29 May 2013
I Love You
When gay people fall in love it’s pretty much the same experience as when straight people fall in love. You know the feelings: euphoria, lots of energy, a little bit “high,” you think about that person all the time, and it’s mixed with anxiety about whether it will last or not, or wondering about what the person thinks of you. It’s a roller coaster ride and it’s intoxicating. When you’re in love with someone, being together seems like the most natural thing in the world, like it was meant to be.
I think that it’s hard for straight people to fully understand the struggle that many gay people have in reconciling the exhilarating and precious experience of falling in love with the hostile messages in our society. I often turn to language in my art as a kind of testimony of what is. The language we use can tell us so much about ourselves. The words in this piece are all words that have been used to describe homosexuals in the past 50 years or so. And there are plenty more. I just chose a few that I’ve heard and considered.
When I fell in love with my first girlfriend, I knew without a doubt that it was love. I had all the symptoms. But it was 1974, and I had no language to describe the fact that we were two girls. I looked for language and what I found was so harsh and unappealing. I didn’t like the word lesbian. It sounded like something from a medical dictionary. And the other words were slurs. So we didn’t describe ourselves as anything other than ourselves -- two people who loved each other. And we hid. That’s what you do when you expect that people will hate you or worse for who you are.
I'm not going to argue that these words are so-called hate speech. I’ll leave that to the lawyers and politicians to handle. But these words express prejudice. And prejudice separates us from love.
I love you.