“Tomboy, tomboy, you’re not a real girl, we don’t wanna play with you.”
It started young on the playground, the taunting. I didn’t much mind, oddly enough, I wasn’t offended by being called a tomboy. I liked being a tomboy and didn’t want to be one of the girls. I knew then that I didn’t fit into the social expressions and learned behaviours of the female gender, but not because I was trans identified, I wasn’t. I just didn’t care for being “girly.”
However when kids call girls “tomboy” it’s with a negative slant and it wasn’t like, “tomboy pride,” or “let’s celebrate your difference.” No. But I was a tomboy and being a tomboy felt right. That said, I didn’t like being left out, what I wanted was friendship, to play, belong. I didn’t like being excluded because I was a tomboy. I was strong, fast and had a big heart, but I had to grow up quickly because it wasn’t long after that I was living on my own as a teen and the stuff of childhood had to be put aside in order to survive in the world.
Now I’m adult. Now I’m a lesbian and love being a lesbian. I never felt ashamed of it. The film, television and theatre community did not embrace it however.
“Why don’t you grow your hair, put on more make-up, wear a skirt?” These are the questions I heard over and over again, and no matter how good my auditions may have been, often the response to inquiry and follow up would be, “They wanted to go with another type.”
I knew what it meant, I still do. Not much has changed.
We have a society steeped in heterosexuality and heterosexual privilege, that writes for the dominant culture, that doesn’t think about difference or diversity in ways that reflect the larger culture. This would probably be true for most communities and races, with the white, heterosexual, able bodied culture controlling the arts, funding, policies, producers, directors, screenwriters and storytellers.
I can’t go to my government or to people with power because they don’t really care what I/we go through or what my/our experiences are.
It’s the same experience in many ways as the childhood playground- the workforce.
But what I know is that I am a strong person with a strong spirit and a commitment to human rights, equity, art and story telling. Perhaps it’s why I wanted a blog, to build a voice, to tell more stories, to connect to a larger community of like minded folks or even people who may not be like minded but are open to sharing and learning, opening and expanding collective ideas.
We are strong people and some of us deeply care about equity and working hard to achieve social and political gains so that our lives can be better and so that the next generation can grow up without the same level of hatred and violence simply because of who we/they are.
I’m not sure when playground bullies, educators or bosses or political leaders will change or wake up. I’m not sure when enough will be enough, or how loud our voices have to be or how many children and adolescents will kill themselves before we actively change the way we behave and treat each other, but I do know that there is a large chorus of us who do care, who have been there and who are willing to be here in all the ways that we can, through writing, teaching, advocating, marching, drawing, making movies, and opening our doors and hearts to those who need it.
It isn’t enough to say, “it gets better” but it’s a start. We need more reflections of queer stories and of queer people in all the arts. We need a massive shift in consciousness, in who gets to tell the stories, who has the power. We need the pendulum to swing away from white, heterosexual, and toward a diverse reflection of real populations, of multiple populations.