Today’s Must-Read: Richard Blanco

If you’re haunted sometimes by memories of “gay terror” from your childhood- especially when it involved family- this essay is for you. In reading it, I recognized so much of the familiar and long-past memories of shame and fear that molded me, that sent me- much later- into the world with clearer purpose. I also recognized the stories of clients and friends- and not just gay friends- many of us eventually disappointed or confused the people who raised us….

Excerpt:

At thirty-one, I sit at a candlelit table across from the man who will be my husband. I tell him about my grandmother and the coping mechanisms I developed; how they naturally led me to writing; mechanisms that became part of my very creative process. Becoming withdrawn and introverted, I grew to become an observer of the world, instead of a participant. In order to survive emotionally I learned to read my environment very carefully and then craft appropriate responses that would (hopefully) prevent abuse and ridicule from my grandmother. I explain to my husband-to-be that I am still that quiet, repressed boy whenever I am in a room full of people, trying to be as invisible as possible, but taking in every detail, sensory as well as emotional, that will eventually surface in a poem.

My work is often described as vivid and lush; relatives often marvel at my recollection in my poems of family events and details. Qualities I attribute directly to the skills spawned from my coping with my abuse. But beyond that, I’ve come to understand why writing and me became such a great fit. It allowed me to participate in the world, to feel alive, while remaining an invulnerable observer, safe in my room, at my desk, in my imagination where no one, especially my grandmother, could hurt me.

It’s beautiful and humble and brilliant. Please read the full essay here. And then, in case you missed it, watch Richard Blanco read his lovely poem at the president’s inauguration yesterday.

The Girl Effect

The infographic below was created by the Girl Effect which is a movement about leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families and the world. It highlights the problem of child marriage which leads to pregnancy and childbirth which can be fatal for young girls- not to mention damaging to a country’s economy.

Infographic_Girl-Effect

 
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/6-infographics-about-being-a-woman-that-will-make-you-want-to-take-action.html#ixzz2Hrij8zMw

Love Wins!

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Jesse Page, left, and Brendan Taga, exchange wedding vows just after midnight on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. Marriage ceremonies were held in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Mary Yu beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, the first day same-sex couples in Washington State can legally be married. Many of the judges donated their time to be at the courthouse to officiate at the weddings. Click pic for more…. Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO / SEATTLEPI.COM

The Joys of Parenting

Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a father. I even asked for a baby doll for Christmas, much to my parents’ chagrin. However, I actually GOT said baby doll. Her name was Tina! Funny how I can remember that. I took her everywhere around the house with me. Made sure she “ate” and changed her diaper. Mom used to watch me with her and she had decided that I would make a fantastic father, someday.

In church, on Sundays, Mom would often take nursery duty. There weren’t that many infants in those days, but she would bring me with her to “help.” Little did she know that my “help” really WAS help. She used to delight in telling people that little babies/children and dogs really love me. Whenever someone was fussy, into my arms they went. And, they quieted down very quickly.

I spent many years believing that I would, someday, be a father. I got married at 19 partly because of that. Now, never you mind that I had come out at 17 for the first time. My desire to be a parent far outweighed the fact that I am gay. And, I knew that the only way I could ever have children was to be married. This was a direct result of growing up in the church with a minister for a father.

Shortly thereafter, I got divorced. A marriage that lasted 9 months, legally. And, I came out again. All of my hopes of parenthood were dashed and I was preparing myself to never think of children again.

Fast forward some years later. I worked my way out of the “pink haze” and I became an adult. (In maturity vs. age – there is a HUGE difference!) I was spending my time around couples of all genders and sexuality. And, there were children. Who knew?

Again, hope flared. Albeit, briefly. I began to look into adoption, but here in the State of Montana, you are more likely to be able to adopt as a single parent, than as a gay couple. Hopes dashed again.

I met a young man at the theatre where I do some music direction and acting. He was a foster kid and really was one of societies throw-aways. He had been in the foster care system since he was 4 years old and was fast approaching 17. We struck up a friendship and then became a bit closer. I was a mentor to him. Eventually, he started calling me, “Dad.” And a family was born.

Fast forward just a few months later. Around the same time I met the young man, I met a single mother with a wonderful daughter. Come to find out, they were our neighbors across the street. We had only just moved in. Well, my partner and I used to spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch. Very late one evening, we send a text to “Mom” saying, “Kid is home. Isn’t she a bit late?” From that, became a surrogate parenthood of a teenage daughter. As a matter of fact, while I sit here writing this, she is staying at our house while her mother is out of town and I am fretting like any other parent because I am waiting for her to come home, the snow is starting to come down and she just got her driver’s license this summer. . .I digress.

Anyway, I read an article that gave me even more hope. Read it here: Foster Parenting

It would appear that in Los Angeles, they are trying to court LGBT couples to become foster parents! Something that we might consider in Montana. Think about it. . .so many children need stable homes. And, how many of us have had the desire to become parents, but lack the funds to adopt or have surrogacy, etc? (By the way, adopting from the foster care system is usually subsidized BY the foster care system! Or at least the costs are greatly reduced.)

So, my point in all of this is, “FAMILY” is defined many ways. There are many opportunities for us to become parents. There are many ways to help children out there. And, there are times for us to be positive role models to young people.

Raging Against The Hate Machine

In light of this:

“the Republican platform included language rejecting not just same-sex marriage but also the watered-down alternative that many elected officials find more palatable: civil unions. The GOP platform committee also defeated a proposed amendment that said all Americans should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.”

I present this:

Sullivan In Newsweek:

If you haven’t read Andrew Sullivan’s cover story in this week’s Newsweek, you must. It’s an authoritative synopsis of Obama’s civil rights policy evolution on behalf of the gays. Excerpt:

This, by any measure, is an astonishing pace of change in one presidential term. In four years Obama went from being JFK on civil rights to being LBJ: from giving uplifting speeches to acting in ways to make the inspiring words a reality. And he did so by co-opting the forces of resistance—like the military leadership. He fooled most of us much of the time, our outbursts often intemperate—I went on CNN at one point to say that the president had betrayed the gay community on the military ban. We snarked about the “fierce urgency of whenever.” Our anger built. And sometimes I wonder if he goaded us into “making him do it.” If he did, it worked.

Click the cover for the full essay.