#COVID-19 · politics

COVID-19. Journal Entry 20? My cat died & Silver Linings.

It’s been a rough couple weeks. We had to put one of my cats down. Rajha. I had her for 15 years. She was my baby. Maddy’s my baby too, but Maddy’s my baby in a moody teenager way. Like when she snuggles with you it feels really special because most of the time she just ignores me. Rajha was the opposite. I wanted space from her sometimes. A lot of the time.

She was glued to my side, legs, head, arms…whatever appendage of mine she could be touching. She liked to lick. She liked to be held. She liked to cause trouble. She was my lap cat. She started to suffer though with Lymphoma. So we had to make the decision.

There have been a few silver linings of this pandemic. The one I will be most grateful for is being home with Raj the last months of her life. She was diagnosed the last week of face to face sessions for me. The following week started our stay at home orders. She passed last weekend. So for three months we got to give her unlimited time and attention.

It’s been such a blessing to be with her so much. It also made our decision at the end come much easier because we had seen the decline, and we saw when she started to suffer.

It wasn’t fun telling my sons that she died. They quickly put her “up in the sky” with Poppy, Binx (My mom’s cat who died), and “That lady who’s not your mom but like your mom…” (My Nana their great grandma). Later that night Jackson sobbed “She’s really gone,” and it was possibly the most heart breaking moment we’ve experienced so far as parents.

Around the same time we were told the daycare we’ve been on a waitlist for has openings. Due to the pandemic many children are not going back to their previously preschool or daycare. So we made another tough decision to have them start going back to preschool in July to a new school. Ultimately we think it will be best but another transition for them and for us.

Meanwhile I attended my first post-COVID funeral. I had to make black masks because I couldn’t go to a funeral in my Harry Potter mask. Masks for all occasions are going to be a thing I think. There was no singing. It was a huge church so there was space to social distance. We all wore masks. It was surreal. And hot. And sad.

There is so much anxiety around changes and the pandemic has forced transitions into many of our lives. The BLM movement is taking hold and it has given me such hope to hear all my young clients talking about it and engaging with it and going to protests and marches. Patient’s of mine of all ethnicities and demographics are talking about change and talking about privilege and they are all young. So young. I am proud of them all because I don’t think I was talking about this at age 15.

They ask me hard questions. They talk to me when they can’t talk to their parents who may be more conservative or racist. I had already been thinking and reading and doing and all these young people have made me question more. Think harder. Read more. Do more. Be better. It’s another silver lining.

There were hard days for me in the last few weeks. I grieve my cat. I grieve “normal”. But I am incredibly grateful for these last months with Rajha. I am grateful for all the telehealth sessions I did with her on my lap. I am grateful that she got to virtually meet so many of my young clients who have given me such hope for our future. I am grateful at a time of movement for social justice I am not limited to my own thoughts and beliefs. That I am pushed and prodded by my clients in so many ways.

I had one client tell me they hate #45 and they hate that they know people who support him. I responded that I am incredibly grateful for #45. He allowed me to clean out my friend list on FB easily. He allows me to know who is an actual ally to the Queer community and to me as a person because any one who supports him is not my ally and certainly not my friend. He is so decisive and so hateful that to support him allows me to check those people straight out of my life and to not always wonder if people are actually supporters of the Queer community or are just too polite to say otherwise in front of me.

He’s not polite and neither are his supporters. And I like it. I’m direct. I like to know where people stand. I can still be friends with people who are pro-life and I can still be friends with people are religious or have different beliefs. But I cannot be friends with people who support him because he supports white supremacy. He supports trans-phobia and he condones violence against minorities. His administration is so homophobic that to support them is to explicitly be against my people.

So yes. I am grateful for this moment in time because it takes the guesswork out of everything for me.

But I digress.┬áThese past weeks have felt heavy with grief. They have felt heavy with adulting in so many ways. But the one silver lining of Rajha’s death was Maddy sleeping on my pillow that night and snuggling against my head. She has never done that. In the 15.5 years that I’ve had her.

If you look for silver linings they are all around us. These are chaotic and scary times full of change. But change is needed in our dysfunctional America. Change is coming and if my young clients are any indication…change is already here.

Rest in Peace Rajha. 06/20/2020.

696E5784-30F8-4173-BBD9-5BB72A0F21F9

 

homophobia

Why I Don’t Respond to People Studying Queer People.

It’s tiring being a minority. Especially during four years of a homophobic and transphobic administration which emboldens people to discriminate. Especially during a time when heterosexual-cis-white people are waking to the fact that racism, homophobia, and transphobia actively exist.

I was talking to my best friend. Also a lesbian. I was saying how researchers will some times sneak into lesbian groups I’m in or post in therapist groups about the latest research they are doing about Queer parents, lesbian mom’s, etc. etc. They are usually seeking information about our “experience” of getting pregnant, giving birth, raising kids.

I was saying to my friend that these posts and queries irk me. I couldn’t pinpoint why at the moment. My friend, in her way, was like “Well then don’t respond,” shrug. I was like well duh I don’t. But I also don’t want to see those posts. I don’t want people researching me/us/lesbians/Queers. She was like why not? I think it’s good.

I had difficulty putting it into words at the time. The way the research questions are phrased usually indicate that we, as Queer people, had different experiences from heterosexual people. And I’m thinking. Uh yeah. Duh. We did have different experiences because we have to worry about discrimination. All. The. Time.

We worry about it when we look for a fertility doctor. We worry about it when we order sperm. We worry about it when we get all the stupid tests done in order to even try to get pregnant. We worry about it when we have to deal with our insurance companies. We worry about it when we have to figure out if we should do a second parent adoption. We do. We still do. Because there are cases (in Texas and other states) where non-bio Mom’s lose their children to bio Mom’s and/or bio Mom’s family because the non-bio mom has “no legal claim” to the children.

We worry about raising kids in a Queer family and if we will cause some long lasting mental damage to them by subjecting them to homophobia and Queer Family-phobia. I don’t know one lesbian or woman in a lesbian relationship while pregnant who did not get asked some fucked up question about how they got pregnant. Often by a healthcare professional or family member. Those people we are all supposed to trust most.

To do a study looking at the Queer experience of any aspect to the child conceiving, child bearing, and child raising process…seems insulting? Redundant? What are you looking for? Usually you are looking for some shock factor. Some homophobia. You are using my lived experience and my emotional hurt to what…teach? To profit off of?

I feel the Queer community could be saved these potentially re-traumatizing experiences. Just accept that it’s been hard for anyone who identifies under the Queer umbrella. Accept that homophobia and transphobia exists and is rampant in our society.

Don’t ask me to share my experience so you can get some emotional experience from me recounting homophobia. Don’t ask me to share my experience for you to profit off of.

Guess when I share my story? I share my story with Queer youths who are struggling with their identity. Who fear they will never be “normal”. I share it with young adults in their first lesbian relationship struggling with how to tell their parents. I share it with Queer people who have a shared experience who want to feel a connection and hope that they have a community bigger than themselves. That there are people out there who are living the life they are dreaming of in the closet.

We don’t need research papers for that. Why don’t you start researching straight people and their attitudes toward minorities? Why not make them do the work instead of counting on us to provide it all.

Yes I feel salty about it. Not all Queers do. Which is fine. You do you. As for me. I’ll not be participating in any studies trying to identify the Queer experience. I’ll just tell you straight up (pun intended)…we are discriminated against.

Some one some time said something horrible that made us question the decision to have children. We had children. Some one some time said something horrible right after they were born. We agonized over doing a second parent adoption. Then we scoured google to find a non-homophobic attorney.

We parent just like hetero’s. Our kids are the same as all other kids except this morning when one of my 4 year olds yelled at his brother, “I’m bringing it to the Mom’s!” Aside from being able to mention his parents in plural he is exactly the same as other 4 year olds.

Some one some time told us we shouldn’t parent kids without a Father and we would both go to Hell.

Some one some time told us we are not a real family because we are two women.

Some one some time side-eyed us and we feared for our safety with our children.

Some one some time denied us service for goods and we had to deal with that in front of our children.

We’ve been told not to take our children to Pride events due to concerns for their safety.

We’ve been questioned as to the validity of our relationship to our children by healthcare providers who want to know who the “real” mom is.

Then after all this hatred and discrimination we experience we find a safe space in lesbian mom groups and mental health spaces and we are bombarded by people who want to study us.

These are all shared experiences of all Queer parents. I promise you. You don’t need to study us. You need to study the hatred perpetrated against us. You need to spread acceptance toward us. You need to stop depending on Queer individuals sharing our experiences of homophobia to show that homophobia exists. It exists.

 

 

 

 

 

#COVID-19 · homophobia

COVID Week 12?! Queer Black Lives Matter.

Everyone talked about the protests and the murders the past two weeks. From my ten year olds to my fifty year olds. The Mom’s, Dad’s, children, teens, white, Black, gay, straight…every one. We shifted from being inundated with COVID information to being inundated with who in our social media outed themselves as racist this week.

Have you ever had to look into the eyes of a young Black boy and watch as they cry because they are scared they will be murdered?

Because I have. More than once.

I didn’t realize the number of Black individuals I have on my caseload until the world fell apart over the last few weeks. It’s weird to be a white provider asking my Black clients how they have been coping knowing that I have little to no idea what it is like to wear my minority status on my skin.

I have a complicated relationship with the African American community as a lesbian.

I’ve had many conservative families over the years who do not follow up with me when they realize I am married to a woman. Many of whom were Black. I’ve had friends who are Jamaican and Haitian and they have been very up front with the fact that I would not be acceptable to their parents.

There also seems to be a general skepticism toward mental health among certain parts of the Black community that is around me geographically. I’ve had parents tear me apart because they are angry at my recommendation for their depressed child to take anti-depressants.

I’ve also taken care of many Black Queers and trans individuals who have been disowned because their family is not accepting of their “lifestyle.”

I’m sure you can imagine all of these experiences have led me to have a complicated relationship with the Black community in my area.

Because 1- I am a mental health provider. 2- I am Queer. 3- I am white. 4- I am not religious.

All four of those things together make relationships with certain Black clients and friends in my personal life…complicated.

When I hear Black Lives Matter I think of my young Black clients who are beautiful and some times geeky, and fun, and some of whom I’ve treated for more than five years now. I think that I can’t imagine the world without them and it hurts my heart to think their lives are endangered just by existing in their skin.

But sometimes when I hear Black Lives Matter I instinctively think; Queer Black Lives Matter too.

Martin Luther King Jr is one of my personal heroes. His written works are scattered around my house and I am always down to watch a documentary about MLK. At some point over the years I learned about Bayard Rustin. A “close advisor” to MLK. He was gay. He had a husband of over 20 years. He is not well known and I did not learn about him in history class. Ever.

MLK was known to have to multiple affairs. They both were incredibly intelligent and eloquent. Yet one of them is a legend and one is barely known. One had a long term monogamous relationship, and one had multiple affairs during his marriage. But the affairs were overlooked because MLK was heterosexual. Rustin is not a legend because he was gay.

I think I feel a certain type of way because when I hear Black Lives Matter I wonder if the people saying it truly believe all Black Lives Matter. Queer Black lives too. Because I’ve had experiences that have told me otherwise.

I challenge myself to do the work of white privilege and all that affords me. Because I do benefit from being white. I do not know the fears of having a Black son as I have two white sons.

I am a minority so I do have experiences of being discriminated against due to being a lesbian.

I am encouraged by this new generation of people. My young Black and white children talking about protests. Attending protests. Speaking out and engaging in mental healthcare…it provides me hope. Hope that there is a generation of people who will agree that all Black Lives matter. Not just heterosexual Black Lives. But Queer & Trans Black Lives Matter too.

These past weeks have been emotionally draining in so many ways. I cannot imagine the emotions running through the Black community if white me on the periphery has been feeling this drained.

I do know that I’ve looked into the eyes of people as they cry with fear and anger. A fear and anger that can only be felt by walking the shoes daily from birth as a minority. I know I’ve done this through screens because of a damn pandemic that just keeps marching on.

I know I’ve heard from Black women that they have been raped and not taken seriously by police. I’ve heard from Black men that they have been told to put stuffed animals in the back of their car and a carseat to make it seem like they have children because it may make a police officer view them differently when pulled over if they think they are a Father. I’ve met with Black boys who are literally some of my favorite people on my caseload and felt absolute grief and horror that their lives are endangered and if they become a hashtag I would be…I cannot put into words what I would be. Grief. Anger. Tears.

So you can hopefully see through my ramblings why one Queer woman has a complicated relationship with the slogan Black Lives Matter. I fervently believe white supremacy exists. I absolutely have benefited from this system and actively work to educate myself and challenge my own beliefs and life and educate my sons to not become more products of a white system.

But I also know Queerness. I also know homophobia and transphobia runs rampant in all communities Black and white. So when I say Black Lives Matter I mean ALL Black Lives Matter. I mean Queer Black lives are BEAUTIFUL and WORTHY.

Yeah I went all caps with that. You know I just yelled it.

I’m watching Douglas. Gadsby is great at yelling and I imagine half her show to be all caps.

I don’t think there’s a great way to wrap this up. Sometimes we just have to sit with the tension I’ve created for you. I’ve been sitting with it for two weeks and struggled with how to write about it. So I’m not going to wrap it up nicely for you. I’ll leave you with it. Ask yourself. Do you mean all Black Lives Matter? Or just the straight ones?

 

*** I am very aware that the BLM movement was created in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the murderer of Trayvon Martin. I’m aware part of their tagline is that they value Trans Black Lives. I’m not questioning the literal movement of BLM. I’m questioning each individual who utilizes that slogan. As my own personal experiences have shown me that not all people are accepting of Queer people of any race or ethnicity.