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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.