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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?

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

Old Dyke Days

Purple sage: https://purplesagefem.wordpress.com/ has an awesome blog and has been reading Lillian Faderman’s book on Dyke history. It’s interesting to see her take on my times.

I came out in the late 70’s and the 70’s and 80’s were a wonderful time to come out. There was a huge community here in the LA area and it was big enough to have a lot of different varieties and lifestyles. We had several bars but the culture had evolved enough that there were other things to do besides hang out in a bar. There were butch femme bars, mostly in Hollywood like the Palms, as well as Peanuts for the under 21 crowd. I used to go there with my deaf friends from CSUN because their speakers were on the floor and the deaf women could dance because they could feel the beat. There were the two main bars in Long Beach, The Suite where it was how you looked that mattered and was a meat market and the Que where everyone was welcome. Our bar was Vermies in Pasadena (If you wanted to see Melissa Ethridge she played the Que and Vermies but on week nights so you had to be willing to stay up) or we went out to Pomona to Robbies and the Valley had Menopause Manor AKA the Oxwood Inn. We thought the women at the Oxwood were sooo old, they were probably in their 40’s and 50’s. Sunday afternoons were for the men’s bar Rumours to see a local duo Second Wind.

But we also had things like softball leagues and rugby teams and I came out into the huge collection of Girl Scout lesbians. The place to see and be seen at the time were the women’s music concerts. When Cris Willamson, Margie Adams, Meg Christian or Holly Near came to town, they usually played Royce Hall at UCLA or the Veteran’s auditorium or the Ebell and it was packed. Everyone wore their best clothes. Somewhere I have a picture of all my friends and myself on our varying takes on dyke chic that were all tuxedo versions. It helped that women’s tuxedo fashion was very “in” in the 80’s so clothes we liked were readily available and then there was the wonderful West Coast Women’s Music and Comedy Festival that started in Willits and finally ended up in Yosemite. That happened every Labor Day and was heaven on earth. Usually about 3,000 women of all different communities all in one place.

We had Girl Scout campers area, neutral areas, noisy areas and S&M play area, there were the leatherdykes there were Goddess dykes, butch/femme areas and a disabled area with lots of friendly women to help. There were androgynous areas and child care for women with children and areas for young girls that came with their moms. There were workshops on every topic you could think of and music and drumming all the time. We had rituals out on the grass under the moon. The vegetarian food wasn’t that great so there were cooking areas for non-vegetarians which led some competition among the Girl Scout dykes and since my group included some friends from CalTech with access to dry ice some fudgsicles that were the envy of a lot of other women as well as when we baked things or fried bacon. Yes, we were evil and loved it.

There were tall women, short women, women of all colours and shades, women of all abilities, women with scars and women with bold beautiful tats covering mastectomy scars and we for a few days a year were all family. Women built the stages, ran the sound and did security and fire patrol, women did the cooking and the child care, and the first aid at the med tent, all of it volunteer labour and everyone took a shift or you had to pay extra. The only time you saw a man was when you heard, “Man on the land!” when they pumped the Portajanes.

They had awesome vendors and that is where the majority of my jewelry came from for years.

And at night all the communities melded at Main Stage under the stars and it was magic. To be among all those women loving women was amazing. My first one was in Santa Barbara and we had come straight from camp. It was amazing to see all those women. We drove up there and we knew we had reached the place because the women at the gate were topless. I remember thinking, oh Lady, you won’t catch me doing that. Yeah, that lasted until the next morning and it was hot. I learned that redheaded pasty white girls with chests that have never seen the sun should wear overalls over certain parts of your anatomy. I had a tan from camp but not there. Owie, thank heavens for the good souls with aloe vera to share. I had to go back to work when I got home.

Long Beach had a yearly dyke picnic that brought people together as well as a bunch of men that stood outside the park and would yell things like, “Which ones the man?” thank heavens the cops were pretty cool and kept them out of the park.

Point being, we had a community and when you came out, you had places to go and friends. There were bookstores to go to like Page One in Pasadena that was owned by two wonderful women and friends of mine worked there and told me what books I needed to read so I was introduced to Sally Gearhart and Rita Mae Brown and Jane Rule. I read Another Mother Tongue and Patience and Sarah and The Wanderground and laughed hard at Ruby Fruit Jungle. We could listen to the latest women’s music and pick up a copy. Occasionally we had a field trip to Sisterhood in Westwood. They had great posters and tshirts so we came home with Mountain Women ts and Uppity Women Unite or the Ladies Sewing and  Terrorist Circle.

Now that kind of community does not exist, the bookstores and bars are mostly gone. I haven’t heard of the picnic still happening and all of it was found in the Lesbian News, found all over town even in straight book and record stores with the free stuff at the front. I don’t know what a kid does now for community. Our biggest problem was finding a lover that hadn’t slept with most of your friends already. One of the reasons my friends found the first episode of the L word hysterical was because of the chart they made. We did that one night. I found out later the writer of that episode knew someone who had been there and used it.

I miss those days when it still was the LG community before the damn alphabet soup happened.

 

Coming out isn’t easy — Part 3

I said I came out by the Oops method because I did. I had been moved out for a while and for some reason was over at my parent’s house gardening, I think, and my mom must have started at least four sentences with “when you get married”. I finally lost it and said I wasn’t getting married and she lost it. She lost it at the top of her lungs. She kept screaming, “You’re just like your brother!” Well duh?

She had met all my friends who were out and she liked them but my being out meant her stakes in the “I have to show off my grandchildren at church” lottery had dropped astronomically. What she never figured out was that even if I had been straight she would never have been allowed near my kids. She was just too mean and self-centered a person. To the point that when I had an emergency hysterectomy many years later I had to ban her from visiting with Security because she said she was going to stop it and I was being a hypochondriac. Even when told I was going to die without it, it didn’t matter to her because everything was about her and according to the surgeon after I was about 2 weeks from dying from gangrene.

She really didn’t want grandchildren, she just wanted to have them to show off to everyone. My mom was all about her image and how she looked to others. Sadly, my sister and I, by being the least girly girls ever had started embarrassing her in public early in our lives. I was an obvious nerd by the time I was 6 and a lot of people fed that and considering that was in 1960 that says a lot about whom they were.

Example? At the yearly Choir retreat, the men of the choir went diving and brought up a huge kelp tree onto the beach and it was full of creatures. I am told, I ordered them to stop and not touch anything until I got my books on sea creatures, tidepools, shells and other beach life  and they honoured that request of an excited 6 year old and I went and got them and they helped me identify everything and collect everything that I wanted to save in my plastic bucket. That was an error in 6 year old judgment because I collected a teeny tiny lobster along with a really tiny octopus and some small starfish. The lobster put a hole in my bucket and the water ran out and they died sometime in the night but as a 6 year old I had established my nerd/geek propeller head status. So not a girly girl.

Other people at church or at least, the choir loved us and didn’t really care. They knew us from birth, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when we came out. I do have to admit my parents lost some close friends from their Sunday School class/social group because they obviously “hadn’t raised us right.” But no one from the choir ever loved us any less that I know of. Mom’s best friend did give her a book called “Where do I go to resign” about de-gaying your kid but for the most part no one ever said anything to me or Cam.

Once she had me drive her to what was allegedly her psychotherapist at church. I don’t remember why she didn’t want to drive but sometime during the drive I figured out if I went in with her there would be a full court press to get me to REPENT and go straight. So I just politely refused to get out of the car when we got there and she got really mad and she had to go inside without me because she couldn’t tell the truth about setting me up. She was convinced she wouldn’t get into heaven if we stayed queer. And she felt she looked bad.

It was when she found out I was a witch and went blabbing all over church that I was worshipping Satan things got said. But I wasn’t and anyone with a brain should have known that but I haven’t been back to church except for my dad’s funeral since. Mom had the minister do an altar call at my dad’s funeral because she knew my coven and some of the Temple of Isis were coming. I have never been so furious in my life and I was glad I was sitting with my aunt and cousins and not up front with her or there might have had to be two funerals.

I had a graveside service for mom and gave the minister readings that were really stealth pagan readings like the Gaelic blessing, Deep Peace. It made me happy, it made the Christians happy because they sang the incomplete version in choir and it made my pagan friends happy.

I did go to both Cam’s funerals at his Episcopal churches, one near where he lived in northern California and one at the one he went to in Pasadena before he moved up north. At the one up north I was asked to read something at the reception. It was a little easier because I only knew a few of his friends. I read the Hymn to Osiris from the Book of Coming Forth AKA the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I did announce that I was a Priestess and pagan and watched some mouths drop open. That was kind of fun. Mom couldn’t go and I was very glad. The SF Gay Men’s Chorus sang because he was a member. It was really beautiful.

I guess for most people Coming Out is a process that never really ends. You are always coming out to someone new whether coming out as a lesbian or as a pagan or as both. And lot of times it doesn’t make the bigots happy. It makes people question themselves and they really don’t like having to questions their own life choices.

I have lost many friends over the years over one or the other. It hurts but you learn that the ones who always love you no matter what are the ones that matter and the ones that don’t are the ones that you have to leave behind on your journey and maybe you have made it easier to love the next gay or pagan person that comes into their lives. Knowledge does create change. And love is all that really matters and we choose our families the older we get and if it means we lose blood family, were they really your family?

Coming our is never easy — Part 1

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I came out in 1979 and it wasn’t easy. I didn’t know why or what I was growing up. I just knew I had no desire to having anything to do with boys. I spent a lot of my time in high school avoiding dates. My senior year in high school a bunch of us gravitated together and went around in a big group. I now know that most of us were gay and the rest just liked being in a group with no pressure. We confused the hell out of the rest of the school because we seemed to be always switching partners and the rest of the school sometimes thought we had something very weird or kinky going on but what we were was a mutual protection society. My brother, Tony, and Jerry were cute and always had some girl after them and hanging out with me, Georgia, and Michelle meant we were nice beards for them as they were for me. Clayton was a good friend and a late bloomer, 10 years after high school he turned out to be gorgeous but then he was over 6 feet tall, pizza faced, braces and skinny. There were a few other girls that would join us but we were the core. We’d go to the movies and sit in different couple combinations so no one could figure out who was supposed to be with whom. It was also cover for things like homecoming dance that we wanted to go to but didn’t want a date. Cam, my brother, Jerry and I all went to the same church and Tony when to another Presbyterian church in Glendale so we had that in common too. None of us were out to ourselves let alone each other.

I spent the first 2 years of college avoiding dating except for when a sorority sister would ambush me with a blind date. One poor guy I ended up with twice and there was absolutely no chemistry. Many years later I found out why when I monitored the AIDS quilt and found his name lovingly embroidered on a large panel. I wish I had known in college and we might have been friends instead of something to avoid. That hurt.

I left school to work at a year round camp and things started to relax and for the first time in my life I felt free to be me. I started at a YWCA camp in 1975 and worked all of 1976 until we ran out of money in the spring of 1977. My boss, a Camp Fire Girl like myself talked me into working for her a the Girl Scout camp she has been hired to direct to be her Arts & Crafts Director. That year was a year in hell and it was a wonder that I decided to try a different camp the next year and not just stop

. That year I fell heavily in love with a straight woman and scared the crap out of her and me since I really didn’t understand what was going on. That year there weren’t any out lesbians or if there were they didn’t come out to me and I felt really alone. In July I got struck by lightning and pissed my friend, the boss off for scaring the kids and then in August I ended up getting poisoned by buckthorn and almost dying at camp because they wouldn’t take me to the doctor until I was unconscious but that is a story for another time. The poisoning happened during a staff game and my boss got mad at me for that too and even though I was really sick she sent me home with a concussion, a deep wound from surgery on my calf to try and get the thorn out and shock and a fever of a 105 and a blood pressure of 80/60 when they finally took it a day later. Camp was done for that year and I never heard from my boss again.

I learned then to keep things to myself and when I went to my next GS camp I thought I would do the same. The first night of precamp was a full moon and I got invited to a top of the road party by an bunch of the staff. We couldn’t drink in camp so you had to go to the top of the road to partake and this group of staff turned out to be lesbians and had assumed I was but I still didn’t really even know what a lesbian was. They were very confused when they figured out I was clueless about why I was invited. They left me alone for most of the rest of the summer and I had started to process that I might really be like them.