Have you ever had a friend who is just so much cooler than you are? I do, her name is Riot. Shortly after I met her she nicknamed me Disco Biscuit and as a case in point I actually had to google that when she first did. I’d never heard the term before. I started out being Riot’s fangirl when I heard her DJ at Burn2 but since then we’ve formed a quirky friendship that’s opened my eyes to an entirely new world.
In addition to being an SL DJ, Riot is a real world DJ, is active in electronic music festivals, makes her own performance costumes, writes songs, plays in a band, is a notorious punster and is probably THE biggest Blade Runner fan that ever lived. I’ve started to look forward to Sunday evenings when I can ask how she spent her weekend. It’s usually something like this:
Me: Heya Riot, how was your weekend.
Riot: Pretty quiet, I fire danced on the beach until sunrise and then a bunch of hippies crashed at my house. How about you?
Me: Well, I got a good deal on a family pack of chicken thighs at the grocery store.
In addition to living vicariously through Riot, I’m a little envious sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine being anything other than a close to middle age soccer mom, but there are so many things that I’ve never done and probably never will do so I enjoy the glimpses into what seems like such an exotic life that my friendship with Riot gives me.
There really is only one thing I can do that she can’t. Get married.
You see, Riot is non binary or as she prefers, gender queer.
When she first told me this my eyes widened. To me, queer is not really a nice word, not something you are supposed to call people so I was a bit shocked but she’s been explaining it to me. Gender queer, or non binary, means that Riot doesn’t see herself as a gender, and as an extension of that doesn’t really have a sexual orientation that fits the traditional definitions. If straight means you are attracted to the opposite sex, and gay means you are attracted to the same sex, and bi means both, where do you fit if you don’t identify as a gender?
I don’t know the answers to that, but I’m trying to learn. When I read that it’s polite to ask what gender pronoun a person prefers I was mortified and quickly asked Riot what I should use. I’d been using she/her since we started our friendship. She laughed at me and said that was fine. It takes a lot more than that to offend her, and of course it would, she’s the most laid back person I know and has probably had to deal with things I would never understand.
It’s been eye opening to me how much of our world, even our virtual world, is really rooted in gender. Even something as simple as buying shoes, there are women’s shoes, and then there are men’s shoes. Though I’m trying, I can’t imagine what life must be like for those that have to constantly pause and think about gender for everything they do up to and including which public restroom they should use. It takes a kind of strength that I can only be in awe of.
Through some fluke of genetic chemistry I was born with a physical body that matches the traditional gender roles that I identify with on the inside. Additionally, I’m sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. I can take no credit for this, it just happened, but for some reason it means that in many countries I have the right to marry and anyone who wasn’t born with all those boxes checked, doesn’t.
I have no idea if Riot ever wants to get married, though I’m certain whatever sci-fi inspired wedding gown tux she would create would be spectacular, but the point is she should have the option. She’s no less capable of loving than I am, in fact I’d argue that she’s capable of loving on a far grander and less restrictive scale than many of us are.
I’m participating in the Stand 4 Love campaign because love has no gender and neither should marriage.
For as much as I love to celebrate the differences that Riot and I might have, the contrasts between our lives, I hope for the day when the right to marry any person we chose isn’t one of them.
You can read more about the Stand 4 Love campaign here
And see the hundreds of other photo contributions here