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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

Need A Hero? Here’s One.

You might need to sit down to read this. Whether it awes you, angers you, breaks your heart or confuses you, I doubt you can read it without feeling both inspired and saddened.

We have a friend who has two daughters, the younger of whom is in Middle School. This girl’s best friend is a gay boy. We heard a couple of weeks ago that she was hoping to start a Gay Student Association at her school, in response to all the gay bullying, gay teen suicides and to support her gay friend. We bought her a couple of rainbow flags at Atlanta Gay Pride in support of her efforts.

This family lives about twenty miles from us in another county, known just as much as ours for its far right politics. We have also heard horror stories of how this extreme right influence invades the schools there as well. Still, we hoped the bravery, compassion and peaceful nature of this young woman might pierce through the extremist mentality and fairness somehow prevail.

She emailed us that she had made an appointment with her principal. She was nervous but determined to ask for the school’s support in supporting the gay students of her school. After all, there were so many clubs and groups represented there.

We heard last night, that she met with the principal for a full thirty minutes and though he was courteous and even kind to her, he ultimately denied her request. He told her that while he did not agree, the county’s entire school board consisted of far right fundamental christians who all viewed homosexuality as morally wrong and would view such a support group as condoning morally wrong behavior.

He told her further than he might be able to support her in starting a group about discrimination and bullying in general. I guess this means that the members of this county’s school board see it wrong to discriminate against and bully those who are not gay, however it is morally righteous to discriminate against and bully those who are.

I wrote to our young friend before her meeting and told her how proud we were of her. I told her too that no matter what her principal said; no matter what answer he gave her, she would be making a tremendous difference in his life and in the life of every student at her school. Every bit of awareness counts. Every word and deed and thought counts.

When Lee and I vote on Tuesday, we will walk into the baptist church where we will vote, hand in hand. I know the politicians have to stand so many yards away, but I know too they will be close by along with their supporters conveying to them their opinion of how the voting is going. I do not want anyone to be mistaken about our being together. We are a same-sex couple casting our votes.

Our vote counts just as our young friend’s words matter and her intention matters. Her heart matters. It is the sane heart of a generation that will not condone or allow the discriminatory, abusive and unconstitutional practices and policies of the generation currently in power. She is almost grown. She and all her many friends will be voting in a few short years.

Now, do you feel inspired?

October 28, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Trans Ending

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Lee doesn’t read my blogs everyday. Sometimes, I read what I’ve written that day to him as he drives home from work. Often, he “catches up,” reading several at a time. On my blog about heart disease, I refer to him more as “her.” That blog is older and I’ve been writing about my heart journey longer than I’ve been specifically writing about being the spouse of a transman.

Very few people refer to the person I call my husband as “him” or “he.” When I began writing about heart disease, I was still referring to him as “her.” I have seldom changed in the way I address him on that site, sometimes still calling him Lisa rather than Lee. Though the transition of Lisa becoming more Lee has been his, it has also been mine. We both move around within the worlds around us, answering and addressing each other as situations and people expect us to and as we react and respond out of habit.

It is not for lack of respect that the pronouns are interchanged. It is because what you witness through these writings is our own journey, acceptance, education, understanding and acts of courage. I know no other woman whose husband is in the body of a woman rather than the body of a man. I know no other man who has had to reside in the body of a girl. I recently reunited with a niece who is MTF and for years worked as a successful drag queen. There, my personal experience in the world of trans ends.

I have however, known gay men and lesbians and wonder at times if some of them were as my Lee. Though “Out,” might they live as the wrong letter of LGBT? Where do I fit in this alphabetical equation? Do I fit and do I even need to?

As Lee was reading through some older entries the other day, he noticed that the more emotional I am as I write, the more likely I am to refer to him as her. Especially when I have written of an event that has angered me, I resort to the default mechanism of our relating to each other. I resort to what is safest in public and was also how we began.

Coming out as trans is not the same as coming out as gay or lesbian (not that coming out as gay or lesbian is in any way less traumatic or difficult!). For many, including Lee, I imagine it means coming out yet again. Lee knew he did not fit in his body. He knew he was not attracted to men. He knew he related more as a male, but he did not know that what he was, was something that anyone besides he was. He came out to family as lesbian.  Even when he learned there was another identity, another name, besides simply gay or straight, there was no big light bulb moment of awareness, either. Though he knew as early as age five that he wanted to be a boy, he was also not confident even at forty that it was okay to be who he really was. Perhaps to many, if not most, coming out once is all the pain and rejection they can endure.

I feel as if I simply jumped from a bridge, landing in the river of LGBT, kicking behind the float my love lies on. I will kick and support whatever direction he takes. I will call him by whatever name he is most comfortable. I will respect his decisions and his wishes. And no matter what, he is the most beautiful man I’ve ever known, the most gallant gentleman and my forever hero. No legal, chemical, hormonal or surgical transition will change who he is to me. He is my husband.

Maybe it doesn’t matter if others understand. Maybe it only matters that they allow; that they accept; that they embrace all the many ways we humans show up and especially embrace the many ways love shows up. Here we are, right back at human rights, equal rights, the massive missing piece of the puzzle.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Your Vote Counts Because You Count

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My daughter’s mother-in-law gave her a countdown to Christmas ornament the other night. That big days is less than two months away. The stores are full of Halloween candy and costumes. Circulars boast of sales on appliances for cooking Thanksgiving dinners and lovely turkey platters. It’s enough to almost forget about Election Day.

To the left of where I sit here at this desk is the side of a bookshelf covered with sticky notes. A few remind me of things to do. A couple are of quotes I read or heard and want to remember such as,

“The great evils in human history are commited not by psychopaths, but by ordinary people who accept the status quo,” said by political theorist Hannah Arendt, a German jew.

Most are notes about candidates running for office. Organizations like Change.org, The Human Rights Campaign and Georgia Equality help me keep track of which candidates and corporations really support what.

CNN’s theme for the morning today was, “Does Your Vote Count?” I wonder that sometimes. We live in perhaps one of our countries most politically LGBT unfriendly places. We live in a sea of Republicans with a spattering of Good Ol’ Boy Democrats, deep in the Bible belt. Even the most progressive areas are considered far too conservative for gender or sexual orientation equality according to some of our so-called former friends. Where we live, “Good Ol’ Boy”  and christian might be the most unifying factor in politics and the only description of our political office holders that matters to many of our local voters.

Yet, I know I count. I know that equality for me and my beloved Lee counts. I know our relationship counts and even makes the world a better place. I know my equal rights are as vital to our nation being a true democracy as freeing slaves and allowing women to vote.

I know that children will continue to be bullied and will continue to take their own lives as long as other children watch their parents bully by discrimination. I know children will call each other the names they hear their parents use in their own homes. As long as our country values and endorses the dollar over humanity itself, children will learn to bully by the adults who raise them, the schools who teach them and the churches who threaten them with interpretations of scripture fueled by agendas of hatred. As long as fear is disguised as religion and hate is disguised as love of family, my one vote may seem futile.

The hate and fear hide in closets and board rooms, your churches and your schools and even in your own families. It hides in the darkness behind veils of righteousness. It speaks loudly and intimidates well. It washes brains and common decency in its confusing belligerence. It slithers unnoticed as campaign contribution while your spending dollar supports its vile cause.

Your vote is a candle shining light in the darkness.

Your dollar is your voice.

Shine your light.

Sound your voice.

It’s the only one you have.

Use it well.

November 2nd is only a few days away. Spend that time educating yourself.

Your vote counts because you matter.

Your vote counts because you count.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Vow to be Humane

Same Sex Marriage

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Friday night, Lee and I had the honor, joy and privilege of officiating at the Commitment Ceremony of two beautiful women. We met them for the express purpose of performing their Holy Union, but have become friends.

The ceremony itself was perfect. The location like out of a storybook. That these two are best friends, have a deep and intense respect and love for each other and are both completely committed to the other and to their relationship was obvious and palpable with every action, every word, every touch and every glance.

This in itself  is of course, cause for great celebration. I have performed many weddings. Few times have I been as confident the couple were as deeply in love with each other and willing and eager to honor the vows they would make to each other and to themselves as these two women were.

There was though, even further cause for celebration. There were about seventy-five people there, both family, friends and co-workers. There were singles of every gender and color. There were couples of every gender and race. There were straight couples, gay couples and lesbian couples and others like Lee and I where the gender lines were blurred and the bodies did not match the heart that was worn proudly on the sleeve.

We ate, we sang, we toasted and cheered. We danced and laughed and were inspired by the love in the air, in the room and in the hearts of each other. Love seemed to set free by the ceremony itself and some innate human vow to be loving seemed to have been said silently by all, renewed by the example of Donna and Desiree.

Lee and I felt as if we had married each other all over again, proud of the fact that we do still cherish and respect each other each and every day. We were also reminded of how profound the vows of marriage or union or commitment are. A union by any name is just as real. It’s huge and for those vows to be taken seriously and completely is incredibly rare.

The hope I felt then, I feel even now. If seventy-five people can come together in that way, so can seventy-five hundred, seventy-five thousand, seventy-five million, seventy-five billion. Maybe all it takes is a willingness to be inspired by love and renewed by example. I am willing. I am inspired. Are you?

Thank you Donna. Thank you Desiree. May your days be long and joyous upon the earth, indeed and may all you meet be willing to be inspired by the example of love that you are.

October 25, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heart of Stone?

I write a lot about things I find uncomfortable or cruel or unfair. Maybe one eventually becomes desensitized to injustice as it is witnessed and experienced over and over. I haven’t become desensitized, in fact I seem to become more sensitive to the discrimination I see and feel and find. First I will share an experience I had at an Office Max store last week. I went alone, looking my heterosexual self, so the experience had nothing to do with LGBT issues. It has a lot to do though with the ignorance, thoughtlessness and idiocy that fuels all injustice, cruelty and discrimination.

First of all, most of the employees at the store were kind. Three times someone asked me if I needed assistance; three different salespeople offered to help me. I found on my own, exactly what I was looking for including a ream of white copy paper which was one sale. I arrived at the check-out without having to wait. The young man at the register was immediately friendly. He traded the ream of paper I was buying though for another wrapped in pink paper, saying it was the same paper, and a portion of the sale was for breast cancer. He said they were trying to get rid of them. I said that was fine.

He kept talking, saying he had two family members with cancer in the last year. With barely a breath taken, he told me that one family member had been diagnosed with cancer in February but was declared cancer free by the end of the year.

Though I sometimes wonder at the flooding of pink and news of breast cancer while heart disease, the number one killer of all of us, women included and Lupus, such a varied and insidious disease, gets far less mention and attention, I too have lost a friend to breast cancer. I  told him that just this March my mother died of colon cancer. He seemed not to hear me.

He didn’t look up but as he handed me my bag of purchases said,

“My other relative with cancer, my uncle, he wasn’t a christian and started drinking again and he died. It serves him right.”

I was speechless. I took my bag and walked slowly from the store.

Did he mean his uncle deserved cancer because he wasn’t a christian? Or because he drank?

Did he mean his uncle deserved to die because he wasn’t a christian or because he drank alcohol? Maybe because he was an alcoholic?

 

There is little else I can think to say even now, other than how on earth can someone think, believe, feel and speak in that way?

 

The next thing I will write about today deserves a post of its own. It deserves a parade and fireworks and angels and trumpets. Stay tuned.

 

October 25, 2010 Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atlanta Gay Pride 2010 Parade

Here it is, slide show of Atlanta gay Pride 2010 Parade. This is our first slide show. We hope you like it!

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

Calling All Angels

 

Fundamental Extremist Protesting at Atlanta Gay Pride Parade 10-10-2010

 

I’ve been watching videos for The Trevor Project. Some of the videos have been so incredibly sweet, others have been heart breaking and all have been inspiring. I also watched a video of a young politician in Fort Worth, Texas telling of his own experience of being relentlessly bullied in high school and mentioning through his sobs, his own attempt at suicide. They all talk of how it does get better; that if you can just survive through high school, life improves and you can leave all those that bully behind you.

Bullying takes on many masks. There are plenty of adults being bullied and plenty of adults doing the bullying. As adults though, we do have the choice of walking away; leaving the church, the job, the family, the community. As adults, we can more easily turn the other cheek and not be quite so bruised and battered by the cruelty directed at us.

Yet, just as the adult version of bullying can be subtle and covert in nature, disguised behind masks of friendship and even assistance, the effects of such cruelty can be no less subtle and difficult to identify. Often it is simply a sick feeling deep in one’s gut or a heaviness that lingers after a conversation or encounter. Sometimes it is an inner warning that goes off signaling danger and the desire to run for safety.

Some that bully are obvious. They carry Bibles and picket signs. Others are not so easy to spot. At least those with picket signs and microphones are honest.

I wish there were angels to stand between the all children and the bullies.

 

I wish there were angles to block all the cruelty.

 

I wish there were angels everywhere, all the time.

 

I wish there was no need for them.

October 16, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love

I’m making a slide show with all the Atlanta Gay Pride Parade pictures. I was looking for music to go with the pictures and came across this video. We saw Sugarland in concert a couple of months ago. They were fabulous and are evidently a favorite of the LGBT community. From kids to teens to elderly couples; everyone seems to love Sugarland.

 

October 15, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atlanta Gay Pride Parade

I have to keep talking about Pride. Each car, float or group that walked by brought a wave of emotion.

I love the rainbow beneath as it colors the very ground they walk on. You might think the rainbow is a bit cheesy, worn out. But for me, new to the gay community, it is amazing. All the colors, all the expressions, all the ways we humans show up is incredible. I heard someone say the other day, “We are all unique, just like everyone else.” My niece brought me a giant rainbow feather boa to adorn my wheelchair for the parade. I’d like one for my car. You know how a rainbow is seen when the sun appears when it’s raining? The rainbow of gay pride to me means that the end of discrimination is near.

Lee and Kelly. Let the sun shine in! My view from my wheelchair.

Don’t you just love Halloween?

More Pics later…

October 14, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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