I was reading an incredible and incredibly important story earlier, from Black Girl Dangerous, about identity, what we do not owe the people of this world, and what is owed to certain people by certain other people. I suggest you read it and I don’t care a whit if you don’t come back to the rest of my blog post.

This may be the most important thing you read in a very long time, so read this shit. Read it hard.

While I read this, it came into my head, “I’m not too this, I’m not too that,” which, inevitably, brought to mind the Divine Miss M’s, “I’m Beautiful, Dammit.”

Which you should also watch. Twice. Or three times – however long it takes for it to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Or your life.

But there’s a flip side to this – another angle, another – equally acceptable – data point that this brings forward.

“I’m not ‘too’ anything. In general. I also accept that your preferences have parameters, and I may not fit within them. So, yeah, for you, I may be ‘too.’ And that is okay.”

In the piece linked above, Caleb states, “And while I make active attempts to interrogate, challenge and expand my own desire, I am not exempt from perpetuating these things either.” “These things” being [the preferential treatment of] “thin, masculine, cis, non-disabled male bodies.” And this is something that plagues me – because I definitely have a “type,” and I feel fucking BAD about it, you guys. I sometimes really freaking hate that my “type” is so very “normal.” And this brings me to a creepy segue about a quote from Dazed and Confused which I will NOT share now, but if someone calls me on it later, I might elaborate. Might.

So, here we go: I can accept and support and advocate for every single person’s right to be exactly who they are, and not be judged “too” this, or “not [this] enough.” I want to – it’s important to me for everyone to have the ability to claim an identity without it being policed by someone else.

But, when it comes to my intimate relationships, I do get to say, “too” this, “not enough” that. Not against some international barometer, not with any authority except what governs my self and my body and my wants. It will also almost never be my first explanation – unless you are being too aggressive or too handsy or too much of a dick. Those things do not take away from your identity, and so they do not feel as sacred to me (or if they are related to your identity, well, sorry, those are not okay things to be).

It isn’t a judgment of the person: it’s an awareness of how my body, my brain, and my environment work with an individual. Now, if I’d only ever slept with or dated slender, 6′ tall, CK-model androgynous beauties, then I might further question myself here. But I’d like to propose that, as long as we are actively engaged with the choices we make about who we’re attracted to, it’s okay if it is the same as the “norm.”

While I work toward a world in which the tall, slender, light-skinned body is not the only body we revere – those bodies are also beautiful and desirable and you, and I, don’t have to feel bad for finding them so.

Every body is beautiful, y’all.

“What do you do?”

In the course of engaging on a butch-femme discussion forum, as is my custom now and again, I came across an image that brought to mind a whole host of thoughts and feelings:


[Creator unknown: please tell me if it’s you, or you know who! I’d like to credit/link]

Instantly, I’m brought back to a moment in the backseat of a car, holding hands with my lover at the time. We’d just been apple-picking with friends of mine she’d recently met. My dear femme friend asked from the front passenger seat, “What do you do?” And my lover responded, hesitatingly and with a detectable note of shame in her voice, saying what her retail job was, trailing off at the end of the sentence. I added, “And she’s a landscape photographer: she has a piece that she’s sending up for Photo-a-GoGo, she sold the photograph she submitted last time, it was a beautiful shot.” And that got everyone talking about technical specs on cameras and framing and things that actually mattered.

Fast forward to that evening: E and I are in bed, talking about the day. “I felt lame, when M asked what I did – I didn’t want to answer.” And I say, knowing that it’s true, “But M didn’t want to know what you do for work – she knows that already — hell, she’s one of my best friends, she knows more about you than you want to think she does,” with a smile and a teasing nudge. “She wanted to know more about who you really are. That’s why I mentioned your photography. Because that’s who you really are.” I feel the tension slowly leave her body as we lay there in the half-light and I tell her that M has both a Job (working retail) and a Career (as a medical practitioner), and that my friends don’t hold her up to some high standard of prestige or income or power – what they want to know is that this person they love, me, is spending time with someone who knows what they love. Because having a passion – any passion, really – and sharing it with the world in some way, brings a light into your life that cannot be reproduced in any other way, and gives you something you want to share with those close to you.

It can manifest in so many forms: writing a piece of choral music; painting a mural; designing a custom gown; landscaping grounds; writing a piece of tricky code; finding the part of a machine that’s stopping up the works and fixing it; soothing a troubled soul; mending a broken bone; writing a bit of prose.

It isn’t what we do for a living. It’s what we do for ourselves, and each other. That’s what is important. I happen to be really freaking lucky, and I love what I do for a living — this is a very new thing to me, and I’m still getting used to the idea. And if someone asks me what I do, I could give them a stuffy “official” job description. But if I say, “I help libraries make their online catalogs sexy,” and they don’t understand all of what that means because they don’t know how to calculate its value, to turn it into an annual salary, or a marketable product – that’s sad, and we probably don’t have a lot to talk about. I want to hear about that photograph. Or that song. Or that healed bone.

Let your passion be your person. Let it define you. Let it tell the world who you really are. What do you do for the world?