Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Last night I had a rattling experience at work. Towards the end of my 9 hour shift, I was up at the register with one of my coworkers tagging jewelery when I noticed a group of young attractive queer women walk into the store. I automatically recognized most of them, many of them have made names for themselves in Santa Fe through various showcases with a unique and popular drag burlesque troop and I looked up to many of their friends and collaborators during my high school years. As they shopped the store many of them laughed and joked with each other, there was such a sense of comradeship,understanding and recognition. My heart began to ache a little bit.
Ever since moving to Albuquerque, i've made many new friends, I hang with the bikers, the golden kids, the creators. We spend nights drinking beer on astroturf, sitting outside of shows with our bikes, because no one really has the money to afford gas anymore. We go to antique malls and make vegan cupcakes and play music and eat lightly salted edemame. I've filled my home with books and feathers and tapestries and candles and good music. We go to the hotsprings to watch the sunrise and eat cinnamon and sugar toast and work long hours bouncing around and making jokes. However, through this, through making a life for myself here, not really having much of another choice, I feel that i've lost much of the queer community and friends that I held so dear in Santa Fe.
There is something about Albuquerque that is so disjointed, kind of fragile. I've met queer folks, the ones like me, the token queer girl among all of her heterosexual friends. But we dont have a community, a meeting place, events. The people that I talk too about my issues with queer presentations, politics, marriage, the whole lot, are few, if not all currently living in other parts of the country. My ongoing insecurity about my own queer presentation has strengthened and thrives here. I've always been a feminine woman, wearing make up and keeping my hair longer, wearing dresses. Ever since moving to Albuquerque i've felt the need to validate my queerness, offhand let people know that I like women, whether its automatically talking about my past relationships or name dropping or discussing my stance on gay marriage. I dont want to be assumed as straight, I dont want to be hit on by guys at parties, I dont want the only queer girls I meet to look right past me assuming that im not interested. But there's no compromise, and im not going to change the way I dress, the way I cut my hair, the make up I wear for the sake of being recognized by the New Mexico queer community. It makes me feel a little bit sick that I do feel the need to wear pants and cut off all my hair in order to feel like I belong to something, that I belong to a community with which I identify.
When the group of queer women came up to the register, I started to feel judged. I thought to myself "Can they not read me? Should I say something?", when one of them asked me how to get to Old Town.
"Oh I dont really know, im from Santa Fe" I said.
I did know how to get to Old Town.
"Yeah, um that's where we're coming from" said another.
They all stared at me, I felt the need to do something, say something. I wanted so desperately to be recognized, to be validated. This longing is something i've never felt, it dawned upon me that there really is something missing here in my life. Something I need to change.
"So, how do you guys pick your charities?" one of them asked, refering to our charity token program.
"Oh, um, well you have to bring in proof that you're a organization or nonprofit or whatever, and um, every nine months we all vote on which ones to post..." I said, realizing that this may be my chance to chime in, "I've tried getting some up there before from Santa Fe, like The Mountain Center and like, EQNM...".
They all looked at me blankly, the one in front rolled her eyes and asked who she could actually talk to about it. I felt young and meek and idiotic and also hurt. Could they not see that I was trying to tell them something? That I was desperate for them to ask me how I knew about those places? That im from Santa Fe, I grew up there, I know the people they know, im a part of them?
They left the store and I felt angry at myself. I felt that I had tried too hard to infiltrate their space, at least that's how they made me feel. I have a lot here, I have a plentiful amount of good friends, fun people, lots to do. But I am missing something, and its something that i've failed to fully recognize until now.