Learn to work with Dykes.

I covered a unit at a hospital this weekend and I came across the above flyer. I was like wow. I looked at a few nurses sitting at the computer desk and said “Are any of you taking this? You know to learn how to work with me?” They were all startled because they’ve all worked with me for about four years. And they didn’t have to learn how to work with me based on my sexual orientation, more like how to work with my personality.

I texted this to a bunch of my friends who were appaulled. Then I’m thinking insert “African Americans” or “Mexicans” for LGBTQ and seriously you’d have a shit storm on your hands. The second line- create an inclusive environment for patients and staff reads appropriately to me. The first line in bold freaking horrifies me. Because seriously. We are just like any other minority and especially in regards to working with staff; co-worker to co-worker my sexual orientation or gender identification should make no difference in my ability to perform my job.

While my first inclination is to be insulted as a staff member my second was to think that this is a good thing for staff to learn about working with LGBT patients. Then I’m like, why do I think that’s an okay training but not staff to staff? Then my brain hurt a little and I realized I needed to write a blog post about it.

Two issues- working with LGBT staff and working with LGBT patients.

Learning to work and “create an inclusive environment” for LGBT patients is a good thing. Here’s why. A lesbian couple I know were pregnant. It was early in the pregnancy and the partner carrying started bleeding. They called the on call doctor and were told to go to the emergency department. At the emergency department they were seen by a physician. The physician asked how she got pregnant. They explained that they did IVF, but the egg she was carrying was actually her wife’s egg. He didn’t get it. She’s bleeding and terrified that she is miscarrying and he’s trying to figure out how they got the egg out of one woman and into the other. He literally scratched his head and was not even asking about the bleeding. She wanted to scream at him it really doesn’t matter who’s egg it is or how it got in there, but could you just tell me if I’m losing my baby or not? But she had to answer questions about fertility. The physician was generally unpleasant and made a terrifying night worse than it had to be because of his own ignorance. They did not lose the baby. But they lost the feeling of security and safety within that hospital system. I know countless stories like this. Where people’s ignorance is a barrier to medical care. So yes. Train staff how not to be an asshole basically. That’s always a positive step to take.

Creating an inclusive environment for staff is also a good thing. Wording it in a way that makes it seem like you have to work with us differently than any one else is not a good thing. Singling us out as a minority that requires extra training when there are so many other minorities that also face micro aggression and marginalization seems demeaning to all other minorities. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe don’t say Learn to work with LGBT staff. Maybe say, learn how to create an inclusive and diversity embracing work environment. Maybe just tell everyone not to be assholes to their co-workers in addition to patients. Obviously this is why I didn’t go into management. I’d probably get fired immediately because I’d tell my employees that they are being bigoted assholes and they should stop. There’s probably a politically correct way to say that and I wouldn’t have the patience for it.

At the end of the day the lessons we learn in kindergarten really should see us through our entire careers. Play nice with others. Be kind. Share. Apologize. Don’t touch what doesn’t belong to you. Don’t bully. If you see someone bullying someone else tell them to stop. Don’t ask dumbass questions. (I added that last one in because I feel like kindergarten teachers want to say it but never do.) If we all followed these rules work environments would probably be okay.

I don’t know what the answer is. I preach acceptance and I know the hospital means well offering this training to promote cultural diversity and acceptance. But sometimes I just want to be like every one else. Story of every minority individual’s life ever I guess though. It’s tiring fighting for equality. Then when some one or something tries to give us special treatment I’m not happy about that either. Then I sound whiney. So here’s my ending. I really don’t mean to whine.

I appreciate every effort made by workplaces to support LGBT staff and clients. Just be thoughtful in the approach. Does this training single individuals out who didn’t feel anything was wrong in the first place? Will my co-workers think I complained about intolerance and now they are forced to do a training? Think these issues through before posting flyers. Perhaps even speak with LGBT employees about their experiences working for the company. So then maybe you would have a sense about what the issues are if there are any. Because in the four years I’ve worked there I’ve never felt discrimination by my co-workers based off my lesbian status. Based off my female status yes. But that’s a different issue.

Shout out to all my co-workers ever in the last ten years of my healthcare career. Thank-you. I’ve never felt the sting of intolerance at a workplace for being a part of the LGBT community. I express my deepest appreciation for that.

I also acknowledge that I am extremely blessed and lucky for this to have been my experience. Because I do know lesbians and gay men who have been turned down for promotions, not hired, or fired due to their sexual or gender identity. To everyone else who has felt that sting- keep fighting. It’s tiring. And then sometimes they do the extreme opposite of what you want and have trainings about how to work with you. It feels awkward and bad. Keep going.

To all you assholes out there. Just stop. I’d appreciate it. So would your co-workers because then they could stop doing extra trainings on being nice.

 

 

God and the two of us dykes.

In many relationships there’s a nice one and a mean (or less nice) one. My wife is definitely the nice one. I’m less nice. I wouldn’t say mean, but well, you know that part in Into the Woods where Meryl Streep is singing that amazing Last Midnight song? She says, “I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right.” Well that’s kind of how I feel. I’m not overly warm and I have a very low tolerance for stupid. I’m also brutally honest. Don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer is my motto. My wife hates that motto. But she definitely knew what she was getting into when she married me.

Religion for my wife and I is super complicated. (the above paragraph will make sense shortly, hang in there)

My story- I was raised in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. They don’t like gay people or abortion. I was totally unaware of these beliefs growing up though, and I just thought church in general was boring. I also fought A LOT with my pastor during confirmation classes. As stated above I am honest and cynical. I had a lot of problems with the bible. Seemed to me there were a lot of holes. Like if Adam and Eve were white where the hell did Asians and African American’s come from? Why didn’t the bible mention dinosaurs? Noah’s Ark…for real? What happened to Jesus’ childhood and teenage years? And where were all the freaking women? These were just some of the questions I posed over the years and I was never quite satisfied with the answers I received. There were some things about church I liked. I thought the sense of community it provides is nice for some people. I liked singing hymns. I liked taking time each week to sit and have time to think and I always thought of praying more like meditating. I never listened to sermons and barely paid attention to anything about the service but the lighting, the music, and the symbolism were all comforting in a way. I also love Christmas. The Christmas story was one I never questioned. Well except for the angels in the dream. That was odd to me. I liked the religious overtones to the month of December, it made the holiday feel deeper. I also liked Christmas pageants and the living nativity. There were fun activities for kids during the Christmas season and I have fond memories of those. As I grew up and took religion courses and developed my own sense of self I don’t have animosity toward religion. I just don’t believe that the bible is anything more than an extremely important historical artifact. But I am respectful of those who believe otherwise, and I am not opposed to church in general.

My wife’s story– she was raised fundamentalist Christian. It was stifling for her. She was brainwashed. It took a long time to get over. She lost her entire family over leaving the church and the religion. Needless to say she has strong feelings about religion and church.

Enter the emergency department. We both worked in an emergency department, that’s where we met. I was a nurse. I was taking care of a patient who I will never forget. It was a little girl and she had cancer. She was going to be admitted to the medical floor and I had been taking care of her for several hours. At one point I walked into her room and she was talking with her parents. Her mom and dad were saying, “Yeah, but honey not everyone believes…” they trailed off when they saw me. She looked at them like they were stupid and then she looked at me, and said “Do you believe in God?”

Talk about a punch in the gut. I knew in that moment that my idea of God and her idea of God were very different. I do believe in a higher power and in fate, but the biblical God not so much. But she had cancer and she was so young, and then there was my baseline personality of brutal honesty…it was a tense three seconds in my brain. Her parents and her stared at me expectantly, and I finally said, “Yes, I do.” Even though everything in my being screamed “NOOOOO”.

She then looked at her parents and smiled the smug “I told you so” smile. Then she asked if I would pray with her and her parents for her admission to go well. I dimmed the light, and we all stood there hands clasped while she said a prayer for her admission to go well, for her fever to go away, and for her cancer to go away.

I never told anyone that story because it still unsettles me for many reasons. In that moment I felt surreal. I tell the people I work with “Everybody lies” on the regular. I know because I lied to that little girl. But then when we were praying together it felt like such a moment of connectedness and in my ten years in healthcare no one else ever asked me to pray with them or have a moment like that. It was intimate and that girl didn’t realize the chance she was taking by asking if I believed. Because I could have said No and then missed out on that extraordinary prayer. That was probably eight years ago, and I remember it vividly.

If I asked my wife if she believes in God I think she’d say yes. But it’s such a loaded question for her. And for a lot of lesbians. Because a lot of gay people were raised in conservative churches and for all the reasons I stated church holds a place of warmth and comfort for many people. But for us dykes it also is threatening and a place of discomfort and judgement.

I would never pressure my wife into thinking or believing anything about religion. I would never set an expectation for her to go to church if I decided to bring the boys. But if I decided to go then I would have to find a church that’s welcoming of lesbians, and even if they say it are they really welcoming? Are there actually gay families that go there? It all gets complicated fast. I don’t have the answer for my family right now. For me right now I think the yearly Christmas Eve service after the boys go to bed by myself is all I want to commit to.

For any lesbian or gay person struggling with religion, I’m sorry. It’s not easy. The whole Sodom and Gomorrah story kind of fucked things up for us. But seriously why didn’t the Cain and Abel story make it a little bit worse for people who commit murder? If murder and crime was protested as aggressively as homosexuality maybe our crime rate would go down. That’s the part that gets me. The picking and choosing of the bible stories and lessons. Anyway, I digress.

I don’t regret lying to that girl with cancer. Because seriously who wouldn’t have? I don’t regret the Christmas pageants and the Good Friday services over the years. I’m glad I have a solid understanding of religion. Religion and church can be such a welcoming and safe environment for people. I wish it could be that way for all gay people in all places of worship. We need safe spaces. We need judgement free zones. We need faith in humanity. We need compassion and kindness. Church can provide all of these things. But it depends on the church and it depends on the people there. That’s unfortunate. Maybe some day it will be all churches and all people. But that day is not today.

 

That Time My Wife Became Manic

I’ve talked about my wife before. A lot. So maybe acquaint yourself before you continue. Or not. Suffice it to say her parents disowned her and she was pretty messed up about it. For a long time. It took a really long time but I convinced her to seek therapy. Eventually her therapist convinced her to see a psychiatrist, and bingo bango she ended up on anti-depressants.

I’m a huge fan of psychiatric medication. I know many people are not, and that’s fine. But I’ve seen them save lives so I’m cool with them. I’ve also seen these medications have horrible side effects so, as I tell my clients on the regular, I have a healthy respect for them. When my wife started an antidepressant it made a huge difference in our lives. She was calmer, less angry, less depressed, and morphing before my eyes back into the woman I originally fell in love with.

It took a long time for her to get to that place though. For her entire life she was told to take her problems to God and that was all she would need. When faced with the ultimatum of the end of our relationship or a psychiatric consult though she finally went to some one other than God. Because no offense but He just wasn’t cutting it. She was crying all the time, irritable, and close to suicidal at times.

The antidepressant she took really changed her outlook on life. She became more  positive and hopeful and it was amazing. Enter ghosts from the past. She totally decompensated. I asked her to speak with her prescriber about what else they could do with medication because of the added stress of our current situation. Her prescriber added another antidepressant. Not an unreasonable thing to do, but in my wife’s case it totally backfired. She became this other weird person whom we now refer to as “manic-wife”. It was so gradual and I have such a high tolerance for crazy that it took us awhile to realize this was an adverse effect of medication.

When I say manic I mean- staying out until all hours of the night with people she met online, wanting to quit her job and drive across the country to California, but mostly wanting to leave me on a daily basis. Some days she seriously only stayed for the cats. This was not her. I felt like I was living with a stranger and she knew that her wires were not connecting correctly. It took me a couple months of hell before I connected the dots. This all started around the time she added the other anti-depressant. She immediately stopped it and agreed to not make any major life decisions for two months.

I cried a lot. Because even though I knew this wasn’t her, it still was her saying awful things to me. If there was ever a time I thought we wouldn’t make it, that was it. I came home from work every day expecting her to be gone. I went to work every day expecting to get a phone call from a hospital in Idaho or something telling me they had her there. And by the end of that horrible summer I just wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep for a long time.

Her psychiatrist was less than nice when we went for her follow up and I explained that our relationship literally almost ended because of her mania which was clearly induced by the addition of the second antidepressant. He spoke to us like we were wasting his time and he didn’t think it was true mania because she hadn’t gone more than 3 days without sleep. I wanted to strangle him and told her she was finding a new psychiatrist. She didn’t disagree that he was an ass but she despises change so that was another battle.

Her new psychiatrist is a gem and has never made me feel likes I am unworthy of his time or energy. (My wife loves him too). I’ve been to exactly two of her appointments ever. One post-manic episode with old psychiatrist and the intake with the new one. I try to stay out of it because it’s not my treatment, it’s hers. But when she got manic and her judgment was impaired I had to insert myself a bit.

My wife gave me permission before I wrote this. Because this is all very intimate knowledge to have about someone. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned here. My wife and I went through something totally awful separately yet so intertwined. Her experience of being manic was terrifying for her because she felt out of control of herself. My experience of her being manic was horrifying because I was literally living with a stranger, but I knew she was in there somewhere. Then when we finally realized what was happening and went to the healthcare professional responsible for her we were completely invalidated and talked down to. I don’t think he was homophobic but I do feel he was sexist. Then we saw a second doctor who was the total opposite. I am so thankful for that experience and to have him in my wife’s life. Because he’s extremely validating and though he could prescribe her something with adverse effects his reaction would never be one of skepticism or condemnation.

Through my navigation of mental health with my wife I learned what it feels like to sit on the other side. It’s not comfortable. As a woman and as a lesbian I was terrified. I was scared for my wife, my relationship, and that we weren’t being treated fairly because of our gender and our sexual orientation.

I feel like a blog post can’t do justice to the level of emotional turmoil we both experienced that Summer. We don’t talk about it much because it’s painful for us both to remember. It was also incredibly isolating. Who do you tell that your wife is manic? What friend or family member could possibly understand what the hell that even looks like? You tell some one your wife has cancer (God forbid) and I’d get casseroles and offers to take her for treatment or something. But you mention mental illness and I just couldn’t predict the responses I would get so I didn’t tell anyone. I also didn’t want any of my friends or family to judge her. But that was years ago and I’m sick of stigma. Stigma against mental health, stigma against homosexuals, stigma against women. Everything. I’m sick of it.

So that’s our story. One summer of absolute pure and utter Hell due to an adverse reaction to medication. Complicated by an asshole provider followed by a provider sent from Heaven. It took her awhile to fully reconstitute and it took our relationship awhile to fully recover. I was scarred by her unpredictability and her apathy. When she came out of the fog I remember her crying and apologizing. I know she didn’t have control of herself but at the same time I was so angry for everything she put me through. It was a bizarre and conflicting set of emotions to walk around with. It took a lot of time to heal but we did.

When we moved recently we had to pack up our house. There was a bike in the garage. It was really expensive and it was during “manic-wife” phase. She became obsessed with the fact that she didn’t have a bike. She also didn’t want a cheap bike from Wal-Mart she wanted the name brand 600$ bike from the name brand store with a warranty. It made no sense because she never even rode bikes. Like ever. And after she bought it she only rode it maybe twice. It became the symbol of manic-wife and over time it got shoved to the back of the garage covered in crap. But it was unearthed during our move. We both kind of stared at it, and she was like “I should sell it,” and then there was this awkward silence as we both remembered the pain of that Summer and then I looked at her and said, “Listen if this is all that’s left of manic-wife I’m glad. Because it could have been a lot worse.”

It’s true. It could have been a hell of a lot worse. We brought the bike with us, and then my Dad asked if he could use it at his house. We said sure and we haven’t seen it since. All traces of manic-wife are now gone. The thing about mental illness is that we both know at any time she may rear her ugly head. But for now we take one day at a time and we are thankful for every day we make it through with each other. I am some one who lives with no regrets. I don’t regret that time period and I firmly believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

People who meet my wife for the first time assume she’s this kind compassionate little person. Which she is. But I’m always thinking in my head you have no idea what this woman has been through. She’s a survivor of growing up in a cult, being disowned by her family, embracing her identity as a lesbian, embracing me as her wife, and a survivor of a horrendous psychiatric episode. She’s so much more than what you see on the surface and what would have broken so many people just moved her forward into the woman she is today. She’s not perfect. I mean if she leaves her shoes and dirty socks directly inside the doorway where I step on them one more time I’m going to lose my mind…but she embodies the beauty of freedom. Freedom to be her own self at a great cost.

Stop the stigma.

Love you babe.

When Humans are Brought to Their Knees

Through my ten year career thus far in healthcare I’ve been around people who have been brought to their knees. It doesn’t happen often and when it does it is so powerful and emotional to witness that it becomes scarred into one’s memories. To see another human break whether from physical or emotional pain is in some ways indescribable.

I have seen the moment parent’s witness a physician call the time of death of their child. I’ve been the one doing compressions when the time of death is called. I’ve witnessed patients being given devastating diagnoses. I’ve seen people so crippled with pain from detox they literally fall to their knees in the hallway as they crawl from their rooms begging for relief. These moments are so overt in visceral agony that it is hard to bear witness to them.

It struck me recently though that these are not the most painful situations that come to mind if I think of the worst things I’ve seen.

What comes to mind is the look of defeat on a teenager’s face when her parent calls her a him throughout our session though they have been identifying as female for two years. The fear in the eyes of a young adult when they tell me they are gay and they haven’t come out to their parents because they know their parents will stop paying for college and kick them out of their home. It is the shaking hands of a client who came out to me as transgender terrified of rejection. It’s the hundreds of moments I have personally witnessed when LGBT teens and young people have been horribly invalidated, unaccepted, and in their own eyes unloved because of who they are.

What weighs on me day after day is the intolerance and the hatred facing so many youth in our country, in my state, and in my own town. The scary hatred in America is not just the neo-nazi assholes scattered about our country. The scary hatred is the nice middle class suburban families holding their children hostage through their financial and emotional dependence on them with no acceptance of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

The scary hatred is the “normal” families with children living in fear because of the intolerance in their own families.  Because they have to live with them on a daily basis. They have to live in fear of rejection every day, fear of emotional rejection, fear of homelessness.

It feels defeating to me sometimes because intolerance is so pervasive. It starts to feel like a heavy burden we are all carrying around. As an adult, confident in my own self and in my own skills professionally, it can still pull me down to face a homophobic family who doesn’t know I am married to a woman. It creates uncertainty and fear if I’m being honest. This is also why the religious freedom laws piss me off. So a religious person can say they don’t want to bake my wedding cake, but I as a lesbian have to treat every person who walks through my door because I am a healthcare provider.

I don’t treat homophobic people any differently than LGBT people. But it feels scary to sit with some one who doesn’t know who I am and who would potentially threaten me if they find out.

There is acute pain such as a sudden loss, and then there is the pain that grates at you, day after day. Every day being misgendered or every day having your parents try and set you up with boyfriends even though they know you are a lesbian or vice versa. Every day being told you are confused, it’s a phase, you’re evil, you’re going to Hell…

That kind of cruelty chips away at a person’s soul. It’s like slow torture. It’s quite possibly the most painful human experience I bear witness to.

To all the parents out there- it’s not a phase, they are not confused, and you won’t just bring your kid to their knees you will push them down a path into deep depression that can end in suicide. People don’t get up from suicide.

I don’t know how to fight this other than what I’m doing. I provide safe space for LGBT youth who are living in fear. I make sure they have lifelines in the event of suicidal thoughts. I talk and talk about the suicide rates and acceptance and love and I’m hoping maybe some day I will see news stories about the declining suicide rates in LGBT youth instead of the increasing rates. I will see news stories about families who love and support their children without discrimination. Unconditional love will be just that, unconditional.

On days when I want to fall to my knees from bearing witness to the fear, pain, and depression in youth the hope for acceptance keeps me going. Knowing I am raising two sons who will never know that fear of rejection also propels me forward. But it’s hard. It’s hard to be a minority because it is tiring in so many ways. I’m tired of the hatred and I’m tired of watching parents inflict pain onto their kids.

Create safe spaces for youth, be a lifeline and if you are a parent please just love your kids. If you are not LGBT don’t put your head in the sand. The nice suburban neighborhoods outside of the South and Midwest are filled with intolerant families. Don’t look the other way.

 

 

Mommy-ing

I remember seeing Into the Woods in theaters when I was about four months pregnant with the boys. The baker’s wife longs for a child, and they agree to help the witch break a spell in order to lift their curse of infertility. They lie, cheat, and steal essentially to get what they need. I remember being very hormonal at the time with memories of our infertility journey still quite fresh. I rested both my hands over my stomach protectively throughout the entire movie. I was moved to tears by their struggles because I could empathize with them.

There is a general view in society of women as weak and fragile, especially around pregnancy and children. I’ve had clients in my office at the age of 50 who have never had children for one reason or another and they are practically in mourning because of that emptiness from never conceiving.

Becoming a mother changed me. I never knew I could love some one so fiercely and be made so vulnerable by them so easily. Those boys simultaneously melt me and drive me insane. Every sleepless minute in that first year when I was so close to breaking down so many times I would remember the longing I had to be a mom and that would keep me going. I frequently just changed my mental state by remembering that hollow feeling I had every time we had a negative pregnancy test.

I’ve said it before and will say it again. Children of lesbian and gay couples are wanted. Yearned for. That doesn’t mean we all know how to be great parents. Because we are human. There are days I’m like just give me five minutes in the bathroom please. I came into my bedroom once and saw one of my sons twisting my 200.00$ pair of eyeglasses around and totally lost my shit. When the same son later bit my arm, hard enough to leave a bruise, I also lost my mind a bit. I placed him in timeout and walked away for a minute because I needed to not see him for a period of time. But then there are times when they talk to each other, and hug each other, and the first time I ask for a kiss and they come and kiss my cheek, or the times I nursed them and they would wrap their little arms around me in such serenity.

These mommy-ing moments make me and break me. Same for my wife.

It physically pains me to think of not seeing them or not speaking to them, or having them grow up and leave forever. That’s why woman to woman and mom to mom I’m talking to every woman who has disowned her gay or transgender kid. How the hell did you do it? I’m not asking out of judgement just frank curiosity. Because I literally could not imagine doing that. I can imagine setting limits with them as adults if there were things I didn’t agree with. For example if they were stealing from me or something wild like that, then I would set boundaries. To be clear I wouldn’t cut them out of my life, but I would take their house key or something. At the end of the day they’d still be my kid. I’d still think back to that emptiness that overwhelmed me while we were trying to conceive. Then I’d just melt.

It’s like in The Birdcage. Robin Williams tries telling his 20 year old son if he gets married he’s done with him. His son says okay dad, if that’s how you want it, and he goes to shake his hand and say good-bye. Robin Williams pulls him into this tight embrace and looks like he is smiling and crying, “You little fucker you called my bluff” . That scene is so powerful and has always stuck with me. They do an amazing job at portraying an unbreakable Father-Son bond. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how it would go with me and my sons if they ever came home with a bombshell like that. I’d talk tough but they would know that no matter what I’d pull them back into that embrace and just never let them go.

I’ve spoken to mom’s of all ages and when they hear my wife’s story of being disowned they all just get this look, I think it’s the pained Mama Bear look, like they are trying to imagine any one hurting their child in such a deep way and it pisses them off. Most of them just can’t fathom it. I’ve never talked to a mom who’s said, “Oh yeah I can totally see myself doing that to my kid.” It’s unimaginable on a visceral level.

When I became a Mom at some point during the first couple months I made a conscious decision. No more judging other parents. Because I realized how freaking hard it is to be a parent. Gay or straight parenting is hard. I have stuck by that decision and it has been so good for me. Passing judgement is easy but it’s not helpful for anyone. I’m trying very hard to not judge these decisions made by mothers but I’m also trying to understand them and that’s where I’m getting a little lost. Because I just don’t understand and no matter how much bible verse is quoted at me I still won’t understand.

Every child no matter her age yearns for love, acceptance, and approval from her parents. To every Mom who has disowned your child for their sexuality or gender identity. My heart aches for your child and for the unnecessary heartache you’ve brought upon you both. It’s never too late to reach out with acceptance and love. There are women who literally lose their minds because they are unable to be a mother. I know I almost did.

Being a Mom is more than just a gift or a blessing. It defines you in so many ways, and it tests you, and to just walk away from that because your kid wants to sleep with someone of the same gender is mind-blowing to me. There are so many worse things that could happen. Kids die. Mom’s are not made because they cannot conceive. Why would you not take every second you possibly can having a relationship with your child?

My children are like my oxygen and I struggle with not passing judgement. Every day. Because without them I literally wouldn’t want to breathe. And I would never willingly give up my relationship with them.

My “Homosexual Agenda”

I’ve always found it fascinating to hear the “homosexual agenda” (HA) referenced by individuals. I feel like it’s usually said with a touch of disdain, anger, and can be used to invoke fear among the more conservative leaning section of the population. Watch out for the homosexuals and their agenda! Like part of our agenda is to steal children and rape women or something.

I did some cursory research on the HA and came to find out that we do actually have a published Agenda. Who knew? Two Harvard educated gay men wrote After the Ball in 1989 and outlined the direction gay rights activists should take. What I got out of it is that they essentially wanted to normalize homosexual relationships in the mainstream media so that people would be more accepting. They demanded equal treatment instead of living in the shadows. They wanted to change the perception of the public to homosexuals being a minority and a victimized minority at that. They worked toward removing homosexuality as an illness from the DSM (diagnostical manual for psychiatric illnesses). They suggested ending the perception that homosexuality is subversive and evil and work toward acceptance. I found the following list on a conservative website that outlines what that author’s perceived goals of the HA are:

  • promote gay pride parades
  • demand non-discrimination laws
  • insist on homosexuals’ adoption of children
  • push the homosexual agenda in schools[2]
  • legalize various alternate forms of marriage (i.e. man and man, woman and woman, man and three women, woman and box turtle, man and sex toy)
  • demand public funding to deal with increased homosexual-related social problems
  • promote the transgender agenda
  • impose a large-scale loss of free speech
  • legalize homosexuality
  • ban counseling for kids confused by homosexual issues
  • attack churches

Most of this I don’t actually have a problem with. The loss of free speech seems a little whiney to me though. If by loss of free speech he is referencing the homosexuals demands to end hate talk against us then I agree. If by ending free speech it means I can walk into a room and not be called a dyke in a derogatory manner than I also agree. If by ending free speech it means that no one is allowed to feel or express themselves against homosexuality then I disagree. No one is telling anyone that they can’t have their beliefs. But just like you would be offended if my wife and I had sex in front of you, I would be offended if you demeaned my family in front of me. I also am not down with the attack churches statement. That doesn’t make sense to me. Churches can do what they want to do and believe what they want to believe. If their beliefs are forced on people that’s a problem. If their beliefs cause pain to a member the member should be free to leave without guilt or fear of reproach. Counseling should be readily available to children struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. The counseling should be neutral, and not trying to sway the child any particular way. A counselor’s job should never to be to tell a child he or she is gay or not gay, transgender or not transgender. A counselor should be a support and objective guide on his or her journey.

Gay pride parades are fun. Don’t watch if you find them offensive. Just like I don’t watch when there are pro-life rallies.

Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero of mine. I love his writings. He developed an amazing agenda for African American’s in the 60’s during the Civil Rights Movement. Without an agenda how can a minority make any advances in a society that is continually pushing them down.

I always said my agenda is just to live with my wife and kids, and be normal and happy. In a nutshell that apparently is the HA. But according to our opponents by seeking normalcy as an American family we are infringing on other people’s rights and freedoms.  By seeking acceptance as a normal family we are promoting a lifestyle that is so sinful and so evil it is causing other people to say we are limiting their freedom of speech. By seeking equality in the workplace and by hoping to buy a wedding cake at the bakery we like without being turned away because it’s a gay wedding we are stepping on other people’s rights. It’s taken me some time and a lot of reading to wrap my head around the other side’s case. And what I’ve taken away is that I wholeheartedly and respectfully disagree.

Because I still want my children to be treated the same as other children. I want the same rights given to every other tax payer. I always think of Bad Boys 2 when Martin Lawrence screams at Guantanamo “Don’t shoot! We are Americans! I pay my motherfucking taxes!” That’s essentially how I feel every time I see anti-LGBT legislation put forth and/or passed. Why is my money good enough for this government but not my family? If my family is so evil then isn’t our money tainted? You really want gay money funding the military? Won’t that just gay it up? What about the repairs at the White House? Careful it might be taken out of the taxes from those lesbians…don’t paint anymore gay up in here!

I found this on the department of treasury website. “The signers of the Declaration of Independence set out to establish a new form of government for the “protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. To this end, the framers of our constitution enumerated the proper fiscal functions of government as “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States”.” The government was formed to protect my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. But according to some, only certain lives and liberties and happiness should be protected.

The argument from the right is religious in nature, and I firmly believe in the separation of Church and state; that’s on the top reasons our country was founded. The government should not be utilizing religious arguments to combat the HA. And religious entities should get themselves back on their pulpits and out of the government.

To my conservative compatriots I agree that we as a gay community have an Agenda. Sorry it took me some time to realize what it was. But I get it now. I disagree that I am looking to take away any of your freedoms. But if by vilifying homophobia and discriminatory acts as hate crimes you feel that impedes on your freedoms then we are at a stalemate. If by wanting my family accepted as normal that tramples your freedoms then allow me to sigh and shake my head and gather my thoughts. We are not going away. We pay our taxes, and as a citizen of these United States we are going to continue to demand full protection for our welfare just like every other citizen. Every time you talk about the HA maybe take a step back and recognize that you are talking about normal people and children who are just wanting to live in peace. Our Agenda is not scary, it is beautiful, it’s called the American Dream.

 

Angry Dyke.

When I first started dating my wife I was young. It started as a one night stand. I was single, happy, and venturing out into my twenties. At first our relationship was fun and games. The “honeymoon period” is a real thing. Then after about a year I remembered that I am straight and the reality of being in a same sex relationship started sinking in. It didn’t go well for awhile after that.

I remember feeling angry. I was angry that I was in love with her, I was angry that I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I was angry that I wasn’t a “real” lesbian and she was, and I had it so easy with my family and she didn’t. I was angry that I was straight but fell in love with a woman. I was angry that I already knew what discrimination feels like just from being related to a lesbian. I was angry that I couldn’t just have sex with my husband if I wanted kids. That was a big one. I could not wrap my mind around the whole how a lesbian gets pregnant situation. I was mad that no one told me to walk away from her. This sounds very petty and childish but in the moment it’s so intense.

I sort of forgot all of this until I started seeing more and more young adult LGBT clients at my mental health practice. They are all angry. Transgender clients are angry that they are in the wrong body, that they face discrimination, that no one truly understands and everyone asks about their genitals (note to reader don’t do that!). Young lesbian and gay clients are angry that they are gay. They are angry that they are forced into this lifestyle that they don’t necessarily want. They are angry they had to fight with their schools to bring a date of the same gender to prom. They are angry that they have faced verbal and physical violence from peers and/or parents and/or strangers.

At the core of their anger is absolute and utter fear.

Thinking back I recognize that underneath my anger was so much fear. Fear of being a minority. Fear of discrimination. Fear of fertility. Fear of living my life with my wife but also finding it physically painful to imagine my life without her.

It was no picnic for my wife either. She was living with this mess of a human being who one day was firm and solid in her commitment to the relationship and the next day was sobbing because she wanted this whole lesbian relationship to just go away.

People who met me after my wife and I got married just assumed I’m a lesbian. It’s just too freaking hard to explain that actually I identify as heterosexual but happened to fall in love with a woman. People are into labels and our relationship defies labels. I am not bisexual, I am not gay, and obviously I’m not totally straight. I prefer to think of myself as beautifully and happily curved.

For me there was anger for a multitude of reasons. For every LGBT youth who firmly identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender- and for the occasional straight person who finds themselves in love with the same gender- there will be anger. There will be days and moments of pure anguish. I’ve lived it personally and I’ve observed it professionally. Being a minority is hard. Being a minority in a country half full of homophobic individuals is harder. Coming to terms with one’s identity at the age of 18-22 is a normal occurrence, but what about when your identity doesn’t fit with society’s heteronormative culture? So many LGBT young adults become stagnant- they can’t finish college, they can’t hold a job, because developing into a young adult is freaking difficult. Developing into an LGBT young adult is beyond difficult.

It puts every friendship and every singly family member’s relationship on the line. It affects career choices and geographical choices for living. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, coming to terms with one’s own Queer identity will make you or break you.

If you are a family member of some one who is grasping and clawing their way through this journey please reach out to them in any way you can. Let them know their life is valued, let them know that though there are more and more anti-LGBT laws being put forth that you want them to live and you want them to be part of your life. Be a lifeline. Because we all need one.

In the depths of my anger and sadness and fear my lifeline was my wife, my friends, and my family. I got to go through my struggles with only my own judgement, no one else’s. Every one else encouraged me to stop being angry and be grateful I found love. The love is love platitude made me want to vomit though. Because love is love, but it was making my life more difficult.

Don’t dismiss a person’s anger because it generally is a cover for fear. We do have much to fear.

Looking back I regret nothing. Because I love my life and I love my family. But the journey from there to here was intense in so many ways. To anyone gasping for air through your anger and fear- it gets better. But it takes a lot of work.

And to any LGBT individuals who fall in love with a person who identifies as heterosexual but is potentially moving toward “beautifully curved”……gear up, you’re in for a wild ride.

(My cat is not a dyke. She loves boys. But she’s got the angry look nailed)