The Compartment Where I Compartmentalize My Life!

Over My Head and Glad Of It

The opinions spouted by Matt Barber and others of his mindset anger, disappoint, sadden and disgust me. One of the burning questions that I have is why those folks who are heterosexual and righteous think that they can prescribe for others when they have not felt the queer orientation from the inside out? How can they say that every study, every survey, every personal opinion that sexual orientation is a deeply ingrained, integral part of a person’s composition from a young age is flawed and untrue, upheld only by those with a political agenda, when they have not experienced that truth from the inside out? How can someone who claims he deeply cares for others deny their experienced reality in favor of his own version? I will never understand that mentality. (That’s why I’m a Unitarian Universalist and not a Born Again!)

I hope that the kids he’s targeting will never understand it, either.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/02/an-open-letter-to-gay-teens/

My husband is an avid newspaper reader, and when he sees something that may be of interest to me, he leaves the article out on the table for me to read. The following article was his contribution to my reading material for the day. I’m not sure if he fully realizes that I am familiar with all of the words that were described in the article: cis-gendered, intersex, pansexual, genderqueer, androgyne, omnisexual, transgender — to name but a few. I’ve heard the term “binary” in this context many times, and how the gender identity and sexual orientation spectrum is so much more than binary. I have a community, both in real life and online, where these words are a part of our conversations.

Not so with the populace at large, though. I was talking to a straight friend about a mutual acquaintance of ours who is a male-to-female trangendered woman. Our friend was confused. “But HE was married to a woman and HE is still attracted to women. Doesn’t that really make him a man?”

I did not hold my head as I wanted to. Instead, I said, “There is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Our friend identifies her gender as female. She now identifies her sexual orientation as lesbian. She probably always did. Now it’s official!”

“Oh,” replied the friend. I could tell that this was still a confusing issue to him, and he was struggling to wrap his head around it.

I repeated, “Gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate issues. That’s what you need to know about this.”

Stephen Ira Beatty, a junior at Sarah Lawrence College, uploaded a video last March on We Happy Trans, a site that shares “positive perspectives” on being transgender.

In the breakneck 61/2 -minute monologue — hair tousled, sitting in a wood-paneled dorm room — Beatty exuberantly declared himself “a queer, a nerd fighter, a writer, an artist and a guy who needs a haircut,” and held forth on everything from his style icons (Truman Capote and “any male-identified person who wears thigh-highs or garters”) to his toy zebra.

Because Beatty, who was born Kathlyn, is the 21-year-old child of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, the video went viral, garnering nearly half a million views. But that was not the only reason for its appeal. With its adrenalized, freewheeling eloquence, the video seemed like a battle cry for a new generation of post-gay gender activists, for whom Beatty represents a rare public face.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/187478111.html

The Age of Innocence

Last night after my husband had gone to bed, I sat up and played around on my computer.  One of my common “playgrounds” is Facebook.  I found a new function (at least a function I hadn’t seen before) that allows one to search for members sharing common schools, workplaces, or cities.  Not only could I search for common places that I had listed in my own profile, but I could plug in other schools and workplaces.  I decided to see what would come up if I plugged in past employers and schools that friends went to.  Long story short, through this circuitous route, I found a friend of a friend of a friend.

Patti (the friend of friend) was tagged in a photo that a classmate (the friend of a friend of a friend) posted on her profile.  It was a group shot taken in the classroom in 1966 shortly into the new year when school reconvened.  As the story goes, the girls were allowed to bring a doll that they had gotten for Christmas, hence the group of Catholic school girls who all look like they’re playing the role of the madonna.  It brought back piercing memories, memories that I no longer have in photo form.  Even though the photo was in black and white, I could see in my mind the red plaid uniform jumpers with the mandatory gray sweaters that all the girls wore.  The knee socks would most likely be gray and most of the girls wore those white and black “saddle” shoes.  There was a lot of commentary under this photo about the uniform length, teachers, and other students, both those present in the photo and those absent.

For me, the kicker was seeing the little girl right in the front of the group, kneeling on the floor.  That was my neighbor, a girl who lived eight houses down the block from me.  I barely knew her until I started at the parochial grade school in 5th grade, the same year that this photo was taken.  However, during the course of the next couple of years, we became very close.  We walked to and from school together, something she had never been allowed to do before I became her friend.  She had always been driven by her father or the parent of another classmate.  However, her mother saw me as a responsible “big sister” figure and allowed Lori to do things in my company that she hadn’t been permitted to do earlier.  If she was with me, it was often okay!

We spent a lot of time together over the course of our remaining grade school days together which continued through 8th grade for me.  I went on to the high school in the same building and she joined me the year after.  We spent tons of hours together on the weekends, and summers were spent in a constant state of travel between her house and my house.  For a time in our lives, we were inseparable.  We called each other “twins.”  I loved her, and I think that she loved me.  I remember going away for a few weeks one summer in Pennsylvania, and she wrote everyday.  (This was 1968 — much, much before the age of cell phones and e-mail!)  Often she would write things like, “I miss you!  It’s not the same here without you!  I picked up the phone to call you last night but then remembered you weren’t there.  How many days until you come back?”

Of course, as soon as I set foot back home after that vacation, I was out the door and down the street to Lori’s house!

We spent less and less time together as the high school days went on, and the most significant factor was boys.  She had a boyfriend and I had a boyfriend.  My boyfriend became my fiance the summer before the start of my senior year in high school.  Lori was going steady with a boy a grade ahead of her and they were talking about getting married when he was finished with college.  So, yeah, things like that have a way of taking girlfriends away from each other. I think it was soon after I was married that I felt a need to reconnect with Lori.  I felt her absence in my life.  I valued her friendship.  I realized what I was letting slip away because my focus was so much on the newness of my situation.  I reached out to her to resume a closer friendship again and she seemed to welcome that.

Fast-forward another year or so.  I was a young woman trying to find out where my sexual orientation fit into my life.  I knew that I was bisexual.  (I was one of these women who never considered my bisexuality as a stepping stone to becoming a lesbian.  No matter who my primary relationship is with, I am and will always be bisexual.  How I act on that is another matter.)  It was a tough matter.  There was no one other than my husband to talk to.  With the exception of a couple of gay young men I knew, I had no  one to talk things over with, no one to be myself with.  In a nutshell, I was lonely and frustrated with the ” in the closet” situation.

I fumblingly attempted to tell Lori.  It took several tries but I eventually came out with it.  I wanted her to know because she was the friend closest to me, and I cared that I could be myself with her.  If I couldn’t be myself with her, then I was losing a great deal in the process.  I think that she was confused and didn’t much know what to do with that information.  After all, why would I be telling her these things unless I was trying to put the moves on her?  I knew she was straight and I knew what lines not to cross, but I don’t think that she understood that.  It always seem to come back to the response, “I accept you for who you are as long as you realize I’m straight and not interested.”  (Okay, got it!  Do you get it?)

I moved several states away from our home city, and we conducted a long distance relationship via the U.S. Mail over the next several years.  As I began a new life in a much more liberal city, I opened the doors to the possibilities inherent in my orientation.  I wanted to know more about it.  I wanted to examine the issues.  I wanted to know people who had been in my shoes, who were dealing with the same kind of issues.  As I got involved in groups and activities, I told Lori about it.  She quit signing her letters “Love….”  She no longer wanted to be that close to me.  I had given her too much information.  No, I was not free to be myself with this person.

I seldom made trips to my hometown, but my husband and I did the summer of 1982.  I asked if we could stay with her for a couple of nights as we were heading back home.  She agreed and set us up on an air mattress in her guest room.

The following day after our arrival, we had plans out and about, and she asked if we’d be around for supper.  I said that we would be.  She took some chicken out to thaw.  I went out for a lunch date with a friend and my husband spent some time in other pursuits, and we joined up again around mid-afternoon.  We went back to Lori’s apartment.  She wasn’t there.  We hung around, expecting her to come home soon.  She didn’t.  Suppertime came and went.  No Lori.  I put her chicken in the refrigerator.  We waited until about 6:30 and then called out for a pizza.  We ate our pizza, hung around the apartment, and finally went to bed around 9:30 or 10:00.  We heard Lori come home sometime between 10:30 and 11:00.  We didn’t bother to get up.  What the hell was going on?

The following morning, we were up and dressed when Lori finally got out of bed.  The phone rang soon thereafter.  She said, “My mom needs me for something.”  (Her parents lived a couple of blocks away.)  She left the apartment.  After an hour-and-a-half, I said to my husband, “Let’s blow this pop stand.  She’s not coming back.  I don’t know what’s going on but I’m not going to stand around playing this game.”  We left the apartment keys she had loaned us and got on the road to rack up some miles towards our return trip.

There was never any explanation.  I’ve kept track of her from time to time through telephone listings so I’ve had an address.  On a few occasions, I’ve sent a letter or a card.  Now she’s on Facebook, and our paths are coming precariously close to crossing if we wanted them to.  However, she has never responded to any of those cards and letters.  There has never been any further acknowledgment of my existence.

I’ve always blamed it on “TMI.”  She couldn’t handle the sum of myself that I wanted to share with her.  I didn’t have a grasp of the situation at the time.  I didn’t know when to keep my mouth shut.

I have never brought it up with her in those letters and cards I’ve sporadically sent.  I’ve always blamed it on my bisexuality, but perhaps it isn’t that. Perhaps her complete withdrawal was something more personal to her life and she was too embarrassed or ashamed to share it with me.  I don’t know.   All I know is that I’ve carried the burden of the guilt for whatever happened to destroy this friendship.  I blame myself.

Some people are never forgotten.  She will always be one of them.

On My Own Terms

Often, when my husband is traveling on business, I will rent a movie from Netflix that may be something he wouldn’t particularly be interested in.  Usually they’re suspense or horror films that don’t appeal to him, but sometimes they’re “chick flicks” or a movie from the GLBT genre.  Last night’s selection was Chasing Amy, a movie released in 1997.  It showed at some of our indie theaters at the time, and it was recommended to me by a friend who saw it, but I hadn’t seen it until last night.  And it wasn’t quite what I expected.

My friend who recommended it to me back around the time it came out said that it was about bisexuality, a subject near and dear to my heart — and to my friend’s as well!  I suppose in a certain sense the movie could be about bisexuality, but not in the stereotypical sense of a bi woman freely having partners of both sexes.  (That is the stereotypical version of bisexuality, and that isn’t often the reality of people’s lives!)

It is about a young, gorgeous woman, Alyssa Jones, who is very out as a lesbian.  She and this guy meet because they are both involved in writing and publishing their own comic books.  They travel in the same circle of acquaintances.  They hit it off and start hanging out together as friends.  Holden is very aware that Alyssa is a lesbian because Alyssa is open and honest about it and invites Holden’s questions and comments.  Holden falls in love with her and finally tells her of his love, in one of the eloquent scenes I have ever seen.  Alyssa freaks out, but within minutes after the freak-out, she and Holden are in each other’s arms.  A sexual relationship develops.

Holden and Alyssa have just made love and are lying together when this dialogue takes place:

HOLDEN: Can I ask you something?

ALYSSA:  Don’t even tell me you want to do it again.

HOLDEN: Why me – you know?  Why now?

ALYSSA: Because you were giving me that look, and I got wet…

HOLDEN:  You know what I’m talking about.

ALYSSA: Why not you?

HOLDEN: I’m a guy.  You’re attracted to girls.

ALYSSA: I see you’ve been taking notes.  Historically, yes, that’s true.

HOLDEN: Then why this?

ALYSSA: I’ve given that a lot of thought, you know?  I mean, now that I’m being ostracized by my friends, I’ve had a lot of time to think about all of this.  And what I’ve come up with is really simple: I came to this on my terms.  I didn’t just heed what I was taught, you know?  Men and women should be together, it’s the natural way – that kind of thing.  I’m not with you because of what family, society, life tried to instill in me from day one.  The way the world is – how seldom you meet that one person who gets you… it’s so rare.   My parents didn’t really have it.  There was no example set for me in the world of male/female relationships.  And to cut oneself off from finding that person – to immediately half your options by eliminating the possibility of finding that one person within your own gender… that just seemed stupid. So I didn’t.  And by leaving my options open, I was branded ‘gay,’ which to me was no big deal – labels are labels, you know?  They define what you do, not who you are, I guess.

But then you come along.  You – the one least likely; I mean, you were a guy.

HOLDEN: Still am.

ALYSSA: And while I was falling for you, I put a ceiling on that, because you were a guy.  Until I remembered why I opened the door to women in the first place – to not limit the likelihood of finding that one person who’d compliment me so completely.  And so here we are, I was thorough when I looked for you, and I feel justified lying in your arms – because I got here on my terms, and have no question that there was someplace I didn’t look.  And that makes all the difference.

HOLDEN: Shit.

ALYSSA: What?

HOLDEN: Well, you took the luster out of it.

ALYSSA: What luster?

HOLDEN: (joking – in case you didn’t get it)  Of how I brought you back from the other side.  How all you needed was the right man to turn you around.

ALYSSA: You’re not the right man. (kisses him) You’re just the one.

This was powerful stuff to me because I know exactly how Alyssa feels in this scene.  She is embracing her fluidity, her range of emotions and desires, her complexity, in spite of what labels she may have previously accepted about herself. She recognizes that if she refuses to allow her feelings for Holden on the basis that she is a lesbian, then she has done the exact thing that she rebelled against as teen and young adult when she refused to accept heterosexuality as the path of least resistance.

Exactly what I did, except I never declared myself a lesbian.  And because I didn’t but remained steadfast in my acknowledgment of my sexual attraction to women, I was not accepted by and large by my peers who identified as lesbians.  I was called a “fence-sitter,” one of those who are stuck in that phase of not being able to make up their minds.  I heard more times than I can recount, “You’re just afraid to come out as the lesbian you really are.”

No, I’m not afraid to do anything.  I always said that it would be a hell of a lot easier to come out as a lesbian, to be one of those woman for whom a relationship with a man just isn’t even a consideration, than to be very aware of my sexual fluidity and choose only those labels — bisexuality, pansexuality, fluid sexuality — that embrace what I am.   I’m not going to say I’m a lesbian if I’m not.  Furthermore, I don’t tell anyone that I’m straight, either, because I’m not.  I’m just about anything but that!

I’m not afraid to be a woman who finds joy in loving someone of my own gender, but nor am I afraid to make a committed life with the one person who really “gets me,” even if that person is a man.  He “gets me,” and I have all that I really need.  It’s more than many people have even after a lifetime of searching.

Highly Disturbing

Once more, Facebook has connected me with a part of my past.  Probably a year or so ago, a person who was a high school classmate of mine for a couple of years joined Facebook.  We became “friends” on Facebook, even though I haven’t seen her in person since I was in my teens.  I exchanged a couple of letters with her in the late 1970s/early ’80s, and that has been the extent of any contact with her.  Through Facebook, I’ve also reconnected in a sense with her twin sister and another high school classmate.

And then there is Jayne, my best friend in high school and my first female lover.  Cathy, Carolyn, Becky, Jayne, Mary Ann, and I were all a little clique in high school, a group of people who were maybe a little “fringy” in our own way.  Cathy and Jayne have remained close over the years, both deeply religious and completely submerged in a hardcore sort of Catholicism, even though neither of them was when I knew them in high school.

My best friendship with Jayne spanned all of high school, and we were lovers from the end of our sophomore year to halfway through our senior year.  I know that both of us struggled with the meaning of that at the time.  After all, we were mere teenagers with a lot of life and a lot of wisdom and perspective to gain.

My relationship with her ended on a very bad note, one that I don’t care to elaborate on in this post.  Let’s just say that it ended with me destroying all my photos of her, tearing up letters, and returning every gift she had ever given me, including the little gold pinkie ring with the small diamond in the center of the band that I always wore.  She had a matching one that she bought for herself.

I felt very weird when I saw that Jayne had become Facebook friends with Cathy, Carolyn and Becky last year.  I could see her comments on their updates.  I’ve been able to see status updates on her profile.  I haven’t engaged her in any way, wanting to keep my distance that I’ve maintained all these years, but it felt odd and uncomfortable just having her as close as my “friends” on Facebook.

A shocking thing occurred, though, when I glanced at her profile page and discovered this link she had posted:

The Three Myths
About Homosexuality
Myth #1
Homosexuality is normal and biologically determined.

The truth…
There is no scientific research indicating a biological or genetic cause for homosexuality. Biological factors may play a role in the predisposition to homosexuality. However, this is true of many other psychological conditions.
Research suggests that social and psychological factors are strongly influential. Examples include problems in early family relationships, sexual seduction, and sense of inadequacy with same-sex peers, with resulting disturbance in gender identity. Society can also influence a sexually questioning youth when it encourages gay self-labeling.

Myth #2
Homosexuals cannot change, and if they try, they will suffer great emotional distress and become suicidal. Therefore, treatment to change homosexuality must be stopped.

The truth…
Psychotherapists around the world who treat homosexuals report that significant numbers of their clients have experienced substantial healing. Change has come through psychological therapy, spirituality, and ex-gay support groups. Whether leading married or committed celibate lives, many report that their homosexual feelings have diminished greatly, and do not trouble them as much as they had in the past.
The keys to change are desire, persistence, and a willingness to investigate the conscious and unconscious conflicts from which the condition originated. Change comes slowly, usually over several years. Clients learn how to meet their needs for same-sex nurturance and affirmation without eroticizing the relationship. As they grow into their heterosexual potential, men and women typically experience a deeper and fuller sense of themselves as male or female.

If some homosexuals do not wish to change, that is their choice, yet it is profoundly sad that gay-rights activists struggle against the right-to-treatment for other homosexuals who yearn for freedom from their attractions.

Myth #3
We must teach our children that homosexuality is as normal and healthy as heterosexuality. Teenagers should be encouraged to celebrate their same-sex attractions.

The truth…
Scientific research supports age-old cultural norms that homosexuality is not a healthy, natural alternative to heterosexuality. Research shows that gay teens are especially vulnerable to substance abuse and early, high-risk sexual behavior. It does far more harm than good to tell a teenager that his or her attractions toward members of the same sex are normal and desirable. Teens in this position need understanding and counseling, not a push in the direction of a potentially deadly lifestyle.
A 1992 study in Pediatrics found that 25.9% of 12-year-olds are uncertain if they are gay or straight. The teen years are critical to the question of self-labeling, so the facts must be presented in our schools in a fair and balanced manner.

It is never too late…

________________________________________________

I’m in such shock that this could possibly be the same woman I knew in high school, the one who wrote in a letter to me at the beginning of our senior year, “I love you. It is as simple and as complicated as that. I know that my life is meant to be with you….”

How does a person go from being willingly and apparently joyfully involved in a same-sex relationship to something like this?  Denial?  Rationalization?  Brainwashing?  Actually, any words of understanding would be greatly appreciated!

Amongst the jumble of things that I feel about this, I am grateful that I did not continue a relationship with the person who holds the honor in my heart of being my first female lover.  I was at that time and have continued to be a woman who respects those feelings, who finds pleasure and beauty in those feelings, who upholds the rights of others in the GLBT community to be fully who and what they are.  I am so totally on the other end of the spectrum from this person who was many years ago one of the closest people to me.

I know that many years and many experiences have separated us, but it still is incredible to me how these wildly divergent paths could exist, considering that we walked the same path at one time, our arms around each other.

Happy Birthday, Lauren Grace!

Happy birthday, Lauren Grace. Today and always, I’m wishing you a lifetime of rewards and riches, peace and happiness. I’m so proud to call you my friend!

As some of my friends on WordPress and MyFace know, my husband and I recently offered our home to a 42-year-old friend whom I met through a blog about a year ago and her 11-year-old son.  For purposes of this post, I will call them Vickie and John.

Vickie has had a life full of challenges.  She comes from a dysfunctional family where there was a history of childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse.  Her father abused both her and her younger sister.  The younger sister, Vickie’s only sibling,  died some years back of cancer at the age of 32.  Vickie no longer has any contact with her parents.  The dynamics were just too dysfunctional to deal with and she did not want to expose her son to those dynamics.

As is often and sadly the case, Vickie married a man who was abusive.  She was married to him for 14 years.  The final straw was when he started to beat up on their young son.  At that point, Vickie loaded up everything she could into a rundown Toyota Corolla and set off on her own from Fort Worth, eventually settling in San Antonio, Texas.

During the time preceeding her divorce, she met a man through an Internet group who lived in the U.K.  A longterm relationship ensued, with Mike making many short visits here to the U.S. and Vickie and John spending six months at one stretch in England with him.  However, Vickie and John couldn’t stay in England as much as they wanted to because of custody issues concerning John, a minor, even though his father really had no role in taking care of John.  He’s a gameplayer and a manipulator and just wants to make sure that no one else gets what they want.  Vickie and John returned to the U.S., leaving Mike in England. 

Vickie and Mike married when he was in Texas for a visit a year ago.  He’s been back for one visit since then.  The plan was to begin the legal immigration process in earnest after the first of this year when Vickie got her income tax refund and could afford to hire an immigration lawyer to help them move this process along with as few glitches as possible.  They were trying to get Mike here on a spousal visa, requiring that the U.S. spouse be gainfully employed.

Vickie lost her job the end of January when her company eliminated 300 jobs nationwide due to the severe recession that is going on in our country.  She was living paycheck to paycheck with no substantial savings to speak of.  She received a month’s severance pay from her employer.  That and a tax refund she had yet to receive was what she had to fall back on short-term.

She wanted to leave Texas and put some miles between her and her ex-spouse who is psychopathic and skilled at playing tormenting mind-games, leaving her constantly on edge and vigilant about her and John’s safety and wellbeing.  The bottom line is that Dave and I offered her and John our home until she could get on her feet again.  Dave flew to San Antonio on February 23, rented a U-Haul truck, and drove Vickie, John and their possessions to Minnesota.

They have been here two weeks now.  All is going well.  John started school on Monday this week and loves his new school and his classes.  Vickie is applying for jobs.  We have shopped for interview clothes for her.  There have been a steady supply of hugs and “love you’s” in our home.   We’re all working together as a family, as a team.  For the first time in Vickie and John’s lives, they feel like they have a family, a support system.  It’s been an awesome feeling to watch them take all this in, to realize that they’re not alone in the world to struggle with their issues, that there are others right there for them, ready to lend a hand.

The response from family (mostly Dave’s) and friends has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive. However, yesterday I received this email from my 73-year-old cousin in Ohio:

Read the rest of this entry »

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