Sing, Sing, Midnight!

I wanted to introduce you to a wonderful book written by my friend, Emily Gallagher:

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click above to purchase

Maya is one of the nearly two million American children with an incarcerated parent, and she has a question for her Daddy. “Who takes care of you?” A simple question with an unexpected answer. Sing, Sing, Midnight! celebrates finding your voice, singing out loud, taking care of one another, and family.

We used this book at Grace Camp this summer- a real grounding moment for kids with someone in their family who is incarcerated. Also a great tool for helping kids understand friends who may have parents in jail or prison. I can’t recommend it enough!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ME

Yes, I am a father, and will always be a father even though I do not celebrate this special day. A friend intimated that there is a special kind of hurt when she said that I must have some way of dealing with this occasion, of coping with the loss of my relationship with my children. She is right.

She also wondered aloud what feelings my children experienced on this day. They must think about it – think about me, right? I don’t know, but I appreciated her conclusion that she would pray for them. I will too.

Many people feel a sort of angst when I tell them about this circumstance, about how my children could not make the transition with me from man to woman. Out of concern for me, they are often perturbed with the negative reaction of my children to my gender transition. My children have completely rejected me and think of me as dead. We have not spoken in nearly seven years.

It is harsh, but they are not entirely to blame. Their self-centered reaction is a reflection of their self-centered father. It is a function of the way they were raised, for children learn what they live.
Parents are responsible, at least in part, for the character defects of their children. Teach your children well.

So, my way of coping with the loss of familial association (as we lawyers would put it) on Father’s Day is one of understanding, responsibility and compassion. It must also be one of humility and acceptance. With humility serenity is certain to follow.

I am posting this blog because, not only many trans people, but I suspect many of the LGB folks as well, have a similar experience when they come out to their grown children. Well, not the Ls on Father’s day, but there is Mother’s Day too. The simple fact is that some children do reject their parent’s attempts to become authentic.

I suppose there is some stage of grief in which a person becomes philosophical about their loss, but I do wonder about the state of “familial association” in the LGBT universe. Do people have a natural inclination to resist change in the ones we love? I mean there is a whole childhood wrapped up in parents remaining the same – forever. Is not much of a young adult’s security attached to the stability, such as it is, of their parents? We like our parents the way they are, however they are. It is what we know. When they go changing stuff it shakes up our world. Sure, there are some who are mature and secure enough to focus altruistically on another’s health and wholeness, but many of us often focus on own feelings and needs first. Especially if you are self centered like me.

But, I have changed. Well, duh-uh! I have changed inside too. I now understand that my self centeredness is a character defect that I can grow beyond. In stead of drowning in self pity over the loss of my children, I can focus on their health and happiness. I can be happy for their happiness. I can be proud that they have their own lives, filled with the things that young people do and have. They have relationships and work and play. They are okay, and just as I am responsible in part for their character defects, I too can take some ownership in their successes.

And when Father’s Day is done I can wish me a Happy Father’s Day.

Marry Them Today

From Sean Chapin- a new song and video aimed at people voting about marriage equality in Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland. From Sean:

“Next month, four states will be voting on marriage equality: Washington, Maine, Minnesota and Maryland. With this in mind, I’ve written an original song and produced a music video in hopes of helping change the hearts and mind of voters in these four states, and it is called “Marry Them”. Please feel free to share this video to those you know. “

And yeah, I teared up.

Newest Ad For WA Marriage Equality

Most HIV-Positive Americans Lack Regular Medical Care

English: Enterprise Performance Life Cycle

English: Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Betsy McKay of the Wall Street Journal comes this from the recently concluded International AIDS  Conference in Washington DC:

HIV Data (1990, 2000, 2010)

HIV Data (1990, 2000, 2010) (Photo credit: cmdelaserna)

More than half of the people diagnosed with the HIV virus in the U.S. aren’t getting treatment for their infection, the U.S government said (Friday).

African-Americans and younger people are least likely to be receiving regular treatment, meaning that programs to keep them under a doctor’s care aren’t working or aren’t plentiful enough, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While 81% of those African Americans estimated to be infected are diagnosed, only 29% get ongoing care, and just 21% are “virally suppressed,” or have their virus controlled by a regular regimen of antiretroviral, or ARV, drugs. Among Americans ages 25 to 34, 72% of those infected are diagnosed, but 28% get care and a mere 15% are virally suppressed.

Overall, an estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV. Only 46% of those who are diagnosed with HIV get regular treatment, while a quarter of all those estimated to be infected are virally suppressed.

“We’ve got to do better,” says Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

The data were released at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

The challenge is to find ways to make HIV testing more widespread, and then make it easier to link those who are diagnosed directly into care — and to make sure they stay there, says Mermin.  “I want to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” he says.

And therein lies the challenge. The easy choice is sometimes pretending the choices don’t even exist….

Read the rest here. 

English: IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo

English: IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Disease and Dad

From my friend Mark S King over at My Fabulous Disease comes this gem:

The descriptions of his decline, in whispered calls from back home, had a dreadfully familiar feel to them. Weight loss at a frightful pace. Losing interest in the world. Suddenly looking very old indeed. Most gay men of a certain age have heard those words, have seen the patient, have buried the friend. This case was different, though. It wasn’t AIDS, it was cancer.

And the patient was Dad.

Dad and Mark

The disease had swept rapidly through my father since his initial diagnosis. The inevitable was approaching, but the territory was completely unfamiliar to my family, who hadn’t seen a death in more than 30 years. They were about to get a tour through hell. I have traveled it many times.

Amazing take- especially since losing my own mom in April….
Read the full story here.

Bozeman PFLAG

Last night I told my story to a lovely group of people at the Bozeman PFLAG meeting- and it occurred to me that maybe more people need to know about PFLAG and what they do.

From their website:

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 350 affiliates in the United States. This vast grassroots network is cultivated, resourced and serviced by the PFLAG National Office, located in Washington, D.C., the national Board of Directors and 13 Regional Directors.

A great group of people invested in LGBT equality. And they’re special because they represent the best of our allies- our parents, neighbors, siblings and friends- as well as LGBT persons.

Equality will only happen when the majority of Americans- who are not gay- realize and accept the ordinary reality of LGBT persons and their human desires for a beautiful life.

Bozeman’s group is fantastic- and they could use any extra support and encouragement you might be willing to give. Thank you all for a great evening!

Go ahead and look them up. Their Facebook page is here.