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Archive for July, 2012

For those in my gay community whining about all the good Sally Ride could have done had she only “come out;” I say – Get over yourself.

For most gays and lesbians the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives is “come out.”  It’s personal, and absolutely no one can dictate to you the time, day, or moment you have to come out. It’s a scary straight world, full of hate, anger, bigotry, ignorance, and people who want to do nothing more than make a mockery of your life. It took me 50 years to find the strength and courage, so I totally understand my brothers and sisters who can’t find the strength and courage to step out from behind the curtain. It doesn’t mean their lives don’t matter, and it doesn’t mean we don’t support them in every way possible.

It’s not like she was hiding who she was or living in the closet.  She was with her partner for 27 years, I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a committed relationship. Her family was obviously well aware of her orientation, and quite supportive of her and her partner.  Why do you think she owed you any explanation about her life?

Could she have made a difference had she come out and been an advocate for the gay community? Perhaps, but why is it you think she owed anything to the gay community? Perhaps she didn’t want to be exploited as the “First Lesbian Astronaut,” and we all know that is exactly what would have happened. From all accounts, she was intensely private, and intensely private is not always something the gay community understands. We sometimes expect our famous gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to carry our banner to every corner of the world, shouting how we deserve and demand equal rights, when the reality is that they are simply trying to live a gay life in a straight world just as you and I are. I don’t believe we have the right to ask or demand that of anyone.

She only could have made a huge difference if she would have been comfortable being the mouthpiece for the LGBT community. It’s hard enough sometimes to accept who you are without having to do it on a stage with millions of people scrutinizing every little thing you say and every little movement you make.  I don’t blame people for not wanting to come out – I wouldn’t want to be placed in that position, or held up to a certain standard that no matter what would never please everyone. And let’s be honest – people can be brutal in their assessment of who they think you should be.

The truth of the matter is – being gay is not a choice we make, it’s simply who we are.  I would think that those of us who have been through, and continue to go through, the ups and downs of being out in a straight world would be a little more understanding. However, society, especially various portions of the religious part of it, doesn’t seem to want to accept that, so they have labels they place on everything and everyone to keep us all separate from one another. They simply cannot allow that we are all Americans.  We must be African-American, Mexican-American, Gay-American, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Japanese-Americans, you fill-in-the-blank-Americans. Anything to keep us divided and keeps us in our place as “the other.”

Sally Ride lived a life of quiet dignity.  She did more to help young women find self-esteem, and believe in themselves that most of us will ever imagine doing in our lifetime. Have we stopped to consider that had she “come out” she may not have had that chance to teach and touch so many lives?  She would have been considered as one the ‘the other’ and certainly the money and the chances would not have been so forthcoming for her. Why can’t we let her have her life of quiet dignity?  Why can’t we just honor her for who she was and what she gave the world?

Instead of whining about Sally Ride, why don’t you go out in the world and make a difference? If you can change just one heart and one mind, you have changed the world just a little.  Write, talk, vote… Don’t expect someone to do it for you – go out and make the change you want to see…

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I think that one of life’s hardest lessons is realizing that someone is not at all what you believed them to be.  All of us create these idealistic images in our heads and our hearts about people without really knowing who they are. I understand now that I’m looking 60 right in the eyes how unrealistic that is because people, no matter who they are, will never, ever live up to that image we have in our heads and our hearts.

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where Penn State was the only college football team that was talked about.  I was married to a man who couldn’t watch Penn State football games because he was so invested in the outcome – he also called Joe Paterno, “God.”  I always teased him about that, still, there was this thing in the back of my mind that thought; “God? Really?” I mean, I loved Penn State Football; I just never jumped on the Joe Paterno train. It was the team I loved to follow and the University, not the man.

Joe Paterno was only human, and as much as his fans made him out to be God-like, the man was of this earth and most certainly not a saint.  He allowed the media to perpetuate this image of himself as the tough but loving coach who cared about his team. The Coach who taught his team; “success with honor,” and had no names on the jersey’s because we were all about team – team – team.

It appears now that team really was what mattered most to him – at any cost.

Was he a good man, a good Father, a good Coach? Personally, I don’t know any of these things – I didn’t know him, I wasn’t his child, and I never played football for him.

What I do know is this… There is this great quote by Edmund Burke that goes: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Evil triumphed here, big time, and Joe Paterno did nothing to stop the raping of young boys by his friend. You can decide for yourself how good of a man he was.

For those who say he’s dead, why does this matter, let him rest in peace – I say; how can it not matter? And should he really be resting in peace? Really?

Joe Paterno was arguably the most powerful man on the campus of Penn State University. He had the power to stop his friend, Jerry Sandusky from raping young boys, and he chose to instead protect his reputation and the reputation of Penn State Football. No matter how one tries to reason this out in their mind, it’s just wrong. On every level possible, it’s just wrong.

Joe Paterno is no longer on the top of the all-time win list; he’s now 12th on the list, which is as it should be. For to believe Joe Paterno is a winner, on any level, is just wrong.  We need to educate everyone on the matters of child rape, we need to make sure Jerry Sandusky never sees the light of day; and we need to let Penn State move on and see what kind of University they can be without the power and influence of Joe Paterno.

I’m not saying that Joe Paterno is the only one to blame here –Everyone one who was fired deserved to be fired, anyone involved needs to pay the price for the rape of these children. However there is proof that JoePa persuaded the President on the University not to report his friend, Jerry Sandusky to state authorities.  Thanks to Joe Paterno’s persuasion, the University simply warned Sandusky not to bring the children on campus. So, to be clear, JoePa knew the children were being raped by his friend, and instead of turning him in, he simply asked him to rape them any place other than the campus of Penn State.  Who does that?

As for Joe Paterno’s family…  Sadly, like millions of us have had to do – they need to grieve the loss of their loved one, and they need to come to terms with the fact that the man they knew had faults and made grave mistakes that impacted lives beyond what they could ever fathom. Don’t try and change what the truth is – it just is what it is.  Find the good, accept the bad, and move on as best you can.

I’ll still be paying extra on my Time Warner Cable account here in San Diego, CA to watch Penn State play every game this season.  I love my Blue and White because no matter what…

WE ARE…  PENN STATE…

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There were 14 people in our little contingent sitting in our favorite spot along the Parade Route.  Three of us are gay; the other 11 are straight neighbors and friends who were with us showing love and support and total acceptance on every level one could ever hope for.  We arrived early to nab a parking spot and our favorite part of the sidewalk along 6th Avenue in the shade. We watched folks dressed in festive rainbow attire, couples walking hand in hand and laughter was in the air everywhere you went.

Almost every person you passed smiled and said “Happy Pride,” and Susan looked at me and said: “I love that everyone says Happy Pride, it’s like they’re saying Happy Birthday to us.”  I’d never thought of it in those terms, however, for a gay and lesbian your life really does start the day you “come out,” and what is more festive and celebratory than a big gay parade? So Happy Pride now seems even more appropriate!

Even before the troops rounded the corner of University Avenue and started down 6th Avenue the tears started to flow. I knew they were coming, I could hear the roar of the thousands of people who had lined the parade route.

 

And then – there they were passing by me these active duty Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard personnel walking proud in their uniforms.  But, these weren’t just any active duty military personnel, these were gay and lesbians in their finest uniforms walking down the parade route in front of thousands of people. Proud of their uniform, proud of their country feeling the love and pride of those of us who rose to our feet to clap and yell and whistle for them. It was a moment frozen in time for me.  I never imagined seeing it in my lifetime, and yet – there they were.

It was a moment for those of us who are homosexual to realize that the world really is changing, and for those who are heterosexual to understand how hard the battle has been and how ridiculous the prejudice against us has been.

I ran on to the street and hugged my friends who walk every year with the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community float. They are loving, sweet, kind, wonderful friends who quietly live their faith striving for peace, love and equality for everyone.

There was a Mormon group walking this year for the first time ever.  They carried a banner which read: “Mormons for Marriage Equality, and held signs saying: “This Mormon loves you,” and “Sorry, we’re late.” They were cheered and accepted by everyone along the parade route

Was there loud booming music and men dancing in their underwear? Of course, what Pride Parade would be complete without that? There was even this foam throwing truck that covered men and women inside with foam – I have no idea what it represented, but it was fun and festive. If you go to a Pride Parade expecting to not see craziness, then you really shouldn’t go!

The 300ft gay flag at the end of the parade is always my moment to stand alone in the crowd of thousands and cry. It’s my moment to remember the first time I touched that flag and knew that my life had changed. It’s my moment to watch the people walk by me under and around this flag and watch as it comes to life going down 6th Avenue.  It floats up and down as people join in and help bring it to life. Just like my life as people come into it with love and acceptance and help bring me to life.

Happy Pride everyone!

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I’ve been asked numerous times why I write so much about gay issues. Why can’t I just let things go? Why can’t I just let others have their opinions? Why must I protest and tell people not to shop at certain stores? Why do I think my opinion is right?

To be clear; it’s not my opinion, it’s my life.  I think if we all understood this, we would understand why it is I write about issues that affect my life.

Also – to be clear; I don’t think my opinion is right, I just believe that my life has as much meaning and deserves as much  love, respect and dignity as the person who follows me around a room reading their Bible to me telling me I’m going to hell.

Just because I’m forever trying to educate people about how it feels to be gay doesn’t mean I think I’m trying to force my gayness on to you.   What it means is that a straight person will have a different view of their life than I do, and if you don’t even bother to listen or educate yourself on how other people live, how can you possibly know that what happens in other people’s lives matters to the world at large?

I’ve been asked why I’m so hard on some people of faith, why do I feel the need to attack them, why can‘t I just let them be.   I would love nothing more than to just let them be, if they would simply do the same for me.  Just let me be.  For some reason though, who I am doesn’t jive with what they believe, so in order to keep me in line – they spend millions and millions of dollars passing laws that prevent me from living my American Dream.  Will I write about that? You bet I will, and I’ll be listing names of the people and the organizations that feel they have the right to say my life doesn’t matter.

To tell anyone they don’t matter, for any reason, is just wrong, and any religion that teaches you to hate and pass judgments on others is wrong.  No exceptions.  I don’t understand why more people don’t get this.  The more we are divided, the more we lose as a people. If you’re not offended because the Boy Scouts of America won’t let gay boys into their troops, you should be.  If you’re not offended that women are losing access to birth control – you should be.  If you’re not offended that United States Citizens are being denied their right to vote by the thousands – you should be.  If you’re not offended by Chick –Fil- A (a fast-food restaurant) giving money to a group known as Exodus International who mission statement is: “Mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.” You should be.  These things matter; not just to me, but to every single one of us.  It shouldn’t be people thinking of ways to divide us, it should be people thinking of ways to unite as one open, giving, accepting society.

It’s hard enough just living from day-to-day sometimes. We all, regardless of faith, sex, and orientation have the daily struggles of life, death, illness, family, jobs, money… We don’t need hate, anger, bigotry, thrown into the mix.

Being straight isn’t an opinion – it’s a life.  Being black isn’t an opinion – it’s a life.  Being a Muslim isn’t an opinion – it’s a life.

Being gay isn’t my opinion – it’s my life.

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So – The Boy Scouts of America will continue to ban gay members.  Took them two years to review and make this decision.  I’m just wondering… were there any scouts on this panel that represented “a diversity of perspectives and opinions?”

Boy Scouts chief executive Bob Mazzuca explained in a statement: “The vast majority of parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”

I’m also wondering if the fact that organized religion is now sponsoring 62 percent of scout troops had any influence on this decision. The Mormon Church, which sponsors some 23 percent of Boy Scout troops, actually requires Boy Scout participation for members of its own youth ministry.

The Mormon Church pumped millions of dollars into the State of California to make sure the gay marriage law didn’t pass, so one would have to think that perhaps this “religion” may have had some pull in the discrimination of young gay men who want to join the Boy Scouts of America.

Isn’t religion supposed to be about love and forgiveness?

The word Forgive is defined by the Free Online Dictionary as follows:

  • to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
  •  to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc.)
  •  (tr) to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
  •  (tr) to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc.)

The thing is, I don’t blame these self-righteous church people for anything, and I’m not resentful; I just think they’re ignorant and homophobic and afraid of what they don’t know. Besides – how does one forgive stupid?

It’s the boys who will suffer – the boys who can’t become Boy Scouts who will feel less-than, discriminated against and worthless.  While the boys who can become Boy Scouts will feel superior, and know that it’s okay to bully and discriminate against the gay community.

The Boy Scouts of America are a privately owned organization. It’s obvious who owns them – and it’s obvious that their Bibles all preach discrimination and homophobia.  What a wonderful example of fine-Christian-Living this is, and how sad for the gay kids who already face hostility and violence every day in their own country.

How does one forgive Stupid?

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Ever have one of those days when you aren’t sure how it is you’re supposed to be feeling? You’re happy, and yet, your mind wanders to events that aren’t quite so happy, and then it wanders back to events that are happy.  Happy, Sad, Happy, Sad, Happy…

July 15th is that sort of day for me.

  •     My father’s birthday was July 15. He would have been 86 today.
  •     Herb Valentine – my Uncle Herb died on July 15th.
  •     I was married on July 15, 1972
  •     I arrived in San Diego on July 15, 2002 to be with Susan, and finally live the life that was really mine.

I miss my father on this day.  9 days from now – July 24 – it will be two years that he’s been gone. Doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed, and yet, there are days that the pain of his loss is as fresh as it was two years ago.  I miss picking up the phone and singing to him on his Birthday.  He loved it when I would sing the second verse of the Happy Birthday song to him. 

  •   May your days all be bright, and filled with delight
  • Happy Birthday, God Bless You, Happy Birthday to you.

Herb Valentine was a man larger than life in my younger years.  He was a big, burly man who, when he laughed, had a belly that just shook.  Sort of like Santa Claus!  He was a big part of my youth, and when he died a part of me died with him.  Those care-free happy days of picking cigarette butts out of the alley, and throwing stones and twigs in my doll carriage, and those glorious days on the Chesapeake Bay on his boat – the Dot-V-Dot – so named because I called his wife Dorothy – Dot-Dot. It was those days that defined my youth, and my Uncle Herb was a major part of that. When he was gone, there was a huge void that has never been filled. Perhaps that’s because I never let anyone fill it.  That space belonged to my Uncle Herb, it still does. 

My wedding day in 1972 – well – what can I say about that?  I knew it was a mistake, I knew I could never be what my husband needed or deserved and yet… I did it anyway because I could think of no way not to do it.

It wasn’t all bad, there were happy times, however; it was a lie on my part.  I feel sad about this. I should have been more honest, more open, and less afraid of facing the world as an out Lesbian.  Thing was, I was only 19, it was 1972, and my conservative, Republican, small-town family would have never embraced me as anyone other than the married family clown who worked at Ferguson and Hassler’s selling shoes!

I remember the evening was hot & humid and as happy as I thought I was – I knew that I wasn’t.  As much as I tried to be a good wife – I knew that I wasn’t. As much as I tried to be that small-town, conservative, Republican, church-choir singing wife – I knew it wasn’t ever going to work.

Even after my husband joined the Navy, and we left that little town and found ourselves in San Diego, I knew it was never going to work.  How could it?  I cared about him as a friend, but I was never romantically in love with him. How could I be?  I feel sad for him, and for me for the years we spent pretending.

The thing is – those years spent pretending brought me to where I am right now – with Susan.  It’s the happiest I have ever been in my life. When I got out of my car with my Cocker Spaniels Max and Molly ten years ago, my life was finally what it was supposed to be.

In those 10 years with Susan, Max and Molly have both passed away, friends have come and gone, and my family – well – they are what they are. Some have embraced Susan and me; others have turned their backs and walked away, as I knew they would.  Small-town, conservative, Republican religion doesn’t always interpret the Bible in a way that is kind and gentle to homosexuals, it’s more the fire and brimstone – I’m going to hell sort of religion they embrace!

Life is meant for the living, for the here and the now, although I do believe that your body somehow remembers trauma, both physical and emotional. For on this day – this July 15th – I feel like a child losing a beloved Uncle, a daughter missing singing Happy Birthday to her Daddy, a young girl looking at her future husband in a church and knowing it was wrong, and an adult woman looking into the eyes of the woman who would make her life happier than she ever dreamed, and my body laughs and cries at will.

This is what remains of this day…

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I wasn’t going to jump into the free-speech, don’t heckle the comic telling rape jokes fray, however, I find myself reading articles, shaking my head thinking: Is this what we’ve become; A funny rape joke society?

Honestly, I’ve never even heard of Daniel Tosh.  Never seen him, never heard him, didn’t even know he existed.  Now that I have heard of him, I still have no desire to see him or listen to him.  I don’t believe he should be censored, although I do believe that perhaps attending a group meeting with women who have been raped should be in order for him, just so he might understand his ignorance when it comes to women and rape.

I’m not a fan of rape jokes; I think it’s sick on any number of levels.  I suppose what bothers me the most is that his rape jokes are only about women.  I mean if rape is funny, let’s tell jokes about men being raped, and little boys and little girls.  Let’s leave no one out of the loop here.  Cover the entire rape spectrum.  Men, women, boys, girls, and babies – I’m sure there has to be some sort of joke in raping a baby!

Yes, I agree with the if you don’t like his type of humor, just get up and leave, however… what of the man sitting in the audience who might have had too much to drink and believes that yes, rape is funny and decides to see just how funny it is up close and personal? What then? Do we not place any blame on Daniel Tosh and his laissez fare attitude about women and rape when this man goes and rapes the first woman or child or baby he sees? Is he not accountable for anything he says? Is this really what free speech means?

With any freedom comes responsibility and accountability.  You have the right to express your opinion without any governmental interference as long as you follow the laws and you don’t incite violence.   Raping someone is all about violence. It’s not about sex or a woman asking for it or dressing for it or whatever other lame-ass joke is told.

Tell your rape jokes is you must.  Just remember that we need to hear some side-splitting men raping men jokes.   And how does that one go about the rapist and the baby?

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