Toronto
3 min

Joining Facebook

I have been writing for Xtra since 2001. Over the past 10 years, I have had four different editors, two long-term relationships, five employers, one sweet child of my own, four diagnoses, four buildings I’ve called home, four bikes, one break-down, five clinical depressions, 60 haircuts, one hormone test, four pap smears, two failed facial piercings, 60 hours of electrolysis, more than a hundred hours of therapy, one civil marriage ceremony, two bathhouse appearances, barely a handful of joints and alcoholic drinks, zero G-spot orgasms, three weddings and five funerals, three gender journeys and one sexual revolution. It has been a long, complicated, tumultuous decade, much of which I would chase from my head if I could like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My mind is anything but spotless, and the sun in my sky has definitely not been eternal, but it does persist.
 
There is a banner on the OPSEU building across from Wellesley Station on which an African proverb is written: “For however long the night, the dawn will break.” It is a good piece of wisdom to remember, now six months into my beautiful niece’s three-month terminal cancer diagnosis, two months into group therapy, a year after Andrea and I had our first real conversation about being “monogamish.”
 
My first resolution for the new year is to join Facebook. Facebook accounts for “one in every seven minutes spent online around the world,” according to msnbc.com. Most of my online minutes are spent on Outlook, iTunes and the Toronto Star’s website. I figure almost 35 percent of my waking life is spent in front of a computer because I have to be there for work, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend much more time there by choice. But the real reason I have held out this long on Facebook in particular is the fear of having no friend requests, the fear of having nothing to say and no pictures to post that anyone would want to click on. I have also held out because of an irrational desire to stay separated from the social world, which both validates and adds to the loneliness I perpetually feel. I am afraid that the purpose of joining Facebook (social connection, I assume) will go right over my head, and I will end up feeling even less connected than I already do by adding a slew of meaningless links in my on-line life. Of course there is also resistance to being found by people from high school, from grade school, from old workplaces, old co-op placements, old volunteer engagements, old sports teams. Sometimes I feel like the world, both real and virtual, is full of landmines that threaten to derail my emotional stability, my functionality, my Keep Calm and Carry On. I think I have always seen the world as a somewhat hostile place, as a lot of queer people do for a host of good reasons. A lot of us self-reject to spare ourselves the possibility of external rejection, and I have forgotten my own name so many times I no longer know who I am in a lot of contexts.
 
Over the years I have received a lot of feedback about my Xtra articles from queer women, gay men, straight people, closeted people, trans people, young people, old people, other writers, strangers in bars, strangers in lineups, friends, exes and remote family members. It has mostly been positive, save the online feedback, which, from what I’ve seen, has been largely, often aggressively, negative. I am overwhelmingly grateful to have been given this space to share many, many intimate pieces of my life. It has often been my lifeline to the queer community when my daily life didn’t allow for it. When my job, mental health, self-esteem, whatever, got in the way of having real conversations with other queer people, this has been my one-way conversation, silent dialogue, my online presence and my public personality. In some ways this has been who I am entirely to a lot of people, entrenched and yet always one step removed from feeling truly a part of this or any community.
 
It takes courage for some of us to look people in the eye, especially, for me, the people with whom I most closely identify: gender-queers, trans people on the masculine spectrum, the dying breed of butch lesbians. I avoid people like me, because I am afraid they will see me, really see me, and I will be exposed for the insecure, obsessive, jealous, depressed, inhibited and struggling person I so often am. The irony is that it is those same people who also tend to see the thoughtful, creative, interesting, honest, funny person I can be, too. My resolution for this coming year is to become a more active part of the communities I best relate to, starting with Facebook in January, and on from there. Evidence has shown that the dawn will break over and over for me, and I am hoping 2012 will be an especially bright new day.