19 November 2015

Sometimes a blogging calendar is just a suggestion

I was going to post last week about Veterans' Day and what it means to me to be the daughter of a veteran. I was going to post this week about the wifey's birthday.

But very very early Tuesday morning last week, my dad called me to tell me my grandfather died, and that kind of derailed things. On top of it, I wasn't able to go up north for the funeral.

So I haven't been blogging the way I intended to last week and this week.

My grandpa was a good guy.

He was from an older generation with old ideals and values. He was born in Kentucky and, as an adult, was a member of a conservative, fundamental Baptist church (that kicked his son out for getting remarried after divorce). He had certain ideas about faith and life and people that made me decide not to come out to him.

Now that he's gone, I don't regret my decision. I wish we lived in a world where it wouldn't have mattered to him that I was gay. And maybe, had I come out to him, it wouldn't have mattered. But judging his reaction to his nephew's relationship with another man all those years ago*, he wouldn't have taken it well.

Now that he's gone, I'm letting myself think about the good memories. I have to, at least for now. So I remember the time I sneaked across the deck so I could dump a bucket of water on him during a water fight. I remember him telling us kids that if we could get his wedding ring off his finger, we could keep it. (My sister got it off once, too!) I remember helping him feed the beagles he bred as hunting dogs for his friends that he let hunt deer and rabbits on his property.

I remember my grandpa fondly. And I will say goodbye in my own way in my own time.

I miss you, Grampy. I carry your memory with me.

*That's a blog post for another day.

07 November 2015

If I had been a son....

When I came out to my dad (about three years ago), one of the things he said to me was that he would not have taken the news as well if it had come from one of my brothers.

I didn't say anything at the time, but since then I think about that statement from time to time.

My dad was raised in a highly patriarchal, conservative Christian family. And when I came out to him, he was raising his stepdaughters in the same environment. So, in giving him the benefit of the doubt, I can try and justify to myself that what he meant by that comment had to do with pride of sons and carrying on the family name and all that kind of thing.

But I know it's not true.

What really emerged in that comment from my father was a testament to this dramatic disparity in the perceptions of same-sex relationships in our society, most notably brought on by the gross glamorized sexualization of lesbians thanks to the porn industry.

Society has made lesbians sexy. Guys want to watch lesbians or "turn them" or join in or whatever, making lesbianism more acceptable than male homosexuality.

It was more okay for my dad that I cam out versus either of my brothers because lesbians are hot and gay guys are gross.

Straight, white, cis male privilege at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

What it comes down to is that, in our society, straight cis males have determined the "norm" for what is sexually acceptable. Since these men are sexually aroused by women (and more so by women with other women), lesbians are hot. But because these men are not only not aroused but often disgusted by gay men, the result is that homosexual males are not acceptable in society. Gay guys are gross, according to the heteronormative perspective.

So in that one comment, which my dad really intended as a twisted way of showing his support for me coming out to him (read: "I'm not disowning you. But things would be different if you were a boy"), the whole of society was encapsulated.

I was more acceptable because I am a woman. Well, because I am a sexualized object.

It's infuriating, really, to know that the only basis for this acceptance is the sexualization of lesbians for the gratification of straight men. It has nothing to do with who I am as a lesbian, or the desire for equality in society. Instead, it's just that society says lesbians are hot. I, as a sexual object, am acceptable.

But the moment you focus on the humanity of lesbians, we're back to it being sinful and unacceptable. And since men can't objectify other men's bodies the way they do women's bodies, gay men are unacceptable under all circumstances.

And, unfortunately, as long as we live in a society in which women are continually sexualized and objectified, this won't change. It's not about the people who happen to be lesbians, it's about the bodies and what they do with other (female) bodies in their intimate relationships.

Because if I had been a son, I probably would have been disowned in that first conversation.

03 November 2015

After a month of marriage....

Bo and I have been married for one month today. There's been a lot going on in our lives, and it has made the month seem to pass more quickly. So here we are, a month after the magical day, and I haven't even written about it.

A. Harris Photography
We held our ceremony at a beautiful outdoor location that is connected to a public golf course. The reception was held in the venue's banquet room.

A. Harris Photography

The weather was perfect: nice, but not hot, and not too bright that we needed sunglasses. And yes, I did wear blue suede t-strap heels with my dress.

A. Harris Photography

We wrote our own vows, and Bo's sister, who is a notary public, performed our ceremony. I'm glad it was someone we knew who could speak to our relationship instead of someone whose ceremony would have been far more generic.

A. Harris Photography

Afterward, we had a beautiful reception indoors. With all the food you could imagine, and our simply delicious cake. The top layer was Boston creme pie (mostly for the kids), and the bottom layer was pumpkin spice with cream cheese filling.

A. Harris Photography

Oh, yeah. We also had a s'more station. It was the kids' favorite. Kind of mine, too.

A. Harris Photography

It was a beautiful day, and I don't think it could have gone any better than it did. After all, what could be better than your very own princess at your wedding? We have memories to last a lifetime, and amazing pictures as evidence.

And now, one month later, we have settled into our routine, and life is good.

Happy, monthiversary, my Bo. I love you.

02 November 2015

The things I don't say

When I started this blog in 2008 (I can hardly believe it's been that long!), it was my intention to have it be strictly a writing/reading blog.

Since then, the blog has changed quite a bit. For a while, I wrote about family, my (former) faith, then back to writing and professional topics.

Lately, there's been quite a bit of family on the blog, along with topics that are important to me, like LGBTQ issues, atheism, and living a compassionate, holistic lifestyle.

But there are other things I wish I could blog about that I can't. Don't. Can't. Some of these topics are off-limits because of who they involve. Other topics are off-limits because of what they involve.

But there are ways I can talk about some of things, and so I'm going to start incorporating some of those topics into my blog regularly. I know it will make me feel better to talk about them, and I hope others will read them and find comfort or connection or whatever they need.

Because some topics shouldn't have to be off-limits.

21 October 2015

My story is true for me

I have been called a liar.

I have shared my coming out story to people, and been told it can't possibly be true. That I must be leaving something out or skewing it to make myself look better.Or that I knew all along and was a liar because I married Monty anyway.

But whatever anyone says, my story is true for me.

And it is that truth that I tell.

Now, I'm not saying "my story is true for me" in a way that says I've deluded myself into thinking that the story I tell is true even though it's not. What I mean is that regardless of what people think, assumptions they make, or how they react to what I tell them, my story is true. And for me, that's enough. My story is true for me.

When I made the decision to come out and divorce Monty, there were people who claimed that I knew all along that I am gay. There were people who said I'd married Monty just to get kids, or to get money from him, or whatever else they thought about me. That I'd planned what happened for a long time before I made it happen. But that's not true.

This came up again recently when I was participating in a conversation on Facebook. I shared my story and a stranger decided, based on the limited story I told in the conversation thread, that I was a liar. This person didn't believe that I really had no idea that I was gay until I realized it and came out.

But I didn't.

Here's the thing. My dad is a Baptist. A fundamental independent Baptist. So, growing up, being gay just wasn't really an option. My mom was always more open-minded and progressive, but we never talked about it. And, being raised Baptist, the expectation was that I would grow up, marry a good, Baptist man, and have babies. That was it. It never occurred to me that I might be gay because it never occurred to anyone in my life that there was anything other than being straight for Christians.

Looking back, I can see now that I have always been a lesbian. There were things in my life that I now see as indications of my sexual orientation that I didn't recognize at the time. Some of the things were small. For example, I didn't have a favorite male actor; when friends would talk about male actors they thought were attractive, I'd let others answer before me and pick a name they said. But in those moments, I didn't see those signs for what they were.

Now, of course, I look back and admonish myself for my blindness. How could I have not known? But I didn't.

Eventually, my life changed and was not so restrictive. And it was in this context that the edges of my mind crept toward the center, and I realized that the reason I always felt "wrong" was because I was a lesbian who'd just had a second child with a man I was married to.

That was a hard conversation.

I can't imagine how Monty felt at the time. I know how he reacted, but that was just the inadequate expression of his feelings. Things were very bad between us for quite a while when I came out and told him I wanted a divorce.

Things are better now. We're friends. He even went to my wedding!

No matter how many times I tell this story and am judged for elements that are perceived to be invented, my story is true. This is really and truly how it happened. No matter what anyone else says, this is and always will be the truth. And regardless of what they say, my story is true for me.

16 October 2015

The case for "they" as a singular pronoun

Throughout my education, "they" was always a plural pronoun. My literature teacher seemed to relish pointing out subject-verb agreement in our homework and essays. In fact, she corrected us verbally, as well, over the course of class discussion.

Language was binary.

But life is not.

On Monday, I read an outstanding post from Casey over at Life with Roozle about coming out as genderqueer. She says:
I'm taking up space in this in between, in this neither and both and everything I've always been and everything I want to be. Even though it's terrifying. Even though it changes nothing. Even though it changes everything. That's how language works. It's just language. 
Language is everything. Language defines us even when we don't want it to.
Yes, Casey. Yes, it does. I can't imagine how hard it was for them to write that post, but I'm so, so glad they did.

The problem with language (right now) is that it is molded by people who can sometimes be closed-minded and traditional. They have a very specific perspective of what the world is, and they use language to perpetuate it. When that worldview is binary (particularly in gender constructs), language becomes binary, as well.



And they is relegated to a plural pronoun.

But humanity changes and evolves and develops. Language, by its very nature as an expression of humanity, must change, as well. If society is no longer strictly binary, why is language?

I wholeheartedly support the use of "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Casey, and others, already prefer they/them/their over gender-specific pronouns. So it makes sense that society accepts this reclamation of language to fit the needs of human expression.

I know that Puck and Tink will likely learn in school that "they" is a plural pronoun and should be used as such. Okay. But when they get home and tell me that, I will let them know that in our non-binary society, some people prefer to be referred to as "they" because not everyone identifies as strictly male or strictly female.

There are shades of purple in our pink-and-blue humanness.

What are your thoughts on "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun? Why?

11 October 2015

Still here. Still queer. Getting used to it.

Today is National Coming Out Day. And after almost four years, I'm still coming out.

Though now it's in much more subtle ways, and far less vocal on my part. It's a look of surprise or a double-take from a passing stranger when I'm out in public and take my wife's hand.

It's the I'm-being-polite "Oh. Okay." from friends I rarely talk to when they finally get in touch and hear that I'm in a relationship with a woman.

It's the reminders that happen occasionally from my wife that when people stare, it is she that draws the attention because she doesn't fit what so many people in society think women should be, and if she weren't at my side, people would assume I'm straight.

It used to bother me. As a newly-out lesbian, I wanted to be rid of the straight part of my old life. I am a lesbian, and I wanted people to know it. So I bought some shirts from HRC, cut my hair in a pixie cut, and changed my Facebook profile picture to one of me at a drag show with friends.

Since then, I've let my hair grow back out to chin-length. I still have a shirt from HRC that I wear sometimes. And my profile picture is a beautiful shot from my wedding with Bo. (I wore a dress.) So, if I'm not with my wife, most people probably assume I'm straight.

But it doesn't bother me anymore. I don't care what people I don't know think of me. The people I care about know who I really am, and that's good enough for me. My wife knows who I am, and that's all I need. The munchkins know they have two moms, and they're happy in their life with us.

I think there will eventually be a day in society in which it truly doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, queer, trans, or anything else. You will just be you. Kids won't need to come out to their parents; they'll just bring home someone for their parents to meet.

But until then, I'll keep coming out, and keep not caring that it surprises people.

27 September 2015

Renew your spirit with coming back to blogging

The last couple of weeks have been busy. I've had some rather intense blog posts that I've wanted to post, but life has gotten in the way of blogging lately.


I'm still here, and I am working on getting back into blogging regularly. I'm even scheduling a couple of posts for next week while Bo and I are away for our mini-honeymoon.

Now that things are settling, I'll be posting much more regularly.

Also, it's Banned Books Week, so find something to read that has been challenged or banned to show your support to reading and writing freedom, stand up to censorship, and get a great story out of it!

Enjoy your rebellious reading!

16 September 2015

Blood work and weight checks and follow-ups

In December 2011 (8 mos. old), Tink
could not stand (even assisted) and weighed
less than fifteen pounds. (She was 6 lbs at birth.)
A few years ago, Tink and I were almost spending more time at doctors' offices and in clinics than not. She was tiny and not growing, and her pediatrician wanted to know why.

It wasn't a matter of growing slowly. She simply wasn't growing. And wasn't hitting her developmental milestones.

So we went to specialists and she had lots of blood drawn and we were in the pediatrician's office more than once a month just so she could step on the scale.

We're at it again.

We've had appointments and blood work and x-rays, and a specialist who looked at her and said, "I've never seen this before."

So we're circling back to start again with the pediatrician, which means another round of blood work and a weight check appointment (that includes Puck because he isn't growing as quickly as he should because he doesn't want to be left out. Or something.).

With each appointment I make and doctor's report I get, I can't help but remembering where we were before, when Tink was in physical and occupational therapy. When she was a year old and couldn't stand unassisted. When blood work was so routine to her that she just stared at the tech that drew her blood with an expression that said, "And what?"

She's older now, and much more aware of the pain that comes with drawing blood. Or, as we call them, "pinches." She dreads them. And not only does she ask every health care professional if they're going to give her a pinch, but she recognizes the logo of Quest Diagnostics and whenever she sees it, she asks if we're going to the "pinch place."

Today, no. This month, yes. Next month, too.

It's harder now. She's older and understands more. She knows there's something going on. And she doesn't like pinches.

Neither do I.

It's going to be a long few months, Miss Tink. But we're right here with you.

08 September 2015

On marriage licenses and equality

Bo and I picked up our marriage license this morning in preparation for our wedding in about three weeks.

We didn't have any problems getting the license, and were congratulated by two staff members. In fact, the woman who helped us was even apologetic that the license says "groom," and said we could cross it out if we wanted to.*

And I couldn't help but thinking that I'm glad we don't live in Kentucky, where Kim Davis made the decision that her personal beliefs gave her justification to willfully defy a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage licenses in order to prevent from "participating" in the sin that is same-sex marriage.

I haven't blogged about Kim Davis. I've shared articles on Facebook here and there, and talked about it quite a bit with Bo. But I've been sort of avoiding talking about it here until more news came out. I thought it would be settled by now and I'd be able to write about it with a better understanding of the overall situation.

In case you don't know what's been going on, here are the highlights:

  • Kim Davis, a circuit clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, is a born-again Christian (she was saved four years ago) in a conservative denomination that condemns homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
  • Following the ruling by the Supreme Court, Davis made the decision to not issue marriage licenses because her name is on the application (as the clerk), and she believes that her name on the licenses makes her party to gay marriage and culpable in these people's sins.
  • Despite Davis's efforts to legally allow this ban through her claim that issuing the licenses discriminates against her religious practices, all of her appeals failed, leading SCOTUS to issue a one-line ruling upholding the previous ruling that said she must issue licenses.
  • When she continued to refuse, including instructing her deputy clerks that they were also not permitted to issue licenses, she was held in contempt of court. The judge told her that she would not be jailed if she would allow the deputy clerks to issue licenses in her stead, which she refused.
  • She has been jailed for contempt of court. The judge told the deputy clerks that they could either issue licenses or join her in jail. Five of the six (the one hold-out being her son) agreed to issue licenses.
  • Kim Davis is still in jail, and has attempted to file a new appeal.

Image source
There are a lot of factors in this case. On one hand, Kim Davis has a sincerely held belief that by issuing marriage licenses to queer couples, she is not only condoning the sin/behavior, but is equal part in it because her name is on the form. She is signing off on the marriage. I can see how she interprets that as her acceptance of same-sex marriage as an institution in the United States. Her signature makes the union legal in the county, so her signature says, "Yes, these two individuals are married."

That's one of the things she has a problem with. If her name/signature wasn't on the form, I believe she would still have refused to issue licenses, but that's a separate issue.

However, she's overreaching quite a bit. Not only did she take it too far by refusing to allow the deputy clerks to issue licenses, thereby putting their jobs in jeopardy (not to mention risking jail time), but she is also taking it too far by claiming that issuing licenses to same-sex couples (which, let's be honest, is the main component of her position as an elected official) constitutes religious discrimination.

I fail to see how issuing licenses with your name on them discriminates against you as a religious individual. So did the court.

Because, when you really look at the situation, you have to remember that the founding fathers established a concept called "separation of church and state," for this very reason. Allowing government officials, like county clerks, to make decisions and enact policies based on their individual religious beliefs and practices is dangerously close to sanctioning a state church. (Kind of the whole reason people left England to begin with, yanno?)

When she goes to work, she is no longer a private citizen. She is an elected official. Her religious beliefs don't matter because she wasn't elected and is not employed by the church or even by Christians. She is beholden to the law, when she took an oath** as an elected official, she swore to uphold the law and the Constitution, which now includes marriage equality in the nation. She can't just not follow certain laws because she doesn't like them or agree with them. Our nation doesn't work that way.

And, just as importantly, legalities of her duties aside, her rights only extend as far as someone else's. When she refused to issue marriage licenses, she violated the rights of the couples who were refused. And she can't do that, either.

One of the many problems with this situation is that, as an elected official, she can't just be fired. There's a whole process to remove her from office through impeachment. But she is finally being held accountable for her failure to do her job. And I hope that Rowan County (and Kentucky) continue to follow through with that.

Of course, the conservatives are having a field day now that she's in jail. She's become a martyr for the cause, with her husband even comparing her to the Biblical figures of Silas and Paul who were imprisoned for their adherence to their beliefs.

No. No.

She's not a martyr. She's not a conservative Christian hero. She's a small-minded woman who let her personal feelings and beliefs justify breaking hte law and is now being called to account for it.

Mark 12:17, y'all.

She may be a Christian, and may believe that she must ultimately answer to her god. But even Jesus recognized and accepted that there are laws and expectations set up on earth that Christians must adhere to. You can't claim god as a justification for breaking the law and defying a court ruling.

She's learning that the hard way. It's too bad that most of her fans won't really get the lesson, anyway.

*Bo said she doesn't care that it says groom. All she cares about is that it's legal for us to get married.

**The teachings of her denomination encourages members not to take oaths for this very reason, actually. When the oath conflicts with religious beliefs, it causes this kind of dilemma.