April 26, 2010

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love San Antonio...Not

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I’m going to miss my Duke/Durham LGBT community this summer. I think my homeland has some potential and it’s nice to have a mission but…

I’ll probably just spend my time doing research and making websites and hanging out with people I already know instead of taking on the gargantuan task of assembling a cohesive LGBT woman-identified community. Though I’ve already broken down my task into manageable parts and sent some e-mails, I still feel sorry that I live in San Antonio and not metropolitan, livable, liberal, "we’re not really part of Texas", Austin (gag me with a fucking spoon.) I could commute one hour plus in horrid traffic to go to the discussion groups at the LGBT youth community center and the hipster lesbian clubs. I probably will just because I’m going to Austin anyway to work with professors at UT. Late-nighting will be difficult since I don’t have any friends who live in Austin (I don't want to repeat the Homeless Challenge.) Making friends in Austin is high on my to-do list.

Even if I volunteer at the few LGBT organizations and art spaces and go to the (male/straight/American Eagle butch dominated) gay clubs in San Antonio I doubt I’ll become a part of a legitimate community or find an acceptable hook-up. This is partly because I have difficulty talking to total strangers and partly because I rarely find someone I want to talk to.

I’m leaving Duke just as I realize that a great lesbian community exists in Durham. I have well-connected friends (ahem Summer.) And I might actually see the women I meet again. Though I’ve lived in San Antonio my whole life I have a paltry LGBT network. I semi-regularly communicate with two queer women. Maybe I fucked up in high school. I spent too much time doing math problems and not enough time getting to know the girls on the softball team. When I got pissed off that no LGBT youth community/resources existed I merely changed my Facebook status.

Now that I’m an anonymous college-age human rather than a wholesome youth I think I would have more options. I can go clubbing all I want but finding a hook-up isn’t as a mechanical, guaranteed process as it is for gay men. When it comes down to it, my desire to build community and serve the LGBT community has always stemmed from my desire for hot women. The more people I meet and the more involved I become, the higher my chances are of meeting a woman who fits my esoteric qualifications (non-white, butch-ish or femme-like, indie, artsy, conventional haircut, internationally-minded, certain piercings, intelligent, tall, fashionable, D&D free.) Though my interest has lusty origins, I can now say that being part of such a community has rewards beyond meeting people to hook-up with. The truth is that the women I’ve hooked up with don’t go to the Center. Some people don't feel the need to be part of the LGBT club. I admire their spontaneity. I can't leave my sex life up to chance. The cholos who used to hit on me on the bus are starting to look good. Maybe I should use this summer to squeeze the gray areas out of myself instead of trying to squeeze the LGBT out of San Antonio.

As I wonder what/who I’m going to do this summer, I can’t help but be bitter that I’m from San Antonio, whose motto is “Keep San Antonio Lame.” Sure, it’s better than being from middle-of-nowhere Iowa, but having to hunt for LGBT shit that’s open to women is getting old. I’ve promised myself that this is the last summer I’ll spend in San Antonio. I don’t care if Harvey Milk told me to “Stay in San Antonio and fight!” He probably never went there himself.

8 comments:

  1. Veronica! Two things I wanted to mention: the first is, I think it's awesome that you're finding so many meaningful interactions with the LGBT community at large as you've gotten more and more involved. And as for your initial interest stemming from the hopes of meeting someone beautiful....I don't think that's abnormal at all. :D In fact, it might be a little weird if you went to a LGBT event and didn't at least have the slightest hope you'd meet someone awesome.

    Secondly, I just wanted to say that I'm totally going to miss you a lot this summer! I've been really lucky to get to know you this year and to have a freshman to look up to as a role model for being out and confident at Duke. I’m still learning from you. Can't wait for you to visit us in Durham this summer!

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  2. It can't really be that bad in San Antonio...Then again, it must be if it's true that, "The cholos who used to hit on me on the bus are starting to look good." Shit, I can't imagine living in a place where that is true. Although, I really like the place I'm from, sometimes I wish I lived in San Antonio. Then again I've never been one to yearn to be a part of an LGBT community and I just really like Girl in a Coma.

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  3. Anonymous: It's all relative. Someone who lives in a border town or a small town near San Antonio might see San Antonio as the big, LGBT friendly city. The fact that this school year I've become a part of a woman-identified LGBT community has changed
    my outlook tremendously. Going somewhere where that doesn't exist feels like a downer. I'm also involved in LGBT activism and I see room for improvement in my hometown.
    Being a woman also changes my outlook. Anything considered "gay" in San Antonio (whether it is a discussion group, club or coffee house) is actually targeted towards men or draws a slightly mixed crowd. Finally, I'm more of an artsy/queer person and San Antonio is no San Fransisco. While I love the art and culture in San Antonio I don't often see it intersecting with LGBT identity. Maybe I'll have to look harder.
    I also love Girl in a Coma- I saw them like 10 times during high school!
    I'm really curious as to where you are from.

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  4. So I know no one will probably read this but I had another thought relating to this same topic:
    One problem I see with the LGBT community in San Antonio is that it's very content in its position. Speak up about San Antonio's ills and someone will quickly try to make it seem like everything's fine. In high school I was too often silenced by people who thought because they were happy and "tolerated" that I had nothing to complain about. People think San Antonio inherently can't be like other big, loud, gay-friendly cities. It can't support a gay district. The community is divided and lacks political clout. The thing is, San Antonio is not a little city where this situation might be understandable. It's peer cities in size are Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, San Diego and Philadelphia. All these cities have basic resources for LGBT people that do not exist in San Antonio. Sure San Antonio might be "fine" if you have a home, education, a community and your health. I think Duke's situation is similar to San Antonio's. People might think that the LGBT experience at Duke is "just fine" because Duke is in the South and not historically known as a gay-friendly university. The thing is Duke's peer institutions are not Baylor and Texas A&M. It attracts students from around the world and it's peer institutions are some of the most progressive in the country.

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  5. I'm a differnt Anonymous btw...

    ok first of all I am from SA. Born raised all my life. And whats so horribly wrong about your blog...is that your just entirely generalizing San Antonio, not to mention stereotyping our lesbian/gay community as well.

    "...(male/straight/American Eagle butch dominated) gay clubs in San Antonio I doubt I’ll become a part of a legitimate community or find an acceptable hook-up"

    First of all NOT every single lesbo couple in SA is "american eagle butch" with a femme under her arm- we are not all like that. San Antonio is a huge city with so many different types of lesbians. Its just that we are obviously not all together in one big happy "community" as u would like us to be (though we do have communities in which most if not all the residents are homos). Don't get me wrong, i'm all for GLBTQ but why must we separate ourselves from the rest of the population??? why must we exist in one community away from the straight people who just don't understand our "ways". Its as if we feel we are better than them...or we feel like we need to hide and just selfishly build each other up with our "gayness"...If you ask me its like pride on steroids...its just gone wayyyy too far.
    The fact is....San Antonio Lesbians or gays don't have a "legitimate community" because we co-exist with every single person-including straight people. We are all around- downtown, southside, northside, eastside westside- We are just everywhere. Hence why we have straight people in our gay clubs...we coexist.
    I think if you were to come to SA you could get your preferred community going. Im sure some people would love to join you. But truth be told we don't need it. We are already connected to one another in our own way. It may not be as political/structured as u like but its something real and genuine. For the record, i want to conclude also by saying that San Antonio is a very unique and culturally complex city. You can't just compare it to San Francisco or Chicago or New York. People here are different from those cites- not better...just different. You can't expect two places to be exactly the same...when the social behaviors/patterns/lifestyles of people are completely different- that's just stupid.
    Bottom line, don't think San Antonio is less of a city just because you have found something/somewhere you prefer. San Antonio is an amazing place to live- and we have some of the hottest homos...u just have to be around :)

    I love Girl in a Coma too They are musical genius lol

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  7. To different anonymous:

    I will admit that I am stereotyping/generalizing the LGBT community in San Antonio. I need to generalize to some extent in order to figure out what broad problems I would like to address.
    The part of my blog you quoted though only describes the people I've met at gay clubs. Of course different kinds of LGBT people exist in San Antonio. It's a big city. I have many friends who defy these stereotypes. Yet I too often see a limited range of people in San Antonio CLUBS. If you are going to argue against my statement you are going to have to give me counter evidence from gay CLUBS. I admit I could explore the club scene in San Antonio more.

    I'm going to agree to disagree with you when it comes to whether or not we should have a separate community. Just keep in mind that many people, especially African-Americans and religious people, desire to be part of an LGBT community because they were rejected by their other communities. It isn't about selfishly building yourself up. It's about not being consumed by depression and loneliness.

    Not everyone feels the need to be part of an LGBT community and that's fine. Just don't be so quick to bash people who find solace in such a community. I have many different friends at Duke and am part of many different groups. Being part of the LGBT community has been very beneficial for my development as a leader. I am now more comfortable pursuing leadership rules outside of the LGBT community.

    To say LGBT people in San Antonio "coexist" with all other people in San Antonio is to be overly generous. I was harassed in school to the point of near-suicide and have done thorough research about violence against LGBT people in San Antonio. A lesbian couple can get arrested for kissing at a mall!

    The problem with not being connected in a more structured and political way is that basic resources cannot be attained. I see basic resources like LGBT friendly homeless shelters and support for LGBT youth in foster care as far more important than the existence of a gay district. You don't seem to see the connection between having clout in San Antonio and the well-being of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community.

    I'm confused. It seems to be that you're saying because of San Antonio's behaviors/patterns/lifestyles that art about the LGBT experience cannot exist. That's sad. This is exactly the kind of attitude that I'm against. You seem to think that there's something inherently "different" about San Antonio to where art about LGBT people will never be as common as in San Fransisco, Chicago and New York. I don't expect San Antonio's culture to be just like the culture anywhere. I clearly expressed that I love San Antonio's rich culture. And there's a way to integrate the LGBT perspective into the ART produced in San Antonio without compromising its unique culture. I have actually seen a couple of LGBT related art events in San Antonio, just not as many as I would have liked. One poetry reading for pride incorporated San Antonio's rich Hispanic culture very well. Another play at Jump-Start Theater was from the point of view of a Southern gay man.

    I am in San Antonio right now. Maybe we can meet and chat?

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  8. I know I've already written a lot but I'd like to clarify one thing.
    I think you and I have different ideas of what "community" entails. By community I don't mean one area of town where all the LGBT people live. I also don't mean that LGBT people need to limit their social lives to only being with other LGBT people. By community I mean one social group out of many in a person's life where a person feel's completely understood, accepted and supported. LGBT communities are great for people who are just coming-out, feeling isolated, struggling with family issues...you get the idea. It isn't about being permanently separated from non-LGBT people. I'd like to start a discussion group for LGBT youth so that youth who feel alone can meet each other in a supportive, non-sexual environment. I was the only out lesbian at my Catholic high school. I know what it feels like to be alone.

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