back in October i was contacted by an esperantist from Madagascar who’d just come to my city for a year as part of a scholarship program. we arranged to meetup at a restaurant and ended up talking about random shit for literally 4 hours, which was great because it’d been a while since my not-that-social ass had talked to anyone in Esperanto offline, but damn. she is so talkative and i’m… not the most talkative person. anyway, i never intended to come out to her or anything, but i also had no intention of actively avoiding it either and yeah. how it ended up happening and how things have gone so far has been vaguely interesting, so commence word vomit.
(ĉi tiu blogaĵo estas anglalingva, sed mi esperantigos ĝin se iu tion deziras.)
that night when we’d met at the restaurant i randomly mentioned at some point that i had a blog. when asked what it was about i hesitantly said that it was about “LGBT stuff– nothing interesting or anything.” to my surprise, she’d never heard of LGBT before and didn’t know what the acronym stood for. i told her what the letters stood for and quickly changed the subject because i was tired as fuck by that point and didn’t feel like doing LGBT 101 let alone going into anything about myself which wouldn’t even be possible until i got her up to at least LGBT 301.
the next day(?) she sent me a message on Skype in which she referred to me as “amikino” ([female] friend) and after some consideration, i responded by nonchalantly asking her to refer to me as “amiko” (friend) instead because she’d been using “-in-” (a female suffix) for me repeatedly up until that point and i was tired of not saying anything about it.
before i go any further i should pause to explain about gender in Esperanto.
Esperanto is a language that uses a lot of affixes to modify / build words. like many languages, Esperanto can be very gendered, but it’s also built (quite literally) upon patriarchy. an example of this is adding “-in-” to words to make them “feminine” or “female” and adding “ge-” to make them inclusive of people of “”both”” genders. examples:
“patro” (father) → “patrino” (mother)
“knabo” (boy) → “knabino” (girl)
“edziĝi” (become a husband) → “edziniĝi” (become a wife) → “geedziĝi” (get married [gender neutral, but implies marriage between ppl of different genders])
words that refer to / involve people are commonly assumed to refer exclusively to males / men by default unless the suffix “-in-” or the prefex “ge-” is used. there has long since been a push within the Esperanto community to change this and add more gender neutral language options to the language, but that’s a story for another time.
anyway, i was hesitant to ask her to refer to me as “amiko” instead of “amikino”, “esperantisto” instead of “esperantistino” because i knew the assumptions that would be made by asking that. and i was right, of course. about a month after having sent that message, i got a long email that basically said “oh gosh, i don’t know how to talk to someone who appears female to me but who wants to be addressed as a man… i’ve only heard about such people on tv– i dont even know if it’s a mental thing or a choice or?? but be you a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter to me and i hope i haven’t offended you?”
which is an encouraging response even if in regards to an incorrect assumption, but i’m still just sitting there like lulz. she’s obviously struggling to understand the very idea that i could possibly “want to be” a man, so how do i break it to her that i wasn’t even trying to imply that i’m a man because i’m in fact neither a man nor woman…? i ended up responding with “FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!! amiko is gender neutral! also, lulz, i didn’t ask you to call me amiko because i’m a man, because– SURPRISE!! i’m not a man! or a woman! non-binary ppl exist! -insert link-”
to which she eventually replied “yeah, the patriarchy is shitty isn’t it? can’t be bothered to fight it anymore myself, but more power to you. i Googled “non-binary” and learned a lot! and while you don’t have to answer anything of course, i still have a lot of questions and would love it if i could ask you. is that okay? i mean, i get “gay” i think? how a man who loves men might have a woman inside them…? maybe? but non-binary people………….. btw, could you link me to your blog?”
lol giiirrrl, you have a lot of learning to do before i link you to this blog. (and if by chance i eventually do and you read this– sal! gratulojn pro lerni pli pri GLAT kaj pardonon pro paroli pri vi! mdr) anyway, i told her that i’d be willing to do my best to field her questions, but cautioned her about me being low on spoons post-election and thus may not be up to fielding them all.
talking about non-binary stuff or even LGBT stuff in general in Esperanto is still pretty new territory for me because i haven’t really been active in Esperantujo since coming out…. we’ll see how this goes, i guess. so far talking about this stuff in Esperanto has proven to be an exercise in creativity as Esperanto lacks a lot of words that i’d normally use when explaining in English. that, or the words available are problematic for various reasons that are really annoying and require workarounds.
i keep thinking about how i should start making content about asexuality and being non-binary in Esperanto to help fill the gaping void of content / resources that currently exists in Esperantujo, but then i think about how much i’ve already got going on and how exhausted i already am…. ;(