Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Community Grows

I realized something the other day: I am a member of several diverse and wondrous communities. The word “community” gets thrown around a lot, and it has unfortunately developed a bad rap in some circles. It is often assumed that when people have something in common, they will automatically have an affinity for each other, and be part of some grand community. It’s been my experience that this is not necessarily the case. And yet, random similarities have strongly influenced the selection of people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet, so it’s pretty clear that sometimes those little things in common do bring me into community.

Here are some examples.

A couple of my best friends are my friends only because we’re drummers. And further, I have many friends that I have only met because we are musicians. I suppose I belong to a class that is labeled “musician,” and drummers really do tend to stick together, but my real communities are with those musicians whom I actually know and have relationships with.

Recently I found myself in a band made up of all transsexual women. I had always resisted being in a “tranny band.” Yet, this band was not formed to be a band made up of transsexual women as some sort of gimmick. Yes, we did have the opportunity to meet because of our unique similarities, but we decided to make music together because of the music. Just because we met didn’t mean we would get along so well, we just happened to.

That brings me to the GLBT community, or more specifically the T (Transgender, Transsexual, whatever) community. I have tons of friends that are gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans* (or poly for that matter), and many of them I have met because we have this in common, but I’m not friends with anyone ~because~ of their sexual identity or orientation. How shallow would that be? And yet, because I have had the opportunity to meet so many people with that in common, many, many of my friends are some part of the alphabet soup.

And I’m also a member (and part of the leadership team) of a Christian worship community. There seems to be no end to the diversity amongst Christians. We’re all related by our belief in Christ, but the very meaning of that most basic tenet is so contentious that considering all Christians as part of the same community seems a stretch. My connection to my Christian community is based on more similarities than just one belief.

The Darling Boyfriend has gotten me playing games, so I’ve met a bunch of gamer geeky folks. And I’m starting to become a part of this community that I have admired from the outside for so long. But still here I connect or don’t connect based on deeper stuff than just having games in common with someone.

And there’s this queer open mic night called Transcriptions. I’m this little vanilla straight woman (yes, fine, with a transsexual history, but still) and I feel incredibly welcome in and connected to this amazing group of folks. This is certainly one of my favorite groups of folks, and I am pleased to call myself a member of this community. And I found them because of my history, but I’m not a member of the community because of my history, it’s because we are friends.

So I am a member of many communities, but I don’t really think of myself as part of any community based on a superficial characteristic.

But then community is a pretty personal thing to me; it’s difficult for me to think of myself as part of a community if I don’t know most if not all of the people in the community, and I tend to find my own communities: musician, Christian, trans*, Swede, geek, queer, or any other particular specificity doesn’t determine my feeling of belonging in a community.

And so I understand why people chafe at being lumped into communities by others. It’s one of the strongest ways in which we connect to others, and to have those choices made by others can be frustrating.

I confess that I’m surprised to find myself as a member of some of the communities that feel most like “home,” and places that I might think would be great for me feel quite foreign.

We make our own connections.



  lisalee18wheeler wrote @

And sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason why we’re attracted to one “community” or another. Just intuition…


  pickypenelope wrote @

Well yea, there’s that too.


  LezleeAnne wrote @

as I was fallin asleep the phone rang @ 11:55 and an unknown caller came over the old fashioned speaker-answering machine and said”I’m ? Keeno fro Artifact Records in NYC and someone gave me your CD & I wanna hear more and talk to you, here’s My #”
Penny, did you have anything to do with this ??

  I Sang! « Penny's Story wrote @

[…] church in Allston, MA. I adore Transcriptions. This is exactly what I meant the other day when I wrote about community. These amazing folks are one of my communities, and one of the one that makes me feel most alive, […]

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