Sunday, August 21, 2011

It IS Your Business...

There's this underlying sentiment regarding gays and lesbians by some folks who think they're supporters of our community...it's one of "live and let live."  We often hear and read things like, "It's none of my business what they do in their bedrooms."  (as if being gay is defined solely by what happens between the sheets)  Or we hear, "It's not my business who you want to marry."  Or "As long as it doesn't affect me, I don't care."

I have news for you.

It IS your business and yes, you should care.  It is your business because your silence is akin to acceptance of the unequal status of those in the LGBTQ community in our country.  You should care because if you don't, equal rights will never be a thing of reality for gays and lesbians.  Inequality DOES affect you, when your gay or lesbian neighbor or loved one is treated as a second-class citizen in his or her own country.

It is your business. 

When an individual makes statements like those mentioned above, whether he or she supports equal rights for all Americans or not, they have rendered themselves silent and accepting of inequality. 

It is your business.

No battle for equal rights is accomplished by the footwork of those asking for equality alone.  There are most certainly areas in our country where minorities would still be considered 3/5 of a person had we not chosen as a society that inequality in regards to race was no longer acceptable or valid.

It IS your business.

It is not enough to simply say, "I support equal rights" if your involvement in the fight for equality ends there.  Without your vote in support of equality, or your voice in opposition to anti-gay legislation, or your statements in response to anti-gay hate speech or bullying, nothing will change.

It IS your business.

It's no longer enough to say, "I support you" if you are unwilling to speak up, act up and show up.

It IS your business.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Blogging Again, And It Only Took HRC To Get Me To Do It...

UncleR and I were married on June 9th, 2011 in a lovely ceremony, which I promise I will discuss in-depth in future blogs.  The summer has gotten away from us, with many things on our plate, and I have yet to have the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard in order to write about the happiest moment of my life.  I'll get there though.  But before I do, here's THIS:

Texas Company Runs Hate Ad Against HRC

An HRC supporter in Texas flagged this ad for us, which ran this week in the Lakelander in Whitney. The ad – “How Can We Stop Perversion?” – blasts HRC’s work and was paid for by a Hillsboro-based auctioneering and farm equipment company. Check out a picture of the ad or read the full text:

How Can We Stop Perversion?

Periodically, ads are run listing companies to boycott because of their support of perversion.
You can affect these companies bottom line by doing business with someone else.
The Human Rights Campaign is a group supporting perversion. They use the equal sign – as their trademark, if you see this sign on a vehicle, they are supporting the homosexual agenda which includes:

1.       Marriage between Adam & Steve
2.       Getting into our schools to teach students that perversion is normal
3.       Getting businesses to support their immoral lifestyle

We can provide you a list of companies to boycott. Call 254-582-3000 or email akaddatz@yahoo.com.

Pray that these people will repent and receive Christ as Savior.

The Lakelander confirmed the ad ran on August 10. According to the website of the ad’s sponsor, Kaddatz Equipment, they are a Christian company that tries their “best to model ourselves and our business on Christian values.”

It’s unclear why an auctioneering and farm equipment company has taken such a vested interest in promoting lies about equality.
Sometimes it helps to see these things in print:


Why does this matter?  What does it have to do with us or our wedding?

This is OUR town and this is OUR newspaper. 

Upon returning home from our wedding, we were as overjoyed as any other newly married couple.  We wanted to share our joy with our friends.  So, we did what any other married couple would and we took out an ad in the Lakelander announcing our marriage.  (Yes, we looked cute.)  Our marriage announcement was published in the weekly (yes, our town is so small the paper only prints once a week) edition of the Lakelander on July 27th, 2011.  The phone started to ring immediately with many words of congratulations from those in our small community.  This was the first time a same-sex wedding was announced in the Lakelander.  We received absolutely no negative comments or attention. 

Until...

Two small-town newspaper publications later, the above-referenced ad was placed in the same newspaper. 

Yes, we believe this ad is retribution for the placement of our wedding announcement.  Yes, we heard Kaddatz' message loud and clear.  We're more hazy on why he didn't call us out by name, and instead used "Adam and Steve" as the representative names for same-sex relationships everywhere.  It would have been much more satisfying had he simply said, "Marriage between Jen and UncleR"...but I digress.

I'll say this...the folks at the Lakelander couldn't have been more gracious when we went in to place our wedding announcment.  They were full of congrats and kind words.  This ad is not a negative reflection on them, at all, in our minds. 

Instead, we believe there are truly no thoughts or actions so perverse as those of the business-owner, Alvin Kaddatz, who chose to spend his money in order to reflect negatively upon those in our small community who belong to the LGBTQ community, are supporters of the LGBTQ community, are supporters of HRC, Christians who support equal rights for ALL Americans, and/or/including Christians who themselves are gay. 
 
Hmmmph.  And all we did was get married. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our First Mother's Day Together As A Family...

Today, UncleR and I both woke up to Mother's Day cards from J.  (It doesn't matter that we both made sure that he got one for each of us...*grin*)

It's our first Mother's Day together. 

I'm so glad that we have J.  He really is a great kid.  We're lucky.  Today, it's easy to reflect on him, the young gentleman he's grown to be, and what a journey it's been to get him here. 

It's also a day for me to reflect on my first Mother's Day with a partner, a co-parent...a co-conspirator? 

We agree on almost everything in regards to our parenting styles.  I'm not sure how folks do it who don't.  But above and beyond that, it's simply nice to have a partner to rely on in this whole mom thing.  When it's hard, I have someone to turn to.  When I don't know what to do, I have someone to ask.  When I'm at my wits end, I can say that out loud, and someone will listen.

After 14 years of single parenting, it's an amazing change. 

So, today is a day to be thankful and reflect.  I'm thankful for my son, who brings joy to my life like no other.  And I'm thankful to my wonderful partner, who has chosen to join me in being a mom to one great kiddo.  I love them both. 

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies out there, and to all you folks who may not be called "mom" (heck, maybe you're called Uncle), but you still fill the role. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

This Is Where I Grew Up...

Clovis, New Mexico, my hometown, made national gay news a few weeks ago for this:

The Clovis, N.M. school board on Tuesday voted unanimously to end all non-curricular clubs from meeting during school hours after a gay-straight alliance applied to become a club.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico accused the district of changing its policy to stop the formation of the alliance at Clovis High School, but school officials said the timing of its decision was a coincidence, and that its policy was already under review.
“This sort of tactic has been used in the past by school districts to discourage gay-straight clubs from forming,” Micah McCoy, communications specialist for ACLU of New Mexico, said on Wednesday. “A lot of alarm bells went off when we saw this.”
Superintendent Terry Myers called the allegations “unfair.”
Non-curricular clubs, such as the gay-straight alliance, will now have to meet before or after school, while clubs deemed to be curricular can still meet during school hours. The non-curricular clubs will also be prohibited from using the school’s public announcement system to communicate with students.

I think I discussed in another blog the uproar that went through the same community when the high school yearbook dared to post the picture of a lesbian couple on its' couples page.  The resultant policy requires the approval of any and all yearbook content by the district's school board.  *insert big eyeroll*

With all of the news reports on teen bullying and suicide rates amongst gay and lesbian youth, you'd think responsible, intelligent adults would create an accepting and positive environment for youngsters who may be questioning and/or coming to terms with their sexual orientation.  Instead, we have districts like Clovis, who take a rigid stance against anything that hints "gay". 

Clovis, and many other similar districts, support organizations such as the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).  They still pray (prey?) before high school sports games or other school gatherings.  I attended a graduation ceremony in Clovis within the last year, and me (the Atheist) and the school secretary (Jehovah's Witness) were the only two folks out of hundreds who didn't bow our heads.  Who knew I'd have so much in common with a Jehovah Witness?  Clearly, Clovis shuns the minority in favor of the majority, putting any legal questions aside until someone (anyone?) questions current policy.

And here we are again.  The school district has taken a stand...on the side of the closed-minded homophobes.  However, the ramifications for their actions in this case can be far more serious than in the instance of praying before school functions (although I'm not diminishing those actions either, but that's another blog).  What message are LGBTQ youth receiving from their school officials in Clovis?  What message could a highly impressionable, young, gay student gain from watching the school district deny their right to assemble, socialize with and gain support from other LGBTQ students or supporters?  That they are disgusting?  Unworthy?  Undeserving of love and support?  Unequal?  That they are to be feared or shunned?

The Clovis schools have sent a dangerous message to the youth in their community.  They have endorsed bigoted and homophobic behavior and have reinforced ideals which separate gays and lesbians from "the rest of society" and relegate them (us) to second-class citizenry. 

One of the comments posted on the aforementioned news article reads as follows:

"Human rights do not stop once a student enters the doors of their school."

I think I'll print that up on a t-shirt.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our First Family Vacation...

We had another family first.  We went on our first "destination" family vacation together.  In other words, we went somewhere we wanted to go, without obligating ourselves to travel to visit family.  And we survived. 


We went to San Antonio and it was beautiful.  We visited during Fiesta, in which the whole city shuts down and celebrates its' history and culture together with parades, parties and tons of fun.  All of us partied our little fiesta behinds off, and I don't think I've ever seen Big C and J smile so much.



We paraded, we danced, we ate, we drank (well, some of us drank) and we enjoyed each other.  We took Big C and J to the Alamo (History lessons, yo) and we took them to a saloon, where we allowed them to sit at the bar and flirt with the bartender.  We toured the Riverwalk, we took a taxi ride into a historical district of San Antonio which was hosting a neighborhood fair, we threw confetti, and we saw Miss Texas.



We saw a group of PeeWee Herman impersonators, J screamed when he saw the Texas Longhorn Band, and we saw a gorgeous man in a pretty, blue dress.



Here's what I learned from my first family vacation:

1.  I enjoy my family more than I knew I could.  The four of us are not only family, we're friends.  We laugh and we truly enjoy each other's company.

2.  Not only have I found a soul mate in UncleR, but J and Big C have found a comfort zone in their relationship with each other.  It's not a normal uncle/nephew type relationship in regards to their positions in our family.  It's a friendship and camaraderie which is deeper and more loving than I knew it could be.  They have their own language, humor, and rules in their relationship.  UncleR and I are not privy to every layer of their relationship, nor do we want to be.  It's a joy to watch them grow to love each other as family as we are learning to all navigate this next portion of our journey.

3.  UncleR is my best friend.

4.  One hotel room is too small to share for three nights with 4 people.  In this family, we need a suite.  The symphony of sleepy sounds emanating from some of my family members was more than enough to drown out the mariachi bands playing outside of our hotel balcony, but they were not conducive to allowing this light sleeper to actually catch some zzzzzzz's.

5.  Heat can make people cranky.

6.  Prickley pear margaritas are pretty, but they do not taste that good.

7.  Always pay more for the expensive, reserved parade seating.  The cushy seats rock.

8.  It's okay to take an extra bagel from the buffet home with you in your backpack.

9.  Mariachi bands are cooler when traveling on a boat.

10.  It's always good to come home.  You never quite appreciate what you have until you get back from where you've been.

So, we survived.  We even had a bit of fun.  I'm ready to do it again...next year (maybe).  I really am one lucky broad. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Facts About America's Gays...

I came across an article yesterday entitled, "10 Facts About America's Gays".  It was so good, I thought I'd blog about it.

Fact 1:  9 million LGBT people live in the U.S., 3.8 % of the adult population.

There's probably more of us.  In fact, I'd say it's a certainty.  But, due to the bigotry and homophobia that still monopolizes a large subset of our population, some of us aren't able to declare ourselves.  Sad.

Fact 2:  LGBT people are racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse: 1 in 4 are people of color and same-sex couples have identified themselves on the Census in 99% of U.S. counties.

We're rainbow colored.

Fact 3:  A substantial percentage of LGBT people are raising children: 1 in 5 same sex couples have children and 6% of children in foster care are being raised by LGB people.

6 states expressly forbid gays to adopt.  In the other 44 states, while most allow adoption by a single, gay person, there are often restrictions which do not permit same sex couples from adopting together.  I wonder why?  Maybe children of gay parents only deserve one parent?

Fact 4:   LGB people are serving in the Armed Forces: 71,000 are currently serving, and there are over 1 million LGB veterans in the U.S.

Over 12,000 (willing to serve) soldiers have been discharged since the inception of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the 1990's.  UncleR is a veteran.  When she enlisted in the US Army, in order to serve, she was required to lie on her armed service application by saying that she was not homosexual.  Had she not hidden the truth, she would not have been permitted to enlist.

Fact 5:  70,000 same-sex couples have gotten married in the U.S.;  another 90,000 have entered into civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Make that 70,001, as of this June.

Fact 6:  The annual divorce rate for same-sex couples and different-sex married couples is similar — about 2%.

See, the gays really are just like the straights.

Fact 7:  LGBT people are not more affluent. Gay men earn 10% to 23% less, on average, than heterosexual men. Children of same-sex couples are twice as likely to live in poverty.

The fact that our federal government does not recognize same sex marriages prevents same sex couples from accessing the many financial benefits that accompany legal marriage in this country, including:  eligibility for certain public programs, access to health benefits provided by a spouse's employer, access to life insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, etc. 

Fact 8:  Rates of hate crimes and employment discrimination against LGBT people are similar to or higher than for other protected groups.

Here in Texas, I can be fired (legally) for being a lesbian.  I'll leave it there.

Fact 9:  "Don't ask, don't tell" has cost taxpayers over $500 million since it started being enforced in 1994.

Willing. Soldiers.

Fact 10:  If all 50 states and the federal government recognized marriage for same-sex couples, the federal budget would benefit by over $1 billion each year.

Maybe we can sell same-sex marriage to the fiscally-conservative Republicans by explaining the benefits to our economy.  It could work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Haven't Felt Like Blogging.

Life is...well, interesting.

I haven't felt like blogging.  Shame, cause I started off so well, ensuring that I dedicated myself here a few times a week.  But, the last few weeks have been spent dealing with the real world.

I got fired from my job.  Okay, not really.  But, sort of.  The school district where I work is being forced to make 175 job cuts in order to shave dollars off of their budget for next school year.  All new employees hired within the last year or so were let go.  We had a choice to either let them terminate us for budgetary reasons or to voluntarily resign so that we wouldn't have a "termination" on our records.  I chose the latter.

The strange thing is, I may be back there next year.  My position as a Speech Pathologist is a necessary one, because kids must, by law, receive speech services.  If they fire me, they won't have anyone to provide those services.  But, due to a long list of legal reasons (that are too convoluted to list here), the district had to fire me only to probably rehire me.  Gah.  Of course, in the meantime, I'm out of a job and have to decide whether to wait on being rehired or to seek alternative employment opportunities in the off chance that I cannot return to my job.  It's a fucked-up situation that has caused great amounts of stress and grief in our family during what is supposed to be a very exciting time.

I really should say, I think everything will work out.  We'll be fine.  And I'm really not too worried about next year because being an SLP affords me many work opportunities, I'm nothing if not determined, and I'll find something else if things don't work exactly the way I hope with my current school district. 

With all that I've said above, I'll state that something incredibly positive has come out of the past few weeks.

I have developed an extreme sense of comfort and trust in my relationship with UncleR.  I don't mean that in the way most people may imagine I mean it when I use the words "comfort and trust".  Instead, I mean that after choosing to live a single life for a very long time, it has been an eye opening experience to have someone in your life who supports you through and walks with you during difficult times in your journey.  I have always relied on myself (and of course, continue to do so) in difficult situations, but having a partner in life, who is there when I have come home in a bad mood, or who is there when I needed to vent, or who agreed with me heartily when I called an overindulgent co-worker a bitch...it's sort of...nice. 

Who knew???

So, anyway, I haven't felt like blogging.  And I didn't feel I could return here after a few weeks off without discussing what's been keeping me away.

But, many exciting things are happening in the very near future.  First, next week, all 4 of us (me, UncleR, J and Big C) are traveling to San Antonio for Fiesta on the Riverwalk.  I predict lots of music, good times and margaritas. 

And then, 2 months from today, I marry my very best friend.  So, while life has thrown us some curveballs, it's still pretty fuckin' awesome. 

I promise next blog I'll be back to ranting on things that matter to more people than just me.  Consider yourself warned.  ;)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wife To Be...

I used to despise the word "wife".  Not only did I never think I'd be one, but the word itself conjured up images of servitude and patriarchy.  The word "wife" made my feminist bones quake. 

I used to tell people that the word "wife" sounded like a venereal disease. 

"Oh, I have a bad case of wife"...

The word sounded harsh to me.  You almost have to spit it to say it.  "Wwwwiiiiiifffffe."

I had many a conversation with other gays and lesbians.  Nothing encensed me more than a gay or lesbian calling their partner husband or wife.  I'd ask them why they'd use spousal/marital vocabulary when everyone knows gays and lesbians can't get married.  Even if they were lucky enough to marry in a state where same-sex marriage was legal, our federal government doesn't recognize such marriages.  Why would we adopt heterosexual terminology for our unions when we are refused equal rights?

I used to believe "partner" was a more respectful and acceptable term for our relationships.  What better word for your lover, for the person you depend on for everything, for the one who captures your heart, for the one who you share your life with, for the one you build a family with...than partner?  Partner sounded better to me than "wife". 

Even after UncleR and I were engaged, we had conversations about this.  What should we call each other after we marry?  (Partners, of course.)  What will we have our officiant pronounce us at the end of our vows?  (Legally married!) 

We even asked other same-sex couples their opinions.  They varied as well, however, the overwhelming trend seems to be the use of old standards, husband or wife. 

Then Ed came into our lives.  Ed is our gay priest/wedding officiant.

The first time I spoke to him by phone, this topic came up.  When I asked if we could customize our own ceremony and vows in order to use terminology both familiar and appropriate to us, he gave his opinion.  He said, "I feel the terms husband or wife are the most respectful terms you can use because that is what you will be.  To me, partner is less respectful.  But the words you use are up to you."

He said it in a nonjudgmental way.  He said it matter-of-fact.  And nothing else was said.

After the phone call, I told UncleR what Ed had said.  Our ensuing conversations were less deeply personal and meaningful, and more, "DUH!"

And here we are today.

We are 2 1/2 months away from our ceremony.  Although we haven't finalized our vows, once we are married, we will be wives.  I'm sending a big thank you to Ed, who with his matter-of-fact opinion, has changed my world and my entire thought process.

UncleR will be my wife.  Ed is right.  The most respectful term for what and who she will be to me, is "wife".  We have chosen to marry.  Our marriage WILL result in a legal union.  We have chosen to enter into a union while fully aware of the fact that our federal government will not recognize our marriage as either legal or valid. 

And yet, we have decided it is fundamentally important to our relationship to marry.  It is so important that we will travel across the country to exchange vows in one of the only locations where it is legal for us to do so.

Yes, we are sending a message to all of those that say we can't, that yes, indeed, we can marry.  But, it's not about them.  It's about us.  It's about our relationship.  It's about our want to marry.

"Wife" no longer conjures up those negative images.  Instead, I think only of UncleR.  I think of how much I love her.  And I think about Ed, and how right he was.  I have realized that "wife" is a deeply personal term, individually tied to each and every person who is a "wife". 

When we exchange vows in a few short months, I'm thinking maybe we should be declared "legally wedded wives".  How does that sound?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Labels Are For Jars, Not People...

***This blog is going to be filled with metaphorical, idiomatic language that probably will make sense to no one but me.  For this, I apologize, and I hope I can wrap this blog up into a nice, neat bow at the end.  *grin*



I used to carry the following picture as an avatar at a message board I frequented:



My tag line under my avatar said:  "Hates boxes..."  As in, don't put me in a box...don't shove your "labels" at me...you (the figurative you) don't get to define me.  Only I get to do that.

In my work, I deal with labels constantly and for every child I see.  "Child A has a language disorder".  "Child B is Mentally Retarded".  (ugh)  "Child B has Autism". 

Label, label, label, label.

We all do it in our every day lives as well.

"Joe is a gay man".  "Jen is a lesbian".  "Sue is a Christian".  "Reverend Falwell is a bigot". 

Labels define, yes.  But, a label can also be used to segregate, demean, or in some cases, labels give permission for people to be discriminated against. 

My "lesbian label" allows my country to deny me equal rights. 

The (personal) negative connotations associated with labels allow otherwise harmless words to be turned into weapons.  (Think of how the term "gay" is used to bully amongst children)

I'll step off my personal soapbox now and tell a short story...

Yesterday, I made fish tacos for dinner.  I love fish tacos.  I was so excited to make them for my family.  When I went grocery shopping on Monday, I selected a nice bunch of cilantro for yesterday's taco recipe.  The cilantro was to be used in several aspects of the dish.

I came home from work, slipped into my cooking pants (a pair of pink flamingo printed shorts...don't hate...), and got to cooking!  I first made a tequila lime aioli.  Sounds yummy, no?  I chopped my fresh cilantro and threw it into the aioli.  I dipped my finger in the aioli and hmmmm...it didn't taste quite right.  But, the recipe called for the aioli to sit for an hour, so I stuck it in the fridge and moved on.

I marinated my tilapia.  (no cilantro there...but there was tequila...holla!)  And then I made fresh pico de gallo.  I chopped up more fresh cilantro and threw it in!  I grabbed a spoon of pico to taste...and *gag*.  It tasted disgusting.  Sort of like soapy shit. 

I glanced at the "cilantro", and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small, white label wrapped around the stems of the greens.  It said "fresh parsley".  Como se what?  Parsley?  I didn't get parsley.  The parsley was on the top shelf of the produce section.  The cilantro was all the way at the bottom.  My cilantro was incorrectly labeled. 

I pouted.  It was a struggle to contain myself.  Who's watched the movie "Julie and Julia"?  In the movie, "Julie" is having difficulty making one of Julia Child's recipes.  She throws a bit of a temper tantrum, throwing herself on the floor, collapsing in a heap of tears.  I had visions of myself on my kitchen floor kicking and screaming.  I was so excited for this meal...and I'd been craving it for days. 

I emerged from the kitchen and went straight to UncleR.  "Babe, the cilantro was labeled wrong.  I got parsley".  It took all of my energy not to scream and cry.  I had no fresh cilantro...and not only was it supposed to be in the pico de gallo and aioli, but it was in a cabbage mixture I had yet to make.  And worse yet, the componenets that I had made with the parsley tasted horrible.

I remade the portions of the dish that I had made incorrectly with...wait for it...dried cilantro.  The fish tacos were a bust.  Without this one component of the dish, everything tasted disgusting. 

At the end of the meal, UncleR looked at me and said:  "The fish was really good."  And then she smiled meekly.  I love her.

The kid gave the following review when asked how he liked the fish tacos:  "Ummmm, they weren't good."  *sigh*

I'm figuring that the parsley was placed in the wrong box...it was labeled wrong...all wrong...it was with the cilantro when it shouldn't have been.

What's the lesson here?

Be careful when labeling things (people) and beware of tossing something in the wrong box...it'll make your fish tacos taste like soapy shit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

There's No Such Thing As A Gay Lifestyle...

A few weeks ago, I watched an interesting documentary.  In "Pray the Gay Away", reporter Lisa Ling examines the lives of gay Christians.  She poses the question: "Is it possible to be gay AND Christian?"  She also brings watchers closer into the inner workings of certain "ex-gay ministries", including Exodus International, one of the most well-known of these hate groups disguised as a religious organization.

I'm not going to discuss the documentary itself.  If you would like to watch, I gave the link to the episode above.  Instead, I'm going to focus specifically on one major issue I had with Lisa Ling's documentary...

"Gay lifestyle"...

She said it several times.  Over and over and over again. 

The first time I heard her use the term, I did a double take.  I looked from the TV to my lovely partner sitting next to me and back again.  I posed the question to nobody and everyone in the room at the time, "Did she just say gay lifestyle?"  And then she said it again.

After the hour-long documentary had concluded, Lisa Ling participated in a live, question and answer talk-type show where she interviewed several participants from the doc and took questions from the at-home audience.  I jokingly said to UncleR, "I should call in and ask why she continually used the term 'gay lifestyle'."  Turns out, someone asked for me.  A listener tweeted in wondering the same thing.  Lisa Ling's response?  She was attempting to relate to the ex-gay activists by speaking their lingo.  I wonder if she would have thrown around the n-word to make a group of KKK members more "comfy"? 

I wasn't the only one upset by Ling's use of the archaic phrase.  The gay blogosphere blew up with harsh critiques of her documentary...not only for her use of the term I'm discussing here, but for her very "soft" look at hate-filled, ex-gay ministries.

Lisa, if you're reading this, and to anyone else who may be wondering...

There's no such thing as a "gay lifestyle".

I'm a lesbian.  Calling the life I lead a "gay lifestyle" only serves to differentiate me from others and further perpetuates that I, and my family, are different, wrong, an abomination...etc., etc., etc....

We need no other terminology to separate us from the heterosexual masses.  And nothing chaps my hide more than hearing other gays and lesbians using the term "lifestyle" when referring to their own life and/or sexual orientation.  We spend enough time fighting those that fear us as "different" to play right into their hands by separating ourselves into a different and unique "lifestyle".

I'll put any and all questions regarding my "lifestyle" to bed, here and now.

I wake up in the morning at 5:30 AM.
I wake up my 14-year-old son.
I shower and dress, putting my pants on one leg at a time.  (I did once try two legs at a time and ended in a faceplant on the carpet) 
I send the child off to school. 
I drive 45 minutes to my place of employment.
My work day begins at 8 AM.
I work.
My work day ends at 4 PM.
I drive 45 minutes home.
I kiss my partner hello.
We discuss our day.
One of us makes dinner.
We watch TV and help the child with his homework. 
We send the child to bed.
We watch more TV and relax, enjoying each other's company.
We go to bed.
Rinse, wash, repeat...

Sometimes, we go really crazy and we sleep past 7 on the weekends.  And when we're really looking for a good time, we spend all weekend cleaning and doing chores around the house.

There's no such thing as a "gay lifestyle".  I'm a lesbian, not a vegetarian. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Evolvement...

I consider myself to be politically active and involved, for a multitude of reasons.  It's important to me to educate myself on the laws and decisions that affect me and my family personally.  I also consider it doubly important for those in the LGBTQ community to educate themselves.  A politically ignorant lesbian/gay is like a fish out of water (to me).  Why would we leave ourselves incapable of discussing the importance of political progressiveness (read: the law) in regards to our lives and community needs?  (*insert big, grand shrug here*)

Along with my political involvement, I became involved in online political discussions/discussion boards over the last 5 years or so.  The online world of politics can be as nasty (if not nastier) as the one that plays out on our televisions and in our government on a daily basis. 

I'll be honest though and say that I love a good political discussion (especially online).  I crave the back and forth, not only because I often come away from these situations having learned a thing or two, but because I relish the opportunity to educate others in regards to the lives of gays and lesbians.  And furthermore, I hold hope that my words may challenge the ignorance we encounter so often in the LGBTQ community and that someone, anyone, even if it's only one, will learn something new and will leave questioning their previous beliefs on equal rights for gays and lesbians.

A few years ago I met "M".  "M" was a member of a message board I frequented.  He loved political discussions as much as I, and he especially loved to get in the "ring" with me.  He would often send me messages after we had verbally sparred thanking me for the discussion and saying that he appreciated the fact that I "made him think".  The one thing M never did was change his mind.  He once said he liked political discussions just because he liked to debate, and that he at times argued positions opposite to his personal beliefs simply to challenge himself.  Frankly, I found him to be a bit of a freak (because who would argue just to argue) and frequently became frustrated by his personal views and opinions.

M could always be found participating in the discussions about same sex marriage.  I'll allow M to tell you his views on same sex marriage:

"Jen, you have equal rights.  You, just like any other woman, can marry any man you want.  No woman can marry a woman.  You're not asking for equal rights.  You're asking for special rights."

I (usually) resisted calling him an ignorant ass, and instead discussed the legal arguments for same sex marriage, including the rights we are denied as gays and lesbians that heterosexual couples are automatically afforded by our federal government once they marry.  M's position never changed.  And conversely, neither did mine.

I should add that UncleR participated in many of the discussions with M as well.  UncleR was on the receiving end of many of M's opinions...and they were always the same as I listed above.   

And then...

A few months ago, I received a message from M, simply titled "Evolvement".

In part, it read:

"I have decided that the next time it comes before the voters, I'll be voting in favor of your side.

Two things have made me come to that decision, the first is my conversations with the two of you, and the second was my soul searching on me getting married again. I've struck out two times in the past, and I wasn't sure if I would or should ever give it another try. In my discussions with myself about it, I realized a lot of the truth in what you have been telling me.

Anyway, two weeks ago, I asked ***** to marry me in front the the castle at Disneyland. Today we confirmed the date and we are going to get married on *******.

I hope that in the not too distant future you can enjoy the same opportunities I am afforded."



M says he evolved.  I don't know if that's true.  Here's what I do know...

His "real life" bumped into his virtual life.  And he couldn't reconcile the two.  He calls it "evolvement".  I believe he was able to identify with the want and need that same sex couples have to marry.  All of my factual and legal arguments made no difference to M.  What made a difference was his personal experiences and the fact that he fell in love. 

It is our duty, it is MY duty, as gays and lesbians, to continue to make our fight for equality vocal.  Although at times the fight seems endless and the task insurmountable, each and every changed mind, each and every "evolved" individual, is one step closer to the ultimate goal of equality.

One person down...millions more to go...

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Normal...

For those of you reading that don't "know" me personally or for those of you that don't know, in real life, I haven't yet hit the lotto and I am forced to work for a living.  My chosen profession is Speech Pathology and I work for a local school district. 

Yesterday, one of my 2nd grade students, "G", "graduated" from speech.  This means she has progressed in speech class to the point that she is now exhibiting age appropriage speech skills and she no longer needs me teachin' her how to speak good...I mean well.  (that was a lame attempt at a bad speech therapy joke)  "G" is a cool kid.  Her favorite color is black.  She's all tomboy.  She wears black tutus almost every day with multi-colored, mismatched socks.  She has a parrot.  And she has an older brother that is severely autistic, and as such, her home life can be difficult. 

When G came into speech yesterday for the last time, she looked right at me and said, in her sassy 7-year-old voice:

"Miss Jen, I just want you to know I'm very upset."

When I asked why, she said, "I think you know.  I'm graduating from speech."

I congratulated her mightily and professed that graduation from speech is, indeed, a grandly exciting thing.  But, G didn't think so.  And she began to cry.  And my heart broke.  In the midst of my telling her how proud she should be of herself and how much I would miss her presence in my classroom, G looked at me with tears in her eyes and said:  "I'm just so happy.  I'm normal."

I bristled.  And my heart broke at the same time.  Normal?  NORMAL???

Of course, I assured G that speech issues, of many types, were "normal".  And I reinforced the fact that she should be incredibly proud of herself.  I told her I'd see her again...during an end-of-year ice cream speech party.  G dried her tears and we played one last game of Candyland before she went on her way. 

I was left wondering who taught this 7-year-old child the word, "normal".  Was it her parents?  Had she heard them referring to her older, autistic brother as "not normal"?  When her mother told her she was being dismissed from speech, did she tell G that she was now "normal"? 

I thought about G and her statement all day yesterday.  I thought about why her statement could possibly affect me to the degree that it did, and why it left me thinking about the word she used and what it meant to me.

What is normal?  Who is normal? 

I'm normal.  Yet every day of my life I'm told that because I'm a lesbian I am "abnormal" or an abomination.

My family is normal.  Yet every day of our lives we are told that we aren't a "real" family because the foundation of our famiy is built upon the love between two women. 

My love is normal.  Yet every day of my life I'm treated as a second-class citizen in my own country, and I am denied equal marriage rights.  When I marry the woman of my dreams in three short months, our government will not recognize our union as legal or valid.

My life is normal.  I wake up every morning, go to work, and come home to my family.  We take turns making dinner and cleaning the house.  And yet every day of our lives we live with the realization that our home, our family, is viewed as something that should be feared or dismantled.

I'm normal.  We are normal.  My family is no different than any other family. 

And yet, in many ways, we are exceptional...because we battle for everything we seek, whether that be equal marriage rights, equal protection under the law, or simply living a peaceful existence away from bigoted and homophobic eyes.  So, maybe we're not "normal".  We're exceptional.  We're the exception...within the confines of our own country.  But, in our exceptional way, we seek normalcy.

Someday, I hope to look across the table at my soon-to-be-wife and say, just like G, "I'm just so happy.  I'm normal."

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Got Called A Carpet Muncher At Disney World...

Last night we had more required family TV viewing.  This time, UncleR and I sat down with J and we all watched "My Kids Would Never...Bully", a Dateline NBC special.  Dateline used hidden cameras to capture the response that kids have to other kids being bullied when they believe no adults are watching. 

I can sum up the bullying styles of the kids on the show (and kids in general) in a few sentences:  Girls tended to target other girls' looks and weight, focusing on their physical appearance and/or characteristics.  Boys tended to target other boys' sexuality.  The boys steered clear of calling other boys "fat" or "ugly" and instead often used words such as "faggot" or "gay" to bully, whether the boy was gay or not.

We turned to J during the show and asked if he observed many kids being bullied at school.  His response was "No."  But when we asked if he specifically heard boys calling other boys "fag", "faggot", or "gay", his response was, "Yea.  All of the time."  When we questioned why J didn't initially reveal these instances of bullying after he was asked if he observed others being bullied at school, he responded by saying that he didn't realize that this type of behavior was bullying because it happens so often. 

I'll say this...J has had years of bully-prevention training...both in school and at home.  J has been bullied himself.  He knows that the words he hears at school are unacceptable.  And we've had conversations before about how people use words such as "gay" or "lesbian" in derogatory ways.  We went on to discuss these specific terms being used to bully others, and how we all should respond to bullies.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, we expect J to steer clear of the behavior he observes and instead, we hope that he speaks up for those who are bullied...something all parents hope from their children. 

In order to personalize our anti-bullying message to J, we recounted a situation which we had encountered only last year during a family trip to Disney.  That's right, Disney World...the "happiest place on earth"...

UncleR, J, Big C and myself were exiting through the rear doors of our Disney World resort.  It was our last day before we flew home, and we were ending a magical (heh) week of theme parks, food and fireworks.  As we were exiting through the doors, a couple (man and woman) were walking across the length of the doors in front of us.  All of us "collided" at the doors.  Oops!  A simple "excuse us" would have been appropriate, but no one was attempting to shove anyone out of the way.

Instead, what followed was like something out of junior high school. 

The woman and her tiny hubby (and I'm calling him tiny, not because he was pint-sized (although he was), but because he was a tiny, tiny man in regards to his ignorance) became enraged over our "run-in" at the doors.  The run-in was nobody's fault, not ours, nor theirs.  But, the Mrs. took it upon herself to come to the rescue of her hubby.  She screeched at UncleR:  "YOU ALMOST RAN OVER MY HUSBAND!  WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!!!"

At first, UncleR and I had the same reaction.  Sort of a "What the fuck?!?" moment.  But the woman continued...

"WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!  YOU ALMOST RAN OVER MY HUSBAND!"  Mini-Hubby stood behind her and said nothing.

UncleR sort of rolled her eyes and said something to the effect of:  "Hey, we're just trying to get out of the doors.  We didn't mean to run into you."  But the screecher continued.  "WELL WATCH OUT!"

It was annoying.  We weren't matching their level of anger, but we were annoyed at the freaky, over-protective wife going crazy while sheltering her apparently helpless hubby.  So, as we scooted around them, I believe UncleR said, very quietly, under her breath, "Hey.  We're sorry.  We're just trying to leave.  Have a nice fuckin' day."

And that's when Mr. Ignorant chose to speak up.  He chased us out of the doors of the hotel and began screeching in the same tenor as his wife: 

"DON'T SPEAK TO MY WIFE LIKE THAT!  YOU LESBEEEEANS!  LESBIANS!!!!  YOU FUCKING CARPET MUNCHERS!  LESBIANS!  CARPET MUNCHERS!"

And as we walked away, he continued to follow us.  And now and only now, I got pissed.  Not an "I'm going to get physical" sort of angry, but an "I've had enough" anger. 

I vaguely remember UncleR telling teeny hubby to quit following us and to leave her alone.  She said no more than that.  But I had had enough.

I turned around to Mr. Ignorant, as he continued to hurl gay slurs and told him very simply to "Stop and go back inside."  I said it several times, while I guided my family away from the hotel.  I faced him directly, while walking backwards, and repeatedly told him to return himself and his wife to the confines of the hotel. 

And then it was over.  Mrs. Pterodactyl dragged Mini-Hubby into the hotel.  We were shocked and angry.  But more shocked than anything. 

The best part of the whole ordeal was as we continued to walk away from the hotel, a bystander (and there were many people watching) muttered to us under his breath, "He sure was short!"  It was his way of letting us know that he was on "our side"...and UncleR and I laughed...hard. 

So yesterday, as we recounted this incident from last year to J, we talked to him in depth about Mini-Hubby's use of gay slurs. 

Why are "gay" or "lesbian" and all of their verbal equivalents used as derogatory terms?  Why do we allow what or whom we are to be used as weapons against us?  We've taught our children that it is acceptable to use these words as weapons.  And worse, children see these words as weapons and feel the impact of these words when they're used to express cruelty.  No one need remind us about the countless suicides amongst gay youths after they're tormented by others over their sexuality. 

What we told J yesterday and throughout all of our past conversations, is that "gay" is not a derogatory term unless you make it so.  It is his duty, as well as our responsibility as a society, to teach our children not to bully, and specifically, that it is unacceptable to use a person's sexuality as a weapon. 

As I think back to Mini-Hubby and his wife, I wonder why a grown man used "lesbian" as a pejorative.  Did he think we weren't aware that we are gay?  Who did he think he was offending by calling us "carpet munchers"?  Certainly not this dyke. 



***The use of the term "Mini-Hubby is not meant to reference anyone's size.  Instead, it refers to the size of the ignorant mind within the adult male who hurled slurs at us at Disney World.  Apparently, the happiest place on earth wasn't happy for him.***

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thurgood Marshall...

Yesterday we had required family TV viewing.  We all gathered around the TV to watch "Thurgood", in which Lawrence Fishburne dutifully and magically gives credence to the life and stories of Thurgood Marshall.  "Thurgood" recounts Marshall's journey as a lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, and champion of civil rights.  And Fishburne shines in his performance as Thurgood Marshall, doing great justice to the life and times of the raconteur.  It was amazing, inspiring, and in an educational world that oft forgets its' history, it was important that we engage J, so that he may also learn about the civil rights battles fought not so long ago in this country, and even more so, how those battles relate to the ones we fight today.

I found myself moved to tears several times during the performance by Fishburne.  Although, it was impossible for me to see Lawrence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall.  Instead, it was if I watched Thurgood Marshall himself recount his battle for equal rights.  I watched Thurgood Marshall recount the day the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, where the "separate but equal" myth that had held segregation as the law of the land was laid to rest.  I watched Thurgood Marshall discuss the merits of the 14th Amendment of our United States Constitution.  And I listened to Thurgood Marshall as he championed human decency and equality above all else.  He held true to his faith in the law, and in the laws of our land.

Marshall once said:  "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." 

How is it then, that I fail to see the humanity in many of my fellow human beings?  How is it then, that those same beings fail to recognize the humanity in me?  In my family? 

It was impossible (for me) to separate the civil rights battle we fight today for marriage equality and the battles fought by Mr. Thurgood Marshall while I watched the portrayal on the screen of my TV yesterday.  It was impossible to listen to the reading of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution...

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

...and not wonder why I am denied equal rights AND equal protection under the law as a citizen of this country.  It was impossible to think of my (and my family's) status as anything but "separate and UNequal", as we are continually denied the same rights that others are granted because they can check the "heterosexual" box on a marriage application.

Separate is never equal.  There is no equality in inequality.  And there is no humanity in denying equal rights to gays and lesbians in this country. 

Apparently, there are those of us that haven't learned all of the lessons that the great champions of civil rights, including but not limited to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, have tried to teach us.  How sad is it that a great segment of our population seems to be learning on a curve?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

His High School Must Be Different From My High School...Or Maybe Not...

A few years ago, many years after I graduated from my small-town high school, I followed a big controversy involving my alma mater.  Apparently, horror upon horrors, a lesbian couple was photographed and placed on the "couples page" in the school's yearbook.  Oh. my. gawd.  You would have thought, by the reaction of parents and community members, that the high school yearbook had published pictures of fully nude, young lesbians swathed in rainbow flags while burning the Bible.  Instead, what was pictured, was a lesbian couple holding hands.  *gasp*  An emergency school board meeting was called where parents, students and community members expressed their outrage and threatened to protest and sue the school district for amounts ridiculous enough to make you roll your eyes back in your head.  The school district was forced to print new yearbooks (no, I'm not kidding) and from then on, all yearbook publications were to be fully approved by not only the yearbook teaching staff (who saw no problem with including the girls to begin with), but also by the school board itself.  The "safety" of our children, of course, trumps any duty we may have to support freedom of speech.  (Did you gag yet?)

In another high school, within the past few weeks, a student expressed his right to free speech.  The title of this young man's editorial, "Homosexual teens alienated by current societal trends", is misleading as far as what you may think the article includes or discusses.  Young Mr. Johnson feels that homosexual relationships "just are not normal".  Okay, cool.  I've heard worse.  Then Mr. Johnson goes on to proclaim that same-sex dating should not be allowed because (wait for it) there is legislation preventing same-sex marriage in our country.  I find his logic clever in a way.  He's clearly spent lots of time thinking about the gays and our lives.

Then Mr. Johnson pulls out the Bible verses...because really, that's the true way to justify your homophobia and prejudice.  Ain't no way to validate your views like a Bible verse.  He writes (in regards to his, and others, opposition to same sex relationships):

"Also, less commonly cited, is the death penalty called for in another Bible verse, Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with man, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” These are the most common arguments against homosexual marriage and/or dating."

He wraps his editorial up by calling same-sex relationships a "social disruption". 

Wait, did he call for my death?  *shrug*

Do you think he would have been allowed to call for the death of African Americans?  Or would that have been going too far?

I'm being dramatic, for no reason but to allow myself to really process what this KID has said.  Does free speech include the right of a person to imply that an entire group should be put to death?  (I'm not asking for you, I'm asking for me)  Is there a difference between publishing a picture of a lesbian couple holding hands and a young man using Bible verses to call for the death of homosexuals? 

I'd like to say, "Yes!  There's a difference!"  How dare this kid be allowed to write what he did, in a high school where surely some of the students are struggling with their sexual orientation!

But, I can't say that.  He has a right to express his beliefs and views.  And I believe that it is very important that we, as a progressive society, hear and become fully aware of exactly what types of people and views we are working against. 

I find his opinions predictable, simplistic (always gotta quoth the Lord) and yes, disgusting.  I'm not so sure his opinions would have stood had he railed against black people, women, Jews, Mormons, the disabled, etc. etc. etc......  What I find more disturbing is that someone shaped his opinions.  His parents?  Have they sat around the table discussing the fact that "teh gays should die, die, die"?  

He writes a well-researched editorial.  He supports his views with well-documented sources.  (heh)  Hey, maybe he has a future in this.  He's already garnered this much attention.  Maybe I'll recommend him to Newsmax or Fox News. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Show Your Pride!

I read several LGBTQ blog sites daily.  It's a great way to keep up on the news and happenings in and surrounding the LGBTQ community.  Also, it's a great way to explore the diversity of people and opinions within our rainbow walls.  We don't all agree.  (duh)  We don't all always see eye to eye.  (duh)  And we're not all cut from the same rainbow cloth.  (duh)  I oftentimes have very strong reactions to some of the opinions and blogs that I read. 

The other day, I stumbled upon a blog titled, "Why We Should Cancel Pride Celebrations".  Feel free to read the blog, but I'll try to sum up the author's opinion in a few short sentences.  Essentially, this blogster feels that we have a duty as members of the LGBTQ community to funnel our money, time and pride away from these unnecessary pride celebrations, and instead we should be refocusing our time and finances towards programs specifically targeting LGBTQ youth.  He states that these outward demonstrations of pride do nothing to help the youth in our community that are targets of bullying or are dealing with difficult home lives or even homelessness. 

While I can't argue against his emotion and the specific point he's trying to make, I disagree with his premise overall.

Pride celebrations are more than campy celebrations with fabulously dressed, rainbow masses.  Pride celebrations are a show of solidarity amongst our varied group of individuals.  It's a way for us to come together and, even if for only a short moment, shift our focus away from living in what remains a heterosexually privileged world.  We can celebrate ourselves, our diversity and show pride with no reservation.  We have permission to yell and scream our frustrations over the inequalities that exist for our community.  And we have permission to be ourselves in a supportive environment without fear of being judged as godless abominations worthy of stoning.  Strength in numbers, strength in conviction, strength in pride...

On the contrary, I believe we'd be doing a great disservice to the tortured and overlooked LGBTQ youth in our world by cancelling pride celebrations.  Money and programs are important, and recently, there has been an increased focus on the youth in our community, with multiple programs FINALLY beginning to focus their efforts on this oft forgotten group.  But with supportive programs, visibility is extremely important.  Not only for the struggling youth who may look at a group of pride celebrators and think:  "OMG!  Someone like me!  Someone who understands!"...but also for the other LGBTQ community members who may find strength, acceptance and support for the first time in their lives. 

Visibility is also important outside of our community.  We need to share/scream our message about the need for equality.  We need to show the ignorant bigots that their wish for us to disappear or remain silent will never be granted.  And we need to show the not-so-ignorant folks that are on the fence in regards to our community that we are just like them...that we have families, jobs, and lives AND above all else, we deserve to live our lives sharing in all of the rights that they are given automatically as straight individuals and/or couples. 

Without visibility, there will be no opportunity for progress or growth or movement towards equality in this world.  Closeting ourselves while funneling money to youth programs won't change the world.  In fact, it may encourage "them" to forget that we're here, to forget our message, and to forget that an extreme level of inequality exists for the LGBTQ community.

Although I see the point of the blogster that is rallying against pride celebrations, I disagree with his premise.  The truth is, we should do both.  We should increase our focus on the youth of our community, at the same time we come together and show our pride amongst each other and to the world.  We cannot grow as a community and as a society in general if we force ourselves back into some self-imposed closet.  We need to be visible (so they don't forget) and we need to support each other from within.

Plus...as a personal aside...after UncleR and I get married in a few short months, we'll be celebrating with 200,000 other folks at one of the largest pride celebrations in our country.  I'm firmly convinced that they'll all be celebrating for us.

My rainbow shoes are ready to march. 

Maybe a young girl will see UncleR and I marching with our "Just Married" shirts and she'll know that she's not alone in her want for a family or marriage.  She'll know there's someone out there just like her.  And she'll know that we're fighting for her. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

"I Knew It!"

That's what my "boss"/supervisor said when I came out to her the other day.

No, I'm not out at work (well, until last Friday).  But, I'm not "in" either.

When J and I moved to set up our family in Texas with UncleR and Big C, it was a move "up" in regards to my new relationship status, my new family status, and my new level of happiness.  BUT, it was definitely a lateral move in terms of living in an area that is open and accepting of the LGBTQ community.  In other words, I moved from a small, religiously conservative town that lacked support for gays TO a small, religiously conservative town that lacks support for gays. 

I also work for a school system...in a small, religiously conservative town that lacks support for gays.  My work environment is not conducive to me being "out".  The stories that we all hear where members of the LGBTQ community are terminated from public schools after exposing (or not) their sexual orientation are enough to ensure my selectiveness in revealing my personal details.  In fact, at my last school district, I took over the position for a woman who I was told, in no uncertain terms, was fired after the principal found out she was a lesbian.  Of course, that's not what they told her. 

All this to say, I've been extremely careful about revealing my personal details at my place of employment.  But, I'm not closeted.  Instead, I exist in a sort of self-imposed status of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  No one's asked, so I don't tell.  I speak about my family often at work.  I refuse to lie and haven't lied about my family life or love life.  Instead, I limit the amount of personal information I share with work colleagues.  Period.  No one's asked either.

I assume that "they" have assumed I'm straight.  Probably because they know I have a child...the societal assumption being that all people that have children are, obviously, heterosexual.  This fact pisses me off.  What if I wanted to put up family pictures on my office desk?  What if I wanted to refer to my "partner"?  Essentially, I've then TOLD on myself.  So, no family photos.  And no revealing discussions about my personal life.  I just steer clear.  Which also breaks my heart.  This is the happiest time of my life...I'm fulfilled in ways I cannot explain.  I'm getting married for Christ's sake.  And I haven't shared this with any of my work colleagues.

Until Friday.

In the midst of a very serious discussion with my supervisor, I "told".  It was the right time.  It happened naturally.  And I felt comfortable enough and (sad to say this) SAFE enough to come out of my self-imposed closet.  And her immediate response was:  "I knew it!"  I laughed, she laughed, and she congratulated me with tears in her eyes for my impending marriage. 

Later Friday night, after I'd been home for several hours, my supervisor texted me.  She thanked me for trusting her enough to share my life with her.  She said she was "proud" to call me her friend.  This time, I was the one with tears in my eyes.

UncleR and I have had several conversations about my angst over working in an environment where it truly is not "safe" for me to be completely out.  I feel, as does she, that we have a duty as gays and lesbians to show those around us that we're just like them...by and through being out...we need to show the closed-minded ignorant masses that we work, we have families, we put one pant leg on at a time, just like they do. 

What possible consequences are worth hiding your true self/life?  Is the possibility of discrimination or even termination WORTH (essentially) lying by omission? 

Nah.  It ain't worth it. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Mormons Won't Leave Me Alone...

I was at work yesterday and got a text from UncleR at home.  It said:

"I just had a nice conversation with two Mormon Missionaries.  They came to visit."

I think my response went something like this:

"Jeezus EFFING Christ.  Are you serious?  AGAIN?????"

For full disclosure, I need to say that I used to be Mormon.  In another life, in another time, in another clueless frame of mind, I joined the Mormon church.  I was young, stupid, and overwhelmed by the fact that I was a teenager raising a disabled child.  I needed something to rely on...with some form of consistency that my life wasn't providing me.  Of course, I did the obvious/logical thing and baptized myself as a "Latter Day Saint". 

I remember the day I left the church.  It's burned into my head.  We were at a church picnic and I was sitting with J (who was 2 or 3 at the time) and a friend and her two children.  My friend, we'll call her "Billy", was hoping to take the same path I had taken into the church.  She wanted to be baptized as well.  There was one problem.  Billy was bisexual...and proud.  In the full view and within hearing distance of dozens of church members, I watched the leadership of the church approach Billy.  Billy, it seemed, needed to go to an ex-gay treatment center before she could take any further church lessons.  Now, the church didn't call the "program" they were selling an "ex-gay treatment center"...but it was understood when they told her she would have to cure herself of and denounce her "homosexual nature".  Billy was speechless, and so was I.  I grabbed J and Billy by the hand, she grabbed her two kids, and we left.  I never went back.  I don't know if she did because I never spoke with her again after I dropped her off at home. 

So, imagine my surprise, when time after time, these caring church members continue to haunt my doorway.

A few weeks after moving to Texas to build a home with UncleR, two LDS church members came and knocked on my door...after dark.  First of all, don't ever walk up on the porch of a country home in the dark...unannounced.  It ain't safe...uhhhh, for you.  Apparently, someone in my previous life had revealed to the Mormon church that I had relocated (I'm sure out of concern for my soul).  The damn Mormons found me.  I politely told them that they should never darken my doorstep again.  Okay, I may have said "Don't ever come back here.  I don't want you here.  I don't support you or what you do.  CULT!!!"  And then I slammed the door.  (not really)

So, imagine my surprise when I get the text yesterday that two Mormon boys had taken it upon themselves to come calling.  I asked UncleR what they discussed. 

"Well, they asked if you were home.  Then they called you "Jessica"."  She began to laugh.  The two Mormon boys want to save my soul, but they don't know my name.

"Then, they asked if I was your mother!"  *insert huge, side-stitch inducing guffaws here*

"No shit babe!" I said.  "What did you tell them?"

"I told them I was your fiance."

We collapsed in more loud laughter and snorts.

"What did they do or say?"

"They just nodded and smiled.  Nodded and smiled."

*snicker*giggle*laughlaughlaugh*

Apparently, UncleR told them I wasn't going to be happy that they came...that I didn't want them there nor would I want to speak with them.  They did offer to come back and help care for our 10-acre yard. 

Maybe next time I'll just tell them I'm an atheist and they'll stop coming.  Apparently, lesbian isn't scary enough.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Justin Bieber Has A Very Important Opinion! (AKA: Justin Bieber Has A Fever)

Apparently, underneath Justin Bieber's helmet hair resides an independent, thinking mind.  I was once 16, and I had an opinion too.  I was independent-minded enough to choose to keep my baby since I was pregnant at that age.  Yup, within this person (me) lies a (former?) teenage statistic.  Booyah. 

It's being reported that "The Biebs" (or however the fuck you spell that) revealed some of himself to all of his pre/teenage fans in an inverview with Rolling Stone.  He even got the cover.  Curiously, his helmet hair was absent from his cover shot...instead being replaced with a messy, spiky jumble...which I'm assuming is supposed to give cred to his new, more mature, bad boy thang.  He has to appeal to the girlies, yo.

Well Bieber fever-ites, your idol believes homosexuality is a choice and that abortion is wrong, even in cases of rape. 

We can argue whether homosexuality is a choice till the fabulous, rainbow cows come home.  In the end, it doesn't matter if you believe a person chooses or doesn't choose their sexual orientation...if they choose to love someone of the same sex or they're born that way (shout out to Lady GaGa).  All that (really) matters is that you support equality for ALL.

But when the message that you send to females is that aborting a fetus as a result of rape (or incest, or molestation) is wrong...you are entering very dangerous territory. 

I belieb, excuse me, believe Justin Bieber's sentiments were that while it's "really sad" that a woman would become pregnant after a rape, he beliebs "everything happens for a reason". 

Yes, Justin.  It's "really sad".

It's sad that your focus, in your very young, inexperienced mind, is on that of an unborn fetus rather than the female that is raped.  It's sad that girls everywhere will get the message that rape and its' resulting consequences are things that "happen for a reason".  It's sad that girls worldwide worship the ground you walk upon and that you have made this COLOSSAL mistake. 

Oh, but good thing Bieber.  While you argued against abortion and implied that rape "happens for a reason"...you didn't denounce teen sex.  Cause, according to you, you "should just wait for the person you're in love with".  Werd, Justin.  Werd.  Teenagers fall in love every 60 seconds.  And I should know.  I have a 14 1/2 year old son that reminds me of that fact every time I look at him. 

I'm glad my kid doesn't have Bieber fever.  I'd hate to have to pry a Bieber CD from his hands against his will.  In fact, every time he tells me he doesn't like Justin Bieber, I'm going to high-five him and say, "That's my boy!  The one with GREAT taste in music!"





****I should add a disclaimer to this blog.  It may sound like I'm angry at Justin Bieber.  I'm really not.  He's 16.  His limited world view and young age have shaped his opinions.  But, the kid has followers.  Young kids who are hearing his messages and absorbing them like they're gospel.  And as a parent, I take great issue with the messages that our children are hearing and those that shape their persons.  Whether his opinions are based on age and lack of experience or not, THIS particular message is a dangerous one.  Peace out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Really IS About The Right To Marry...

Have you ever read about the history of Valentine's Day?  Who is Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome.  Rome's ruler, Emperor Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers than married men (so the men didn't have anyone to worry about back at home and could instead devote all of their energies to "the cause").  Therefore, Claudius outlawed all marriages.  Saint Valentine felt this was unjust and chose to continue to marry couples that loved each other...in secret.  When Saint Valentine's actions were discovered, he was sentenced to death for defying the law of the land.

Some tales go further, and they state that Saint Valentine sent the first Valentine himself.  While he was imprisoned for disobeying the Emperor, he fell in love with the jailor's daughter.  Before his death, he sent her a letter professing his undying love, and he signed it "Your Valentine."  He was a martyr...a martyr in love...

St. Valentine's Day began over the fight for the right to marry.  A fight we're still fighting today. 

Happy Valentine's Day y'all.  Tomorrow, I'll celebrate with my future wife...as we're in the middle of our own journey and the fight for our right to marry...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Want To Be A Mrs. Too!

This week, I read THIS article about a same-sex couple from South Dakota. 

Here's the gist of the article:  Amy and Ashley live in South Dakota.  However, South Dakota doesn't permit same-sex marriages.  So, Amy and Ashley got married in Iowa.  Amy took Ashley's last name after their marriage.  Amy changed her name with social security, and even changed her name with her credit card companies.  However, when it came time to change her name with the state of South Dakota, she encountered a problem.  Amy presented her LEGAL marriage certificate, issued by the state of Iowa, at the DMV in her hometown.  They refused to acknowledge the marriage between Amy and Ashley because South Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage.  Therefore, they wouldn't permit Amy to change her name on her driver's license and denied her a new license. 

Here's the thing.  If Amy and Ashley had been a heterosexual couple, the marriage certificate would have been enough for the name change with the state...with NO OTHER requirements.  Instead, if Amy would like to change her name on her driver's license, she must petition the courts and pay to have her name legally changed by the state of South Dakota...a cost that can be quite high, and one that comes absolutely free to heterosexual couples. 

UncleR and I are in the same situation.  We will be married in June and our state does not recognize same-sex unions.  I have made the very personal decision to take her name.  I will be Mrs. UncleR.  Once we return home, I will have to petition the courts to legally change my name...knowing that had we been a heterosexual couple, that this would be granted without the necessity of the legal system, and would be absolutely free.  Instead, I will dole out the approximately $500 to change my name.

We've had many discussions about this name change.  We had another one this morning.  And here's where we are...

We are choosing to legally marry, although our union will not be recognized by the state we live in.  Not all same-sex couples are lucky enough to have this opportunity.  Marriage is a right almost exclusively given to heterosexuals.  Not only will my name change be a symbol to us that we have made this commitment, but it will be a symbol to others. 

We are, in essence, saying (to others/the moral majority)..."Hey, we're doing this too.  We have a right to love each other and have our union legally recognized...just like you!"

To us, we're saying..."We are united...in love, in life, and in name."

I've decided I want to be a Mrs. too.  But, in the back of my mind, I think about the fact that I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to be a Mrs.  I'm not asking for special consideration or for special rights.  I'm just asking for equality.

Signed,

The future Mrs. UncleR

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Tonight was our lasagna bake-off.  UncleR and I went head to head. 

I waltzed around this morning puffing my chest out and muttering things in her direction, like:  "I'm takin' you doooowwwwn".  And..."You'll be sorry you ever took my challenge!"


UncleR's lemon chicken lasagna.


Jen's Italian-style lasagna.

Mine was clearly prettier.  Clearly.  Baked to perfection and bubbling away. 

And then came the taste test.

Here's what I remember...I put a bite of UncleR's lemony goodness into my mouth and my eyes rolled back in my head in ecstasy.  I had the uncontrollable urge to slap my mama, her lasagna was so good.  Phrases such as:  "You dirty girl!"  and "Daaaaamn baby.  This shit is delicious!" came tumbling out of my mouth in my food-induced climax. 

I hurriedly finished my lasagna and saved hers for last on my plate.  I told her it was because I was saving the best for last.  And I meant it.

When it was time, I handed in my vote.  I couldn't vote for myself.

UncleR handed in her vote.  She voted for herself.

J came out of Big C's room where they had been eating together.  I asked him which lasagna he liked the best.  He replied:  "My mom's".  His answer was sweet, but I knew he had to be lying and must have been voting for me due to some sense of loyalty.  I told him he needed to be honest.  Told him he could vote for UncleR's if that was his fav.  But, he insisted, that sweet, sweet, boy o' mine...that he liked mine the best.

I only had hope for a tie.  And Big C's vote was up next.  He agreed with UncleR and I. 

And so, by a vote of 3-1, UncleR takes this year's lasagna throwdown.  And you deserve it baby.  Just remember who makes your pizza and baby back ribs. 

Oh, and as I cleaned the kitchen tonight, I may or may not have licked the bottom of the pan that the lemony goodness was made in.  You'll never know.  I left no evidence.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Freshly Fallen Snow...

Today is our 6-month anniversary...as a family.  Six months ago today, J and I moved here. 

Frankly, I was expecting it to be more difficult.  I was expecting that I would have huge adjustments to sharing both my life and home with a partner.  I was expecting that I would have some difficulty with sharing parenting duties...as parenting has been a solo sport for 14 years.  Instead, this has been an incredibly easy transition.  Less of a transition, really...and more of "just the way it's supposed to be".  It's been smooth, easy and comfortable.

I was expecting a huge amount of difficulty with J.  After all, J has spent his entire life being sheltered from my adult business.  I raised him by myself, without the assistance of a partner or co-parent, and purposefully chose to steer him away from those that I dated or shared my time with.  So, when this change in our lives occurred, and we moved from the only home he had ever known and into a familial environment where I would be sharing OUR lives with someone and I would be asking a person to enter our lives as a partner/co-parent...I expected, I don't know...something.

I won't say there's been nothing.  There have been moments where J has struggled to get his feet underneath him.  Making new friends, forming a family...all in an entirely new environment...hasn't always been a flawless exercise.  But, it's still been much easier than I thought. 

Soooo, happy 6-month anniversary to the Jen/UncleR family. 

This week has been a strange one, though.  A weather system moved through our part of the country.  (a strange occurrence for this area)  Due to the ice and snow, I've been off of work since Monday.  And J has been home from school for 3 of the last 4 days with us. 

This morning, we awoke to this:



A beautiful, freshly fallen snow. 

Outside, the world has stopped.  We've been "forced" to spend this time as a family.  It's quiet outside and warm and comfy inside. 

Rather than work woes, this week has been spent doing other things.  We've been enjoying each other's company.  We've been enjoying good food.  And we've been enjoying some wedding planning.

While the world is quiet, I have been busy inside the house with my family...loving every second of this life. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Iowa?

Today, the Iowa House voted 63-37 to approve Joint Resolution 6.  Joint Resolution 6 calls for a constitutional amendment to recognize only marriages between a man and woman.  Joint Resolution 6 would prevent both same-sex unions and civil partnerships in the state. 

Iowa is one of the few states in our nation where same-sex couples can marry legally. 

Joint Resolution 6 will remove the equal rights that have been afforded to same-sex couples in Iowa since April of 2009.

The following video contains a speech by 19-year-old Zach Wahls.  Zach and his two moms live in Iowa.  Zach spoke for equality...and for his family.  I just thought I'd share.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sooooo...We Got Engaged At a Truckstop...

No, I'm not joking...

Shortly before Christmas, UncleR and I were talking about life, our future together, and one thing led to another.  I don't remember how it happened. 

What I do remember is when she looked at me and said:  "Will you marry me?"  After I said yes, I turned to her and said, "Will YOU marry me?"  And it was official.  We were engaged.

A few days later, we travelled to New Mexico to visit my family.  We had planned to escape to Santa Fe to hunt for dual engagement rings.  But, those plans fell through. 

We knew we wanted something unique.  We knew we wanted something that spoke to us.  And we knew we wanted our rings to match.

On Interstate-40 and Route 66, between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa, New Mexico, at exit 234, near a little nothing of a post office town called "Clines Corners"...lies a truck stop...the "Flying C Ranch".

We had passed the truck stop on the way to my mother's house.  We had seen sign after sign advertising its' offerings:  FUDGE!  Hamburgers!  Fireworks!  Home decor!  Native American jewelry!  Dairy Queen!





We knew we would pass the Flying C for a second time during our travels, and UncleR wanted to stop. 



As soon as we stepped through the doors, I found them.  Our rings.  Made by a local, Native American jeweler, they were EXACTLY us. 

We went out to the parking lot, exchanged rings and we popped the question to each other again. 



It was romantic.  It was meaningful.  It was us.  I secretly think the dog barking in the truck parked next to us was wishing us many congrats.

What a story it is!  I love to share it.  But, I don't share it for anyone but us. 

And really, we're the whole reason for this marriage.  We're not getting married because society has told us we must.  We're not marrying because without a marriage, our relationship is incomplete.  In fact, we're wholly complete.  We're not getting married because it's the "right" thing to do.  We're not getting married for anyone...but US. 

I won't bore you with the stories about how neither of us ever believed marriage would be an option or occurrence in our lives.  Many same-sex partners feel that way.

I'll simply say this.  Just like our engagement, our marriage is for us.  We're doing it our way.  And we're doing it together. 

Exit 234, I-40, Route 66.  And that, as they say, is that.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Lasagna-Off...

It's a throw-down.  Bobby Flay style.

Date:  Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Place:  Our house
Time:  Dinner time

Last blog I explained about our love of cooking.  And our love of Food TV.

Our obsession has grown, exponentially, over the weekend.

For a while, UncleR has been bragging about this FABU lemon chicken lasagna that she makes.  It just so happens that I make a pretty good Italian style lasagna myself.  So, I did the only thing I could and issued her a challenge.  We'll both make our lasagnas and have the rest of the family pick their favorites.  Whomever wins the challenge will hold the title of Pasta Queen in the Jen/UncleR household. 

We explained the competition this morning to the other members of our family.  I vaguely remember UncleR telling our kid that she was gonna win, hands down.  I was proud when I heard him mutter under his breath in response:  "We'll seeeeee."...in a creepy, thriller movie sort of way.

I'm not saying I'm above bribery, because I'm not.  But, my faith in my culinary skills tells me that, really...I have nothing to worry about.

Stay tuned for the wrap-up on "The Great Lasagna-Off" this weekend.

And to my loving partner:  If you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen!