True words from my panda

My wife is so insightful. This is one of the many reasons I married her. Read her status update from yesterday regarding not only the recent issues about gay rights and Chick Fil A, but also just tolerance in general:

“It’s time for us to turn to each other, not on each other.”
 
With many others, I believe in equality for all people. I believe my love is the same as any other true love. Sadly, during this time of enlightenment and opportunity to become a closer community, it seems that many are allowing their strong beliefs to get in the way of common decency. In times of discrimination and criticism, rise up and stand for peace and respect. Why allow another’s lack of acceptance change the way you treat each other? I understand opinions and beliefs make us who we are, but don’t let them make you ignorant and uncivil. I have many opinions about this situation and I make sure to share them respectfully in a way to educate and not to condemn. For over a year now, I have not eaten at that restaurant. Not only because of the anti-gay groups they donate to, but because some of those groups are affiliated with lobbying in favor of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill. This bill allows the imprisonment and murder of people accused of being a homosexual and those that know them. In the end, this is not a “christian versus gay” fight. This is not a fight at all. This is a chance. A chance to make your story known and become closer with supporters and, more importantly, those who need our support. The real fight is for those out there being persecuted and physically harmed for being themselves. How will your outward aggression and negativity make a positive change in the world? Easy, it won’t. Allow love to become your belief and it will become your life.

– Rose ūüėÄ

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It’s ok to be gay… and jealous

I’m going to be really frank — as a lesbian couple, sometimes we get jealous of straight people. I’m not ashamed of these feelings, because I think they are completely natural, and any feeling – good or bad – is still your own and should never be stifled.

One major event where¬†our jealousy really comes up is at weddings.¬†I love attending weddings and nothing makes me happier than to see see two people so in love that they want to commit to a lifetime together. But, I can’t help but also feel a slight resentment. First of all, for Rose and I to make the same commitment to each other, we had to go out of state to the courthouse. And now, our own hometown doesn’t even recognize our marriage legally. Also, I know some people viewed it as a “union” or a “party” instead of a wedding. Most people are incredibly accepting, but there are always those few people that still see us as different, no matter how tolerant they seem.¬†Straight couples never experience this. Most of them probably never even think about how easy it is. I guess¬†it really¬†comes down to a sense of equality and respect that, on some levels, we just don’t get.

Also, my parents didn’t participate in any way at either of our weddings. They have found a¬†religion that causes them to feel very opposed to me being a lesbian. I didn’t have my dad to walk me down the aisle or dance with me. My mother wasn’t around to beam with pride and stress. My only sister declined, which hurt the most because I had decided to be in her wedding the year prior (more on this later). Of course, they did not contribute financially, either.¬†I know sometimes family can be so overbearing when it comes to weddings, but in all honesty – I’d give anything to have had that.

Another big¬†time¬†for jealousy is babies.¬†Please know that I am incredibly over the moon when a friend or family member finds out they are expecting. New life is a beautiful thing – and even better when it comes in a soft little drooling package that smells so good. But when I find out about a new baby, there is also just this tiny part inside of me that feels sad, and maybe even a little angry. None of these feelings are directed at the new parents in any way. It’s just a feeling of longing – of being so very happy for those that I love but wishing that someday, I could share that exact same joy.

Rose and I definitely want to have little humans of our own one day, and we will absolutely make it happen… but there is no denying that it just will never be exactly like heterosexual couples. We can’t just hop into bed and make a family. We have to find a donor or adopt – which gets much more complicated and expensive. There is no way to truly have a child that is both mine and hers biologically. It’s hard to know that there are people in this world that never wanted to be parents and yet, one simple act gave them exactly what we want so badly. On top of that, some of our relatives, coworkers and acquantainces might be uncomfortable with how we decide to create and raise children.¬†We experience much more open discrimination.¬†My own parents disagree with my “lifestyle,” so who knows if they would be involved at all. Basically, even though I am thrilled to find about about pregnancies, I also have accepted that it brings up my own issues of things I cannot have that are out of my control.

I do want to express that I am very content with my personal journey. I realize that if I were to have what other people have when it comes to babies or weddings, that I would also have a different life – and I would NEVER trade what I have now for anything. Our wedding was everything I dreamed of and more – and I know when we have kids, they will be ours – and we will have the perfect family for us. What more could you ask for? But I’m sure I’m not alone in having that little tiny jealousy bug every once in a while.

I don’t want any of my dear straight friends to ever feel like they should be careful around me with what they share. This is not about being mad that someone is luckier than me and¬†rubbing it in my face. It’s my own issue.¬†Sometimes I’ll have to check myself with a little reminder that there is no reason to be resentful – that everything is simply about love – and althought it’s ok that I’m jealous, it’s also great to be happy.

I guess what I can say to straight couples is this: don’t ever¬†take what you have for granted! There is probably a lesbian somewhere out there that would gladly give you a slap in the face to remind you of just how great those little things in life can be… ūüėČ

One Human Family

The wife and I just recently returned from a fabulous trip to Key West. We went last year for our honeymoon and just had to return!¬†The one and only place we will ever stay is¬†Alexander’s Guesthouse. It’s a gay-owned bed & breakfast. The staff are so friendly that we literally felt like it is a second home.

This trip, we had serious vacation withdrawal. We’ve never felt more comfortable anywhere… even in our home state.

This is largly in part to the¬†official motto of Key West¬†– “One Human Family.” I spotted these stickers at practically every bar and throughout the city. It’s as if the whole town is making sure you know that they are welcoming to all types of families. This goes so far beyond tolerance, and it’s what we really deserve.

Every person we encountered talked to us like we were a couple – instead of getting that weird “are they so close because they’re sisters?” vibe from some strangers. No one gave us a second glance when¬†I was holding¬†on to Rose’s back on our rental scooter – unless of course to admire how awesome we looked. We don’t get a ton of dirty looks at home, but we most certainly have experienced them. In Key West, no one is an outcast except those that are judgemental. I’m actually serious about this. There really is a place where I can kiss my wife in public and feel EXACTLY like any other couple.

Here is a highlight from the One Human Family proclamation (as signed by the Mayor), just to give you an idea of what it really is like there:

‚ÄúKey West is an enlightened island community that is passionate about all living together as caring, sharing neighbors; and that each of us are dedicated to making our home as close to ‚Äúparadise‚ÄĚ as we can‚Ķ We truly believe that all other people are our equals.‚ÄĚ

¬†One of my favorite parts about the One Human Family proclamation is that the stickers are totally FREE! I love anything with a good message that I don’t have to pay for. In fact, I got one from a drag queen during her performance at one of the local shows. I shall treasure it always.

I love who I love: What the word “lesbian” means to me

¬†We’re going to the NOH8 photoshoot in Baltimore tonight and I am SO excited! This is one of my favorite campaigns and I’m thrilled to finally be able to participate.¬†

These are our friends Jo & Jaimee posing for NOH8 last year… hot right?

This got me thinking about my own sexual identity and what makes me (or anyone) a lesbian. I came out 9 years ago when my wife, Rose, and I started dating. She is the only woman I have ever been with Рand we were just kids at the time! So we really shared our journeys out of the closet and into lesbian adulthood together.

We were in high school when we first met in theater and became fast friends

When I started telling people about my relationship with Rose, I had many of my friends and family ask if I considered myself a lesbian now – often in a sarcastic way. I was¬†a crazy intense Catholic at the time, so I was battling with my own internal guilt and really had no idea what to call myself – or if I even wanted to. I was afraid to give myself a label, because of what it might mean. I had my own stereotypes built up about gay people, and I just wasn’t ready to consider myself one of “them.” Although I loved Rose, I was scared that I would never have the option to go back to being normal (whatever that even means).

And even after I was sure that my attraction to a woman wasn’t simply experimental (remember, I had Catholic upbringing and was extremely jaded about¬†what made someone gay), I was still¬†hesitant to use the word lesbian, not only because of my own reservations, but also because of how I thought other people might react. I didn’t want to be forced into a box. I was afraid that it would make my parents even more ashamed of me. Most of my friends were also conservative (or at least so I thought) and I worried that they’d look at me differently if I fully identified as gay.

Now I know that labeling myself as a lesbian is empowering.

I never really had much interest in boys growing up. I knew I was supposed to occupy my time with crushes, so I’d often just pick a boy I thought was cute or nice and focus on him. I only had one boyfriend in high school and one in college – both lasted for about a month. But because I have only really had a serious relationship with a woman, I guess you could ask how I am sure of my sexual identity. Well, I’m not. And who cares?

You fall in love with the person, not the gender.¬†Everyone has¬†a certain type that they are drawn to – brunettes, tall, outgoing – and I think that gender is part of this. Anyone that says that they can’t tell if someone of the same sex is good looking is lying – perhaps even to themselves.

So, yes, I’ve seen plenty of women I find attractive… and I’ve also seen plenty of men. Does this make me bisexual? Maybe it does.¬†But does that really matter? If I weren’t with Rose, would I date other women? Probably. But I can’t really say for sure. I plan to be with a woman for the rest of my life, so I’d say that definitely makes me a lesbian. And I’m damn proud of this label, because it expresses my commitment to my partner, my identity as a woman, and my plans for the future. I use it intentionally now, even when I know it might make someone uncomfortable – because that is their problem and not mine. I know who I am and I know who I love. End of story.

Together over 9 years and going strong!

Lessons Learned from Our Wedding Day that Apply to a Marriage

  1. Go with the flow. Things will not go as planned. It’s much easier to accept this and be ready for it.
  2. Never leave each other’s side, unless one of you needs a drink.
  3. Talk about your expectations beforehand, but prepare to be surprised anyway.
  4. Keep smiling – people have cameras.
  5. There is no such thing as disappointment, as long as you enjoy yourself.
  6. Soak up every moment, it will go by much too quickly.
  7. Take time to eat dessert, or wear it.
  8. Share secrets. Make each other blush.
  9. Cry if you want to.
  10. Never forget that it all comes down to the two of you.
  11. Make sure you remind each other how amazing you both look.
  12. Ignore messes, stains or mix-ups. They aren’t worth the stress.
  13. Be gracious hosts.
  14. Tell each other how you really feel. Make promises. Dream big.
  15. Get excited for the next step, but live in the present.
  16. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
  17. Kiss. Often.
  18. Realize that your family and friends are there for you.
  19. Step away from all the chaos and breathe together.
  20. When there isn’t anything left to do…. DANCE!

Photo by Blair Allen Photography