Dear Queer Diary: Journaling While Left-Handed

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px

Before I was gay, I was left-handed.

It must have been around the time that I learned to write that I discovered this facet of my identity, but I can’t recall being particularly concerned about it. In fact, from what I remember, my left-handedness was a badge of honor. Lefties have higher IQs, right? We are more creative? (I think I managed to forget about the statistical likelihood that we will die sooner.)

Of course, left-handedness did have some logistical drawbacks. My very earliest journals contain smudges caused by my hand dragging over the wet ink, a phenomenon that very much offended my not-so-latent perfectionist tendencies. At the end of an average day of high school, the outside of my hand would be covered with a substantial layer of graphite—evidence of the notes I had taken on calculus and American history. My papers were covered with fine pencil dust, and sometimes, when I wore a long-sleeved white shirt, the edge of my sleeve would acquire a grayish tint.

I have only read half of this book, but I am pretty sure that it’s relevant. (Via The Book Portal)

I have only read half of this book, but I am pretty sure that it’s relevant. (Via The Book Portal)

However, my liberal upbringing meant that no nuns slapped me with rulers in order to change my devilish ways, so all in all, left-handedness was kind of cool. It made me just a little bit special.

When I first happened upon the fact of my queerness, I became preoccupied with my childhood. I revisited incidents, preferences, and of course, sections from my diary, looking for clues of my sexual orientation. Retroactively assigning significance to my childhood desire to watch the movie Victor/Victoria (because it had Julie Andrews in it!) seemed silly, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to dissect my past.

Before allowing me to watch this movie, my mother sat me down for a frank chat about homosexuality. Needless to say, I found it quite illuminating.  (Via Gold Derby)

Before allowing me to watch this movie, my mother sat me down for a frank chat about homosexuality. Needless to say, I found it quite illuminating.
(Via Gold Derby)

More frequently than I found clues, I found metaphors—experiences that seemed to serve as correlates to my queerness. Being a proud member of the “unpopular” group in middle school. Doing theater. And, of course, being left-handed!

Why? Left-handedness is non-normative. Although today, many people think we lefties are (in the immortal words of Lady Gaga) born this way, historically, school marms the world over have attempted to correct this proclivity. By virtue of being in the minority, left-handed people are the victims of a myriad of tiny discriminations. The world is filled with practices and products that invalidate our left-handedness and sometimes, make it downright annoying. The handshake! Scissors!

Of course, it could hardly be more ludicrous to equate such trivial inconveniences to the very real discriminations many of us face as queer humans. But still, somehow, being left-handed makes me feel a tiny bit more gay.

Other southpaw celebrities include Barack Obama and Justin Bieber! (Via Fanpop)

Actually, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the link between handedness and sexual orientation exists in the world beyond my imagination. Real live scientific studies have shown that men and women who identify as gay are more likely to be left-handed than their straight counterparts—though just like most real live scientific studies, their results are generally agreed to be somewhat inconclusive.

Speaking of things that are somewhat inconclusive, I feel the need to admit that I am sufficiently ambidextrous to have learned to use right-handed scissors. I am also sufficiently heterosexual to have once convinced myself that I was in love with a tall person with a Y chromosome.

I can pass, if I have to. But when I turn to my journal, it’s clear from my handwriting that I really need to hold the pen in my left hand. And it’s clear from the words that I write using that pen that I play for Ellen Page’s team.

This old-school writing desk would obviously be a great gift for your favorite left-handed journaler. (Via The Windsor Chair Shop)

Clearly, this old-school writing desk would be a great gift for your favorite left-handed journaler. (Via The Windsor Chair Shop)

Tell me about your adventures in non-normative handedness, my dear queer diarists! Do you own a special leftie journal from Lefty’s Left-Hand Store in San Francisco? Does your school or workplace feature a sufficient number of left-handed desks? Are you already making big plans for International Left-Handers’ Day on August 13th? I certainly hope so!


Dear Queer Diary is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We crack open our tiny notebooks and break out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

Avatar of Maggie

Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 49 articles for us.

18 Comments

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    I’ve always had a thing for colourful inks. Unfortunately my favourite inks took ages to dry on the paper, leaving my hands stained in all colours of the rainbow and whatever I so carefully had pondered in my mind rendered to a nearly illegible smudge of ink. Ah, the frustration! Nowadays I tend to use lefty-friendly pens. Or fine nibs and a lot of time and patience to carefully write word after word only touching the paper with the nib/pen, not with my hand. Very time consuming, but nice for letters. And I use blotting paper. Did anybody ever try those leftie-glove-thingies? Do they work?

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    I knew from a young age how hard scissoring was. It was always just so awkward, and I could never get the angle right when trying to connect. I would always end up with painful red indentations on my skin!

    You feel me, lefties?

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      There are all these parallels between lefty-ism and homosexuality. Tendencies come out at a young age. They both used to be considered “a sign of the devil” or some kind of sinister trait that was to be suppressed and altered. Also I used to think that being a lefty was completely genetic, but it turns out that there are environmental and epigenetic effects in the womb during development; so just as there is no 100% accurate genetic predictor of homosexuality, there is no such predictor for lefthandedness. Both are determined by genetics an estimated 30%, and both have an incidence of around 10% in the population.

      If I were ever forced to use my right hand I think I would fall apart. It’s so dominant for me that even my left ear, foot, and musculature are larger than my right. I am a gold-star lefty.

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    You’re right…SCISSORS!

    And spiral bound notebooks.

    In college trying to find the ONE lefty desk/table thing in the room (which always had a broken leg or something).

    Or the harassment at the dinner table for bumping elbows.

    And this phrase when you’re learning an instrument or how to knit, “OH. You’re lefty. Well, hmm…I don’t know how to…show you..”

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    Huge lefty love right here! I grew up surrounded by lefties, was taught to use tools by my lefty dad and then lefty boss/buddy, always sat on the right of my lefty bestie in school…still do 27 years on. I’m ambidextrous/mixed handed and left curious. I am asked if I’m a lefty a lot due to swapping hands whilst doing stuff…when I fried my right thumb I did everything functionally left handed but my writing was not as neat as my right. So Yey go team non normative handed folks. My Dad has a left handed ruler and chequebook not journally I know but useful. We both favour a pentel self propelling pencil with a o.5 HB lead for notation and berol fine liners for non smudgy writing.

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    Yes to all of this!! I’m in my last semester of college now and I can’t wait for the day when the side of my left hand will no longer be constantly smeared with pen/pencil from all my note-taking.
    Also, I loved being left-handed when I was younger because it made me a little bit different- I was always looking for reasons like that to explain why I felt a little different (non-normative!) until I finally realized- hey, maybe I’m gay.

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    Tennis lessons? disastrous – seriously stop throwing the balls to the wrong side
    Guitar lessons? annoying – just let me mirror you
    Scissors? The effing worst- i seriously still occasionally give up and make others cut papers for me

    Benefit? my best friend in college, who I occasionally made out with, bonded with me when we met in class trying to find lefty desks in the middle of the lecture hall.

    #leftiebisexualbandgeek

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    Last term, I wrote a paper on being left-handed and how much the world sucks for lefties. It was my first, and only, A+ college paper.

    In 12th grade I had to make a collage, but the only scissors available to me were the crappy gray metal ones that wouldn’t cut magazines unless I held them righty-style.

    I picked up a guitar with the intent of leaving the strings right-handed (though I do flip the guitar over to play) simply because I knew it’d be more of a time-saver to just not bother with flipping the strings around.

    I got called out for playing a song “backwards” once. I had to explain that no, I am not backward, I am a lefty.

    Also, gay, so there’s that too. I’m just all sorts of “backwards.” Do multiple backwards cancel out, or does it just lump into one sum of ass-backwardness?

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    There are all these parallels between lefty-ism and homosexuality. Tendencies come out at a young age. They both used to be considered “a sign of the devil” or some kind of sinister trait that was to be suppressed and altered. Also I used to think that being a lefty was completely genetic, but it turns out that there are environmental and epigenetic effects in the womb during development; so just as there is no 100% accurate genetic predictor of homosexuality, there is no such predictor for lefthandedness. Both are determined by genetics an estimated 30%, and both have an incidence of around 10% in the population.

    If I were ever forced to use my right hand I think I would fall apart. It’s so dominant for me that even my left ear, foot, and musculature are larger than my right. I am a gold-star lefty.

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    I’m a southpaw as well (why do we get labeled… it’s not like someone’s ever a ‘northpaw’). Using informal, totally unscientific polls I’ve taken among trans people, I’ve noticed an incidence of around 40-50% also being left handed. Bizarre, non? And yes, f–k scissors, f–k notebooks, f–k school writing desks, sewing machines, and American cars too for that matter.

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    So my dad is left-handed, and an architect for funsies, and he designed three different houses I lived in pre-turning 18 specifically for left handed people which is really fun because he’s the only one in my immediate family that’s left-handed. I think that’s why my sister, brother, and I are all ambidextrous. FOR SURVIVAL.

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