Friday, November 30, 2012

The sycophancy begins

Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year parents!
Anna has penned her annual list of EVERYTHING that she wants to the man with the bag, apparently, he will need to get a roof rack for his sleigh to get it all here.

We're just going to mail him the Walmart Toy flyer and call it good.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tod chimes in. A very special JH2D post

Note: This is a very special guest post from my husband Tod regarding an event that took place after I posted our family picture on Facebook.

Last week I made a crucial mistake, I forgot my past.

I forgot where I came from. 

I left my home town when I graduated high school and never looked back.  Sure, I go home to visit my family, but I never went or will ever go back to who I was when I lived there.  Over the last 26 years I have developed into the person that I am now and I love where I am in life.  I am happily married in 10 states; I have two amazing children, a wonderful home and a career that I enjoy.  Over that time I transitioned from someone that felt he had to hide who he was to be accepted, to someone who has embraced who I was and was willing to take a stand to show others that I am worthy of acceptance, and that if you are unwilling to do so, you are the one that is missing out.  I have come to believe that personal stories and being true to who you are can make a difference.  When someone is faced with prejudice or difficult decisions it is my hope that those who know me will stop and think, "Wow, that is not true, my friend/co-worker/cousin/brother/son is gay he is not like that, or his kids deserve two legal parents, or he and Tom have been together almost 17 years now, they deserve to be legally married and have access to the legal rights that are associated with marriage." 

Last week I made a crucial mistake of challenging the beliefs of someone back home by means of an innocent picture of our family posted on Facebook. This someone had a similar upbringing to mine, but they did not make it out. They did not have the opportunity to learn that anything different from what you have always known is not always wrong.  As a result I was attacked with the very line that epitomizes the life I escaped when I left home: "I don't cram my lifestyle down your throat, so why do you insist on cramming it down mine?"  As gay people, we spend our lives having the heterosexual lifestyle shoved down our throats in every aspect of our lives.  Not too surprisingly our friends quickly rallied around us and showed their support on Facebook.  Some took to the defense and tried to lash back at the person that made the comment while others took the approach of reassuring us that the attack was unjustified and we should just remove the person from our lives. 

Surprisingly enough that is pretty easy to do, I have never met my attacker and in all likelihood the only time I will even be in the same room with him will be at a family funeral where it will be easy to avoid one another's company.  However, it goes beyond that. Despite being from a fairly conservative family and growing up in a conservative area, I was able to come out fairly unscathed.  I was not disowned by my family, I did not lose any close friends, and if anything I have softened the hearts of some people who were greatly tested when it came to practicing unconditional love and paved the way for the next generation of gays or lesbians in my family.  Having those comments posted on Tom's Facebook brought me back to the insecure kid I was before I left home, took me back to the fear and self-doubt that I had escaped.  Over the past week I should have been enjoying the fact the candidate I believe in with my heart and soul won re-election, I should  have been rejoicing in the states that moved our country in the right direction when it comes to marriage equality, I should have been enjoying my daughter's seventh birthday…

But instead I was quietly dwelling on how tired I was, tired of having to defend who I am, tired of having to fight for basic recognition as a person, a husband, a father, and a human being with feelings.  Within the next month or so Tom's book will be published and I will never be able to go back to a life in the closet again.  How we met, how we fell in love, how we built a life together, and how we started our family will be out there for everyone to read.  This does not scare me; rather I face it with great pride in Tom for putting our story in book format, providing the type of resource that we did not have as we created our own family.  Those that want to live their lives in hate will continue to do so and unfortunately there is very little we can do about that.  Thankfully, I am surrounded by an incredible group of people that brought me to the point of forgetting that people filled with that sort of hate were out there in the first place. And those same people will get me back to where I was before I was dismissed as anything less than whom I have become.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Word... to your Mother. A recap on the elections

After a recent dust up on my Facebook page regarding some pictures that I posted of our family, one of my colleagues at the college posted this link
In the midst of all the vitriol being tossed around under what I thought was a harmless picture; I found great comfort in Erin’s words. Please enjoy, and stop by and tell Erin what you think.

This is Not Politics. This is Everything.
The election is over. And many of my friends have been posting on Facebook about how now we can all just get along again. I too hope that things calm down and that civility can be restored - especially among the people I count as family and as real friends. But I'm also still reeling a little bit from what went on in the last month or two. I know that my candidate won and there were many victories for marriage equality across the nation on Tuesday but all is not won until we can begin to see beyond "political issues" to the human costs involved.

I was vocal about my feeling that a vote for Romney, especially publicly voiced support for him, was an affront to me as a lesbian and to all LGBT people. Many countered this idea with the argument that they couldn't base their vote on a single issue, and I get that. I really do. Besides MR's staunch anti-marriage equality stance, his ignorant statements about not knowing that same sex couples even HAVE families, and his unwillingness to extend gay people (including gay veterans) the right to visit their significant other in the hospital, I had many other reasons to not vote for him. As you can imagine I disagree with him and most republicans on just about every issue from abortion to gun control to education and the environment. Yes, I have very strong opinions on issues like abortion and gun control. And I'm sure you do too. I'm happy to agree to disagree with you about those things. At the end of the day, we just don't see eye to eye on everything, and that's OK. But none of those issues matter in the same way because they are ISSUES. My family and our right to be recognized as belonging to one another is not an ISSUE. And this is not just about gay marriage.
I know some of you feel you've been personally hurt financially by Obama's economic policies and maybe you have. As someone who identifies as coming from a working-class background and as someone whose family is currently struggling financially, I empathize with your distress over economic realities. Maybe Obama's economic policies have not been good for you or for me or for the country at large. But they do not deny you your humanity. They do not deny you your human dignities or single you and your family out as being worth less than other people in any way.

If you are a friend or family member--if you love me, care about what happens to me, my partner and our son, or if you claim to love and care about another LGBT person in the world then I don't think it is too much to ask you to try to put yourself in our shoes for a minute:

What if your family were being denied basic things that most people take for granted? What if Obama wanted to pass a law that said you and your family were not entitled to the same things that most other families in America were entitled to? What if he went out of his way to make sure that people like you - (people who were Mormon, or Christian, or disabled, or born with a rare genetic condition) could not visit their husband or wife as they lay dying in a hospital or that people like you could not be granted a proper birth certificate for your child?  I know if these things happened to me personally you would sympathize. I know you would care. I know you would worry for me and pray for me and hope the best for me and my family. And maybe you just didn't/couldn't allow yourself to really consider that these things could become a reality for me and my family. But in many ways, they already are.

I am lucky to live in New York State where Gay marriage is legal - and even luckier to live in NYC where people generally don't bat an eye when they hear my son has two moms or when I refer to myself as a lesbian. But every year when Kelli and I drive to the midwest to visit family, we pass through states where not only is same-sex marriage illegal, gay couples have no rights at all in hospitals, in child custody cases, in hundreds--yes hundreds--of other realms.... We pass through towns where being gay is not only widely considered a sin but also considered revolting. In many parts of the country we are feared and loathed, still, and our New York State marriage license means absolutely nothing, legally.

If on one of these road trips we were to, God forbid, get into a car accident and if one of us were critically injured and had to be rushed to the hospital, fighting for our life, any of those hospitals could deny us the right to even be together in an operating room or to make the medical decisions that a legally recognized spouse would make. If I was dead or in a coma, and our son needed medical treatment the hospital could deny my partner the right to make decisions about his  medical care or even to stay with him in the hospital. Most disturbingly, if I were dead and in a coma and our son was fine, the state could take him away from my partner - the only other parent he has ever known - and place him in foster care. And they would be legally in their right to do so. That thought terrifies me!

So please don't shrug this off as though I'm simply getting huffy over politics. This goes way deeper than that.

To have the person who holds the highest office in this country be so outspoken about thinking that these things are OK would be detrimental to all of us. There is a dangerous logic at work here when you seek to deny a group of people certain rights that are granted to others. If it can happen to one group it can happen to any group. Stripping someone of their rights is the first step towards dehumanizing them--it opens the flood gates for other kinds of discrimination, prejudice, bullying and even violence. And it sends a message to LGBT youth who are probably already struggling with who they are--the message that who they are is less than who everyone else is. This is a struggle that all of us LGBT people have felt at the very core of our being at some point in our lives. When Obama came out in support of marriage equality last spring that helped undo a little bit of the damage that's been done to us since we were children. And it made space for some hope in the lives of many LGBT youth.

I have never unfriended someone on Facebook before. I've made it my policy not to. Generally, I feel like it's my duty to represent myself and my tribe here. I know that there are some LGBT people who disagree with this idea, but I want people to see that my family is just like everyone else's in almost every way - that we are in every way that counts, a family. In short, that we are human. LGBT people whether we are partnered or not, whether we are parents or not deserve to have our humanity affirmed.

If Obama were denying you and your family hundreds of things that my family and the rest of the families in the country were entitled to I would not vote for him. I would never show public support for him and I certainly would never trounce you for asking me not to. I would understand your desire and expectation to have ALL of the good people in your life stand with you.

Please think about this from my perspective--as a parent, as a spouse. What's done is done. The election is over and we cannot unpost what has been posted on Facebook. Yet I still feel the need to explain myself and let you know how deeply hurt I've been by the attitude and the assertions that I have been making much ado about nothing. This is not nothing to me. This is not politics. This is my family, my self. This is everything.
Posted by erin heiser at 6:56 AM