Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.
This week we're spotlighting one of our newer contributors, Tobi Hill-Meyer. Tobi is just about your average multiracial, pansexual, transracially inseminated queerspawn, genderqueer, transdyke, colonized mestiza, pornographer, activist, writer. Having first gotten involved in politics at the age of 9 defending her parents' right to be her parents, she never stopped contemplating the role of sexuality and gender in social politics. Tobi currently engages in queer family work as a board member of COLAGE, a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents. And while writing a zine series of erotic fiction available at Handbasket Productions, ze still finds time to do the grunt work of phone banks, canvassing, and lobby visits that keeps the political branch of the LGBTQ movement, well, moving.
Follow me after the jump to find out Tobi's views on Dungeons and Dragons, and coming out to a newspaper reporter.
1. How did you get involved with The Bilerico Project?
I can't remember who first linked me to TBP, but fairly soon after I got a link I started reading regularly. I was struck by the wide range of voices represented. Usually I have to go to several different sources to hear about vocal trans activists, queer family politics, sex positive radicals, gay and lesbian news stories, marriage critical activists, and bisexual/pansexual voices.
2. What was your coming out experience like?
Straight - Growing up with lesbian moms, everyone wanted to know my sexual orientation, so at age 15, after being asked by the San Jose Mercury News, I came out as straight. I kinda knew that wasn't the case, but dating someone perceived to be the opposite sex, I didn't know how else to answer.
Queer and Genderqueer - In college, I told everyone I was queer, but I was afraid no one would believe me because I wasn't all that into guys. When I came out as genderqueer (and later as trans) that mattered a lot less. But being an out genderqueer in student government led one student paper to print "jokes" about me, including a depiction of the violent removal of my genitals. When I fought back, it escalated until a death threat was reported against me and I left campus.
Trans - Before I came out as trans, and not "just" genderqueer, I spent a couple years surrounded by trans guys. So when I sought out hormones I realized that I knew more about testosterone and chest surgery than any medical procedures applicable to my body. That's when I started looking for the trans women's community. Spending a lot of time around other trans women, I got thinking about the ways misogyny affect trans women within trans communities and began talking with others about trans-misogyny.
Polyamorous - Coming out as poly was probably the easiest for me. My partner and I spent a year going to a poly group while we were still monogamous. It was kinda like an extensive course in communication and relationship management. So when I called her up from a conference and said, "Guess what I just did? I just had a threesome in a bathroom!" her response was just, "That's nice honey."
To parents - Interestingly, I never "came out" to my parents about anything. They seemed to be very intuitive and asked me if I was bi, asked me if I was trans, and asked me if I was poly. And of the three, again, poly was the easiest. Their immediate response was "Does that mean we should invite Ronan (my other partner) to family trips too?"
3. How did you get involved with COLAGE?
I had already been thinking about the less publicly discussed issues of having queer parents. The cultural impacts of being raised in lesbian feminist community, the microscope affect of everyone asking you "what is it like?" Then I read Families Like Mine and started seeking out other queerspawn experiences to talk with. I found a queerspawn caucus at Creating Change, connected with some COLAGE folks, did a panel with them at another conference, and decided I wanted to be more involved. Given my board experience - and my distance from the nearest active COLAGE chapter - being on the board seemed like the best move. After joining the board, I realized how incredibly committed the organization is to all forms of social justice, and I felt more welcomed there than at any other organization I had been to before. It finally felt like I could be all of me instead of just one or two identities at a time.
4. Who has had the biggest impact on your life, and why?
So skipping the obvious like my moms or my abuser, I'd have to say the combo of Carol Queen and Patrick Califia. Through their writings I was able to move from a nebulous "I think I'm some kind of queer" to a "this is who I am and what I'm going to do about it." They've been influences on how I think about my identities, my writing style, and what I write about. They've been models to write explicitly, do work around sexuality, advocate for sex-positivity in larger organizations, and to shoot for and achieve my dreams.
Meeting Carol has been great. It's definitely a different experience to deal with someone as a human rather than as their writings. And being able to ask her advice on writing, projects, or publishing is incredibly helpful.
5. What would be your dream vacation?
For me it's less about the unattainable "wonderful sights" and amazing activities, but more about enjoying the things I do all the time - and who I'm doing them with. Like right now I'm in San Francisco lying in bed next to a sleeping lover (and fellow Bilerico contributor) after a late night. I'll be spending this weekend visiting friends, doing some work for COLAGE, performing for an awesome queer porn company, celebrating my Ronan's birthday, and getting to see the Folsom street fair for the first time. That sounds pretty good for me - although if I was dreaming it would last a month instead of a weekend.
6. What you're favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Dungeons and dragons. My gaming group consists of my two partners and me, and a couple we are friends with. I actually first met them by putting up a Craigslist ad for "queer or queer friendly gamers to teach me D&D." In addition to being great people to hang out with, I'm quite a geek and love gaming. I'm about to try my hand at being the dungeon master. I can't give away too much of the plot so far, but it involves a closeted gay dwarf, a sealkie trans sex worker, a half-demon bastard child of a noble dealing with being multiracial in a prejudice world, and a slutty bard taking a lead role in an upcoming production of Rapunzel.
Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Rev. Irene Monroe