Monday, November 08, 2010
It's scary being at the other end of anti-gay politics. I often wonder if our opponents have any idea of the harm they inflict on us as people. For instance, when past Gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel decided to change her position from "moderate" on gay issues, to anti-gay, did she know what she was doing to us as people? Yes, she knew she was throwing us under the bus, but did she know the fear she put into each and every one of us every time we saw an anti-gay political ad or interview? Did she know what it would mean for our children to see Nathan Deal and her spewing hatred toward us?
I think if they have a conscience, they probably don't know. Unfortunately, I believe so many of these nasty elected officials have no conscience, and are probably socio-paths. Yeah, I know many people see that as extreme and don't agree, but this is my experience as someone who has been involved in politics since I was in the 9th grade, which is why I bailed on a career in politics.
Georgia has become an even more conservative state as a result of this last election. What that will mean for us I do not know. As I was watching some of the election coverage in the gym, I found myself jealous of the majority of the people working out who didn't seem to care about the election results. I thought, wouldn't it be nice to not have to care. To just ignore all the unpleasantness that goes with politics. But, sigh, I have no such luxury. I have to wonder, are they coming for us this time? Will they go after my family? What will this mean for my daughter?
And then I start having my usual post-election fantasies of moving to somewhere more accepting. Where that is, I am not certain. I always say we should just start a movement where we can all move to California, and take it over as OUR state. I am down with that. Don't know that the rest of the country would be open to it.
Friday, October 08, 2010
My 5 year old was recently the victim of a 7 year old bully who was physically harming her on the playground after school. Fortunately, I had witnessed these attacks, so I was able to get the school involved in stopping the behavior. It has stopped, and I think the school handled it well. Hopefully this will continue so my daughter can feel and be safe at her school.
I was talking to a parent about his 7 year old son who was getting bullied by a child in his class. In his case, the bully was physically harming the boy. When the parent talked with the school, the school reacted by sending the bully home and calling in his parents. Again, I am glad the school reacted to protect the child who was being bullied.
The other parent and I began talking about our situations and about what if the school had not reacted appropriately? This parent's approach was this: if it happens again, he will demand to sit in the class with his son. If he sees the bully hitting his son again, he will call the police on his own and have the child arrested for assault.
What do you think--would this work? Assuming the school let the parent into the classroom, would the police arrest a 7 year old for assault? Is this an effective way of dealing with a bully?
Thursday, October 07, 2010
She has been to every Atlanta Gay Pride since she was born, and really has never questioned anything about it. She loves the idea of being in a parade, seeing lots of her friends, and the general festival-like atmosphere. I have a feeling this is the year she might notice a few new things, like the men who will undoubtedly be wearing chaps with their butts hanging out, or perhaps the topless women.
Around our house we have talked about different kinds of families, and she knows she is part of a two-mommy family. She is very happy child, and I dread the day she learns that there are people who hate our family without even knowing us. I imagine she will start figuring this out sooner rather than later, especially if she learns about the word "gay."
Now she might pay attention to the media and adult conversations she overhears when people are speaking about gay issues (right now I think it just sound like adult babble talk). I guess it is as good as any time to help her embrace the positive meaning that goes with the word "gay" before she starts hearing the negative on the playground.
Gay Pride will have a much bigger meaning for us this year. This will be the year that Maggie will learn she is part of the Gay Community. I don't expect her to put much thought into it, but it will give her some context as to who we are and what mommy does for a living.
We'll see how it goes!
I don't know if it is because I am a mother, but I keep getting distracted by Halloween and other Fall Festivities and have to remind myself it is Pride weekend. I really need to remember because there is so much to do!
This is one of those weekends I give up the entire weekend to the cause--the MEGA Family Project. I probably won't see my daughter for more than an hour this weekend. My feet will hurt, I won't get to go to the bathroom enough, or have a decent meal, but I will get to meet so many amazing people that I would not otherwise know. I will hear amazing stories of LGBT families living in rural areas trying to make it work. Lots of people will share with me their dreams of adding children to their family through whatever means they dream up. So many families come to Pride with this being their only touch to the community for the entire year.
Though I am not looking forward to being on my feet the entire weekend (thankfully we aren't doing the Friday night Pride anymore), I am very excited to meet so many wonderful people in our community.
Happy Pride everyone. Come by and see us at the MEGA Booth in Section B-21.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Now, I am not so sure. The years on my clock seem to be ticking off a lot faster than I had planned, meaning retirement doesn’t seem as far off as I had thought, and our degree of acceptance doesn’t seem to be happening as quickly as I had hoped. My time spent in my parents’ retirement communities hasn’t helped either.
Perhaps my parents’ choice for retirement communities is not reflective of all retirement communities, but they are what I have come to know. Though I am sure each community has at least one or two people of color, I have not seen them at either place. My progressive parents would dispute this fact I am sure, but this is what I have seen over the years. The diversity in this community might be better reflected in whether you are a Republican or Democrat, or whether you play golf, tennis, or shuffle board.
In both communities, each house is prominently identified with a sign in front of it with the couple’s name on it, which makes me wonder what happens to those signs when someone dies or might be single. But more importantly, I have never seen a gay couple identified as occupants.
My mom likes to boast how many “gays” live in her retirement community in Florida. She knows this because they have a club for the gays, and because she runs the local PFLAG chapter. They have their own website, and put on some of their own events. Of course, the owner of her retirement community is one of the wealthiest right-wingers in the country. His influence is what brings Sarah Palin to visit the seniors in the community.
In both communities, I have seen women who are clearly lesbian couples, but I have also noticed they tend to keep a very low profile and never show any signs of public affection. For instances, at the big group gatherings where there are dances that are popular with seniors, I have never seen a same-sex couple dance. I have seen them on the sidelines, though. Instead, they dance at their own private events.
It is tough, because retirement communities clearly offer activities and resources that are important to seniors. I wouldn’t have understood the benefits of such places until seeing it through my parents’ experience.
In my final years, I certainly don’t want to live somewhere I can’t be completely open about who I am, so I am beginning to think these queer retirement communities might be something to look at as I age. Getting old and losing family and friends is already such a difficult time without having to worry about homophobia.
Perhaps when my daughter is near retirement (she is 5 now), the world will be such a place that there is no need for any segregation, but it looks like I better keep an eye on those queer senior living communities for when my day comes.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
However, I have always believed we should be moving the issue forward by doing two things: 1. Educating people about the discrimination same-sex couples face in the absence of marriage; and 2. Increasing public awareness about our families by becoming more visible in Georgia’s family landscape.
Interesting changes have taken place since I first took up the cause of marriage equality in Georgia. Six years ago, it was most likely that supporters of marriage equality were activist types who were following the marriage equality movement in the news. It was kind of a radical notion to want marriage equality.
Today, a short six years later, marriage equality seems to be the expectation among most same-sex couples I meet. Couples routinely plan their weddings in one of the states or countries that legally recognize same-sex couples through civil marriage. Younger people especially seem much more likely to be on a path similar to our heterosexual counterparts: first the wedding, then the kids.
Even though there is no expectation that marriages by same-sex couples will become recognized in Georgia anytime soon, most people seem to be snubbing their noses at Georgia and getting married anyway.
As someone who has a marriage certificate from another state, our marriage was both a huge commitment on both our parts and an important validation of our relationship. Though we had been living together 6 years, getting married was a much bigger commitment. We live differently today as a result of our marriage.
Our marriage has created a solid foundation for our relationship. We take it quite seriously, perhaps more seriously than most of our straight counterparts. Like so many things in LGBT families, we had to work hard to get married. We put a lot of thought into it. It wasn’t a big fancy wedding, but it was a huge day in our lives that we will always remember. Not because we had a big fancy wedding, but because it was a day when we were validated as human beings. We were finally able to marry the person we loved, and the state government where we were married legally recognized our relationship.
Marriage has strengthened our relationship. We think like married people who plan to spend the rest of our lives together. We take care of each other in every way, and plan for our future together as a married couple. We aren’t separate people sharing the same bed. We see ourselves as “one” and make decisions in the present and for our future as a team.
Though not recognized by the state of Georgia, we recognize our marriage in Georgia. Though it annoys some LGBT people, and confuses some heterosexuals, we refer to each other as “wife” instead of “partner.” We do this because we are married, we think of ourselves as married, and if we want others to treat us as a married couple, then we must give them the frame for how they should view our relationship.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
bully boy. I am trying to teach her to deal with him. I find myself at
a loss unless I tell her to just beat him up, which then makes her the
So, how do you teach your kids to deal with bullies without resorting
Saturday, March 06, 2010
We have been honest with Maggie about her adoption since she was old enough to understand words. The books we have read say children are better adjusted the more honest you are about their adoption because they understand the circumstances and have the knowledge and images they need. We believe them.
We have home movies from when we first met Maggie's birthmother, Maggie's birth, and then another movie from a visit to Maggie's birthmother when Maggie was about 1 1/2. We live on the East Coast, and her birthmother on the West Coast, so we haven't had much opportunity for visitation.
But lately, Maggie has been studying these home movies. Each time taking in a little more detail of the movies. She asks me a lot of questions, and frequently wants me to assure her that I was not in the particular movie image because I was the one taking the movie. "But you were there, right?"
So she just turned 5. After watching/studying the movies the other day she announced that she wants to go to Seattle. Feeling a little stunned (as she has never said the word Seattle out loud to me), I say "Why do you want to go to Seattle?" She says "I want to see Josie." I am totally caught by surprise by her announcement. We talk about her birthmother, Josie, fairly regularly, and she has never expressed this interest. I say "Oh...Why do you want to see Josie?" She says "Because I love her. She is my best friend. I miss her." I am touched by her sentiment, and a little nervous about what it all means.
"Um...you know what? Josie doesn't live in Seattle any more. She lives in California now. Maybe we can talk to Mia and make a trip to California to see Josie. Does that sound good?" She says, "yes, momma" and walks away smiling.
I am blown away. Here it comes. The start of our journey to help Maggie deal with her feelings about being adopted.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In Georgia, same-sex couples cannot marry, so most are left without legal protections because they don't put the legal protections available to them in place. It's not sexy, but there are a whole lot of things couples can do to protect themselves and consequently strengthen their relationship.
Most of us aren't planners for the unexpected medical illness, accident, or death. Even if we are getting older, most of us just don't want to think about it. Unfortunately, if we don't plan for these life events, it can create a disastrous situation for everyone involved.
I have seen it first hand where partners are kept out of hospital rooms, were not allowed to claim their loved-ones body, and were even put out of their house because their name wasn't on the house deed. Yes, these things really do happen every day.
Many of us stay in denial by saying things like "I have a great relationship with my partner's family, so we don't need to worry about it." WRONG.
As with any family, a person's death often times can bring out the worst in families. Greed typically shows up. The pain of losing a child or sibling sometimes causes families to suddenly deny the sexual orientation or life partner of the deceased family member. Sometimes, family members actually want to take their deceased child's children from a surviving partner.
These things do happen, and much worse.
What can you do to protect your relationship, your loved one, your children? Come to the MEGA Family Project's Legal Protections for LGBT People workshop on February 25th 2010. Click here to learn more about the workshop and to register.
Please don't put it off. This is one of the most important and responsible things you can do in your life.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
"America is a country rich in resources and filled with countless caring men and women who hope to adopt. These individuals come from all walks of life, united in their commitment to love a child who is in need of the protective arms of a parent. We must do more to ensure that adoption is a viable option for them. By continually opening up the doors to adoption, and supporting full equality in adoption laws for all American families, we allow more children to find the permanent homes they yearn for and deserve."
President Obama's statement about equality in adoption is very promising for LGBT people wanting to adopt and who are currently discriminated against. The president seems to understand that the staggering number of children stuck in the foster care system could be placed in permanent, loving homes if LGBT Americans were not discriminated against in the adoption process.
A partial answer comes in Congressman Pete Stark's bill to cut off funds to states and entities that discriminate in their adoption laws. The President seems to be sending a signal that he would support a bill like Stark's, but nothing is concrete at this point.
This proclamation by the president gives us good reason to celebrate and feel optimistic about the future of adoption in America.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
|No one can adequately explain what it means to become a parent. If you've seen Marley & Me (which I don't recommend for pet lovers), there is one scene where Jennifer Anniston's character is losing her mind trying to juggle the needs of her children with her own, and her husband doesn't know what to do to make things better and gets the brunt of her frustration. I remember feeling like Anniston's character when my daughter was a baby.|
I always thought I had an easy baby compared to other babies, but my daughter had her uniqueness that made my life a lot harder. From the beginning, Maggie didn't like to sleep in a crib, so we created a makeshift bed for her in the bottom of her pack-and-play (of course, we had purchased a $500 crib since it was our first child—read, money down the drain). Only someone who has tried to get babies down can tell you how hard it is to get a baby from your arms asleep to the bottom of a pack-and-play without waking her up (it's a physics problem). She woke up more times than not, and we would start the process all over again on many, many blurry nights.
Did I mention my daughter wouldn't let me sit down when I held her? Yeah, we bought the top of the line glider chair before she was born, and it too, just collected dust. I had thought we would have so many special moments of me rocking her to sleep in that chair, but the reality is she would scream every time I went to sit down with her. She had to be held standing up which makes for one very tired momma.
My favorite phase was when she would not allow me to put her down for even a second for the entire day. I mean this child would scream if I put her on a blanket so I could pee, or try to make myself something to eat. So, I learned to do things like pee with a baby on my lap, which is a little awkward, but all part of the joy of my parenting experience. During that phase, I remember staring out at my driveway around 6pm for my wife to pull up from work. It always seemed like it took forever for her to get home, but as soon as she walked in the door, I would hold out the baby with pain in my muscles and tears in my eyes saying "please, just take her.'
I love my little girl more than life itself, but it was really hard taking care of her every need and ignoring most of mine. On top of it all, I was supposed to be working from home the entire time. So, I would do the conference calls on mute, type one-handed e-mails, work late into the night, stress about what I wasn't getting done, and start all over again the next day.
The first 18 months of my daughter's life are a blur. I look back at photos of her when she was that small and long to have just one day with her again when she was so tiny and precious. I can barely remember her as the cute little baby she was. I am ashamed to remember how when she was so dependent on me, I just wanted her to get bigger and less dependent. I wanted her to walk so I didn't always have to carry her. I wanted her to talk so I could know what the hell she wanted some of the time instead of always guessing. I wanted her to start school so I could have some time to focus more on my work.
Maggie is four now, and I can't get that little adorable baby back. Though she is even more adorable now, she weighs 40 pounds, has lots of opinions, and doesn't need me nearly as much. Just the other day she begged to go over to her friend's house to play instead of spending family time with her moms. My wife and I were a little hurt, but the reality was we both had work to do, so it was okay. We know she is a very social child, and this is probably just a sprinkle of what's to come.
Parenting is an awesome experience, and one that goes by quickly. As one friend stated, you go through some very long days and quick years. It is tough, but most of us survive wearing an invisible badge of honor that only other parents can see. I wouldn't change having my daughter for anything, and I wholeheartedly recommend parenting to anyone who enjoys sharing your life with a real live little angel.
Join us at the May 16th Creating a Family: Choices for Prospective LGBT Parents workshop to learn more about becoming a parent. Go to http://www.megafamilyproject.org to learn more
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The MEGA Family Project Presents Our Monthly Coming Out Support Group:
Coming Home Support Group! April 16th, 7pm
Finally the Metro Atlanta area has a free coming out group for adults 18+. Coming Home will meet the 3rd Thursday of each month from 7-8:30pm. It will meet at the Florence McDonnell Center which is at 2215 Cheshire Bridge Road, NE Atlanta, 30324. This group is open to anyone at any stage of their coming out process.
Whether you want to discuss being out at work, with your family, church, synagogue, friends, or whether you have been out for a number of years, please join us this Thursday for our open, drop in support group.
Questions, please contact Melissa Thompson at 404-658-1222 Ext 5, Dee Desnoyer at 404-816-7171 Ext 24, or Jen Bertasi at 404-377-3010. This is such a valuable and much needed resource for our community, so please pass this information along to anyone you think will be interested. You do not need to rsvp to attend.
We hope to see you this Thursday at this great resource for the community.
MEGA Family Project
Support, Education, and Advocacy for Georgia's LGBT Families and Our Children.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Farther from the perimeter than I'd like to be is our community...one which, has many transplants and diversity in population...yet, still has a strong, traditional, old South, Republican base. So...it isn't the same as walking around Decatur where there's lesbian-headed households on every block.
So, back to the part about not sticking out...Morghan knows a lot of other gays...through me. She hasn't actually made a friend who goes home to LGBT parents (that we know of). Well...add the part that...for a few months, we didn't see much of Kristin. So, much of the time, her friends would only see me. Now, though, they are seeing both of us at home many weekends. Morghan has shared with me that her friends "ask questions" and she doesn't often like to answer them. I've told her that she could decide what to tell her friends, but that (in keeping with a value I am trying to instill in the kids) I am still going to be me. In other words, I wouldn't show affection in front of her peers, but I also wasn't going to grow my hair back out, start wearing more feminine clothes, or even have a fake boyfriend as a cover. She was understanding of it, but didn't seem completely comfortable having a different household from everyone else.
Well, last week she was at a friend's house. She called me to ask if her friend could come home with her and spend the night. I said, "but Kristin is here...Don't you think she'll ask about her?"
Morghan replied, "I think she knows anyway."
"Really?" I asked. "What has been her reaction?" I didn't realize Morghan was on speakerphone. At that point, her friend chimed in.
"I already know. It doesn't matter to me," the friend said. Morghan proceeded to explain she was okay with it, because she knows a girl couple in 7th grade. Haha.
So....that was really cool. It's a milestone to me...that she was able to say it in front of her friend, and not wonder what reaction she'll get at the sight of me and Kristin.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Rosie's R Family Vacation Summer Alaskan Cruise 2009!
MEGA Family Project is delighted to offer up for auction a dream vacation on Rosie's R Family Vacation Summer Cruise!
July 11th-18th, leaving out of Seattle to Alaska and British Columbia!
Kathy Kelly has been on the cruise 3 times since her daughter was 5 months old. "It is truly an amazing experience. The Alaskan cruise is by far the most beautiful cruise. You will see some of the most beautiful scenery ever, while on board an amazing cruise ship where everyone feels welcome and accepted, and the entertainment and activities are spectacular. I can't say enough how wonderful this cruise was for our family."
Click here to bid on this great auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140299842354
This cruise was generously donated by R Family Vacations for their Summer cruise--July 11-18th, leaving from Seattle, WA. Cruising with R Family Vacations is the absolute best way to cruise as a family. It is a floating city with lots of gay families, celebrities, and wonderful straight friends. The entertainment is always fantastic. The kid's programing at all ages is wonderful. There are special shows just for kids, along with a kid's club where your kids can hang out. There's lots of adult and family-friendly programing for every day. This is the type of vacation where you can feel completely comfortable bringing along your parents, extended family and friends --everyone is welcome (gay or straight)! Go to the R Family Vacation website to get a better idea of the specifics for this cruise at: http://www.rfamilyvacations.com
Click here to bid on the auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140299842354
This donated cruise includes an Outside Room with an Ocean View for up to 4 people. When you travel on the R Family Cruise, your food and entertainment is included unless you want to do something special (and it is freestyle dining, so it is informal and flexible). Air fare is not included, so you will have to get yourself to Seattle and back.
Tax and gratuities are also not included. When on board, you are not expected to tip any of your servers (and there will be many) because you pay an upfront gratuity charge of $10 per person/per day on board, and you will be responsible for taxes of $178 per person at booking (which also includes all port taxes). Please keep in mind you will be responsible for the per person taxes and gratuities charge, and all extras on board (like alcohol, massages, casino, etc).
Click here to bid: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140299842354
This donated portion of this cruise is worth $3896, and the proceeds go to the MEGA Family Project's programs and services. Please bid generously to support the organization, and make sure you tell your friends who might be interested.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Let me preface my "spiel" by saying I am only describing my own personal journey. In no way am I trying to be a crazy evangelist who prescribes "correct lifestyles" to others. I just know what is reaching me now, but I also recognize that what works for my journey doesn't necessarily work for everyone else's.
I grew up in the Roman Catholic church (no offense to anyone of that religion). My Nana...bless her heart...was a native of Ireland, and you could say she was "hard core" about the religion. So...being raised in the religion, there was so much attention drawn to sin. So much emphasis is placed on repentance and unworthiness. To have just about any enjoyment of the world is considered sinful. Even thinking so much about the sin is considered sinful to them.
In my early 20s, going to college really opened my mind to other philosophies. It's amazing how that small commuter college in Augusta, GA brought a variety of people to me (Maybe it was the local military base...which later became the place that supplied me with women...haha). To shorten this already long story, I started thinking critically and I pulled away from the Catholic church. A few years later, when my straight-wannabe marriage fell apart, I got the courage to just be me...which includes being a lesbian. Though I never denied the existence of God, I threw away the idea of church altoghter. It's not that I needed a church to help me understand what I believe...but with all the negativity that pollutes our earthly lives, I definitely needed a place to find support for my spiritual journey and to be around others who also seek spiritual renewal as I do. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I gave it a shot.
The church I've been attending is not what is "typical" of mainstream religion. It's not a place to go to be told how to act. It's not a place to be told what horrible hellbound sinners we all are. It's more or less a spiritual gym for me, where I can focus on my journey to a deeper level of existence, to be filled with purpose and to put it into action. For those enemies I seemed to make in recent years...for those whom I feel have misjudged me or simply dislike me....nobody has come to dislike me more than myself. I feel, in the past month, though, I've started being my own best friend again. So...at this point...as I felt the energy of the Holy Spirit permeate my own energy this morning...and, as Carla puts it...I was "getting down with the Lord up inside the church" (or something like that)...it felt great. It came to me that all along, I've been avoiding the work of the higher powers, insisting on the "I'll do it all by myself" attitude. But, you know...help from the Lord doesn't usually come directly from him. For example, a person in financial trouble might pray for help...but of course a stack of cash won't drop from the sky. However, help might come in the form of a lower-than-expected energy bill, the plummeting gas prices, etc. That was not my particular problem, but merely an example. I can say, for myself, I've made such a huge deal about retaining my pride and leaning on nobody. For example, I often refused to ask for any help or suggestions whenever the kids drive me crazy, because as a single parent, I've put more pressure on myself to make sure they have just as good a life as kids with 2 parents in the home. You know what, though? Two parent homes aren't without drama either. Another issue I REALLY started to struggle with this year is my emotions...often, I felt I couldn't just admit how I felt about things...and even felt I couldn't grieve over my Nana...because I worried everyone would dismiss me as bipolar anyway and invalidate me. Yes, that has happened, but I now realize that most people don't actually make that assumption. Just like any other person, I have my ups and downs. Also, of course, there were relationship issues and failures for me...and I attribute a lot of it (though not all) to my insistence of independence, rather than interdependence. I was so busy protecting my heart and my ego...plus, I didn't like myself and I couldn't understand why anybody would like me either.
The pattern of existence I described above was anything but productive for me and anyone around me. I seemed to slip just a little more as time passed...not realizing I was slipping...and I couldn't figure out why I felt so heavy, why my heart was so gloomy, why I had become such a pessimist, or why physically, I was getting fatigued and having chronic (nagging, but not debilitating) pain. I will admit something I wouldn't admit then...I told Kristin that something had to change in my life...that I just didn't feel I could go on at the rate I was. I'd wake up in the mornings already exhausted by whatever the day had in store. I had so many moments I wished I could disappear to an isolated place...and even more scary, I had moments I wished I just didn't exist at all. I knew my spirit needed renewal.
A day after I composed my "renewal" blog, I attended church service for the first time. They spoke so much of restoration. Yes, it feels like the service is all about me. Haha. At any rate, from the first morning I attended, I knew something had changed inside me...like a bulk of the burden was lifted. I didn't necessarily know why, except it felt like the mega-responsibilities I'd placed on my...well, responsibilities, had not seemed so tough. I had expected I should be this wonderful parent who never screws up...and that when my kids make mistakes, it's all my fault. I had also expected that as an alternative school teacher, I should be helping kids straighten their lives out and that...after a few months, they would be all better if I was really doing a good job...that, on top of the fact that special ed kids should achieve the same level as regular ed (riiiight), and dyslexic kids would suddenly read and write well, kids with math problems would suddenly do algebra, and kids with ADHD would suddenly sit still like the cherubs within. Hahaha! Yeah, as I type, I see how crazy I let things get. Even back in the day as a counselor, I felt I wasn't doing my job if my clients had setbacks or didn't get "cured" after years of serious problems. Yep, I can see where I put so much on myself to control aspects of human life that weren't meant for me to control. So...I'm not saying that was all my problem, but that was definitely A HUGE BULK of it. I set incredible expectations for myself and those around me, thinking I could singlehandedly change everything and everyone for the better...almost as if I were the one in charge of the world. Without divine intervention, though, I couldn't even help myself. Without allowing those who cared about me to be supportive in whatever way (even friends who simply give lots of hugs), I was also blocking light that God intended for me.
A song that once was, but no longer is, my theme song is "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. I really truly used to give myself pep talks with that song. It has lines such as "I touch no one and no one touches me...I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain ...If I never loved, I never would have cried...I have my books and my poetry to protect me," and "The rock feels no pain...and the island never cries." Yeah, of course I had tons of emotions, but I'd deal with them with my handy-dandy "quick-release button" located somewhere deep inside me. If a situation hurt me, I'd simply disconnect from the person or people associated. I'm sure I've burned more than my fair share of bridges in my lifetime...Anyway...it feels good to have installed more lightbulbs in my heart. It feels good to be filled with spirit again...to feel alive...to feel loved and to feel capable of loving.
Again, I'm not trying to push this on anyone...just sharing a blessing that overpowers my struggles. You don't have to be straight to be loved by God. All too often, those against our civil rights use God as a way to justify their intolerance. I just don't feel he agrees.
Friday, January 02, 2009
Monday, December 22, 2008
There is a reason the military has a high divorce rate. Of course, a variety of things can take place to destroy a marriage (or even an engagement, which was us). Deployments often change the soldier and hit them deeply...the other half at home even changes along the way. All this change happens as the couple lives apart...on opposite sides of the world. When that person comes home, both parties believe everything will just go back to the way it was before, now that you have that previous environment again. The soldier returns to familiar territory and the partner at home returns to the home with the soldier. Maybe for some military couples it happens so blissfully...but it didn't happen for us.
The scenario described above could happen to any type of couple...opposite-sex or same-sex. But, the same-sex aspect of it added more obstacles. For one, me, her, and the kids weren't officially recognized as a family. Therefore, the army didn't necessarily send her back to me. She didn't get the reacclimation time with us that her straight, married colleagues get. She had to use leave time. Then, of course, you have that her family lives many states away. While they know and understand she is gay, I always felt in competition with them. I shouldn't have to. I mean, of course, she needs to have time to go see them...but they wanted her to stay longer, rather than coming back to GA with me (also, where she is stationed...something she chose so she could be with me). So...between employer and family not recognizing us the same way they would a married or soon-to-be-married straight couple, it made things more difficult.
I guess we just weren't strong enough to make it through all the obstacles. After all...if it were meant to be, wouldn't those barriers been overcome?
Add the kids to the mix now. She's been a huge part of our life for two years...I know that isn't all that long, but she's the only person I've shared the children with. She treated them as hers, and even though my 11 year-old didn't always appreciate the extra authority (on top of not expecting the changes), both kids looked to her as a parent as well. She did way more for them than their father. You know...in our many deep discussions, I told her that anyone who made their place in the kids' lives should never disappear from them. I said that in the event we split apart, I wanted her to remain in their lives. I've also expressed fear at the fact that if I had an untimely death (God, I hope not.), that it would be terrible, because the kids would go to their Dad, even though she was the one helping me raise them. Anyway...I am concerned about the children. I know they are resilient, though.
They say relationships are all experiences we shouldn't regret. I guess I just wish I wouldn't have gotten so involved for it to end like this. The hardest part is not the memories...it's all the dreams we share that have been shattered.
So...I'm toughing it out this Christmas, trying my best to have a "merry, gay" holiday. I've lost my partner, and I just lost my Nana (the mother in my life) in October. I don't want to be a grinch, but a large part of me wants the holidays to just fly by so I can return to business as usual. All I can think about right now is how I was supposed to go to NY with her and the kids for our first white Christmas...but she left us at home. And, then there's my family, who is being very loving toward me...but that's where I went every year to see my Nana...and I won't get to do that anymore. So, I'm thinking a low-key holiday is in order. I'll hang out with friends whenever they aren't busy with their own families.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
At that point, I envisioned a militia of stereotypical gay males, uniforms decorated with neat flower arrangements and fancy hairdos, fighting alongside stereotypical lesbians, all gruff and taking charge. I couldn't help but laugh to myself with these thoughts. I knew better than whatever the man was describing about "gays taking over." He was apparently full of fears...fear of the unknown whenever you let less popular groups have the same rights as the majority.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending both the rally at the Capitol as well as the candlelight vigil in Midtown. Kristin and the kids were right there with me, of course. We cheered, listened to the speakers, and enjoyed small conversations with the strangers (but allies) surrounding us. It was great to see a crowd, but I really thought it could have been larger. I attribute some of the absences to the short notice. But, other fellow gays told me they wouldn't be in attendance for fears that the media might capture their image and they'd be outed. I definitely respect their reasons. It's just a shame, though, that so much negativity could be imposed on a person because of his or her sexual orientation.
So, while in attendance, and thinking about things, a few thoughts crossed my mind. Morghan, my 11 year-old, expressed concerns about her and her brother being taken away from me. I told her that yes, it was a concern for a lot of same-sex couples, but not for us and our circumstances. In our case, it would only be an issue if the dad brought me to court, but there's a larger chance of him winning the lottery than taking me to court. At this point, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on. I've raised them on my own since they were born, and he has yet to prove that he can take care of himself, let alone two children. It made me realize how lucky I was in that department.
That spurred me to think about all the older children and teens who have been left in Nebraska, a state whose "safe haven" laws were written too vaguely. I wondered if any of those people who chose to leave their kids behind are gay. OR...was it "those straight people." There those straighties go again...pro-creating with their natural abilities and then leaving their kids to be raised by someone else.
Here's another thought that crossed my mind (Yeah, I was thinking again)...
I thought about the evolution of civil rights in the United States. When European males decided to "come in and take over the place," it was only THEM who had rights. In fact, the initial reason for our Electoral College system of presidential voting was because the powers to be didn't feel an average citizen was informed enough to decide who gets into office. So...the first major step was allowing "average Joes" the chance to vote. After all...there was fear that folks outside their "clique" would ruin things for the current system, most comfortable for them.
We all know, of course, it was a long time before Americans came to terms with the fact that blacks were people, too...not property. It was an even longer time before they could vote, and it was a bit after that before women could vote. Later down the road, Americans had to come to terms with the idea of us all being able to attend the same schools and get the same service in the same location, all at the same time. Many feared what would happen to America if those without equal rights were actually treated like real citizens and given the same respect. Oh my!
I wasn't around during the 50s-60s civil rights movements (nor do I have any past life memories of such). I really have nothing to say in defense of the fears going around. As I teach in a diverse environment, one being recognized as an official "No Place for Hate" school, I must say I really like this integration thing. Get this...one day in class with my 7th graders...it was at the beginning of the year when there were only 4 kids in the group...I asked them about their ethnicities (first explaining the difference between race and ethnicity). Would you believe that in a group of just 5 people, every last one of us had a different ethnic origin? We all traced back to different countries and most of the kids were multi-racial as well. How neat. Would you believe that just 50 years ago, my classroom would have been empty?
Anyway, my slight...and very slight...defense of those who were against desegregation is that they had no experience with people unlike them, and therefore, they were uncomfortable with the idea. This meant allowing their kids to attend school alongside different kids, they'd have to possibly work with people of other races, and most of all, they'd have to go about life alongside others (That seat at the front of the bus wouldn't be so "safe" anymore). It was a major step outside their comfort zone. Although their comfort zone was unfair and ignorant, it was something they had to make mental adjustments for.
This brings me to today...the civil rights we are currently asking quite nicely for (Yes, us gays who are "taking over" are being quite kind about it.)...don't actually require the concessions of the majority as the civil rights reforms of the past. Think about it...we want sexual orientation to be included in EOE statements right alongside race, sex, religion, disability, etc. We want to have our unions formally recognized...our partners given the same legal privileges as opposite-sex spouses inherently claim upon marriage...and we want to be able to raise a family...give it the love, guidance, and responsible upbringing that opposite-sex couples can legally do...not only without obstacles, but also with the encouragement of others. In fact, opposite-sex couples who choose NOT to have children often catch slack about it. So anyway...these rights I speak of (or type of)...these require no adjustment on the part of others who do not agree with same-sex relations.
Sure...people say that gay relationships aren't good for kids, aren't good for the public, etc. They refer to their beliefs about God (though my beliefs about God tell me I'm okay with Him), and why this should not be allowed. However...all they really gain from our lack of civil rights is their mental comfort of knowing it's not formally recognized. I'm certainly not going to leave Kristin to find me a husband. I don't know of any gays who are planning to drop their partners and marry opposite-sex. In reality, we just have more hoops to jump through with paperwork. But the essence in what they are trying to stop...gay relationships altogether...won't happen. When people see me and Kristin in public, they know we are a lesbian couple (except for the few who think she's my oldest child...hahaha....and I only have 3 years on her!). Thus, we are visible, like many others. The rights we don't have at this point in our life don't change the things that Proposition H8ers want to see changed. We are still here. We are still gay. Our lives haven't changed, but most of all, neither have theirs.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
By 1pm on election day I was exhausted from the intense excitement I was feeling. I needed a nap, but when you have a 3 year old anti-napping daughter, it was out of the question. So I dragged myself through the day. Working here and there, and checking the television periodically to see if there were any election problems, etc.
By 4pm, I am 100% convinced Obama is going to win the election. Not an ounce of uncertainty. I think this was some type of election mania, because I felt as if God had told me Himself that this would happen and I didn't need to worry anymore. It was such a relief, and I passed this information on to others, but they did not share my certainty.
By 6pm, I have decided this is an official holiday in our household, so we are going to celebrate with pizza, cupcakes, etc. (this is how we celebrate now). I give my daughter her special Princess Soup that she had picked out days before, and decide to call my mom to pass some time because I know my mom and dad are bouncing off the walls waiting for the election results, too. They live in Florida and have had an election or two stolen from them. My retired mom spent so many hours working for Obama--making phone calls, knocking on doors, handing out food to people waiting in line to vote (she rocks!).
It is 6:30pm, my daughter's gigantic bowl of soup is eaten and I look down and she is passed out in the Lazy Boy chair. At first, a little disappointed we didn't get to share more excitement about Obama's impending election, but then I realize, YES!, we get to have more time to watch the election results!!!
It is 7pm, the wife and I are sitting down in front of the tv with our delicious celebratory pizza and beer (a luxury in the Kelly household these days!!) with CNN on. Not enough is happening. I am flipping the channels between news shows, but nothing really exciting. The hologram on CNN was kind of cool, and I like they waited until election night to launch it. But, this night is about our Presidential win, so away with the holograms.
By 9pm, we are so exhausted, but the win seems apparent. My prediction coming true. Thank you, God. The wife passes out for a nap. I wake her for the official decision and to see Obama. We both agree John McCain showed his best side in his concession speech. We are grateful for the way he handled the loss ( I think that is the liberal in us).
The evening is so incredibly powerful. For so many of us, this election was critical for our existence. Could we go on without this win? I am not sure, and certainly so grateful to not test it.
The wife and I are an oppressed people. We are gay moms who want a world that respects our family with the same equality and dignity shown the heterosexual world. This want has grown so much stronger now that we are parents. Wouldn't it be so great for our daughter to grow up in a world where her parents were treated equally? If it weren't for our daughter, I could live with being discriminated against. I would still fight the fight, but it means so much more knowing there is a little life coming behind us that will one day experience the unpleasantness our world has to offer.
As an oppressed people, the wife and I hold hands as we watch Obama give his election night speech. We are so moved. It is such a powerful moment, and it causes us to feel so much more hopeful about our future as Americans, and as Gay Americans. The future couldn't look brighter.
It is 1AM, I go to my computer to check the election results for the anti-gay ballot measures in Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, and California. I am devastated by the results. The spiritual fulfillment I had moments before knocked completely out of me.
Arkansas votes to stop gay people from adopting or foster parenting. Jesus, how could this happen. 57% voted for the ban.
Florida, where they have worked so hard on their marriage amendment, loses its battle by a small margin. They needed 60% to pass the amendment, and they got 62%.
Arizona, which has been beating back marriage amendments in the past, loses its marriage amendment with 56% voting to approve the anti-gay measure.
And the most devastating loss of the evening: California, where marriage had just become legal earlier in the year. Now, the election has not been finalized, so I pray I have to eat this post, but it looks as though the anti-gay marriage amendment passed by 52%. I am so bummed. How could people vote on our lives that way as if we were property taxes or something. My God, we are human beings, and our rights are being voted on by the people. What kind of country is this?
Lots of lies were told by conservatives in these campaigns, so can I blame straight people for believing them? When the Catholic and Mormon churches tell the people lies about the marriage laws and about us as parents, can I blame people for believing them? If you can't believe your church, who can you believe?
I am sickened today by both the election outcomes and the fact that people think they have the right to vote on our lives in this way in the first place. I am reminded of the African American journey in this country, and how we proudly elected a Black man president tonight.
I probably have 20+ years to win my civil rights, but my daughter only has one childhood to experience and it is now. So, forgive me for my impatience, but my daughter is everything to me. I just want the best life for her, and people voting on our family is not part of my plan.
Tonight, you anti-gay voters suck. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will feel called to continue the work of educating you better.
God Bless President-Elect Obama.
Monday, November 03, 2008
We must keep our eyes on what happens in California with the efforts to overturn the right for same-sex couples to marry. It is critical to the civil rights of all our families that the marriage amendment, Proposition 8, lose tomorrow. It would be devastating and wrong to grant gay people the right to marry and then take it away again. Let's pray the people of California vote for equality for all families.
Keep an eye on Florida also. Thanks to the great work of Equality Florida, they have a good shot at defeating the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment.
So pray, cross your fingers, or do whatever moves you so we have a good outcome tomorrow. And please, DON"T FORGET TO VOTE!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The lines outside the building have increased considerably. At least it isn't cold now.
I still say we can do better to lessen lines and make voting available to more people by extending the voting hours and days.
MEGA Family Project
Sent from my iPhone
They started allowing people with very small babies to come inside. They won't let them vote, but are allowing them to wait inside. Obviously the election officials don't realize how hard it is to vote with a child in tow. It was the citizens in line who asked to bring the babies inside.
People seem to be in fairly good spirits even with the long wait. There is much talk about being excited to vote and a belief that this is our civic duty.
This election is good for the nation. High turnout feels good and right.
We are voting here in the fire department's headquarters. You have to wonder if this double line in the halls meets the fire code.
The AJC said it was a 90 minute wait here yesterday. The people here say it was really two hours. It looks like we are definitely looking at two hours or more here. And the Secretary of State doesn't want to do better. I wonder when she is up for re-election?
I had the pleasure to hear the Ohio Secretary of State speak this past summer. She was truly an inspiration as to someone who wanted to make sure all the people of her state could vote this election. The last presidential election many in her state did not get to vote and she knew that was wrong.
We need someone in Georgia who has a passion for making sure every person gets a chance to vote and that we have a paper trail to verify the votes.
I still have a long way in front of me as I can't see any room that we might be voting in. Only a sea of people ahead.
MEGA Family Project
Sent from my iPhone
One has to wonder why on earth the Republican Secretary of State is not doing more to help people vote in a more expeditious manner.
In Florida, the Republican governor extended voting hours 4 hours each day. Can you imagine the people who will get to vote there who would not otherwise because they have jobs that don't allow them to stand in line for hours?
We are America, damn it. We have the technology and resources to make it easy for every person to vote.
I call on the Georgia Secretary of State and Governor Perdue to extend advanced voting hours and to put more voting machines in each location.
This is absurd that people are unable to vote in a country as great as America. This process seems closer to what I would expect in a less developed nation.
I sure hope politics aren't playing into these ridiculous decisions about voting in Georgia.
We deserve better, so we must demand better. Please join me in calling the Secretary of State's and Governor's offices to demand they do better.
MEGA Family Project
Sent from my iPhone
Saturday, August 23, 2008
This year, my daughter, Morghan began 6th grade...middle school...that age where peers start to become more of a factor. The worst thing a kid wants is to be embarrassed or in the spotlight for something controversial. My son began 4th grade, but his friends don't seem to ask questions. I think they are more interested in their skateboards, trick bikes, and "wrasslers."
As far as the kids' feelings on having a lesbian mom, they've accepted it from the start (from the time I used the analogy with the Barbie dolls and the superheroes). As for their feelings toward Kristin, they love her and refer to her as their other mom, without my prompting. She, in turn, has forced me to rescind on the notion that nobody can love the kids like I do. This feeling of family I have with them is more than what is apparent in our words and actions...it's an indescribable feeling of harmonious balance. This has NEVER come close anywhere else-not with ex-girlfriends, not even with their biological father. It's a sense that everything is perfect, even when it's not.
So, entering the school year (which started 3 weeks ago), I felt it was a major breakthrough when Morghan and Chandler both allowed me to list Kristin as the other parent on their school forms. No, it isn't the first time she's been listed, but last year, I listed her simply as a "family friend." Though it may seem trivial, I feel that given circumstances, this is a huge step. The kids did explain to me, however, that it was okay for the adults to know about it, but not the other kids. I reassured them it was fine.
The school year then began, and the kids are at a different school than before, and so far, it's been pleasant. We had moved to a part of the county that has seen an immense growth in population. Even though I'd prefer to live closer to the big city, I'm impressed with the diversity of this area. Many people, of different ethnicities, are like us...still relatively new to the area. Thus, we get much reprieve from the intolerant, right-wing thinking that we have dealt with as Southerners. And as far as the middle school goes, there was a strong presence of gays. Ranging from teachers, other parents, and even the bus driver...there are more gays than we've ever had in a school. Add to this, Morghan told me one day after school about her friend's sister in high school...she's a lesbian, Morghan told me, adding that"everyone thinks she's so cool!" I feel like this helps, too...for her to know of other gays she does NOT know through me.
So, life will continue to unfold one day at a time. The kids are doing incredibly well, and I feel fortunate.
Monday, August 18, 2008
As a member of the GLBT community I'd like to say that "community" rings loud and clear but sometimes I wonder. Community should mean that we are working together. I constantly am hearing and seeing that there is constant disagreement in the GLBT arena. Some of that is expected but sometimes its just about sucking it up and making a concession. Sometimes its about supporting something even if your ideas didn't get the full attention. It constantly amazes me that in all my years of working in the mainstream "world" with many different groups that there seemed to be a lot more give than "take".
Whether its parenting, working on a committee, or office politics I think its time we all should take a long hard look with out mouths closed and our ears open, decide if we are part of the solution or part of the problem and then be proactive and do something about it. I want to be a decent example for my children and I want to make some positive changes for the young GLBT community that will follow in my footsteps. Is anyone else interested in doing the same thing? I hope so.