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I don’t want to remember

I guess the Advocate is having a tizzwhack about the ratings for “When We Rise”. Well, I know a lot of people my age that lived through all that don’t particularly want to relive that period of our lives.

Some of it hurt a lot. You’re better off reading all the “Tales of the City’ like we did at the time.

I don’t want to remember lying in bed from July to September 1990 after my knee surgery when I wasn’t allowed to be weight bearing and having my best friend lying in another bed miles away dying of AIDS. I don’t want to remember that all I could do was phone and leave messages for him with his family. The day I was finally allowed up on crutches and out was for his funeral at Rose Hills. I don’t want to remember sitting at his funeral and having a priest who had never met him start by saying “If Art was hear today…” and getting clubbed on both sides from friends when I said very loudly because I was pissed. “If Art was here we wouldn’t be”. I don’t want to remember his mom and sister coming up to me afterwards because my picture was the one he had next to his bed and I never knew but they knew me to thank me for loving him. He was my best friend, how could I not love him?

I don’t want to remember how he went into every relationship he was in, in the 80s thinking this guy would be the ONE and he would get dumped and head to the bars and the baths to console himself and come home with tales of all the famous men he had seen there and bring me a souvenir pen. I don’t want to remember how scared I was when he did it. I don’t want to remember being able to fit into his jeans after he got sick because he had lost so much weight. I don’t want to remember reading “And the Band Played On” while I lay in bed wrapped in first ice blocks and then heating pads in 116 degree heat in July after my surgery and feeling so helpless about everything including missing my chance to go to the Gay Games in Vancouver with my friends.

I don’t want to remember my friend Jim who got sick in the early 80’s and no one knew what he had when he died just that he had funky spots and they called it a liver disease when it was GRID. Grid was the name they called AIDS first.

I don’t want to remember being called dyke on the street from some dudes in a truck waiting to cross the street. We didn’t even look particularly dykey, I thought.

I don’t want to remember going to the wonderful Long Beach Lesbian picnic and having to cross past gangs of men yelling things like “Who’s the man?” and telling us they were there if we needed a “real” man. Ick!

I don’t want to remember men dressed in black with immense black signs with evil things on them at the parade and screaming we were going to hell and hearing the sheriffs say they were going to arrest them for incitement to riot when they lunged at us.

I don’t want to remember the screaming when mom figured out I was “like my brother” and she wasn’t going to get any grandchildren. And how the church tried to shame my parents for having gay children and not raising us right, and trying to reconvert Cam and I to being straight. Especially since every minister there had a gay kid in the closet.

I don’t want to remember the night my brother called in tears because the last man left that he had come out with had died and he was feeling abandoned and scared.

I don’t want to remember the night he called me because his first lover, Steve had died. When they broke up Steve had gone to work at a bar and played around, and he told Cam it was his fault. So another incredibly talented piano player and sweet gentle soul was gone.

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I don’t want to remember all the guys I came out with at the Pasadena GLSU slowly disappearing from our group and finding out they had died.

I don’t want to remember walking into the AIDS Service Center when I was on call token pagan clergy person and finding out who had died between our clergy visits.

I don’t want to remember monitoring the AIDS Quilt AKA the Names Project at the Rose Bowl and seeing Steve’s quilt or walking around looking at names and realizing one square covered in roses was a guy my sorority arranged two blind dates with against my will. It did explain a lot about those non-starting dates but it really hit my heart. I don’t want to remember handing the Kleenex box that stood near every quilt square to people visiting family and friend’s pieces. I don’t want to remember folding or unfolding them every day.

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Steve’s piece

I don’t want to remember being on the board that put on the first Gay Pride event in Pasadena, all those guys are gone too.

No, I do not want to remember those events. The parades were fun and the guys were wonderful and taught me so much after my first lover dumped me and most of my friends took her side even though she left me for another woman. The guys took me clothes shopping and gave me a party and got me drunk beforehand so I could meet women which was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had at a party. There was a lot of love facing a lot of hate from the outside but now we need to face the future and do it all again and I don’t want to remember…

 

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Art and I at the Gay Pride Parade circa 1982 or 83?

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Feeling powerless

I feel impotent because I can’t stop the killing of my sisters and brothers. I’m tired of fighting to be accepted for who I am. I didn’t get up one morning in 1979 and decide to make life difficult for myself. I decided it was more important to be honest than to hide. I decided that love was more important than lying and I became a whole person.

I didn’t decide to have people hate me at my church because some mistranslated book told them I was now evil when I wasn’t evil the day before or on my job by someone who also wanted to thump that book or someone who sees me on the street because I had short hair or wore a rainbow shirt or because my friends looked like lesbians or my brother looked like a “faggot”.

I can’t change people’s minds when they don’t know me. I can’t make a Republican senator see that hate isn’t anything but evil and that taking money from the NRA isn’t more valuable than saving thousands of people’s lives. They’ve been bought and paid for with blood. They have blood on their hands and heads but it just isn’t that important to them to have free souls.

I can’t change a hateful pastor’s mind who has forgotten that his Jesus said he was about love and not hate. He is a Pharisee not one of Jesus’s disciples and gave up his soul for hate and money, he will have to explain to his god how that happened.

I can’t change the person’s fear who’s hiding in the closet. I can’t pull them into the sunshine. They may have too much to lose, a job, their children, their life.

I can only live my life in the love I believe is all around us every day if we only look at each other and at the world around each. I can live so that all people are sisters and brothers as is every animal, tree and bird.

I can only live as if my brain, heart and hands are enough even if it feels like I’m too small to feel like I’ve made a difference. Maybe if enough of us live that way there will be change but may be not.

A bar is not just a bar when it’s a gay bar

One of my straight friends on Facebook and I had a discussion yesterday. He  said he didn’t understand all the public rituals of grief that went on when a tragedy happened and he thought was all just for show and I had to disagree and I went to the vigil at City Hall to be with my brothers and sisters.

I can just about say with certainty that every single out gay person when they heard about Orlando said to themselves. “That could have been me”. Most straight people don’t really get the violence and hatred out gay people have experienced unless maybe they volunteer as escorts at abortion clinics. Gay people live with that threat all the time.

Women live in fear all the time anyway. We learn to fear men at an early age. Compound that as a lesbian and you really escalate the fear. Your inner voice cranks up. “Am I too butch? Am I safe? What is that guy looking at me for? Who is behind me? The street is dark, is there someone by my car?” As I came out of the bar or as in last night coming home from the vigil in my purple shirt and pride ring necklace? “Do they know I’m gay? Am I safe, Am I safe? Am I safe?”

We live with it every time we go out.

But there has always been one safe space. One my friend Marie Cartier did her PhD thesis on, the bar.

When I came out the local lesbian bar was the about the only place you could find your friends when it wasn’t camp season. We were there most weekends with our friends making sure we got there before 9 when they started charging the cover fee because we were all college students and poor.

I learned to dance in the bar, at least dance any other way but folk dancing at camp. I learned to flirt in a bar. I tried to learn to smoke and look cool but friends kept taking my Virginia Slims away because they said people with my babyface looked dumb smoking. I discovered after one night stand with really butch women were not my thing. (My only one night stand and as in Stone butch. {Joan, way butcher than you or Carol, LOL)) I lost a lover in one dance in the bar. For some reason I knew if Lynn danced with Chuck I had lost her and I did, sometimes it sucks to be an empath.

I learned there were Girl Scout dykes, and softball dykes. That there were granola dykes and Country Western dancing dykes. I learned who was butch and who was femme and who was androgenous. I learned dyke chic dressing. I learned I wanted to be the designated driver most nights. I learned about love in a safe space when there was nowhere else to go.

Much later they would found things like the Center here in LA. There would be GLSUs that when they started were GSUs because why would the boys want to include lesbians? We had to fight for that. There would be Gay bowling leagues and choirs. But in 1979, it was the bar or nothing. And the bar was the safe space. Yes, occasionally a straight man would come in and sit down and announce to all and sundry that all we needed was a “REAL MAN” and he quickly found out that was not a good idea in a bar full of dykes and the bouncers probably saved some men’s lives when they did that.  But inside it was our safe cocoon.

People went to that bar in Orlando to be themselves, to have a good time with their friends. They went to their holy place. They went to a place they assumed was inviolate. A gay bar is not just a bar even if you never drink anything but a coke, it’s holy and sacred and safe and now…every gay person is remembering all the unsafe places, and they are getting mad. And maybe just, maybe something will get done.

#I stand with Orlando

Sunday I woke up and checked my Facebook on the phone and even though it was really early some of my friends were posting – # pray for Orlando. Confused I checked my news app and my heart broke.

Every time I think things may be getting better the bigots escalate the hate.
I’ve been out since 1979 and I delayed because I really didn’t want to be someone people around me like my parents and church said was evil. I finally had to accept that yes I was gay and that I wanted to be my true self and not hide. I was done with hiding. Up to then living at home I had hid a lot of myself. My parents were really good at telling me I was good for nothing and after my grandmother died when I was 17 there was no other voice to contradict them until I left to work at summer camp in 1975.

Summer camp freed me to be me. To choose who I was and to do the things I was learning to do. One of the things that I learned pretty quickly was that I had to accept that the people I fell in love with were women. I made some mistakes that way and fell in love with people who were never going to love me because they weren’t bent that way. But later I did fall in love and it was returned at least for awhile, and by then it was clear, I was going to come out so I did.
My first public events were the parades here in LA marching with PCC’s GLSU and I met hate that wasn’t from people I knew. People yelled evil things at us as we marched, their faces almost black with hatred. On parade one man was so enraged he tried to hit one of the guys with us and a sherriff stepped in and said he was going to arrest the pseudo Christians for inciting a riot. The pseudo Christians were further infuriated when the mounted police showed up and made them leave. If looks could kill we would have been dead in the street. Why? Because we loved outside their tiny boundaries in their brains.

I remember going to the first OC pride fest and someone tacked the entire parking lot. And because I have a very white baby face , the very white Christians that tried the block the entrance to the venue assumed I was there to join them. So I started to walk up to them and then I kissed the friend I was with. Soooo not what they wanted. More hate.

I’ve been yelled at outside lesbian bars and the dyke picnic. I’ve been screamed at on a street corner by a car of men and had to run. We were yelled at with slurs at the Rose Parade when all we were doing was sitting together.

I was harassed and almost fired on one job and on another job, every lesbian in the company was let go the same day including a manager and a director. I was the only one that didn’t join the lawsuit and the women were furious with me but they lost big time to the huge insurance company. They had made it clear that the company only liked white men and all the gay guys never said a thing. The lesbians who sued had to pay all the court costs and legal fees because one piece of paperwork hadn’t been filed correctly it was dismissed with prejudice.
And some many more times evil things have happened because I was an out lesbian. My parents lost friends at church because Cam and I came out. People I had known all my life said that my parents hadn’t raised us right or we wouldn’t have been gay.

I had a boss that when I worked for the state ordered me not to do the AIDS walk because even though he knew I was a lesbian he was sure I was going to get carried away and sleep with some gay man and he said it in front of about 10 other employees who couldn’t believe it.

If you are gay, you are gay. A lesbian is not attracted to men, period any more than a gay man would be attracted to a woman. Bi people do fall in love with both and that’s fine and it makes it more easy to pass through this world and sometimes they don’t understand the absolute revulsion that gay people have for the opposite sex. That lack of understanding is part of what’s causing problems in the pagan community now and why they are on the attack against people like Ruth and Z.

I don’t want to sit in circle the majority of the time with men. A lot of them do not have the compatible energy that a group of women born women have. Trans women feel like men in circle and they try to dominate sometimes unconsciously, sometimes not. A lot of women will never feel “in perfect love and perfect trust” with male energy in circle. And we should be allowed to exist.
Lesbians are being erased. The Butch dykes that were at Stonewall like Stormie are being claimed as transmen. They weren’t. Butches, especially young butches are being told they aren’t lesbians, they are really men. It’s not right.

Those of us that are 2nd wave feminists that fought to say a woman could do anything she was able to do are being told gender is immutable instead of the societally dependent construct it is. I am not a man if I can use power tools. I am not a man because I got degrees in science. I am a woman who loves women and can do any damn thing I’m capable of doing. There is no such thing as gender but there sure as hell is sexuality and sexual orientation.

I’m so tired of fighting people on something that is none of their business. Why is it a problem who I choose to love? Jesus never said a damn thing about gay people and they sure as hell existed in that time period. The Romans and the Greeks never hid it.

I’m a lesbian and I stand with Orlando

A prayer for today

Hecate watch over them
Hecate guide them
Calm their fears
Hecate watch over us
It could have been any of us
They were in our temples
They were celebrating love
They were celebrating joy in living
They were celebrating the pride and freedom to be who they are
Hecate calm us
Our fears are huge
And not without reason
Hecate help us to stand up and face the hate in the world
Some of us have been doing it for a very long time and we are tired.
We may have thought for a brief moment things would be easier.
Hecate help us hold our burdens
Hecate help us to remember those who love us for being who we are.
Hecate remind us that love is always more powerful than hate.
Hecate help us mourn in all the ways we need to
Hecate,  be here now!

Kat 2016

My heart is broken

Yesterday at Faire, I was reading my stories to everyone and this was the next one I had picked to read and standing there I just couldn’t read it. Now I wonder if I should have. So here it is,  and it’s dedicated to my gay brothers and sisters who died because of someone’s hate celebrating their pride and love.

The Littlest Druid finds the good in the bad.

Aisling looked around at what was left of the tiny village, everywhere around her the building’s roofs smoked. Household goods were strewn over the landscape. People lay where they had been slain. The marks of the weapons clear to be seen. There was nothing here for a healer to do.

She looked at the other druids around her. Some were in tears, some were in shock, some were angry. Aisling wasn’t sure how she felt, numb?

In the middle of the night a young boy had come yelling into the Druid village about the sea raiders that had come to his village up the coast to the north. The Chief Druid had quickly roused all the people old enough to help and they had come as fast as their ponies would go but it wasn’t in time. It looked like the boy was the last one left from his village.

Aisling looked at a loom in pieces on the ground and the half finished wool blanket in slashed hunks around it. She could see it would have been beautiful when it was finished with all the colours of sea and sky in brilliant hues. It made her sad. What made people think that they could come and harm a small village? Aisling’s heart hurt.

She could see an abandoned butter churn milk and butter left to curdle on its own. Ravens and crows gathered in the trees above some of the cottages as if waiting for a meal and she was glad her Raven was back home and not here. She couldn’t stand the thought of her being part of this.

The blacksmith must have run to his forge and laid about with his big hammer but it had done no good but she could see he had taken some of the raiders with him to the Summerland.

The older men went to build a pyre to burn the dead. The ravens and crows would get no meal here today. She wondered if the raiders had taken anything of value or if the reason the devastation was so bad was because the village was so poor. It made no sense at all to her and the tears ran down her face.

What made some people do this? No one in this village had done any harm. They had lived quiet lives. They sometimes sold their extra crops to the Druid village. The Chief Druid put his arm around Aisling and gave her a hug.

“Why? Why do people do this?” she asked him. The Chief Druid looked around and shook his head.

“I don’t understand it myself.” He said. “But it makes me cling to the good I can see. Some people want what others have. Some people think they have the only way. Some people just enjoy doing evil.”

“But what’s the good in this?” Aisling asked. She couldn’t see anything good at all.

“Hamish is alive, he’ll have a broken heart but he is alive. People came to help even though there was nothing they could do about the raiders. People will rebuild this village together and new people will help Hamish rebuild the village and his life. This village will be able to show its best hospitality again as is our way.”

People were now starting the clean up around them. Stacking timbers, collecting the things that were spread around the village. Someone was herding the sheep that had been on the hill above the village. One of the women was getting ready to milk the village’s last living cow. The cow was not happy, She should have been milked hours ago. The cow had blood on her horns and none of it was hers. The cow had obviously fought in the battle. Aisling wondered if it was one of Brighid’s cows since it was red and white.

Aisling went to start help collecting the goods left around the village. Maybe they could collect enough to put one household back together for Hamish. Someone had said his grandparents and an aunt and uncle had been sent a messenger. Would they want to settle here?

She looked towards the fields that appeared to be untouched. The oats were just starting to grow and the fields were aglow with the green of new growth. Would Hamish’s family tend them? It was strange to see such a strong symbol of life when she knew if she turned around she would see the blacks and grays of destruction.

Aisling collected a set of wooden bowls, some linens from where they had been dumped. She found someone’s prized bronze pin of a wild boar. It had a broken clasp but she thought it could be mended again and worn with pride. As the day went on the village started to look more like it would have life again.

Men were up on the thatched roofs pulling down the old straw and the burnt parts so they could be re-thatched. They had found the village thatcher’s store of straw and reed in an outside shed.

Some women from the next village were washing out the cottages and mixing white wash. Soon the cottages wouldn’t show any burn marks.

Aisling was near the back of one of the cottages when she heard a soft cry. She looked around to see where the noise was coming from. There was a pile of old abandoned clothes she guessed wasn’t good enough to steal and gently went over to sort through when she heard it again. This time she could hear that it was a mew. And she dug through the pile. Nestled under someone’s old tunic was a tiny black kitten. Its eyes were barely open. Aisling looked around quickly to see if there were any more but this one was alone.

Aisling cradled the kitten to her chest, it crawled up to her shoulder and nestled into one of her long red braids. So there was still life in the village, she thought. The kitten purred into her ear as she gently stroked its back and she wondered how long it had been since it ate. She headed over to where the woman was taking care of the cow, she had tied it to the outside of the pig sty.

Aisling had grabbed a napkin and fashioned into the shape of a nipple. Maire took one look at the kitten and grabbed the napkin. “I see someone needs to be fed here at least,” and dipped the napkin in the bucket of milk and handed it back to Aisling. “Are you ready to be a mathair?”

Aisling nodded and looked at the kitten as it greedily sucked on the napkin, at least one good thing had happened this day. She looked at the kitten. The Chief Druid was right, it had felt good to help even when she wished it hadn’t been necessary, but there is always some good with the horrid. It just can be hard to find.

“I’m naming ‘Nuadh Bheath’. ‘New life’ seems a good name, Beo for short? Do you like that?” Aisling looked down at the purring sleepy kitten and smiled for the first time that day.

A Lesbian Scot tries to use the restroom

Back in the 80’s right after I had come home from a month in Britain, I went to hear the Royal Massed bands with the Gordon and Sutherland Highlanders at UCLA with my parents. We used to go whenever any of the Scots Guards bands came to town.

At intermission I went and stood in the enormous long line for the women’s restroom and didn’t think anything about it until this expensively, badly dressed woman started asking me at the top of her voice if I was in the right line. Shouldn’t I be in the men’s room line?

She was making an effort to embarrass me and she was sure I was a man. I was dressed in a blue button down shirt and a tie my grandfather had left me, blue jeans and the blue Fairisle I had bought in Scotland and I had just had my hair cut short in a pixie cut. I had 44 D boobs at the time but I guess she could only see my clothes since I weighed about a 110 lbs at the time, you could see that my top story wasn’t really small.

I just stared at her because I really didn’t know what to do. How do you prove you’re a woman without stripping to some unintelligent bigoted yahoo? You can’t.
Thank heavens for little old Scottish ladies that are used to seeing women in ties for school or other things. This tiny old woman walked up to the old bigot and in a very thick Scottish Highland accent told her to shut her mouth and asked if she had a brain since it was obvious to her that I was a woman and that she really should invest in some glasses if she couldn’t tell.

The woman quickly left the line and the Scottish lady came over and patted me and reassured me that some people were just stupid and she went into the bathroom with me and that was it. I had an a least 80 year old fierce protector as only little Scottish grannies can be and I was so grateful.

When I got back to my seat and told my parents , it was a very good thing my dad didn’t have a claymore. He always got worked up at Scottish events and could yell during “Black Bear” with the loudest of them, something that used to make my brother and I want to crawl under the seats. There would have been blood. (http://cornemusique.free.fr/ukblackbear.php)

Nowadays it looks like someone would have called the cops and I would have had to pull down my drawers in public. This is all just wrong