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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.

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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

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

DADU, Do Ask, Do Understand

Santa Claus with a little girl

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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

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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...

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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

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

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