Let me say at the outset that I have the utmost respect for the LGBTQ community.
I have seen too many lives destroyed by issues surrounding sexuality, gender and identity not to have the utmost sympathy for those who struggle and face prejudice and hatred every day of their lives.
The lack of empathy with those who are different from the norm is truly terrifying, particularly in government. How can anyone profess to being Christian when they ignore the basic tenet of that religion? It’s simple: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving of one another” (Ephesians 4:32). Irrespective of whether you believe in God, how hard can that be?
But the LGBTQ’s growing inclusiveness is rather hijacking the alphabet; and so, before the movement takes up any more letters than the near quarter they have already monopolized, I want to draw attention to a hitherto little discussed group to which I belong: SOFMI. Straight Old Female Minuscule Immigrant.
I feel a march and a placard coming on – albeit currently a march and a placard with a supporter of one.
But give me time. Who knows, I might even take more letters as the popularity of my movement grows. Perhaps, A (I am very Ambitious – not something people particularly warm to in women); P (people like Poor even less); S (Sexy – okay, I’m lying a bit now, but you have to grab these letters while they’re available and before the LGBTQ alphabet-jumpers steal any more).
I find myself in a minority in just about every area of my life these days. News headlines are dominated by those whose voices have previously been denied – and that’s how it should be; life is hard enough negotiating buying a pint of milk (try standing in line in Food Emporium on Friday nights), without having to argue the case for simply being who you want to be.
However, that doesn’t prevent my feeling constantly out of the loop, in no small part due to living in a country that is more foreign to me than France (where I lived for seven years). Britain and the USA: “two nations separated by a common language – attributed to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, sometimes both. So, let’s go through my minority status letter by letter.
1. S. I am straight. Nearly everyone I know is gay. I’ve lived in Soho in London, West Hollywood in LA and now reside in Hell’s Kitchen in New York’s Manhattan. If you’re not familiar with these areas, just think Liza Minnelli meets Liberace meets Sarah Paulson/Ellen De Generes (fill in the gaps with any living lesbian for these two). I love my gay (mostly male) friends, but gosh, they like their drama. I try to subtly suggest that maybe they’d be happier if they didn’t end every night stressed/crying/hitting each other, went home and just watched Netflix with a pizza.
2. O. Old. It seems I am officially old now. Days away from my 60th birthday, my phone does not stop ringing with people trying to ease my journey to the grave. “My name is Carol and you are on a recorded line. We notice you are of an age when you will need hearing aids and we . . . ” “PARDON?” Yep, just for the hell of it. Stair lift sales people have also started bombarding me. “My name is Jim and you are on a recorded line. We notice you are of an age when you will be having a lot of falls . . . ” You bet. Because I keep going to the bar to get over the stress of your harassment.
3. F. Female. Yes, I am. I was born with female genitals, to which I have become particularly attached over the years. Apart from a brief time in my childhood when I identified with an imaginary character called André (my own invention – he was rather terrific, actually), I am and have always identified as a girl/woman. I know, I know, it’s weird, but there it is. I don’t want to be referred to as “them” because there is only one of me; in fact, I’d prefer “it,” which at least is grammatically accurate.
4. M. Minuscule. Yes, I am a small person. I am only five feet tall and, on most days, weigh between 112 and 117 lbs. You have no idea how that isolates me from the rest of American society. I don’t hold coffee cups on the street; I don’t share my lunch on corners with rodents and large birds. Call me old-fashioned, but I have things called plates, knives and forks in my apartment. And, heaven forbid, a dining table to put them on. Did you know, by the way that Americans eat 20% of their meals in cars? I don’t even have a car, so I’m going to add C for Carless to my list (watch out, LGBTQ, I’m coming for your letters!).
5. I. Immigrant. Yes, I am. I came to the USA through official channels, qualifying as an Alien of Exceptional Ability. That’s a minority, too, by the way (*smug expression*), as is Alien of Exceptional Ability with a National Interest Waiver (*smug broadens*). The former explains itself, although my Master’s Degree was a huge plus (actors, incidentally, are Aliens of Extraordinary Ability – okay, it’s a rung down – just sayin’). The latter meant that I could be here without a job, so long as I could prove myself to be of some benefit (it can be economic, cultural, social etc., but the goalposts are constantly changing).
6. Carless. I just added that. Ha! That’s another letter you can’t kidnap, LGBTQ!
The truth is, though, I’m okay with it: minority or majority status. I’m grateful to be alive; let’s be honest, so many aren’t. People say, with ageing, that they wish they’d known ‘then’ what they know ‘now.’
I’m the opposite. I am so glad that I lived (and still live) the fun and the laughter; that I endured heartbreak and job loss; enjoyed heady years with no commitment to property; that I smiled, cried and came through it all to be living in New York, which I regard as the greatest city in the world.
I’m just human, but I was always on my way to you, New York.
In the lyrics of Cody Johnson:
All the boats I’ve missed
All the hell I’ve caused
All the lips I’ve kissed
All the love I’ve lost
I thank God for that
I guess he always knew
I was on my way to you
And to quote that other great lyricist, Bernie Taupin: I’m still standing.
Stair lift sales people, take note.