LGBT History Month!

I wanted to share this amazing documentary with you all….I hope you’ll take a bit of time and check it out. 🙂

http://video.pbs.org/video/1889649613/Image

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Respect All Cultures :) (….except…..)

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I’d like to start this one by saying that I am so glad to see how much more comfortable folks seem to be with the gay community in their midst. We see it more on TV portrayed as a regular part of life. We see more groups of younger people in high schools and younger exposed to the gay community and supporting it in parades and such. In more neighborhoods, gay and lesbian couples are more often seen walking hand in hand down the public street. And a recent video of a beautiful engagement flash mob for a young gay couple went viral fairly rapidly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4HpWQmEXrM One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, personally. 

For a number of years, more and more, ‘sexual preference’ – while not the most PC term for it as it is not a preference at all but a state of reality – has found it’s way into many lists of non-discriminatory behaviors. This is something I also recognize as a really strong move in a happier direction. Even in college level classrooms, on the first day of class during discussions of the semester and syllabus, the rules are laid out. And one of the rules is in regards to respecting each other as a group, regardless of culture, race, etc, etc. And it’s very nice. Until ‘gay’ comes up.

A student asked another his name. He told it, and the questioning student thought it sounded like a game name. He thought she said gay, and was quick to point out that he was a MAN. 

A teacher was describing the meaning of ‘cynical’, and set up an example of himself left fairly far from his home. He indicated a student for the example, and set up that the student’s character had offered to drive him home to be nice. The cynical person’s response – in the example – was ‘What, is he gay?”. The class erupted in laughter, the student involved turned red, and so it went. 

On buses and trains and walking down the street, I still very often hear comments and conversations involving such themes. “What, is he gay?!” “That’s SO gay!” “He was such a fag!” And on it goes.

So….respecting all cultures within a college classroom environment is quite wonderful. Except when gay people still end up the joke or the fear. It’s great to see more gay related events advertised in public venues…until the above quoted comments are expressed. And my response is always the same.

Do you have any idea who you are talking to? Who you are talking around? Is that person sitting near one on the train while another talk loudly about ‘that fag’ himself gay? Or maybe the person one is talking TO? When one is overheard loudly mentioning how ‘mental’ or ‘retarded’ or such someone is, is that person in earshot dealing with a challenge involving the emotions or the brain’s processes? 

Yes, I think that slowly, we are starting to become more aware and accepting. It’s taking a long time, but I do believe it is happening. Which is why so often for me, I am even more impressed with how much of what I experience as ignorance is still so profound in an enlightening society. If one is aware if a thing from a different perspective than one had previously, mightn’t one pause and think before speaking? 

Maybe it is more about a concept of ‘culture’ or ‘community’. Maybe the gay community is not yet widely viewed as a culture. Maybe that’s the main problem? For indeed, it is one. And it is one that is not often obvious….indeed, I’d say rarely. There are some blatant exceptions, of course, from people who are so completely proud and unafraid to be who they experience themselves to be everywhere they go. But for the most part, one thing has not changed.

Black people cannot hide that they are black….it’s obvious. Many Central American or Latino folks can’t either. Asian….again, not so much for many of them.

But gay can be not obvious. So can German, So can Italian, So can Irish, English. Lutheran. Pagan. Republican. Bi-polar. Abuse. A great many things cannot be obviously seen. And in public, so many comments are made seemingly wantonly with regard to so many groups and communities that are not clearly spotted….and nor ought they be, because for what purpose in general life?

And yet, people continue to make their comments. Teachers continue to allow the joke. 

On occasion, it makes me sad that people still generalize so much and in doing so, minimize so many others. Also that is continues to be allowed. It is allowed by people who speak it, and it is allowed by others who say nothing about it…including those marginalized and minimized themselves.

Gay is a culture. Lutheran is a culture. Pagan is a culture. Bu-polar…abused folks….many many cultures. I hope we get the picture further as we continue along. This ‘in-between’ is sometimes more frustrating than a totally generalized ignorant state. 

All are everywhere……..

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Family of Choice

So of course, with a title like that,  I am going to start with such a familiar idea….’you can’t choose family’. Oh really?

To discuss this ‘properly’, we have to talk about the meaning of family. Does family only refer to the people that you are linked to biologically? That share the same genes? That you grew up with? That you learned from? Many people adhere to the concept of family being those who are in your same genetic lineage. The folks that are called mother, father, sister, brother. And extended includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This is family.

What has become popular in recent decades – and admittedly, probably because there is something to this – is the ‘family of choice’. These are the people that you have become very close to, whether they be biological family or not. The relationship feels that historic and familiar. (In my understanding, likely because they are.) And yet, many of these people are not considered by others as family, and may well be left out of certain occasions. 

Within my own family of origin (‘biological’), there is a bit of history of being together as such, coming apart from that structure, and coming together again in a hopefully stronger bond. (Growing pains) This kind of event usually seems to be based on the experiences and belief systems of each of the people involved, and their responses to events that present themselves. I also have a very large ‘extended family’….very many people that I resonate with, and they with me, in a very close and personal way. 

I personally believe that this variety of relationships in related to past lives and agreements and intentions in this current lifetime. These can very well include the people in the biological group. Also included in the biological group of origin are the people who come upon a reason to distance you as far as they can for reasons of their own. This is something happening within my own immediate family unit.

Now, my family of origin has a bit of history of estrangement. To much of our fortune, we have moved beyond that and into many deeper and more loving relationships. One has not. It seems that something I said or did has so enraged one sibling and the life partner of whom that they have removed themselves from any family events that I will be present at. Unfortunately, this situation is causing a fair amount of heartache with those in my immediate family of origin….yet missing the potential mark entirely,  which is me. 

So what I am pondering now is the idea that one and some CAN choose family. Or at least, they can choose who is not longer family. Whether that is temporary or for the distance is of course reliant on the event or situation. We can choose who we will relate with and who we won’t . We can choose who we feel close to and who we don’t. We can dispense with history and events and things done – happily or less so – and decide to leave out those with whom we have much history. 

A last concept…are family relationship names a label that comes with description, rules, and expectations? Or are they based in the relationship itself? What does ‘sister’ mean? What does ‘mother’ mean? What does ‘cousin’ mean? Can we all be friends and loving of each other regardless of what the label and socially understood relationship is? Can we flex from that? This has actually worked for me….removing the ‘labels’ and just looking at and appreciating the relationship itself. This has been a beautiful thing!

Bluntly, I have a sibling and her partner who are dismissing me so much that they are causing extreme heartache to my parents….and the parents of one, and in-law parents of another. They have taken exception to something I apparently said a number of years ago. They have not communicated to me this issue and it’s possible resolution. But my other blood family is aware…painfully. So…..the target is not hit at all, but the ‘loved ones’ are. 

So….it seems that to them, I am not family until I provide a resolution that they cannot share with me directly. Yet, others in my life share so very much with me, including so much progression, learning, and support/enlightenment. And there, we are called family. 

So….what does the concept of ‘family’ mean? 

Feel free to discuss….. and I love you! 🙂 🙂

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Embrace

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This is the logo for a very important film that a good friend has written and is directing….an indie short regarding a young gay man struggling with the resistance to his sexuality from some of the most important influences in his life. Like far too many, he is considering a lasting way out….and Embrace is the method he is considering.

I am an executive producer on this film, I am proud to say. Even if I wasn’t, I would still hope that you take a few moments to take a look at this teaser. Afterward, I hope you feel encouraged to become more involved and supportive of this wonderful project. Its themes remain extremely important even in our current society.

Thanks so much, and Love and Light, everyone!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/phase-ii–2

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Memory Road

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I have been taking a really wonderful journey down this road again just in the last few days. I may have mentioned in a previous entry that I had been involved with Theatre on the Lake here in Chicago back in the 80s. Just during this past weekend, a whole bunch of other folks who were as well started a private message chat in Facebook, and that very quickly became a group page as well, and we already have almost 100 folks in there! 

In just a few days, not only have so many people joined the page, but have submitted pictures and stories….and memories of folks who have since passed. In seeing these pictures and participating in these remembrances, I have once again gone back there, both in my head and in my heart. Listening to “Summer Hits of the 80s” on Pandora has of course added a touch more fuel to the trip. But this visit back feels different.

I have also mentioned previously, I believe, that the time that I started doing theatre was a time of many beginnings and firsts for me. Many of those are really coming back and bringing with them so many emotions. For example, when I first came out publicly, I was naive enough to have been thinking that all gay men thought the same way I did….easy sex, since we all wanted that! Guess what…not necessarily true, much to my dismay. Except a couple that I met who were involved in theatre. Quite honestly, they were my first experience with a couple in an open relationship. I was aware of such things, but at that time, I wasn’t convinced they were right. This couple had an effect on that thinking….quite a nice one, actually. That was a first.

Through them, I met my first husband, Page. At that time, I was doing a fair number of plays nearby the Manse here at Chase Park. Page had somewhat recently graduated from Northwestern University’s Drama Program, but had not done any shows yet since. He had exposed me to a playwright named James Kirkwood. I had begun to read some of his work when lo, and behold!…Jean decided to direct “PS – Your Cat Is Dead”!! Page and I both auditioned, and guess what? It was our show. That was a first….first relationship, first play together….and not necessarily proudly, first chance to be unfaithful. I don’t want that point to be a focus in this entry, so I’ll leave that for now.

Doing theatre and meeting all of these really hot men was QUITE thrilling for me! Crush upon crush, fantasy upon fantasy, play after play….it was amazing!! I’d say ‘like a kid in a candy shop’, but really more, it was like I was in the shop window, looking in but not able to touch. So many of the guys were either involved in a non-open relationship, or they were simply not interested in me that way. Of course, many of the latter were due to the fact that they were straight! However, one of them back then told me something very sweet one time. Admittedly, we were under the influence (really?!), but he had told me that if he WERE gay, he would have gone out with me. Now really…..how often does that happen? It remained one of the sweetest things anyone has said to me. 

Now….also at this time, something else was beginning. I’ve talked before about my pervasive sense of solitude in my life. Up until that time, most of that was due to the walls around me because of the early abuse. But now, what I started to feel was that I didn’t belong. My first love ended after about 15 months….and honestly, it totally derailed me. Occasionally, someone would come along that would at least sleep with me. And then slowly, theatre started to go away as well. I had, for a while, believed that I had found a group that I fit better than the church. Even then, though, I was very insecure, and if there were people that had been involved with my new theatre friends before me, I tended to hold them at bay for some resentful reason. And then, after Page and I ended, the ground became quite soft and sandy beneath me…hard to walk in. Progressively, as I did less and less theatre, that sand beneath me was beginning to siphon off to one side, and I lost foothold….and it all seemed to just go away. 

Of course, I did not recognize at that time that I was the one moving away….not anyone else. Of course, I understand that now. And I did, in the 90s, become involved with theatre groups working at the Atheneum Theatre, and I had a really wonderful time again for a few years. And again, I thought I belonged to a safe group. And guess what again? I drifted. This drifting really has been a running theme in my life. I am very grateful to say that I have come far enough at this point, and have woken up enough to be able to understand, as I do, that everything happens for a reason. And so I can look back at these times and people and memories, and it really doesn’t ache so much. I own the feelings that I have had about back then, and I embrace them! That’s why I love such journeys down Memory Road now more than ever before. It doesn’t ache…it feels warm and tender and nice…..and grateful. 

Ok, so ending on a fun – and hopefully a complimentary – note – some of the bigger crushes I had back then! (Perhaps one or two of the smaller ones as well…) Ready? Ed Huerta…Pat Causgrove….Tom Quinn…..Kathy Messmer (…..yup!…)…..Gary Olsen…..Steve Kimbrough…..Kyle Jorhansson…..Lex McCauley…Tim Eannarino….Joe Savino…Richard Anton…..Giles in Mousetrap….Bobby in Company…..Henry in Lion in Winter…..ah, and the names start to fade…..

I love my theatre memories, and all the people within them. And I always will. 

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Gay / Christian

I really wish I had written this….yet I’m very grateful that someone did so I can share it in here. (The original article referred to in this post is linked to at the end of this….)

Love and Light!

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Warm Fuzzies from the Past

For the first time in a while, I was just watching an old episode of “Bewitched” on TV. I remember watching it incessantly as a kid, and loving it all. My favorite character – aside from Samantha, of course – was always Aunt Clara. Such lovely comedy from a classic aging actress! And as I watched while I was making dinner this evening, I remembered all of the warm fuzzy feelings that it brought back. And so very often, those warm fuzzies tend to make me feel like I was back at that time, remembering the coziness of watching the show, and the comfortable feeling of wanting to live in that house and even enjoy the fun and advantages of the magical powers.

As I felt around in these emotions, I realized something of interest. Based on much of my childhood experiences, and my methods back then of surviving those experiences, I realized just what those fuzzy memories represent. In those emotions, I came to understand that the reasons for enjoying that show and others, and the desire to disappear in those worlds and homes, really was one way of detaching from the pains and fears of the abusive experiences and holding them all inside. Now, here’s the thing…when I watch now, and remember those fuzzies, I now understand that those feelings that tend to be generated are that residual desire to disappear. To move into those worlds and homes, and feel safer and comforted and happier. What they are are largely a pull to return back to that mind-set. To the pain and fear and anger that caused me to want to morph into those worlds.

Can you see my point? The warm fuzzies are not necessarily an elevated thing. They are not necessarily happy thoughts. They mask residual sadness….feelings that still tend to remain within out of habit. It’s what I’m used to, and therefore, it is comfortable. Moving into the lack of these feelings – happier places – is what is new and strange and unfamiliar, and therefore inherently not comfortable.

To my mind, this entry is not sad or painful. Indeed, it is uplifting in the fact that I understand this now…that it has been revealed to me. If you read my last entry, you are aware of a tremendous healing that recently took place with me. I believe that healing has caused me to see this in another way, with deeper awareness and understanding. And so I am grateful to have this new knowledge, and to share it in here. I hope this finds it’s way to a hurting heart or soul and can be at least a part of a healing for that heart/soul.

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