What Now for the Gay Community?

The only part of my body that seems to agree with a Trump presidency is my waistline. My waist is finally doing what I’ve been struggling to get the darn thing to do for months now. It’s getting smaller.  But it’s not happening the way I had planned. I’m not exercising more than usual, nor am I restricting myself from high-calorie foods that aren’t healthy.

The pounds are peeling off because since Wednesday morning I don’t have much of an appetite.

I went to bed on election night before the final results were tallied, but the writing was on the wall. I woke up to texts asking how I was doing. And then the frantic calls came in from friends concerned what a Trump presidency means, not only for gay and lesbian people, but people of color, Muslims, women, the sick, and the poor. I just finished reading an article about how Republicans want to get rid of Medicaid and replace it with vouchers, not to mention their desire to privatize Social Security and Medicare. What could possible go wrong?

I am scared for all people who are not rich, have health conditions, or fit into a minority group because those are the ones who are most vulnerable to a Trump presidency. The protests in the streets following Trump’s election night win aren’t a bunch of babies acting out because their side lost. They’re out there because they’re afraid that hate won Tuesday night. (I’m not defending those who caused property damage and spray painted A’s all over buildings. You are anarchists and most likely didn’t even vote. You are NOT what the heart of these protests are about.)

The protesters are afraid of the divisive and hateful rhetoric Trump’s campaign was built around. And the fear is real, and it is valid. If any other Republican from the party’s long list of candidates had won, there may have been frustration, but not this kind of fear. People wouldn’t have taken to the streets, in the thousands, to protests across the country if John Kasich had become the president-elect.

But he didn’t win. Donald Trump did, and now many groups across the country are wondering what this means for them.  I’m a lesbian. And I’m wondering what this means for me.

On the morning after the election, I was lying in bed, reading an article about gay rights and a Trump/Pence presidency. It wasn’t pretty.

Here is a link to that article:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/09/here-is-what-president-trump-means-for-lgbt-rights/

Below is a quote from the above article:

“His running mate Mike Pence has confirmed a plan to dismantle Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people, as part of an ‘immediate’ review of executive orders issued by President Obama…Also significantly, President-elect Trump has pledged to sign the Republican-backed First Amendment Defence Act, a law that would permit forms of anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.”

Is it any wonder that when my mother saw me that morning, and was about to gloat how Trump had won, that I burst into tears so uncontrollably that I couldn’t even talk? There is nothing subtle or more frightening than to hear words, so blatantly filled with hate, directed right at you.

Now is the time for every community threatened by a Donald Trump presidency to come together. History tells us we have been through much worse. We must do all we can to not go back there ever again.  In the meantime, call a trusted friend. Surround yourself with people who make you feel protected.

We’ll get through this together.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

Coming Out All Over Again

I came out as a lesbian twenty-one years ago. I was nineteen years old. I told the people closest to me, one at a time. It was a positive experience, for the most part. There were lots of questions, of course. I was surprised at how surprised some of my loved ones were. I was a tomboy growing up, playing sports, wearing dirty clothes with holes in them. I hated dresses as a child. Still did as a nineteen year old, when I declared myself a lesbian.

So why some of my loved ones were surprised by my revelation, is astounding. Denial is fierce.

Last night, something happened that made me feel nineteen all over again. No, I didn’t try to buy beer with someone else’s ID who looked kinda, sorta, like me.

I came out to a loved one.

It started out as a typical Friday night. I was on my recliner, watching the Sox game. My sister’s kids were over. My seven-year old nephew was laid out on the couch next to me, my niece in college was working on her studies at the kitchen table behind me, and my other niece, twelve-years old, slid onto the recliner with me.

“Do you like girls?” she asked.

It was a casual question. There was no tone. Just a straight-forward, no-nonsense question. I was caught off-guard. This niece, as do all of nieces and nephews, has known for years  that I write lesbian novels, and that I have a gay friend with whom I go to gay bars. But they’ve never asked if I was a lesbian.

Until now.

I knew the question would come up soon. They’ve asked me other questions bordering the, “Do you like girls”, “Are you a lesbian, Auntie?” question.

“Auntie, why do you write lesbian stories?”

“Lesbians need to read, too, right?”

“Auntie, so you go to gay bars and watch boys kiss?”

“Yes, I do. And that’s okay.”

“Auntie, aren’t you afraid someone’s going to think you’re gay?”

“No, because being gay is okay.”

Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t just come out and tell my curious nieces and nephews that I was gay. They were young – nine, ten, eleven years old. I didn’t think they were ready to know. Or maybe I wasn’t ready for them to know. Whatever the case, I didn’t volunteer the information, but I swore I would answer honestly if they ever directly asked if I was gay.

“Do you like girls?” my niece asked.

I tossed my head back. “Why would you ask me that? No, I don’t like girls.”

“It’s okay if you do. I respect gay people,” my niece responded.

I went back to watching the game, not believing that I had just lied to my niece. I did exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do. I was not expecting that question at that moment. I was unprepared. In that moment, I wasn’t ready to tell her the truth.

When she got off the chair with me, I replayed in my mind what had just happened, and I knew I couldn’t keep things as they were.

Later, we were practicing our dance routine to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” and I pulled her into another room.

“I’m sorry for lying to you,” I said.

“When?” she asked.

“When I told you I didn’t like girls.”

“You like girls?” she asked.

I nodded.

She smiled and jumped in my arms. She squeezed her arms tight around my neck. “I’m so proud of you! I love you so much.”

It was a beautiful moment. My twelve-year old niece is proud of me. I have to laugh at that. When we left the room, and joined the others, we went right back to where we left off. She didn’t treat me any differently. Being gay is really no big deal to her.

Later that night, we were watching the movie Signs, and she jumped onto the recliner to snuggle with me at the scary parts, like she always does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Won’t Be the Last.

It was a week ago tonight that a gunman would enter a popular gay nightclub with a semi-automatic weapon and kill 49 people and injure an additional 53.  Some of those people are still in hospitals today, desperately clasping onto the life their injuries threaten to take away.

I pray they all make it.

Most of us by now have heard the names of the dead and have seen their faces. The majority of those lives taken were young people in their twenties. Though any life taken in such a brutal manner as this is tragic, seeing the pictures of those young faces, some posing in bars from a different time in their life, hit me hard.

I used to be one of those twenty-something year old faces, back in the the days when the weekend meant going to bars filled with people like me. Where I could dance, kiss, and hold hands with another girl without feeling strange. It was “normal” to be like me in places like those. And despite what people say about “defying the ordinary” and “normal is boring” it’s nice to not stand out sometimes, rather to fit in. Go unnoticed.

Gay bars offered a refuge, a safe haven, for gay people who might have spent Monday through Friday hiding while feeling self-conscious living and working in a heterosexual world. But the weekends we were free. We let loose. We were ourselves.

Because the gunman (I won’t call him by his name because he doesn’t deserve that kind of respect) called 911 before the attack and pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS, some people are calling this a terrorist attack, and only a terrorist attack.  All attacks are done to cause terror, but this assault was triggered by hatred toward a specific group of people. Gay people. And everyone needs to acknowledge that.

Every gay person across the country, maybe even the world, who’d ever been to a gay bar – felt safe in a gay bar – has watched this story unfold as each day brought new horrifying details, and thought, “That could have been me.”

Those are terrifying words when uttered in relation to a morbidly hatred act.

I learned of the shooting the morning after my niece’s wedding. I had just woken up in a hotel room, my mother beside me in my bed and my two young nephews sleeping in the other bed, and I turned on my phone. I read the headlines news of that morning and sat in stunned silence as my mind took in the unbelievable words I had just read. I listened to the steady breath of my loved ones, sleeping safely in the room with me, yet I still felt so afraid.

My mind turned to the night before, a joyous occasion, and I struggled to imagine that while I was dancing and laughing and drinking, there were people, half my age, thousands of miles away from me, who were only minutes away from taking their last breath while doing something I had done hundreds of times before – dancing, laughing, having fun at a gay bar.

A little while later, my 11 year old niece came into my hotel room from her own, and when she heard the news on the TV reporting that 50 people were killed, her eyes opened wide and she asked me why someone would do that.

One of the most difficult consequences of hate-filled murder is trying to explain the act to children. I couldn’t answer my niece’s question because I don’t know how a person hates so much to kill innocent people. All I could do was hug my young niece. Assure her she was safe.

The same niece, days later, would overhear me on the phone talking to a friend about going to a gay bar the following weekend (because gay people aren’t going to hide in fear) and she cried out for me not go. “Gay people are being killed Auntie! Don’t go!”

She had heard the reports of the man who was arrested while heading to the L.A. Pride Parade the Sunday following the shooting, with guns in his car, looking to do more harm to gay people.  I assured my niece I wouldn’t go to a gay bar this weekend, however my city’s Pride Parade is next weekend, and I’m planning on being there.

I don’t know what happens from here. If six-year old’s can be gunned down in their Kindergarten class, no one is safe. I don’t know when or where the next shooting is going to take place, or who the target will be this time, but I do know that another mass shooting will happen again.

That, I know for certain. That past assures me of this.

While we wait for our country’s leaders to finally do something about our much too-easy access to high-powered, high-killing guns, we cross our fingers that it’s not us, or our loved ones, caught in the next horrifying headline news that results in moments of silence and American flags ordered at half staff.

 

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Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her Name

My lesbian novella, Her Name, is a sweet romance about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Here are a couple excerpts that I hope you enjoy!

She held me like she knew me as I cried in her arms. We lay on the bed, on top of the covers, as streaks of sunlight peeked through the curtains. She leaned against the headboard and cradled me in her arms, rocking gently. She had a tender, motherly touch, and the harder I cried, the closer she held me.

“Let it out, baby,” she whispered. “Let it out. I’m here.”

I wept freely until, slowly, my cries faded to whimpers, and soon, all I heard was the steady sound of my own heavy breathing. She pressed her lips against my forehead, kissed me, and told me she loved me.

I wrapped my arms tightly around her. “I love you, too.”

I opened my eyes to darkness as I reached my hand to the other side of the bed. It was empty. I quickly sat up and wiped the tears from my eyes, not believing I had dreamed of the same woman and had again woken up looking for her.

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Now, I laid down my fork and leaned into my seat. I knew she didn’t want to talk about this anymore, but I did. “This all sounds crazy to you, and maybe in the beginning it was something to joke about, but now, I’m not sure. These pictures were taken directly out of my life, and this woman was in every one of them. You can’t tell me I just dreamed it from memory, because my memory isn’t that good! The photos were identical all the way from the clothes we wore, to the smile on our faces. Hell, even the background was the same! She was the only thing that was different. How could that be?”

I stared at her, waiting for a response as she took it all in.

“Like I said on the phone, I just don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Is it weird? Yeah, totally, but I’m no dream expert, and neither are you. Like I said before, maybe it’s your subconscious taking over. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, and it probably has some fancy scientific name.”

“She’s my wife,” I said flatly. “I saw a picture of us from our wedding, and we looked like we belonged together. We know each other. I mean, really know each other. I wish you could see us together, because you’ve never seen me this way with anyone before.”

“And what way is that?”

“In love,” I answered.

“In love,” Shelly repeated and then pushed herself away from the table. “Well, Maddy, me seeing you with her is something that will never happen. Do you wanna know why that will never happen?”

“I know why you think that will never happen, but that’s where you’re wrong.” I stared at her and said, “I’m just gonna come out and say it. I think she’s real.”

Shelly took a deep breath and pored over her food. “Maddy, Maddy, Maddy. What are you saying? This is crazy! I’m back to thinking these dreams are about your mom, because this is way beyond not getting laid. You lost a woman you loved, you miss her, and now you’re trying to replace all those things you miss about her with this other woman.”

Shaking my head, I said, “If this was just about me missing my mom, then why wouldn’t I just dream of my mom? There’d be no reason for this woman to be in my dreams if it were just about my mom.”

I watched a look of frustration cross Shelly’s face as she ran a hand through her hair. “You said you were at your dad’s today. How’s he doing?”

“Wow, that was a very obvious subject change,” I pointed out.

“I’m sorry, Maddy, but I’m having a real hard time digesting this food and your dreams at the same time. I need a fucking break.”

“Fine, but don’t use my dad as an excuse to change the subject.”

She touched my arm. “I’m serious. How’s he doing?”

I looked at her. “He’s desperately lost without her, and I don’t know how to make him better. Of course, I knew it would be hard for him to move on, but I thought eventually he would.”

“Maddy, it’s only been eight months. Give the man some time.”

“But he’s only getting worse. She was the love of his life, and he can’t live without her. Until I started having these dreams, I’ve never experienced that kind of love before and what it felt like to have someone to come home to, or someone to comfort you while you cry in their arms and take care of you when you lose your mom to cancer. The love he misses is the love I have with this woman.”

Shelly kicked the chair out from underneath her and came toward me. “What are you saying?” she yelled. “That you love this woman the same way your father loved your mom? Madison, that is ridiculous. It is not the same!”

I shoved myself away from the table and stormed across the room. “Maybe not here, in real life, but in my dreams it is! We were married! I saw the picture of us. We had a life together. We’d known each other a long time. I can feel it. Hell, my brother graduated from the academy eleven years ago, and she was in the pictures! Eleven years ago!” I stopped and took a deep breath. “If you could see these pictures, you’d understand. It isn’t just about the mere fact that she was in them, but it’s about how close she looked with my family. She was a part of my life.”

Shelly cocked her head and gave me a challenging look. “So you’ve known each other for a long time, you and this woman in your dreams. The two of you shared some great life together, yet you don’t even know her name. Madison, real people have names.”

If you like what you’ve read so far, you can purchase my book for only $2.99 on Amazon at the link below.

Thank you!

http://goo.gl/IKQWJ7

Love Won Today

Keep in our hearts today all those who have passed never knowing their love was equal. Never again will a gay person worry they will be denied at the bedside of their dying partner. Never again will a gay person lose their home because they have no inheritance rights. We are now protected. Gay marriage is now simply marriage.

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I don’t own the copyright to these images. If it breaks any copyright laws, I will take them down.

A Time to Reflect

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of the forty days (not including Sundays) of Lent. Lent is a time to reflect on the days that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We fast. We refrain from meat on both Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fish isn’t considered meat. Only flesh from warm-blooded animals are off-limits. Sorry tuna but you don’t get a reprieve, in fact, your death rate probably spikes during this time. It’s true. Baked tuna casserole with crumbled potato chips on top will always make me think of Fridays during Lent.

Catholics are also required to give up something they really, really like because this isn’t a time to be festive. It’s a time to reflect on suffering. It is a somber time. Fast food, diet coke, potato chips, alcohol, candy, porn, whatever your guilty pleasure, you give it up. Except on Sundays. All bets are off on Sundays because Sundays are festive days. Sundays are the Lord’s day and we celebrate the Lord. Every Sunday. No matter what. Even during Lent. Meat may be eaten, as well as that favorite thing we gave up.

Truly. The rules aren’t so hard when we consider Jesus had nails driven through his hands and feet on a cross he would later die. All for our sins, AFTER he was brutally, nearly whipped to death, yet still, some idiot will complain about that ONE day during the week he or she can’t put pepperoni on their pizza or eat bacon with their eggs.

Hey, idiot, try some tuna instead.

Having said all this, I didn’t get my ashes today. I haven’t gotten ashes in over a decade because I don’t go to church. Aside from Baptisms, Communions, Weddings, and Funerals, I haven’t attended a regular mass in close to fifteen years…not even on Christmas. Even though I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, my family wasn’t “strict” Catholics by any means.

Still, weekly church attendance was expected when I was a child and Christmas mornings were the worst. I’d beg and plead to stay home in my pajamas and play with my new toys. But that never happened. We attempted Midnight Mass one year to forgo the morning chaos, but there was so much singing and I was way too tired for all of that. I fell asleep against my grandmother’s snugly arm.

I’m not sure the exact moment I decided to stop going to church, but I do remember the Sunday morning when I listened to a priest preach the Homily. This was around 1998. A young man named Mathew Shepard had recently been beaten and left to die in a field, presumably, because he was gay. The priest condemned the act because the Church did not condone violence, and then he told the people sitting before him that if they knew someone who was gay to not hurt them, but instead, help them. Yes. Help them find their way because gay people were clearly lost souls. A little direction was all they needed. A compass, if you will.

The town I grew up in was home to about 18,000 people. We had two Catholic schools and two Catholic churches. Divide up two churches of the same religion in a not-so-big town, and that isn’t a lot of people attending each church, especially given not everyone in town was Catholic. This meant you prayed among a lot of familiar faces during Sunday mass. After the priest instructed his congregation to lead gay people from the everlasting damnation that was surely awaiting them, I looked around me. With those familiar faces came a lot of knowledge of who these people were and I was mostly unimpressed. Small towns talk and it scared the $hit out of me that my salvation depended on those @ssholes.

No way.

I had only been out a couple years to select friends and family. I was young, twenty, and very nervous about who knew I was a lesbian, so I did nothing as the priest spoke his words. I obediently sat still in my place in the pew and listened. But if that would happen today, I’d stand up and leave through the side door, (not the back) and let the door slam behind me so the entire congregation, including the priest…wait...especially the priest, knew somebody had just left. And that somebody didn’t agree with the bull$hit he was spewing.

But I wasn’t so bold back then.

This is the first Lent in years that I am taking part in. For a long time, I would intentionally eat meat on those forbidden days. Disobeying the rules made me feel good. I held a grudge against a religion I called my own for a long time. I know now that I wasn’t holding a grudge against God, but a grudge against the people who worshiped Him, because they hardly ever practiced what He preached. But through all the time neglecting His service, I never stopped believing in Him and had always felt (still do) that a higher power was watching me.

This keeps my conscience on high-alert.

By nature I’m a spiritual person. I recently started meditating twice a day. I sit still, cross-legged, on my bedroom floor. I close my eyes and repeat mantras over and over in my head. I do this while fingering yoga beads in my hands. The first time I did this I felt guilty because the beads reminded me of the Rosary. I can’t honestly remember the last time I prayed to the Rosary. I apologized to God that night while assuring Him that He wasn’t being replaced.

This is just something I need to do.I hope the clarity I gain through meditation will help strengthen the absent connection I’ve had with my former religion.

I’ve asked God to give me time. I’m still alive. So I think He’s okay with it.

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Photo Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

My Interview with Lynn Lawler

Today I am featured on Lynn Lawler’s Book Blog. Ms. Lawler is the author of the upcoming novel, Enlightened Desire. I am privileged to be a guest on her blog where she has given me the opportunity to discuss my lesbian romance novella, Her Name. 

Please follow the link to her blog: http://lynnlawler.blogspot.com/

Thank you!

Her Name
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