Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

Since the Salvation Army is on every street corner and outside every store with their little red kettles trying to reach your heartstrings at this time of the year, I’m thinking perhaps this is the right time to fill you in on the do-gooders who aren’t really such good doers.

Let me state upfront that the Salvation Army has done good works – I don’t deny this – what I’m saying is this…  If you’re gay or you support gay rights – you should not put money in the little red kettles.

The Salvation Army has a history of discrimination against gays and lesbians here in the States and elsewhere in the world.  Yes, they do offer their services to all who are in need, however if you are a practicing homosexual (having sex) then you are ineligible for full membership in the Salvation Army. They also believe if you are a Christian and you are attracted to members of the same sex you should embrace celibacy as a way of life.   In other words – if you’re gay and having sex – you can’t work for them.

There are also documented cases of pure discrimination of gays and lesbians who went to the Salvation Army for help.  The gay couple was told that help would only come if they broke up and the lesbian couple and their children were told that they had two choices: One of the lesbian women could live on the street and the Salvation Army shelter would take the other lesbian and the children or… they could all sleep on the street.

The Salvation Army also gave money here in California to help Prop 8 halt the marriage rights of gays and lesbians.

Yes, I’m aware that The Salvation Army is a Christian organization whose roots are deep in the teachings of the Bible. And yes, I’m also aware that The Salvation Army is considered a “church” and thus entitled to all the tax-exempt and other misguided “gifts” our government deems to bestow upon them.  And yes, I do understand that they have every right to make their own rules and serve whomever they please. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree or that I can’t voice my total disgust with their system.

Maybe it’s just me – But I believe that an organization that labels itself a charity and collects money from anyone and everyone – should in turn give services to anyone and everyone. If I were to place money in one of those little red kettles would that bell-ringer ask me first is I was a member of the LGBTQ Community?  Would the money fly back out of the kettle because it was “unclean?”  Of course not – they take the money from everyone – but if my partner Susan and I needed their help – help would not be forthcoming without some sort of straight hoop for us to jump through.

So, just to be clear… LGBTQ money is perfectly fine to flow through the Salvation Army – but the LGBTQ Community is not worthy to partake in what help flows from our own contributions.  Does this make any sense to you – on any level?

Try and imagine how you would feel if you needed help and were turned away from a shelter simply because of who you are and who it is you fell in love with.  Charity is defined as something given to a person in need, there’s nothing in the definition about exceptions for the LGBTQ Community.  These exceptions belong entirely to The Salvation Army.

If you are considering where to give your money this year, I’m asking you to walk past the little red kettles, and please consider your local food bank, or Habitat for Humanity or any of the many different charities who offer help without any sort of prejudice.

Read Full Post »

My emotions have been running the gamut since my mother passed away on November 11. I can go from feeling perfectly happy to anger and feeling just down-right morose in a matter of seconds. Granted, I have always had the ability to be a little moody, but this – this I don’t seem to have any control over. Emotions seem to come and go in the blink of an eye. I’m aware of the whole grief thing, and I believe I expect way too much of myself sometimes. I’m trying to just allow myself to feel however it is that I feel and just be okay with that. This – this whole change thing is not an easy task for me.

So, I’ve been reading a bit more of my favorite Philosophers which I’m finding helps to ground me, and helps to keep me in the center of where it is I need to be.Heraclitus is one of my favorites, and his little bits of wisdom I have always found to be so applicable in my life.

  • Nothing endures but change.
  • The road up and the road down is one and the same.
  • You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
  • Deliberate violence is more to be quenched than a fire.
  • Bigotry is the sacred disease
  • If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
  • Much learning does not teach understanding.
  • Hide our ignorance as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it.

Every time I go and sit by the ocean I think of the never stepping in to the same river twice. Susan asked me once why I love to go to watch the ocean so much, and I told her that it’s because it’s always different. It may be that we go to the same spot every time, but the water is always different which makes the view always different. The energy is different, the air is different, and the smell is different. It’s never the same – ever.

I’m discovering that this is the way of life – it’s never the same – ever.  Hence the: “Nothing endures but change” thing.   The world does seem to be changing at an alarming rate – but perhaps it only seems to be moving and changing faster because I’m older and because I now understand how quickly it can all be over and we can be gone. The time it takes for you to be breathing and not breathing can’t be measured – it just is…You are here – and then you are not.

Where we go after we die, and what happens to our soul, is certainly something up for debate. I believe people believe what they must to not fear dying. We have to believe that our life has mattered, that we’ve made a difference, and that we’ve brought joy and love and goodness to the world in some way. Well – at least this is what I have to believe. And… if we haven’t had the best of lives, we’d like to think that where we’re going is better and happier and not filled with so much hate and violence.

I don’t have the answers about where we go or what happens; I only know that since my mother has passed I hear a woman singing in my home every now and then.  It’s not loud singing, it’s soft and comforting. I heard it last night when I was watching Monday Night Football and Susan was reading. I didn’t say anything, I just smiled and then Susan looked up from her book and said: “Do you just hear that woman singing?”  “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it…”

I remember those folks who used to come into the restaurant my mother worked in when I was a little girl.  They were gruff and complaining about how the world was changing and how it wasn’t good and it would ruin the country and society.  They were concerned that the “colored” would get the vote and live within the confines of our little white village! They were concerned that women would no longer know their place, and that television would ruin society.  Sadly – some of these concerns still permeate our politics some 50 years later… Change can indeed be a good thing, but not always. When change comes and it’s evil, we must find the courage and fight for that which is good and right.

Your life is simply that – your life. Whatever path you travel up or down – it’s still your life.  Hence the “The road up and the road down is one and the same” little bit of wisdom. It’s your choice, but the road is always the same. You can travel up the road to bigger and better things or you can travel down the road and wallow…

My road is well-traveled up and down; what I understand now is that it is my road, my path, my life, and it can all be gone in less time than it takes to blink. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I had done something or said something or written something.  I’m going to travel up the road – one more time…

Read Full Post »

I understand I’m not the first child to have buried both of their parents; it’s just that this is the first Holiday in which this is the reality for me. My father passed in July of 2010, and I buried my mother 5 days ago. The realization of what this means has finally come home to roost in my head and in my heart.

I’m basically an orphan; for that is what a child is who has no parents. For whatever reason, no matter your age; when your parents are no longer with you – you are an orphan.

I’ve spent this Thanksgiving morning remembering…  Mother, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers, cousins with whom I have shared a Thanksgiving meal throughout my life. Sweet, funny, precious relatives who no longer walk on this earth, who made me laugh, taught me to cook, insisted I read, and made me a fan of the Washington Redskins for the entirety of my life. Those Thanksgiving with them have been long gone, but on this Thanksgiving morning I feel the sadness of not having these people in my life more than ever.

I wonder… Is Mother with all of these people on this day? Are they gathered around a table somewhere oohing and ahhing over Aunt Jean’s turkey? Is there a mincemeat pie for my father, are they singing campfires songs as they do the dishes, and is Uncle Mike enjoying his 7 and 7 as he watches the Redskins play? Is there 40’s music playing quietly in the background, and are they sitting around the table drinking their coffee out of bone china cups reserved strictly for Holidays?  I think about these things.

Susan and I have a wonderful family – There are kids and grand-kids and lots of love to go around. We gather together, we eat too much, we watch the games, we spoil the children – it’s a traditional Thanksgiving. I’m blessed to have such a family.

I am also blessed to have friends in my life who love me and support me – no matter what.  They have been there for me with calls and texts and messages and love and hugs. Their kindness and compassion assure me daily of all that is right and good with the world. I can’t imagine my life without these people – these friends – in it.

Still – the reality on this Thanksgiving morning that I am an orphan is a new obstacle that I have to face.  Granted, it’s an obstacle that every child has to endure and learn to negotiate on their own terms, however, this is now my reality – my obstacle – my life.

Just because these relatives have died – have I stopped being a daughter?  A Granddaughter?  A niece?  A cousin?  I think about these things and I wonder…

Tomorrow with be better and the day after that better still – The reality is that our lives can be over in the blink of an eye – we must live every moment and be thankful every day. Orphaned or not – Life goes on, and I have so much to be thankful for…

Read Full Post »

I just spent a week in the bosom of my family – not by choice – but because my mother passed away suddenly and I went home to honor her memory and lay her to rest beside her Mother and Father.

To be clear – most of my family has no idea who I am.  I left the place of my birth and the people with whom I share a blood connection over 30 years ago, and most of them don’t understand why I left or why on earth I haven’t returned! In their minds-eye I’m whatever age they remember me being before I left the little village we called home.

Also, to be clear –

The discussion of my being gay seems to permeate conversations whenever I’m around some of these people with whom I share DNA. I don’t know why – it fascinates and sickens them at the same time.  I was hopeful since I was there to bury my mother they might lighten up on such things and simply let me mourn in some sort of peace the week I was there.

I was wrong.  Throughout the week – this was my experience:

I was told that my family loved me and that they wanted me to make an effort to be a part of the family once again.  They didn’t understand the whole “gay” thing, and they still believe it’s a choice I made, and the Bible still says it’s wrong – but – they want me to feel welcome and loved…

Yes sir – warm and fuzzy – that’s how I was feeling.

For the sake of peace and harmony – I tried to hug one of the Bible relatives to thank her for bringing a desert to the church for my mother’s service, only to have her recoil like I had a gun to her head. She couldn’t look at me and walked past my partner Susan as if she didn’t even exist.

Oh yes – welcomed and loved – I was feeling it.

I was also informed that there was no way they were going to stop eating at Chick-Fil-A and if that upset me – well that was too bad.  Besides – why should I care where they eat they asked me.  They don’t care where I eat. Even after Susan explained to them where the money goes and what the money does – They informed us that they wouldn’t be giving up their chicken sandwich, waffle fries and sweet tea for nobody!

And – by the way – why do I have to write so much about gay issues? And why am I making such a big deal out of it? And – Why do we gay people have big parades and our own Oreo cookie?

Lord… Give me strength.

I came to the sad realization that there are members of my family who are just hate-filled people who believe that their religion gives them the absolute right to treat me with no respect and condemn my sick little soul to hell.  So be it.  Condemn away…

I also came to the sad realization that there are members of my family who are content to stay un-educated and ignorant to the fact that there is a world that exists outside of the confines of their little village. A world filled with wonder and excitement and diversity.  A world where stuffing isn’t considered a vegetable and going to Chick-Fil-A isn’t considered a night on the town!

On the other hand – I came to understand that there are members of my family who love me with no strings attached. They love me for me; they hugged me to death and comforted me and made me feel safe. There was no talk of Chick-Fil-A or anything gay – I was simply cared for in the most loving of ways.

And my sweet home-town friends who were there for me – no questions asked, with smiles and hugs and more love than I could have imagined. These are friends of the heart – not friends of the road.

The world is filled with the Chick-Fil-A eating crowd – Bless them – and let them go.  I won’t stop writing or marching or protesting their ignorance no matter how they wish that I would – and that gay Oreo cookie? I’d send a case to every Chick-Fil-A loving member of my family – if the cookie really existed!

Read Full Post »

So – I am less than three weeks from my 60th Birthday.  Of course, on my Birthday last year Susan informed me that I was now in my 60th year, so I’ve had a year to prepare!  Still – I’m not really sure I am prepared…

Birthdays have never bothered me – all 59 of them. They come and they go, it’s just pretty much another day on the calendar – but… 60 – it has me a little pensive.  Perhaps it’s because all these goodies have started to come in the mail for me – Things I obviously need when turning 60.  Medicare, AARP, Hearing Aids, Cremation information, Burial Plots, Life Insurance…  Or perhaps it’s because I am aware that more of my life is behind me than in front of me.

Whatever it is, I’ve been musing about what it is I know for sure at 60.  You know life lessons I’ve learned through the muck and mire that has sometimes been my life so far.

Here – in no particular order – are things I would tell my Grandchildren – if they ever asked me what it is I’ve learned about life in my 60 years.

  • People are not always who or what you want them to be.  If you think you have to change them – you don’t need them. Walk away.
  • Don’t ever start smoking – then you won’t ever have to quit.
  • Read Henry David Thoreau’s essay entitled: Civil Disobedience
  • Follow your passion – don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t; don’t let anyone tell you it’s stupid or worthless. Do what you love.
  • Spend time by the water; be it the ocean or a lake or a creek.  Just put your feet in the water and understand that you don’t ever put your feet in the same water twice. It’s always new, always changing, just like your life should be.
  • Don’t settle – for anything or anyone.
  • Work for the common good – remember that we really are our brothers keepers – no matter what the Republicans say – we really are responsible for one another.
  • Do not be forced into any sort of religion. Believe what you must to get you through the days and nights of your life. Know that there are many religions in the world – they all matter and they all have their place. Not one of them is more important than any other of them.
  • Know that all people matter – all people everywhere.  All colors, all genders, all races, all religions – all people – everywhere. We all have a purpose on this earth.
  • Know that the Double Stuffed Oreo trumps all other cookies ever made.
  • Parents are not perfect – and sometimes they don’t always know what is best for you. Follow your heart.
  • Understand that your family may not always be loving and kind or accepting. It’s okay to not want to be a part of something that is negative and hateful and destroys who you are.  Carry no ill-will – just walk away.
  • Rosemary Clooney is one of the best singers who ever lived…  Google her – and then listen to her sing the song – “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
  • Don’t ever let anyone take away your individuality – When you give that away – you give away your life – no one is worth that – no one.
  • Don’t ever think you can’t live alone. It may not be your choice – but don’t ever believe you must have someone in your life to survive. Sometimes living with yourself will teach you more lessons than you could ever imagine.
  • Never stay in a relationship because it’s convenient or because you feel trapped. There is always a way out – always.  This is tied in to the never settle piece of advice.
  • Watch the movie “Rhinestone” and know it was the worst movie your Grandma ever saw.
  • Read and learn your American History. Please understand that you must know where you’ve come from in order to know where it is you’re going.
  • Don’t be so busy with your life that you miss it.  By this I mean – don’t be so busy trying to get things that you don’t take the time to enjoy what you already have.
  • Don’t let your family dictate who you are.  You don’t have to fit into any mold – you simply are who you are.
  • Travel the world.  When you stand by the Eiffel Tower – know that your Grandma’s cried with joy when they were standing there for the first time.
  • Knows that dreams can come true – Read the lines above about the Eiffel Tower!
  • Don’t listen to all the Irish malarkey that Grandma Susan will fill your head with.  leprechaun’s are not good little men – they are evil little men and there is no gold at the end of the rainbow.
  • Don’t ever expect someone to make your life complete. You are the only one who can complete your life.
  • Never, ever give up on you. Never ever stop growing and changing and learning.
  • Know that your life can be over in the blink of an eye. Be responsible and cautious and don’t do foolish things that can endanger your life or the life of others.
  • Don’t let your fears prevent you from living your life. Nothing is so bad that it can’t be overcome.
  • Don’t spend your time saying:    “If only I… “    Spend your time saying:  “When I did…”
  • Know that for as long as I’m alive – there will be a place for you to go – for food, a hug,  a little spending money if you need it, someone to listen, and lots and lots of love – always.

Wonder what else I’ll know by the time I’m 80?

Read Full Post »

I’ve decided that in the grand scope of life, this one Presidential Election isn’t going to make or break us. Indeed – life will go on after the polls close on November 6, 2012.

I believe what we must ask ourselves is how we all live with one other after the polls close on November 6, 2012.  All the snarky remarks, all the lies, all the predictions, all the insults, all the gay-bashing, all the Republican-bashing, all the Democratic-bashing, all the bashing of everything  and everyone  – It will all turn  into the giant pile of poo when this election is over, and then what?

How do we keep religion, political parties and gender out of the mix and come together as human beings?  How do we push aside the poo and understand that without one another we will all simply be what we are right at this moment; stuck in our own truths.

Why can’t we just let people be?  I don’t care what you believe as far as religion goes – why would you care what I believe?  The beauty of America is that we have the freedom to believe or not believe whatever we choose.  Just because someone doesn’t believe what you do or read the same book you do or follow the same god you do doesn’t mean you must demonize them.  Just let them be.

And why do people care who I love? Why does it matter to anyone that I’ve been in love with the same woman for over 30 years? And why, instead of making us look like we are spawns of the devil, isn’t someone saying: “30 years? How wonderful!”  Isn’t love simply – love?

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’m going to look at the Republicans in my life after this election and find common ground with them.  I know I need to just let them be, for they are to enjoy the freedom of their beliefs – then again – they voted for me not to enjoy the same freedom that they enjoy and that is poo which goes right to my heart.  Is there any common ground with these people? Perhaps not and perhaps just walking away would be the right thing to do for me. Like I said – Just let them be.

We all live in the same space and breathe the same air, but the playing field is not a level one.  We all know this, and we all at one time or another acknowledge this. Any one of us could be living on the streets, or in shelters or in a tent under a bridge if circumstances in our lives had been different.  These are the people who need us to put aside all the poo of politics and just help when and where we can.

After all the poo of this election – I’m going to focus on the good in the world – where to find it, how to give it, how to write it.  In the end, we are all only here on this earth for a short time, and it’s not about how much time you have, it’s about what you do with the time you have that really matters.

I’m going to find the good poo and roll in it!

Read Full Post »

As a woman who will be turning the age of 60 in less than a month, one would think I would have a fine grasp on my life, wouldn’t one? And as an out and activist lesbian who writes a weekly column, one would think I could find the appropriate words for every situation I find myself in, wouldn’t one?

Lately, this has not been my experience.

I find myself in a position of knowing what is right for me, and yet not knowing how to get my point across with style and grace and not come off sounding pissy and self-serving.

Allow me to try to explain…

As a woman and as a lesbian, this Presidential Election is a clear choice between what is right and what is wrong for me.  President Obama is what is right; for women (me), for the gay community (me), for the citizens of the United States of America (me).  Period. End of story.

Each and every one of us should vote our conscience and in doing such, this is where the problem lies with me and those who choose to vote Republican in this particular Presidential Election.  For me, I take it personally when someone I know and who knows me is choosing to vote against my being equal to them in every sense of the word.  It’s personal to me that you believe that I’m somehow less valuable than you – that my life isn’t quite as important as yours. You may say: “Barb, I most certainly don’t feel that way,” but a vote for this Republican ticket most certainly says that you indeed do feel that way.

And how exactly am I to feel about you casting a vote against me?  Seriously, what am I to do with this smack-down of my civil and human liberties? You tell me how I’m supposed to treat someone who votes to make sure I will be kept as the “less-than” status for at least four more years – perhaps longer. Am I to treat you with the same disdain with which you are treating me with your vote?  Am I to wish the same inequalities for you and your family that you are voting for me and my family?

I’d like to think I could just shut you out of my life – and in some instances this is exactly what I have done, but…  I’m not sure this is really the right thing to do.  How do we reach people with the truth when we shut them out of our lives? How do we make people understand that the gay community is simply a community of human beings who simply want to live our lives as free and equal Americans if we cut out everyone who chooses to vote against us? Will this not just prove the point that we are pissy and self-serving?  Will that simply not keep us divided and uncommunicative?

Then again – how can I have any respect for someone who knowingly votes against me? How do I keep you in my life when I know your vote went to keep me from having the same civil liberties as you? That your vote went to make sure women don’t get equal pay for equal work. That you voted for a man who has no desire to allow women to make their own decisions about health-care and abortions, and that you care little for the environment and the arts and look at the elderly and disabled veterans as moochers and victims.  How do I find any redeeming qualities in your vote?

This is where my firm grasp on my life tends to slip a little. I know full well who I am; I’m out and proud and make no excuses or exceptions for that. But, I also understand that we all have differences, and we all see the world with different eyes.  Still, I’d like to believe that human dignity is something every one of us would see clearly through every set of eyes. I could be wrong, but I still have hope.

The one thing constant about life is that is just keeps going. We will all survive this election, some of us better than others depending on the outcome.  Either way, if you vote Republican and we come in contact with one another – I’ll be asking you face to face why you believe I’m not equal to you, and why you believe I don’t have the same right to everything this life has to offer as you do.  Don’t start by telling me your vote wasn’t anything personal against me – for it most certainly was – Start by telling me why your human dignity is more important than mine.  I’ll try not to be pissy and self-serving, but I can’t guarantee anything…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »