Friday, November 26, 2010

Courage: Standing up to the haters

After the positive glow of the holidays, it never takes long for the real world to come crashing back in. I was on Twitter this morning when my good friend, Jenny,(@LivefromNoVA) posted the following 3 tweets.

"Today, I had my first real experience with fearing for my own safety because of my sexual orientation. It's not a good feeling.

I was looking at books in section called "gay and lesbian studies" when man told me he "hates f**s." I asked him why he was in LGBT section.”

“He then said, "lesbian bitches like you make me want to fucking cut somebody." I told a security guard at front of store & left immediately.”

After posting, Jenny got immediate support from her Twitter friends. (Another reason I love this community!) Suggestions were made to contact the bookstore again and to contact the local police. Jenny agreed and did both. In calling the bookstore she discovered that the bookstore did the right thing and confronted the man as he was leaving. He admitted to what he had said. The bookstore also filed a report with the police.

This is an on-going story; I just found out from Jenny that the bookstore was Barnes & Nobles, kudos to them for looking out for their customers.

I would also like to give a shout out to another Twitter friend, @casoly, who had written a piece yesterday on racial slurs. She waited to post because she didn’t feel it was appropriate for Thanksgiving, but the timing is perfect for it today. She adapted it to include homophobia:

“Dear lazy racist and homo phobic"

I think in all of the effort to promote gay and lesbian rights, it is sometimes forgotten the courage that it takes for those who are gay and lesbian to come out. There can be real danger to their lives and safety in making such a difficult decision. Your choice of reading material at a local bookstore should not subject you to intimidation and possible danger from the haters.

Ultimately, it is important for all of us to stand up and speak out against the haters whether they are racist or homophobic. We cannot be silent and allow them to win.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I Am Grateful For (2010)

It is the season for giving thanks. But I am not just thankful, I am grateful.

At this moment I am sitting alone in a motel room in my hometown. The weather outside is exceedingly crappy and I have no desire to slip, slide around town. I am here so that I can spend Thanksgiving with my mother. For the past several years she has resided here. My mother was fortunate to be able to live independently until she was 90 years old. Next month she will be 94. I will be here for that too and for Christmas. I come because at each holiday and special day, I wonder if it will be the last one that I spend with her. I am grateful to my two coworkers, Heather and Courtni who picked up my overnight shifts so I could come.

As I sat with my mother this afternoon, I could not help but think once again. This could be the last Thanksgiving. She seemed so tired and weak. She often gets that familiar far-way look in her eye as if she is already looking beyond this world into the next. Of her generation in the family, there are only two left, my mother and my aunt. I am grateful that I still have her in my life.

It probably would seem inconvenient for my siblings and I to live two hours away to keep her at this nursing home. It was suggested by my aunt that we move her closer to us in the cities. But that would not have been good for my mother. Here in her hometown she is still surrounded by friends and neighbors. Many of them become her personal support system when my dad died in 2005. She had neighbors who brought her mail in and got her groceries. There were others who helped by mowing her lawn and shoveling her snow. But this is small town. It is what they do and I am grateful to them.

When she got sick and could no longer live on her own, that support moved to the nursing home. Yes, it would have been more convenient to have her living close. But, I don’t think I would have the same confidence in the staff of any other nursing home. You see, the staff here consists of the sons, daughters and grandchildren of her longtime friends. In addition many are also former classmates of mine. I remember when my Dad was dying in this very nursing home. I, at one point, was overcome with emotions on that final day. I had to leave the room and stepped out into the hall. At that very moment, my best friend from high school was walking by. She didn’t say a word, but wrapped her arms around me and let me cry on her shoulder. I hadn’t seen her in years, but she was there when I needed her. I will always be grateful to the staff here for the care they gave my Dad in his final days and the care they are giving my Mom now.

In closing, I am especially grateful to all of my online friends from Twitter, Newsvine and Facebook. I do not think I could have survived all that I have been through in these past 5 years without the support of my friends online. We are not a community in the same way that my Mom has community here in her hometown. But we are a community in the way we come together and support each other. I have been touched in a profound way by the support I have received from people I am unlikely to ever meet. I am grateful and give thanks to you all.

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