A T a l e O f C o m i n g O u t
Yesterday I posted a version of this picture to both my personal and professional social media. Then I deleted it. Then posted it again. This time I left it. But I wondered if it was ok. I wondered if it would be misinterpreted. I wondered how I wanted it to be interpreted. What did it mean to me?
Yesterday was National Coming Out day, and Indigenous Peoples’ day before that. I am often late to the party, so to speak. And though I am typically quite vocal online, I said nor shared anything which outwardly acknowledged either day. I thought intensely about both though as I navigated the delicate situation which demanded my more immediate attention in real life.
But then I took that photo. I was alone in the grow dome on my father’s property. I’d been sitting for tea by myself, getting still and quiet as I journeyed within, contemplating the emotions that had moved through me since arriving in this tender place that once felt like home. The atmosphere was balmy in the dome, despite the chill of the mountain air, just beyond its walls. I have always loved it in there. It is warm and moist and smells like earth. The vitality of the plants is palpable. And so I took this photo. And I loved how it came out. It seemed to me, to accurately communicate a feeling which I’ve tried to capture, through both words and images with limited success. It is a feeling which has guided many of the most precious and meaningful moments of my life. It is, simply, the love that lives in and through my body, both for and as this Earth.
I am someone who is aroused by the scent of soil, the sight of petals spreading wide in invitation, beckoning to the bees who will drink in their nectar, and collect their powder-fine pollen as a devotion to life itself. I am someone who is aroused by the breeze playing in my hair, the touch of feather and flower against my skin, the sensation of the Earth cool and solid beneath my feet. Sharp teeth and strong arms. Soft lips and the scratch of hair on bare cheeks, bare breasts. Thunder. Birdsong. Dawn.
I bought a greeting card at a garage sale many years ago, depicting a luscious seventies bombshell of a woman. The card read– How Dare You Assume I’m Straight? Twenty-two at the time, I felt affirmed by this image and sentiment. I walk through this world with many privileges, and it is my intention to be come increasingly aware of and responsible to these privileges — one of which is that I am largely perceived as a straight cis woman. I do identify as a woman and the pro-nouns she and hers suit me just fine. However, straight I am not. Though many of the people I have taken as my lovers are male-bodied and male-identified, many of them are not. I do not subscribe to or support any definition of gender that does not make space for self identification. I do not believe in defining my sexuality or yours in relation to what mainstream Western culture defines as normal.
When I posted this photograph online yesterday, it felt deeply beautiful and true to me. But then again, so have many things in my life that I have done or said or shared, which I have later been shamed for, punished for. To me, this image feels no more suggestive than fruit ripening in late Summer, flowers unfurling their petals as the warmth of the sun falls upon them. But then, I find these things, and so much of life, to be totally and completely infused with eros. And I am a part of all of that and so are you, and I would not change it.
I self identify as queer, which means to me that I love and am aroused by many people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. To me this means, I am capable of loving and sharing intimacy with more than one of these people at a time — sometimes separately, sometimes all together. But more than that, for me, being queer means that all of life, all of the natural world, excites me and stimulates my sense of eros. I have made love with roots as I dug them from the hillsides, with wild waters as they caressed my body in hot springs and oceans, with the stars overhead as they spoke to me of the ancient Love we’ve always shared and always will. My heart belongs to Nature herself, my body to the Earth.
And all of this overlaps with the indigenous spirit and self which persist within me. I am not indigenous to this continent, nor were any of the ancestors in my bloodline to my knowledge. Because of this, nearly every interaction I have with this Land is colored by a strange blend of gratitude, wonder, shame, remorse, and longing. It is my prayer that this Land, and all Lands taken by force, will be returned to those First Peoples who cared for and honored them so graciously, and who continue to do so to this day. And though this is not the land of the people from whom I descend in this life time, my Spirit has lived here before and is deeply recognized by this place. So I cannot claim this land as my own, nor do I wish to, but it has surely claimed me. For just today, I spoke with the ancient Aspens as they guided me back toward my true North. I sang and prayed alongside the mountain stream as the sunlight played on its waters. I offered the blood of my womb to the ancient stones and listened close to what the Autumn leaves had to tell. I gently coaxed Autumn roots from the fertile Earth, and watched for meaning when a red fox crossed my path. This is to say, we all hold within us, a marrow-deep memory of how to be a part of this world, of how to bless each place with our presence and our prayer. We all come from people who knew how to walk in a good way and it is up to each of us to remember this now and to help those around us remember as well.
I believe in honoring those indigenous persons who still live in the ways of their ancestors. I believe in acknowledging their sovereignty and their right to steward this land as they see fit. And I also believe that it has never been more crucial that we all take responsibility for getting curious about and rediscovering the indigenous spirit which dwells within each of us. I will help you and I hope you will help me too.
May we all feel both inner and outer permission to love who we love, how we want to love them, without fear, without apology. May we honor this Earth and ourselves not only through ceremony but through every act of daily living. May we all feel safe and seen in this world, as the creatures of prayer and of blessing that we are at our core.
Thank you. I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me.