I’m Cheering You On…From Over Here

As an introvert with unmedicated anxiety, my desire to be supportive of friends and family can be somewhat less than what I’d like depending on the day.

On my best days, I can show up. Physically. In person. When my batteries are fully charged and my anxiety is either low-tide or manageable, I can actually be there for my people. Yes, I am capable of pushing myself for really important events when I’m not feeling my best, but I honestly try to make myself social interaction ready prior to those events. This means as much alone time as I can beforehand along with having my anxiety coping methods at the ready.

However, I can’t always do that. I work in a customer service job. Even part time, I can’t always successfully recharge my batteries. My anxiety can prevent it. Or my depression if it’s acting up.

So, sometimes -most times, too many times- I don’t show up. Not in the physical form.

Most of the time my support comes in a less full-bodied form. Text messages, emails, likes, favorites, retweets, memes, cards. It’s not ideal, I know. But sometimes it’s all I have the energy to do. I want you know that I’m thinking of you, that I support you, that I’m proud of you. Those little gestures are the best I can do and they’re the ones I end up doing the most.

And even with the easiest of these gestures I can still struggle because of my anxiety.

As I’ve mentioned before, my anxiety’s favorite thing to tell me is that people do not like me and do not want to hear from me. This applies to my closest friends and even my family. I have to psych myself up sometimes to text my own sister. Crazy, right? Yes, I am.

There are times, when I do not respond to social media posts even though I want to because I feel like that’s for the best. That my support would best be expressed with a like or a favorite or a share or a retweet rather than an actual verbally communicated interaction because I don’t want to be too familiar and/or bug anybody. And yes, this applies to people I’ve known for years and that I’m related to. I quite frequently backspace.

You’re welcome.

I’m lackluster in a lot of ways. My best is rarely good enough. But I do try. And I do care about the people in my world.

Believe me when I say that I’m cheering you all on.

But from over here.

There’s a Weight Limit on That

“I love it when girls wear white shorts.” Not if those shorts show off some cellulite. Then the best come on you can muster is a cow noise as you walk behind her.

“I love it when a girl eats.” Not if she’s got some meat on her bones and some rolls in her bakery. Then you have nothing but concern for her health that you spit out as snide comments.

“I love a girl in yoga pants.” Not if that pants size is in the double digits. Then she just looks like a slob because we all know she doesn’t actually do yoga, am I right?

When I hear comments like these which remark on a woman’s appearance (which are almost always made by a man), I automatically add the asterisk to it. Because there’s a weight limit on that comment, a footnote on it about the exceptions.

Because there are always exceptions.

Now of course these are generalized comments so they’re not necessarily supposed to include everyone. Most people are just speaking from their own attractions and I suppose there’s no harm in that. But when you take a closer look at the exclusions that apply to those statements, you start to see a pattern.

You see the weight limit.

Even people who claim to be body positive will put that kind of asterisk on their declarations.

“People can wear whatever they want.” “But are you sure you really want to wear that?”

“People can eat whatever they want.” “But are you sure you really want to eat that? All of it?”

These asterisks are so internalized that we don’t even notice them. It’s not something anyone has to say out loud. It’s just automatically understood that these statements don’t apply to those of us over the max weight. And, yes, we even apply those asterisks to ourselves.

These terms and conditions are established by society and just by being born into it, we click accept. Not that we would probably read them anyway. But they are pretty insidious. We agree to look a certain way and be a certain way. And when we violate those terms, we get removed from the privileges the agreement provides us. No seconds for us. Not without further consequences.

Sometimes I feel the urge to call out these comments. To point out the weight limit and watch the scramble to defend or justify or dismiss it. “You’re too sensitive!” Do you not see all of the asterisks spilling out of your mouth? They’re covering the floor like jacks. Have you ever stepped on a jack?! You’d be feeling sensitive, too. Downright sore, even. That shit is harmful.

People don’t like to be called to the carpet over things like that, the internalized bits of societal rhetoric that they blindly adhere too without questioning. They don’t like to think about the harm that they’ve been inflicting on others -or on themselves. They don’t like to take responsibility for a wrong they didn’t realize they were committing.

And that’s why their scales tip when I wear the white shorts.

Max weight indeed.

Sending Out Good Writerly Vibes Into the Universe

Last month I submitted two pieces to two different contests. One was a 500 word story for a 500 word story contest. I revised a flash fiction piece I’d written during NaNo called “Haunted House”. It was originally over 1,000 words and kind of garbage. I cut it in half and I think that made a better story out of it.

The other piece was a poem that I submitted to Writer’s Digest’s Annual Story Competition. I’ve submitted all sorts of pieces to this contest over the years and I’ve place twice: 10th for genre short story and 5th for script. I’m really looking to reclaim my glory of placing second in a state poetry contest back when I was a sophomore in high school.

I wanted to submit an essay for this contest (it has a variety of categories), but it just didn’t work out for me. That’s something I need more practice on.

I was also going to submit a non-genre short story to another short story contest, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I think the story is fine, but I just have no confidence in my non-genre stories. I’m not a literary writer by any means and my few journeys into that territory have been less than stellar. That story -while not bad in my opinion- will never see the light of day.

To be honest, I don’t have the highest of hopes for either of my entries. I like them both and I think they’re good, but I’m not sure that they’re good enough, you know? But winning wasn’t the main point of me submitting to those contests anyway (thought it would be super swell if I did, don’t get me wrong).

I did it to cultivate good writerly vibes and to send those vibes out into the Universe.

I know how stupid that sounds. But as someone who’s been struggling to write consistently, let alone anything of quality, submitting something -anything- to anywhere is an act of defiance against the issues I’ve had. It’s an offering to the writer gods to show them that I’m still serious about this business, even though I haven’t been as enthusiastic or productive as I’ve been in the past.

It’s about putting those good vibes that I cultivate when I’m working on a piece and I hit that sweet spot groove that I yearn for out into the world and hope that I’m repaid in kind.

It’s an act of faith, in a way. That if I can submit something I’ve written to a contest today, then I can submit something else to an anthology or a magazine tomorrow. It’s a reminder to myself and to the Universe that I’m still game for this even on the days that I doubt myself the most.

It’s just another part of the craft that requires practice. Putting myself and my work out there, valuing my work enough to put it out there, requires repeated attempts until I get it right. Because eventually, I’ll be rewarded.

In the meantime, it’ll be worth the contest entry fees.

I Cannot Absorb Anymore Bad, Thank You

There are times when everything is bad. The whole world is bad. The news is nothing but bad. The personal circumstances of existence are bad. The pettiest of petties are bad. The smallest, most insignificant things are bad.

And it is in those times that my psyche sponge cannot absorb anymore and I have to be done for a while. I need to ring out, dry out, so I can once again face the bad of my continued existence.

On those days, I opt out.

“But, Christin!” you cry, “that’s a privileged thing to do!”

You know what, fine. I don’t care. I claim my privilege to opt out for a day or two when I can no longer wade through the shit that floods this reality. As someone who is no stranger to unaliving thoughts, I prefer not to actively court hopelessness. And sometimes, I need to step away for a breath or two of fresh air to do that.

It is not wise to expect me (or anyone else) to be able to function like the world is not heavy during the moments that the world is actually crushing us. Sometimes it’s all too much –knowing is too much, feeling is too much, being is too much- and quite frankly, I’d much rather lie of the floor and hope to become one with the carpet. How am I supposed to go to work when the world’s on fire? How am I supposed to look forward to anything when my rights are being taken away? When other people’s rights are being taken away? How am I supposed to carry on like everything is normal when it’s not? How am I supposed to be a good little cog in the capitalist machine when I absolutely don’t want to turn because the turning is pointless? How in the fuck am I supposed to continue when I know that the people who could actually make a difference in all of this have absolutely no interest in doing so and it’s somehow my fault that they don’t because I didn’t vote hard enough or something?

“Christin, you’re being dramatic!”

Well, call me a theatrical bitch then. Because sometimes it feels like that. Sometimes it is like that. I know that I’m not exempt and I resent the fact there’s anything to be exempt from. It’s quite frankly bullshit and whoever is in charge needs to fix it. But they won’t. We all know they won’t. They have too much to gain and keep hold of by not fixing things. By letting the status quo remain and soothingly cooing to us that it’s actually fine, situation normal.

I would love to give the bigger picture the finger and get lost in the minutiae of life. To go through life acting as though none of it will touch me. That it doesn’t pertain to me.

But it does. I’m aware of it and I can’t stop being aware of it.

I can only hope to tune it out for a bit periodically so I can ring myself out.

Because there’s always more bad for me to absorb.

I Struggle with the Object Permanence of Myself

“I saw this and thought of you.”

This combination of words presented in this form never fails to fill me with terror.

There are two reasons for this. The first is triggered by my anxiety. I frequently see things that remind me of the humans inhabiting my little world, but I don’t tell them that or purchase the things that I see to give to said thought of person because my anxiety tells me, quite insistently, that these people do not want that. They do not want to know that I think of them. They’d rather I not think of them at all, thank you.

To have someone tell me “I saw this and thought of you” reminds me that my brain does not work in that same, unencumbered way. I immediately feel guilty because I have thought of them and never mentioned it. Or, I haven’t thought of them recently. I’m sorry! I’ve been thinking of others. But I swear I’ve thought of you before! Really! I do think of you! I just don’t say anything!

And that’s my hang-up, not theirs. I try to be better, but there’s only so much I can do while living wildly unmedicated.

Which brings me to the second reason I find myself paralyzed with fear when someone said, “I saw this and thought of you.”

Why are you thinking of me?

I am baffled by the concept of my own object permanence. The idea that I exist to other people when I’m not in their direct line of sight. Or sometimes, even then. Once when I was a junior in high school, I was accused of skipping study hall. The teacher didn’t call roll, only looked at her seating chart. That day she decided that my seat was empty despite the fact that I was indeed very much so there and though I was smaller in high school than I am now, I was rocking pre-breast reduction H-cups. I was hard to miss, and yet. Luckily, another much more popular student vouched for me, even though I’m pretty sure he only did so as a way to insult another guy in the classroom (thanks anyway, Jeff), but I still had to go down to the office and prove my existence.

Being overlooked became so common place that invisibility has become my superpower. I don’t expect to be seen. It’s always startling when I am.

So, imagine my surprise when someone thinks of me when I’m not even there.

Talk about stupefied.

My first impulse is always to ask them why. I don’t because that would be rude, but I want to.

Since I’m frequently unseen, it stands to reason that I would also be out of sight, out of mind. I just figure that I cease to exist once I’m out of the eye line. Obviously I know that I continue to exist. I’m not that kind of off-kilter (anymore). But there’s a sort of block in my thinking that allows me to accept that other people know that I continue to exist when I’m not in their presence. It doesn’t occur to me that I’d ever occur to anyone else.

I just cannot picture someone whom I haven’t seen in a few years, walking down an aisle in a store or browsing online and seeing something and thinking, “Hey! This reminds me of Christin!” And yet it has in fact happened. More than once even.

As someone as self-absorbed as I am, and as someone as so into my own head as I am, so much so that I sometimes have difficulty seeing beyond myself (probably another reason I don’t think of other people the way I’m supposed to), I am more than real to me, yet I still fancy myself some kind of ghost. I am the phantom that you only catch a fleeting glimpse of before I disappear, and you decide I was only a trick of the light and forget about me forever. Or at least until the next time you catch sight of me. I think of myself as the reality of a baby’s peek-a-boo game. Like a baby, I don’t understand that I don’t disappear when you can’t see me. I still exist outside of myself.

But the peek-a-boo pros know how the game works. I’m a person that they know, someone that they don’t always see, but who occupies a space in their world even if it’s not physical.

And sometimes they reach out to remind me that I’m still real.

Do I Want Them or Do I Want To Be Them? A Bi Conundrum

The common belief about those of us who are bisexual is that we’re confused. People think that that the bi+ identity isn’t truly valid because really, we just need to pick a side. This is merely a way for us to safely explore our sexuality before settling on being straight or gay. It’s a pervasive thought not only in the straight community, but in the queer community as well.

And while this is emphatically not true (even if some folks do make a pit stop on their way to the label they feel most comfortable with), I will admit that some of us are confused. But not in the way you might think.

Sometimes when it comes to attraction, it can be difficult to discern why we’re attracted to someone. Is it because we want them? Or because we want to be them?

I’ll give you an example.

Kirsten Vangsness is one of my long-time crushes. She’s beautiful, she has a fab style, she’s funny, she’s talented, and she’s the sweetest thing this side of peach pie. How could I not make total heart eyes in her direction? I’m full on chin in hand, wistful sighing over here. She’s a dream.

But there have been times that I’ve questioned this pointless crush. As I said, Kirsten has fab style. It’s fun and funky and sassy and whimsical. And I’ll be honest, I wish I could rock it like she does. Not to mention, she’s wicked talented with her acting and her writing. I’m a little jealous, really.

So, I have periodically asked myself, “Am I really crushing on Kirsten Vangsness? Or do I just wish I was her?”

These are the kinds of questions I find myself asking as a bi+ woman:

“Do I really think she has a great butt? Or do I wish I had a butt like that?”

“Do I really want to touch her boobs? Or do I wish my boobs were that touchable?”

“Do I really think she’s hot? Or do I just want that outfit?”

“Am I really that into her? Or is this just a Single White Female situation in the making?”

And because I’m me, this sort of questioning doesn’t even apply solely to other women I find attractive. I’ll have this sort of crisis with guys I find attractive, too.

“Do I think he’s cute? Or do I just want that necklace?”

“Do I want to bang him? Or do I just want that shirt?”

“Do I think he’s funny? Or do I just want to steal his jokes?”

“Do I really think he’s perfect? Or do I just wish I were that cool?”

These are the sorts of questions I end up asking myself. It’s a constant process to suss out the true source of my attraction. And I’m willing to admit that sometimes the answer to all of the questions is yes.

Sometimes I do want to be with them AND be them.

Which is a different kind of conundrum.

But, baby, I’m still bi.

Stop Infringing On My Right To Be Cranky

Blame it on hormones, my brain’s inability to chemical correctly, or getting up on the wrong side of the bed, but sometimes I’m just cranky.

And you know what? That’s okay.

Make no mistake. I’m not a fan of being cranky. I don’t like existing in the realm in which my senses are heightened to the extent that I can hear you scratching your arm across the room and it makes me want to puncture my eardrums and then you. I don’t like having days in which everything, without fail, pisses me the fuck off.

But I have made peace with the fact that I will have those days. And I need you to accept that, too.

I try very hard not to take my crankiness out on others. This is why more people are not walking around punctured. I try to regulate my words and my eye rolls and my heavy sighs and my tone. I do not always succeed. Sometimes I snap at people despite my best efforts. Even though I am cranky, I try to keep that to myself. My crankiness should be no one’s hang-up but mine.

However.

There seems to be a miscommunication here. People tend to conflate my attempts to not expose them to my crankiness as an invitation to exacerbate it. And then get mad when I whip the shit out of them with my last nerve.

When I encounter someone in my life who is cranky, I leave them alone. Their crankiness has nothing to do with me. Even if it’s only perceived on my part, I’m going to err on the side of caution and give that person some space. Because I don’t want to make their mood worse.

I find it baffling that not everyone feels this way.

I may try to keep my crankiness to myself as much as possible, but even on the days I warn people of my crankiness, to let them know to steer clear, they steer closer. And then get angry with me when I fail to keep my mood in check for their benefit.

There’s this odd idea that unpleasant emotions are not to be had. That people are not entitled to have bad days or off days or just be plain ol’ cranky. That anything that makes a person less accessible is unfair and offensive. That to be in anyway off-putting is a crime, even if only for a day. People insist upon that accessibility from others no matter what their mood or mental state, but then get uptight when people insist upon that same accessibility from them during their cranky days. The same people I leave alone are the ones who pester the shit out of me. And then act shocked when I finally snap at them.

That’s the really wild part of all of this. I can expressly state that I’m in a mood and it would be in everyone’s best interest to leave me alone until the black clouds pass. Yet, when that warning is ignored and that boundary violated, feelings get hurt and I’m the one in the wrong.

But being cranky is my right.

Writer’s Procrastination

It’s a well-known gag: a writer will clean their whole house to put off writing. And like any good joke, there’s a nugget of truth in there. It’s the getting started that can be the hardest part.

Some writers say it’s the intimidation of staring at the blank screen. That blinking cursor taunting them, daring them to type the first word.

For me, I think it’s my fear of commitment.

Once I start writing something, I can’t stop. I can’t quit until I’m finished. And I don’t mean that I have to write the whole thing in one go. I mean that I don’t quit on a piece until I get to the end, no matter how much I don’t like it or don’t want to write it. Even if I know that I’m not going to do anything with it. I have to finish it.

This has a tendency to make me hesitant to start. Do I want to commit to this idea? Is it good enough to carry me all the way? Or is this thing going to die halfway through and I’m going to have drag its corpse across the finish line? All valid questions, sure, but they make me put off starting, sometimes until it’s too late. The idea goes stale or the deadline passes and I never get a word down.

This fear of commitment has been complicated by my recent struggles with my writing. I already flail when it comes to starting a piece; the lack of productivity is just kissing a papercut with salt chapstick.

I’ve even been having trouble with my blog posts. Getting started or in some cases, finishing them. I’ll get off to a strong start and for whatever reason I have to finish it later, which will be my undoing. Starting where I left off should be easy, but instead I find myself procrastinating. I can’t bring myself to start writing even though I technically already started.

It’s a strange, frustrating thing.

Especially when I know that all I have to do is start. If I just get that first sentence out, the magic will happen. I know that. But the harder I try, the more I resist. It’s almost like a panic response. I sit down to get started on a piece and I turn into a Muppet flailing in the forest. Or a middle age woman playing endless games of solitaire and constantly checking Twitter until I give up.

I’ve only been revising things lately, which has helped with my productivity, but that reprieve won’t last. And as much as I like doing NaNo, I’d like to be able to write productively outside of the month of November.

There are several ideas that I’d like to be working on right now. Ideas that have been sitting in the fore of my brain for a couple of months. They are right there, ready to go.

I just have to get started.

Nothing Happens in a Small Town–Murder Edition

When my library director first pitched the idea of doing a library podcast, one thing she definitely wanted to include was local history and she handed me the folder on a dynamite story to kick the off the podcast: the only known public hanging in my county, which happened in 1882.

The Patsy Devine Case remains one of the more popular episodes because everybody loves some true crime and a good, ol’ fashioned hanging. The next local history episode I did was The Courthouse Murder. This 1855 case had everything: a bitter rivalry, an amputation, chloroform, one of the first uses of the insanity defense, and an all-star prosecution team that included future president Abraham Lincoln. He, along with his presidential opponent Stephen A. Douglas, also defended the first man accused of murder in my town way back in 1840.

As it turns out, for a period of time, my little town was quite the murder capital.

I’m currently working on not one, but two murders of police chiefs that occurred within three years of each other. It was something I stumbled upon while researching our most corrupt mayor (which was a fun one) as he was a witness to the second chief’s murder. It was while reading that article that I found out that the second murdered chief was present at the first murdered chief’s killing and was appointed chief as a result. It was like a murderception and I eagerly descended down that rabbit hole.

Which led to an article featuring a list of murders that occurred over a 60 year period between 1855 and 1915.

Oh yeah. My tiny town was Wild Westing it back in the day.

The list includes:

-A shooting in 1864 that I haven’t found details of yet, but I know the guy posted bond at the pre-trial which was held in a different town for reasons.

-A double homicide in 1896 in which the 24 year old husband shot his wife (who’d filed for divorce) and mother-in-law in the yard with a shotgun before running down the railroad track and attempting to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. Unfortunately for him, the cow catcher did its job and yeeted him off the tracks very much alive and under arrest.

-A man who was shot and killed in a Christmas Day poker room squabble in a saloon in a neighboring town in 1899. The victim’s name is the same as that of a man who stabbed the postmaster to death in my town’s post office during the Civil War, but I’ve yet to find any connections between them.

-Another bar fight in 1901 saw a 40 year old man kill another man by hitting him over the head with a beer bottle. The man pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced by the same judge who later presided over the murder trial of the second police chief’s killer.

-Because men have always been delicate creatures unable to cope with rejection, a man shot and killed a woman he mistook for the woman who’d turned down his marriage proposal in 1906.

-In August of that same year, a dispute between a 60 year old man and a 53 year old man over chickens, access to a well, and insulting one man’s wife ended when the husband of the insulted wife shot the offending man. The killer was found not guilty by reason of self-defense as the victim was allegedly beating him with a bucket at the time of the shooting.

-To continue with the theme of men old enough to know better getting uptight about farm animals, a 60 year old man shot and killed a 68 year old man in July of 1909 because the horse the victim had been pasturing in a vacant lot next to killer’s house had been eating the man’s sunflowers. The argument that ensued was escalated when the sunflower owner’s wife got involved and the victim called her “a goddamn liar”. The man was later arrested by the first police chief who would be murdered almost exactly a year later.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t wall-to-wall homicides back in the day, but it’s still pretty significant for a small town that was even smaller then than it is now. Growing up here where the default is that nothing happens, it’s wild to think that back in the day folks were shooting each other over horses eating sunflowers and chickens getting into flowerbeds and insulted wives. That’s something that happens somewhere else, even in the long, long ago.

But it all happened right here.

In fact, those murdered police chiefs both died within blocks of where I live right now.

Hey, just because nothing happens in a small town now doesn’t it mean it wasn’t happening then.

Your Career Queer Auntie’s Guide to Life

“I don’t know what I’d do if my kid came out as gay/lesbian/queer/non-binary/trans.”

Good news! As your Career Queer Auntie, I’m here to help! I have decades of experience as both an auntie and a bi+ woman. I’m the person you come to when you have questions about life, and somehow gender and sexuality have become a specialty. If I don’t know the answer, I can find it for you.

So let me help you out when it comes to dealing with a queer kid.

My main job as an auntie is to guide my niblings through life. I accept them for who they are and show them how to navigate the world as themselves. My job is to learn them up, not change them or judge them. Which means I answer their questions honestly. Age appropriately, of course, but honestly.

Because I can do that as an auntie. I have that privilege. Because I don’t have the hang-ups that parents have. I don’t have to worry about what the neighbors think or how I’m paying for college or making them clean their rooms or whether or not they can eat ice cream for breakfast or whether or not they’ll live up to the ideals and expectations I have for them. I’m free of all of that.

It’s that last part that gives me a unique perspective. Because these young things are not genetic off-shoots of myself, I have no skin in the society achievement game. I don’t have to worry about any missed milestones. I can focus on the kids’ happiness. That’s my main concern. Their happiness and their safety.

So here’s how to love your hypothetical queer kids like a Career Queer Auntie.

1- Respect the journey. Because it is a journey. Not everyone is blessed with an automatic knowing of who they are. And the coming out isn’t necessarily the end of their journey. For some it’s the public start. What feels right -or close- then might change later as the kid matures, grows, acquires experiences.

One common misconception about bisexuals is that we haven’t chosen a team yet. This is based in some reality because many people initially come out as bisexual only to later identify as gay or lesbian. Part of that is because the insistence of the heterosexual norm which leads people to cling to the idea that they’re attracted to the opposite sex when they’re not.

But this sort of thing also happens with the enforcement of a gender binary and the idea that sex is solely biological. That sets people up for a trip to find out identifiers that work for them.

Be prepared to go on that journey with them.

2- Use their pronouns. It is amazing how many people have such difficulty with this when it’s really the easiest thing in the world to do. It feels like an affront to have a child tell an adult who they are and request they be addressed as such. Especially if you’re the adult responsible for their existence. It feels like a violation of the power dynamic.

Well, get over yourself.

Showing a kid respect costs you nothing and is worth everything to them. A sincere effort to use their pronouns, to correct yourself without complaint, and to correct others can mean the difference to a kid struggling to establish their identity.

3- Call them by the names they want to be called by. Second verse, same as the first. It’s another easy thing that adults can do, but absolutely resist. Especially if you’re the adult that gave the kid their name in the first place. But if a name is tied to an identity, it makes sense for a person to pick their own. Even the allo cis hets are entitled to that.

4- Understand that it’s not one-size fits all. Not every trans person feels the need to have transitions surgery. Not every non-binary person is androgynous or uses they/them pronouns. Not every gay guy is effeminate. Not every lesbian is butch. Not every asexual is sex averse. Not every bisexual is 50/50 in their attraction. And so on. And so on. Just like there are all kinds of allo cis het people, there are all kinds of queer people. Don’t expect the kid -any kid- to fit in a box. Those labels are for them to express and identify themselves. Not for you to find another way to dictate their existence.

5- Educate yourself. You could say that a lot of my own education was acquired during my own journey as a bi+ woman, but I didn’t stop there with my education. To be the most supportive auntie I can be, I have to keep myself in the loop.

Do not put the burden of your ignorance on the kid. They can inform you about their experience, but that broader knowledge base that you’re looking for to help better your understanding needs to be acquired on your own. There are plenty of reliable online resources that can help.

6- Your understanding is not a condition of acceptance. You don’t have to completely understand the specifics of a kid’s identity to accept it. My go-to example for this is furries. I do not get it, cannot process it. But guess what? So long as everybody is consenting and happy, I’m cool with it. I will honor your fursona. Because it’s not about me.

You don’t have to understand non-binary to accept a non-binary kid and use their pronouns and name. Because it’s not about you.

And that’s really the core to loving your kids like a Career Queer Auntie. Understanding that it’s not about you.

Now take all of these guidelines to loving your hypothetical queer kid and apply them to your real queer kid. Then apply them to all queer kids. States are passing laws like “Don’t Say Gay” and barring healthcare for trans kids under the guise of protecting the children, but really it’s because it makes these grown ass bigots feel uncomfortable. These laws will not make kids straight or cis.

It will make them dead.

And that’s the point.

Your ultimate job -as a parent, as an uncle/auntie/untie/auncle, as an adult, as a human being- is to make those kids -all kids- feel safe.

Because the world won’t.