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Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

I’ve had to remind myself this week that I still live in the United States of America. I had to check and make sure the Constitution was still in place, and, for good measure, I checked to make sure the Bill of Rights hadn’t been changed. My fear was that rich, white men were the only ones who were now entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My main thoughts and most of my focus, much to my dismay, has been on religion.  The President was to sign an Executive Order that would grant exemptions for religious believers, schools and businesses, to federal laws they disagree with – mainly LGBT and abortion rights laws.  You know – an Executive Order that would allow people of faith to discriminate based on their beliefs – they called it – “Religious Liberties.” Thankfully, but much to the dismay of the evangelical folks, these exemptions were not included in this Executive Order.

This whole thing has made my head, and my heart hurt.

I do not understand anyone who goes to a church who tells you it’s okay to discriminate. Even if you believe in your heart you don’t agree with discrimination, my thinking is this; if you can sit in that pew and listen to the sermons, there is a part of you that does agree. And even if you say to yourself, I don’t agree with that – If you give them money, you’re supporting discrimination. I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel.

I’m gay, so perhaps my take on anti-LGBT preaching’s may be different that a straight person, but they shouldn’t be.  I just know I could never support a church that tells me it’s okay to discriminate or that someone is less than simply because of who they are.

Personally, A church that tells anyone they are less than, is not a place I want to be. A church that tells anyone they must pray the gay away to get to heaven, is not a place I want to be. Any church that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor and does good works, and yet discriminates and pickets and marches against LGBT people – well, that’s not a place I want to be either. You either love all people as they are, or you don’t. You either believe God made us all in his image, or you don’t. Period.

This is the reason I no longer attend church. The picking and choosing of who we should vote for, who we should discriminate against, what passages of the Bible we should read…  It’s not for me.

We are all human beings. Every one of us. I want the same respect given the straight woman who lives her life just trying to help people. We’re no different in the eyes of God.

As a nation, we already have “Religious Liberty.”  The Founders made sure of that in The First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

What these evangelical people want, is the freedom to discriminate. Against women, against LGBT, against anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into their little religious box.  They not only want it, they want it to be the law of the land.

We are all searching for something. We’re all just trying to make our way in this world as best we can. Personally, I do what I know to be right and just. I write and march and protest for everyone to have an equal shot at this thing we call life. I believe that equal rights are human rights.

I don’t hang with people who are negative and have hate in their heart. I walk away from people who like to tell me I’m bound for hell because of who I am.

I try and spread kindness, and I do what I can to let other gay people know it’s okay to come out. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay.

And it is okay. No matter what your family, your church, even your government may throw at you…

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

Your life matters.

You matter.1-DSC_1766

 

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It’s been two years today since my father passed away.  I’m wondering exactly where those two years went – and more to the point – I’m wondering if I have kept the promises I made to myself as I sat staring at his casket on that warm July afternoon.

I promised myself I would take care of Mother the best I could. I would make sure she got the care she needed and I would try to be there emotionally for her as much as possible.

Mother has since passed – but I did my best to fulfill that promise to myself to take care of her. She lived in a wonderful home that I wish everyone with dementia could experience. Her level of care was extraordinary, and more than I could have ever, ever given her, and she died peaceful and in no pain.

I also promised myself I would try to find a way to make peace with my brother and somehow get him into my life. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that – but he was really all I had left as far as immediate family and I was determined on that July afternoon I was going to find a way.

My father died not speaking to my brother – as did my mother – and I was not going to let that be the end of my family. I don’t really know their story –for our family never did communicate. I only know there was no closure for any of them.

A great many things have happened in those two years since I sat staring at my father’s casket. Mother has passed, friends have passed, the world has gotten a little warmer, and politics continue to divide a nation as we all struggle to find our way. There have been floods and tornadoes and storms which have taken homes and schools and hospitals. There have been shootings and bombings and Wars which have taken the lives of way too many Americans. One life is too many – at least this is how I feel.

There have also been in those two years sweet little babies born and towns rebuilt and families reunited from the end of one war. Freedom to marry has come to same-sex couples; a new heir to the British Throne has been born to continue that unbroken line for longer than I will ever see.  Life most surely goes on – this much I have learned.

As I sat staring at the casket which held the remains of my mother – my brother was by my side. I put my head on his shoulder and he squeezed me a little harder. He was kind and thoughtful and strong and supportive. He was everything a sister would want her big brother to be.

I can pick up the phone and dial his number – and he’s there, the sound of his voice comforts me – makes me feel so not alone on days when “family” seems so much a thing of my youth.

I like it when I make a promise to myself – and keep it…

I have a brother…

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Mother’s Day – I knew it was coming – The reminders have bombarded my email inbox for a few weeks now.  Proflowers has been reminding me of Mother’s favorite bouquet – and did I know I haven’t sent her any flowers in a while?  See’s candy reminded me that her favorite assortment was the dark chocolate nuts and chews variety – did I want the 2lb box to make her really happy this Mother’s Day?

My mother passed away on November 11, 2012.  I know I’m not alone in my grief on this Mother’s Day; millions of people no longer have their Mother. Still – this is my mother and this is my grief.

Most of us have issues with our Mothers. In some form of other we like to blame our Mothers for the issues we have with men, or commitment, or love – or the lack thereof in our lives.  If only she had loved me more – or treated me the way she treated my brother. If only she had hugged me more or praised me more or encouraged me more.  If only…

I can’t speak for anyone else; I can only speak for myself and my mother.   No matter the relationship – the fact remains that she is no longer at the other end of the phone, and I no longer get those cards signed “Love and Prayers, Mom.”  I can no longer call and ask her questions about family or history or family recipes, I pick up the phone sometimes when I don’t feel well and I just want to hear my mother’s voice – then I remember she’s gone -and the tears flow down my cheeks.

I tried to not leave things unspoken before she passed – I knew there would never be another chance to get it right with her. The last time I saw her – I knew in my heart it was going to be the last time I saw her. She had dementia and it was progressing – but the one thing she could still focus on was family. So, I set up my computer and we spent 3 days looking at the same files on ancestry.com. She would get something in her head, and I would try my best to find her that information. She was happy, she was smiling, she was laughing – and this is how I have chosen to remember her.

I’ve also decided to not blame my mother for what I consider to be my faults. I mean – I buried her the day before my 60th Birthday – and it seemed foolish for a 60 year old woman to still be blaming her Mommy for her problems. It is after all – my life and not my mothers. At some point in my life, the mistakes became my mistakes, regrets were my responsibility, and makings amends was all on me. I grew up – as we all are meant to do.

My mother lost her Mother when she was 9. She didn’t have the time with her Mother to learn about what relationships between Mothers and daughters should be. I know now – she did the best she could. I’m going to focus on the good things she passed on to me – Love of Country, love of history, the desire to travel, her love of cooking, the need to read, and how she could never sit and do nothing – her hands were always busy – as are mine.

And I remember her telling me how much she always wanted to be a writer…   This one’s for you Mom – Happy Mother’s Day.

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Susan and I celebrate 32 years together on this day, May 1, 2013. We chose May 1 for reasons that we have chosen to keep between each other, just know that if we could have 32 years ago – we’d have a marriage license and a wedding album full of photos and mementos to commemorate the occasion of our commitment to one another.

It hasn’t been 32 years of bliss – It’s been 32 years of husbands and children and parents and families and religion and culture and fear and denial. But always – always, there was love.

I haven’t always been this “out” blogging lesbian – I spent most of my life running from who I was. My family wasn’t and isn’t really – shall we say – gay friendly. Some are – most are not. Some try – most do not. I wasn’t always as strong as I am now – and there was a time when their opinion of who I was mattered. I’m grateful that it no longer matters.

For most of my life I ran away from everything. I was a lost soul wanting so badly to fit in to the world that surrounded me that I tried to be something and someone I was not.   When I met Susan, I knew that my world had changed.

She was married with four children; I was married to a man in the United States Navy. We tried not to fall in love, but love doesn’t know gender – love only knows love. The thing is – it was complicated – very complicated. This was the 1980’s and society was certainly not evolving as quickly as it is now.  We handled things the best we could – which in looking back – wasn’t all that great – but… the truth is – had we done one thing different, we wouldn’t be at this exact place that we are right now.

I did what I always did when things got too complicated – I ran. When my husband got transferred from San Diego, CA to Annapolis, MD, instead of staying with Susan and finding a way to make things work – I ran  – not to some place safe – I ran to my home town which I knew would keep me in my little closet and not make me face the grown-up world of the truth. As far as I ran – it never changed my love for her – ever.

Susan is a stronger woman than I am. She divorced her husband, accepted that she was a lesbian, came out in People magazine, and moved on with her life. She patiently waited for me to find the same courage, but I was not as willing as she was to jump off the gay cliff. We parted ways, but still she waited and still there was love. We got involved with other people – but still there was love. Almost 10 years had passed and still there was love and still I was unwilling to make the jump so when she told me she was done – D.O.N.E. – waiting for me – I knew I had a choice to make.

Within two months of her telling me she was D.O.N.E. – I was standing on her doorstep with my two dogs and my life packed into a truck. Lucky for me – she opened the door – and my life started at that moment.

Now – there is a home filled with love and there are friends and neighbors and always – there is love.  Our children are a blessing and have shown us unconditional love. Our grandchildren are such a source of pride for us, and I can’t imagine loving any of them more than I do at this very moment.

In the end – the only thing that ever mattered with Susan and I was love – for 32 years there has always, always been love. Let people say whatever they will – love is simply  – love…

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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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