Before you tell us we're being too mean or harsh, when describing our experiences, ask yourself this:
Would I say this if it were something I actually thought was a big deal?
Because there's this tendency to side with the people who share your privilege over the people your group victimizes. Like when Brendan Eich resigned as CEO of Mozilla, after the outcry over his $1,000 donation to California's Proposition 8, and a lot of self-identified progressives and "allies" suddenly accused LGBTQA advocates of being bullies.
What if he'd used that money to donate to a campaign to deprive women of the vote? Or to reinstate poll taxes? What if he'd written an essay in favour of one of the many, many 2012 candidates who expressed inane views about women's reproductive biology?
If you feel that it's more important to shield bigoted hetero cismen from the consequences of their bigotry than it is to let LGBTQA persons have a safe workspace, then just say so. Just say you accept those other issues as real and valid, as things that it's Not Okay Ever to do, but that paying money to deprive LGBTQA persons of basic rights is just a mistake like eating the last donut. That you feel it's something anyone could reasonably be expected to do, that it doesn't really hurt anyone, and that it's creepy and weird for others to get all upset over it.
Likewise, if you really think that we're a foxraptor, or a plural system, or fictive, or female. Then please treat our identities as being as legitimate as your own, and defend them like you'd defend your own. Act like the laws have already been passed; failing that, act like it is a bug, and not a feature, that they haven't already.
This isn't a Take That to anyone in particular. Mostly, we wrote this one for ourself.
We just want to add that if anyone doesn't see us as real, or has their own personal headcanon or theological explanation for what we are, we would ask that they keep it to themselves. We're okay with suggestions; we're not okay with being told that our story's not real, and we really fit into your own. After growing up in the Mormon church, we've had our feelings and identities denied enough for two lifetimes.
A few years ago, an elderly relative of mine died, and I ended up staying in their house -- an old house that had been in the family for ages -- to help sort out their possessions.
I did not hear any voices, or see any apparitions while staying there. But I felt these presences all around me, watching me over my shoulder, looking down on me and judging me. It felt like being under a spotlight in a darkened room, while all around you people are whispering disapprovingly about you. And all you can hear is the hissing of their voices, and the judgmental tone they are taking.
What were they so upset about? Well, here I was, surrounded by fine furniture and The Classics, and what was I doing in my free time while I was there? Writing Digimon fanfic in a $0.99 notebook, and playing video games on a gaudy white plastic box that I'd hooked up to their television. Plus, I was young, and I occasionally thought about sex. The horror!
The religion I was part of at the time, Mormonism, was in some ways an ancestor cult. Their meetinghouses have "Family History" libraries, where many members spend hours looking up genealogy. Once they have enough records on someone, they can take their name to the temple and have "baptisms for the dead" and other ordinances done on their behalf, so that this person can have the chance to accept Mormonism in the next life. Some report having experiences where their ancestors or other people came to them, sometimes in dreams, asking for their temple work to be done.
I think that these expectations can be self-fulfilling, in that they cause people to have these experiences. When I was really young, for instance, doing proxy baptisms and confirmations for the first time, I interpreted the feelings I had -- of sacredness, cleanliness, and being accepted by other people -- as the approval of the people that the work was being done for. I thought they must be smiling on me, just like I'd been told they would.
But I don't think all demons and spirits are created by "religion." Sometimes, I think, it's the other way around. Some spirits are already there, and traditions start when people find ways of dealing with them. Whether they're healthy traditions or not depends less on whether they start for the "right" reasons, IMO, and more on how they help people deal with the real experiences that they have.
I also came down with bronchitis while I was there, in my relative's old dusty house. I'm glad for modern medicine, and for the fact that I had access to it back then, because it meant people understood what had caused it and could give me some pills to help cure it.
But understanding what caused it didn't make my lungs any less sensitive, or the house any less dusty. Likewise, my "testimony" of temple work didn't help me deal with the feeling of being judged, any more than a "rational" understanding would have. Because what I didn't need, right then, was a clear and definite answer to the question of whether I was dealing with the spirits of my dead ancestors, or my own impressions of how they would have felt about me.
What I needed was permission to flip them the bird, and to live my life as though their feelings didn't matter. Whether that meant changing the way I related to them, or getting the heck out of a haunted house.
I feel like ... I cycle between despair and hopefulness. Or I'm attacked by depression sometimes and can't easily escape. And knowing that I don't know when I will be next makes it worse, because I know this isn't just temporary and even if it goes away it's going to come back.
I feel like I'm basically chronically ill, and I need to find treatments for it.
I need to get some kind of anti-depressants. I need to find supportive people to come out to, like the elderly church lady across the hall who turned out to support LGBT rights (and belong to a church that does). I need to make myself go to some kind of in-person activities and get out more, just so I can feel less alone and afraid of things outside. I need to wear gender-appropriate clothing more often, because even though it's a hassle I feel so much better about myself once I do. And I need to somehow expand my comfort zone until I can do so in public.
I'm running low on cash in the meantime, but I'm going to try to make it last. Once I get paid for the internship, that will help. I can also try writing some articles.
Another big thing that I think would help is developing my spirituality. avia left a comment on my essay about Mormonism that made me think about what it'd meant to me. I think it gave me something of a spiritual foundation, albeit a mass-produced one. I liked feeling certain, and having a culture around me that reinforced my beliefs, even if the other people my age seemed either "worldly" or ungenuine. I also liked feeling that certain things were clean and okay to enjoy, even if certain other things that were vital to me (like sexuality) were deemed off-limits and unclean.
I think that it might be worth looking more into furry, as a pseudo-religious culture to be a part of. As questionable as some of it is, I feel less of a moral disconnect with them than I do with most other people, like gamers (oh goddess don't get me started on gamer culture). Some artwork, whether furry or fantasy but usually the kind of things avia links to, just calls to me and reminds me of things that I feel are transcendent.
I tried free-associating to think of what sort of feelings are most transcendent and important to me, and what most remind me of the world that's closest to my nature.
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I want to warn people up front, though, this is probably going to delve a little into squicky stuff and abuse. More offensive to some, I'm sure, is going to be the sheer level of fluffy special snowflakeness. I'm frankly nervous to write about it, because I feel like my relationship to Inari is very unusual and is not an "okay" kind of relationship to have. I feel like it's delusional and egotistical for me to believe these things, and like somebody needs to call me on it. I guess all I can do is describe my experiences, and see how people react.
Trigger warning for discussion of suicide, abuse, and non-explicit sexuality.
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