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Hide and Seek

English: John Deere 4010 Diesel (model manufac...

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The birds are hungry! We’ve been going through a twenty pound bag of birdseed about every ten days. At $17 a bag, that was expensive. So, yesterday, Lee went on-line searching for a less costly bag of seeds the birds would actually eat. We’d bought cheaper varieties only to have them sit untouched in the feeders. He found a twenty pound bag for $6.99 at a tractor store about ten miles from our home. It had great reviews, so we went there last night to buy a bag.

Sitting in lawn chairs by the front door, was a man dressed in camouflage. At his feet was a massive, overweight white boxer. Beside him, in another lawn chair, was a young boy also in camo about ten years old. As we approached, the dog and the boy stood up and walked towards us. Lee reached down to pet the dog as the man greeted us with, “How you folks tonight?” While we both answered and stroked the friendly pup, the boy lunged closer until he was inches from Lee’s face and shouted, “I know you!”

Lee and the boy shared of meeting at the electronics store where Lee works. Then the boy asked if we’d buy a raffle ticket to support his 4-H club. The prize  was to be our choice of two different guns. The 4-H event the $5 contribution supported was the BB shooting competition. The dad joined in as both told of how fierce the competition was and how it was strictly funded by this very fund-raiser. The dad told of how they’d been beat last year by a girl from a neighboring county who was competing for the very first time.We visited for a few minutes, talking of dogs and kids and sporting competition in general.

Once finally in the store, we were warmly greeted by the cashier, a small woman with a big smile. We don’t often venture into tractor stores and were delighted to find a vast array of dog food, toys and treats along with all things animal. I loved the smell, like a very clean barn. We quickly found the birdseed in the middle of two rows of seeds and feeders of every size. Lee carried the twenty pound bag as we leisurely meandered down every row, unable to not look at everything. I stopped to take a picture of the baby ducks. They were real ducks by the way.

At least a dozen times, we were asked if we needed help. Each time, the clerk smiled and looked us in the eyes. When not offering to assist us, we could hear her talking with other customers. She was equally friendly, greeting human and dogs, who were obviously welcome there,  alike. Finally, we checked out, reluctant to leave the store that had surprised us not only by all the unusual things they sold, but by the unusually friendly and welcoming manner we have been treated.

I tend to cringe when I see camo. It’s almost like seeing a Civil War confederate flag. I halfway expect the KKK to come from behind whoever it is, flying towards us on horseback in their white robes, torches in hand. Fortunately, I usually cringe for nothing. I certainly did last night.

I like to think that by our friendliness we penetrate stereotypical impressions. I like to think that by connecting with someone with a smile, we invite another to see us differently by seeing us the same, if even for a moment.

Last night, the friendliness of others invited me to see differently and penetrated my own stereotypical impressions.

Lee bought our little Boston Terrier a camo outfit when she was tiny. Maybe she needs a new one. Maybe we all do. We’re all wearing camo anyway, of one sort or another.

March 15, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , | 2 Comments

You Have the Right Not to Remain Silent

Lee and I attended the Gay Straight Alliance Youth Summit at Georgia State University this past Saturday. I’m not sure we were really supposed to be there, but we were. Our friend Vanessa has two daughters. A friend had invited us whose brave daughter is very active with GSA and has been trying for a year and a half to start a GSA group at her high school. Mother and daughter had gone to the summit last year and told us we must go this year, so we did. We met them all there.

It was amazing. There were at least 150 people, the majority high school and college students and a handful of supportive teachers, counselors and parents. P.F.L.A.G. and Georgia Equality had a notable presence. They began the day by going over terms used to identify and describe us. They also talked about the terms that belittle and shame.

I learned a lot. I’m over 50. I’ve only been a part of this “community” for four years. The first thing I learned was that the most accepted umbrella term now is “queer.” It makes me cringe a bit, I admit. It was a negative shaming term most of my life. Yet, I see so clearly how a term that identifies us all is helpful.

(I struggle to find my place here. I am straight. Yet, I no longer live in the straight world. I am not a part of a straight couple. Oh, I also learned the termed “heterosexual” is out now. I won’t go into that right now though … A reader suggested the other day that I was pansexual. They mentioned that term Saturday. It’s used synonymously with omnisexual. While theoretically that does describe me, it doesn’t really feel authentic. Pansexual means (as I understand it) that the sexual attraction follows a personality or emotional attraction and is not dependent on a certain gender or orientation. Yes, that works for me logistically and I don’t reject it completely. I find that concept beautiful in and of itself, by the way. However, I was attracted to Lee as a man. I relate to him as male. So, that leaves me ‘straight” and without a name. That is, until now. Now, I fit quite well under the inclusive “queer” umbrella, used to describe the other 15% of the population that is strictly “straight.”)

Throughout the day, I heard the young people there relay (when asked) if they experienced bullying, threats and harassment. Almost all said they did. Some told of being threatened daily and of being afraid of being jumped, beaten, or even stabbed. The Summit provided them, at least for a day, a safe place, an accepting place, a home even. I wondered how many of their parents knew they were even there. I wondered how many were afraid to come out to their mothers and fathers. One told of being thrown out of his house when he told his family. How many of them were being themselves for perhaps the first time ever without fear.

There were a few who said they never experienced any sort of bullying. Imagine!

In another life, I worked with teenagers in a spiritual setting. I would accompany them on weekend “rallies” and “retreats.” The first time I went, I was amazed at how the kids behaved and more amazed by how they were treated by the adults there. They were respected and honored. They were the leaders of the events with the adults functioning in a supportive role. This one day felt much the same way. The difference on Saturday was that these kids had found self-respect and honor not necessarily from the adults in their lives, but perhaps in spite of them.

It broke my heart thinking of these beautiful young people leaving that safe place and returning to homes where they hid and schools who hated them and adults who preferred to think they did not exist. Still, I felt lighter by the end of the day. When I was in high school, I’m sure at least 15% were queer. I knew no one who would have dared claim that name then. There was no GSA, much less a summit. There was no discussion or demonstrations. There was no discomfort felt by our presence. There was no Pride or rainbow. There were no brave politicians or even teachers willing to fight for equality for queers. There were no out teachers, either. There was no safe place, for even a second.

Straight kids came too on Saturday. They came to support their friends and start GSA groups at their schools. They stood and sat together as one.

Their generation will not tolerate the insanity and fear of my generation.

While we were both still floating in the experience of the summit, on Monday, we received an email from a woman at Storycorps. Last year, Lee and I had recorded an interview for the non-profit. They had given a presentation at the Phillip Rush Center and asked for members of our community to go and tell their story. Anyone can do it and can talk of anything they like. The stories are all filed at the Library of Congress.

For our story, I interviewed Lee. Our focus was on his being transgender. Our personal love story was woven in the telling. Anyway, we received this email saying that part of our story was going to be aired on WABE, the public radio station in Atlanta. It was at that studio we made our recording through Storycorps. They aired it twice on Tuesday and it’s the featured story on the Storycorps website right now. It’s only 4 minutes of the 45 minutes we talked, but it’s a beautiful little section.

Here is the link

http://archive.pba.org/programming/programs/storycorps_atl/5558/

It was a bit scary letting people know it was going to air. For Lee, it is coming out again, and again and again.

It’s crazy that “being lesbian” seems so much easier.

Perhaps it is the assumptions that are easier, to agree with the assumptions that people make.

We struggle ourselves with the pronouns.

We strive to make people comfortable and meet them where they assume we are;

as far as they can go without experiencing any discomfort. 

We do ourselves no favor.

What a price when someone’s momentary discomfort is more important than our own authentic self truth and honesty.

No more. I will not tolerate the fear and insanity anymore. It was my own. It is worn as a crown by my generation. It has defined my gender, the conforming and gentle lady who empowers others and not herself.

We are the courageous product of the 60′s. We defied the racist agenda of the generations before, yet walked in deep paved footprints and called them our own, carrying a torch of separation and discrimination.

We even let them highjack Jesus, as my brother in love Eric says, and claim the footprints were made by a vengeful God of hate.

My grandson says, “Don’t be a hater.”

I picked up a bumper sticker Saturday from the ACLU.

                                                                                                    Gentle, yes. Loving, yes. Outloud, yes.

March 1, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Little Boxes

Simple cardboard box

Image via Wikipedia

We live in a box.

Really.

It’s a 960 square foot box, but a box nonetheless.

I love the safety and security of our box. It’s warm and cozy and light filled.

It’s open and inviting and private. It’s easy to get too, but off the beaten path.

It’s large enough for our families to visit comfortably, but just the right size for the two of us.

It’s not so big that it consumes our time. We have little trouble keeping up with it.

We know where everything is. It’s familiar.

We know where the light switches are and how far to turn the faucets to get the temperature of the bath water just right.

We know where dust collects and spiders make webs.

We know we’ll trip the breaker if we turn the microwave on while the little electric fireplace is also running.

There is great comfort in its familiarity.

It holds few surprises and provides us a foundation on which to live.

It gives us too, a place to step out of and away from and gives us a place to come back to.

Our box both protects us and confines us. It is our sanctuary. If we never venture out, it becomes our prison.

Our mind is also a box. It is all those things our home is. It is our sanctuary. Yet, if we never venture out, if we never step outside our own thoughts and ideas and beliefs, our minds becomes our prison.

I use to think I lived far outside any box. It turned out, I’d just found a community of boxes just like mine.

If we don’t step out of our boxes and our communities of identical boxes, our world is destined to be small and truth destined to be defined by the delusions of our own mind or the minds of the fearful like-minded few we let in.

We received an email yesterday, inviting us to join other groups protesting outside a church a couple of hours from here.

The object of the protest was not the church, but the group they had invited in, the Exodus group.

If you aren’t familiar with them, they try to shame and brainwash  people into believing they aren’t really gay.

We wanted to go, but Lee had to work this afternoon and I didn’t want to give up my morning with him and go alone.

So, instead, we took out 3 month old Boston Terrier puppy, Sam and went for a long walk along the lake shore by our home.

The drought that has plagued our region the past year has done us a great favor.

Tiny islands that are normally only assessable by boat are now connected to the shore and to each other by sandbars exposed by the declining water level.

We can literally walk to an island and then to another and another and another.

These tiny bits of land are untouched by progress or economic decline. Owned by the Army Corp of Engineers, they have been left in their natural state and serve as a refuge for wildlife.

Now, they serve as refuge for us and our neighbors and others who have discovered how easy it is to get to them and how beautiful they are.

Many walk with their dogs and even let their pets off leash once they get across the first sandbar.

It is rare when we walk there and not meet others walking with their dogs, jogging or even sitting on a beach beside a small fire. In the mornings, we see the evidence of late night revelers or even campers.

We want Sam to be very social.

Our other dog, a chihuahua/Pomeranian mix, though an angel to us, is a terror around dogs she doesn’t know. She doesn’t care that she weighs only five pounds. There is no dog she would not attack if given the chance. It takes her time to warm up to other dogs and people. For that reason, she stays at home, but we walk Sam every day and sometimes twice each day. Because of my health, to do this is a double joy after the years of not being able to walk much of anywhere.

Sam thinks each person we meet is there just to say hello to her. She also thinks every other dog wants to play.

She never even barks but licks and jumps and shakes with welcoming joy. When it is just Sam and I, we often make new friends, stopping and chatting with other dog families.

When it is the three is us, Lee, Sam and I, we often meet the same response we meet out in the rest of the world. We get the polite hello or nod, but little else, despite our best efforts.

This morning, was different.

We met a couple with a blond spaniel. They had beautiful British accents. They told us how they’d traveled all the around every reachable island and except for a few rocky areas, had traveled with ease.

We met a very young couple sitting by a fire eating Girl Scout cookies. They especially loved Sam and Sam thoroughly enjoyed climbing into the girl’s lap, getting a little closer to the open cookie box.

The couple with the two Corgis were extremely nice as well. Even the jogger in the blue jacket nodded and halfway smiled.

Sam when we first got her

 

I’m quite sure we all live in very different boxes and communities of boxes, but this morning, we each stepped outside them to play with a little dog.

I’m not sure who stepped outside first, us or them.

We were a bit like Gilligan’s Island, a bunch of strangers, strange to each other, together on a deserted island… Sam would be our Gilligan… uncharted territory for sure.

Who can resist that face?

February 18, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Last Valentine

Where have I been? Dace, I apologize for not responding. I took a long blog break, computer break really, only using my phone for web world connections most of the time. I read your posts though , as they came across my email and enjoyed each one.

I think I am back. I’ve written a few posts on my life with heart disease blog, a lighter sort of posting mostly about our vegan intentions and efforts. Life and living seems to be easier these days. I’m either use to the threat of dying from this disease or I really am miraculously much better. I like to think it is the latter. How else could I walk the streets of downtown Atlanta at last year’s Pride Festival in October? I was in a wheelchair the year before.  How else could I walk the shores of the lake by our house? How else could I be back at all?

I wonder too, is life easier as the perceived “same-sex couple?” or, am I simply growing use to it as well? The stark differences remain. In fact, as I go and do more, I see the difference more. When I walk along the lake with just our little dog, Sam, people stop to chat. They smile and look me in the eye. When Lee goes with us, seldom do people stop or barely even say hello.

If time allows, we “win them over.” In a restaurant, we usually bring a hostile server around with our warmth and smiles. Sullen cashiers often come around, too.

There is a loneliness though. It is not a personal, as in my own loneliness, but a piece of life that is not available to us well beyond the legal gaps in our basic human rights. Other than with family, and only some family at that, there is an absence of men in our lives. Despite our being in truth a heterosexual couple, we are almost void of heterosexual couple friends.

Women are comfortable around us, both straight and lesbian. Men, however, are not. With the exception of a very few, even the men who claim to be comfortable exert a quiet hostility towards Lee and cannot seem to resist the urge to make snide remarks disguised as funny comments or sad jokes. Daniel, Charlie, Johnny, Jim, Keith, you are the exceptions should you ever read this.

Perhaps it is Lee’s own guardedness that calls this out in men. Perhaps, it is Lee’s silent demand that they not see him as a woman who puts them on edge. Who is on guard first, Lee or them? And, why?

Perhaps, it is the wholeness, the completeness, the quiet strength of Lee that intimidates them so. I have known a few so well, these biologically correct men, through failed relationships and painful marriages. None of those come close in strength, nor in gentleness. None have dared to see me nor have allowed me to really see them.

I’m reminded of the movie, “What Women Want.” Lee has lived that movie, without the comedic punch lines. Lee knows too well the woman’s heart and mind. Not only has he lived in a woman’s body, he has been allowed in where few men are allowed or dare to enter. He has been the confidant and safe place, much like the gay guy friend of a group of giddy girls. Perhaps straight men know that and are intimidated by that truth, that Lee has gone where they cannot go and would never have the courage to go if allowed to. Of course they would not be allowed there, though. It takes that gentleness and wisdom that only comes by personal understanding and even experience to gain entry.

With all the harshness of a bigoted world, life is indeed far easier still.

Despite all a cruel world and the insanity a fearful humanity can dish out, life has never been so kind.

Despite all the attempts of religiosity to demonize a loving God and the layers of human love that reflect It, love itself is far greater than their efforts.

I have beside me a most gentle man of strength.

He is my last Valentine.

Life saved the best of the best for last.

I love you Lee.

February 12, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

White Robes and Broom Sticks

We chose to accept a dinner invitation from friends for New Year’s Eve. Their home was located only about twenty miles from here, but in a county known for years and years as a KKK hub. Why a lesbian couple would choose that spot I have no idea, but as it’s our neighboring county, we often find ourselves there as well. For the most part, it seems people are just as friendly and just as rude there as anywhere else.

(I have to note that when I completed this post, I checked for possible pictures to add in the “WordPress Recommended Media Gallery.” Over half of what was “recommended”  based on the content of my post, was pictures of the KKK, even though the above paragraph contained the only mention of it. A few fireworks and the KKK. Interesting, kind of like the news actually, grabbing the most abrasive content. Or perhaps more intuitive than I like to believe…)

New year’s Eve, however, we stopped at a couple of stores on the way to pick up some last-minute things for the family dinner we were hosting the next day. We stood in line at the checkout of one of the stores behind a couple, a man dressed in camouflage and his supposed wife. About halfway through their checking out, he turned and saw us. Really saw us. He immediately moved closer to his wife and put his arm around her. He then whispered in her ear, both of them giggling as she turned to steal a glance at us. I felt a little angry and even a little frightened. I realized this could still be a scary place, especially on a night when people would be drinking more than usual and in large groups.

As unpleasant as that was, the clerk running the register was as friendly as they had been rude. She was the best kind of friendly, not treating us with a strained overdone crooning, but with an authentic kindness we could assume was how she treated everyone.

Over the holidays, we’d seen parents pull their children away when they noticed us and watched eyes roll. We’d seen the jaws clinch and the heads shake. We’d also been smiled at and had doors held open for us. We’d been treated well, and respected at least as often as not.

We’d been embraced by neighbors and the family of our son-in-law. One of my grandsons gave Lee a measuring tape that said, “Grandpa’s” on it. The other gave him a pack of monogrammed handkerchiefs. He considers them his favorite gifts and now two of his most prized possessions. We spent the holidays with cherished family.

While the political state of affairs may not look as promising this year, progress can’t only be measured by the passing of laws that force equality. Progress also comes when one person, just one allows themselves to lay down a fearful belief or just for a second see someone they fear as a person, just a person, just like everyone else.

Old habits die hard. Even in my family thoughtless phrases are used and degrading terms slip. My grandsons hear things at school and especially the younger one, repeats what he hears not realizing the term he is using is used to hurt his grandparents. Nervous giggles are telling and speak volumes to children. Yet, the nervousness is a good thing! It means a new idea has butted subconscious heads with an old belief that lay hiding behind the best and most loving intentions. I know I have plenty of my own. I also know I can be way too sensitive for my own good.

Sing it with me, to the tune of “You’re So Vain,”

“I’m so gay…I probably think that stare is about me…”

I sincerely doubt we’ll be able to legally get married in Georgia this year, or even the next. I suspect we’ll continue to get stares and giggles and spastic head and eye movements sent our way. For the most part though, we’ll live our lives quietly, unequal but content and oh so grateful for each other, our friends, our families and for every little ounce of kindness. We’ll keep walking hand in hand and sitting side by side except for that occasional moment when we feel to do so could be unsafe. Thankfully, those moments are few and far between.

Last year, we had the joy of performing a Commitment Ceremony for two beautiful women.

Here they are.

Happy New Year Everyone

January 2, 2011 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , | 5 Comments

DADU, Do Ask, Do Understand

Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

One might think I’d fallen off the edge of the blogosphere. Over a month has gone by without a word and not even a mention of the wondrous and last minute repeal of DADT. To say I have not thought of writing would be like saying I had not thought to look in the mirror or smile or breath even. The holidays take me places I wouldn’t ordinarily go and to people I wouldn’t ordinarily see. Some of these encounters bring relief and surprise at how embracing and loving us humans can be. Others remind me that we can pretend and assume our pretense isn’t seen through, but at least for me, the feelings behind the pretense come through loud and clear.

There are clenched teeth and tense jaws. The head cocked slightly to the left while the mouth smiles. There is the nervous ring to the voice as it says sweet words. Thankfully, the hostile feelings are held covertly and discharged carefully, as a stifled sneeze. Like the passing of gas in a crowded room, we might not know for sure from who or whence it came, but the air is suddenly tainted and the hostility palpable.

When horns blow in impatience and Christmas shoppers ignore the bell ringers, instead rudely grab things from shelves and steal parking spots, perhaps I take these felt slights and judgments too harshly. Perhaps I judge too harshly, period. Humanity isn’t the sweet species after all, or maybe it’s that we aren’t that different and it really is survival of the fittest. Call me romantic or even Polly Anna, but I keep hoping for more from us.

I’m thrilled about the repeal of DADT. I’m still floored that so many still voted against it and will no doubt fight it in 2012. In other words, I’m grateful for those who are genuinely kind, fair, loving, just. I’m grateful many who aren’t are at least pretending to be. I’m still a bit afraid of those who aren’t and don’t pretend. We fear what we don’t understand. I guess I just don’t understand.

Merry Christmas Everyone. May the New Year bring more understanding. Dear Santa…

December 23, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembrance

Saint John of God

Image via Wikipedia

This came today from Georgia Equality,

“Transgender Day of Remembrance

Saturday, November 20th
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

GA State Capitol Courtyard
(Washington St. side)
201 Washington St. SW
Atlanta, GA 30303

Let’s stand together as a community for a vigil in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Throughout the world, people gather every year to pay respect to those needlessly killed by hate crimes against the transgender community, and to call attention to the threat of violence faced by gender non-conforming people.

This event is hosted by the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc.”

 

When I think about people actually killing someone because their heart and mind do not match their body, all I can do is shake my head in confusion.

I watched Oprah this afternoon. On it were several people who had gone to see “John of God.” They had each gone for different reasons. Some on the show went to him for healing, some as a journalist and at least one went to prove him a fraud. “John of God” is a spiritual healer in and from Brazil. He performs “spiritual surgery,” or rather, claims that God works through him and sometimes that involves surgery. This surgery is often a scraping of one’s eyeball or inserting this probe up a person’s nose. Most often though, he does nothing that can be seen or even felt. There are thousands of accounts of healing however and the most convincing fact of all may be that he doesn’t charge for his services.

I personally saw this “John of God” myself a few years ago when he came to Atlanta. I was still in ministry then and had been invited to go along with other “clergy.” We were directed to wear all white and were lined up at the front of the huge auditorium and we each introduced ourselves before the healer arrived. We were then ushered into a room and directed to meditate until further notice. At the time, I meditated regularly and sitting still on a hard chair for a couple of hours was relatively easy. We were told not to open our eyes.I had no divine revelation or profound insight.

I’ve always been one to follow directions, a trait that has both served me well and been a curse. I kept my eyes closed and while I had no great insight, I was very aware of when the healer walked through the room we were in. It wasn’t because I heard anything. It felt as if a strange wind had blown through, not a scary wind, but not warm and comforting either. It felt strong. It felt powerful. It felt foreign. After a couple of hours, we were allowed to go before John of God, joining the long line of those hoping for miracles. He simply took our hands and nodded at each of us, as I recall.

I say all that because each of the people on Oprah today, both believers and skeptics say that they were changed by the experience whether healed or not. One man, a doctor in fact, the one who went to prove him fraudulent, said that he now believed we are all so much more than we think. Our lives and living have far more dignity and significance than we think. He said he now feels this life both conceals and reveals our truth (I love that statement, by the way). This doctor went on to say we have no idea who and what we are and how connected we are.

They all spoke of the energy of hope in the room and how they had all been instructed to think loving thoughts. THey all said that combined feeling of hope felt good.

None of what was said on the show today was new to me. I taught it from a pulpit for years. Yet, it struck me as ironic that this aired just a few days before this Day of Remembrance that most won’t even be aware of.

Most are not aware of transgender anything.

Most don’t know a transgender anyone.

Most have no idea people are killed for being trans.

As for the Day of Remembrance, one can’t remember what one doesn’t even know. But, one can remember to be kind, compassionate, fair and even how to love.

It’s like asking what is our default mechanism?

What comes natural to us when faced with something or someone new; someone or something we don’t understand?

Is it kindness or cruelty?

judgment or acceptance?

love or hate?

Since I became a part of the “LGBT community,” my default mechanism isn’t near so trusting as it was before. I hope however, it is still kind.

Kindness really is easy. It does come naturally to us. We started out that way.

Remember?

Remember to be kind to yourself, too. Let’s all hope. They said it feels good when we all hope together. I guess I need to remember that.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Award Winning Friend

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t had a lot to say since the election. I can’t say the results were a surprise, but the disappointment has had to slowly sink in. I’ll be there for the runoff’s next month, standing in line for my right to vote and to get my little sticker. Today though, I heard some most excellent news.

One of my grandsons is in middle school.  Today, this friend of my grandson, won the “Anti Bullying Award” at their school. I’m not quite sure exactly what this means. I have no idea what he did to earn this accolade, but obviously what he has not done is bully anyone.

I’m very proud. I’m proud of my grandson’s friend. I’m proud of my grandson for picking such a friend. I’m proud of my daughter, my son-in-law, my other daughter, her boyfriend, my grandson’s little brother, another grandson of mine, and I’m even proud of their school for giving out such an award.

I’m so proud of this young man. There are adults far less grown up than he.

 

 

November 12, 2010 Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , | Leave a comment

At Least We Can Vote

Six voting machines for this election!

Image by momboleum via Flickr

We ended up voting in the late afternoon when Lee got home from work yesterday. We walked into the small Baptist Church and got in line behind about fifteen or twenty people. We filled out our form and waited, looking over the amendments that were on the ballot.

I arrived at the table to turn in my form and show my ID first. All went well and I was given the little yellow card for the voting machine. I joined the line waiting for a machine. At this point, one of the women at the table announced that they would wait for a few minutes and let all of us in line with yellow cards get to machines. There was little room for a line where I was now standing.

When I was the last one waiting for a machine, the woman called Lee to the table. As I headed to the voting machine, I heard Lee say, “What do you mean I can’t vote here?”

From the voting machine, I could still hear bits of the conversation. Lee was asking how he could possibly have to vote at another precinct when we were partners at the same address. Then, “No, we are not roommates. We did not move in at different times. No, we registered in the county at the same place, the same day, the same time. ..Allison is my partner, not my roommate. We have the same last name. She is my partner, like spouse.”

As I turned in my yellow card and put my “I voted today” sticker on my shirt, I heard Lee say, “I’m not angry and I’m not blaming anyone. I just want to understand how we could be assigned to different precincts and I want to know how we can fix this situation. “

I sat across the room as Lee sat in a chair and waited. The women volunteers sitting at the table were avoiding looking at Lee and I could feel the hostility from across the room. I smiled as people exited the room after voting. All turned away and avoided eye contact. The man who had been called over and whom Lee had been talking to, paced around with a cellphone to his ear. After about twenty more minutes, I heard Lee expressing thanks and taking a slip of paper from the man’s hand. Lee left with directions to another church where he could vote. They told him I should have voted there as well.

On the ride over, Lee told me how instantly every one of the polling volunteers had become hostile as soon as he told them I was his partner. He told me how the man refused to even say the word, continuing to call me roommate.

I tried to see the humor in it all and the irony. I had wanted folks to see us as a same-sex couple (transman and wife was beyond my wildest hopes, of course). I didn’t want anyone to mistake us for other than who and what we are. In that regard, the day was a huge success. However, we both know there is no way a heterosexual married couple living in the same home, moving in there together, registering together would have been assigned to different polling stations.

The hard part though, is the open hostility directed at Lee when I was described to those working the polls as the partner. The “Hi, How are you?” and  initial friendly exchange came to an abrupt and rude end and was never recovered. In fact, had Lee been as openly hostile as they were, I’m sure the scene would have become ugly. Lee kept his cool and remained not only civil, but kind and friendly.

At the next church, there was a longer line, but once Lee arrived at the point of filling out the little card, he was ushered to the front of the line. The volunteer there even addressed him as “Sir,” though obviously confused when she saw Lee’s work name tag which has his legal name of Lisa on it. They’d called ahead and warned them we were coming I suppose.

At least we can vote, though I’m sure there are many who believe we should not have that right either.

I couldn’t help wondering how many in both those churches were gay, lesbian, trans, and hiding. It’s no wonder they still hide.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pause for Change

Friday, we rode up into the North Georgia mountains. It was a perfect day with cool temps, clear skies and no plans other than to spend the day together, listen to some music, look at the changing leaves and maybe visit an old friend along the way.

We had a lovely ride up and met our friend who has lived in the mountains his whole life. He knows every road and “pig trail,” as he calls the barely passable ruts of road that only those with nerves of steel and vehicles with raised bottoms and four-wheel drive would dare to tread.

We climbed into his truck and headed into the hills, climbing higher and higher. At first, the advance in height could barely be felt as the twists and turns seemed to be going nowhere fast. Before long though, we could glance out the window and see nothing but free space between the side of the truck and the land far below. The leaves at first were colorful, then disappeared as they had long since fallen as we climbed towards the heavens.

He told us the land belonged to the forest service and few other cars or trucks were seen, each one requiring a friendly sharing of the narrow road or even backing up precariously to allow the other passage. Occasionally, we stopped and got out, taking pictures that defied the sheer beauty and grandness of a place so close and yet so far from our daily living.Our friend took pictures of Lee and I, something we have little of. He whispered to me how much he liked my Lee and how happy I seemed to him.

Finally, we started down the mountain, stopping only once to admire a small lake with one lone canoe carrying two fishermen in the middle of it. I imagined what it must have been like to travel that trail in a wagon or to have to spend a night stranded on that lonely narrow hint of a road. Our friend said he knew the road had been there in the 1800′s. His grandfather had traveled it often in a wagon, bringing down logs for firewood.

We arrived back in the small town that brings three states together. The powers that be in that little town had declared Friday night the night to Trick or Treat, so as not to interfere with the Saturday night events planned by the neighboring Georgia town eleven miles away. Neither town would ever allow trick or treating on Sunday, October 31st or not. Traffic was backed up with each car full of children in costume, hanging out rolled down windows and shouting greetings at each other.

We settled on a place to eat,  a combination American and Chinese buffet. The decor was a combination massive log lodge meets Chinese red dragon. The fare at the buffet was equally blended with the sesame pork side by side with mashed potatoes and fried chicken.  Towards the end of our meal, three teenagers came in, all dressed as women out of a Shakespearean play. One of them had a well-trimmed beard. Only one of the three looked to be in a female body.

I have to back track here a little before I continue. Our friend has been my friend for almost thirty years. We see each other a couple of times a year. His friendship with Lee is no doubt not only his only friendship with a trans-anyone, but his only friendship with anyone who identifies as LGBT. In fact, Lee is probably the only one he knows who is L or G or B or T or any combination thereof. He has only been around us together a handful of times. He is from this little pocket of the world where the population is almost entirely white, Baptist and perhaps close to a century behind the rest of the world. I don’t say that to criticize them, only to describe the place and the people who live there.

Back to the story and the three young people who came in. Our friend called over the manager of the restaurant, who he obviously knew and laughed with often. He told him he should guard the bathroom door because there was a crossdresser there. The manager looked confused. Our friend pointed behind him at the table of teenagers.  The manager walked away, nodding and laughing.

Later, the young man with the beard walked by. Our friend stopped him and told him someone wanted to meet him. He them called over the manager and the three all introduced themselves to each other.

Our friends and the manager seemed to have e great time during their little encounter and while they had not been vicious or attacking, their intent was clearly to make fun of the boy in the dress. I’m guessing they were all three dressed for a Halloween party. One would have to be incredibly brave to dress that way in that place for any other reason. I’m sure that most have moved away, leaving only the most fearful still hiding in their closets.

When we got out of our friend’s truck  to go home, he said to me, “I’m so sorry about what I said about that boy back there. I’ just wasn’t thinking. I hope I didn’t offend Lisa.” I just looked him in the eye and told him not to worry about it.

Perhaps the brave thing would have been to make some sort of scene or at least give my friend a good talking to. Instead, the right thing to do seemed simply to be grateful to be going home; grateful to live where we do; where at least those words and thoughts and jokes are done quietly beyond our ability to hear or see.The bigots are the ones in the closet where we live most of the time.

I also know my friends is kind. He is gentle and loving. He is also ignorant and foolish and at times acts without thought.

I am, too.

I do, too.

Ignorance does not excuse anything though.

One of the amazing things about my friend from the mountains, is how he never met a stranger. He is friends with everyone. He would help anyone. Everyone knows him and though he doesn’t hold any political office or own half the town, he is influential in that he is such a well-known and respected man. He is known for his strength as well as his kindness. Today, he is more aware. Today his ignorance of a world that has passed him and his community by is lessened. He gave us and our relationship a chance. We gave him pause. I’m glad he is still my friend.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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