SuddenlyGay

Just another WordPress.com site

Remembrance

Saint John of God

Image via Wikipedia

This came today from Georgia Equality,

“Transgender Day of Remembrance

Saturday, November 20th
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

GA State Capitol Courtyard
(Washington St. side)
201 Washington St. SW
Atlanta, GA 30303

Let’s stand together as a community for a vigil in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Throughout the world, people gather every year to pay respect to those needlessly killed by hate crimes against the transgender community, and to call attention to the threat of violence faced by gender non-conforming people.

This event is hosted by the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc.”

 

When I think about people actually killing someone because their heart and mind do not match their body, all I can do is shake my head in confusion.

I watched Oprah this afternoon. On it were several people who had gone to see “John of God.” They had each gone for different reasons. Some on the show went to him for healing, some as a journalist and at least one went to prove him a fraud. “John of God” is a spiritual healer in and from Brazil. He performs “spiritual surgery,” or rather, claims that God works through him and sometimes that involves surgery. This surgery is often a scraping of one’s eyeball or inserting this probe up a person’s nose. Most often though, he does nothing that can be seen or even felt. There are thousands of accounts of healing however and the most convincing fact of all may be that he doesn’t charge for his services.

I personally saw this “John of God” myself a few years ago when he came to Atlanta. I was still in ministry then and had been invited to go along with other “clergy.” We were directed to wear all white and were lined up at the front of the huge auditorium and we each introduced ourselves before the healer arrived. We were then ushered into a room and directed to meditate until further notice. At the time, I meditated regularly and sitting still on a hard chair for a couple of hours was relatively easy. We were told not to open our eyes.I had no divine revelation or profound insight.

I’ve always been one to follow directions, a trait that has both served me well and been a curse. I kept my eyes closed and while I had no great insight, I was very aware of when the healer walked through the room we were in. It wasn’t because I heard anything. It felt as if a strange wind had blown through, not a scary wind, but not warm and comforting either. It felt strong. It felt powerful. It felt foreign. After a couple of hours, we were allowed to go before John of God, joining the long line of those hoping for miracles. He simply took our hands and nodded at each of us, as I recall.

I say all that because each of the people on Oprah today, both believers and skeptics say that they were changed by the experience whether healed or not. One man, a doctor in fact, the one who went to prove him fraudulent, said that he now believed we are all so much more than we think. Our lives and living have far more dignity and significance than we think. He said he now feels this life both conceals and reveals our truth (I love that statement, by the way). This doctor went on to say we have no idea who and what we are and how connected we are.

They all spoke of the energy of hope in the room and how they had all been instructed to think loving thoughts. THey all said that combined feeling of hope felt good.

None of what was said on the show today was new to me. I taught it from a pulpit for years. Yet, it struck me as ironic that this aired just a few days before this Day of Remembrance that most won’t even be aware of.

Most are not aware of transgender anything.

Most don’t know a transgender anyone.

Most have no idea people are killed for being trans.

As for the Day of Remembrance, one can’t remember what one doesn’t even know. But, one can remember to be kind, compassionate, fair and even how to love.

It’s like asking what is our default mechanism?

What comes natural to us when faced with something or someone new; someone or something we don’t understand?

Is it kindness or cruelty?

judgment or acceptance?

love or hate?

Since I became a part of the “LGBT community,” my default mechanism isn’t near so trusting as it was before. I hope however, it is still kind.

Kindness really is easy. It does come naturally to us. We started out that way.

Remember?

Remember to be kind to yourself, too. Let’s all hope. They said it feels good when we all hope together. I guess I need to remember that.

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

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

Your Vote Counts Because You Count

SVG Version of Image:Hrc_logo.png, which has t...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Image via Wikipedia

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

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

Connections

Today, my daughter and I had lunch with the niece of an ex-husband. We had lost touch and hadn’t seen each other in around seventeen years. When she was a teenager, I knew her as a nephew. How ironic is that? Kelly now lives as female and has for many years. I was struck by how respectfully she referred to Lee. While I and even Lee, refer to him often as “her,” and he still goes by his female name in most settings, Kelly consistently referred to him as “he” and “Lee.” I suppose it will take Lee himself staking that claim and requesting that others respect  his wishes.

It’s also ironic that we just returned from a visit to Lee’s hometown. While respectful of our relationship, his parents still refer to him and think of him as their daughter. We ran into an old church youth pastor who called my husband “Princess.” Now, that was weird. I suspect though, that were Lee to make that request of his family, at least his parents would comply. Maybe I am assuming too much, but they love their child.

While there, we also had dinner with several other family members including Lee’s cousin who is a Lesbian. She has been in a committed relationship with her partner for over a dozen years. They own a house and business together. During the dinner conversation, she began to tell a story of a recent event. In the telling , she referred to her partner as her “friend.” Lee said on the way home, “It’s no wonder we have come no farther when we devalue ourselves and those we love to that extreme so that someone else will not feel uncomfortable.”

As another note for the day, one might wonder what is in the water where Lee is from. Remember, his brother is gay. So is this cousin. There are seven cousins on that side of the family, three of which are LGBT. That’s almost half of that generation of that family. Yet, if truly 15% of the population is  and always has been, then three out of every twenty people are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-gender. Three out of every extended family. Three out of every school classroom. I would hope the children in those classrooms are kinder. I hope their parents are less fearful. I hope their families are more loving.

I saw at my long-lost niece’s house, the “Milk” DVD sitting on top of the television. Kelly, Lee, his brother and his cousin are all no less hero’s than Harvey Milk. They have paved the way for the next generation, who paves the way for the generation that follows behind them.

As a final note, the highlight of our trip was meeting Lee’s new nephew. He is eleven weeks old and so incredibly adorable. The family ooh’s and ahh’s over him and clearly, the world of many now revolve around this beautiful baby. He has so many people who love him already. I hope those people continue to love him, no matter what. Should he be apart of that 15%, I know his road will be at least a little easier. If he is part of the 85%, his path will surely be a little kinder.

September 29, 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

%d bloggers like this: