Talking to a mixed LGBT group about the way developmentally disabled men have historically been castrated for being gay, or sexual at all.
Having the first question out of someone’s mouth be, “Well did they request castration?”
Not knowing. Not knowing how to bridge the gap. Wanting to cry. Wanting to scream. Wanting to say that punitive castration for being gay, or for being sexual at all, is not and will never be the same as sex affirmation surgery. No words. None at all.
Distance like I was floating away from the rest of the room. They were all in the room. I was floating down a tunnel, far away, somewhere they couldn’t see me anymore, and I couldn’t see them. And they couldn’t see that I was far away. They couldn’t see the distance.
I felt the distance.
I still feel the distance.
That’s when I knew the LGBT community, or the L community, or the T community, could never fully be my community, at least as currently constituted.
Or rather, that was one of the biggest moments when I knew.
They were many.
They were ongoing.
When I went to the LGBT community center, I brought kava to spray under my tongue for severe anxiety. I couldn’t go there without it without accidentally making a scene in some way.
Because there was always something.
There was the woman named Eileen, that they secretly referred to as “A-loon” because she was strange and presumed mentally ill. This one guy who seemed to have a lot of clout there bought her a television and told the rest of us that he did it so that she’d stay home and not bother people there with her craziness.
I reported him to the board, for that, and for racist comments he’d made about the KKK, and for comments about how child molesters were just a misunderstood minority (and how, having been molested, I was too close to the issue to comment). And they were duly horrified. But when I also mentioned things he’d said about disabled people being better off dead, I was told that was a matter of personal opinion, not a matter of discrimination, certainly not something that created a hostile atmosphere to anyone disabled.
I never did bother reporting the guy who talked about working in an institution with people like me, standing over their beds, and saying “Why are you alive?” in this anguished voice. He wanted me to share in his anguish. He did not understand my horror, my desire never to be alone with him, my fear that he had actually killed, maybe, one of those nights, alone with children who couldn’t talk back.
Then there was not being invited to events because my social skills might embarrass someone.
And there was the way a young woman my age, coming out at the same time I did, got to be a ‘baby dyke’, got to be flirted with, and I was just… there, in the corner, awkward. Not awkward as in I was being socially awkward. But awkward as in, “This is an awkward situation, that sie’s over in the corner there, and we aren’t interacting with hir the way we’re interacting with other people like hir.”
There was the glances people did over the top of my head. The kind of glances that parents make to each other when their child does something they disapprove of, but they don’t want to say it out loud. Except for me, it seemed like those glances happened an awful lot from people who were not my parents, who were just nondisabled LGBT people who felt like they were worlds older and better than me because I was DD. And trust me, I did not imagine the glances, I’m very good at noticing those glances.
The glances that say, “Sie’ll never understand. But you know.”
I think I fit in a little better in the trans community than the lesbian or generic LGB/LGBT communities, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because there was another autistic person there, roughly my age, and he was dating a dyslexic person, and we had our own little corner of neurodiversity. It was also more racially and economically diverse than the generic LGB communities in the same community center. I’ve found the more diverse a community is, in any respect, the more likely I am to be welcomed.
But still. I can’t explain the distance between being someone who, by virtue of disability, can have your reproductive organs involuntarily cut out of you for being sexual, and being someone who can’t see past a personal desire to have your reproductive organs modified, to see that involuntary sterilization is always, always a horror no matter who you are.
The distance is just too huge.