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Archive for the ‘High School’ Category

I’m tired, my friends. To my core – tired.

I feel my Country sinking into a hole that I’m not sure we will ever be able to pull ourselves out of. I mean, how do you pull yourself out of a hole when there’s nothing for you to grab on to?

This morning I found myself unfriending another person I’ve known for over 35 years. He had posted a meme about how awful it was that illegals can cross the border and get health care, and Vets don’t get any care, but Donald Trump was going to fix that (let’s see how that works out!)  and then he posted an article by Franklin Graham about LGBT activists going after Chip and Joanna Gaines, and my lesbian self thought: “I’m done.”   This “friend” is a retired minister, a so-called man of God, and his page is filled with racist, anti-gay rhetoric?  Yes, he’s entitled to say and write and post whatever he chooses, I’m just done having to have it show up in my life. Done…

I don’t want to engage with these people. I don’t want or need to find a way to communicate. I don’t want to find middle ground, because for me – there is no middle ground when it comes to human rights and equality. You can’t pick and choose who gets equality – it’s either for everyone, or it’s for no one.  Period.  I don’t understand the mentality that you can do or say whatever you choose, but certain other groups of people should not have those rights. I don’t get the arrogance, or should I say ignorance, that permeates the mind and hearts of these people.   The Constitution is for everyone – You can’t pick and choose who gets life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And No, it’s not that I’m a sore loser – this isn’t about Hillary’s loss – This is about humanity’s loss.

We shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives openly. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak our minds. We shouldn’t be afraid to exercise our God-given rights. We should be afraid to express our opinions. We shouldn’t be afraid to disagree. We shouldn’t be afraid of our government. We shouldn’t be afraid of our President and what he’s going to do or say.  We live in the United States of America, we shouldn’t be afraid…

And yet – here we are.

 

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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!

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California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 signed Senate Bill 1172 to ban “reparative therapy” for minors.

With this historic legislation, California becomes the first state to ban licensed mental health professionals from practicing psychological therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight – a controversial practice also known as “ex-gay” therapy, conversion therapy and sexual reorientation.

To put it in plain terms – these quack therapists and their supporters want the homosexual to become the heterosexual.

I was going to research all the groups, pro and con, and inform readers on the lawsuits that we know will follow this legislation. I have chosen not to do that, and instead write from personal experience on reparative therapy: trying to change from dyke to wife.

I was born in 1952, and as far back as I can remember, I knew I was different. I knew I wasn’t the frilly little girl my mother wanted me to be. I was way more comfortable in my Sally Star cowgirl hat, boots and gun with holster. I filled my doll carriage with dirt, rocks and twigs, and I ran with the boys on the block. I was the best wrestler, the best pin-ball player, and my little blue peddle car was my pride and joy.

My family was all over the town I was raised in. Aunts, uncles, cousins were everywhere. It can be both a comfort and a curse. When I was a small child, it was a comfort to run from aunts to uncles gathering hugs and kisses as I went!

Holidays were spent together all wrapped up in bows, lights, laughter, love and food, food, food. Any picture you might have in your head about the 1950s and families gathered around a table with the roasted turkey in the middle – my family could have been that family. We were Methodists, Republicans, and very pro-country and pro-military. My brother was the oldest and the boy – so he was favored, and expected to do great and wonderful things. I was the girl and expected to get married and have babies. This was small-town life in America in the 1950s.

It was in the late 1960s that I knew for sure that I was indeed a lesbian. I had no idea what to do about it, had absolutely no one I could talk to about it, and instinctively knew that my family would never, ever understand or accept. It’s a small town, and I knew my mother would have suffered greatly from the gossip and the innuendo that would have come our way, so I chose to see my girlfriend on the sly, and while other girls were sneaking out to see their boyfriends and have their first sexual experience, I was doing the same with my girlfriend.

This was 1968, and it was certainly not safe to be gay then, and certainly not in the confines of my little town.

To keep away the gay rumors, I dated boys and pretended to be involved, but there was rarely kissing and certainly no sex of any kind. The thought of that was just more than I could bear. It actually made me physically ill to think of having sex with a boy, especially when I was enjoying sex with a girl. My life was complicated – to say the least.

Life got even more complicated as I got older, and as I understood there was nowhere to run and no life I could ever have as a lesbian in my little town, I did as my parents wished and got married. It was the 1970s reparative therapy for gays – you ignored who you were and tried to be what society, your church and your family wanted you to be. I did my best. I went to church, I sang in the choir, I had a job. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry and tried to be happy.

The thing is – I wasted over 20 years of my life, and the life of my husband, trying to be someone I wasn’t. No amount of prayer or Bible reading or laying on of hands could change who I was. No amount of pressure from family or promises from books, literature or therapy could change who I was, and in the end – everyone suffered, and I didn’t suddenly change into a straight woman wanting that heterosexual sex. The lies, however, did change every single one of us.

The “dyke to wife” therapy was a bust and certainly no one was a winner. Lives wasted, hearts broken, lies, deceit, anger – for what? Appearance? The church? The family? Society? When I finally came out and refused to partake in any more of the lies, most of my family walked away from me or followed me around reading Scripture, and friends went by the wayside. It turns out that the Scripture is more relevant to them than the human being standing in front of them.

Any gay or lesbian who has lived a life that doesn’t involve your gayness – you have been through your own version of reparative, conversion, reorientation therapy. Your own little version of hell.

We are simply who we are. We are not defined by anyone – gay or straight. I commend Gov. Brown on his courage to say exactly what this type of therapy is: “quackery.” And I’m proud to live in the State of California, which values the life of every one of its citizens.

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I was told many times in my life I would never be a success, I believe the phrase was: “You’ll never amount to anything.”  I heard it so often, I started to believe it. My parents never encouraged me, never pushed me, never expected great things from me, in turn I didn’t expect great things from me either.

How does one measure success? Is it by how much money you have? How many children you have? How many times you have or haven’t been married? How many friends you have? What sort of work you do? Where you live? What kind of car you drive? Where your place is in society?

Or

Is success measured by who you are as a person?  Is it the amount of friends you have or the quality and the character of the people you choose to call your friends? Is it the amount of money you have or how you choose to use the money you do have?  Is it whether or not you have a job or how you choose to spend your time being a productive member of society?

And

Is success measured by where you come from or where you end up?  Is it by what you were told as a child, or what you say as an adult? Is it by the family you were born in to or the family you chose to end up with? Is it being stuck in the mud of “You’ll never amount to anything” or is it living your life free of secrets and lies?

I don’t measure the success of my writing by how many columns I write, how many people read my blogs, or how many articles I get published.  I measure my success by the emails I receive from people who read my words and are helped out of a very dark and lonely place and by the people who read what I write and are changed by something I said. I feel most successful when someone simply says: “Thanks for writing this.”

I measure the success of my life by the fact that Susan decided to share her life with me. By my friends who don’t judge me but instead just love me. By Susan’s children who have accepted me as another Mom who loves them and now trust me to be a part of their lives. By my grandchildren who simply know and love me as Grandma Barbie, and have learned that I am the Grandma who will cave first!

If success is defined as a favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; then my life as it is at this moment in time – is most certainly a success.

How do you measure success?

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I understand we all have problems in our lives. I also understand we all have different lives. We come from different places, different experiences, different families, and different places in time.

What I don’t understand is that we all don’t want something a little better than what we had.

I grew up in a town and a family that was white, mostly republican, Christian, and had little tolerance for things that were not considered ‘’American.”  Things like blacks and gays and democrats. It wasn’t just that we didn’t discuss these things; it was like they just didn’t exist. And if they did exist it was simply to ruin all that was right and good about America.

When I was growing up, there wasn’t a single person in my family, in my church, in my town I felt I could talk to about these feelings I was having for girls. There were no computers, there were no support groups, there was nothing but the constant drumming of the Christian, Republican drum. I was alone with no options but to do what was expected of me.  I married a man, hid who I was, and tried to live up to the person my parents believed me to be. Of course it didn’t work, and it took me until I was 50 to have the courage to say to the image I saw in the mirror: “It’s okay that you’re gay.”

I won’t say it’s easier now than it was in the 1960’s to come out because every gay, lesbian, transgendered person has their own battles to fight, and they must do it on their own terms, in their own time. The people who say: “Just come out” don’t understand that it’s not always just that simple. The “I’m here, I’m queer, deal with it” thing isn’t always the road that’s available to travel. Sometimes it’s the “I’m here, I’m queer, what now?” path that we find ourselves lost on.

I believe we have an obligation to future generations of gay kids who find themselves trapped between the path and the road. I don’t want any one of these kids to ever feel as alone as I did. I don’t want them to ever have to choose between pleasing their family and being who they are, and this is why I write about gay issues. To make people aware, to let people know they aren’t alone, to just make the world a little less scary. This is why we all must fight for what is right and good in the world.

Those of you who have never had to say: “I’m gay” will never know the angst or the courage that is involved in coming out. Those of you who do know have an obligation to make the path a little easier than it was for you for the next person who garners the courage to speak their truth.

I also believe we have an obligation to each other – to our community. It’s become obvious to me that not everyone shares my feelings as I’ve been getting emails from conservative, gay folks who are chastising me for believing that gay issues are the only thing that matter this election.  How can I be so naïve as to believe that gay-marriage is more important than the economy and that abortion rights are more important than jobs?  How can I be so arrogant as to believe that my life was more important than the lives of the poor and the old?  Quite simply – how could I be so stupid?

I suppose on some level I was stupid because I felt that people knew I cared about all of the issues with my support of President Obama.  And quite honestly; for me it’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It’s about being a human being. It’s about what is fundamentally right and being aware of what is just wrong when it comes to human rights and human equality. The way I see it is this: if Mitt Romney doesn’t care about gays, lesbians or women then he can’t possibly care about the poor and the hungry and the disenfranchised.

I don’t believe I’m being selfish or stupid to be voting for the man and the party that recognizes me as a human being. I don’t believe it’s selfish or stupid to want what is right and just in this world. I don’t believe it’s selfish or stupid to not want a young person to have to deal with the stupidity of bullying simply because of who they are.

I believe we have an obligation to leave the world a little better than it was while we were here. The fact that I’m living openly with my partner is most certainly proof that it does get better. However, there is work left to be done, battles left to be fought, and that is our responsibility, that is our legacy.  I find that neither selfish nor stupid.

 

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I found out that a classmate of mine from High School passed away last week.  I haven’t seen him since graduation some 42 years ago, but I remember him quite vividly.  He was smart, funny and kind and he was the best Conrad Birdie in our adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. His last name started with a G, mine with an H, so we shared a homeroom all through high school. He could always make me laugh which always started my day out with a smile.

He died doing the things he loved and he was surrounded by people who he loved and who loved him. I’d like to think that is some sort of comfort for all of those who were instrumental in making his life good, and for him as he left this place we call home.

His death brought home to me the fact that life is quite fleeting. You’re here one moment, and then you’re gone and I found myself pondering forgiveness.  I was thinking of one high school friend in particular who was in my life for a very long time. My husband and I were quite close with this person and her husband. We traveled together, laughed together, cried together, she was like the sister I never had, so I decided to trust her with my deepest secret – that I was gay – and she betrayed that trust by telling my husband. Life as I knew it ended on that day. I never asked her why she chose to betray me in such a way; I simply walked away and never spoke to her again.

In some respects, she did me a huge favor and opened the conversation that has finally allowed me to live openly as a lesbian; however, I have never understood or forgiven her betrayal. Today I wondered if this was perhaps the moment to forgive her in my heart.

Then I started to wonder if it was this one-time friend I wanted to forgive or if perhaps I was the one who needed to be forgiven.

Our lives are lived in moments. Moments in time, moments when words are spoken that can never be taken back, moments when decisions are made and lives are changed forever. I’m not sure when the moment was exactly when I knew I was gay, I’ve just always known. It wasn’t a decision I made, in fact I made the decision to be someone else. That decision to not live the life I was meant to live for so many years is the decision that needs to be forgiven.

No one told me I had to stay in my marriage. Then again, no one told me I didn’t, including myself. I stayed because I didn’t know what else to do. My husband was a perfectly nice man, and we were friends, but I was never in love with him, and he certainly deserved more from me than he got. Yes, I understand he could have left me at any time, and I don’t know about his regrets, we never talked about it.  I just know I’ve carried my regrets with me for over 40 years. This is the moment to forgive myself. He has remarried – to my cousin – and from all accounts is quite happy. Let’s just let it be.

I’m not sure when the moment was when I knew I would never, ever be what my mother wanted me to be, I just always knew there would be no grandchildren springing from my loins. I always felt I let her down that I disappointed her in some way. I wasn’t the girl next door; I was the lesbian hiding in the closet.  We never discussed it just as we never discussed anything, and I was always left to wonder what my mother would have said about my being a lesbian.  I know now almost 60 years into my life that it was me who harbored anger about having lived a life secluded in a little town surrounded by an unforgiving family who demanded I keep my place in the family as the “funny one.”  It wasn’t my mother’s fault or my families – the blame lies with me. This is the moment to forgive myself.

I’m not sure when the moment was I decided that I should be in an abusive relationship, or how I reasoned in my mind that I could change this persons behavior, I only know I should have taken more time to think it through.  I do recall the moment when I said to myself: “You’re in trouble here,” and realized that I had to find a way out. I may have realized I needed to get out, however in a moment of “I’m so sorry, I won’t do it again,” and the “I really will stop drinking” moment, I stayed. If not for a job that I loved and people who cared for me and lifted my self-esteem, and mainly – if not for Susan – I’m not exactly sure where I would be or what sort of shape I would be in. I put myself through hell but I survived and I’m better and happier and stronger than I ever dreamed possible.  I need to forgive myself for falling into the “No one will ever love you” pit.

Life indeed is made up of moments – This is the moment I say ‘I forgive you’ to the image I see in the mirror, and I move on. It’s the moments of here and now that are to be lived to the fullest for in a moment, any moment – it can all be gone.

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I’m sitting in my room on the 12th floor of the Rio All Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  My room faces The Palms Hotel and the mountains to the East.  I’m watching the clouds roll in and simply enjoying the view that Mother Nature is giving me without having to drop any money into any machine!

On the drive over this morning my son-in-law had the car radio set to Sirius 60’s on 6 and we found ourselves singing and laughing and telling stories of our lives in the 1960’s.  We tried to guess the bands and found ourselves saying what most old farts tend to say: “Now this – this was music.”

In those ten years of the 1960’s so many things happened in the United States of America that forever changed the face of who we were as Americans.

  • 1961 gave us the Bay of Pigs Invasion – The fatal CIA-lead invasion of Cuba to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.  The Cuban forces defeated these forces in three days.
  • IN 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis took us to the brink of nuclear-missile war with Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union.
  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, which ended abruptly the short period of time in our Country’s history known as Camelot.
  • The Beatles become a part of American music in 1964 and changed the face of music forever.
  • Also in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act which was to outlaw major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, religious minorities and women.  It was supposed to end unequal voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, in the workplace, and in facilities that served the general public (i.e. – Woolworths).
  • In 1965 American starts sending troops to Vietnam – this would change millions of lives – and to this day some 47 years later, we still carry the burden of this ill-fated conflict.
  • In 1966 – “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”  Yes, it’s the beginning of Star Trek.
  • January 16, 1967 – Super Bowl I was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.   The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35 – 10.
  • Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, changing politics and civil rights as we knew them.
  • Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969

I was 8 years old in 1960 and by the time 1970 rolled around I was graduating High School, trying to figure out how to keep my gay self from taking over the fake Barbie that was allegedly living the American dream.

It was during the 1960’s that I fell in love for the very first time, and realized that yes; I most certainly was a lesbian when that person I so loved was another girl, and this changed who I was forever.

My brother was one of those who left for Vietnam in 1967 and came home a year later also changed forever.  Nothing in his world would ever be the same which meant nothing in our family would ever be the same.

What is it about music that transcends time and space?  I may have been in a car headed east on Interstate 15 toward Las Vegas but I was also once again a little girl struggling to grow up…

When I heard the Vogues ”Turn Around Look at Me” I was that young 16 year-old version of me aching to be with this girl, this first love, knowing it would never, ever be.  Still – I knew I loved her, and I knew those feelings were real and true no matter what I was told in 1968 about “the queers.” This morning I still knew those feelings to be real and true and hoped she had found the same happiness I have.

The Beatles – Love, Love Me Do – had me playing a wooden guitar with strings made out of twine, in the basement of a friend flipping my hair back and forth in my best Paul McCartney imitation.

“Hello darkness, my old friend – I’ve come to talk with you again…”  When I heard this – I was 15, alone in my room feeling that I just don’t fit in anywhere…

“Hang on Sloopy” had me doing that little “Sloopy” dance at the Quarryville Pool on a Friday night in 1966.

By 1969 – The Stones were singing my theme song for my life at that time… “You can’t always get what you want…”

Now this – this was music…

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