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LGBT Headline News, A Banner Day

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Several months ago, I started keeping a scrapbook of LGBT news. It wasn’t one of those pretty scrapbooks and I didn’t include stickers and little foam clip art. It was a spiral notebook and I simply cut out articles from the local paper and attached them to the pages with a glue stick. Some days, there was no news, not one article. Other days, there might be two or even three pieces.  Today is a four piece day.

Headline #1

There is, of course, the Republican blocking of the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the Senate. While I voted for Obama and have sung his praises and been oh so patient, to have that repeal buried in a military spending Bill baffles me. I’m beginning to feel bamboozled. I wanted to believe his support of same sex civil unions was just a politically more acceptable way to verbalize his real support of same sex marriage but fear it was a case of my own head buried firmly in the shifting sand once again. It is what it is. He doesn’t support same sex marriage. He said so. I heard what I wanted to hear. This, on the other hand, is looking more and more like a bold faced lie. I hope I am wrong.

Headline #2

Bishop Eddie Long is a famous name in Atlanta. He’s the top pastoral dog of a Mega Christian church. Two young men have claimed that the good Reverend traded them trips and gifts for sex many times over the past few years. They are now 20 and 21 and all this began when they were 17 and 18. If this is true, it another case of a Christian man pretending to be heterosexual. It’s also a case of abuse of power, betrayal and the list goes on. One of these boys was also arrested for burglarizing the church awhile back. It could be false accusations. The boys are suing the church as well as Bishop Long. We shall see. You can read more at http://www.wsbtv.com/news/25115246/detail.html

Headline #3

There is the possibility that a staffer at the office of US Senator Saxby Chambliss posted “derogatory gay slurs” as a comment on a LGBT issues blog. Bloggers evidently traced the post by “Jimmy” to Chambliss’ office. I dug a little further and found that the post was on Joe.My.God blog and said, “All faggots must die.” I wouldn’t consider that a derogatory comment. Perhaps terroristic threat might be a better description. This Joe.My.God blog was a 2008 Weblog Awards Finalist and the 2007 weblog Awards LGBT Blog Winner. On that blog, I also found Headline #4.

Headline #4

“Florida’s Third Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court’s 2008 decision that a ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional.” This was over a gay couple’s attempt to adopt two little boys they have been the foster parents of since 2004.

Score 3-4

Somehow even though today’s articles are 3 out of 4 news of continued discrimination and bigotry, it still feels good to me. The days when nothing is in the news, when no mention is made and discussion taking place, those are the days when I feel the least hopeful. It feels like when you shine a flashlight in a dark room and the roaches start running everywhere. At least when there is news, there is dialogue. The awareness is raised.

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September 22, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

9/11- Happy Anniversary to Us

Today is our Anniversary.

Our marriage is of the heart and mind and soul. It is not legal.

It occurred to me today though, that there will come a day when we can legally marry, right here in Georgia.

While it is so unbelievable that we can’t, that such a basic right would be denied, I feel very peaceful about it today.

The end of the lunacy is near. I can feel it.

Happy Anniversary Lee, my love. You are my every dream come true.

I love you more each day. Thank you for loving me.

Al

September 11, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Out at Starbucks

My daughter Holly, Lee and I sat at Starbucks yesterday, the first time in a long time. The weather was perfect for sitting outside, still warm but that smell of fall and the aroma of my pumpkin latte told the seasonal truth. We’d spent many hours at this very store, in these very chairs, in the early days of mine and Lee’s relationship when Holly was one of the few we dared tell we were in love. The term “coming out” can have so many meanings and layers.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I contacted a long lost cousin I saw on Facebook. After the initial pleasantries, I dove right in and told him of my “lifestyle.” I was half afraid that would end our reconnect. Our family is full of Baptists, deep rooted Southern Baptists, Southern Baptists from the deep south. Instead, he didn’t seem bat a cyber eye, even sharing that his own “lifestyle” of living with his girlfriend instead of marrying her was frowned upon by some of his family. See? from the south, dyed in the cotton Southern Baptists. This “coming out” does get easier each time, but the process seems unending.

Anyway, about Starbuck’s, at the table next to us, sat a young E.M.T. I know that’s what he was because of the badge he wore. He sat there reading almost the whole time we were there. I was sitting so I that had a straight  and unblocked view of him. He was like Lee. There was no facial hair or Adam’s apple. His hands, though unmanicured and fairly large, were feminine. Though his build was somewhat stocky, his shoulders were narrow and hips slightly wide. His hair was that of any young man’s and his posture clearly male. He moved and sat as a man. He and Lee seem to not notice each other. None of us mentioned him.

I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. When had he known? How had his parents responded to their little girl in boy’s clothing, wanting only boyish things? Was he going to physically transition, legally? Did others see him as trans or lesbian? Did he date or marry a lesbian or a heterosexual woman, like me? How did her family and friends respond? No one cared about his gender identity while he was saving their life, did they?

The question I didn’t need to ask was whether he wanted to answer those questions. I knew what he wanted most was to be accepted as male, female body or not. That, and for no one to notice he was different.

The young E.M.T. seemed at ease, comfortable. Lee did as well. Two of the minority of the LGBT minority together, side by side at Starbucks and no one seemed to notice except me. I didn’t notice he was different. I noticed he was the same.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Not Just About Bullying

“Nationwide, gay youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual classmates, in large part because of toxic environments where anti-gay bullying can thrive. Nearly 90% of gay students have experienced harassment in school, and almost two-thirds say they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

That was from http://www.Change.Org today in response to the third student suicide this year in Minnesota’s Anoka-Herrepin school district.

The powers that be there, have further turned down a district wide Anti-Bullying Program because of pressure from the Parents Action League, a hate group whose stance is that homosexuality can be cured.

I remember my high school years as torturous. Painfully shy, short with kinky curly hair, I found daily life at high school overwhelming. I was there only two years, running away from home at fifteen and pregnant.

Kids are brutal anyway. Hateful energy feeds off of itself. Insecurity will take whatever is available to feed off of. Take a school full of insecure teenagers and add a dose of hate, mix it with the ever-ruling need to fit in and be apart of the group, whatever group, and it’s a sure fire recipe for profound cruelty.

This is not just your average case of kids behaving badly. That hate group, the Parents action League, I wonder how many of them have children in that school district. How many other children in that district go to churches that teach the same hatred. How many of those children live in homes where racial and sexual slurs are commonly used with hate intended behind their closed doors. How many of those teachers and employees of those schools harbor those same thoughts. No, it’s not just about the children and their bullying.

Lee and I experienced bullying at a New Thought church, where Oneness, Love, Kindness is not only taught but is the very foundation of of all the teaching. It wasn’t just grown-ups behaving badly.  Hateful energy feeds off of itself. Insecurity will take whatever is available to feed off of. Take a church full of insecure adults and add a dose of hate, mix it with the ever-ruling need to fit in and be apart of the group, whatever group, and it’s a sure fire recipe for profound cruelty.

How many of the people that were in that church lived in homes where racial and sexual slurs are commonly used with hate intended behind their closed doors. How many of those choir members and Ushers and Board members and Sunday School Teachers harbored those same thoughts. No, it’s not just about the grown-ups and their bullying.

It’s the same energy that causes a pack of dogs to attack  and kill a toddler,  a mob to turn into a riot and a child of fifteen who plays the cello in the school orchestra to take his own life.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Sign

Lee and I were driving home last night from a family birthday dinner.

Just a few miles from our home we saw a new billboard.

On it was part of a Bible verse from Genesis,

And He created them male and female”

We both felt we had been hit in the chest.

It is so easy to forget there are those who hate us so much.

Someone paid a lot of money to publicize their bigotry.

Someone paid a lot of money hoping to hurt us.

There are those who use religion, God, even love as weapons.

We felt we’d been shot by that weapon last night.

I suppose that was their intent.

September 4, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitting Relationships

Lee and I do not share a typical relationship. We are not like most other couples. It is not because we both are in female bodies.

Lee and have precious little time together of late. He has been working six days a week, and not getting home in the evenings until almost dark. By the time we eat, wash dishes, take out the dogs, it’s late. It seems we dump on each other; we rush to verbally unload on each other for those two or three hours. Lee tells me about work. I tell him about home, dogs, blogs and family. We take turns trying to convey enough to each other to not feel as if we have left the other out of anything. We hang on each others words, diligent not to miss anything. We fight our own wandering minds as we try to remember to share the important stuff, yet wanting to also share the trivial thoughts and feelings that have passed through our minds and hearts during the day.

It is those trivial things, that off the wall sharing that connects us so much. When we confide in each other something we would dare tell no one else, all those quirky little tid bits of self we don’t want to claim as just our own, those parts become something big, something, vital, something funny or beautiful even. They become a part of us. Everything is better when it becomes a part of us. The sky is bluer. The sun is brighter. The fruit is sweeter. Time is more precious. Laughter more healing. Smiles are more contagious. Babies are cuter and music more powerful. I know that sounds like pure cheese. It is sappy and sounds like an old fashioned love song.

I know too, that it is rare. The love we have for each other and the relationship we share is not what most couples have. We never fight. Not a harsh word has passed between us. We behave as if we have just this moment fallen in love with each other. It feels as if we have and do fall in love with each other all over again each day. We dance in the kitchen almost every night. We text and call each other throughout the day. We leave each other love notes as alarms on each others phones. We live together with an ease I cannot claim to have ever had before, not even when alone. There is no wish for anything else, not even how the toothpaste is squeezed or towel hung.

I want him to be happy. I want him to be well. I want to see him smile and to hear him sing. I want him to eat his favorite foods and listen to his favorite music. I want his dreams fulfilled and wishes granted. I want him to never doubt, not even for a second how much I love, cherish, admire, respect and adore him. I don’t know that so many other wives feel that way, or husbands. We want the other to be happy first.

We are different all right. We may be societal misfits, the minority of a minority, but we are a perfect fit together.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

My Beautiful Brother In-Law

My “in-laws” came to visit for a few days. I consider them my parents in-law and I believe they consider me their daughter in law. They are delightful people and very easy company. Lee has two brothers. One of them is gay. The statistic I chose to believe says that throughout history, 15 % of the human population has been gay. So, my in-law’s children are outside the normal percentages. 66.6% of their children are LGBT. They should get some sort of prize for that, some sort of medal.

I’ve thought a lot about what it was like for Lee to grow up as he did, in that mega church centered environment. He was prayed over countless times and they tried to exorcise his demons more than once. His brother was teased and tormented with only his big “sister” to defend him. Lee started drinking when he was thirteen, not sure who or what he was. I’ve thought about his brother, growing up in that town, that school, that home as well. He’s an entertainer and has been dancing his whole life. Family pictures are of him all decked out in some outrageous outfit and Lee in a ball cap. The other brother didn’t come along until a couple of years before Lee left home. He must have felt someone dropped him onto another planet.

I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought as to what it was like for the parents. Obviously, for many years, they believed there was something terribly wrong with their children, something that needed to be fixed. I’m sure they were afraid and desperate, believing as they did that their precious babies were doomed to a fiery hell if they couldn’t save them. After all, in their church, and according to their Bible, they were abominations.

Just as Lee had to find on his own just who and what he was, so did his parents. Somehow, they have reached a peaceful place where the sexual orientation and gender identity of their children are no longer things they fear and attempt to change, but aspects of their children they accept and even embrace. I don’t believe they fully understand Lee and the way he identifies with men. Their love, though, is undeniable and fierce, as a parents love should be. I know it was painful for them, getting to this peaceful, respectful and loving place. Even as I type this, I automatically type “her” instead of “he,” falling into their language of identifying my husband as their daughter.

While they were here, we went out to eat. We went shopping. We went to the grocery store. Lee and I held hands as we always do. Not once did they flinch or seem in any way embarrassed by us. Not once in all the times we have been with them, have they appeared anything but at ease around us, no matter where we were or who we were with. They remain devout believers of their religion. They remain active in their church. They still live in the same house, in the same small town. When I think of the change that had to occur in their minds and hearts, I am both amazed and inspired. These changes took place not in the safety of a new town under the umbrella of anonymity, but in the broad daylight of a small community that, like all small towns, views each other through the lens of a microscope. They are a very brave and courageous family. My Lee is the bravest of the brave and I am fortunate beyond words.

August 26, 2010 Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mouths of Babes

My grandson Zachary has “special needs.” He was a preemie and for the first year of his life, went through most of the list of preemie complications. A  M.R.I. of his brain, says he should be wheel chair bound with severe mental impairment. It is true that he seldom walks. That is because he runs almost everywhere he goes and has never been in a wheelchair except to play in mine. He is slightly developmentally delayed. Though he is eleven, he reminds me often of a five or six year old in his innocence. At other times, he displays wisdom far beyond his years, or even beyond the evolution of humankind itself.

Last year, he began using the term, “gay” in name calling. He even used the term, “fag” a couple of times. Of course, we were shocked, but also aware he was copying what he had heard and seen and even been called at school. We asked him if he knew what either term meant and he did not. That my relationship with Lee could be something  to illicit being called a name, escaped him then and still does.

He spent a few days with us before school started again. One morning, he sat with Lee and had the following conversation,

Zachary- “You’re a man in a girl body.”

Lee- “That’s right.”

Zachary- “I think that’s really cool.You’re really a man, but you look like a girl.”

Lee- “That’s right.”

Zachary- “I think it’s cool.”

Lee-“I’m glad.”

Zachary does not have 20/20 vision and has his share of physical challenges. He also has a willingness to embrace those that are different and a curiosity to learn. Instead of judging or assuming, he asks questions. He often says things that shock us and even embarrass us. He holds nothing back. There is never confusion when it comes to what Zachary thinks or how he feels about something. His honesty is at times alarming. Mostly, it is refreshing.

He probably understands more about Lee and I than many in our family and most of our friends. He understands because he has asked. He asks because he is genuinely interested. He is interested because he cares.

We fear what we don’t understand. I believe that most prejudice vanishes once the issue becomes personal. When it’s personal, we seek understanding. In that seeking, we ask questions. We ask the questions because we care. We care because it’s personal, especially if the one who is different is someone we love. At least, I’d like to think it is that way. That hasn’t always been my experience. At least it is with Zachary.

August 17, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

When Lee and I first became a couple, like most people in love, we had a hard time not touching each other. There was no mistaking we were in love with each other. At the very least, we had to hold hands everywhere we went.

Every other relationship I had ever had, had been with a man. I never gave a thought before about holding hands in public or putting our arms around each other. Never had there been a sideways glance when I was part of the accepted norm. With Lee, I automatically reached for his hand. Then, I remembered. To the world we looked as two women holding hands. While lee dresses like a man and wears his hair short as a man’s, to most it is still obvious that his body is that of a woman’s. For many years, he lived as a lesbian, not even aware that what he felt had a name.

That’s another misconception. We, at least I did, assume that every one knows right away who and what they are. Yet, while Lee always identified with boys and men, he spent the first few decades of his life more confused than anything. He says that what he wished for on his 5th birthday was to wake up a boy. The morning after making that wish and blowing out those five candles, he was devastated to find he was still missing a penis.

He was raised in a strict Charismatic Christian home and prayers were prayed and demons even exorcised to rid him of the “abomination of homosexuality.” For a while, he tried to be female, followed by  a couple of decades living as a lesbian. He had been ridiculed all his life because he could not conform to his biology. I never had been.

So, when my automatic response to hold his hand was followed by the remembrance that we might be ridiculed, I clutched his hand even tighter and walked a tiny bit taller.

The church we ministered to then, was a New Thought Ministry. One would assume that people there would be totally accepting and embracing of such diversity. At the very least, they would accept our relationship out of the love they claimed to have for all people. Yet, even in that most accepting of arenas, one of the first comments I heard was, “I don’t care if they are together, I just don’t want my face rubbed in it.”

How is it when a heterosexual couple hold hands or walk with their arms around each other, they are certainly not rubbing anyone’s face in anything. Yet, when a same sex couple does, they are?

I admit though, that sometimes when we are in a public place now and I realize we not holding hands, I will grab Lee’s hand so that no one thinks for even a moment we are “just friends” and not a couple. So, I guess I am rubbing faces in it after all. I’m doing my small part to desensitize a world, that out of ignorance and thoughtlessness, can be insensitive. Sometimes we just have to get use to things. I’m delighted to help.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You can’t Be A Little Bit Pregnant

I remember the punch line of a joke I heard when I was a child, “How can you be a little bit pregnant?” It was the ending of some hideous racial insult disguised as humor. I grew up in rural south Georgia, when only whites were allowed on the main floor of the local movie theater and the schools were beyond segregated. The only African-Americans I knew as a young child cleaned our home and lived in little shot-gun houses with dirt yards and beautiful sunflowers.

For the first decade of my life, I lived oblivious to discrimination. Only after we moved to Atlanta when I was ten, did I begin to get a glimpse of the larger picture. Only as I became a teenager did I start to become aware of the plight of a whole race of people. Growing up, my parents were strict Republican Baptists. Maybe it was that combination, but other viewpoints were not exactly welcome in our home.

The high school I attended, at that time was 92% white. A mere 8% of the students were African-American. Desegregation was less than five years old when I began high school. Most of the families of the white students at my school had been apart of a mass white exodus from inside the perimeter, a newly build freeway around Atlanta. They had fled plummeting home values created by panic when new neighbors of color moved in.

I’m sure there are many who would deny that a black child of that era suffered any discrimination. After all, they attended the same schools, lived close to the same neighborhoods. They had never been slaves and probably didn’t even have any living relatives who had been. They could ride any bus and sit in any seat.

I would guess though, that if you talked to any of that 8% of students today, they could tell you horror stories of abuse and mistreatment, unfairness and cruelty. While equality for them had become the law, it was not yet the reality. Like the distasteful joke of my childhood, one cannot be a little bit discriminated against. There is either equality or there is not.

I read a blog yesterday day where the author was saying that while he supported gay rights, he could not condone the gay rights movement comparing itself to the discrimination the African-American had suffered. Of course they are not the same. Yet, hate is hate. Unfairness is unfairness. Equal rights are equal rights and discrimination is discrimination.

I belong to an online support group for people who have heart disease. We frequently joke about the inclination to compare our disease to another’s disease, calling it the Hierarchy of Heart Disease. Having had a heart transplant is the Big Daddy of course. Cardiac bypass is number two, with extra points for each additional graft. The list goes on. Not one of us without a heart transplant or needing one would deny that we are in better shape, no matter how ill we are,  than someone whose heart no longer works.

I don’t deny that the plight of the African-American, the German Jew and the Native American has been horrendous. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender heart just hurts, too. This still is not fair.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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