I think sometimes we need to tear people apart into order to see "that something" that was/is missing (in a relationship or ourselves). That extra thing to hate.

    It's all nonsense and from now on, we are going to live like there is no tomorrow and this "new" sister in-law)is only delt with when need be. Otherwise we don't think of her at all.