Friday, July 31, 2009

A Gift from My Lover

Cameron and I spend way to much time apart with our conflicting schedules. One way we remain close is photos taken with our camera phones. She just sent me this one; it's so beautiful I had share immediately!

Indeed, this a perfect Lughnasadh gift. In keeping with next week's Sabat, I wanted to think about this first harvest. This year I am harvesting the grains of my hard work. I am half way through my clinical practicum experience and have successfully "graduated" several clients this month. I have been at my job as a substance abuse counselor for six months, and will be able to use vacation time to take my sex ed class next week.

My vision continues to grower clearer for the next steps in my spiritual path. I will begin a fellowship next fall and begin building my business as a lesbian identified, pagan therapist. Mine and Cameron's dream of beginning a spiritual mentorship program for Wicca is beginning to coalesce. We've begun the tentative thought process and private blog to begin working our ideas into a concept.

Moreover, despite financial and school challenges, my relationship with Cameron continues to flourish. Everyday I am more amazed at the fruits of this relationship.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trans Dream

I had an interesting dream last night. Apparently trans issues are very much on my mind. The dream:

I was in my early thirties, lesbian, and single. A work related event had me attending a conference on substance abuse counseling. For lunch, we were paired and seated in small groups at round tables. The host of the event had arranged for specialty breads to accompany lunch, which arrived at the table in small, personal shaped loaves. I had been late arriving, and was seated at a table with another late comer named Jennifer. She was friendly, but very reserved. I was really attracted to her. We had each been served a different kind of bread, so we split our loaves and shared with each other. We seemed to be having fun, and then suddenly it was as if I hit a wall. I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

Next moment, we were standing outsound the building on a balcony after dinner, chatting. I had been flirting with her, but she was rarther reticent. Yet I could tell she was interested. She had changed clothes, and was wearing a shawl drawn up to her neck. The wind caught it, she moved just right, and I could see a thick thatch of hair on her chest. My first thought was curiosity. If she was self conscious, I wondered why she had not shaved. My second thought was the realization that I faced a trans person who presented as female. On the one hand, I am lesbian and was saddened that she wasn't really a woman. On the other hand, I fascinated, and I wanted to talk about it, but didn't know how to bring it.

Then the alarm went off

Having read and been strongly affected by Alissia's blog (her entry about her ex-wife), it is apparent that I was still processing what I read. I also must add that I am part of an online trans partner list, so I get a lot of food for thought there, as well. Then there is the obvious; that Cameron is transgender. The dream didn't seek to apply labels. I don't want to figure the dream woman, although I wanted to hear her story. I wasn't turned off or discouraged by recognzing the male beneath the exterior. I just sought the company of a fascinating person. Indeed, that juxtaposition of the male/female is wildly attractive and exciting to me.

So I tend to see this dream as an affirmation of our relationship, my attraction to her, and the power of that blend of masculine/feminine. On the other hand, a confession. that male/female juxtaposition was much easier before it was named. When I saw it, and simply recognized it as part of the woman I love. It was easier before someone pathologized it; named it; called it a disorder. Maybe the label gives Cameron relief, that ah-hah moment of "so that's what I am." For me the label undercuts who she is; for me; she simply is the boi I love beyond all measure, beyond all reason simply because she is what she is.

Sometimes Cameron feels like she has opened Pandora's box. She fears how this journey might affect us, as do I on occassion. Nevertheless, I am not hostage to this journey. I walk this journey of exploration because I love her. Because I choose it. Because I want to. Because I have lived without her, and this is better. And while recognzing her as Transgendered changes everything, it also changes nothing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kitty Come Home

Dickens never went outdoors as a young cat. Only after I bought my trailor six years ago and moved with too many cats did Dickens begin to escape outdoors.

He once disappeared for more than a month, I was terrified he would not come home. These days he's getting older, about age 10, but he is still very fast, and knows just how to slip out between my ankles.

This weekend he didn't come home. Worried about his well being, Cameron cast her "Kittly, Come Home Spell." She no soooner than carved his name into the candle, and Dickens was home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Transgression of Binary Definitions: Gender Variant People in Marriage and Family Therapy

My supervisor told me yesterday that my paper for her Research Literacy class will be published shortly. She had to edit it to fit the journal. I asked permission, and received it, to publish the unedited copy here to my blog. My love to trans friends!

Many researchers have acknowledge the shortage of training in graduate programs for gender variant and transgender clients (Laird & Green, 1995; Long, 1996; Long & Bonomo, 2004; Long & Serovich, 2003; Ritter & Terndrup, 2002). Indeed, only fifty percent of marriage and family therapists report feeling competent to treat lesbians and gay men (Doherty & Simmons, 1996). It is unknown as to how many feel competent with gender variant clients. While public conversation has begun to accept the topic of gender variant people, society still treats this population as strange, exotic or alien (Laird, 2004; Lev, 2004).

Even among the professionals, before the DSM-IV, the medical field pathologized gender disorders as perversion, immature development stage or psychotic (Israel, 1997). These attitudes have placed gender variant people at risk emotionally and physically, including male victims of sexual violence (Cooks-Daniels, 2006). Moreover, clinicians report an increase in the number of individuals who describe themselves as transgendered that present for therapy (Feldman & Bockting, 2003, Lev 2004). As a result of these needs, Marriage and Family Therapists increasingly must familiarize themselves with the challenges faced by gendered variant people and their communities. In fact, marriage and family therapy is uniquely situated to meet this population’s needs, as gender variance does not occur in isolation, but in conjunction with other relationships, consequently affecting spouses, parents, children and community (Buxton, 2006; Lev, 2004).

In this post-modern era, the body has become a battlefield because of society’s determinism to define bodies as sexed either male or female (Costello, 1994; Cream, 1994). Gender variance includes persons who experience discomfort with their physical body and experience the desire to express the gender attributes of the opposite sex. In addition, for the gender variant person, the spaces where sexual orientation meets their gender identity can become quite complicated (Devor, 2002; Devor, 1993).

Early research in gender variance suggested that a greater number of men than women presented with gender dysphoria, possibly as high as 8:1 (Blanchard, Clemmenson, & Steiner, 1987). More recent research, however, suggests that that ratio is 1:1 and that women do not necessarily present for surgery at gender clinics, preferring to simply blend into society as “tomboys (Bower, 2001; Devor, 1997). Certainly not all transgendered people opt for full surgery. For example, “tranny boys” are lesbians who choose mastectomy but not hormonal or surgical intervention (Deogracias, Johnson, Meyer-Bahlburg, Kessler, Schober & Zucker, 2007; Lev, 2004; Devor, 1997).

Gender becomes a way to organize past and future cultural norms, allowing one to situate identity in respect to societal norms and live an active lifestyle based on the body one occupies (Webster 2002; Cream, 1994; Butler 1986). Finding a space in which to explore one’s gender can become very political; for example, some feminists protest that some gender expressions limit other possible gender meanings. Unfortunately, this stance can run counter to the feminist stance on marginalization and their attempts to give voice to those who have become disenfranchised (Heyes, 2003).

Attempting to create spaces in which to discuss gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues led to the development of queer theory. Specifically, as gender variant people do not meet cultural binary expectations, according to queer theory, their identities constantly form and reform, thereby challenging heteronormative assumptions (Abes, 2007; Heyes, 2003; Johnson, 2003; Butler, 1986). As gender comes to be entirely socially constructed (Devor, 1993), this in turn becomes a challenge to heteronormative societal power structures (Longhurst, 1997; Foucault, 1978).

Rather than sex being equivalent to gender; sex becomes a physical characteristic and gender determined by a role played in society (Devor, 1993; Devor 1997; Butler, 1990). Gender then becomes not just a cultural construct, but also a performitive act in which one constructs self identity (Butler, 1986; Devor, 1993). Unfortunately, for all of these gender variant people, stepping outside of one’s assigned gender places one’s very existence into question because bending gender boundaries creates profound dislocation (Butler, 1986; Costello, 2006; Lev, 2004).

The act of recognizing oneself as transgendered can become a process carried over many years (Devor, 2004). At times, the incongruities between gender and sex can pose a danger to safety, for example, in public restrooms (Devor, 1987, Fausto-Sterling, 2000; Lev, 2004). When dissonance between self and culture heighten, gender variant people present in therapy with symptoms of excessive pain, agitation, guilt, restlessness and malaise (Lev, 2004; Schaefer & Wheeler, 2004). In addition, as gender variant teenagers move into adolescence, they report loneliness, depression and suicidal ideation (Devor, 1997; Costello, 2006). Furthermore, society silences the voice of gender variant children, assuming that they do not know enough about gender and sexuality to establish their identity (Costello, 2006).

To assist the gender variant community, therapists must change their image of gatekeepers and diagnosticians that judge, label, and possibly withhold surgical assistance to transgender and gender variant people (Behan, 2006; Devor, Lev, xxv). We must be aware of the shortcomings of the DSM-IV, which leaves out a number of diagnostically significant features (Bowers, 2001). For example, impairment of social function, a specifier in the diagnosis, is not present in every case.

Moreover, not every gender variant person needs or wants hormonal or surgical alterations (Fausto-Sterling, 2000; Lev, 2004). Recently published, the gender identity/gender dysphoria questionnaire for adolescents and adults (GIDYQ-AA) has been designed to aid clinicians in discerning an entire spectrum of gender idendities (Deogracias, et al., 2007). However, diagnostic labeling of gender variance has become both controversial and political. As transgendered people increasingly demand their rights, the difficulties of our diagnostic categories become more pronounced (Devor, 2002; Lev, 2004; Fausto-Sterling, 2000).

Therapists must educate themselves on the coming out process for gender variant people. Because the experience of “coming out” interrupts binary patterns of Western thought, much of our society fails to recognize that the process is not a discussion of sexuality but is a discussion of identity (Allen 1995; Lev 2004). As therapists, we must be prepared to work with people with gender variance and their families. We must build upon the incredible resilience that such marginalization requires (Allen, 1995; Laird, 1993).

It can take three to six years for straight spouses to recover from the shock and to accept reality (Buxton, 2006). A spouse’s coming out will create struggles with sexuality, marriage, children, identity, integrity and belief systems (Buxton, 2006). Therapists should never underestimate the commitment required of gender variant people or the pain and suffering they must endure, as well as the danger, violence or hostility they risk (Cream, 1994). Moreover, to deny one’s identity renders the person socially invisible (Allen, 1995; Devor, 2002; Lev, 2004).

Consequently, the “coming out process” becomes vital in the role of mental health for gender variant people and their communities (Behan, 2006). For young gender variant people, the families are often plagued with feelings of having done something wrong, or feelings of helplessness (Behen, 2006), making the role of the family therapist critical.

Family therapy has been slow to recognize the influence of sexuality in therapy, and in addressing the issues of gender variance on the family. Gender variant families can often be problem saturated, with struggles like heterosexual families, and with problems that go beyond those norms. Internalized homophobia, both within the gender variant client, their families and community add powerful stressers. With adolescents disclosing to their families, parents disclosing to the children, various system family therapies may be used (Long, Bonomo, Andres, & Brown, 2006).

Each of the various approaches, whether it be Bowenian, Solution Focused, Structural or Experiential, for example, offer possibilities and cautions (Behan, 2006; Long, et al., 2006). Perhaps the strength of each therapy lies upon the strength and sensitivity of the therapist. But if therapists are ill prepared, it has been suggested, that may because their supervisors are ill prepared as well. To address this need, Janie Long and Josephine Bonomo have created a matrix geared at addressing heterosexual bias and the degree of acceptance of GLBTQ orientations and behavior in both supervisees and supervisors (2006).

Acknowledging the lack of training for therapists in their respective programs, Long and Bonomo seek to create an opportunity for inward reflection for the self as a therapist in regards to those clients who exist in the sexual minority. As therapists establish themselves as LGBTQ allies, they become not only allies within therapeutic encounters but also with the community, counteracting stereotypes and homophobia that creates so much harm in gender variant communities (Lynch &McMahon-Klosterman, 2007).

Abes, E., & Kasch, D. (2007). Using queer theory to explore lesbian college students' multiple dimensions of identity. Journal of College Student Development, 48 (6), 619-636.

Allen, K. (1995). Opening the classroom closet: Sexual orientation and self-disclosure. Family Relations, 44 (2), 136-141.

Behan, C. (2006). Talking abut gender in motion: Working with the family of the transgendered person. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2 (3/4), 167-182.

Blanchard, R., Clemmenses, L., & Steiner, B. (1987). Heterosexual and homosexual gender dysphoria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 16 (2), 139-152.

Bower, H. (2001). The gender identity disorder in the DSM-IV classification: A critical evaluation. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 35 (1), 1-8.

Butler, J. (1986). Sex and gender in Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex: Witness to a century. Yale French Studies, 35-49.

Buxton, A. (2006). When a Spouse Comes Out: Impact on the Heterosexual Partner. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 13 (2), 317 –332.

Cameron, P. (2006). Children of homosexuals and transsexuals more apt to be homosexual. Journal of Biosocial Science, 38 (3), 413-418.

Cook-Daniels, L. (2006, Oct 17). Publications & Resources. Retrieved June 15, 2008, from Trans Sexual Violence Project:

Costello, L., & Duncan, D. (2006). The 'evidence' of sex, the 'truth' of gender: Shaping children's bodies. Children's Geographics, 4 (2), 157-172.

Cream, J. (1994). Re-solving riddles: The sexed body. In D. Bell, & G. Valentine, Mapping Desire: Geographics of Sexualities (pp. 31-40). New York: Routledge.

Deogracias, J., Johnson, L., Meyer-Bahlburg, H., Kressler, S., Schober, J., & Zuker, K. (2007). The gender identity/gender dysphoria questionnaire for adolescents and adults. Journal of Sex Research, 44 (4), 370-379.

Devor, A. (2004). Witnessing and mirroring: A fourteen stage model of transsexual identity. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Studies, 8 (1/2), 41-67.

Devor, H. (1997). Female gender dysphoria in context: Social problem or personal problem. Annual Review of Sex Research, 7, 44-89.

Devor, H. (1993). Sexual orientation identities, attractions, and practices of female-to-male transsexuals. The Journal of Sex Research, 30 (4), 303-315.

Devor, H. (2002). Who are "we"? Where sexual orientation meets gender identity. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 6 (2), 5-21.

Faucoult, M. (1978). The history of sexuality: An introduction (vol 1). New York: Pantheon Books.

Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000). Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books.

Feldman, J., & Bockting, W. (2003). Transgender health. Minnesota, 7, 25-52.

Heyes, C. (2003). Feminist Solidarity after queer theory: The case of transgender. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28 (4), 1093-1120.

Israel, G., & Tarver, D. (1997). Mental Health. In G. Israel, & D. Tarver, Transgender care: Recommended guidelines, practical information, and personal accounts (pp. 21-55). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Laird, J. (2004). Forward. In A. Lev, Transgender emergence: Therapeutic guidelines for working with gender-variant people (pp. xi-xvii). Binghamton, NY: Hawthorne Press.

Laird, J., & Green, R. (1995). Guest editors' "Introduction" to special issues "Lesbian and gays in families" The last invisible minority". Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 7, 3-13.

Lev, A. (2004). Transgender emergence: Therapeutic guidelines for working with gender-variant people. Binghamton, NY: Hawthorne Press.

Long, J. (1996). Working with lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: Addressing heterosexism in supervision. Family Process, 35 (3), 1-6.

Long, J., & Bonomo, J. (2006). Revisiting the sexual orientation matrix for supervision: Working with GLBTQ families. Journal of GLBT Studies, 2 (3/4), 151-166.

Long, J., & Serovich, J. (2003). Incorporating sexual orientation into MFT training programs: Infusion and exclusion. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29 (1), 59-68.

Long, J., Bonomo, J., Barbara, A., & Brown, J. (2006). Systemic therapeutic approaches with sexual minorities and their families. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2 (3/4), 7-37.

Longhurst, R. (1997). (Dis)embodied geographies. Progress in Human Geography, 21 (4), 486-501.

Lynch, J., & McMahon-Klosterman, K. Guiding the acquisition of therapist ally identity: Research on the GLBT stepfamily as resource. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2 (3/4), 123-150.

Ritter, K., & Terndrup, A. (2002). Handbook of affirmative psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men. New York: The Guilford Press.

Schaefer, L., & Wheeler, C. (2004). Guilt in cross ender identity conditions: Presentations and treatment. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8 (1/2), 117-127.

Sullivan, N. (2003). A critical introduction to queer theory. New York: New York University Press.

Webster, F. (2002). Do bodies matter? Sex, gender and politics. Australian Feminist Studies, 1738, 191-205.

Shadow Dance

My favorite email list continues to discuss working with the shadow. I have continued to my own reflection, and here is part of my reply. This will be an opinion laced, not necessarily factually based, opportunity to share as I challenge others to even more thinking...ready?

Following the most sexually and emotionally abused period of my life (age 32-34), I emerged very damaged. Obviously had a great deal of healing to do, which also made me prey to Jeremy. Indeed, if I were to examine the patterns in the weave of my life threads, he was my opportunity to work out the abuses perpetuated by my previous ex-husband and He-who-shall-not-be-named (and a few others).

As Cameron has described, Jeremy was a man who presented as intelligent, gifted, articulate and charismatic. He became the "Atlanta Daddy" to my best-friend's children. He became the best buddy to my own children. He became the Summoner for our grove's Priest (kind of like the Maiden to a Priestess...he tended the fire, handled the candles, and was the ritual minion). He was groomed to become the grove's next Priest. When all of that exploded, he went on to become a youth director for a Unitarian Universalist church in the Atlanta area. He also molested the daughter of his hosts where he lived. He performed such inappropriate magic as burying ritual blades on the property, concealing items beneath my son's their daughter's bed, creating jewelry for the kids the youth group to wear, etc. As a result of all of these crimes, he was ritualistically warlocked. In essence, if not fact, by three groups.

Definition of terms here: (as I understand warlocking): To warlock someone is to declare them in public an oath-breaker. Each group involved had a different way to do this.

The Grove of the Unicorns called a counsel of 3rd Degrees and Elders (I wanted to participate, but lacked credentials). Their ceremony, as I understand it, was to cut Jeremy, who was a first-degree in their tradition, off from the magical source of their tradition. (I'm stumbling for words here, so if anyone as a better way to phrase it, please do so. Nightwide? Gaia?) His priestess bore the karmic responsibility of his initiation. She was not well physically before all of this. Following what happened (he lived in her home for a year, part of the time taking my son with him), she never recovered. Nor has she been able to truly face what happened, although she has made amends to me, as best she is capable. The priest, healthier of body and spirit, even more so. They later came to understand that the took my son from me (he was fifteen).

Our eclectic group gathered at my best friend's house. Best friend had offered by son and I the opportunity to stay with her after Jeremy cost us our home (literal). Jeremy had helped to put up a wall in her dining room to create a bedroom for Aaron. When the group met after the fall out (2 years had gone by), they ritualistically removed the wall and purified the space. Within the wall were things both mundane and magical, material and astral, that do not bear speaking of here.

The third ritual was performed by the UU's and I only have second knowledge of it. Following an intervention to stopped his host's daughter from leaving to go to Alabama with him (remember, she was underage), the property was searched. All talismans, blades, jewelry was found and ritualistically taken care of. Parents/children affected were contacted and cared for. The UU church circulated official notices of his face, name and description as a warning in case Jeremy turned up to work his evil somewhere else.

Jeremy's clinical diagnosis is bi-polar with disassociate episodes. He is also, in fact, a sociopath, or psychopath in common terms. Because our souls can always be graced with healing, I will not call him evil. But I will say he was quite capable of evil action.

Again, my personal opinion... Certainly Jeremy afforded many people opportunity to face their own shadows. In my case, I had to learn to handle people in authority (learn to stand up for myself), people who talk badly about me and believe the worst, to define my own realities despite what anyone else said, and more. However, I am not the kind of witch to forgive and forget. I continue to cope with the losses he cost me. While my oldest son does not speak to me, I will never forgive his costing me both my sons. That cost has become generational because I do not have contact with my oldest son nor my grandchildren (I do talk with my daughter-in-law regularly, so I know they are okay). Nevertheless, the time for retribution has paced.

I guess what I am getting at is that we can take catastrophic life events and garner soul lessons. But there's a point at which chaos happens. Sometimes other people's soul lessons, other people's karma, other people's evil deeds, run right over us. Was it retribution to participate in rituals to warlock Jeramy? Probably. But that's also justice. And responsibility. And remember that emotion is a powerful tool of a witch. So those warlocking were done with witches with heightened emotion as they called on the Gods and Goddesses.

After my own personal ceremonies for healing, I ceased working magic regarding him. On the other hand, one grieves as long as one must. And I will grieve the loss of my oldest son and grandchildren until they either are back in my life, or until I die. For me, if I stop grieving, I'll stop loving. So it's not possible.

I think I could have learned those shadow lessons in far gentler ways. I was warned about him, but didn't listen. I needed financial help at that time to keep custody of my children. I put my desire to be a mother ahead of common sense: ( Not an uncommon thing for women who have children and no means to support them alone.
As a result of all that has happened, I have come to believe that initiations, and subsequent degrees, are vital shadow work. When we descend into the abyss and confront our authentic selves, we face our shadows. Sometimes we do that spontaneously, often we do so as part of the pathwork within Wicca (a reason to be part of a coven--we need community to work through these issues with).

As we draw closer to divinity, we do our shadow work and discover the blessings, lessons, and transformations within its darkness. I believe that we face our shadow selves, we consciously attune with the parts of our shadow that need to work consciousness. And once attuned, become a part of everything we do. I think of my inner shadow as that part of self where authenticity and wisdom reside. And when I am silent and still, I can attune to that part of self and know what I must do.

Okay, getting way to esoteric. I hope I haven't lost too many people with my rambling. I am in that space where words aren't quite enough to convey meaning!

Lughnasadh: A Harvest of This Year's Garden Pictures

Starshine's Thoughts for Today

When I came in from hanging laundry, Starshine had created his post.

Priestess, Crone, Community

Since entering grad school, my life seems to have moved into fast forward, and the transformation of self astonishes me daily. I was raised in a wounded and damaged home. My mother had undiagnosed schizophrenia, my father had the religion bug (moved us from Indiana to Arkansas so he could go to Harding College, now Harding University, and become a minister). Those were strange years, between when we moved at age ten until I got out of the house.

Like an alcoholic home, we never talked about what went on behind closed doors. The abuses schizophrenia unleashes can shatter a child's reality. (Very much like what happenes in an addictive household.) I lived in a world where the rules changed every week or two. I could litererly ask to spend the night at a friend's house on Monday, get permission, go on Friday and be punished when I got home for not asking.

My mother's abuses perpetuated on the children in her seventh grade classrooms were equally damaging to others. Like me, they never knew where they stood with her. As the illness took its toll, her erratic behavior brought my mother before the schoolboard to defend her job most every summer.

So my parents and I closed ranks, which smoothered my attempts to connect with community. I did not talk on the phone with friends and to to this day lack the comfort with phones that everyone else seems to have. For many years I lacked rudimentary social skills others take for granted, especially in the south where "bless her heart" means "fuck you." I was a nontraditional college student at 25 when those things finally started making sense. Nor surprisingly, I am now an introvert by nature.

Over the last few years, I went through menapause. At age 46, I seem to have occassional hotflashes, but otherwise few symptoms. The timing seems to coincide with having passed through the mothering part of my life. My therapist likes to argue that therapy is mothering, but for me, I dont quite agree. Indeed, one of my therapy supervisors suggested that when she saw some "mothering" in therapy that I needed move to a different approach -- which sounded more like where a crone would be. So even at school, the universe seems to be moving me beyond the mother and into the crone.

As I move in the phase of the crone, I find myself reaching out to my community. When we attended Goddess Fest I became acutely aware of the need to connect with the pagan community surrounding me, however out of sync I feel. I've begun blogging, and eagerly read everthing I follow. I grow frustrated with the need to read more of my online community than I have time for. I have joined elists, following a Christian GLBTQ group, a support group for the signifant other in a trans relationship, and an online Wiccan group. I treasure these groups and follow them avidly. With the Wiccan group, I am slowly becoming one of the elders of the group whose training and experience benefit the younger members. I am occassionally graced with the opportunity to "teach", which a role I highly value. More than that, I am filled with gratefulness to finally begin to connect with people and no longer be so isolated. For the first time in my life, I value community deeply and feel welcomed by it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Gay Accessory

The benefit of my Sex Education in August is that I can justify reading a sex manual as school work! I'm in the A's, and had to side track to write about appearances. If I say as much about every letter of the alphabet, I may be writing every night until the class starts!

I first publicly came out when I was forty. I now know I was perimenapausal. Then I just knew I was done with men. Unfortunately, not all men were done with me. During one stint of unemployment I took a job as a restaurant manager at Hardee's. It was a tiny town, not even big enough for McDonald's. Certainly not a good place for an over educated English major who maintained a 3.83 at a prestigious grad school only eight years before. Obviously, life wasn't going as planned.

Men frequently asked me out. They would do immature things like order orange juice so they could watch me bend over to reach in the cooler. After ogling my ass, they would ask me out. I would decline, and about the third time around, I would explain that I was not interested. I was gay. Inevitably they said the same things: "You can't be gay!" Followed by: "Bring your girlfriend, too!"

Gay bars weren't any better. Cameron and I spent way too much time dating in bars the first year of our relationship. Every Friday night we headed to Cactus Jacks to have dinner, talk and listen to live music. Our favorite performer was Barbara Gelhmann. Cameron and I would spend the entire night talking, flirting, emmersed in foreplay. As long as she stayed at my side, nobody seemed to think twice about my presence. But let my gay accessory step away, and eyes looked at me as if to ask "what is this straight woman doing here?" During the six months we were broken up, I could not even pick up another woman! Of course, I probably talked about Cameron too much. But on the other hand, few women approached me. I seemed to have a blinking light over my head saying "Can't be gay."

So a year ago, Cameron and I decided to test my theory. We went to a local bar, temporarily invaded by lesbians, I checked out how they dress. No wonder I was pegged incorrectly. I carried a purse, wore a pretty blouse, and generally looked straight! So the next time we went to the same place, I left my purse behind, wore a white strappy t-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and no lipstick. Of course, it helped that Cameron drew a temporary gay tatoo on my shoulder. Every time Cameron stepped out to smoke, someone stepped up and began a conversation!

Hate Crimes Prosecutions

The Sunday paper from the town where I go to school included the following:

Voting 63 for and 28 against the Senate on July 16 advanced a hate-crimes amendment... The amendment would expand the federal law against hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability as well as the existing categories of national origin, religion and race...

yes: none
Voting no Jim DeMint
Not voting: Lyndsay Graham

Not voting for either next term: Me

I don't even have words for state leaders who do not see the need for hate crime protection in a state where Sean Kennedy was murdered.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sex Ed Class and Discrimination

I am taking a required sex education class the first week of August. The teacher, in an attempt to desensitize us, gave us an assignment. We were to go to a book store, such as Barnes and Nobles, and select ten sex self-help books. We are to choose one to read, and the other nine needed to be listed on a bibliography with book descriptions before class starts.

Being a rabid lesbian in a room of heterosexuals, I believe it is my sacred duty as a daughter of the Goddess in a fertility religion to educate my peers. So I headed for the gay/lesbian section. I could not find it! I finally asked at the desk, and found out that gay/lesbian books had been reduced to two bottom shelves in the "Cultural Studies" section. I am not a cultural study.

I was outraged that there were only two lesbian and two gay books that fit the requirements of the assignment (The other books you see in the pile on the floor pictured were interesting things found in other parts of the store on other subjects. I was, after all, an English major many years ago). The rest of the two shelves were either histories of the gay/lesbian movement or they were erotica, neither of which were useful for the assignment. I only saw one book, other Helen Boyd’s book My Husband Betty, on transgenders.

Next I headed to the self-help section. It was completely, as expected, exclusionary. Apparently only heterosexuals need self-help given the six shelves of books and the section label! Nice to know that Barnes and Nobles has such confidence in our ability to have sex. On the other hand, the more book titles I went through, the more angry I became.

Warning: The rest of this rant is X rated. Buy your ticket for the TMI bus before continuing. And the opinions expressed her violate my feminist union card.

Side explanation: This is completely politically incorrect, and a deep secret of my feminist lesbian soul. I love porn; not so much the pictures, but the cheesy movies where everybody has a great time engaging in incredibly intimate sexual play. I even like heterosexual porn, although I am way more focused on the women than the men. Unfortunately, most so called lesbian porn is performed by straight girls, and they don’t tighten straps enough, or seem to understand the nervelessness of simply engaging in their own pleasure without a man intruding at some point. Nevertheless, I get an erotic kick out of porn, so I assumed I would likewise have fun looking through the pictures in self-help books. For some reason, gay male porn seems to be a lot more convincing.

Unfortunately, when I saw the heterosexual self-help books, illustrated or photographed, I unexpectedly train wrecked. I mistakenly assumed that my secret porn fetish would allow me to enjoy looking through the books. I was wrong. (I only found one I would refer my clients to with a clear conscious. The rest would be intimidating, or I didn't like the illustrations/photography, or something.)

I finally come to the conclusion that movie porn invites the viewer to participate, if only visually. The so-called actors often break the frame by looking directly into the camera to heighten the sense of immediacy. Movies seem to presuppose that having someone watch is part of the experience. Regardless of my orientation, I am invited to participate; not so with heterosexually oriented self-books. They feel entirely exclusionary. The books are written only to the heterosexual experience, from a heterosexual point of view that assumes my lesbian experience to be invalid.

Suddenly I was confronted with exactly how far from the mainstream I world I have gotten, and the contempt with which I am ignored. The books dealt with exclusivity between the man and woman, presumably married (last time I looked, Cameron and I can't married in SC!) and pointedly leave me out of the picture. They also seemed to focus heavily on pleasing and pleasuring the man. I got the sense that the woman's pleasure didn't come from her own enjoyment of sex, but pleasure from her partner's enjoyment of sex. Shesh. The more I read the books and viewed the pictures, the more irate I became. And the more my gender bending wife panicked on the other end of the phone! I think she wondered if I would castrate her when I got home on general principle.

Despite my grumpiness with the heterosexual books, I was almost equally disgusted with that I found in the gay/lesbian section. The first Barnes and Nobles, which had the two lonely books for lesbian self-help, only had The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us by Felice Newman (editor of On Our Backs) and On Our Backs Guide to Lesbian Sex edited by Diana Cage. Both are good; but both are slanted by their own poltical/social views.

Let me explain. While both books are explicit, fun and edgy, they also can be incredibly intimidating. For the young, savy lesbian who is totally comfortable with her orientation and likes living in an exploratory world of night clubs, parties, and dating, these can be fabulous books full of information, insight, and encouragement. If I had read either during my own middle-aged coming out, I might have fled screaming into the night. Not because I hadn't done as much or more in my young, heterosexual world, but because if that's what is expected by the hot dyke sitting next to me, I'm out of here. (When Cameron realized how nervous I was about stepping outside my comfort zone the first time we were together sexually, she slowed way the hell down and let me catch up! Cameron likes reminding me that I was a rowdy girl, just out of my heterosexual comfort zone.)

Furthermore, both books were written by magazine editors, which introduces a very slanted view. One is the editor of Curve, an upscale magazine with interviews of such people as Melissa Etheridge. It is not porn. It talks about sex, but is not graphic (like Maxim). They do not write "How to Please Your Woman" articles, although the Fairy Butch advice column will talk about dildos and sex. The other magazine is the lesbian equivalent to Hustler, with graphic photos and instructions on how to safely engage in some of the edgiest sexual behaviors safely. Each magazine has its own agenda and political views, and the editor's views are very clearly shown in their book. What a sharp contrast to the heterosexual self-help books with Ph.D. behind their names!

If this little assignment is any indication of how the class will go for me, then my classmates are going to be rather unhappy with with the outspoken lesbian with an agenda. I bet not a one of them has considered the struggle of gays or lesbians, let alone a gender bender outside the binary box. I consider it my sacred duty, as the daughter and priestess of the Goddess, to knock them from their comfort zones. In the mean time, I going back to Barnes and Nobles to complain. The smaller store didn't even a section header for me. I want it back! Meanwhile I'm talking about being subversive and rebellious in class while my wife is trying to remind me that I may have to take other classes with these students. Do I look like I care? Hrumph.

On the bright side, I've been thoroughly desensitized. I read everything, as I grumbled on the IM to Cameron, surrounded by people, including the innocent with children. I was careful not to let the pictures show. But since I had to plug up the lap top, the only seat available landed me in the middle of four men and a woman who kept sneaking glances at my stack of books (which included great stuff for gay gals such as my favorites, Is It a Date or Just Coffee by Mo Brownsey, The New Lesbian Sex Book by Wendy Caster, and Lesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships by D. Merilee Clunis, PhD and G. Dorsey Green, PhD which is not specifically a sexual self-help book, but so amazing my straight friends need to read it to. The gay sex books garnered the most sideways glances, and included The Joy of Gay Sex by Dr. Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano, Gay Sex Secrets Revealed by Jonathan Bass, and The Gay Man's Karma Sutra by Terry Sanderson. I never blushed once.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wiccan Mysteries

When one of my HPs was at the point of burnout and spiritual crisis, she began proclaiming that were no mysteries. It was one of the most tragic things I have witnessed. She certainly had walked the path of Divnity and had been a vital part of our community for much longer than I had. It was heart breaking. I've also thought a lot about the "mysteries" every since.

There's a moment of transcendence when, as initiate, you stand before the Lord and Lady, channelled by your HP, that defies words. That moment, for me, defines our "mysteries". That moment has become my yardstick that I use to measure everything that comes afterward. Certainly I needed the group, the preparation, the study, and the desire to become something more than I was. And when that moment comes, reality takes on a numinous quality and is never quite the same afterward. Which makes my currently solitary status (despite being part of a woman's spiritual group) all the more poignant. And what led me to the company of this group.

In The Protector's War, S.M. Stirling describes the numenous moment thus:

A wild torrent that was joy and terror and neither, a communication with something uttler Other and yet as familiar as a parent's touch in the night: vast beyond knowing and woven into every atom of your being. (363)

Thoughts on Solitares and Initation

My egroup recently devolved into a very heated discussion of what is wicca. That led to a discussion of solitaires and initiates, with plenty of toe stomping to go around. I finally took a deep breath and posted my own thoughts. Having been through training three times before initiating, and now working as an eclectic solitaire, I felt like I needed to share my experience. So here it is:

In my thirties, following the most emotionally, physically, sexually abusive relationship of my life, I found the goddess religion in a metaphysical bookstore parking lot. Several years later, I had finished my training (2nd time around). I challenged for initiation. Because of the foul things said by another member (who was my fiance), my HP refused to initiate me into the group. She said she would initiate me as a solitaire only. She said that I could not be trusted to work group energy. It was one of the most painful things ever said to me. And she was wrong. She was being manipulated by a very dangerous man. I refused to initiate as a solitaire and realized I was with the wrong group again.

We each had a crystal that we put in a small sandbox for ritual each time that psychicly focused in a group mind. I turned mine in and walked away. It's still wrapped in silk in her alter. She's invited me back to be reinstated and initiated. I will never go. My trust is broken. The motherhouse offered me a place, but I had decided to move.

Instead, I went to yet another HP, waited another year and a day, and finally initiated. So I went through the process three times before initiating. It was worth waiting for. The ritual drama Lady Moonkist arranged changed my life. Initiation can be one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It also can become a political/social/spiritual crisis. Having gone to such lengths, I confess, I was arrogant about initiation and the value I thought it lent. Then I met a few ladies who were self-initiated as solitaires. After "sniffing" them over, talking "shop," and working with them, I came to understand that their spirituality is as valuable and real as my own. They may lack group experience, or not currently working with a group, but that did not reflect on their value as Witches.

In discussing community, and the need for pagan to situate themselves within a community, Cat Chapin-Bishop wrote:

Because real community will hurt you, betray you, let you down. And that’s a feature, not a bug. Oh, I’m not saying we should welcome betrayal into our communities, or cultivate disillusionment as a path to wisdom. But there’s a way that compassion and love and mature spiritual vision will not thrive in an ideal world. We need to be buffetted a bit by the kind of storms that are inevitable in an imperfect group of humans.
I am now a eclictic witch. The four covens I have been a part of all have all exploded or imploded over the last dozen years. Some of the local covens would like see me start over again from scratch (not willing to do that again--see previous emails), or are too unstable for me to join. So I am part of a loose association of eclectic somethings (witches, pagans, voodon, and mystic christians). For lack of better words, we call ourselves a counsel of Elders. It sounds fancy. It's not.

Within our loose eclectic community of eclectic Elder somethings, when energy work is called for, we call in the 3rd degrees of or various traditions (we honor Cameron as one of our 3rd degree in christianity). I think the current youngest of our Elders is in her mid to late thirties (Voodon). Now that should just about offend everyone--but that is our group of community elders. Frankly, many of these Elders have been so badly burned in covens or other groups that they refuse to join another. Yet they will answer a needful call. And we all see each other fairly frequently. Indeed, this community conferred my 1st and 3rd degrees -- and it was a 3rd degree Wiccan who wrote both rituals (the second degree was within a more traditional coven).

I believe we need community, but I don't believe all regions of the country offer the kind of community we need. So we each will seek whatever community we can find. My online elist is an awesome part of community. The women's group I circle with as well as the group of elders we occassionally call in also form a powerful community for Cameron and me. They also keep us accountable for our actions. My service to my community is currently limited because I work full time and go to school (and am completing the practicum portion of my grad program, meaning I spend 10+ hours a week doing psychotherapy). My intent will be a gay identified, Wiccan/Christian therapist who will of service to a larger community.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Shadow Within

An excellent list of criteria questions for a student who was considering studying with a new teacher appeared in my online group the other day. One question especially struck me: Has this person met and faced his/her own demons and Shadow somewhat? Or will s/he see them in every student who comes along?

Having been burned within the Wiccan community by unstable Priests and Priestesses, this question really hit close to home. Before I go on to address it, however, I want to define the shadow as described by Dr Carl Jung. He identified the Shadow is an universal archetype. Jung believed that the shadow is the unconscious, the repressed inner self , or that which is undeveloped and denied. The shadow may have both dark and light aspects, being the parts of self which we abhore, or that part of self which exists as potential; that is, the shadow self can be destructive or creative. Self awareness means confronting the shadow, which often becomes mirrored in the people we attract.

For me, the woundess of being an unwanted child, abandoned by my biologoical father and raised by my mentally ill mother, played out again and again in the people I choose to teach me the Craft (authority figures). My battered and damaged sexual self played out again and again in serially monogamous marriages and in my first teacher. Fortunately, the sexual aspect ended with my first teacher. His wife was ill with liver cancer and was dying. I completed all of the classes, challenged for initation, and when the ceremony was being planned, I told my teacher I could not initiate in his tradition. The teacher needed a priestess for his new coven, and I knew I was not ready. I also recognized his vulnerability with his wife's illness and did not want to sleep with him. Saying no to that coven, after training for an entire year, and beginning all over again somewhere else was hard.

During that time, I was in a relationship at that time with a man who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with dissassociate episodes. He had been in seminary before I met him, and knew I was studying Wicca. About a year after we moved in together he expressed interest and went with me to meet Lady A and Lord A. Unfortunately, Lady A also was bipolar, unmedicated and was in a car accident that nearly took her life. Her reason and judgement never recovered from the trauma. My ex began "playing" her shadow side. Eventually he turned her against me. He went off his medication, with her approval, paid their bills (money is power) rather than ours, and eventually alienated everyone from me.

My next priestess also turned out to be bipolar. By th end of my relationship with her, she was so much like my mother it was spooky. I definately projected on her, and vice a versa. Following my first degree initation, that relationship turned into an incredibly spiritually abusive and damaging relationship as well. Following a spiritual crisis, that Priestess removed herself from the Wiccan community. My next priestess, though without an official diagnosis, had a similar spiritual crisis. She forgot she was to conduct my second degree intiation and just did not show up for circle or tell anyone.

Given this history, I have spent a great deal of time tearing apart the past, examining my responsibility for the things that happened, looking at my authority issues and complicitness when I did not heed my inner wisdom. When I read the question about the priest/priestess' projection on me, however, I stopped short. I've spent so much time taking responsibility for my own actions that I had not fully considered the projections of them onto me. It seems certain, upon reflection, that much of the damage I carry from previous priests and priestess comes from their failure to work through their shadow selves. In some way, I became a reflection for them of that which they refused to face. With the intervening years, I've come to see their woundedness and how I filled a need for them to play out their old issues. I can't help wondering if this question of the priest or priestess working out their shadow with me, if I might have found different teachers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

They Call Me the "Cat Lady"

Sometimes a fur baby will announce that he is coming home despite the number of children at your home. Meet Starshine, our newest fur child.

He is named for a calico literary cat, Sharshine, who is part of the Kinsey Milhone series by Alex Matthews. My original Starshine, sister to my familiar Dickens for Charles Dickens, passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. She also was a beautiful orange and white cat.

It became obvious very quickly who would rule this relationship.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Breaking out of the Margins

There are days when I am amazed at the difference between my 20 something self and my 40+ self. Sexuality and self image probably are two the biggest difference. This morning I opened my yahoo browser and was greated by this headline: "Some NWA flight attendants want to wear red dress: Northwest flight attendants want Delta to offer bigger sizes of signature red dress uniform."

When starting my graduate program, we were told to wear black or red the first day because they are power colors. Those colors inately demand attention. As a child of patriarchy, I used those colors to appear attention getting, sexy. I used my sexuality to control men. I was controled by how my sexuality was perceived. As I have gained weight and become a size 24, my curves have settled into middle aged sagging everything. I wear very different cloths than I did 20 years ago, and find it liberating to walk about without eyes constantly staring at my ass.

So when I read this article, two things struck me. First, if Delta Airlines offers a red dress, then it needs to be sized for everyone to wear it. I get sick of buying clothes that are designed to cover as if my body is shameful, rather than flattering my body. So I find it alarming that Delta would hire a top notch fashion designer who would exclude women who do not meet his image of attractive. Indeed, according to the article, "Patricia Reller, who handles grievances for the union's executive committee, said Friday that even if there was only one flight attendant who wore a size over 18, that person should be able to wear the stylish red dress." Amen sister. We live in a culture that marginalizes competent, middle-aged women with bodies that do not fit small sizes. We perceive larger women as incompetetent, not sexy, and in need of being hidden, marginalized.

Worse, however, is the attitude of the fashion designer. When designer Richard Tyler commented on the new uniform, he said, "I want them to look sexy and great, but you have to keep that classic look as well." I want to know why uniforms should be designed to be sexy? We do not design uniforms to accent male sexuality, hinting at their cocks or balls, emphasizing their chests. We design them to be attractive but functional. By purposely designing uniforms to be sexy, the airline enforces a stereotype of women. The pilots, male, fly the plane and remain out of sight because they are IMPORTANT. Women offer drinks and wear sexy attire because that is their place.

I bring up Delta Airlines because it actually relates to my attitudes about Wicca. Goddess religion is fertility religion. Of course sex is a sacred part of our religion. The chalise and the blade represent the aspects of male and female. But at times we are also guilty of thinking in binary terms. We think male/female. We do not account for the trans person, the persons in the margins, the gender disorders, or the other rich and beautiful threads in the tapestry of sexuality. Indeed, Gerald Garner was a dirty old man who enjoyed walking around naked and fucking his priestesses. When they got too old, he replaced them with a younger model.

There are wiccans who enjoy the fertility aspects of wicca and use it as an opportunity to express their sexuality. I respect these views, even as my own views change. But as I move toward the years of a crone, I find myself rethinking the binary roles of wicca. I think that if we of the wicca fall into an exclusionary view of male and female, refusing to acknowledge the gender bending blurs, then we risk becoming as dangerous as the patriachal culture. I do not want to take the red dresses away from our priestesses, because that is a space in which expression of sexuality is appropriate. But I do treasure a space that anyone can wear a red dress regardless of what they look like under their robes...or out of them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Vote of the Majority Cannot Determine the Rights of the Minority

Proposition 8 brought national attention to gay rights. Written to affirm that marriage could only occur between a man and woman, it stopped gays from marrying in California. The 1500 gay couples already married waited, again, in limbo until the state supreme court agreed to not take back the sanctity of their vows. The New York State Bar announced that marriage is the only way to equality (Storey). Furthermore, six states have passed legislation to recognize the union of gay people, yet the rest of the nation seems to continue with its bigotry. I remember standing at Gay Pride at Atlanta several years agon and watching a float that said TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ENGAGED, HOW MUCH LONGER MUST WE WAIT? Reams have been written about the rights given to heterosexual couples that are denied to homosexual couples, including tax breaks, inheritance, and joint ownership of property. But the problem is not limited just to marriage. Gay people’s rights have also been suppressed regarding service for our country, safety, and even in the definition of family. Until this nation recognizes the rights of gays across all platforms, we are allowing the opinions of the majority to legislate the rights of a minority.

While campaining, President Obama made a campaign promise to repeal the policy barring openly gay people from serving in the military. Despite his promise, it does not appear that Congress will ever send him a bill reversing the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, our own president has not followed through on his promise to the minority. The current policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” does not allow gay military personal to live anything but a celibate life requiring them to suppress their sexual orientation. Specifically, National Guard officer Dan Choi was the first New York National Gaurd member to be discharged for "homosexual conduct" (Kates). Certainly the injustice of such discrimination seems to go unnoticed and unheeded by our current administration. The Obama administration seems to fear embracing gay rights because they do want to provide social conservatives a rallying cry while the president is trying to assemble legislative coalitions on health care and other initiatives. Concerning gay's right to marry, Orange County newlyweds Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer are using President O'Bama's word's against him in their lawsuit. Based on the president's preinargual comments, their lawyer aruges that the administration is on "the wrong side of the case, in light of Obama's latest comments" (Egelko). Their attorney aruges that"I'm not sure who the attorneys for the United States are representing." So once again the appeal to the majority overrides the needs of the minority.

If our own president does not follow through with his promise to our serviceman, we certainly cannot expect our state legislatures to do any better. Indeed, our own state has failed to protect its gay citizens by refusing to enact hate crime legislation. When Sean Kennedy was murdered at a Greenville bar, the FBI could not classify his death as a hate crime (Smith). Consequently, his murderer served ten months in prison for manslaughter, despite the obvious bigotry of his actions. It is time for our state and country to recognize the danger of not protecting gays. Despite Elkie Kennedy's considerable work to bring the tragedy of her son's death before South Carolina's citizens, despite numerous newspaper articles regarding hate crime, and despite several bills brought before the South Carolina legislature, nothing has changed. We cannot even track the number of gay related hate crimes in our state because no legislation exists to recognize hate crimes. Furthermore, without that information, the FBI is also handicapped in compiling accurate statistics. Without hate crime laws, the FBI cannot even track deaths like Sean's. Moreover, without hate crime legislation, Stephen Moller plea bargained to involuntary man slaughter. Such horrible events clearly demonstrate the inability of our government to protect the safety of a minority.

There are also huge controversies surrounding gay families. Six states currently assume that gay parents are unfit to raise children. Often the heterosexual parent will appeal to the court for custody based on sexual orientation. In at least six states custody is automatically granted to the heterosexual parent and courts may inhibit the gay parent’s visitation rights (Kendall). In addition, without legislation, if a lesbian couple chooses to have a child, one bears the child but the other wants custody, without gay sensitive legislation, neither parent is protected. As more couples turn to invetro fertilization, legislation and courts will determine family relationships and rights. If one mommy birthed the child and other mommy caught her at birth, then both deserve to have their rights as parents recognized (Mrs. Kramer Vs. Mrs. Kramer). Without the benefit of marriage, gay parents are often ordered in court documents to never see their children in the presence of their live in partners (Gaines). Eleven states inplicitly or explicitly restrict gay couples from adopting children (Gandossy). Once again, we must recognize the rights of gays to determine the rights of the individual situation.

The civil rights movement of the sixties clearly demonstrated the struggle of a minority to gain their rights. More and more heterosexuals ally themselves with the gay rights movement as they come to understand that inhibiting the rights of a minority can ultimately inhibit the rights of all. Certainly, justice cannot be served when we rely upon the vote of the majority to give rights to the minority. It is time that our governments, federal state and local, recognize the needs of all its citizens. All citizens have a right to choose who they want to marry, to live in safety and to have their rights as parents recognized.

Works Cited

Egelko, Bob. "Gay couple's weapon in lawsuit: Obama's words." San Francisco Chronical. 23 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Jun. 2009/

Gadossy, Judith. "Gay adoption: A new take on the American family." 27 Jun. 2007. Web. 9 Jul. 2009.

Gaines, Judith. "Recent hate crime reopens need for legislation." The Boston Globe. 14 Sep. 1993. Web. 9 Jul. 2009.

Kates, William. "Board: Discharge Gay NY National Guard Officer." San Francisco Chronical. 30 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Jul. 2009.

Kendall, Kate. "Lesbian and Gay Parents in Child Custody and Visitation Disputes." Summer 2003. American Bar Association. Web. 7 Jul. 2009.

"Mrs. Kramer Vs. Mrs. Kramer." 15 Dec. 2008. Newsweek. Web. 7 Jul. 2009.

Smith, D. A. "Recent hate crime reopens need for legislation. " Charleston City Paper.18 Jul. 2007. Web. 8 Jul. 2009.

Storey, Jeffrey. "N.Y. State Bar 'Refines' Position on Same-Sex Couples, Says Marriage Is the Only Possible Path to Equality." New York Law Review. 24 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Jul. 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Peace Rose


Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Mother's Cry for Justice Goes Unheard

Two years ago I worked as a debt collector in Greenville, SC. A mile from where I worked, Sean Kennedy was murdered for being gay. In the parking lot a night spot, Stephen Andrew Moller, riding in the backseat of a car, pulled up beside him. This young man called Sean a fagot and punched him so hard that it broke his facial bones. Sean fell to the ground, seperating his brain stem from his brain. Sean's murderer got back in the car and left him lying there. Later he was quoted as having said, "You tell your fagot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my broken hand." Moller was sentenced to a five year suspended sentence. He spent eight months in jail and then was rewared a two month break for getting his GED and for good behavior.

My heart has grieved for this tranvisty for two years. South Carolina has no hate crime laws. Without hate crime laws, the FBI cannot even track deaths like Sean's. Indeed, without hate crime legislation, Moller was able to plea bargin to involuntary man slaughter charges. All GLBT people are at risk, especially without hate crime legislation. According to PFLAG:
Most hate crimes are committed by “average people.” Perpetrators are typically not “psychos,” neo-nazis or skinheads, but are otherwise law-abiding people who disdain those who are different or fear those differences. Recent research suggests that anti-LGBT hate crime perpetrators perceive gay bashing to be socially sanctioned and therefore acceptable behavior.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reconciliation and Healing

Ravenstar recently wrote in her blog of her ambiguity of being a woman. Like so many of us, she had found restriction within the patriarchal model set by her ancestors. She recently explored what that means to her, which inspired my own inner reflection.

Like Ravenstar, I wanted to be the mother, daughter, woman that my society and family expected. However, I never seemed to quite manage it. For many years I considered that to be an inadequacy on my part. Now I claim my strengths as I became a non-custodial mother, a highly educated woman, and now a lesbian.

I remember the moment I could not stay with the father of my children. My grandparents, like their parents had done, were about to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I cross-stitched a beautiful picture commemorating the occasion. Working the thread was a meditative experience and forced me to confront my fears. I kept thinking that if I did not want to remain married to him for 50 years, then did I really want to remain married for 25 to see my children grown. Could I? It was a short jump to asking myself what the hell was I doing there if I was not willing to commit my life.

Like Ravenstar, I felt deeply ashamed. Unlike my partner, who feels ambiguity with her gender, I have always been a frilly fem who loves satin and lace. I may have traded high heels for earth shoes, but I still enjoy a little glitter and lipstick. Yet those feelings of shame, of defectiveness as Ravenstar describes, remained with me a great many years.

Only as I left behind my oppressive background, a patriarchal God, and the expectations of men did I discover the truth of myself. Fifteen years ago I lived in pain, 24-7. Those who could read auras flinched from the jagged shards of red surrounding me. I was acutely aware of the pain with every breath. I used and abused my sexuality for attention, for comfort, or in place of love.

When I could not match the societal expectations, I lived in defiance. I have never followed the traditional path for women very well. Following the most abusive relationship of my life, I found Wicca. As I entered the goddess tradition, over time I began seeing my own divinity within. I began recognizing my sacredness, which led to a path of healing and eventually a calling.

As I moved into middle age and came out as lesbian, I also moved into early menopause. Without the wild hormonal extremes that dominated so much of my life, I was freed move into a place of self examination and healing. One of the most powerful rituals that I have ever requested was an Episcalian rite of absolution. Much like the Catholic confessional, I spent several afternoons sequestered with my priest, Mother Linda, telling her my story. I left the last of the shame, the last of the separation from Divinity, the last of my own inner voice of self castigation at that altar rail.

I find it appropriate, as I am duel pathed, that I would tell those stories and ask forgiveness in a Christian church to female Priest. I could not have entered my third degree circle without the reconciliation of my paths and my gods/goddesses. Certainly those feelings of shame occasionally return, but they no longer dominate my life. Certainly I am haunted by regrets. My eldest son is wounded by the past in ways he does not understand and cannot hear.

Two weeks after the rite of absolution, I completed the ritual for my third degree. In the place of those painful places flourishes the faith in a goddess who exists with a god as Divinity and within myself. As I hear the journeys of other women, I am mindful that I may have reached this point of my life a little quicker than some because of those divorces, those losses, and that pain.

I began confronting those patriarchal demons in my twenties when I gave my ex-husband custody of our children. I had to learn to live in defiance, and later with, around and through, patriarchy to survive. Funny how we can see the strengthens and gifts only in hind sight. Yet the power to reframe our stories, to seek the inner wisdom and divine spaces, results in possibility of becoming powerful women.

Of Musings and Exhaustion

Cameron sent this silly cat pictures this morning. Firedancer and Lugh are attempting to share the basket on the dining room table.

I’m paying for staying up too late last night. Cameron had to borrow the True Heart’s strong muscles to help her wrestle 5 ft by 8 ft plywood sections she had used for backers for her last painting at school. Contrary to what her teacher told her, the cleaning staff was threatening to discard them. Given the cost of the boards, Cameron wanted to rescue them, but could not do it alone.

I got done at the clinic early and had gone home to eat a late lunch. Instead, I fell asleep. Good thing since I awakened to the call from Cameron warning they were about to pull into the driveway. I sent Cameron on to her Spanish class and offered to take the Bard home. He offered me a buffet dinner along the way. It amuses me that a man who has been single forever shows up with a different woman to this restaurant on a regular basis.

Afterward, I took Bard home and spent a little time with Priestess. Apparently her disassociative identity disorder has spontaneously integrated itself to get through this time. She tells me that metaphysical cobwebs festoon the castle where the personalities lived. Didn’t know that could happen.

Priestess tells me that Truth Teller always had a tender spot of Hannah. She thinks he visited me first so I could be strong for her. It’s an interesting thought.