At every facilitation we write the name of our blog down in hopes that people will come and read what we have to say. I know that there are people who wrote down the web address and now actually check out our blog on a fairly regular basis. So to those people and of course the rest of my class, I’d like to get your opinion on something. How do you feel about ‘passing’?
Recently, the idea of ‘passing’ has seeped it’s way all up and through my life. Prior to recently, I had only encountered ‘passing’ when it came to Trans folk. I think, maybe, I had read a not too well written article on how the goal of all Trans individuals was to ‘pass’ once and that’s about all the experience I had with the verb. In one of my other classes we studied Ballroom/Drag culture and watched the documentary Paris Is Burning (amazing, by the way). In their world, you’re judged on your ability to ‘pass’; you receive all sorts of praise and honors and trophies if you can ‘pass’. I had only ever thought of ‘passing’ in correlation with gender/gender expression. It wasn’t until this weekend that I saw ‘passing’ in a different light and really understood the meaning behind it.
So I spent the weekend in quite possibly the most suburban surroundings imaginable, a little league tournament in Round Rock. And not just any little league tournament either, but a state wide little league tournament…meaning these parents and their kids we’re basically professional suburbanites. I knew going in that it would be like that, but my little cousin was playing and I had promised him I’d come watch a game. To an extent I’m used to toning ‘it’ down around my family, you know ‘it’…my being a lesbian and having thoughts and ideas and opinions about the world, especially cookie cutter-esque worlds. But this weekend I had to go so much farther than toning ‘it’ down, I had to ‘pass’. For the sake of not myself but my aunt and uncle and cousin who live in this world I had to ‘pass’ as the perfect hetero niece. It had nothing to do with gender just about needing for that time to be something you’re not. In case you were concerned, I ‘passed’ well…turns out I can be quite the convincing heterosexual when the time calls for it.
I’ve become so accustom to being out and generally expressing myself in those terms. I think being out about your sexuality is one of the most powerful things you can do in terms of activism. I saw Dustin Lance Black (he wrote the screenplay for Milk and is now rather active in the political realm) speak last semester on campus and he said that when people ask him how can they start to help the “gay rights movement” he always tells them to come out. I really took that to hurt and worked on building being out into my personality so that even the cashier at Starbucks could say “oh cool, a lesbian!” However at that baseball game, out was the last thing I wanted to be and it was necessary to ‘pass’ and a hide a bit of who I am. I’m almost ashamed to admit it but in an effort to lift some of that shame I wanted to blog about it here and get others opinions. This is where I want to know, what does it mean to you ‘to pass’? How do you feel about the idea of ‘passing’? Where does passing fit into your ideology of being out?