May 13, 2013

High Five

It almost went by unnoticed. But I just realized I've been blogging—with a brief hiatus—for five years, as of May 1. Let's see how far this goes.

May 5, 2013

The Next Step

In my advocacy for equal rights and respect for people who are LGBT, I've done a lot of reading and studying, especially at the intersection of faith and sexuality. I have determined that anti-gay sentiment that is promulgated by religious conservatives (of ALL Abrahamic faiths) does not, in fact, come from the Bible/Koran/Torah. The roots go much deeper and further back to a cultural bias of misogyny.

What led me to this conclusion is the ongoing debate about the meaning of those biblical passages that may (or may not) be addressing homosexuality. There are about five different ways of looking at these passages, Old Testament and New. And honestly, it comes down to which meaning appeals most to the reader. Since some choose to find "homosexual acts" a sin—specifically men having sex with men—and some do not, what makes them choose that opinion? And why do they take that passage literally when there are dozens if not hundreds of other directives in the Holiness Code—out of 613—that they ignore? This inconsistency drives unbelievers crazy. Yet it persists. What's the deal?

I have determined that all people of faith take literally those directives that they agree with; all else are either metaphor, allegory, or taken in context of the time it was written. I do it, too. I find my view of acceptance consistent with my view of the nature of God. So this leaves us with the question: why do some choose to take literally a passage against homosexuality while ignoring other (and less convenient) passages?

One word: misogyny. And it began before a single word was written in the Bible. Look at the Ten Commandments: the tenth commandment warns against desiring things that don't belong to you: your neighbor's house, wife, male & female servant, donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor. That is a list of property, and it's written in descending order of value. Until only 150 years ago, a wife was a means of transferring power and property, by marriage and by childbirth. In biblical times it was customary for conquering soldiers to rape their enemies, thereby in effect turning them into women—that is, property. Even today, minority cultures consider the dominant partner in male sex to be heterosexual. Only the recipient partner in the submissive "female" role is considered gay.

All of this is to say that any act or behavior that is considered feminine is "less than" masculine. It remains an insult to say you did something "like a girl/woman." That concept carries over especially to men who have feminine characteristics. Even men in the gay community deride feminine behavior among themselves; and when they do they participate in their own discrimination. This also explains the disparity in treatment of lesbians, who simply seem invisible by comparison.

I did not reach this decision lightly or quickly. I have never been what I consider to be a feminist activist, although any person with half a brain has to recognize the imbalance in treatment and respect between men and women. I confess that I had my Angry Young Woman period when I entered the working world and was hit in the face with the disparities. I learned to prevail in spite of it.

Having come to this conclusion about anti-gay sentiment over the years, it troubles me that now it appears to be "my" issue. I have never wanted my advocacy to be about me. In effect, it actually diminishes the value of my argument because I have something to gain. In truth, I've always had something to gain—justice for my gay brothers and sisters—but with this new insight it looks like it's all about me.  How can I explain what I've learned without getting shut down as a feminist wannabe?

Yesterday I was faced with exactly this issue and I don't know where to go with it. A terrific movie called "Inlaws and Outlaws" was screened at a nearby Episcopal church. I invited all of my pastoral colleagues to join me, but no one did. However, a gay colleague from another department who is becoming a good friend did join me. In guided discussion after the movie, I tried to explain what I learned to a table of six. I was cut off as soon as I said "misogyny." The two gay men at the table—including my friend—literally sat back in their chairs and started making jokes about just saying "yes" so I'd shut up.

I was stunned. It was disrespectful and frankly proved my point, but I didn't know how to say that without bringing conversation to a halt. I needed to think about how to present my view without getting shut down. Arguing is not the way to bring about a change of heart.

So I bring it to you: The problem remains that gay men and women will not get the equality they seek and deserve until I also get mine. How do I broach this idea so that minds don't shut down?

Update: A heavily edited (and much better) version of this post appears today on

April 19, 2013

Remember That Whole "Don't Fall" Thing?

Our 30-year-old Maytag dryer was on the blink for the first time ever. I was carrying a basket of damp laundry to the car so we could take it to the laundromat. On the bottom (four-inch-high) step to the garage, my foot rolled over the edge and I went down. The basket caught my fall so I didn't land hard on the concrete, but my ankle took the brunt of it. Abe says I barely missed hitting the car. Hairline fracture (maybe more), bad sprain, boot for at least three weeks. At 59 years of age, I have my very first broken bone.

Honestly, with the boot it's not so bad. Slows me down, but not a lot. I'm driving left-footed, which is an adventure. :D Want a ride?

Proof, I say, that laundry is dangerous and I should not be doing it.

April 10, 2013

Chemo: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

First, let me say that chemo saved my life. It has also changed my life, and the adjustment is harder than I thought it would be.

My "chemo brain" seems to be very slowly but at least improving. My husband tells me my memory is getting better, but I hate that I can't even tell one way or another. I can no longer trust my already less-than-stellar memory and I must rely on notes and alerts. Heaven help us all if I lose my iPhone.

I have mild neuropathy in my feet that apparently is not going to go away. The numbness is not a big deal, but I'm trying different strategies to minimize the burning feeling. Apparently this is what happens to people with advanced diabetes too. My sympathies to them.

I was adjusting to my new reality until today. I was just told I have "significant" osteoporosis. An acquaintance of mine, who went through the same therapy at the same time I did, broke her foot by pushing up to get in bed. That sent me to the imaging clinic to get a bone scan, and I'm in the same boat. This means medication, changing my diet and  starting weight-bearing exercise, and I've been told "Don't fall!" Okay then.

A few months ago I joked with my friends that my body is 80 years old. Turns out I was right. I'm sure this will eventually become a part of everyday life and just be a kind of background noise. But thanks for letting me vent.

April 1, 2013

Tales Of Whoa

Consider this a Public Service Announcement.

About a month ago, I pulled into my usual gas station to gas up. Just as I was about to pull away, a big black SUV pulled up next to me, and the driver motioned for me to roll down my window so we could talk. The young woman asked me if I was from around here. I said I was and she asked if I knew of any local agencies that might help her with gas money. Rather than give her money—the obvious next question—I told her to call 211, the county's help line, to be connected with the proper agency that might help her. I pulled out, wondering if I had done the right thing by not offering money. It really bothered me for a few days.

Fast forward to last Saturday. I was in the mall parking lot in the same neighborhood, and who should pull up next to me but the same big black SUV. Did I live in the area? Could I direct her to a local agency that helps people who need gas money? "You've asked me this before." "I have?" "Yes." She took off. Give me a break.

I thought my local friends should know about this scam, so when I came back from Trader Joe's—in a different but nearby lot—I sat down to make a Facebook post about it. Mid-story, a woman approached my open window. She was about 40 and bald. She started a sad story about having driven from Ft. Wayne to get chemo (on a Saturday? In Indy?) and on her way back she got a flat tire. She had WAY too many details, a common tell for lying, but I had to ask something. "You just had chemo?" Sad face. "Yes." "Honey, I've had chemo. There is no way on earth you could be driving right after chemo." She started to argue (!) and asked for "just a couple bucks." "No." Her bald head clearly had hair coming in all over. She actually shaved her head for this charade. How dare she use this terrible disease to scam people.

In the past couple of months I've been approached in a grocery store and Target—"Are you a Christian woman?" from a woman who held her young child still in front of her—in direct pleas for money. Do I have "SUCKER" floating over my head?

Here's how I've been told to handle further "tales of whoa:" if they ask for something besides money like gas or food, offer to have them follow you so you can purchase it for them. No one I know who has done that has ever had the offer accepted. If they ask outright for money, offer to use your phone to call 211 and connect them with the proper agency. (PS: don't offer them your phone! They might run faster than you can.)

I have never had this happen to me before recently. I hope you never get approached. But just in case...

March 30, 2013

What's Your Sign, Part Two

Last Wednesday, Indianapolis was planning a peaceful rally at the Statehouse steps to support marriage equality. It was in the evening, well past the closing of arguments in the Supreme Court in Washington. So why bother? We needed to show Indiana that people in this state are far more forward-thinking than our legislators, who seem determined to take us back to the 19th century in a number of areas. It is time for the sheep to take the lead.

I made a new sign to be absolutely clear whose rights I was there for. I want fellow Christians and all people who are gay to see what real Christian love looks like. As I told a reporter there, Christians who oppose marriage equality are misusing the Bible. The message is grace.

March 14, 2013

Catching Up

So, let's see: it's been five months since I last posted. Mea culpa to both of you who keep checking back, and thank you for your patience.  :)

How do I cover five months as succinctly as possible? Bullet style, like Rox.

• After all the fuss faded away, I was invited to join two clinical trials for triple-negative breast cancer. Since I was pretty much guaranteed side effects that are permanent already from prior treatment, I declined. I'm doing okay. Still out of shape but getting better. My hair is almost 3" long.

• I went to Cleveland in August and saw Blobby and my friend Mike, who kindly hosted me. So cool to see them again! I was there to pick up my niece who had finished her internship there. She stayed with us in Indiana for a month. She is such fun to have around and she is welcome here any time. She graduates from Smith this spring.

• While I was in Cleveland, my son's car was stolen in Indiana by new "friends" who took off with it when he was in the store. Ben got it back a couple of weeks later, and the idiot who stole it is in jail.

• In December Abe learned he was being set loose to be an independent contractor. He still had a job in sales, but no paid expenses, no car, no computer, NO HEALTH CARE. This will cost us about $30K a year. So I went to my boss, and her boss, and HR and explained: I have to have more hours (full time), more money, and benefits. No choice. To their great credit, they're coming through. I'm full time with benefits for me and the kids (Abe's got his own—it's cheaper), and we are negotiating another substantial increase in pay. Truth be told, I've been getting church mouse pay for far too long, and I made a good case. And they know the circumstances at home. I can't tell you how great it is to work in such a supportive place. Everyone should have this sort of atmosphere in which to work.

• I spent Christmas in Sarasota after we learned that Mom had been put on hospice care. All of us siblings were there, together with Mom for the last time. Her dementia kept her from realizing what was going on, but she was comfortable and relatively content. Mom died in early January after a mercifully brief descent. I was the only one to speak at her service. In an interesting turn of events, our executive pastor in Indianapolis had left to helm his own church once again—and this time it was the church I attended as a child, where Abe and I got married. He presided over Mom's memorial service after having been on the job for one week. It was very comforting to have him there.

• I went back to Florida in February for an annual church educators' convention, where once again we learned that our church and ministry continue to lead in innovation and best practices. It's great to be affirmed, but I want to learn something new and bring home fresh ideas. At the urging of one of the convention planners, I entered my workshop proposal once again. There is a chance that they will accept it again, and I can present it next February in San José.

• After the convention in Orlando, my sister picked me up and we drove down to Fort Lahdeedah to see Tony and his husband Chris. We had an absolute blast, as I suspected we might. My sister is really fun and everyone loves her. I run the risk of becoming "her sister" once again when people meet her. It's happened more than once, but I don't really care. Tony and Chris joined us for dinner and the next day held a soiree so that we could meet more of their friends. Some I knew, most I did not, but all of them were fascinating people. We laughed the afternoon away. It was the highlight of my time in Florida.

• I'm staying active in PFLAG and I'm now on the board of our local chapter. A new project of PFLAG National is called Straight For Equality and one of its divisions is "In Faith Communities." Apparently I must have written them a bit about my story, because an edited version of it is in print in their main publication "Be Not Afraid." If you get one of these booklets, check out page 15. For some reason they shaved off a few years of my age, but I'll take it. Our local chapter is among the group that started the You Have A Purpose Project in reaction to an Indiana teacher who stated on camera that gay children have no purpose. We are filming a video to put online. I'll tell you when it's up. Meanwhile, check out the Facebook page for the project.

This post has no real purpose except to tell you I'm fine and still here. Dare I hope for "normal" times? Hope springs eternal. I'm glad to be back and grateful you are here too.

October 3, 2012

Coming Back Soon

Apologies for my prolonged absence. I am emerging from depression, a period in which reaching out or initiating anything was just impossible to consider. I'm getting better, and I'll be back soon.

July 26, 2012

Once-in-a-lifetime Wedding

Last month I had the great pleasure of attending the wedding of someone I had known since he was little, the child of dear friends who attend the same church. This wedding was different and probably once-in-a-lifetime for me. It was the exchange of vows between two transmen.

James (left) and John were married in Chicago in June surrounded by friends and loved ones.

John is acknowledged by his birth state of Illinois to be male and has changed his Illinois state ID and Social Security card to match. James’ California driver’s license has “female” as his legal sex. (He does not want to change his legal sex unless they offer T for transgender.) By marrying in Illinois, the marriage is registered as between bride and groom, thereby being recognized in all 50 states and by the federal government. (BTW: pure genius way to work the system, gentlemen.)

It was a privilege to witness the moving ceremony, and lots of hankies were out for all the right reasons. There was a pall cast briefly over the celebration afterward when James approached to tell me how important it was to him that my husband and I attended.

“You are the only ones of my parents’ friends to attend,” he said.

“I know, sweetheart.”

"Some of them stayed away on purpose.” His blue eyes were bright.

“I know, sweetie, and I’m sorry.”

We hugged and the party went on into the night. John and James are obviously in love and good for each other. I see a peace in James that was not evident for a long time. Love is always something to celebrate.

An announcement appeared on Joe.My.God.
A lightly-edited version of this appears on Bilerico.