GingerSass

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Darkness

Today I had the privilege of being part of a writing workshop led by James Lecesne, co-founder of The Trevor Project. The workshop was about writing to our younger selves, something that was beautiful, poignant, and tear-inducing. It really left me reflecting on my own life, my voice, and how far I’ve come in the past 6 or 7 years.

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James Lecesne signed my copy of The Letter Q, the book he edited in which the workshop was based.

During the writing portion of the workshop, we wrote letters to our younger selves. At one point, I found myself writing about my Grandpa (Buster)’s death, and the impact it had on how I’ve responded to deaths in my life since.

I also started thinking about Lauren, my friend who took her own life two years ago.

Perhaps this is cheating a bit, but for today’s writing prompt I was asked to write about a social issue, touching upon “light” and “dark” stuff. The poem I wrote the weekend after Lauren’s death came to mind… so here it is.

“La Mort de la Lumière”
KB (copyright 2011)

At night I feel the warmth of your fire in my fingers;
the light flickers as golden embers slowly fall.
To my heart I hold you close–
an evanescent moment of serenity–
as the cold, bitter wind blows fiercely
and threatens to make you disappear.

I realize your time is fleeting, and your glow will disappear,
yet I expect you to stay ‘til the last of the wax drips onto my fingers.
When you first came to be, you were held fiercely–
protection for a single flame destined to fall.
Until then, I embrace your serenity
and let your beauty stay close.

I wrap my hands around you, holding you close,
not knowing that you are fighting to disappear,
not knowing that you have a plan to find serenity,
and simply uninformed that you are slipping out of my fingers.
I continue to hold you, trying to protect you from the fall
as you continue to fight time fiercely.

Your flames begin to burn me fiercely–
a sign that the end is close–
but I do not know you are about to fall.
I do not know your light will disappear,
and I do not know you are escaping my fingers.
In this moment, I find only your warmth and serenity.

I sit in the shadows, your glow creating my serenity
as the night winds begin to hit me fiercely
and I start to feel tremors in my fingers
as I fight to hold your warmth close.
You fight back, wanting to disappear
and already beginning to fall.

I wail as I realize you have started to fall,
and an eerie brightness confirms your serenity
as you lose the last of your oxygen and disappear.
I bawl and weep, sobbing fiercely
as the existence of your light comes to a close
and I learn I will never again feel your flames in my fingers.

Once you disappear, I slowly begin to fall.
My fingers search for a sign of serenity,
but with the loss of your light, I fiercely cry. Your time has come to a close.

Obama on Same-Sex Marriage

Okay, I have a lot of topics to catch up on (emotions! graduating college! etc!) but I find it basically obligatory for me to write about President Obama’s coming out as a supporter of gay marriage.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-obama-cites-winds-change-sex-marriage-shift/story?id=16315420#.T7G8Bp9Ys98

For those of you who didn’t know, I’m gay. For those of you who live under a rock, President Obama recently sat down with Robin Roberts and declared his support for same-sex marriage.

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he said.

I am proud of our President. I am proud that he is (finally) standing up for what is right, but like many other skeptics of his announcement, I believe his stance on same-sex marriage means absolutely nothing unless there is actual change. People have been fighting for the right to same-sex marriage for YEARS. In 2008, the fight for same-sex marriage was really picking up. Thousands upon thousands of people across the country united in the fight against Prop 8. The NOH8 campaign was launched to show the unity and support for equality, and how nobody would be silenced by others. Rallies have spread across the country like wildfire to support gay rights, and same-sex marriage.

Me at a rally following the passing of Prop 8 in November 2008. I had mixed feelings– our country finally had a biracial President, but humans were stripped of their rights on the same night. My poster reads, “Farm animals gained more CIVIL RIGHTS on Nov. 4th than PEOPLE.”

Bottomline, the fight for gay rights (and I say gay, not lgbt, because trans individuals are really lacking in rights… don’t get me started on that!) is nothing new. What’s new is the fact that a President has the courage to say what is right, and to stand up for those who are marginalized and deprived of simple human rights on a daily basis. Unfortunately, just saying same-sex couples should be able to get married isn’t enough. Doing something about it will change the world, no doubt, but it won’t be enough until ALL individuals who fall under the LGBTQQIA spectrum have equal rights.

Now, I need to point out a few things that I’ve been thinking about regarding the President’s coming out as a supporter.

  1. “The First Gay President”


    Okay, let’s clear something up: Obama is not “The First Gay President.” He is the first open supporter of marriage equality who happens to be a president. As far as we all know, there has not been a gay president yet. (Or at least an out one!) Save that title for someone in the future… It’s inaccurate.You can read an article on it here. I really don’t feel like writing much about it. (I’ve been writing this blog while watching Glee. Expect a Glee blog in a few days!)

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/13/andrew-sullivan-on-barack-obama-s-gay-marriage-evolution.html

  2. Obama on The View

    I hate The View. They annoy me 9 times out of 10. Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a stupid bitch. I just don’t like the show… I prefer The Talk. however, today’s episode was funny, serious, and showed the human side of Obama. Which I loved… in particular, I liked when the ladies quizzed him on his pop culture knowledge. He’ll probably receive a lot of flack for it, but I liked it. It showed the human side of Obama.

     

  3. Robin Roberts is a sexy closet lesbian. What a perfect plug!

    Does anyone else find it *PERFECT* that Obama came out as a supporter in an interview with Robin Roberts? She’s my favorite closet lesbian, ever. It seems perfect that Robin asked Obama the question all the gays have been waiting for an answer to…Now if only she’d (finally) come out! 

I’m proud to live in a country that is (slowly) moving in the right direction of equal rights. I just hope that, with all the hoopla with gay marriage, the other letters in the lgbtqqia spectrum won’t be forgotten. After all, EVERYBODY deserves equal rights.

Oh, and for more on my thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage, check out my blog from last month on my volunteer experiences with the NOH8 Campaign.

Spending the day with NOH8

Since 2008, April 4th has always been a difficult day for me. It’s the anniversary of my grandpa’s (Buster) death. Buster and my grandma raised me right alongside my parents, and losing him my senior year of high school was devastating. Typically, I’ve spent April 4th either with my family or going to the park/ petting zoo where Buster used to take me and my brother and sister after school.

This year, for the first time that I can recall, April 4th passed and I only thought of Buster a little bit.

Despite my initial feelings of guilt, I am honored to say that I spent the 4th anniversary of Buster’s death volunteering with the NOH8 Campaign (Find them on Facebook or Twitter!). I wore my Buster necklace around my neck and close to my heart all day, and I undoubtedly made a difference.

I arrived at the Rutgers Student Center around 9:30am to help set up for the event. We weren’t sure how many people would be coming to the event, but we anticipated about 200.

At 11, the other volunteers and myself gathered together and applied the NOH8 tattoos to one another’s faces. I was assigned to be a bouncer (ha.) and monitor crowd control by the door right by the shoot. Along with 3 other volunteers, I was in charge of calling out numbers and making sure nobody was trying to beat the system and sneak to the front of the line.

The experience I had volunteering with NOH8 was indescribable. I jokingly said that it was a wonderful volunteer opportunity because I got to check out queer women all day, but in all seriousness the day was simply amazing. So many people from all different walks of life were at the shoot. So many different races, religions, socio-economic classes, gender identities, sexual orientations, and ages were represented throughout the day! It was really heart warming to see so many different people come together for the same cause.

Me fooling around with my volunteer lanyard at the end of the day

For me, one of the most rewarding parts of the day was seeing my hopes and dreams reflected in so many different people. I was lucky enough to interact with each and every person that had his/her/hir photo taken, and it was truly amazing to learn a bit of every person’s story. I felt especially connected to the various lesbian families who were having their photos taken. There was one lesbian couple who was taking a photo with their four teenaged children, and it just made me incredibly happy to see a lesbian couple who made it to the point of having a big, beautiful family. It also gave me hope to see a few lesbian couples at the shoot with their babies. I want nothing more than to get married and have a family one day, but there aren’t many lesbian couples to look at who have long, happy marriages and beautiful families. Seeing these families at the shoot truly gives me hope for the future.

At the end of the day, all of the volunteers gathered to be in a volunteer shot, and to have their individual shots taken. After laughing, joking, singing, and dancing with my fellow volunteers all day, to have our mouths duct taped shut and to be silenced was incredibly powerful. As a white woman from a family of working middle class, I’ve been lucky to never have truly dealt with a lack of opportunities. I have always been surrounded by love in my family, and although there was an initial moment of shock and denial when I first came out, my family has been extremely loving and supportive of me. To finally be silenced and feel my rights and privileges taken away was truly momentous, and I definitely felt the impact of the NOH8 campaign in that moment.

All of the NOH8 volunteers, plus the co-founders of the campaign, Jeff (left bottom corner) and Adam (right bottom corner)

In addition to interacting with them all day, I was also lucky enough to eat dinner with Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley, co-founders of the NOH8 campaign. After dinner, I helped with and attended the Marriage Equality Panel at Rutgers. The panel consisted of Javonne, a LGBT activist, a Lambda Legal Community Educator named Aron, my friend and  Rutgers Grad Student and US Army Reserve Veteran, Nina, and, of course, Adam & Jeff. The panel was really interesting and truly explored different aspects of equality not only in New Jersey, but in the entire country. While I identify as a queer woman, I’ve never participate in advocacy for marriage equality until a few years ago. My then-girlfriend was very passionate about LGBT rights, and she dragged me to a lot of Marriage Equality meetings. We also went to a NOH8 photoshoot together and had a couple’s picture taken, but I really never had a passion for marriage equality until recently.

The panel (Adam, Jeff, Nina, Aron, Javonne, and Eric, the moderator/ organizer of the entire day)

I suppose it could be me getting older, but with Same-Sex Marriage being made legal in New York last June, my attitudes changed. It hit really close to home that I had the ability to get married, but only if I hopped the border and went to New York state. Even though I am single and nowhere near ready to get married, knowing that I am unable to do so in my home state of NJ really frustrated me. It is a right that I want and deserve. I have a chronic medical condition. If, God forbid, in the future I have to be in the hospital or have surgery, I want my future partner to be by my side. I want to be able to know that the woman I love can be by me when I need her love and support the most.

At the panel, Jeff said, “Every single person for marriage equality needs to tell someone, to speak up, to use their voice to get the dialogue going and to show their face.” Jeff and Adam both spoke about using your talents to get your point across. Folks, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m taking something I love– writing and having an opinion– and using it to express my thoughts.

Thank you so, so much to Adam & Jeff for giving me such a wonderful opportunity yesterday. The event truly made a difference in not only my heart and mindset, but in the lives of hundreds of people.

Adam & I

Even if you have never met a queer identified individual, you’re reading my blog. You’re now linked to a lesbian, congrats. You now know one person who is being treated like a second class citizen because I am attracted to other women. We are all human. Embrace those like and unlike yourself, and fight for everyone to be treated equal. If we don’t come together to at least learn to get along, how can we ever hope of achieving a world with less anger and hate?

Take some time today to visit the NOH8 website, embrace those who are different than you, and make a difference in the world one step at a time.

Simply put… All love, NOH8.

PS To see all of my photos from the day, please click here. Thank you! Be sure to like the official GingerSass Facebook page while you’re checking out the pics!