Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin
queerbychoice

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An Open Letter to My Uncle Neil

Dear Uncle Neil,

aesiron pointed out to me the Straight Dope messageboard thread about me that I see you stumbled onto, and recognized me from, and left the following comment in:
OMG ... I know the author of the referenced LJ and website IRL. And since she's writing under a pseudonym, I don't want to say anything here that might somehow identify her, but ....

Despite her statements that she "decided" to be gay, I find it much easier to believe that she discovered the existence of a deeply repressed side of her personality, and her "decision" was really only to accept that.
Um, because as my uncle, you're really in any sort of position whatsoever to be able to know better than me the history of my sexual attractions? Where exactly does this grand expertise of yours come from? It certainly can't come from personal acquaintance with me, because in my entire life I've had a grand total of - let's count them together now, shall we? - zero conversations informing any of my aunts or uncles, including you, about any attraction I've ever felt in my entire life. And it certainly can't come from book reading, because even the briefest glance at these photographs of my bookshelves - which despite all your apparently huge personal acquaintance with me, you've never even seen in person once - would reveal that I've read at least 40 times as many books about the development of sexual preference as you have, and probably infinitely more than that, because it wouldn't surprise me if you've read a grand total of zero. Since you are apparently so very interested in considering yourself an expert on this subject, for Christmas this year shall I buy you copies of Vera Whisman's Queer by Choice: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Politics of Identity or Jonathan Ned Katz's The Invention of Heterosexuality or Esther Newton's Margaret Mead Made Me Gay or Bert Archer's The End of Gay and the Death of Heterosexuality or any of several dozen other books that come to mind that could help increase your knowledge in this area?

Tell me, what on earth is it that you could possibly have had to add to add to that thread if only you weren't apparently politely restraining yourself because you "don't want to say anything here that might somehow identify" me? You threw that little sentence in as though if only you were free to say it, you knew some sort of private information that would magically prove I was really born queer. So tell me, what on earth is it? My full name? What on earth would that add to the discussion? Were you planning to reveal that I had suspiciously dykey short hair when I was born, and for the first couple of years of my life until it had time to grow out, like, you know, most babies? Or do you know something about my relatives that I don't, that they bizarrely were more eager to tell to a heterosexual like you than to me? Because let's see, my parents and your parents both seem very happily heterosexually married, so what family members does that leave who might be secretly queer? Is it you? Why have you only ever been seen dating women, then? Deeply repressing a side of your own personality, are you? Wait, I know what it is . . . it's the fact that your father traced our family tree all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and everybody knows they were plenty queer. So it does run in the family! And the families of every other human being on earth, too, if you trace them back twenty centuries. In fact, considering that you and my mother have approximately 200 first cousins, it's statistically utterly bizarre that none of them are apparently known to be queer. Just to keep up with the average occurrence of queerness in society in general, 20 of them should be queer! If you're so confident that queerness runs in our family, why is our family unnaturally lacking in queers?

Apparently you believe it's possible for me to "deeply repress" my "true" sexual preference so thoroughly that I couldn't even detect the slightest trace of it myself, but that you on the other hand can magically figure out what my "true" sexual preference really was. Let us consider the implications of this for your sexual preference. Have you ever considered the possibility that you've spent the past four decades "deeply repressing" your own true queer nature? Are you aware that there are plenty of people who do consider themselves heterosexuals well into middle age, and then go on to become quite excellent leaders of the queer community - for example, the writer Adrienne Rich? Having worked as a naturalist, perhaps you are aware that humans' nearest primate relatives exhibit a distinct tendency to all engage in sex with both sexes? Or should I lend you my books by Frans de Waal and Bruce Bagemihl so you can read up on it? Tell me, has it ever even vaguely occurred to you that maybe without all the institutionalized heterosexism we grow up around, humans might act a lot more like, say, our closest primate relatives? Tell me, Uncle Neil, why do all the so-called heterosexuals on earth keep "deeply repressing" their queer potential??? Kindly remember that two can play at this game of going around asserting to the entire Internet that we know our family members' true sexual preferences better than they know them themselves.

On the plus side, however, I can now greatly sympathize with my mother for having to grow up with such an arrogantly presumptuous bratty little brother as you.

Sincerely,
Cynthia
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