Saturday I went to this K. party (K. is my school's LGBT student organization), and I had a funny encounter. One guy S. whom I know from K. introduced me to his friend R. The context, as I soon realized, was a bit like this (written from the perspective of S.): well, this is my friend R., and he actually wants to join Kaleidoscope, but he's too shy, so maybe you can talk to him a bit and break the ice and make him more confident in joining (or simply coming to our activities, without necessarily joining.)
So when I say my name (J.), R. reacts like: "O, I know you, I read your postings on this online forum! " The online forum he is referring to is of our university, and we had long debates there when we first started setting up K. We used it to help promote the first meetings, but we also had long and heated debates, first about the reasons for our initiative, then about the situation of gays and lesbians in society, and about our framework to evaluate society, etc. I did express strong opinions on that forum , especially in response to some opinions which stated that our environment is actually so open-minded and "tolerant" that there is no need for specific LGBT organizing, and that if we nevertheless do it, we are responsible for creating divisions, etc. Something like that. I think I wrote about those discussions before, in my other journal entry, and I'm not going to repeat it. Just the imprtant thing here is that I expressed strong opinions, and that I wrote about my political views and was critical about the society in which we live.
Back to that conversation at the party. Recognizing me as the person who had written these comments, R. told me:
"O my God, I can't believe this is you. I imagined you completely different!"
I urged him to explain more. It turned out that somehow he had imagined me to be blonde, short and "well-proportioned", as he put it. (And I happen to be tall, dark-haired and flat-chested.) But beyond that, he also said :
"well, on the forum you seemed angry, and really dissatisfied, and bitter.... and now, you are kind, and friendly and happy"
This is what I still have to laugh about. I found it very flattering that I appeared kind and happy and friendly. But I still absolutely agree with what I posted on this forum, so I guess that makes me still angry and dissatisfied. I also thought it was kind of weird/funny that after doing small-talk with me for not even 2 minutes, he seemed to know that I was happy and kind and apparently that was a contrast to angry. I AM ANGRY AND KIND! I AM HAPPY AND DISSATISFIED. After each other, or simultaneously. I definitely disagreew with him that if I am angry and dissatisfied with some things (how could any reasonable person not be?), that therefore I cannot enjoy myself at a party, and be friendly and confident and relaxed. Maybe I liked that encounter so much because it made me think that I can do both. It's just that he did not quite realize this. (I mean, I am not always a good smalll-talkers at parties, and often when I am in bigger groups I find it hard not to be at the margins of it, not to be overlooked. It depends a lot on the group, of course, but I just mean that being called nice and friendly and kind -- maybe he even said charming - is not something which I can take for granted. My leading role in this whole K. business has certainly given me a lot of confidence.
I of course also thought that maybe it is his stereotypes, that if women have strong opinions and if they are critical, then it means that they must be bitter and would not be friendly small-talkers at a party.
So in any case, that was a nice start of the party. We then continued a discussion about transgender. He was arguing that by being inclusive of transgender people and communicating this to the outside world by calling ourselves "lgbt' organization, we are alienating straight people, whose acceptance (in his opinion) seemed the highest good for which we should strive. In his view, one should first fight for the acceptance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and once that is achieved, we could fight for the acceptance of transgender. I of course disagreed, but I could not really convince him, I'm afraid. He even said that the T in our name was part of the reasons for his reluctance to become a member. I thought that was sad.
The party still had a very nice ending because I met a fantistic woman. We won't see each other again for half a year now, though, because she is travelling. but thinking of her puts a smile on my face, and I won't type out the story now, because it is too beautifully delicate. more for dreaming than for writing down.