“Normal never got any of us anywhere”

Ivan Coyote has a great column at the Canadian paper Xtra, in response to a woman who emailed to tell her:

The author was a self-identified “proud lesbian,” and she had a bone to pick with me. She wanted to know why I wrote so much about being a butch and asked me if I had nothing better to do with my time and my writing than to separate myself from “normal lesbians.” She said that lesbians would never reach true equality as long as people like me were insisting on labelling ourselves and splitting up “her community.”

Ivan responded beautifully, about what it means to be “normal,” community and queerness.

Because the thing is, Eve, I don’t want your normal. Normal never got any of us anywhere. And I didn’t just become a butch when I found the word and embraced it. Even a cursory look through photos of me as a kid is evidence that I never was a typical, or common, or regular, little girl. Butch is what I have always been, and it fits me, and helps me find others like myself. I have always, and will always, surround myself with beautiful misfits and defiant, dangerously mouthy deviants.

Because these are my people. My people fight for the rights of all of us. We fight for the queers of colour, the disabled, the poor, the infected, the tattooed and the tarnished, and even for you, Eve.

Somebody told me recently that the real definition of community includes the person you don’t want to be there, too. That would be you.

So you and your normal friends can all rest assured: when the rest of us abnormal queers do finally win equality, we will make room for you, too. You can thank us for it later, if you show up to the party. Wear something special, though, because the rest of us will be fucking fabulous.

Read the whole thing here.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/gisellerenarde/ Giselle Renarde

    I love this–as a Canadian and a dangerously mouthy deviant ;-)


  • sex-toy-james

    I’m pretty sure that Butch is a standard class of lesbians, so pretty normal as normal goes. It’s not like there is just one normal sexuality. There are so many continuums that people fall into, and it’s all hiding below the surface, giving you the impression that there’s some kind of normal.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sondosia/ Miriam Mogilevsky

    It seems to me that both of the people mentioned in this post are equally self-righteous about their lifestyle and equally unwilling to accept the validity of the other’s lifestyle. I don’t understand why the latter person is held up as some sort of paragon of feminism.

    • http://feministing.com/members/selkie/ selkie

      I totally agree.

      I think it’s especially annoying considering how often the most strident “abnormal” are from upper-class bohemian queer meccas and are defining “normal” and bad as having the culture of the less cool, more working-class, more rural places.

      Lesbian shouldn’t be treated like a synonym for hip.

      • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

        Do you have any statistics on correlations between true “bohemia” and “upper class” economic strata?

        Many I know are from working class backgrounds, struggle check-to-check, and enough have had bouts of homelessness, struggles with fair housing issues, squatting, etc. This also extends to queer and trans people who were also part of such activist movements and art scenes.(two separate things, but with crossover)

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Well, I applaud it. I’ve seen way too many people, and not just LGBTQI people, become a lot happier and accomplish a lot more once they stop worrying about whether or not they’re “normal”.

    The reverse is true too. I’ve seen people trying way too hard to be “freaks” in a way that’s not true to what they genuinely want. We need to be true to ourselves, not some paradigm of normalcy. But Ivan Coyote is at least making room for all, whereas Eve is accusing anyone who doesn’t fit into her standards of hurting “her” community (which is technically both of their community).

  • http://feministing.com/members/puffytoad/ Christine

    “Somebody told me recently that the real definition of community includes the person you don’t want to be there, too. That would be you.”

    Burn! uhhhh…

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ toongrrl

    To quote the great fictional philosopher Clarissa Darling: “What is Normal?”