The sun comes out, but it is cold in this small town in Indiana named Portland. Not as cold as Minnesota, and it is odd to hear complaints of the cold from the people here. To complain about the ice and dreariness would be a more realistic gripe.
It is cold here in terms of the weather, but it is cold in a different sort of way also. The Hoosier hospitality would seem to underscore a niceness that one should find pleasant. But even with that Hoosier hospitality, one such as myself would still know that I am not welcomed here-not my female strength and not my lesbian identity.
It is not a cold like in a big city–like Chicago, which I have passed through a few times in the past month or so, or Minneapolis, where I live. In fact, often I feel a warmth in those cities because I know I can be different, for the most part. No, the cold here makes me avert my eyes. Never out of fear of danger from the outside, but danger from the inside. I feel my body and its history of having grown up in religion and farmland. That is when I know my body has rebelled from those traditions and rebelled so angrily that the stares coming my way from the people here let me know I don’t belong here.
It is cold because I am angry. I am angry I grew up in a similar environment where my femaleness was dirtied and my gay identity went to a deep place of hiding. I am angry that a movie theater full of people can in unison express disgust for a brief showing of two men holding hands, conveying very clearly that they can’t imagine something so foreign as gays or lesbians sitting in the same audience as themselves.
I am angry that I feel the female inferiority and the male superiority that I knew on my own father’s farm–a farm that was never considered to be mine. Farms go to boys, never girls. I even knew that at an early age.
I feel cold… a cold that the warmer weather can’t decrease. A cold that reminds me that the unfreezing of homophobia is as far away as the 800 miles that I am from home.
(1997, Feb. 5 – 18). Indiana Cold. [Personal essay]. The Minnesota Women’s Press, 12, (23), 4.
Copyright 1997 by Susan Miranda. All rights reserved. No part of this writing may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder. For reprint permission, email firstname.lastname@example.org.