Host, Teddy Partridge:
Abby Dees has written a wonderful compendium of questions, with recommended phrasing, about being queer. Have you held off asking your loved one who’s come out to you, whether recently or years ago, something you really want to know? Let’s face it, in modern American culture, we are constantly bombarded by sexual imagery, sexually suggestive advertising, sexual innuendo in our humor and comedy, sex, sex, sex — all the time SEX! But — we’re as prudish as anyone on the planet when it comes to actually talking about sex, and anything to do with sex.
And sexual orientation, at its very heart, has to do with sex. Sure, we’re not defined by sex, and we’re not defined by our sexuality. We don’t want to be pigeonholed or discriminated against based on our sexuality. We don’t want to talk about our sex, or our sexual orientation, all the time. But we want to be respected for it, we want it acknowledged (that’s what all those parades were about last month, in case you missed the point of them!) and we want those closest to us to be able to talk with us about who we are.
But, “Ask me anything!” is too often followed by, “Ummmmm….”
Folks who need to know what and how to ask their lesbian, gay, and bisexual loved ones will find Abby Dees’ handy guidebook friendly, compassionate, helpful and funny. It’s not meant to ANSWER any of your questions; it’s meant to help you ask them. It’s a way to start a conversation about any LBG subject you really want to ask about, without fearing (or getting!) a reaction like “How could you ask me such a thing!?”
I asked Bev Wright, FDL’s Book Salon guru, to get Abby Dees for an afternoon as soon as I read about this book. There are lots of decent, well-meaning straight folks here at Firedoglake who want to ask questions but are sometimes constrained by their desire not to inadvertently offend. Abby Dees helps frame the questions — the entire discussion, sometimes — in a way that makes conversation flow freely and happily. Most of all, she recognizes that communication builds alliances. As a minority, LesBiGay people (her construction; not my favorite, but I got used to it) need all the allies we can get. Taking questions is how to build alliances.
One note: Abby Dees admits up front that her lack of knowledge of transgender life makes her unqualified to include the -T part of our alliance in her book; thus LesBiGay. I find it refreshing that an author admits she can’t speak for everyone; her plea that someone write a companion volume for transgender people is eloquent and, I hope, soon met.
Another note: Abby Dees isn’t afraid to talk about sex. Or frame questions for you about sex. She, unlike some of our political activists who ask that we downplay our sex, is willing to acknowledge — even celebrate — the role sex plays in sexual orientation. As she writes, “Duh.”
Here’s an extended quote from the author that makes the point:
In other words, LesBiGays aren’t just all about the sex. A more thoughtful response is that sex does in fact matter. I didn’t fall for my partner because of her cooking skills and the insurance benefits I could get through her work — though those are very nice — I fell for her because she was attractive to me. She was beautiful, had great thick hair, a perfect nose, a keen sense of humor, and a lovely smell. She also had a nice rack. There, I said it. She does.
Abby Dees provides a helpful list of resources at the end of her book as well as a place to continue the conversation: www.QueerQuestionsStraightTalk.com. For now, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to chat with her here about this terrific book.
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]