"Charity is commendable, everyone should be charitable. But Justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don't go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth, justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance.
Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table"
~Bill Moyers

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are you gay?

[This piece which is an extremely abbreviated version of why and how I lost my 65K per annum job was presented for the Mission SRO Collaborative’s writing project for it’s first issue of “Hotel Voices", published in the spring/summer of 2006, it was also published in Poor Magazine online the summer of that year.

The themes were about the experiences of SRO Hotel’s residents and/or how we came to be living in SRO Hotels, which is a step short of homelessness.

It was subsequently posted on 03/05/07 at the Coalicion Primero de Mayo Blog and I'm posting yet again as a reminder that phobias and prejudices have consequences for people who are different than oneselves and in relation to the California Supreme Court's Ruling on "Same-sex marriage", the regressive movement to change the Constitution so same sex couples can't marry.

Also at the Daily Kos From this Author ["Tranny"]
"My 2001 Valentine's day story."
“Gay Panic” Defense? My Ass!
"Beyond He and She: A Transgender News Update"

Are you gay?
- By Aurora Grajeda:

Silvia asked lifting her gaze away from my shining pearly-white nails, professionally manicured in the style known as French, the baby pink flesh showing through the neutral-colored nail polish, we were confirming our upcoming first lunch date in 2 plus years of working together.

I tried to think how many times she had asked during the 2 1/2 years of us working together. Today, I didn’t answer with the usual question: Why do you say that?

Today I firmly said, “no“

“Mmmm… Are you sure? Silvia asked, lifting her eyes to mine, pondered, “mmm… I don’t know…” Looking again at my nails… “Are you really sure you’re not gay?”

Tired of her regular queries about my sexuality, this time I said “No, I’m something else”, “What are you then?” She inquired, “I think I’m a girl” I answered.

After a couple of under-the-breath “uhms” And “aahs”, she asked if we could reschedule our lunch date.

“Sure”, I answered walking away.

Why did I tell her? As my boss’ Executive Assistant, she was the Office Politician par excellence who loved the taste of power, was very good at how to keep it and increase it; whereas I, all I wanted was to keep doing the work that I enjoyed, was good at it, was getting paid very well for doing it and having just started hormonal reassignment treatment, was looking at a future with hefty gender transition related expenses.

A superfluous question knowing that a) I resented being thought of as a gay man; it is a question of gender and not sexual orientation, b) the charade was over, I had removed the facade and now I was living my life in a rigorously brutal honesty, and c) I wanted to give her the opportunity to show me her acceptance, tolerance or rejection.

She outed me.

I witnessed and experienced my co-workers reactions, from the utter fixation with the restroom’s ceiling that some men had recently developed - as soon as they noticed my presence in the room - coupled with the not quite whistling but rather an in-between-the-lips and barely audible soft hissing of the latest “Music Brain Worm” In their heads, to the ones that acknowledged me with a curtly nod, or the ones that actually said hi and conducted business with me with a hardly noticeable discomfort, and last but not least, there was a group that never changed a iota, either because of acceptance, tolerance or conscious non-interference in other people’s business. And then, there were the others.

These were the most vicious and cowardly ones, the invisible closeted transphobes that had their own sub-division, passive-aggressive and active-aggressive.

The former chose to live with their misery and only passively projected it on me, among the latter, there was a small delegation of women who approached David, my Director, and shared with him their potential future feelings of violation were I to come into the ladies’ room, the most aggressive ones were David’s superiors who pressured him to cancel my contract, he didn’t yield because my pay came out of his Dept.’s budget, he refused until he was presented with an ultimatum whose dictates were never disclosed to me in neither one of the two official meetings I had with him RE: My “Outing”.

On the first, we talked, he was happy with my work, he pledged his support and wished me well on my journey, told me about his superior’s pressure.

I was reassured and calmer for the next few weeks until he called me again for our second meeting, he looked tired as he told me how fortunate he was because of my hiring, the satisfaction of getting more than what he expected and was paying for, deploring the bad news, he informed me of a directive to cancel my contract because of a job consolidation move, implemented over his objections, or so he told me .

A bucket full of icy water couldn’t have frozen me as much and his voice became a muffled distant murmur as realizations of the travails coming my way started materializing in countless foreboding thoughts which brought fear and anger.

David’s voice brought me back, “Do you want to say anything?”, the breath I drew felt like the first one in some time, with tense body and through clenched teeth I replied, “I’m trying very hard to put aside the thought that this is one of these ‘let’s get rid of that thing type of thing’ “.

His blanching face made his hair look whiter, he said that wasn’t the case.

“Whatever!” I thought, “Effective when?”, I asked, “One month” he answered. We had some shop talk on how best to maintain the continuity of my projects, tie loose ends etc.

And so it came to pass, August 11, 1999 was the last day worked at PG&E by this Transgender Woman beginning to face a hostile world that had no place for her.

“ Aaand no, I’m not gay, I'm a Transsexual Woman.”

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi

"We are the ones we have been been waiting for"

A Poem for South African Women by June Jordan
In Commemoration of the 40,000 women and children who, August 9, 1956, presented themselves in bodily protest against the "dompass" in the capital of apartheid. Presented at The United Nations, August 9, 1978

"Viva Obama / Aurora Song / Aurora Video"

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