|a lesbian who is blind
||[Sep. 26th, 2006|08:00 pm]
Home of the blind/visually impaired lgbt community
I'll see if I can actually post successfully this time. I've attempted to send an entry to this community before, but my computer locked up and foiled my efforts. I'll stop short of believing its some conspiracy stilling my self expression and fault Microsoft for designing applications that crash when you so much as sneeze.
Just_jess78 wrote about this perception some people believe, that somehow being gay adds to life's travails if disability or some other minority reality is evident. I never really thought much about this until my grandmother discovered I was a lesbian and flung this concept at me like a 95 mph baseball aimed straight at my head.
I came out when I was 17 to friends. The fact I am blind was always the reality, but I didn't perceive it as a difference growing up. I learned Braille and read books on tape. And my computer was equipped with a speech synthesizer. For me, though, this was tame compared to the growing realization that I liked girls a lot. My blindness didn't keep me sitting in the back of the classroom, cocooned in my own world. You walk around thinking about the women in popular songs and feeling that the pronoun she applies more to what you feel and think than he ever will, and that's a pretty big indication that maybe you're a lesbian. Christ, I used to listen to "Waiting For a Girl Like You' repetitively when I was fourteen, wanting to be free enough to say the words in that song to my best friend. These thoughts, the sense that they represented some major gap between me and the other kids, kept my mouth shut. I was afraid that some of the truths swimming through my emotional and mental wiring might slip out verbally somehow. Blindness was nothing.
When I started coming out, I got more vocal, more confident. By the time I attended college, Melissa Etheridge shook the windows in my dorm room, and I am positive people thought of me as being a lesbian first and foremost. Being blind was still just this lack of sight, a reality that I'd always taken as a given in my life. Being gay, though, was a realization that, when I opened myself up to all the feelings and culture that I read about and strived to be part of, exhilarated me. Blind and gay never fit in to the same sentence; I was a lesbian first, blind somewhere else completely.
Then, my grandparents drove out to pick me up one Thanksgiving weekend from college. I was a junior, and a fledgling glbt organization was developing on campus. A few of us agreed to be contact people for anybody interested in joining or learning more about the group, so fliers were printed and hung at various locations. My grandmother saw one in the foyer of my dorm and reacted hysterically. After the immediate "Oh my God! Are you a lesbian? I can't believe this! How could this happen,", she treated me to silence the entire two-hour ride back to my hometown. She took me aside a few days later, and I got my first taste of the double whammy flavor of thought.
I was at a point in my life where I was unaffected by her assertions that the Bible expressly forbade homosexuality. The pleas to quit this "queer" organization and save myself from shaming the family struck me as sad and ignorant. Then, she resorted to emotional tactics. "Your grandfather would have a heart attack if he knew. Is that what you want?" That idea seemed so absurd, I fought not to snicker. Then, the one leap of thought I never expected. "Don't you have enough to deal with? You already are going to have a hard life. Do you want to make it worse? Isn't one disability enough?" First of all, to see being a lesbian as an impediment by that time was impossible, but I'd never really considered being blind as some stroke of shit karma either. The two realities combined in the same sentence as if they cooked up a recipe for double predictors of loneliness and angst baffled me. All my life, I'd never seen being blind as somehow shameful or representative of some glaring deficit. I didn't expect that. It hurt so much more than her inability to deal with my lesbianism. We failed each other that day. I learned my grandmother could never accept me fully because I was blind, let alone gay, and she learned the control over my life she took for granted was like the tattered shreds of a glbt flier she threw in to the cold air, scattered and lost.
Random people have asked me since that time if I think being blind and gay creates more chalenge in my life. In order for me to answer that affirmatively, I'd have to believe being a lesbian or being blind was somehow shameful, and I honestly wouldn't change either reality. I've thought about it more, though, since that day with my grandmother. I've gotten more involved with some of the blindness organizations and disabled advocacy groups since that time, but I will always be a lesbian first and foremost. Being blind shades all my life experiences in some way, and I've had my share of frustrations at times. I have become a more confident and proud blind person over the past four or five years because of some of the developments in my life, but that feeling is so different and doesn't really measure up to the pride and self respect being a lesbian does. I still grapple with this, and people like to tease me about being a blind lesbian sometimes, but those words in that alignment always create some discomfort for me. Yes, I'm blind, but, when I wake up every day, I'm a lesbian who is blind.