Category Archives: Pride

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

rainbowphoenix Well, in another example of how the world shifts and tilts upon occasion, I was thrown for such a loop I landed keister up, arms and legs akimbo. (If you can picture this without thinking it out, you’re my type of person.)

My last two posts have been dismal, but the best I could do in a world full of disaster, hatred, and animosity.  I’m sure you know the feeling, and if you don’t, please read my last two posts. The Pulse massacre exploded into my consciousness and took over, quickly becoming the reference point in my life; the thing around which every word and action were measured for safety, concern, and ability to cope. If my life were a movie, it would have been the opposite of The Wizard of Oz. I stepped from a wondrous world full of the brilliant colors of the rainbow to the sepia tones of severe depression.

And part of that depression was knowing that there’s a faction of my family that passionately believes because I am a lesbian I am doomed to an eternity in hell unless I repent of my sin and embrace their version of God. I’ve tried to let their judgmental bigotry slide off my back, but it’s leaked through more often than not. They are unfailingly polite in person, however, for which I am incredibly grateful. Family gatherings are never strained unless the conversation strays to the topics of religion (their favorite) or gay rights (mine). But I know they vote to repress me and refuse my family any legal recognition. I’ve been to visit their pentecostal church and know they are shored up by their fervent friends and reactionary preacher.

And then this showed up in my Facebook feed:

My niece posted this on 6/17/16.

posted by my niece (YES, the same one I referenced yesterday), a particularly zealous young lady.  Although I love her and have tried to be a good aunt, we’ve spent a great deal of time estranged from each other. Once I told her that I had always loved her and that not a month since she’d been born had passed without my asking after, or wondering about her. She reacted by telling me that she had ‘never been so insulted’ and blocked me for months.

So you can imagine my surprise to see her bravely flying in the face of everything she holds dear in support of me and mine. I immediately replied with wisdom and grace, and that witty way I’ve perfected as a professional author:

Wow. And thanks!! 😀

Okay, I probably could have done better, but I was up in the air and flailing. Remember, at the moment I saw the meme I was wading hip deep in depression, so to be pulled from the sucking mire and tossed ecstatically into the air in the blink of an eye clobbered the words right out of me. And then she responded with this:

Of course.  I’ve actually been meaning to write this out for a while. I owe you a huge apology. I have no excuse for the kind of behavior and horrible homophobic things I used to say about the LGBT+ community. They were out of ignorance and misdirection and fear of the unknown. And while that doesn’t excuse anything I ever said or did, realizing that I was so ignorant and so fearful forced me to reckon with the pain and persecution that I was unintentionally inflicting on you. When I parroted the ideas that homosexuality was a sin at you instead of loving you for who you are, I thought I was showing you what love was, because that was how I had been taught to love. But instead, I was showing you what fear was and projecting the fears of other people, who I listened to in the naïvety of my youth, directly onto you instead of thinking for myself what was right and what was wrong. Over the past year I’ve learned more about love than I’ve ever known in my whole life. I’ve learned things about others and about myself that have changed my life completely. And one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I’m the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever met and truly don’t deserve your forgiveness for being so hateful in the past. I take full responsibility for the things I said, and accept the consequences of speaking the words I now know were horribly horribly wrong. You deserve to be able to be who you are without judgement from others, you’ve always deserved that, because all people are screwed up and it’s not anybody’s place to say anything to anyone about anything that’s none of their business. You deserve to be able to go to a church with your wife and be loved and welcomed with open arms because that’s what churches are for, loving and welcoming people. And you deserve to be able to go out in public and not be afraid for your life because some crazy person disagrees with who you are. Because all people have the right to be happy and live their lives in peace. I am disgusted by the person I was, and by how I made you feel about yourself. I understand if you can’t forgive me, because of the nature of the pain and persecution I inflicted on you. But please know that I love you, and support you in anything you to do. And I have decided that I will fight for you to be able to openly be who you are, because you are precious and you are loved and you deserve to live a life full of love instead of judgment.

Out of tragedy arises triumph. As I resume my life, I will feel the loss of the 49 and the fear of the surviving 53. I will commiserate with their loved ones, and my loved ones, and all my LGBTQ+ friends as we find the strength to carry on.

Thank Goodness, in an almost suspiciously timed way, I’ve been reminded that:

LOVE is LOVE is LOVE

 

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Rainbow Families – What Are They?

Mine is a Rainbow Family, which means that my wife and I have children and grandchildren who grew up with same-sex (grand)parents. Since writing The Boxer Shorts Rebellion, I have expanded my definition of Rainbow Families to include straight parents who love and support their gay children as they grow up.

When my granddaughter was born, and my grandsons were young, I was happy to have And Tango Makes Three and King and King. Soon there were a whole slew of picture books but as the kids grew older and began reading for pleasure the literature reflecting their family grew fewer.

One day I was watching Rosie O’Donnell on television talking about her then ten-year-old son and the questions he was asking about living in a same-sex parented family. Why are you gay? Does that mean I’m gay? Do you have to be gay?

My personal muse lit a fire and I began to write.

For the better part of the last ten years my writing has involved certain types of families – what I call Rainbow Families. First I wrote Riding the Rainbow (for ages 8-12) quickly followed by A Man’s Man (for ages 12-16). I compare the two to each other in much the same way Mark Twain did his Tom Sawyer to his Huckleberry Finn. They both tell basically the same story, that of fitting in to a family that isn’t like other people’s families. Riding the Rainbow is more innocent and sweet, while A Man’s Man deals with more adult issues.

Of course, those two were followed up with The Boxer Shorts Rebellion, a read for much more mature teens. Loosely based on the suicide contagion zone that tragically occurred in Minnesota a few years back, it centers around a family struggling to come to grips with a son who may, or may not, be gay and the bullying that surrounds him. The language is crude and the story blunt, without apology as it treats the subject as brutally in fiction as it is in real life.

So when people ask me what a Rainbow Family is, I answer that it’s any family with one or more gay members. It is that simple.

So, are you in a Rainbow Family?

Gays are Bullies, Says Michele Bachmann

Yes, you read that right. It’s the gays who are bullying people, according to the congresswoman from Minnesota’s sixth congressional district.

I don’t mean to be catty (okay, yes I do) but the only bullying by a gay Michele Bachmann is likely to be experiencing might better be called spousal abuse.

Turning truth inside out to blame the victims is nothing new for Michele Bachmann, or her ilk. She and some of her most generous supporters worked for years to create a hostile environment for LGBTQ students in that district. A group calling themselves Parents Action League, an outgrowth of the ultra-conservative group Minnesota Family Council (which seems to be a virulent copy of the Family Research Council) helped put in place a policy colloquially called No Homo Promo. That finally ended fourteen years later in 2009, far too late. But under pressure by PAL, the Anoka/Hennepin district followed up with a feckless Neutrality policy that told teachers they could not address any gay issues. Afraid for their jobs, confused by vague language, teachers and staff members were afraid to do anything to protect targeted students. This gave bullies free reign, and they took full advantage.

Members of PAL claimed that by coming out the students brought the bullying on themselves, so for their own good they should stay in the closet. Any attempted formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance club on campus, they warned, would bring on more suicides. They neatly turned the tables and announced the recognition of oneself as LGBTQ to be so depressing an experience it drives teens to suicide.

In less than two years in the Anoka/Hennepin school district, nine kids committed suicide. Four of them self-identified as LGBTQ, or were perceived by their peers to be so. They were viciously bullied in schools and online. Funerals were held with frightening regularity during 2008 and 2009. Across the nation other students were choosing death over living in a hell on earth. It was Tyler Clementi’s death that focused the national attention on the suicides prompted by bullying.

I had already written two novels about children in rainbow families for middle-grade students, Riding the Rainbow and A Man’s Man (expected release date December 2014), and each had elements of bullying. But what was happening within miles of my comfortable home demanded stronger action and reaction. I pulled no punches in The Boxer Rebellion, did not flinch from the agony of the victims, and used the same vulgarities hurled daily at students in schools everywhere.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Boxer-Rebellion-ebook/dp/B007WZHCH0/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342213950&sr=1-6&keywords=the+boxer+rebellionMy book is a fictionalization of the events in Anoka/Hennepin school district during those two years. Many of the types of incidents I depict did happen to unfortunate victims during that time. Each new suicide was the tolling of a bell reminding us that no one is an island. We were so focused on those nine, it was easy to ignore the ten times as many kids who attempted to kill themselves during the same time period. More continued to suffer the cruel combination of bullying and the lack of protection from school staff. Sorrow and horror hung over not just the district, but the entire state of Minnesota.

Years have passed since those nine died, but the pain of the parents and friends of the victims continue to resonate in the community. Kids are still being bullied, and unfortunately we still have suicides. 

Parents and schools have agreed there need to be rules and consequences for bullying on and off the campus. Michele Bachmann strongly disagrees, constantly arguing against allowing LGBTQ students to live easy in their own skins.She still turns the story around to suit her own conservative Christian agenda. As recently as two months ago, she declared that it’s the gays who are bullies. My book may be fiction, but it is based on one big truth: bullying kills.

If you feel that people aren’t taking gay bullying seriously enough, buy a copy of The Boxer Rebellion and give it to a school teacher, librarian, or principal. Donate one to your local library, or request they purchase one.

Join the rebellion. Up the rebels!