Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Holidays Part by E

HAPPY NEW YEARS BLOG-O-SPHERE!! Last week I talked about Christmas and how bitter I tend to get during Christmas time.  Well now it's New Years Eve, one of my favorite holidays and I'm SOOO excited to get to celebrate this holiday!  New Years is the time when quickly-broken resolutions are made, when people say good bye to the old them and hello to the newer-but-still-old them.  It's a time for drinking, eating, dancing and partying, a time of joy and happiness.  This is a great holiday, my own little mid-Winter's celebration!  In one week I will be living 7 hours away from where I am now and I'm hoping to make this last holiday in Small Town, UT, a great one! *lifts drink* here's to you Blog-O-Sphere, all those who read and/or write here in this Breaking the Silence blog, to those who think the are alone and will (hopefully) soon realize that they are not, to those who want to make new decisions and choices, to those who are stronger than they realize.  Here's to you and your wonderful self.  Love it, enjoy it, be it, do what is necessary to live true to you.

Me, I'll be living somewhere new, making new friends and connections and learning new things and it is my hope that I will end 2014 in a better place emotionally, maybe off a few of my meds in a good way ;) It is my hope that I will have a chance with someone who makes my blood sing, someone who makes me feel the way Coffee Shop Guy and High School Crush do.  It is my hope that I will still be my same clothing size.  It is my hope that the world will be a better place and that marriage equality will have taken a majority, if not all, of the states by storm.  It is my hope that suicides and rapes will be down, and happy relationships up.  It is my hope that everyone will live for hope, strive for it and make it their goal to never be hopeless.

To a happy 2014 and a great life! *glug*

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013: A Year of Celebration

I have returned! Sorry I disappeared there for a couple weeks, with the holidays and all, things just became sort of a blur. OK, that also may have been the brandy egg nog…

Anyway, being that this is my last rant of the year here, I thought we’d look back at some of major victories we’ve had in the Movement in 2013.

Wedding Bells Are Ringing
Yes, the biggest news of the year has been on the front of marriage equality! In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued two decisions that turned the tide in our favor. First, they struck down Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act, finally granting Federal recognition to the marriages performed in those states which have equality. The Court didn’t strike down the whole Act, but they kicked open the floodgates a bit.

The second decision of the Court was to remand the decision of the Prop 8 case to the district court, allowing that court’s judgment to stand. The fight over marriage equality in California has been one of the longest yet and after five years, the battle is over with a victory for our side.

On the state level, things have been picking up steam as well; eight more states now have marriage equality. Utah’s has been the most surprising, coming from the state court decision Kitchen v. Herbert. In that case, the judge struck down Utah’s state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. As of now, the judge’s ruling stands. If it stands, there is no reason for other state’s constitutional amendments to hold up under judicial scrutiny.

ENDA Advances
Another long time battle has been with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994. In November, it passed the Senate for the first time, advancing it to the House.

Being that the House is more conservative leaning than the Senate, the bill may stall there. But after nearly twenty years, it’s nice to finally make some serious advancement for employee protection.

California’s AB1266
California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1266 into law earlier this year, making it the first bill in the nation to offer Trans* students protection in the state’s public school system. The bill protects students’ gender identity from discrimination in school facilities, classes, or extracurricular activities.

The opposition has tried to derail the bill, using their tried and true scare tactics, but as of this writing, their efforts have failed and the bill goes into effect in January.

New Jersey Bans “Pray Away the Gay”
Following California’s lead last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law banning conversion therapy (“Pray Away the Gay”) for minors. Most of us in the Community have either experienced such “therapy” ourselves or have at least read the stories of our brothers and sisters who went through it. The “therapy” is pure junk science with no basis in reality or even success rates. Now Gov. Christie has offered our young brothers and sisters’ protection from this form of psychological brutality.

Hopefully more states will follow soon.

It has been an incredible year for us in the area of equality, we have scored several major victories and the opposition is on the run (NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, reported major deficits in fundraising this year).

Let’s take the momentum and keep running. Maybe in 2014, we will reach that final mountaintop and finally be equal citizens.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Miracle in Utah by E

My home town in is Utah, even though I'm not right now, and I am so happy that marriage equality has, unexpectedly, reached that state.  There has been so much controversy over the last few days about all of it and because of my meds (hooray anti-depressants!!) I'm only feeling true emotion in short bursts.  When those bursts do hit I feel so happy that, if I wanted to, I could marry the woman of my dreams in my hometown and it would be just as legal as if I had married the man of my dreams.

If you enjoy reading law journals, which I do when it's about something awesome, I suggest you read this article, published in Michigan Law Review in June of 2012 about the constitutional basis for keeping your marriage intact when you move from a state that supports marriage equality to one that doesn't. I am hoping that it will be lawyers like this author, cases like the ones the brought down Utah's Amendment 3 and DOMA, and people like myself and my family that will bring marriage equality to the federal level.

I personally am not planning on getting married unless I'm going to bring children into the equation, but should I decide to get married, I want to do so without the fear of having my union nullified only because I love, and want to start a family with, a woman. I want to be able to look into my love's eyes and tell her that our love is now recognized by the law and that nothing can keep us apart; we are now family and connected legally to each other.

I have friends and family who do not believe in marriage equality and that leaves me at a crossroads: do I unfriend them on Facebook and ignore them in the real world, or do I just shrug and say "oh well"? The fighter in me wants to tear these people apart and say, "YOU LOVE ME BUT YOU DON'T THINK I SHOULD BE ABLE TO MARRY THE LOVE OF MY LIFE AND HAVE THE SAME PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW THAT YOU DO?!!" I want to show them the hundreds of pictures coming out (teehee) of the great state of Utah that show how happy the couples are; the tears and kisses and hugs and dedication! I want to show them all of the legal precedence that has been laid. I want to show them that they are on the wrong side of history, that they are anti-freedom and anti-love, they will be viewed by their grandchild the same way we view racists of the '60's and '70's.  But the pacifist in me knows that I won't change their minds and quicker or easier than they will change mine.

This weekend has been a crazy one and the coming weeks, as this legal battle develops, will be even crazier.  Until then, this is a holiday miracle that will not be forgotten: same-sex couples were able to marry in Utah!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Sense of Self by E

What is a sense of self and when do you know that you have it?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here, but I have depression.  I am not depressed, I am not my disease.  And that is what this is, a disease, an illness, the mental equivalent of the flu. Except there is no vaccine.  I see a therapist for talk therapy and a psychiatrist for medications and both agree that one of the big roots of my depression is my lack of a solid sense of self and values.  Okay, well how do I get that?  Where do I go within myself, or without, that will help get a sense of self?

Two big aspects of self and values, for me any way, are sexulity and belief of what lies beyond.  I don’t have solid thoughts on either of those.  I like men and women, but up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was gay, that I’d never sleep with another man after my ex-fiance. But lo and behold, I am currently sleeping with Cowboy, crushing on Coffeeshop Guy and going on dates with Mormon Boy; ALL MEN! I don’t have any women in my line up right now and that is weird for me because I really want a girlfriend.  On the other hand I love having sex with men.

My therapist thinks that the human body gets depression when something is wrong; wrong relationship, wrong sense of self, wrong program in school, wrong roommates, wrong town, wrong religion.  He also thinks that everything in life is fluid and rarely stays the same.  And that goes for sexuality as well.  Combining those two thoughts, maybe my bisexuality was trying to save me from getting married, something that was wrong for me, by completely turning me off to guys for a while and once I was clear of marriage, I reverted back to being bi?

There are a lot of different kinds of sexuality and the two that I’m trying to decide between are pansexual and bisexual.  I don’t quite understand the difference between the two.  I’ve heard many definitions and they don’t make a lot of sense to me.  From what I’ve heard, pan is being able to love and be attracted to and connect with all people regardless of physical sex and gender identity, where bi is able to love and be attracted to and connect with men and women.  Yeah, I don’t see a difference, but oh well.

I think one thing that I need work on in order to build my value system is to say “no” when my guts tell me to.  I talk big about following your instincts, that they know best and will help you more than any advice you could get from anyone, but I don’t do it myself.

Isn’t that another part of depression, not following your values? I think that is what I’m going to work on next, but how do I do that? Suggestions please :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Pieces of Me by E

If I ever had all the pieces of me, I don't have them now
I don't know where they are or who has them
Maybe I still have them, how to put them back together
Maybe someone else has them, how do I get them back

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Film at 11

In ten years of being an activist, I’ve gotten my fair share of press coverage, nothing national, but I’ve been in the local papers more than a few times and I’ve been on the local news a time or two. When I was away at college in Terre Haute at Indiana State University, it wasn’t really a big deal, but when I returned to my hometown after I graduated, I nearly caused a family panic.

It was back in March, there was a demonstration down in Indianapolis at the Statehouse, the Supreme Court was hearing the oral arguments in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, so the community in Indy joined in solidarity across the nation to show our support for marriage equality.

I drove in with my boyfriend at the time, who was a bit nervous since he had never been a demonstration before. I assured him we would be fine, I’ve never had any trouble protesting in Indianapolis. We drove down to the protest site, signs in the back and some good activist music playing on the car stereo.

We got there, unloaded the signs and stood tall, we were amongst friends, several fellow cast members from our local Rocky Horror show were there, there was a couple guys from Terre Haute, and even a few of my old camp staff buddies had shown up to show their support and solidarity.

As the demonstration progressed, my boyfriend and I were tapped to hold this giant rainbow flag on the steps of the capitol building as the speeches rolled on. We stood up there with the others, holding the colors proudly as one speaker after another spoke on the bullhorn about the fight in the Supreme Court and what it meant for all of us.

Well the scheduled speakers finished up and the young lady running the demonstration looked around and said, “Does anybody else have a few words?”

The guys from the Rocky cast were looking at me, my old camp staff buddies had that little grin on their face, my boyfriend was smiling, and of course, my buddies from Terre Haute were egging me on a bit.

So I walked up and took the bullhorn, my blood pumping with that righteous anger familiar to all activists, I started rattling off about our birthrights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the progress of the movement, how we were seeing the beginnings of the last struggle, all that sort of thing. I finished up by getting the crowd in a good chant and then stepped back to the flag.

The demonstration wrapped up, we packed up our signs, drove home and went our separate ways. It had been a good evening, pretty good turnout at the statehouse, good speeches from the schedule speakers, and it always feels good when old friends share the picket line with you.

I was at work the next day, ringing up sodas, lottery tickets, and gas when this lady comes up to the counter. She was one of our regular lottery customers and she looks at me and says, “Hey, I saw you on the news last night.”

I got confused for a minute, thinking maybe she mistook me for someone else, so I replied “Really? What was going on?”

She got excited and said, “It was some rally downtown. I told my husband, ‘I know that guy! That’s the guy from the gas station!’”

I handed her the usual lottery tickets and wished her the best of luck. I didn’t think much about being told I was on the news, I thought it was kind of funny that I had been out of action for nearly a year and the first demonstration I show up at, I end up on TV. Still, it didn’t seem all together unusual.

Then I got home from work.

My mother called me in a near panic, “You better thank God that your grandfather no longer watches the local news!” Apparently she had caught the piece on Channel 6 where they used my fiery improv speech as their introduction to the story.

“Son, I didn’t care when you did that sort of thing in Terre Haute, we don’t have family out there, but the last thing your eighty year old conservative grandfather needs to see is you draped in a rainbow flag and holding a bullhorn on the local news.”

She was right, it would have been a nasty shock; my mother has accepted my sexuality, even if she doesn’t always understand my hellfire activism. The other members of the family? Well most of them don’t know about my sexuality and as far as the hellfire activism, yeah they’re a bit in the dark about that too.

My grandfather didn’t see the news story, but I’m pretty sure my Uncle Bill did since he hasn’t really spoken to me since.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Traditions by E

As the holidays as upon us I find myself pining for traditions that have nothing to do with Christianity.  This is something I have been feeling for some time.  When I left the Mormon church, I also rejected most of the traditions and holidays that revolved around it; I didn’t want to be associated with it anymore.  But it left me wondering, “What am I now?” I don’t want to be a cultural Mormon, I’m still too close to my leaving to be able to do that and be happy, I’m still too bitter.  I also resent being American, I feel like there is too much blood and shame in the history to be proud of that heritage.

I have been exploring religions, reading up on different kinds, taking quizzes that ask about my personal beliefs and so far I have been attracted to Unitarian Univeralism, Secular Humanism, and Neo-Paganism.  What I am looking for something in a religion, or belief system, is a group of people, close knit with a sense of community, that believes in something.  A group that shares traditions, that celebrates things together.  I would prefer a group that celebrates the changing of the seasons, like Paganism, or a group that celebrates scientists and scientific achievements.

Why is this important to me?  Why is this something that I have been investigating so heavily? Why do I have such a strong desire to define myself, even if by someone elses terms? Is it a desire to find a group that identifies the same way I do? That is plausible.  I wish that I wasn’t leaving the area that I was in.  I love the nature, the trails through the mountains and the way the summer is.  I like the people...kinda.  I would love to make more connections, investigate UU or some of the Pagan groups.  I would love even more to become a member of the Mounted Posse.

The more I think about it, the more I think that is right: I’m just craving connection, a group, my herd.  I’m even more excited to move to Wyoming now, if only to start to build more connections. I’ll miss the few connections that I have here in Small Town.  I’ll miss my bio family and my family-of-choice and my coworkers and my friends.  But I’ll have a chance to make new friends. And that is exciting.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"The Giving Tree" Poem

With Thanksgiving just passing I wanted so share one of my favorite poems. 

Once there was a tree....
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree....
very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, "Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy."
"I am too big to climb and play" said
the boy.
"I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?"
"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I
have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy."
And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time....
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, "Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy."
"I am too busy to climb trees," said the boy.
"I want a house to keep me warm," he said.
"I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house ?"
" I have no house," said the tree.
"The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a
house. Then you will be happy."

And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
"Come, Boy," she whispered,
"come and play."
"I am too old and sad to play,"
said the boy.
"I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?"
"Cut down my trunk
and make a boat," said the tree.
"Then you can sail away...
and be happy."
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
... but not really.

And after a long time
the boy came back again.
"I am sorry, Boy,"
said the tree," but I have nothing
left to give you -
My apples are gone."
"My teeth are too weak
for apples," said the boy.
"My branches are gone,"
said the tree. " You
cannot swing on them - "
"I am too old to swing
on branches," said the boy.
"My trunk is gone, " said the tree.
"You cannot climb - "
"I am too tired to climb" said the boy.
"I am sorry," sighed the tree.
"I wish that I could give you something....
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy.
"just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
"well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

Let us all keep gratitude in our hearts as we approach this wonderful Christmas season.