I finally get you Anderson Cooper

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Lesson in believability…

Journalist Anderson Cooper came out as gay in July and everyone was like “no kidding, dude.”

Some folks, including myself, were miffed for about five minutes that he hadn’t come out earlier and some people, including myself, didn’t really buy the whole “but I’m a journalist and some of my sources won’t be as open if they know I’m gay.”

Well now I get it.

My turn in the rotation to write a Sunday editorial for our paper comes the weekend after Marianne and I get married. I really want to write about my wedding and they everything associated with it…including providing a link to my blog. But then I thought about it and realized that as an education reporter, it may not be the smartest thing for me to do. Let’s think here:

  • I live in the South and in a not-so-cosmopolitan county in North Carolina;
  • While they are totally wrong, there are parents who still believe that all homosexuals are out to recruit their children (among other far more nefarious deeds);
  • I have to interact with said parents and their children on a daily basis sometimes;
  • My being out really may affect my ability to do my job.

Wow. I kind of want to write Anderson Cooper a letter and apologize for being an unbelieving cynic.

10/11/12 – Happy National Coming Out Day!

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Rally for marriage equality at the White House, October 2009. My shirt, it total, read “Closets…are for clothes”

Today, in honor of National Coming Out Day, I thought I would share my story. For the record, I don’t believe that everyone must come out, but for those of us who are out, I think it’s important that we share our stories sometimes. So here’s mine:

Early summer 2000, evening: I’m 15 and working as a junior counselor at a Girl Scout camp in Ohio. My fellow counselors and I are hanging out in the living room of our lodge when another 16-year-old counselor comes out from the shower wrapped in nothing but a towel. My head whips around and suddenly my world is no longer what it was. That’s the first time I ever consciously realized I might like girls.

Summer 2000, the rest of it: I spend my days simultaneously flirting with and excoriating myself for liking this girl. I was Catholic after all, I *can’t* be a girl who likes another girl.

The rest of high school 2000-2002: My friend Bernie and I would skip youth group to go hang out at the grubby pool hall in the local bowling alley. We went to an Indigo Girls concert and snuggled in the back of my old Ford pick-up truck. I dated boys and was sure I wasn’t a girl who liked girls.

Summer 2002: I joined the Air Force to “get straight” according to my journal entry at the time. Yeah well…

January 2003: I’m stationed in Minot, North Dakota where I meet my first girlfriend. I finally come to terms with the fact that I might be a girl who likes girls. I was sure I didn’t like any boys as much as I liked her.

June 2003: My parents came to visit me (all the way from Ohio!) for my birthday. My girlfriend was spending nights in my dorm and had enough stuff there to make it look like two people were sharing a bed. O crap. I mustered up all the courage I have and call my parents, one and then the other since they weren’t living together, that B was more than just my “best friend.” This was the first time I said out loud that I was something other than a girl who likes boys.

July 2005: After a tumultuous and sometimes abusive relationship which at one point involved almost admitting to my superiors that B and I were dating, the Air Force sent me to college on an ROTC scholarship. Truthfully, at the time that seemed the only way I was going to get a transfer from Minot and away from B.

Fall 2005: At Miami University, I had no idea what to do as a single girl who liked girls. I found I was too butch for the butches and too femme for the femmes. So I chopped my hair off, threw out all my dresses and tried to fit as much into the butch role as possible. It worked, kind of. It got me dates at least.

Spring 2006, Women’s Studies 101: I took this class as an elective and finally began to gain a vocabulary for everything I knew about myself and was learning about others. I was a lesbian. At some point during the semester we were having a class discussion (maybe?) about the military and it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Anyhow, I ended up outing myself to my classmates. It felt good for about 5 minutes. Then I chased the professor down after class and had a freak out session about what I did and how I could potentially be kicked out of ROTC for being a lesbian and “O my God what do I do!?!?!?!?” In front of the Oxford Starbucks, she kindly told me that she would remind the class that what was said in our classroom should stay in our classroom. Susan Pelle for the win!

Late Spring 2006: Apparently no ROTC kids or their friends took Women’s Studies 101. Crisis averted. At this point, I was pretty much living openly, save for Tuesdays, Thursdays and the occasional early morning physical training session. As I was older than most of the seniors (I was 21 when I came to college from the military), they just assumed I didn’t hang out with them because of my age. Yeah well…

Memorial Day 2006: I found Camp Out for the first time. If hanging out with a group of amazing women didn’t solidify for me that I belonged in the queer community, I’m not sure what else would have done it. I really believe that that place and the people I met (meet) there had (have) a hand in my growing up and growing into my identity.

Memorial Day 2007: My mom went to Camp Out with me. I had an extra ticket because an ex had bailed on me right before the event, so I asked my mom to come instead. That weekend was the first time I got to bring my mom into my world. I still remember the conversation we had as we were walking to the showers one evening – “Katie, I get it. Being gay isn’t about sex. It’s about love.” Right on, Mom!

April 9, 2008: I outed myself to my ROTC commander. I had just had enough of the lying about who I was, even only 2 days a week, and I didn’t like the fact that I would spend 4 more years lying as an Air Force officer once I graduated. It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t fair of me to ask my subordinates to be honest when i couldn’t do that for them. That and I wasn’t about to shove Marianne (whom I had been dating about 6 months by then) into the closet with me.

April 10, 2008 forward: I’ve vowed to myself and to the world that I will always be honest about who I am and who I love. I’m at a point where I can say that if someone doesn’t like my being a lesbian, that’s on them. It still hurts when I hear someone tell me “Your family is the reason I’m voting FOR the N.C. gay marriage amendment,” but I don’t internalize it like I used to. That’s on them and I just figure they’re missing out on getting to know one of the coolest people on the planet.

Now it’s your turn, what’s your story? How will you choose to tell it?

Good stuff today…

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I swear I’m trying to keep up with this blog but with only 19 days to go…holy cow my head is spinning with all that’s left to do!

Regardless, here’s a few interesting stories from the past week.

First, in the land of “No, Duh!”

Free Birth Control Leads to Fewer Abortions

  • I can’t make this stuff up even if I wanted to;
  • “When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result;”
  • DUH!

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

Big Bird is Small Potatoes When it Comes to the Federal Budget

 

  • Mitt Romney said in last Wednesday’s debate he would cut the federal money for PBS;
  • Currently the government gives $445 million to PBS each year – “That $445 million works out to about 1/100 of 1 percent of the federal budget;”
  • “That’s like me saying I’m going to lose weight by trimming my nails;”
  • #savebigbird

Rethinking Columbus Day

Celebrating Hitler Day, Oh I Mean Columbus Day

  • Rather than glorifying Christopher Columbus as the “founder” of America, maybe it’s time we start thinking of him as responsible for “one of the largest intentional efforts of ethnic cleansing known in history;”
  • “So why is there this instance of celebrating such a horrible person in history?  Is there an Adolf Hitler day? Well why not? There some similarities here.  Ethnic cleansing, slavery, concentration camps, and annihilation;”
  • The blog post calls for parents and educators to demand that schools teach a more accurate history of the United States.

Wedding crises…24 days out

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I might have just stolen this from Elis’ Facebook page 😀

So, here we are, 24 days before out vow and ring exchange ceremony…and we have to find a new person to facilitate it!! OMG What?!?!?

Long story short, the minister we thought we had all worked out to officiate our ring exchange and vow ceremony Friday night isn’t going to work out.

After freaking out and wondering what we’re going to do, M and I decided to do what we had been thinking about since the beginning…we asked our friend Elis. And Elis agreed.

Elis is amazing.

Elis is also an ordained minister.

From Elis’ Facebook page:

I make terrariums and propagate plants. I drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of trash. I believe in the intertwined nature of the universe and the power of human spirit. I embrace androgyny and ambiguity. I love trees, cats, wind power, and interpersonal learning. I want to know you.

Why wouldn’t you want Elis to marry you?!?!?

A foodie’s guide to Fall

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Today would normally be a newsy sort of day, but since fall is officially here, I feel like spending more time in the kitchen and less on the computer. So this week I’m giving you three items…one I’ve made, one I’m making and one I want to make. Enjoy!

Pumpkin bread made with Pumpkin Ale

  • Trust me on this one, it’s absolutely delicious!
  • You only use one cup of pumpkin ale (I used Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale)…I hope I don’t have to tell you what to do with the leftover beer;
  • The recipe calls for an hour of cooking and that works, but the bread is still super-moist, I would cook it maybe 5-10 minutes longer and cover the top with foil to keep it from browning too much.

Three Bean Veggie Chili

  • Acorn squash was on sale this week so this recipe was perfect;
  • If the smells currently wafting from my stove are any indication, it’s going to be awesome;
  • O…and I managed to make some of M’s favorite cornbread to go with it;
  • Hello amazing lunch!

Gingersnap Mocha Cappuccino Nutella Pumpkin Pie (Whew!)

  • Do we really need to talk about why I want to make this?
  • This blog is actually written by a woman I went to high school with, her baking skills are awesome;
  • “This pie is smooth, creamy, and combines a lot of flavors–like ginger, nutmeg, espresso, hazelnut, chocolate, and pumpkin–together seamlessly, yet the pumpkin taste is still the star of this luscious dessert.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Methodist Church

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Barack Obama signs Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal legislation Dec. 20, 2010. The repeal went into effect Sept. 20, 2011.. (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I was going to leave the one-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell alone.

The media said everything was kosher since all the LGB folk can serve in the U.S. military openly (Ts still aren’t allowed and Qs might be debatable) and I was tempted to let Sept. 20 pass without so much as a whisper around here since it don’t really fit with my blog premise.

But then I saw this post from Truth in Progress about what the United Methodist Church can learn from the repeal of DADT. The author’s overarching point is this:

We too, if we have the will to rescind our UMC practice of “DADT”, will discover that for 40 years we have been in denial about how significantly God has used the lay and clergy United Methodists who are gay and lesbian, and we have been wrong!

I’m glad the author wrote this, but I think both he and the military are missing a crucial part of the repeal process.

Nowhere in the article does the author, or has the military over the last year, made any effort to undo any of the harm done to those who served under the policy.

After spending six years in the Air Force (three on active duty and three as an ROTC cadet at Miami University in Ohio), I “outed” myself to my commander in April 2008 because I no longer felt I could serve in silence. With a signature and some minor paperwork, I was given an honorable discharge and got stuck with $36,000 in school “scholarship money” that had now been converted to loans (currently the bill is $38,000+ since it keeps accruing interest faster than I can make payments).

Two years and five months later DADT repeal went into effect. While the media and the military and the groups who worked to overturn the law celebrated (and continue to celebrate), those of us affected by the policy while it was in place are left in the cold.

The military made it clear that it wasn’t interested in retroactive fixes…but they also haven’t made anyone available to veterans who were discharged under the policy in case we need to talk and ask “what now?”.

Presumably the answer is nothing, but I don’t know.

Currently I owe money, but there are good soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines who would like to reenter the service and can’t because their previous job isn’t available, or they’re now too old to qualify, or a million other reasons.

And the military doesn’t seem to care.

To circle back around, I think the Methodist Church can learn from the military.

But I think the UMC needs to go one step further and have a plan in place to help those affected by the bans feel they can come back.

It hurts to be excluded, and unless the church makes it clear that they want those who felt excluded to return and reaches out a hand to them, those folks may just stay gone.

It’s not enough to move forward, the UMC has got to be willing to look behind and take care of the previously excluded folks too.