So have some cute pride dragons! You may have seen them on Flight Rising. Collect them all, and just think how much less colourful that page would be if we only celebrated certain identities.
Anyway, while you are doing that, I'll be over here being a nervous wreck. ^^;
Author's Note: This is the eighth chapter of a fanfiction adaptation of Christine Love's visual novel, Hate Plus. It continues from where the Analogue: A Hate Story adapt left off. It features a female player character, who left the Mugunghwa with *Mute and is currently married to her.
Content Note: Flaming sexism and homophobia, gendered slurs, and suicidal ideation.
I made your bed carefully, setting the animal dolls that you had on it to the side. After that, I rendered myself in the most provocative thing I had ever seen you wear, and positioned myself on top of your bed, pulling the already-low collar down to show part of my ... my avatar's bust.
I didn't know what I was doing. Okay? I was being just as foolish as the night before that, only in a different way.
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I'm reading another FATAL and Friends, this time of a 90's-era RPG that was heavily inspired by World of Darkness. It's called The Everlasting, and it is, if anything, even more pretentious than OWoD.
How pretentious are we talking, here? Well, for starters, it calls your character sheet a "Protagonist Profile," and it calls the act of playing an RPG "Legendmaking." This is the example of actual play that it gives in Chapter 12: Storytelling: Rediscovering the Magic of Life:
Four people have gathered in a basement for a night of legendmaking. They have exchanged the light bulbs for red lights and have placed some lit candles on the large table they are seated around. Also on the table are two fake skulls, hand-scrawled directions to a haunted house on what looks to be the brown paper of a grocery sack, and everyone's cards, dice, and protagonist profiles.
I hope no one filled in their character sheets- excuse me, Protagonist Profiles, in red ink. :P
In all seriousness, though, seeing people like this book's authors describe RPGing in mystical, pseudoreligious terms, reminds me of Mormons talking about how amazing sex is once you're married. When the truth is, it's not something you have to do in a particular way, the most important things are to listen and make sure that you have people's consent and enthusiasm, and you're going to make lots of embarrassing mistakes but the best way to get better at it is by practice.
When I believed my own hype, so to speak, it just made me a perfectionist who was too scared to actually play. What helped more than anything else, in getting capsulerp and the in-person game started, was opening up about my insecurity, letting go of the need to make everything perfect, and trusting my RPing partners to know and describe what they wanted.
This is how my day went
Today I went to the clinic, and talked over my lab results with the endocrinologist. She decided to increase my estrogen prescription, so that I can look and feel more feminine and complete my transition more quickly. The trip went pretty well, and on the way there I stopped at my favourite coffee shop downtown, and got a cup of iced hazelnut coffee and a chocolate chip scone to go.
I stopped at the grocery store on the way back to get things for rev_yurodivy, including vegan hot dogs and some hard cranberry lemonade, since they are working hard on a project and asked for something sweet that has alcohol in it to help destress.
Once I got home, I unwound by going online, checking art sites like DA for updates and peeking in on the Mormons and exmormons to see what both groups are up to. I bought more than a half dozen games in the PlayStation Network's flash sale, where they're all being sold for under $1, and spent awhile playing the remake of Flashback. Then I snuggled with aliaspseudonym some, to help reassure it before it goes to an unfamiliar venue early tomorrow for a Magic: the Gathering set prerelease. Now I'm settled into my den, playing Xcom (I've almost platinumed it!) and sipping some of the hard lemonade myself.
This is how I was taught to see it
An unrepentant, coffee-drinking, alcoholic apostate went out on the town, to buy sex hormones and alcohol. After that she had sex with one of her sexual partners, looked up pornography on the Internet, and played violent video games while drinking.
(Transphobia and poverty-shaming mercifully omitted from the above.)
Why I don't see it that way anymore
I was taught that when you rebel or leave the Mormon church, you become "past feeling," in the sense of having gone past something, so that you can no longer feel the Spirit or anything good. You start chasing empty pleasures, to distract you from the void that fills a life you feel deep down is meaningless.
The thing is, that's exactly what I felt like while I was a Mormon. The emotions that ruled my life then were shame, fear, anger, and lust. I was taught that I had to be a certain way, just like everyone else who looked like me. And I was ashamed that I wasn't the perfect Mormon, afraid of my parents' and church leaders' punishment, and angry with myself and with "worldly" society.
I secretly longed to be in a world where my feelings -- like sexual attraction, fascination with bodies, and a desperate wish to have female gender identity -- were okay to have. I had been beaten down so hard with shame and punishment that I let myself explore these longings, locking myself in my room and going online and imagining being the characters in furry and fantasy art. Reading stories of love and friendship and transformation.
It took me awhile to realize it, but while I felt like I'd hit rock bottom I'd really found a lifeline. A window into worlds that I thought were impossible, feelings I never knew I could have, and people -- both fictional characters and their fans and authors -- who were kinder and more understanding than anyone I knew at church.
On some level, I knew this was good. And as time went on, I choose the good over the bad, until there was much less room in my life for the bad, hurtful things I'd been raised with.
Who is really "past feeling?"
Look at the two descriptions of my day above, and ask yourself which one's more honest, more accurate, and more fun to read. It's like the difference between enjoying a zesty stir-fry with rice, and saying "eww, vegetables."
Imagine being raised on nothing but honeyed gruel, and being told that everything else is awful and shameful and dangerous to eat. That's what my Mormon upbringing was like, with regards to the feelings and stories and people in my life today. And the occasional ice-cold beverage.
I can still empathize with Mormons, see the world from their perspective, and even appreciate the frisson that they call "the Spirit," which their music and ads are designed to evoke. But a lot of them can't appreciate anything I go through, and experience unsettling feelings of cognitive dissonance when they see something that contradicts what they've been taught. They're told that this dissonance means that they're losing the Spirit and displeasing God, and they need to stop whatever they're doing immediately.
They are literally trained to be unable to feel or to empathize. And one of the ways they are scared into doing this, is by telling them that if they do they will lose what feelings they have left, and become the people they're most afraid of.
I don't know what I would have done, if I could see my present self ten years ago.
I do know that I prefer being her. That "gender euphoria," the opposite of dysphoria, is a real thing. And that my real, chosen family and friends are more loving and genuine than those I was forced to be with, growing up.
The people in the faith community I used to be a part of are scared of anything that could lead them to cheat on their spouses. Since they view any and all sexual or romantic activity which does not involve their spouse, including masturbation or flirting, as cheating, this leaves a lot of them emotionally stunted and sexually repressed.
Measures I've seen them take, and publicly recommend, to avoid "cheating" include:
Shared social media accounts and/or passwords. (Yes, they're among those who have the "couple" Facebook accounts.)
Draconian limits on Internet use.
Avoidance of being alone with -- or even close to -- a person of the opposite gender, to the point of employment discrimination so that they won't have to share an office with someone they find attractive.
I personally feel that anything which can be destroyed by love, friendship, and emotional closeness, probably should be destroyed. Whether it's a bad religion, a patriarchal society, or just an unhealthy relationship.
If you really love someone, you don't stop loving them just because you (or they) have found someone or something new to love. Whether it's a person, profession, or hobby. And I say this as someone with two autistic partners, who both have intense focus on interests which dominate their lives for months or years at a time.
I don't love them despite that, I love them partly because of it. I love seeing them come alive, with the same excitement we had for each other right when we declared our romantic intent. They're more fun to be around, and more fun to snuggle as well.
I'd have to lock them in boxes to keep them from finding new things to excite them. Sort of like what Mormon spouses are taught to do to each other.
I feel bad for saying this, but I'm actually not sure how much most of the comments and compliments I've received help, after reading this essay on /r/raisedbynarcissists.
I think a lot of it may have to do with how my ego was inflated, growing up, as a homeschooled Mormon. I was told over and over again that I was part of a chosen generation, I was a prodigy, I knew better than almost everyone else, I had more authority in my little finger than the Pope did in his whole funny hat, I was going to live while the earth was cleansed with fire ... a lot of things designed to inflate the egos of young people and tie their self-worth to the church, which I was explicitly told to do.
Then finding out that in order to keep getting that treatment, I would have to lie. But not processing it that way, because lying was out of the question. And not realizing that the people around me did it anyway, all the time.
I think I eventually saw that in the situation I was in, all the ego-inflatingness I received really said more about the people dispensing it than myself. People would tell me things that reinforced their own cultural narrative. They liked that I exemplified some part of the story they told themselves about how the world works. Sometimes it was painfully obvious, like when a mentally ill "friend of the family" who was staying with us told me how I would pilot the spacecraft we apparently kept in our basement.
They didn't really want to know that I masturbated, or was depressed, or felt sick very often, or had never had a full-time job. They wanted me to exist in their minds as an object.
I understand hugs, and listening, and mirroring my distress, as signs of love and affection. Compliments just go right past us. We used to treasure the ones that we got for our writing, but somewhere along the line we started to feel they were so hyperbolic as to be unbelievable. We're not sure why.
Compliments based on the kind of person we supposedly are don't even register. They are like telling us "God has a plan for everyone," or having cishets ask about our relationship when they assume that we're in one like theirs. It's at once disturbingly personal and very impersonal, and it doesn't bother us so much as make us nervous. Because we feel like the person is outlining the conditions on which they will relate to us, and if we do something that contradicts the image they have of us in their mind they will shun us.
I feel like they don't know what they are talking about, and even if they're saying something nice they're really just saying how much I affirm something they believe in.
I think the compliments I've been most touched by are when people describe the effect that I or my writing have had on them. That feels like a thing I can take credit for. The best I can say about myself, then, is that I remind other people of what's important to them, or have helped them escape from a bad situation.
The worst I can say is that I'm terrible and shouldn't exist. I tell myself that at least ten times a day, just as a reflex. It's usually brought on by either doing something I find enjoyable, or hearing someone tell me that I'm awesome.
That's how my father of origin responded when I came out to him as bisexual. And this is really how a lot of conservative religious types see sexual orientation and gender identity. They think it's something you choose to do, because sex.
Content note: This post talks about sexual shame and homophobia, and contains links to discussions of rape and child solicitation.
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Because the people and institutions who raised me had a warped view of sexual morality, where the only thing that mattered in deciding if an act was moral or not was if they say that their god approved.
This is why they're always freaking out and making disingenuous comparisons, like "if we let gay people get married then cats and dogs will have sex with babies!" Or something like that. Because God doesn't approve of gay marriage, and God also doesn't approve of your pets and offspring having orgies. If we start doing one thing that God disapproves of, then what's to stop us from doing the other!?
Worse, whenever they talked about how other people see morality -- a word that's been forever tainted for me because of them -- they either lied about them or poisoned the well so I wouldn't look any deeper. They said over and over again that other people based their morals on what's "popular" and "fashionable," and they openly ridiculed the idea of thinking for yourself or doing what feels right. Following your conscience was okay, but only if it agreed with them.
That's why I keep second-guessing myself, trying to figure out the "right" answer to questions of personal preference like what operating system to use. I have trouble seeing "because I want to and it doesn't hurt anyone" as a valid reason to do anything. And I'm scared that if I face the fact that I actually want to have sex with people, it's going to lead to my eating babies.
I've realized that's not the case, ever since I saw this pointed out on Love, Joy, Feminism. But it's hard to convince myself of that.