Monday, January 23, 2012

When I Was A Lesbian

Barbara: The other day a short Youtube video got circulated and re-circulated on Facebook among many of my friends. It moved me so much, I felt compelled to 1) share it here, and 2) open a discussion by sharing my own personal experience. The film itself (embedded below) is a kind of trailer for a young filmmaker hoping to raise funds to make the actual film itself (from the link, it looks like he’s reached his goal)—a documentary about the challenges, accomplishments, joys, obstacles, tragedies, and cultural journey around being gay. I was moved to tears when I watched the video—oh, the terrible injustices made against so-feeling “Second Class Citizens”, but also OH! we have come a long way too.

Being a glass-half-full type, I always hang onto that: we CAN change, and we HAVE changed.

When I was thirteen, I had just entered high school (a year early as I had skipped Grade 3 … I know, high frickin’ accomplishment…). It was Grade 9 and I was full of all the usual hormone-y, aching, hopeful, vibrant-yet-vague desperately romantic dreams of an adolescent girl with limited experience. This was it: I was finally (yes: FINALLY! …shut up) going to find love. The year started off slowly, but I was still scoping this new jungle, searching for prey.

Not long into this, my first high school year, I found myself playing in the freshly-fallen November snow—a veritable bonanza of childhood delight—with my best friend, Louise. She had decided to go to another high school and for the first time, we weren’t spending every minute together. So an afternoon together out in the bright, sunny cold of my front yard, throwing snow bundles at each other and just reveling in the fresh air and each other’s company, seemed like the best way to celebrate this (now rare) opportunity…. And then, it happened.

I almost can’t remember who moved in first, but I do remember the bright halo of sunlight around us, the snowflakes frozen in my mind’s eye, each flake uniquely starred and suspended and glistening in the air between us, when our faces came together and there was a kiss. I say “there was a kiss” in that general way because I don’t really remember the actual details. What I believe I remember is her kissing my cheek, but then I also remember leaning toward her, as if there was intent behind my actions too. I will say this—it was pure joy.

And then we came apart and both turned our heads in unison to register that a boy—an older boy who went to my school, a neighbor but one who I rarely if ever spoke to, a cute boy, one who might have been part of the vast array of possibilities I had amassed in my adolescent dreams—was walking past, his head now turning away from us, but obviously having seen us, a slight (not attractive) smirk on his lips. Even at thirteen, only just barely familiar with the whole high school protocol and order, knew—KNEW!—that this was going to be bad. Bad enough that I desperately called out to him for the first time in my life, called as if I was throwing a hook around him and trying to pull the moment back: “Hey, Bradley (or whatever his name was)!!!” But he just shrugged and continued on. And then both Louise and I succumbed to hysterical laughter, falling into that now treacherous, cold snow as if we didn’t care about a THING in the world!

I think in that moment, she knew what I knew, but we never spoke of it. Anyway, she didn’t go to the same school as me and this boy. Our friendship might have petered out of its own accord, or maybe I pulled away from her, subconsciously angry and resentful that my imagined glory years in high school, my years of discovery and experimentation and LOVE had now been snatched away because of one brief kiss on the cheek, but anyway, that was one of the last times I ever saw her. 

The next day, I went to school and the nightmare began. The news was circulating fast. The high school was large enough, probably 800 students, to make me feel like the whole world had ostracized me. In 1976, it was a bad thing to be a lesbian. It meant I had to walk the halls to sneers and snide remarks. It meant I was stared at and whispered about. It meant being openly groped—my barely-formed, bra-less, but intensely private breast was openly grabbed one day by a Grade 9 boy as I made my way down the hall. He mumbled some incomprehensible but certainly vile gay slur while his friends guffawed and jeered after me. I was burning with this unknown rage: it was not outward anger, but seething anger forced inward at myself. I had done this. I was wrong.

In all fairness, many kids at school probably didn’t know and/or didn’t care. But when you’re thirteen, those people melt into the uninteresting background, no longer significant. Thank god I found the after-school drama program and was able to immerse myself in the extraordinary experience of performing. And the drama kids were crazy-fun and sweet. Of course we never spoke of my sexuality. I don’t know what they thought. Thank god I found my next best friend and her circle of gentle friends. They all made me feel welcome and “normal”.

So if I say I know how awful it can feel to be ostracized and mocked and assaulted for being gay, even though my experience is only a slight one compared to so many of yours, I can say it with some visceral experience. It sucked. It sucked because it was so emotionally painful at the time, it sucked because I was definitely not gonna get any of those 14-year-old boys that I dreamed about, and it sucked because when I finally did land a guy two years later, I emotionally subjugated myself to him. It does “get better”, as they say, but it does take an awful lot of work and an awful lot of support (which, btw, you need to ask for). And it’s a whole lotta fuss for something that, at its core, is love, pure and simple. Interesting bookend to this story, many years later, I discovered that a few of the brightest lights from high school, the ones who lit up the place with their loving support and which included that high school best friend who saved me, turned out to be gay.

But the real truth here is, growing up, I knew as little about being gay as any of those other ignoramuses. I couldn’t imagine men or women being together and choosing that. And I certainly didn’t equate that connection to love. And all because we never talked about it. It never came up at home and I never asked about it. It was just a turn of phrase, a … slur. It took years of cultural exposure, of education, of discussion and contemplation, for me to first understand and truly accept it, and then take it completely for granted. Even for me, who considers myself to be an open, curious person, it took a process of intellectual and emotional development.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is the reason I see hope in how far we’ve come since the ignorant old days. The more we communicate, the more we expose, the more we share our experiences, the more we sift and search and examine our collective psyches like careful archeologists, the closer we get to true intelligence, to goodness, to enlightenment. (And please don’t point to the bible and say it never refers to same-sex marriage—if in the 1970s we weren’t talking much about it, let’s assume that in the early hundreds it wasn’t really on the radar. Oh, and here’s my favourite quote from the trailer below: “If God doesn't want homosexuals, why does He keep making so many?” Amen, indeed.) And the sooner we share our enlightened, accepting knowledge with our children, the easier it is for them to skip all those awkward growing stages … and get right to the good part.

Deb: This is a brave post, Barb, and I thank you for it. I had only recently heard this story from Barb and sympathized with her adolescent self, struggling with the injustice of it. I had no idea, Barb, that you struggled to understand homosexuality and I think it is a testament to who you are that you sought out information. And of course, once you learned what it was, you had no issues at all. The key was learning about it. As a result of your “les-be-friends” incident it was confusing to you at your young age. Why wouldn’t it be when you knew so little?  You set out to find out as much as you could about it and ... you got there. That is the crux of this story for me. You were confused about something you didn’t understand and you sought information.

That, for me, is what is missing in bigotry. Bigots shut their eyes and hate. Bigots close their minds and judge. They don’t seek information because, heaven forbid, they should find something reasonable that would challenge their immovable stance. It’s fine to not understand. And for those who gather information and still do not understand, it’s imperative that they step back and live and let live. 


75 comments:

  1. That is a very moving post Barb. My heart went out to your thirteen year old self. High school was a scary time for me......you are still a child trying to become something you are unfamiliar with......the beginnings of a young adult. I remember feeling terribly shy and like a geek. I felt totally overwhelmed by the older "cool" kids. To have had those kids teasing you and being so mean to you must have been paralyzing and so hard for you. I felt so mad at those kids you went to school with, but you came through with such a positive, searching mind and are able to express your self so beautifully in your writing and seem fearless, but gentle at the same time. "If they could see you now" Kids can be so mean, I often think it is a result of their own terrible angst they are going through and generally turn in to nice adults in the end. But the journey can be hard on them and the people around them. Great film!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary-Jo. It's funny, I don't regret those days in the end, (not like some other events in my childhood :) ) because they taught me so much. In the end, it wasn't anger they taught me, but the danger of ignorance. And it seems the best way to combat ignorance is to gently educate it, not yell at and admonish it. With support in my life (and your support and kindness mean sooo much to me), I've come to a point where these are now interesting and useful stories (even funny ones) and not hateful, embarrassing, shove-them-in-a-closet memories.

      Delete
  2. Barbara-this was indeed VERY brave. I remember that age and CRAVING 'a boyfriend' like it was the purpose fo my life, and I remember the stigma of being gay in small town Idaho.

    My daughter had a friend sleep over and as her friend left yesterday, the girls said 'I love you' and I remember in my day you always had to qualify that 'but not in a gay way'.

    I love where we live because in spite of the ignorance and hatred out there broadly, in Ann Arbor kids are free to be who they are. I haven't seen or heard about anyone being put down for it. But I have friends I grew up with that had very painful experiences because Idaho is NOT Ann Arbor. There is a lot of progress to be made.--if you've never seen that Washington Governor's speech in full, it is wonderful--she has more conservative personal views and had to come around slowly, so she has all the talking points to the 'reasonable but conservative' set.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my heart of hearts, Hart (:-) ), I do believe that most conservatives are reasonable. They just need a little hand-holding through the scary parts. Luckily, we live in a time where there's enough solid evidence to point to life working out really well if we go ahead and accept each other.

      Delete
  3. Oh Barb...This is such a wonderful post...so moving !!!!! I remember you shared this video on FB....
    Around here.....when we were in school....we were brainwashed that "its WRONG to be gay"..or "just make fun of them"....somehow I never liked it...Now after getting information about this Ive realized...If we say that we are all BORN FREE....why the hell does anyone get to decide if being gay is wrong or right ??? To hell with them....coz anyone can live any way THEY CHOOSE TO !!!!!

    I feel good that now people atleast know more.......who live and let live!!! I mean here its still pretty rare to talk about these topics openly...!!! I mean the other day...there was this award function..where this guy who was gay struggled to get success and he did it...Well I missed most of it...and my mom says "you know they also awarded this...*whispers* gay person" and I dont blame her.....She doesnt know anything about it..because she would never talk about it....but it made me realize... atleast we've reached a point where people are uttering it without being judgemental...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Shalaka!!! And one day, your mom will be able to say it without the whisper :)

      Delete
  4. I am sure....In fact I love her attitude towards everything....she tries to be progressive....I mean even in terms of getting married shes came from ....."we are ok with any guy but he has to be......from this caste or religion"......But I loved her response when i asked her recently..."what if I marry someone outside of these "castes" the you said"....she was like "YOU are gonna live with him......why would it matter as long as he loves you and keeps you happy"
    So yay!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shalaka, that is wonderful!! I've often wondered if you would have to comply with the whole "caste" thing. Thrilled to hear that you can happily find who you want (and who is right for you)!

      Delete
    2. Yeah...honestly....i wouldnt comply to anything.....My mom knows I am one of the "I am FREE to choose what I want" types....I never tolerated even a hint of pressure..!!!lol...
      Now some person once said...."I will not tolerate you marrying someone OUTSIDE out caste" ....honestly I was ROFL..!!! and my mom looks at the person and says "Look at her response...I mean do you really think she will ask you when she does?????" :D

      Delete
  5. Barb, like Mary Jo, my heart also goes out to your 13-year old self. High school was awful for me as well; there was so much pettiness and close-mindedness it almost makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. My school now has a pretty strong gay population and I admire them and their courage for sticking up for something so personal to them, whether I agree with them or not. It's not my place to judge, nor is it anyone else's.

    Thanks for this. Had a rough morning (I'm really sick of rude people), and this helps to lift my spirits! :]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope the rest of your day went better, Holly!

      Delete
    2. Oh thank you, Barb, it did! :)

      Delete
  6. My gay cousin passed this video along to me on facebook and it still leaves me with a loss for propper words and stunned. I will never understand how we, as a nation, can see how limiting the rights of African Americans was wrong, but can now limit the rights of another group, for not their skin color (which you are born with), but for their sexual chioces ( also something they are born with and can not choose).
    I look forward to the day when everyone can be who they are with out fear or restraint.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so with you on this one. Well said, Kelly!

      Delete
  7. Personal stories are so powerful. I'm glad you shared yours, Barb. And such wise words from Deb.

    I think we are getting better at this. My kids are pretty blase about homosexuality and have gay friends who are - to them - friends who also happen to be gay. Meanwhile, my gay nephew who is in a committed, long-term relationship can't get married. It makes no sense, but as we raise our children without the bigotry, they will eventually have a greater influence than those who think it's okay to discriminate. Until then, we have to keep setting good examples and following our children's good examples, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Lisa! It's through our children that we learn what true love is -- because a young, un"programmed" child would never care what your sexual orientation is (what is they say? the truth through kids and animals...)

      Delete
  8. beautifully said Lisa, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Way to tell it like it was, Barb!
    Thank goodness the times they are a-changing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many mean, derogatory terms for anyone seen as 'different' in our schools. I know of a boy in grade four who's a little 'different' and was called gay because he's very expressive in his outfits and movements. He had to ask his mom what 'gay' means and why people don't like him because of it! Thankfully, most people grow out of this need to deride and label and learn to appreciate our differences because they are what make us unique.

      Delete
    2. Oh, Jane, that stuff kills me. And that's what being close-minded does: it filters down to growing minds and infects them. I pray for this child that he will continue to embrace his true self.

      Delete
  10. Thanks for sharing this story Barb, it's very touching and must have been hard not only to live through but tell now.

    As each generation comes around it seems more and more people get that how anyone chooses to live their life is right. Simply because something isn't right for you doesn't make it wrong for someone else. I do think that slowly mindsets are changing and I do have great hope that the world will continue to grow into a more tolerant and harmoniouos place.

    In some ways I feel sorry for those who are intolerant of others, they live in small worlds of their own making while those who try to understand and respect others get to experience a much larger and brighter world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Erin, I couldn't (and didn't, but wish I had) have said it better myself!

      Delete
  11. Thank you for sharing this Barb. I have just split up with my boyfriend through six years, because I am now finally brave enough to admit that I love women. Even though I live in a country that's supposed to be close to Utopia, I still find it hard to live the life I want. Gay rights are good now, but they are not as good as they should be... Thank you for speaking out about this and posting this video. It's love after all, that unify us.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Anette! You are so, so brave! *hugs, hugs, hugs*

      Delete
    2. Ah! Go girl!
      It's good that you finally could admit it!

      Delete
    3. Thank you for kind words. Much appreciated <3

      Delete
    4. Annette! I am covered in shivers. Mostly I am just in awe that you found your true self and are embracing it. I wish you so much LOVE and peace. I thank you for coming here and sharing your self with us. xoxo

      Delete
  12. It's also interesting to see how much changed how fast. I was 10 years old in 1986, and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we all knew what it meant to be gay/lesbian. I won't even try to pretend it was some sort of great time (although this was just prior to the AIDS epidemic becoming well-publicized, so it was certainly happier and perhaps freer) where there was no longer prejudice or bigotry, but my preteen self didn't need to wonder or ask - the knowledge was there.

    And a rather scant period of time from then, we have gay teens coming out, It Gets Better, a growing trend towards civil rights and equality. It's really sort of amazing how quickly this all turns and has happened - and how much credit for that goes not just to the activists, but the people like you, Barb, who took the time to educate themselves. It makes a difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly, this is why it was so important for me to share this -- there will always be people who can say it all better, more poignantly and more effectively than I can, but I truly believe in the snowball effect of our gathering voices. It is the surest -- and safest -- force against fear.

      Delete
  13. Replies
    1. Y'all're tweeting?!?!? @ what?!?!?! Must follow!

      Now, I've got that TweetTweetTweet video from GAF running through my head.

      Delete
    2. WE'VE GOT TWITTER!!! Help us, yikes!!!

      Delete
  14. OK, Barbara, as discussed:

    Here's an email I sent out to Deb, Barbara, and 2 gay friends last week.

    Sooooooo, Eddie loves his Wed. night youth group at church.
    It is a really dynamic program called ***** for jr. high and
    high school kids. The music, the activities, the fellowship
    games, the preaching have all been awesome to him. He's been
    really on fire about it since he started 7th grade, and we
    started going to that church on Wed. nights so he could go
    to *****. My favorite part is that ***** has been a "safe"
    place for him -- the opposite of the hours a day he deals
    with bullying and ostracism at school. As a matter of fact,
    some of the "big kids" from ***** have made a point of
    talking to him and hanging out with him in the halls at
    school. The other kids in his grade boggle at how the high
    school kids will talk computers with Eddie. ***** has been
    a wonderful thing.

    Tonight, when I walked over from "big church" to ***** to
    pick him up, he came out really downcast, shoulders wearily
    slumped. I asked him what was wrong, and he whispered, "Mom,
    I'm so sad. Tonight, I found out this is one of those
    churches that hates gay people." He choked up! He was red
    faced trying not to cry! He said the youth minister had
    preached anti-gay within the service. He choked out, "My
    respect for them has dropped so big." His heart was broken.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Then, he really broke MY heart. He told me, "I'm scared to
    speak up because then they might think I'm gay." For the
    record, he's straight. And, he already faces so much
    persecution for being "different" that getting tagged as
    "gay" or "pro-gay" would only make his life even more of a
    living hell at school. He's 13. He's in 7th grade. That's
    its own level of hell without further complications. And,
    little Mr. Genius Autistic Kid has enough complications
    already! Remember, this is the kid who's bullied so bad that
    one of the bratmonsters at his school stabbed a pencil down
    into his arm back in 6th grade!

    I felt physically ill. Instant brutal parenting moment.

    We had a long, looooong, hard, complicated, tiring
    conversation about how he is witnessing history, witnessing
    a revolution. I told him that this time is the equivalent
    for gay rights what the 1960's was for Civil Rights for
    black people. I told him that it's going to be a long,
    complicated, hard process. Growing pains. Education.
    Progress. Resistence. People will die. People have already
    died. I told him that we are privileged to see it in our
    lifetimes but that it is going to be very, very hard.

    We talked about how deeply sad it is that so many
    Christians, the people who are supposed to love the most
    because of Jesus, are being the slowest to learn and evolve.
    We talked about how if anti-gay is the only thing a
    denomination of churches or single church has ever known and
    ever taught, it's not going to change quickly. We talked
    about how during slavery times, churches were instruments of
    reinforcing slavery. But, ALSO, some of the most amazing
    abolitionists were Christians. Today, some churches are
    LGBT friendly. I talked about how the actor Pauley Perrette
    who plays Abby on NCIS is a devout Christian, outspoken
    social justice crusader, and phenomenal gay rights activist
    even though she's straight! I told him that we just have to
    love as hugely and truly as we can. I told him that this is
    just the beginning. Sadly, I also pointed out that we are
    decades removed from the 1960's and yet racism is still
    rampant -- especially around here! I told him, "Just like
    this backwards place we live has been one of the slowest
    places about race, it's gonna be one of the slowest places
    about gay stuff. It's very sad but true."

    ReplyDelete
  16. I also told him, "Ya know what? 10 years ago, I didn't know
    any better. Homophobia was all I'd ever been taught. It took
    a lot of learning. It took a lot of exposure to things. It
    took knowing people who had come out as gay and who were my
    friends. It took a lot of growing on my part. I didn't know
    any better, and I had to learn. The people you encountered
    tonight have not had that chance to learn and grow, yet.
    They've been sheltered in their ignorance. After all, this
    is redneck rural Arkansas! You have to love them, too! You
    have to include them in that big, big Jesus love!"

    It was absolutely one of the most heartrending, adult,
    serious conversations I've ever had to have with Eddie. It
    broke my heart into a million shards.

    He'll go back to *****. He'll enjoy it. He'll participate.
    He'll get caught up in the energy again. But, it'll never be
    the same. It's been tainted for him. There's a hesitation
    there, now. I feel so much pain for my son.

    I really don't know what to do.

    Love and hugs,
    Rigel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rigel, thanks soooo much for sharing this here too!! You know that when we spoke of this last week, I told you that I had been ruminating today's post. You encouraged me to make sure I did. And I am so glad I did. I hope you are too! And you know I think Eddie is the BEST!!! What a glorious, noble heart.

      Delete
    2. i have to say i am impressed with your post Rigel. i was brought up a roman catholic but , for various reasons , gave up my faith several years ago . it is very hard to move away from what i was brought up to believe for 30 plus years of my life . i don't regret it though . thankfully my parents were understanding. i am glad to see you have moved beyond the homophobia that you were taught growing up .

      your son sounds like an intelligent , kind and good guy. as someone who was bullied myself in school i am so sad to hear what is happening to him . i would love to know what makes other kids think they have the right to bully .

      i have read and re read your post barbara . i am amazed that a peck on the cheek between 2 girls should start such a hate campaign. i remember when i was a teenager the worst thing you could be was to be seen as being different to the majority even if you weren't. makes me glad i always was .

      update on my mom: i got a phone call from the hospital this morning to say dad and i were wanted in the hospital to meet with the orthopedic surgeon when mom got her test results today . she was diagnosed with myeloma this afternoon . as i had looked it up it was not a surprise for me to hear the news , mom fitted all the symptoms i had found . she has been taking out of the care of her orthopedic surgeon and put under the care of her oncologist and moved to the cancer floor in the hospital. what we were told is mom will be put on some sort of chemo therapy whether it will be tablet form or liquid in a drip form we do not know as moms oncologist has just got back from a trip to the states . she will see his locum tomorrow , probably seeing him on either Wednesday or thursday , i hope. still no sign of mom coming home either .

      Delete
    3. Oh, Linda. *sniffle* *hugs for your mom* *hugs for you*

      Delete
    4. Oh, Linda! I am so sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis. Sending you both HUGE love and best best wishes.

      Delete
    5. Linda,I'm sorry to hear that. Send you much strength, a lot of hugs, and best wishes

      Delete
    6. thanks guys . i appreciate your kind words .

      Delete
  17. Barb.....I'm particularly struck by the difference in your writing style when it came to describing the actual "moment"-read it again: "I do remember the bright halo of sunlight around us, the snowflakes frozen in my mind’s eye, each flake uniquely starred and suspended and glistening in the air between us..." first of all, that is the description of a beautiful moment--in fact, of the space between two moments, where everything you know and are taught is suspended because you are at ONE with what is happening--as evidenced by your immediate and innate "knowing" that you spoke of. It captures that "frozen" moment in time, the landscape where two souls recognize something in each other, something outside of what words can explain....I'm also so interested in your (probably unintentional metaphor of the snowflakes, uniquely starred and suspended and glistening" just like we all all--so alike, yet so subtly different. this is what makes us interesting, those differences....those differences, connected to that which is universal within all of us." I think that it's a shame that we have all experienced that "knowing," that pure connection to the combination of similarity and difference that makes up the alchemical and unexplainable chemistry of attraction, yet we somehow feel compelled to put it in a box and label and judge it. who really cares if it was a girl or a boy who conspired with nature in that moment? what matters is that that experience served as a key to unlock an event in your life that spurred you on to learn more about yourself and the world around you. I believe that your true nature was evident in that moment when you just moved in and relished the split second connection/kiss and felt joy--that you had to go through years of pain because of it is just more testament to your deeply sensitive character. I'm a little distracted, listening to my kids downstairs as I write this, but I hope my point is clear: love is the answer, and it isn't limited to gender. it's inside, both formless, and shaped by who we make ourselves into because of it. I'm proud to know you. Love Lori

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you so often do, Lori, you move me to tears today. Yes, you are making your point clear (I think your great facility with words and thoughts wouldn't be dimmed during an air raid!). Thanks for this -- because I love your reflection of the "in the moment" feelings versus the "in my head". Being present is the fastest track to enlightenment and growth. (not always the easiest). But like you say, I saw pure love in that moment, no more, no less. Also the alchemical process you speak of: how we are changed on a visceral level by our experiences. xoxo

      Delete
  18. Barb, such a sharing story but so sad on so many levels. I remember practicing kissing in front of girlfriends so we would get it right. I remember playing doctor and showing off our bodies. Each level carried a small amount of shame and also great interest in how it all worked. I was born in 1948 and being gay was definitely in the closet. I remember when in college I had one of my closest friends become bi-curious as I like to say. She fell in and out of love with women and men. It intrigued me and I know today all is really okay. I often talk to my gay friends and say that I would be open to women but truly I have never found myself attracted to one that I could see myself with it. I am so open about sexuality that for me it just isn't there for the opposite sex but I can so see how it is a natural wonderful part of life that everyone can choose whom to love and cherish. Having worked for the website Thenextfamily.com I see that no matter whom you love, you are a family and partnership that needs to be allowed to be free in your choices. No child or adult should ever come away feeling ashamed from an act of like or love with anyone. I am sorry also that Rigel's son can't support whomever or whatever he wants without feeling he will be judged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Madge. And you bring up another great point -- Deb and I were just talking about that: how growing girls often experiment with each other (we both certainly did). Growing up, I, like you, had no real idea there was any choice in who we could love (ie, men or women). Funny how some of us talked a lot about these things, and some of us so very little.

      Delete
  19. Rigel, I would find another church with values that you and Eddie can live with. He will get better vibes and energy from a church that sees things the way he does as opposed to fighting for something that his own church might never give him. How sad for you and for Eddie but a valuable lesson on tolerance, judgment and the ways of the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madge -

      There is literally NO church like that here. There are no LGBT friendly churches in this town, much less this county. There are individuals in the church who are. But, there are no churches as a whole.

      Delete
    2. And sometimes, in situations like this, you have to choose your battles. You know Eddie will always have his head on right -- and maybe even the power to be part of the change.

      Delete
  20. Y'ALL ARE ON TWITTER??!?!?!?!?!?!??! Um...hi! *follow me please* *cheesy smile*

    @hak2412

    ^_________________________^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes!! We want to follow all you guys, but we're still working out our growing pain kinks! Visit us there until we get it right, pleaaaaaase!!

      Delete
    2. Holly -

      I just sent you a follow request! :)

      Delete
    3. Hooray! Just wanted to make sure! ^__^

      Delete
  21. Oh no Barb...that's awful! I'm so sorry you had to go through this.
    The video made me cry....(btw Chris Colfer is such a brave and awesome guy!)

    I don't know...in our country, people don't really discuss homosexuals. It's not a big topic; at least I haven't heard of a lot of politcians talking about that subject (and hey...our Foreign Minister is gay!). We do have something like a registered partnership (which is similiar to a marriage, but doesn't count as much as a marriage).

    But I do know some gay people. I was friends with them. And two of them had huge problems. They talked to me first about being gay. And I was glad that I could support them, and didn't turn them down. It had to be a secret for some time, but in the end they told their parents.
    Their parents thought they had a disease (or that it's only a phase). They were treated like shit. I can't get that...They are nice, lovely, caring, funny, intelligent, people.

    And I guess many people think like these parents. When I go to soccer matches, I often hear that the players are called "fags" and "gay". "Fans" use it as an insult. It makes me so sad and angry.


    You might think that Germany is wiser, because of its past...but apparently it's not.

    "It is what it is,
    says Love."
    (Erich Fried)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Horrible sinus headache all day....yuck.

    I remember high school, most of it good memories, some of them not. I distinctly remember being under the radar of one person in particular who's goal in life was to make mine and Holly's life hell. Though the issues were not anything pertaining to sexuality, it was just...ugly. I just remember crying night after night wondering why this person was acting the way this person was.

    I really admire this post, Barb. I think that we learn from our past to make our futures better :]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Despite the sinus headache, my dear, well said!! And yes. And also, so sorry you guys had to go through that xoxo

      Delete
  23. Becki, I think as long as there are people like you to support each other and make each other feel safe, the journey will continue (and these will just be bumps along the way). My heart goes out to all those who face prejudice on a daily basis. Please keep talking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Becki, don't know why this didn't post right under your comment. Oops...

      Delete
  24. My high school days were honestly atrocious. I grew up in Small Town (town population 200), Prairie Province. From grade 6 on, I was called a lesbian, gay, and so forth until I moved in the middle of Grade 12. I was called these things not because of anything specific I did (not to the detail that you've been through, Barb), but because I Was Different. I didn't follow the crowd. Unlike my classmates, I never understood (and still don't to be honest) or valued the "time honoured" tradition of drinking until you pass out on both Friday and Saturday, and recuperate on Sunday, and brag about it on Monday. I preferred reading. I enjoyed school, and wasn't afraid to use my brain.

    In the summer between grade 8 and 9, I had an epiphany of sorts. Even though I wanted these people to be my friends, they will never be true friends - because they didn't value me for me. My peers used those labels of lesbian, and gay (and the other mean things), as a means to get me to conform to their norms, and if I did, they'd change them to keep me on the outside. And, I learned that "Homey don't play that game." I started to value me for me, and learned to sort of say "To hell with 'em."

    Was I ever physically attacked? No, but the words, said with hate, are just as damaging. I didn't "get educated" until I went to University, and met some people who became my friends. From them, I learned how not to judge, and accept people who for who they are...

    (sorry for the ramble)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. just want to ask Jo how are you doing . o hope you are feeling a little bit better .

      Delete
    2. Oh, we so know that words can be just as damaging as actions, Jo. I'm glad to read about your courage in staying true to yourself in high school, Jo -- that tenacity shows through even now. (and PS this was so not a ramble! well said!!)

      Delete
    3. Linda - I'm starting to feel a bit better. Now recovering from a bladder infection, but I made it to work today! Go me!! :)

      Thanks, Barb. I didn't take the time to reread what I wrote. My son distracted me for a bit before I got a chance to finish.

      Delete
  25. You know, it's weird. There's a lesbian couple who has lived across the street from the house I grew up in for as long as I can remember - and I've got a steel-trap memory!
    I'm straight, but I've never really been affected by the social stigma surrounding GLBT. Maybe that had something to do with it. In fact, some of my best friends are gay and it doesn't change who they are. It's like, one day he's Kenny. The next day, he tells me he's gay and to me, he's still Kenny. He just happens to like the same thing as me. So? Doesn't change his killer sense of humour. Doesn't change his amazing voice. Doesn't change anything at all.
    If you'll indulge me in a very odd and slightly psychotic analogy, for me it's like finding out someone's heritage. Going up to a friend and saying "Hey, I'm a quarter Polish," isn't any weirder than saying "Hey, I like guys".
    I realize I'm in the vast minority on this one, but it's the truth, right? Why live caged in lies and painful deception when you could be free and soaring high above the world?

    May your life be interesting,
    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think your analogy is perfect, Sarah. And I happen to agree with it. (love that sign-off!)

      Delete
  26. WARNING: DEB!!! Do NOT click on this link. Do not even read the link's url. DEB - This is NOT for you. NO NO NO!!! Don't go there!!!

    Tying together last week's post on politics and the people and today's post on ignorance, hate, and laws, this broke in Arkansas news today.

    (Warning: Disturbing photograph at top of article.)

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/01/23/arkansas-dems-pet-murdered-with-liberal-scrawled-on-corpse/

    I had just eaten dinner. I had vomit literally climb up the back of my throat as I read the article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh, I don't think I can click on this link either, Rigel. But that it was done saddens and sickens me.

      Delete
  27. I have been glued to this blog all day. This topic is such a moving topic that I simply couldn’t stay away today. I just kept checking back to read everyone’s stories and opinions. I have got to say that, by far, this is the most supportive and loving group of people I have ever had the privilege of being a part of.
    I am straight.
    I tend to take the discrimination towards gay people slightly personal.
    1 - My cousin is gay and I love him all the same.
    2 - And due to how high school was so traumatic for me.
    Gay people are fighting the world for the right to be considered “normal”. From day one of freshmen year it was me against the “world”. Or what I considered the “world” at that point in time. My “world” consisted of high school, home and friends. High school was hell, and that’s putting it mildly. I was bullied physically and emotionally. Home was where I lived and spent my time. And friends didn’t exist in my small “world”.
    In a small way, I feel for anyone who is bullied and consistently told that they are wrong and don’t matter, because I was made to feel that way for four long years. Luckily I graduated. Gay people are never going to just leave their struggle behind like I did. I am scarred from my experience so I can’t imagine what it is like to be gay in the world today. It must be a constant battle.
    I know my battle wasn’t nearly as large or significant in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t help but see the similarities.
    Seeing how all of you here are so open and supportive is extremely uplifting.
    Thank You

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you experiences of school sound much like my own kelly , except my bullying was more emotional then physical

      Delete
    2. I know, I thought the same when I read your post Linda.
      School can be so hard.

      Delete
    3. Kelly, thanks so much for letting us know and sharing this. And for your gracious empathy. It's amazing that people can go through the kind of bullying that you and Linda had to suffer and still grow into such lovely, loving beings. That's what makes me hopeful.

      Delete
    4. **hugs** : )
      Seeing people like all of you make me happy and hopeful too.

      Delete
  28. When I look back on it now, I'm not sorry it happened. In fact, quite the contrary. It made me a stronger person. :]

    P.S. Thanks for the Twitter follow!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh Rigel, I saw that article (my friend posted it on his facebook). It's disgusting. I had to look away.

    I don't understand

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.