Identity

October 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm (Navel Gazing)

Asian American. Buddhist. Queer. Woman.

More specifically:  Japanese-American. Jodo-Shin Buddhist. Butch with Femme tendencies.

I’m a 4th generation Japanese American. My father was born in an internment camp during World War II, my mother is a baby boomer whose father was drafted into and served with the 442nd. I come from farming families on both sides, blue collar with a bit of education thrown in to make many of my generation college graduates who work 9 to 5 jobs sitting behind a desk. I played basketball in a Japanese youth league until high school, did book reports on works written by Japanese American authors about Japanese American issues (lots and lots of Yoshiko Uchida’s books. I loved them), thought it was important for all my friends to know about Hiroshima and about the 442nd.

I also grew up in a household where there was no fighting. It was forbidden by my father. He didn’t like yelling, arguing, hitting, etc. So my brother and I didn’t fight. If I got mad I went to my room. If my parents got mad, my dad left the house and my mom slammed lots of cabinet doors and stomped through the halls. Passive aggressive behavior was the norm. I didn’t realize that people could argue and still like each other. I was very agreeable all through high school because I thought that if I had a different opinion I’d lose my friends. That didn’t really change until a few years ago. I’ve had to overcome the passive-aggressive behavior and with a few people I’m no longer afraid to express my opinions.

When I came out, I thought I had to fit into some sort of “I’m a big old dyke” kind of persona. I cut my hair to make it easier to identify myself on the outside with who I thought I was on the inside. And I looked horrible with short hair. So now I’m a butchy type lesbian with long layered hair, usually in a pony tail. I wear mostly mens clothing but on occasion have been known to wear a dress or a skirt. But I always have a hard time finding shoes that are appropriate to wear with them. So I’m definitely more comfortable in my cargo shorts and t-shirts. When I weigh more, the t-shirts are baggy and the shorts are way oversized. Lately the shirts have gotten a little more fitted though. I love having painted toenails but my fingernails are always filed down short. I have a love affair going with my pointy tweezers and my eyebrows are usually well groomed, as are my upper lip and sideburns. I don’t know if I classify myself as really butch anymore but I’m definitely not femme. Or a girly girl. Somewhere between, I suppose.

What does it all mean? Not sure what it means to other people, but I’m gradually becoming ok with who I am. Sure, I’d like to be skinnier, more successful, and taller, but I’ll settle for being semi-comfortable in my current skin.

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