Tag Archive | gay rights

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 out is never easy — part 2

Part 2

There were a lot of things I had to work through. My parent’s church was heavily anti-gay even though every minister at the church just about had a gay kid including the executive pastor and the one my mom went to when she began to figure it out, who told her there was no such thing as lesbians when his own daughter was a dyke.

The next year at camp I was almost ready to come out when this woman I could not stand kissed me in front of the kids in the dining hall and told me to come out and I went running to our camp director who was also an out lesbian that year who just laughed. I’m afraid that scared me into the closet for another year especially since I later got that counselor fired for molesting some kids and assaulting another on a backpack trip and all I kept thinking was “I’m not like that” even though I knew the rest of the camp counselors were really nice people. Some of the one’s friends still haven’t forgiven me to this day for getting Huggie fired.

The third year at camp I spent edging out of the closet a toe at a time because I was in love and because I was A&C/ Nature Director I had a place to sleep in Lakesite Unit but no kid responsibilities so I could sleep around the camp in whatever shelter my crush was living in that week and people were convinced something was happening even though it wasn’t. It was also the year we had Peter Pervert running around at night torturing counselors by appearing at their bed after we were lights out and trying to sleep so I had an excuse of being extra security in the worst hit units. By the time I was out of camp that year I had finally admitted at least to myself that yes, I was a lesbian but it was not easy nor a fun process.

It would be years before I was out to my parents. I only came out to my brother because all my friends said Cam was gay so the first time we were alone I asked him and his answer was “Are you because all my friends say you’re gay?” We ended up abandoning the errand we were supposed to be on and went to the grand opening of the first Different Light bookstore when it opened in Silverlake and meeting a bunch of Cam’s friends.

Mom confronted Cam first about being gay and it wasn’t that bad for him when he said yes. When she finally figured out I was during an Oops moment on my part, she started screaming because my being gay made her getting grandchildren had dropped by 2/3s. Good thing my little sister wasn’t really out until mom had dementia.

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“2 queers and a question mark”

Meanwhile my friends were convinced my sister was gay too and used to call our family, “two queers and a question mark”. My sister played softball and was really good in sports, refused to wear dresses unless my mom threatened her lifetime and would only wear her hair really short. She had better dyke credentials than I did.

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.

Love wins

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While yesterday was a day for joy for many, my heart is grieving for all the ones who didn’t live to see it. My brother would have been so happy. My friend, Art, whose dream was to find some nice Latino boy and settle down. My guys from the AIDS Service Center who just missed lasting long enough to get the cocktail. My friend Kathy, long gone now from cancer. So many faces that longed for a day when everyone was accepted and loved.

I always thought that employment rights and housing would come way before marriage. I know from being harrassed at work for being gay and for being pagan how much it can hurt when you have no recourse. Thankfully, California does have laws now even if sometimes they can be hard to enforce. The AIDS crisis of the ’80s is the reason marriage became important as couple after couple lost everything when their spouse died and their families would swoop in and take everything that belonged to the deceased partner, often leaving the living partner grieving and homeless. Or the well partner locked out of the hospital by the family since they weren’t “next of kin”. So marriage came first before other much needed rights that straight people take for granted.

I can’t help thinking about all the weddings we were cheated out of attending.

Today, I remember those no longer here and I hope they know wherever they are that for once, love won.