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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

Voting for Basic Human Rights

Tomorrow we vote. At least, I hope you are voting, too. I know that there are a lot of important issues on the minds of those voting tomorrow. We all probably have the one issue that matters most to us. I lean towards those pertaining to equal rights and health matters. The economy, political corruption, terrorism, taxes, war, environmental issues and countless others will be at the forefront of the minds of the American people tomorrow.

I just have a hard time getting past not being treated equally. That right is so basic and fundamental. How can we build a future or repair a present when our foundation is built on inequality and the most basic rights of humanity in our country are not given to everyone?

If you don’t know who to vote for, you have time to read up on the candidates. You can print out a sample ballot. You can even bring it with you to the polls (you just can’t share it with anyone there when you go). No matter what you had planned for tomorrow, if you care enough to read this, please vote tomorrow. It doesn’t take long. You’ll feel good when you walk out of that building, remembering that this is how we put people in office in this country. All the corruption; all the nasty campaigning, all the lobbyists, the bribes, the gifts and underhandedness cannot replace your vote. Your vote is only for sale if you give it away.

November 1, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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