A Rainbow Crosswalk for Northampton!

For those of you who know me, you know that I’m pretty passionate about LGBT Rights and have been a community organizer and a vocal activist in the Northampton community since the mid 1990’s. I started with the now defunct Northampton Area Lesbian & Gay Business Guild in 1995, and then helped with the Northampton Pride Inc. organization for 11 years, until 2009. For the past 4 years until the end of 2013 I worked with the LGBT Coalition of Western MA assisting with events and joining their board of Directors.

Now, as a  re-energized supporter and activist, I’m on a new gig to secure funding for the City of Northampton to install a rainbow crosswalk in downtown Northampton in front of Thorne’s Marketplace. The project has been met with surprisingly NO opposition, red tape, or criticism. In fact, all of the parties, from  Terry Culhane, chair of the board of Public Works, the city engineer, Jim Laurila, Mayor David Narkowitz, and the Northampton Parking Commission have been more than supportive and even seemingly excited to help with this endeavor.

While in some future year, the cost of repainting the crosswalk may be included in the budget as routine, this year I need to raise the funds for the paint. The city is generously donating the time for designing the layout, ordering the paint, cleaning the street, and installing the finished product. It may be the first rainbow crosswalk on the East Coast, but even if it’s not, it will be spectacular for our city as a symbol of diversity!

Please help with reaching the goal for this endeavor by making a contribution either by check to the City of Northampton (put Rainbow crosswalk project in the memo line), or by clicking here to go to our facebook page and donate by credit card using PayPal:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here’s an example of another crosswalk that looks similar to our design:

rainbow crosswalk

Check out more Rainbow Crosswalks here!

Any donations will help! Any extra funds will go to a reserve fund to ensure that repainting will happen in subsequent years and/or more crosswalks in the city are made into rainbows. Thank you!

Melinda Shaw

Letting Go…

It’s almost comical how little I actually produce of value these days. It used to be, that when I was working, really working for a salary and running a business, that I got more done in a day than most people do in 3. As a parent, I remind myself daily how valuable my presence is to my children but I too-often find myself searching for value in my life around my work, as I continue to search for meaningful employment.

We all move in cycles. Once, in my 20’s, I had the world at my feet! I knew that I was in love, that I wanted to be with this person for the rest of my life, have kids together, make a home…everything was a rainbow of colors everyday. We had the house, the dogs, the two kids, were starting a business together, and then “poof,” it disappeared…

Years later, My life is great, and luckily I never did collapse from that fall, but I did change. I had to re-group, re-define, and try to understand who I was as a person when not with this other person. And, I needed to learn how to be a mom without the same family unit- the other parent who wished this child/children, into this world.

With many LGBT couples, the idea of having a child, whether biologically or not, adopting, fostering, whatever the case, it is a conscious choice. For me and my then partner, it was one that we planned for 6 years. It had much fore-thought, and it was very quickly successful both in the getting pregnant and birthing process once we fully committed. Almost 7 years into being a mom, which then included a 3 and a 6 year-old, I was not planning to be a single parent.  I had also not planned to see my kids only half of their lives! That idea, once it sunk in, broke my heart. 18 years later, and having lived through that time, I am a changed mother.

There are many events that I’ve missed and  don’t even know about, that my kids did with their other mom and her friends and family. There are boo-boos, fears, crushes,  friends, clothes, outings, and special meals I’ve missed. There are relatives I’ve never met, and artwork they’ve made that I’ve never known, pictures and videos that I’ve seen but not been there for… It makes up half of their beings.

Almost all of the friends I knew in my 30’s as young lesbian couples, either with young kids or trying to have kids, are now divorced. They see their kids 3 or 4 days a week, split weekends and holidays, and have either a harmonious relationship with their ex. or a completely rancorous one, and sometimes even the known is unpredictable. The toll that it takes on the kids is unknowable, but it can sometimes come out in behaviors towards parents or siblings, or trouble at school, poor eating habits or obsessiveness with technology, TV, or anything! As a parent, it’s crazy-making because you can never have consistency. It’s a new norm, this consistent lack of consistency, and it doesn’t lend itself to consistent parenting. For those of you who either are going through this now or have gone through this with an ex, you know what I mean.

It’s becoming the norm in our society to ask our friends, “do you have your kids this weekend?” When did that become commonplace?

Yes, well we have our kids EVERY weekend. We can’t always plan ahead, and our lives are ruled by game schedules every day, not just monday thru wed.

No, we do not have any privacy. Our now 13 year-old stays up past our bedtime. She’s entered the Twilight zone and will be there a good 8-10 more years, staying up into the wee hours and then sleeping as late as possible. One good thing that’s happened this year, is that we can now leave the 2 littles with her at home and go out for a short time at night without worrying too much. They fight but it hasn’t come to punches yet!

This week I’m feeling like a mother duck whose ducklings have all wandered off. I’m searching in my mind to pinpoint all of their locations, reassuring myself that they are fine, wherever they are. My oldest is off in a mid-western state and calls me once a week. My next, college student daughter is working at a camp in the Berkshires this summer. My middle child, is at a soccer tournament with her team minus either parent and away from home for the first time on a multi-night trip. She’s making grown-up choices and experiencing new worlds.

I thought I’d be home with my both of my 10 year-olds tonight, but after attending my nephew’s graduation and birthday party, my son jumped for joy at a chance for a few days of individual attention with her Aunty and family. Meanwhile my wife is representing us at her nephew’s wedding and staying over with a relative. Tomorrow, we leave early to take our “little, little girl,” to her first week at sleep-away camp!

So what’s this all about anyway?

It’s about reminding myself to enjoy my life while it’s happening. Back when my “first” family fell apart, I was mourning the loss of my everyday connection to my children. I eventually reconciled with it, but I was acutely aware everyday what the impact was on them as children. It shaped their lives, and it’s shaping all of my friends’ kids lives now. Early on in my present relationship, my wife and I grew to relish in our alone time when the kids were not there. It gave us an appreciation of how much a relationship needed to be nurtured and how as individuals, we needed our alone time as well. Guilt-free time, I suppose, when one knows that the kids are getting enough attention from someone else.

Now that we have three more, we see how important that time is still, and have always tried to build “date night” into our weeks, but we can also see that the time will soon be upon us when they are all grown and have moved on, only to arrive home on holidays.

Enjoy your kids. Before you know it they’ll be all grown and working it all out in therapy!

My daughter “came out” as a heterosexual.

I have tried to be a good lesbian parent. I’ve exposed all of my kids to Pride marches and gay festivities since they were babies, have always dressed them in gender-crossover colors, never sex-stereotyped roles in the family, and have read them “Heather has Two Mommies” since they were old enough to understand. We belong to a church that has a Welcoming Congregation, have had a lesbian Mayor for most of their lives, live in  “Lesbianville, USA” (Northampton, MA ) according to Esquire Magazine, yet somehow we’ve raised a straight child.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against straight people. Many of my friends are straight.  I know lots of kids who are heterosexual, but I haven’t had to deal with it so personally before. My big girls went to an all-girls school, so they were barely even exposed to guys after middle school.  They never talked about boys and if they wore make-up, I didn’t notice it until they were almost graduated from high school. If there was any co-mingling with the opposite sex, it was kept secret from me and certainly not exposed to the rest of the kids. I never worried about my kids getting pregnant, but I guess I was just naive.  Now, I’ve got three more kids who are all in public schools and they are constantly associating with the opposite sex. I’m not sure I’m able to handle this- movies, boys, stylish clothes, crushes, make-up- it’s all just too much for this lesbian mom!

How did I find out? Well, plans were made with a friend to go to the movies…turns out only 2 other boys besides the two girls were going. “Is it a date?” I stupidly and slow-to-grasp this new concept asked? I got a shrug and some sort of mumble in reply.

I’m still in shock that my 12-year old daughter is a heterosexual. Although I’m sure it’s a phase.  I grew out of it.

In 7th grade, I had a crush on “Doug” who I can’t even remember his last name. It was the thing at that age to want to “go out” with a boy. I wanted to be in the cool crowd, so I set out to find one. Somehow he found out I was interested in him and we probably exchanged notes with silly sentences proclaiming our “like” to each other. Maybe I even had him circle a “yes” or “no,” to the question, “Do you want to be my boyfriend?” I don’t remember. What I do remember, vividly, and with much embarrassment, is buying some 4″ tall, white iron-on letters and putting his name “D, O, U, G” down the side of my left leg on my new jeans. How ridiculous and revealing! That romance lasted for much less time than my jeans did, and luckily the letters peeled off, but the memory still lingers.

How am I going to get through this? Are there parent support groups? Books to read? Maybe I should have her see a psychiatrist like my mother wanted me to do when she found out I was a lesbian. Or, maybe I’ll just leave her alone and let her figure it out. Luckily, she knows that we’ll love her no matter what!

Sandy butts and the hands of time…

When my first child was born 22 plus years ago, I was a much “looser” parent. I know that, because I’ve been watching old movies of myself, my kids and family, and my life as it used to be, far enough ago that there are people in my videos who I barely recall. It’s a project that I have had on my “to-do” list for years, converting all of my different video formats to digital files. It’s long, tedious work, but the trip down memory lane has been quite eye-opening, to say the least.

My younger version of myself in 1991 laughed and played with my then 2 year-old daughter, not giving a care for the silty, black sand firmly ensconced on her bare cheeks and squeezed into who knows how many cavities! Naked kids are fine, and by the number of naked kid videos that we have of her, my younger self didn’t care. Watching it now, I scream in my head, “what the hell were you thinking?!”

What was I thinking? I was thinking that kids are pure, kids are clean, and fresh, and should run around naked until they just don’t want to anymore. Imagine that world? I can’t anymore.

When that same daughter was just shy of four years old in January of 1993, we had the opportunity to attend Bill Clinton’s first Inauguration. It was a family affair, and lots of pictures were taken. That was before digital cameras, when the “old-fashioned” cameras required film, which then needed developing. Soon after arriving back home from Washington, I headed to the one-hour photo at the mall to do some shopping before picking up my child up from school. Little did I know that a film technician had alerted police that a certain roll of film that he’d processed had pictures that looked suspiciously like illegal material.

Upon my arrival back at the photo shop to pick up my finished photos, I was immediately flanked by 2 plain-clothed detectives. After identifying themselves, one started flipping through my pictures in front of me, asking repeatedly, “Is this your photo?” “Did you take this photo?” Do you know who this child is in this picture?” “Yes!” “That’s my daughter,” I said.

I was asked to come down the “station.” I was allowed to drive my own car, so I navigated myself to the building. I happened to have a mobile phone, which back then was the size of a breadbox, but nevertheless, was quite handy. I called my partner and frantically explained what was happening and she immediately called our lawyer for help.

I was led into an “interrogation room,” for the first time in my life, and although I was very nervous and probably sweating profusely, I still carried my well-honed butchy swagger. I would answer your questions, I decided, but I’m not holding back any contempt towards you when I answer, I thought to myself.

I was asked whether I had taken the pictures and I said “I don’t know.” “Why don’t I know? Because I’m not the one who ALWAYS takes the pictures!” If I’m not IN the picture, well, it could be me, or it could be my partner.” “Yes, I’m in a relationship with a WOMAN! Do you have a problem with that?”

He showed me a picture, of my daughter. She was standing in the doorway of our kitchen. We kept the camera right there on the kitchen counter so that we could snap away, and obviously one of us decided to capture the moment! She was naked, had slipped her little feet into my partner’s boots, and was standing there like a little naked cowgirl. When the shot was snapped, she smiled as big as day, shook her wet curly locks, and grabbed her crotch and pulled up! High. So high that it made you look again to be sure you just saw what you thought you saw!

“Can you explain this?”

“Yes. That’s my daughter. She had just gotten out of the jacuzzi and had decided to try on her mom’s boots. She was  proud of herself and loved smiling for the camera, so obviously one of us grabbed the camera and snapped it! Why? Is there something wrong besides she obviously grabbed her crotch right when the picture was snapped? What other explanation are you posing?”

“Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s Ann Richards. We went to an event where she was at. You know her? She’s the Governor of Texas?”
(writer’s note: I know that all of my quotations aren’t perfect, but who cares, really…)

He went on, asking me about every photo, trying to trip me up when he asked questions repeatedly. I answered in a “tone,” I’m sure. It’s the same TONE that my wife hates, and I think I finally used it in its proper place as I sneered back at him!

“Why? I mean honestly…Why would I take pictures of the President’s Inauguration, and then add a few pornographic pictures at the end? And WHY, would I come to the mall and have them developed by some technicians? If I really wanted to be into that business, I think I’d be smart enough to either have a photo lab person who I trusted wouldn’t squeal to the cops, or I’d develop them myself!” I continued to answer his stupid questions…

“No, officer, I do not let my child wander the house with her hands in her “vaginal area,” and if we were to be precise, I would call it a “labia” (I did say that in my inside the body voice because I could tell he was pretty uptight) ” We have a policy that if she wants to touch herself, she can do it in her room where we don’t have to see it!” “No, that wasn’t one of those times. This was a spontaneous act!”

He then went on to tell me that he had 10 kids and “None of them did things like that!” To which I said, “I’m sure that they do. All kids touch themselves. If you spent more time with your kids you might actually see that, so don’t tell me my kid is some kind of anomaly!”

I realize I’m using a LOT of exclamation points now, and trust me, it was an exclamatory day!
How dare anyone accuse me of something like that? What? Taking a picture?

The lawyer finally called, told me not to talk to them anymore, and I left. They didn’t have a charge per se, but they were putting the incident in for an “investigation”. The State Police became involved. It was a scary time. We could only think in worst case scenarios. We had a baby then as well, who was just 16 months old. We grabbed them both up and took off to a hotel for the night. Our lawyer updated us daily, and after 2 weeks, several outside investigative visits and a $1000 legal bill, we were cleared. But our case was put on “probation,” meaning that we needed to not come up on the system again for at least a year.

Standard procedure? I don’t know. Am I more cynical now? For sure. I know that from that time on, I have been a changed person. I think that we all have been changed little by little over time. I know that I am more fearful than I used to be and I am less and less trusting. I don’t take naked pictures of my kids anymore. Afterwards, my friend, who wrote for the local newspaper, wrote a feature on our story and I heard parents everywhere talking about it. Most of them were saying that they had “TONS” of pictures of their kids naked! The world we lived in as children is not the same as it is for our children or will be for their children. Time changes things. Years go by and life goes on and we adapt. We change.

I worked at an event last Saturday. It was an event for LGBTQ and the rest of the alphabet if they wanted to join us! We had a great time, good food, entertainment, and the weather held up well, but one surprising point was when a well-known elder in the lesbian community came up to me and introduced herself. It was a woman named Alix Dobkin, one of the revolutionary lesbian-feminist songwriters who debuted in the 1960’s, when I was just born. She wanted me to be sure to know about the “Old Lesbians Organizing for Change” group, and that they would love to have a chapter opened in the Northampton area. I think she must have asked someone about me- my gray hair, my radio headset on (I was working the event), my “take-charge” look – and focused in on me as a new recruit for the group. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know what to do. I thanked her, smiled, smiled again just to be sure she saw it (because I know I’m pretty limited in the number of them that I’m willing to give out on a daily basis), and I tucked the cards into my back pocket. I tucked the memory into that bin I keep of stories to tell the wife when I got home. Can you believe her calling me an “old lesbian?!” When I googled the group, it was for over age 60 lesbians! I just hit 50 a little over a year ago so don’t rush me! Who thought up that gem of a name for the group, anyway?

I’m not willing to be “old” yet. I will call myself “experienced,” “mature,” I don’t mind “wise,” or “super,” or “cool,” or “super-cool.” I’ve been “awesome” on occasion, and I like “interesting, smart, but “old?” “Old and lesbian” together? Sure, time has passed since that reddish dirty-blonde hair of mine was showing all over, but if I were to start an uprising, it would be more aptly called, “The Raging Hormones” than a name that has the word “old” in it!

Sure, I’ll admit it, the hands of time can be cruel and challenging, and just when you think you’ve got as much as you can handle on your plate, here comes another helping. My life, and all of the lives of friends I know, have gotten more complicated over these years in many ways which I think has created a feeling that often resembles a top spinning out of control. Some people resort to drinking or drugs, or sex, or other forms of addiction. Some folks seek medical help and subscribe to the more acceptable forms of control like anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, or other prescription drugs.

I often think about the people in countries like Libya who have spearheaded uprisings in their country. I wonder if they have the availability like we do for the use of anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs. I wonder if anyone has ever studied that impact and if not, if anyone ever will.

I believe my “fiery” energy is here for a reason. It’s here to ignite ideas, creativity, fluidity, movement – life! If I let the anxiety or depression win, then I’m resorting to something that will suppress it. That may work for depression, but sometimes anxiety is telling us something, telling us that we need to channel that energy into something positive!

I heard a line used on the radio last week by Thom Hartman, one of the smartest guys I’ve ever heard on talk radio. He asked a guest on his show, “what’s the opposite of love?” His guest answered, “hate.” No, said Thom, a wise person once said, “the opposite of love, is apathy.”

Here’s to love, happiness, and more time for fiery energy!

“Dancing” with the Gender Jumble…

On Gender Jumble part 1, I left off with the vision of a utopian world someday, allowing for the blurring of lines between male and female, to somehow include all possible variations of gender alignment, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Perhaps it won’t be in my lifetime, but hopefully someday it will be the norm.

Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy computers, am a frequent Facebook user, and often post causes on my profile. What you hopefully didn’t catch, was that about 2 weeks ago, I hit a “like” button without really reading the who, what, and why of the cause. I thought I was supporting the opposite of their Christian homophobic agenda. It was a page called One Million Moms,” and it’s a conservative “mom” group that is trying to gain support for all things in the media that they deem “dangerous” to their children. One of those awful things, according to OMM’s, is homosexuality and transgender issues, specifically, the possibility that watching TV will influence their kids to want to have a sex-change operation by merely being exposed to LGBT folks in the media. Just by simply watching Dancing with the Stars,” their kids will see a gay man, Carson Kressley, and Chaz Bono, an F-M transgendered man dancing in the competition and think, I should be gay or change my sex!

So, I’m thinking, what’s wrong with these people? If it were that easy to influence their kids, why didn’t all of  the little gay kids who have grown up to be gay adults just decide to be straight? And why didn’t my watching Gilligan’s Island, Charlie’s Angels, and I Love Lucy make me want to grow up to be like one of those women? And will watching Glee will make our kids all want to be gay singers? Haven’t our kids seen enough straight people on TV and shouldn’t we be worried about their effect on our innocent children?  I guess I missed the memo to parents that all we needed to do for parenting is make sure our kids watched the “proper” role models on TV and they would grow up to be perfectly healthy, conservative Christian bigots!

Well, a week later, I’m innocently pedaling away on my stationary bike, iPad open, reading my (great LGBT ally) nephew Aaron’s blog The Daddy Files (and he’s a real blogger, not like his wanna-be Aunt), and he’s talking about this same subject only with a younger, more sarcastic mocking tone. All of a sudden it hits me that I’ve “liked” this group that espouses discrimination and hatred toward ME, and I’m trying frantically to find the “un-like” button, but on my iPad app, it’s nowhere to be found! Hence, it’s another 4 days or so before I finally remember, when I’m at a real computer, to find the damn button!

My big question, and I’ve researched it a bit and am still not satisfied with the answers I’ve seen, is why isn’t Carson Kressley dancing with a guy? I was not surprised at all to see Chaz with a woman, because after all, he was a she before, and came out as a lesbian and is still woman-identified as far as I can tell. What then, is the purpose of a gay guy dancing with a woman? I want to see him dance with a man! Surely there are a few gay male dancers around! I’m just having a hard time understanding what exactly these “significantly less than One Million Moms” (only 36,000 give or take a few) are upset about! Aren’t their kids seeing what looks like heterosexual dancers?

I should be the one complaining! What kind of role model is Carson setting for my kids? They know he’s gay. They’ve seen him on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!”  What am I to say when one of them asks “Mommy, why isn’t he dancing with another man?” “Isn’t that lying about who he is?” If I didn’t tell my kids about Chaz once being a woman, they wouldn’t ever know. He’s got a beard, dresses like a guy, who would think otherwise?  My kids have learned to not judge, but to accept people’s differences.  I guess that’s what happens when one lets their kids watch Glee!

So fast forward now, since I wanted to finish this after I watched the first show, and I have to say that I was surprised by both of the performances mentioned above. I thought that Carson totally “out-glamoured” his partner and I reiterate my question, “why didn’t he dance with a guy?” because I really think that he would have glittered even brighter! And surprised that Chaz was able to pull his dance off as well as he did. He showed that he worked hard, was determined, and held his head high! It was a proud moment for all of us fans and supporters!

One more note, if you are a Saturday Night Live fan, and also like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream,  check out their new flavor Schweddy Balls and please hit “like!” One Million Moms doesn’t like that either!

Gender Jumble Part 1

Setting out on my morning walk the other day, headphones and sunglasses all set and water bottle in hand, I turned on my ipod shuffle got my dance music cranking and on came “It’s Raining Men.” It wasn’t a surprise, since as one of my favorite songs I have it on the playlist more than once. As I pumped my arms and legs to the beat my internal conversation started, as it always does, and I thought, “why is it that lesbians love to dance to this song so much?” I’ve been boggled by this question for years, and I feel the same way about that silly song “All the Single Ladies.” Why is it that we care little about the words and excuse them for the great beat of the music?

It’s not that I’m against enjoying songs that are written for heterosexuals, because I’ve translated many a Mary Chapin Carpenter song to work for two women, but it’s more the absurdity of it that hits me. What would a group of straight people think about a dance floor full of lesbians singing out loud to “It’s Raining Men?”

Which took me to the concept that I’ve been mulling about for years yet I haven’t put it into words on paper until now.  I call it the “Sexuality Spinner.” Remember those games that had the little spinner with the arrow that you flick to play the game and it spins around to land on a number, color, or word? That’s how I see sexuality. I think of it as an ever-evolving circle, not a continuum or line. I know that for me, I have found myself in various points on the circle at different times of my life. I feel like I continue to move daily, weekly and yearly, bouncing from one point to another.

We all are products of our experiences and gifts. We became who we are and continue to manifest traits based on what we go through in life. Every birth, death, milestone, relationship, job, friend, etc.,  leaves an impression on us that adds to who we are. Amorphous, androgynous, indefinable.

Why is it then, that we are so stuck on sexuality. Why do we have to define as a man or woman? Because of our genitals?

When I “came out” in the mid- 70’s, there were very little resources for me to find out more information on lesbianism. All I knew was that I liked other girls better than boys. Luckily, I had some friends who felt the same way. We could talk, share a few books that we found at bookstores, and figure out how we were going to be lesbians in our small-minded town.

Now, I sometimes kiddingly call myself a “lezzie,” as more of an inside joke with my wife, whose Aunt used to call her that, but in Jr. High School, it was NOT cool to be called a “lezzie.” It was embarrassing, especially since I didn’t know what it was at first, and when I heard the word “queer,” I had to go look it up in the dictionary. It was an “Aha moment” for me, for sure, to know that there was even a word for it! So, did that mean that there were other people out there like me?

I quickly learned that to let anyone know was NOT OK. I also learned, that most people didn’t understand it. My mother found out about me when she followed me up to my room one night when I stormed into the house after being out with my “friend.” We had just broken up from an off & on relationship of 3 years, and I was distraught. I didn’t respond to her much when she asked me questions, but I guess she finally put words to her suspicions and asked me if I was in love with my friend. My non-answer answered the question for her and what she said next is indelibly etched in my then 17 year-old mind forever. She said “I always wondered why you could pee so well standing up as a kid.”

Now, if you still have that sip of drink in your mouth and you haven’t splattered it all over your computer, you’re probably thinking the same thing I did when she said it. “WHAT?!!!”

My mother died in 1996, and I razzed her about that comment up to her death but I never did get an explanation. I’m guessing her thought bubble went…”Likes girls…boys like girls…must really be a boy…must have a penis?”

Any other ideas out there? Because I’ve pondered that comment for 34 years now and I can’t come up with any other possibility. Did I mention that she’s my mother, and that I’m her DAUGHTER, and surely she changed many a diaper of mine and I can tell you, there ain’t nothing surprising down there!

In full disclosure, I can honestly say, that I have had a few moments of penis envy in my life, but most of them involved a car ride and too much to drink. And, I know that if I polled a group of 10 other friends who grew up in a neighborhood and played outside, they would probably say that they were pretty darn good at peeing out in the woods instead of having to run inside to use the bathroom and miss whatever fun was at hand. I had good muscles and I could do it like any other skill. Nowadays, not so well, but that’s TMI.

To get back to my Sexuality Spinner, I didn’t have any brothers, and my parents didn’t have any boys. My father was an electrical design engineer, and loved to work on his Model A Ford car in the garage, tinker in the basement in his darkroom and with his inventions. I was a curious, eager, and smart kid, and I learned so much from him and became very handy at fixing just about anything that broke. I mowed the lawn, took out the trash, cleaned the house, cooked in the kitchen, and did whatever I was required to do as part of the family system. There were no roles imposed. I had no limits besides financial, so if I had the skills and the “stuff,” I could do just about anything. I was encouraged to be independent, innovative, creative, and reach for my goals.

That was the time, I think, that most of the energy for lesbian & gay rights started to really ramp up. Back then, we didn’t want to be lumped in with the men and called “gay.” “Lesbian & strong,” or “feminist,” but not “queer,” or “gay,” Back then, the lesbians were hidden, yet obvious to each other. We had a secret nod. Nowadays, not so much. If you saw a lesbian couple, you would often wonder, “who is the butch & who is the femme,” since that was & is the way it seems to look from the outside.

Roles. That’s what it is about too. Who does what. In the bedroom, the home, the yard, at the dump, kills the bugs, traps the rodents, picks out the curtains, pays the bills, etc. Yet who is to say what jobs we each should do? And if I do more cooking and cleaning, and my wife does the yard work and trash, is she the butch and I’m the femme? STOPPPP!

I’ve never wanted to be a man, and don’t think I need to be one to be strong, teach my kids how to throw and hit a ball or mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, assemble legos, lift heavy objects or talk to my son about boy stuff. And, I don’t think that he is deprived as a boy to have 2 moms instead of a mom & dad, despite what the Tea Party thinks. I’m the one always bawling at the sad TV shows on TV. I’m the one who sews things when they’re ripped and I know plenty of guys who do the same. I’m a butch and a femme and a mother and a sister, a wife and a friend, and I have the ability to be anything that I want to be!

I think that in the future, there will be much more blurring of the lines between “male” and “female” and that the public consciousness will start to allow for that fuzziness more in our language, pronouns, signage, marketing and to inclusion of more trans people in the media.

But more about that in my next blog. Stay tuned, and please leave your comments, whether you agree with me or not!

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