Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back in the saddle

I have let Wondercrone lie fallow for a long time. I was so discouraged by the midterm elections and the fascist direction I see this country taking that I had a hard time writing the blog for a long time.  If anything, I  choked on an overabundance of material. Today, an old blog entry from last October got reposted and shared around by others and I remembered why I started writing the blog in the first place. 

When someone else picks up or links to one of my blog entries, it is very encouraging.  Candy Crowley linked the one I wrote about CNN (National Enquirer of the Air) to her blog and that made me feel very good.  (Not so good: the Indonesians who have hijacked searches for my blog to open in their own website.)    The one that got picked up today was Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are, about the power and importance of coming out.  It showed up on the Facebook page of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. 

To me, coming out is a matter of personal integrity.  Yes, who I am is my personal business, but only exposing part of who I am is a lie which dishonors my friends and family and society in general.  Look at the damage done by people not coming out!  Our detractors are able to maker up horrific myths about us and scare people about who we may be and what might happen if we are allowed to be treated like human beings or actually given full citizenship.  That those lies and ugly mythologies keep proliferating is our own fault. 

Back in the late 1990s, I attended a concert by the Portland OR Gay Chorus.  The singers each called out something about who they were -- teacher, sister, doctor, grandmother, salesman, singer... the audience, not a gay audience, was in tears by the time they finished.  There was a recognition that we are family in the widest sense.  No one in that room -- the meeting hall of a Catholic parish -- left there the same as they were when they entered.  As the tears streamed down my cheeks, an old priest leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "I know exactly how you feel."  He, too, was hiding his identity.  That experience, among other things, including a vivid dream, enabled my own coming out at age 60. 

I first realized I was gay when I was in Junior High.  I was so horrified that I buried it as deeply as I could.  It was 1952!  Being queer was not only classed as a mental illness, it was illegal and punishable by prison, and I was a child.  There was no one to talk to about it. One didn't dare.  It kept coming back, though.  Who you are at the core of your being has a way of doing that. The shame I was made to feel then burned itself so deeply into my soul that it took nearly a lifetime for me to look at myself in the mirror and say "I am a lesbian" with pride.  The other thing I said to myself that day was "I love you." 

The thing is, thanks to ignorance and the religious right, many kids are still feeling the same burning shame I felt, even though it has been years since being gay was still classified as a mental illness, and those scary sodomy laws are no longer on the books.   We owe it to them to be that Gay Chorus and stand up and shout out who we are: grandmother, teacher, musician, nurse... the real us, not the mythical monsters we have been made out to be.

No one will ever leave the room the same as they came in. 

***The cat?  That's Growler.  Her look says it all. 

Photo credit: Laura Hoffman