Most of the time.
Yesterday, Jenny and I went to a bridal shower for a (heterosexual) friend of ours, and the overall effect of it was-- at least for me-- a very sharp slap in the face. I have been mostly spared from the weddings of my high school friends, because I moved out of state right after graduation. So this was my first run-in with the wedding industrial complex as an out gay woman.
The bridal shower was for women only-- there were about 75 of us there. The bride’s cousins threw it for her, and the mother of the bride was beaming with joy, hugging and kissing Aunt Ann and Aunt Suzie and Cousin so-and-so who all came from the east shore of Long Island for the momentous day. Various and sundry family members and friends came and piled gift (upon gift upon gift) on this sagging little card table in the church basement. There was much laughing and talking and eating and cooing over cute kitchen appliances, and complaining about the “men-folk,” and telling the bride all the wonderful things she’d have to look forward to as a married woman. And everyone burst into applause when the mother of the bride presented the bride with a white lingerie set, in the hopes that she’d have a “happy wedding night.”
And Jenny and I sat in the corner drinking champagne, and....we were kind of sad. Bridal showers seem to be-- at least to me-- a hazing ritual where adult straight women welcome a young woman into adulthood. And there are no equivalents for gay women. I didn’t feel like I fit in at this bridal shower at all, because I wasn’t straight and would rather watch football than talk about kitchen appliances. But, goddammit, I am a woman, and I think both my relationship and my femininity deserve recognition from other women, regardless of whether they are gay or straight. I don’t want to sit in the corner and drink champagne, I want to be part of the conversation, because I am just as much of a woman as everybody else in that room was.
The anti-assimilationist queers that I know think that GLBT folks are too intrinsically different from the straight people to live by their rules, so we (the gays) should live in our own separate camps and let our freak flags fly. My problem with this is that my mom is straight, and my sister is straight, and my aunt is straight, and my grandma is straight. I want to be a genuine part of the family, not the weird fruitcake. And I want to be acknowledged as a grown-ass woman by people who aren’t potential sexual partners for me.
I’m sure somebody will accuse me of being too traditional and gender-conformist. But that was what I wanted while I was sitting in the church basement yesterday. It was a huge reminder that I will be damn lucky if my family even shows their faces at my wedding, let alone gives me a shower. Because they think my relationship with Jenny is sinful, radical, and just too far outside the mainstream.
Have you ever met a radical as ordinary as me?