miercuri, 23 februarie 2011

Someone in between?

I haven’t lived in Moldova all my life, but I have been here many times though – first out of pure curiosity, then to visit my friends and to do university research. Even if my former stays never exceeded the period of one month, I feel I have achieved to grow a bit into the culture. At the time of writing this article, I have been living here for four months.

In my previous stays the question of my sexual orientation never came up. Obviously the question is of a very personal nature and from as far as I know Moldavian society by now, this is not a proper standard question to ask. Besides, in my previous stays I was in a relationship with a man or, respectively, I had recently broken up with him. So the consequent reasoning from an outsider’s point of view, was that everything was just usual and I was a “normal” woman.

Apart from the fact maybe that being 24 years old I should be thinking about marrying, settling down, getting a house and happily reproducing…

From the beginning of my volunteer service in October 2010 until now, these matters have been at least a weekly topic and a dear concern to my colleagues at my volunteer project. Curious about my general reluctance to marriage and concerned about that fact, they have asked me many questions and I have answered them all – but not beyond what they had asked. Or in other words: I didn’t make a sign and tacked my bisexuality on my forehead.

Besides, my opinion about marriage and my opinions about sexual orientation are two different topics.

In about December 2010 I heard about GenderDoc-M and got interested in it. In order to be able to go to the library I had to ask to leave work earlier a couple of times – and from the moment on that I explained the reason, I started to arouse curiosity. Even more so when I decided to leave my second volunteer project (La Strada) and changed to GenderDoc-M. Then Valentine’s Day and the moment of the Kiss-In came.

Two days after the event I went back to my project for the first time after almost a week of not being there. When I entered my boss’ office, where I as a volunteer also have access to a computer and a place to put my things, two other collegues were having a chat with my boss. Immediately their attention focused on me and one of them told me, accompanied by bowing assent of the other, that she had seen me on the TV again, this time on the evening news that covered the Kiss In. What I was doing there, she asked, and why did I do what I did. I sensed that she had some trouble asking these questions, yet her curiousity drove her to overcome the hesitation. I think it helped her to leave out the essential words of the question and I decided to do her that favour and answered: “I kissed a girl, because I like girls.” I didn’t have much chance to say more after that, as she and the other collegue left the room.

Having a coffee with one of my friends the other week, she asked me why I didn’t tell my bisexual interests to my colleagues earlier. My answer is: “because they didn’t ask”. In all the questions they asked me earlier, they didn’t even tackle the topic.

I think the need to formulate questions by yourself is a very important step towards understanding, especially when a person gives a voice to a silenced topic for the first time. It needs to be their interest and they need to use the words on their own.

Sexual orientation is not a character trait. When a person is asked to present herself/himself, we expect informations about likes and dislikes, siblings and career, hobbies and dreams. When asked to present myself, to me it would never occur to present my sexual identity or sexual orientation. Imagining a person “revealing” to his or her listeners “I am a heterosexual” seems funny to me, as for the majority of people this is considered nothing spectacular, but “normal”. Or we can substitute the word “normal” with “ordinary” or “commonly assumed and accepted”. And therefore it makes no difference who the person is. (I assume though, that many people are not familiar with the word heterosexual, while they know the word homosexual.) And while it makes no difference, I have often observed that homo- or bisexuality does. I don’t want to imply this, maybe I am just too sensitized to that topic. But it seems to me that from the point that non-heterosexuality is disclosed, all the common stereotypes about lesbians or gays are placed on this person and this person’s behavior, resulting in remarks such as “oh, that’s so gay” or “you would never have thought he is gay”…or everything between these two extremes. I recently came across a clip on youtube were a girl made the statement at the end of a conversation “well, at least I am not gay”. And that really pissed me.

So, while heterosexuality is hardly ever used to describe, characterize or differentiate a person, every variant form of sexuality is. It is used to other[1] that person.

In one of the articles published about the Kiss-In quotes me saying that I chose Valentines’s Day for the Kiss-In to make something happen that might shock somebody. A little shock is a good way to arouse a discussion and push some people to the edge of their comfort zone… This effect worked both ways for me. While believing in this little “shock” therapy, we are all also humans with feelings – and it affected me, when the people with who I worked with for four months, all of a sudden see me as different person and treat me with reservation.

I am taking my time to think and to feel about it. And I think they also need the time to think about it. As I will be here another three months, I hope the awkward feeling that is in the air now will dissolve through conversations and understanding. And I don’t think it is too utopic to aspire that.

For me it is a challenging opportunity to grow. I have experienced being different as a result of my decisions in various ways… like being Vegan, or refusing to wear shoes for three months straight… I haven’t yet really experienced a situation when someone else has come to the decision that I am different.

It is a “difference” on a different level – and I can’t but put the word in inverted commas, because it is a created difference – an artificial difference.

Before I came to live and work in the Republic of Moldova, I had lived in another capital for three years and especially in the last year of my stay there, I was involved in various kinds of political activism. One of my passions was the activist Samba Band “Rhythms of Resistance”[2]. In the summer of 2010 we played on the lgbt-Pride in Budapest. On the way back in the car a lesbian band member told me: “When I became a member of RoR, on the first rehearsals I kinda tried to check out the people there, you know… finding out who is straight and who isn’t… and with almost every assumption I was wrong. These people there were all simply too fucking open-minded.”

This is what I wish for, that – to borrow her words one more time – more and more people get so f*cking open-minded that sexual identidy and sexual orientation doesn’t matter anymore, moreover that it is seen as an enrichment!

[1] Othering describes the process of creating and distinguishing an image of oneself by classifying people with different attributes or features as different.
[2] Rhythms of Resistance (RoR) is an activist anticapitalist transnational network, using samba as a form of political action. They use tactical frivolity, inspired by carnival, to confront and critique systems of domination and directly support everybody struggling against exploitation, discrimination and oppression. (http://www.rhythms-of-resistance.org)

5 comentarii:

Anonim spunea...

Who knows... may be, one fine day, moldovans will become simply open-minded. That will be enough.

Anonim spunea...

:) that would be a great step, and luckily many are on the way

Vlad spunea...

and believe me, u're the happy one, Flor dear..

other would have had expirienced a much worse situation, but they still handled it. am actually happy that they let u continue your activity, it means they they're growin' too, well.. little by little.

it just takes time, this is all..

Val spunea...

It will be great if someday for the people in Moldova will not matter anymore the sexual orientation, no one will want to ask or to know if you are gay or bisex or hetero, and no one will be surprised to find that you are gay or something different than hetero. That will be the true acceptance, when all the difference will not matter anymore, and everyone will be able to be who they are without any fear :)

Anton spunea...

As a person who lives on two continents, still most of the time in the USA, I am flabergasted by the fact that religion plays a very negative role on both continents. The more religious a person is, the more homophobic he or she is.
Nevertheless deep-down the Romanian and Moldavian societies would not be as homophobic as they are right now without some external "help".
Moldova has received the visit of some of the most hateful Americans like Cameron and the Narth people. It has received homophobic born-again preachers like Erik Brewer. In the same time no well known homosexuals have come to discuss this issue! In a way the situation borders the Ugandan case, where Christian preachers have determined a societal shift towards aggressive homophobia.

This is why I think being out would be very reccomended for a peson like you. The local population has to understand that homosexuals are not devils as the Christian denominations in both countries are presenting the case.
I can add that even in the USA, in the South or Midwest where I live right now things are not rosy and I can hear hateful messages every Sunday in Churches. Mostly I hear the well-known hypocritical statement that "god loves the sinners but hates the sin", which is identical in nature with the former communist statement that we have to "treat" the Christians for their "illness" and make "good citizens" out of them!

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