Tag Archives: lesbian

Front seat conversation

I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car, for months now, that says, “I love love. I support gay marriage.” Simple message, yet loaded at the same time. In all of the months that I have had it on there, I have only seen two other cars with it on; and I have travelled a LOT of miles since that time. Not many persons seem to want to advertise what their thoughts are on this important issue.

However, every time that I get behind the wheel, I am acutely aware of what is on my bumper. And, I consider the car that is travelling behind me. I drive several miles to and from work; I travel from my office to other destinations; I sit in traffic a lot. So, there are many chances for other drivers behind me to get close enough and read the message.

I often wonder, I mean, I ALWAYS wonder, what kind of conversation does this muster in the front seats of the cars that are behind me? I mean, there are times that the driver behind me is alone in the car, and I have seen at least one driver who was actually mouthing the wording of my bumper sticker out loud in her car one day. It was kind of charming. Funny thing is, the sticker is actually “I heart heart. I support gay marriage.” There are two hearts for the words, love, yet, people know that. That day, the woman in the car was mouthing “I love love.” Cool.

When there is a driver and a passenger, or, more than one passenger, in the car behind me, I often am curious about what is being said about the sticker, presuming that they have seen it and read it. My guess is, most drivers that are close enough to my bumper to read it, DO. And, face it, everyone has an opinion about gay marriage. Gay rights. Gay, PERIOD. I wonder if the conversation is one of compassion, anger or hatred. I wonder if there exists understanding, or if the front seat conversation seeks understanding. I wonder if prayers are recited, or vile words are repeated. Or, if a person in a passenger seat heaves a huge sigh of relief, that there are people out in the world who are on their side. It kinda sucks that I have to feel appreciative when people stand up for gay persons, that aren’t gay themselves. Frankly, it doesn’t happen often enough, at least not up to this point.

I was at a holiday event with our daughter over the weekend, here in our little town, at the Fire Hall. A woman sitting next to me, whom I had met through our church, was inquiring as to whether or not I had written a letter to the editor of the local paper the week before, about the Equality March. She was sure that she had recognized my name, and, my town. Yep, I said. That was me.

She spent the next few minutes telling me how much she liked the letter; that she was so glad that someone was talking about it; that she thought it should not be such a big deal if gay persons wanted to marry; what was the harm? Why were so many people against it? I thanked her for her conversation, and her support. It felt so comforting to know, that it had been read, and that people do understand, care, and want justice.

I know, from my front seat to theirs, I have begun a dialogue, albeit silent in some ways; but minds are being at least challenged, ideas are being introduced; people are talking; and maybe, just maybe, the times are a changing.

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The power of Soulforce

About four years ago, I was conducting an online search for resources, mainly, spiritual or religious resources, for LGBT youths/students that offer authentic support to them. There were some organizations and places that I found that seemed genuine. However, there was one particular organization that caught my attention, and kept my attention, the most.

Soulforce.

Soulforce is an organization that believes in nonviolent, passive resistance as a way to get things done on behalf of LGBT persons. Through activism, writings, and their forums, they help others to understand, and also offer active support for those who identify as LGBT, and assist those persons in their coming out. It may sound oversimplified, but it really is difficult for me to put into words how grateful I am for this organization, and the people that I met through it. Soulforce is a life preserver for many who have been damaged by others in the name of religion.

Soulforce, I believe, helped me to find my voice within the LGBT community. I always had a pretty clear idea since I came out who I was as a gay person. Even when I struggled with the coming out process, I kind of knew how I would turn out. However, Soulforce helped me to understand who I was within the LGBT community. It helped me to find out how to speak out, on behalf of my truth and the truth of us all. The need to find equality, the need to be treated fairly. The need to be viewed as beloved.

The need for justice.

But, Soulforce became more than an organization of support for me, more than an education in how to advocate, how to inform, how to protest injustice. Soulforce, by its meaning to me, means to fight injustice not with physical force, but with soul force. To combat inequality with love, compassion, understanding and awareness rather than fists, clubs and weapons. It means, meet those that oppose us with love, self knowing and peace, and seek to inform others rather than fight against them.

So, going to Washington two weeks ago, marching on behalf of myself, and millions of others, I carried the message and lessons and love of Soulforce with me.

Yet, there is more.

I made friends, many good friends, at Soulforce. Sharing stories, support and love. Meeting when we can. Sharing our joys, our sorrows, our peaks and valleys of life. So, a few of us were able to meet up in Washington, D.C. on October 11.

Here we are, after numerous texts to track each other down amidst 200,000 of our closest friends:

soulforce friends

Soulforce, as a belief and an organization, has helped me to grow as a person. Has helped me to pursue justice in a more formalized way. I have known since I was very young that I would fight on behalf of those that are oppressed, I just needed to get organized about it. Better informed. Better able to focus my efforts.

Soulforce has helped me to do that. And, in the process, helped me to meet some lifelong friends.

I am eternally grateful for that.

Soulforce.

Marching onward!

I was filled with anticipation, and I have to admit, a bit of anxiety. We were not even at the train station yet in Wheaton, and it was after 12 noon.

Noon was when the march on Sunday, October 11 was about to start.

I didn’t want to miss it. I was trying to let go; trying to realize how difficult it was when were trying to keep a group of 18 persons together for one six hour trip. Delays were bound to happen. There would be plenty of other moments that would occur that day that I could take in and carry with me.

I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that we might miss the march. That was a big part of what I was looking forward to. Marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, with what I expected to be thousands of others who believe in full, equal rights. I wanted to carry my neon sign. I wanted to be one of the many that were present and visible, walking past the White House, voices raised in unison.

So, to Wheaton we went. We finally found the train station, so that we could ride the Metro into the city to avoid driving into traffic. We got our passes. We made our pit stops.

Then, we were on the train. We were on our way.

When we got off the train, about one block from where the march was beginning, we weren’t sure if it was still going on. It was close to 1:00; surely, it was close to being over, and preparing for the rally.

But, we heard them. The crowd.

At first, I couldn’t tell if it was the crowd that was marching, the crowd that was lining the streets in support, or some of both. All I knew was, I saw it right ahead of me. A torrent of humans, carrying signs, chanting, and walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

marching to the capitol!

The march was still going on…….

And, the thing is, there were SO MANY people marching, we couldn’t possibly have missed it. There were still marchers for several blocks by the time we entered the line. We just walked up to the march, and jumped in. Carrying our signs. Mine was neon pink, and on one side said: “Love is Love”. The other side, the one that I showed most often, was “Accept No Substitutes: Full Equal Marriage NOW”. I had my newly created tee shirt on as well; one bride plus one bride equals love. That simple.

bride plus bride equals love

me and marching

That is it, in a phrase, that is what we want. That is what I want, for myself, my family, and anyone else who feels so inclined to marry. We deserve that right.

On that bright, sunny day in October, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, it didn’t matter what we were wearing, what color or gender we were, even whether or not we carried a sign or a flag.

We were united, fully together, connected, by the desire for change, the hunger for justice, the demand for equality and full rights.

We had a purpose, and we were so rocking that purpose in that moment of time. And, it worked. And, it will continue to work, I so know that.

the crowd

Me and 17 strangers

3:30 AM came mighty early on Sunday morning. But, the early awakening and driving in darkness was so worth it.

You see, I was preparing to walk toward my dream, to begin another phase of transformation.

So, at 5:30 AM, we began our journey from Newton, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. To march, and to rally, for full and equal rights. Eighteen of us all together. Most of us had never met other people on the van, or in the two cars that were in the caravan. The ages ranged from eighteen up to women in their fifties and sixties. Some of us were there with friends, some with partners, some on their own. Some of us were allies, some were gay. Before that day, I had never met any of those on the van before.

What an adventure.

The main thing that we had in common at 5:30 AM, anticipating a ride of several hours to DC, was a desire to see justice come to be. To see full and equal rights. We may have each had a motivation that made it unique to ourselves, but the common cause was justice, equality, fairness, and civil rights.

Less than an hour into the trip, we began to share food that we all had collaborated in bringing along. One person brought brie cheese and lime flavored tortilla chips. Another couple brought homemade egg salad, bagels and bread. Yet another person brought candy corn and gumdrops. We had protein, carbs, fruit, drinks, and companionship.

By the time we were halfway to Washington, we knew additional aspects of life that we had in common. Pets. Children. Foods we enjoyed. Surviving cancer. Vacations. Causes. Friends.

What connects us as people is always so much more powerful than what divides us. It allows us to see the true spirit that shines from one another.

One of the most impacting stories of that day, among those that joined us, was in relation to the three teenage women that drove behind the van in their car. Samantha had left a note for her mother at 4:30 that morning, simply stating “I am going to change the world.” Those young women ended up coming with us after hearing about the march from a patron at K Mart the night before, one of our other fellow marchers.

All of them allies. All of them heterosexual, yet knowing that equality is equality, plain and simple.

By the time we pulled back into Newton, New Jersey at 2:00 AM Monday morning, I no longer thought of those other seventeen people as strangers. Rather, I had made seventeen new friends, comrades in arms, who will go forward with me on this journey toward full equality, in this battle for justice.

Our journey together has just begun.

NEM idol!

Okay, now I don’t know if this is REALLY going to happen, but I think I am auditioning to be a speaker at the rally during the National Equality March on October 11, 2009. For those of you that don’t know, the National Equality March, and rally, is being held for the first time this year, in order to bring as many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender persons and their families, friends and allies together, to advocate for full, equal, civil, marriage rights. There is no more time to be patient; now is the time to act.

As part of this historic event, which by the way is being held at the same time as the annual Coming Out Day, there will be speakers to address the thousands of persons that are anticipated as attending. And, as part of that energy, people have been invited to audition to be a speaker there, persons that have energy, passion, have a devotion to the LGBT community and its needs, and who want to speak out about it.

Well, let’s see: I have energy, no doubt. Passion, without questions. Devotion? Well, I have been working toward inclusion and understanding for years now, through training, and educating others, including most recently, the church that my family and I attend. I think I am qualified.

But, the question is: do I have the courage to do this? Sure, there could be thousands that try for this, so my chances of being chosen are slim. However, I am willing to try anyway, but what if I were chosen, what then???? Thinking about it makes my stomach feel funny, though I am not sure if that is butterflies of excitement or waves of nausea in anticipation.

What I need to do to try out for this is two things: First, draft a speech of that which I would like to say to get people energized and full of hope to go forward. Then, I have to film myself giving that speech, and send it off to the organizers. They will pick a group of finalists, whose videos will be uploaded onto Youtube and then voted on; whoever gets the most hits, wins!!

I will keep you all posted, and I will probably post my speech at some point, but the thing is, that feels more challenging to me than actually speaking in front of people……

How do I say in three minutes or less how this journey of identity and coming out has brought me to my self, like nothing else in my life? How speaking up and speaking out is now the only way that I can be? How marrying the love of my life would be one of the most anticipated moments for me? How valued and beloved I feel by the Universe, God, and so many persons I have met, who have felt rejected much of their lives?

There is so much in my heart and soul that needs to be said, that should be said, when it comes to equality, love, and justice. Because, that is what this is about, more than love, more than civil rights or pride, is justice, doing the right thing.

Fairness for all.

Wish me luck!!!!