I’m a woman. A dyke. Foreign (even in the United Kingdom, where now I’m often thought to be Canadian). A cripple. In today’s parlance, I suffer a lot of intersectional micro-aggression: the constant insult, mostly unintentional but damaging nonetheless, the unthinking words and attitudes scraping along my hull below the waterline. Most of us in oppressed groups tend to seek out our own kind as a matter of survival; people like us offer us a mirror, a place to belong and be understood. Shelter from the cold.
I’m the only expat lesbian cripple I know. It gets lonely.
Being out my whole life — even when I was four I knew I would not marry a man; actually falling in love with a woman when I was 15 was just a detail — meant I never had anywhere to hide. Queer was the only minority I knew without grants, government departments or liaisons, laws, schools, or families of origin who understood how hard it is, and whose mission was your encouragement and support. I felt isolated, alone. I’ve no doubt you did, too. Many of us do.
So I understand why you might not have wanted to be out in the early 20th century. Being out was hard. It cost a lot.
NICOLA GRIFFITH The Women You Didn’t See: A Letter to Alice Sheldon. Los Angeles Review of Books. July 9, 2015.
Photo: Cobalt Review