Ms. Frazzled, Lesbian Extraordinaire
You may (or may not) have noticed my recent posting gap. This is due to the fact that something other than student teaching has taken over the neurotic, obsessive function of my brain for the past week or so, thus rendering me unable to focus the sort of bonafide-nut attention here that I normally would.
What could possibly be so important, you ask? What on Earth could possibly divert my tunnel vision?
Her name is Amy. And she's way more fun.
And why am I talking about her here, pray tell? Because being a dyke complicates things when you're going to be teaching elementary-aged students, perhaps a bit more than it complicates things in most other professions (save, perhaps, becoming a member of the clergy).
Traditionally, teaching is a rather conservative occupation. I understand that there are huge numbers of progressive, liberal, and queer-friendly teachers and administrators. In fact, I will daresay that there are more of them than there are staunch, inflexible conservative ones. At least, that seems to be the case in my particular area. But, as a whole, teaching is still a conservative profession. Teachers are expected to dress a certain way, behave a certain way, and to serve as role models for young people.
In today's political climate, I don't feel particularly safe disclosing this part of my personal life in a professional setting. In the "real world," I'm so out that it hurts (not me, mind you, but anyone who might be the least bit uncomfortable with it.) Ha. In my professional life, I have never lied, but I don't bring it up in conversation, and I certainly don't have "Ms. Frazzled, Lesbian Extraordinaire" printed on my business cards. Unfortunately, it's a risk.
Over the past several weeks, I have read about two separate instances in two different states of attempts being made to bar gays and lesbians (everybody leaves out the poor bisexuals, transgendered folk, and other queers when they're on their anti-fag crusades, I've noticed) from teaching in public schools. The thought of this is terrifying.
People tend to get a little bent out of shape when comparisons are made between the treatment of queers in today's society and the treatment of the Jews in much of just-pre-Holocaust Germany, but come on now. I'm not expecting to be carted off to the showers anytime soon, and I don't mean to imply that I am. What I do mean to imply, however, is that we are seeing systematic, government-sanctioned and indeed, government-initiated and -sponsored attempts to prevent gays and lesbians from participating in mainstream society. We are prevented from entering into certain legal contracts; our economic interests are being threatened by prejudice; our ideas and our lives are being censored (the recent events in Alabama libraries, anyone?) and touted as "obscenity," and we are forever being blamed and scapegoated for everything that's gone wrong in this country.
Breakdown of traditional marriage? Totally our fault, especially since we can't get married. The moral decay of children? Yep, that's us again. 9/11? Sorry about that. Our very presence tends to incur the wrath of God in the form of religious wackos flying aircraft without authorization. Global warming? Nah, it's not your gas-guzzling, Saudi dick-sucking SUV's, don't worry, and don't stop buying them. It's the goddamn fags and their super-carbondioxide-producing respiratory systems.
So you can see why I'm a tad apprehensive. The last thing I want is some angry asshole's repressed homosexuality to prevent me from using the degree I've busted my ass to earn. I don't want to have to be constantly on the defensive with parents; to be held to a different standard than my colleagues because they're just itching for a legitimate reason to fire me; to be presumed to be a morally bankrupt pedophile because when I go home, I eat dinner and watch crappy television with a beautiful woman instead of a man. It's insanity, and it's getting worse, not better. There's a huge backlash against all of the gains we've made in the past century, and I don't want to put myself in the line of fire any more than necessary.
How do I behave towards students and parents if they see me out with my girlfriend, holding hands? How do I respond to questions about my "husband" or my "boyfriend" (other than simply saying I don't have one)? How do I keep my integrity in a heterosexist, homo-fearful environment?
I feel like if I were going to be a highschool or college instructor, things would be different. I can remember having queer teachers in highschool and in college, and nobody made a big deal out of it. Sure, people snickered in the locker room and were utterly disgusting out of their earshot. I can handle that. But as far as I knew, there was never any real flak with parents or with the administration.
Maybe I'm going to find that my worries are completely ridiculous, and I hope that I do. But I fear for the worst, because I don't like the direction this country is heading. I don't feel safe with the headlines that are swirling around and the attempts that are being made to keep "my kind" away from the precious little children. It gives me creepy-crawlies up my spine. And it makes me absolutely furious.