We offer more than fashion tips

This weekend we’ll be having the big gay pride celebrations here in Seattle, and the Supreme Court has made them extra special. If you’ve been reading my blog you most likely know this, but for the record I’m out and proud as a dyke, a queer, and a lesbian. Today I’m going to share a few secrets of happiness with you from our community to yours (however you yourself identify). Like many of us, I’ve learned some of these the hard way.

  • Be who you are, no matter what. Others may not understand you, but you’re only going to be happy being you. Trying to fit into a model or a pattern set by someone else just makes you unhappy. I used to try to make myself girly because I felt it would get me more temp work (which I hated anyway) and because I believed what I had been told–that if I didn’t do this I was “letting myself go”. Because I only wear makeup for drag and don’t do the frilly stuff, I was told I needed to “fix myself up”. Hogwash! I am me being me. It’s really what I’m best at, and joy is the best cosmetic out there.
  • You are not the only one. These days there are more openly gay celebrities, so I think that fewer gay kids grow up thinking that they are the only gay person in the world. I am so grateful for this. No matter who you are, there are other people like you, and you will discover them. Just this evening at square dancing I had a lovely discussion with fellow dancers and found out they love to talk about Shakespeare as much as I do. Embrace your passions, and know that you can find your tribe.
  • Be proud of who you are. Most people do not realize how fabulous they are, and our complexities make us all the more beautiful. You may have walked a rough path to get to this moment in time and you may not yet have achieved even a fraction of what you plan to do. You may have even made mistakes or done something wrong. Odds are you’re doing your best. Hold your head up high and let people know who you are. If you’re not proud of yourself because you’re hurting yourself or others, know that you can change your direction at any time.
  • No matter what you do, some people are going to love you and some are going to hate you. This may sound pessimistic, but it actually gives you so much freedom. People are really random, and no matter what you do, no matter what rules you follow, some of them are just not going to like you. You may as well be yourself, and have people understand who you truly are. Odds are, they’ll be enchanted–if they’re not, you don’t need them in your life.

The older I get, the more I understand these things. This is my gift to you at Pride. Get out there and be you–the world is waiting.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
248. What can you do to be more fully you? Take a step in that direction, or even better, a giant leap.

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So much more than rainbows

June is officially Gay Pride Month, and as we all wait to see what the Supreme Court will do on some very important decisions, I am contemplating next week’s Gay Pride Parade here in Seattle. Many people have asked why we’re so loud when we’re proud; why we have to march through the streets; why businesses around town have to sport rainbow flags to show we’re welcome to shop there. I’ll tell you. I’m a lesbian, so I have strong opinions on this issue.

We are waiting on the courts to decide on rights that everyone else already has. As I write this, many of my queer brothers and sisters can be fired because of who they are–legally. I have a close friend who was just fired for being gay. That’s illegal here in Seattle, but it still happens. GLBT people face harassment around the globe and across the United States. We’re assaulted; we’re discriminated against; we’re murdered. Yes, things have gotten better, but even the people who support us sometimes treat us like stereotypes instead of people.

I know people within the gay community who dislike the parade for this reason. They argue that the parade showcases the most flamboyant among us, those with the most alternative liftestyles. It’s true, those may be the people you notice. It’s also true that there are some of us who blend in more than others. Some assert that we’re just like heterosexuals except for the people we choose to love and have sex with. That’s not really true.

It’s true in a Shakespearean sense–if you cut us we bleed; if you tickle us we laugh. It’s not true in a cultural sense. We are a part of the larger culture, but we also have our own rich culture and tradition. Who we love and how we exist as a group shapes us as a people, and it is intrinsically linked to who we are. We are the accountants, the dog lovers, the librarians. We are the drag queens, the leather daddies, the dykes on bikes. We are so many things and the parades represent them all.

I’m in favor of the parades because they showcase our variety to the community at large. I’ve also experienced the healing power of the parade. Even in liberal places, hateful treatment comes when you least expect it. Many queer people do not have supportive families, and we form our own chosen families for this reason. We never know when we’re going to be treated differently or even harmed just because of who we are. I’ve marched down the streets of Seattle as part of the parade. It may seem silly, but it helps to hear that PFLAG loves me; to hear the cheers of the crowd as they support our display of pride. It makes me cry every damn time.

No doubt some are there to gawk. Many more are there to be supportive. I understand that some queer people are tired of the rainbow being plastered on everything. I understand that some companies are just pandering to our pocketbooks. I know that some people just like to come out and party. I understand all this, but I still think it’s important. We’re still fighting for our rights and acceptance, and every little bit of support and community is very helpful.

Our community is diverse and beautiful. I cannot speak for every part of it, nor even for every lesbian. We are individuals, but we are tied together by common threads. I’ll be attending the pride festivals once again this year, marching in the Dyke March, and waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to rule on our right to marry. Happy Pride!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
247. Attend Pride festivities in your local area. If you are not part of the LGBTQI community, attend as an ally and learn about the rich variety of gay people out there beyond television stereotypes. For extra credit, go to Wikipedia and check out Stonewall to see why we started marching.

Your link, should you desire to follow it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

Meandering

It’s Sunday, a day to relax and not worry about staying focused. Despite this, I managed to go to a very efficient meeting for our upcoming square dance event. I even got in a walk on the way there. It had started to rain by the time the meeting was breaking up, and one of my friends offered me a ride. I told her I lived nearby, but she was concerned because it was raining. I thanked her and gave her my standard response—I’m not the Wicked Witch of the West, so I won’t melt. (Indeed if I am any of the witches from that movie I would be Glinda. Who doesn’t want to travel around in a bubble and look gorgeous all the time?)

I relish these chances to walk in the rain, to breathe in the fresh clean air and enjoy the sound-dampening characteristics of the mist. I could hear the birds enjoying it with me, and I walked around a little bit extra once I got where I was going, just to soak it all in. Ah bliss!

I’ve been doing a lot of walking this weekend. Last night I marched in a candlelight vigil for the recently-formed Queer Ally Coalition. There’s been an increase lately in gay bashings, so our community wants to remain visible, organized, and strong. The walk felt very positive to me, and I think we got our message across.

Now I’m off to commune with friends. I know many people go to a church to worship on Sunday, and I support them in that. I feel like I’ve worshipped all over Seattle today. Life is good.

See you tomorrow!

Link, should you desire it:

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2009/02/28/anti-hate-vigil

Dancing no matter what

I’m back, but my posts will probably be shorter than usual for a while. Like many people, I’m unemployed and things are continuing to get more difficult. I need to spend a lot more time finding work than even before, and that means the blog may be a little sparse for a while.

I’m still working on joy, though, but today I’m not feeling particularly joyful. I’m working towards it. In the middle of my personal stress, a threat was announced in the press to one of the major places where I go dancing. Some wacko is threatening to kill the customers of local gay bars. I found this out right after I opened the book of lesbian short stories I borrowed from the library—there was an insert that someone put in to tell me that “the wages of sin are death” and that I was going to hell. This sort of thing is more stressful at a time when I’m already stressed, but I’ve progressed from sadness to anger. Eventually the joy will return. It always does, especially when I go out dancing. I won’t let this self-appointed vigilante stop me from going dancing, just because s/he doesn’t like gay bars. I will be careful be more careful than usual, however.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

218. Next time you’re in a difficult spot or a difficult mood, keep going. You’ll catch up to joy soon enough if you keep onwards.

Link, should you desire it:

Details on the threats in Seattle made to gay bars,

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/01/06/gay_bars_receive_threatening

Something to see

Happy Sunday! On Sundays I often spend at least part of the day watching movies and eating dinner with friends. We’ve come to treasure this little ritual. Usually we watch movies at someone’s house, but occasionally we go out. I’ve recently seen two treasures you might want to look out for. They may not yet have been released where you are—that’s one of the perks of living in a big city like Seattle.

The first is Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle). There’s already Oscar talk about this little gem, and it’s well-deserved. This movie is about the Indian version of the television show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? A contestant from the slums is about to win the big prize, and everyone wonders how he could know all the answers with his background. The movie tells you. I love a movie that can surprise me like this one does, and many scenes in it will stay with me. Unique and uplifting.

The other is Milk (2008, Gus Van Sant). Sean Penn has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, who was the first openly-gay elected official. Although Milk was assassinated, this movie is ultimately uplifting, and Sean Penn is amazing here. I should have known better than to wear eye makeup the day I saw it, but I left the theater feeling good. I also love the movie’s tag line—Never Blend In. I couldn’t agree more.

On a related note, there’s a short internet film I just adore. It’s called Prop 8 The Musical, and it’s a three-minute star-studded musical about the recently enacted ban on gay marriage in California. Here’s the YouTube link, but if that doesn’t work, just search the name. I hear there’s talk of making this into a full-length musical. I would love to see it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5-fZKg4Uj4

See you tomorrow!

Joy is for all

The other day I wanted to send a greeting card to a friend of mine, and I wasn’t able to do it. I know his address. I’ve been to his house, but I don’t know his last name. I met his partner first, and that’s how we met and became friends. They’ve been together for umpteen years, and are in most respects an old married couple. But, since they are two men, and cannot legally be an old married couple, I realized that I’d never learned his last name.

Seemingly small incidents like this one demonstrate why I think gay marriage should be legal. Life for a queer person who is open about his or her sexuality is full of these little moments. A while back I asked at a video store if they had a gay and lesbian film section. I wanted to see a romantic film someone had recommended, and I was not currently in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s gay neighborhood. The clerk said: “Why on earth would we have that?” and looked at me as if I’d just requested a porn video about babies and zebras. I’m used to it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the ugliness.

A lot is going on right now in this country, and more than ever I believe that we need to accord the same civil rights to everyone. It’s bad enough to know that every year some gay or transgender people are murdered because of who they are, and every queer person knows that if we give our dates a tender look in the wrong neighborhood it might happen to us, too.

Despite all this, I remain joyful, because I refuse to give away my power. I can write to my legislators, I can spread the word on my blog, and I can continue to live the best life I know how. As the saying goes, living well is the best revenge, and it’s better to do something about a problem than to just complain about it. I try to do both.

See you tomorrow!