The Gays vs. The Grammys.

*untitled*

A friend from New York City posted the following status update this morning, “If only people would have as much courage to stand up to their enemies as vigorously as they try to rip apart their allies.” My feelings toward the social media commentary (from a particular segment of the population), regarding last night’s Grammy Awards, had been perfectly captured.

Ah, award shows. A time-honored tradition that I had pretty much written off once the music industry segued from recognizing the innovative in favor of the commercial (that’s an article for another day). With that said, I had very little interest in any aspect of the 2014 Grammy Awards until I came across a blurb about a scheduled performance of Macklemore’s marriage equality anthem, “Same Love.” The rendition was also set to feature the track’s collaborators, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert, as well as Madonna and Queen Latifah (the latter would be the…

View original post 795 more words

Advertisements

Cat’s Outta the Bag

So it happened. Without even thinking about it…it happened.

I have several students (the “Groupie” kind of kids that a teacher tends to collect year to year that hang around after school and come visit more often than necessary) that have become quite persistent in uncovering my personal relationship. They have become fixated on my “significant other”, clearly set on my admission of being a Lesbian. They have asked, “So what is your spouse like?” or “Can you tell us about who you married?” I am no fool – I knew where they were going with their questions. But the truth is, my life is still mine to protect. Never to hide. Just to protect. I have always said that if a student ever came straight out and asked me if I had a Wife, I’d never lie. But of course, these students haven’t been that bold.

Today after school and after tutoring, the same Groupies showed up to chat as I packed up my things. On the wall next to my desk, I have a picture of me at my wedding with all of the teachers from school that came that night. It’s an impressive picture, with close to 30 coworkers! The girls were pointing and giggling at the sight of their teachers dressed so royally, and one asked, “So where’s your husband in this picture?” Without skipping a beat, my reply was, “I don’t have a husband.” How funny it was that it didn’t even phase me. How interesting it was that I felt no hot nervousness on my face. I did not hold my breath. I didn’t regret it. In a way, I felt relief. Relief that the first droplet of water has now been released, and perhaps what can now follow is the rest of the river.

It took a moment for the girls to register what I said. Then, one by one, they turned to me, shocked looks on their faces, displaying their realization. Perhaps they never thought I’d be so nonchalant with my “big reveal”. Perhaps they expected this secret that they think I’ve guarded to be harder to liberate. But to me it never was a secret – just a piece of my life I kept protected.

Of course what followed were dozens of questions about my Wife, my life and my past. I told them that, as I’ve explained to them before, I’d rather not discuss my personal relationship in such detail. However, I promised that at some point, I’d answer their questions.

Maybe in the near future, one of the discussion points of our developing club “Unity Link” can focus on LGBTQ issues and I can open up about my experiences. I don’t know yet. But I am very proud of this first drop.

Now brace yourself for the river.

20140127-194849.jpg

Tolerance, Acceptance and UNITY

I took the first steps this week to create an on-campus club similar to the nationally recognized “Gay-Straight Alliance”!

I started by emailing my school Principal, with the basic idea. He responded back to set up a meeting for the following afternoon. To the meeting, I brought a few of the ideas that I had for a mission statement and how to advertise the new club to the students.

My biggest fear with the creation of a club like this is that it will turn into a source of embarrassment. I would never want the members of the club to feel like they had to defend their involvement against harassment at school. I would never want the club’s purpose to become counter-productive. My principal had the same concerns. We had a very productive “brain-storming” session about how to best move forward with the idea and came up with something that I am so proud of!

We decided that it would not be best to create an official “Gay-Straight Alliance” at the Middle School level. We realized that it would be difficult to create the safe environment that we are hoping for, without a prior track-record of trustworthy members and/or advisors. We chose instead to move forward with a “social club”, promoting it as an environment encouraging acceptance and tolerance. I named the club “Unity Link” and drafted a Mission Statement to present to our Guidance Counselors and to our Board of Education.

Mission: Unity Link is an extra-curricular club and social organization that connects students to each other and to the New Jersey Middle School Faculty through peer support, leadership development and discussion. The purpose of Unity Link is to provide a safe environment for students to form alliances and inter-personal relationships that can help strengthen individual confidence. Unity Link will also create a platform to combat teasing, discrimination, harassment, and bullying school-wide. A secondary benefit of the organization is to provide a direct “link” from this alliance to the NJMS Faculty Advisor(s) of the club.

 Why Unity Link is needed: A 2013 survey of Bullying in the United States indicated that one in four kids are bullied on a regular basis. The same survey showed that about 77% of all students reported some kind of verbal bullying. Out of that 77%, 14% have a severe reaction to the abuse, leading to poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide.* Student polls have indicated that when an organization like Unity Link is present on campus, students feel safer and more supported. **

The response to the Mission Statement was incredible. The Guidance Counselors on-campus seem very excited about this and so am I. We are still awaiting Board approval, but I am very happy that this first step went so smoothly. Hopefully, in just a few weeks, I will be having my first meeting!

*BullyingStatistics.org, **GSANetwork.org

13 Reasons Why Not Fitting in as a Kid Makes You an Awesome Adult

I came across a BuzzFeed article by the same title a few days ago. I was pretty intrigued and quite curious as to what the BuzzFeed cohorts dug up to share with the world. The content of the article, however, was…underwhelming, to say the least. I decided to thieve the title and rewrite the content, attempting to live up to the potential to which it lended itself. I was, after all, one of those misfit kids. Sometimes realizing it all meant something, can really mean something.

1. You learn independence. Being a bit odd often meant hanging out by myself. Sure, I found my niche eventually, but many of my early memories involve eating lunch alone and playing with a jumprope at recess. I learned to rely only on me. And I realize now that a little independence was the healthiest lesson of my childhood.

2. You learn humility. Maybe knowing I wasn’t perfect wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Perhaps a little dose of humble pie is best at a young age, when you still have time to learn and grow.

3. You toughen up. I have plenty of coworkers and acquaintances now as an adult that were clearly the “popular type” and I am constantly witnessing their inability to cope with certain adversity. I am not saying that all Homecoming-Queen-Teens make Cry-Me-A-River-Adults, but it certainly seems to be a “popular” side-effect.

4. You get a sense of humor. It’s not true for everyone, but for many of us misfits, our childhood woes have given us a platform for an actual personality.

5. You get inspired. So many popular artists today tell their stories about being an outcast. Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Howard Stern, Michael Phelps, and Eva Mendez have all shared stories about overcoming bullying and teasing as kids. Each of them got inspired in their own ways to grow into what the world sees today.

6. You can look back and not feel like such a perfect little douche. I am now pretty proud of my oddities as a kid. Perfect-kid-type-stories stick out like a sore thumb in the adult world. No one wants to hear about a Princess and a Pea. Sorry ’bout it.

7. You learn to observe. Like I said, I spent a lot of time alone. I got to take in the world around me and learn from what I saw.

8. You find an inner voice. Self-reflection is, unfortunately, a practice that is not as common as it should be. Something about being an outcast gave me a dialogue about myself, a way to cope with what was happening around me. That inner voice has followed me throughout my entire life, molding the adult I grew into and allowing me to adapt and grow over time.

9. You learn kindness. Every bullied kid remembers the times that kindness, no matter how infrequently or how minor, was shown to them. Sometimes that shining light is enough to outshine the darkest situations. You learn to appreciate what the smallest acts of kindness can do, and pass it on as you grow older.

10. You realize that the world isn’t always a nice place. As sad as it is, this was another important lesson I learned as a kid. Sometimes the “Movie Theatre Reality” or the “Sitcom Point-of-View” is thrust upon us so blindly as kids that we think it’s all true. My time crying behind the soccer net on the playground as I endured the cruel words from classmates brought me face-to-face with the real world and its ugly side. Upsetting, perhaps – but I’m sure glad I learned that early on. The strength I took away from it got me through the rest of my youth.

11. You write. Or create. Or explore. You do what you need to do to survive. I was a writer. I have kept a journal since I was in 5th Grade. My younger sister (or my Mom, rather) gave me a little lock-and-key diary for my birthday and I went to town on that thing. When that one ran out, I got a new one. And a new one. Now, at 30 years old, I have between 10 and 15 notebooks in a box in one of my closets. Every once in a while I pull one out and read a bit, just to get a sense of my childhood mind, and that inner dialogue with which I had gotten so in touch. I am determined to keep that connection to the kid version of me so that I never forget the toughest times.

12. You gain confidence. It may seem a little oxymoronic, but confidence really is one of the greatest treasures of my childhood. By being left out, picked last, laughed at, ignored and teased I was stripped down to my bare bones. I was forced to steel myself and be confident with what I had – or fail.

That was it.

Let it break me.

Or let is make me.

And so I chose.

 

And finally….

13. You could grow up to become Jinkx Monsoon. Super-Star Comedienne, Confident Beauty, Wise Soul and Winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5. She is everything an awkward kid (boy or girl) could hope to become and she has given us such an amazing mantra: Water off a duck’s back. Because no matter what comes at us, we just need to let it fall off of us like “Water off a duck’s back.”

Jerick Hoffer in Spring Awakening at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Jinkx Monsoon serving Marilyn realness.

Jerick Hoffer in Spring Awakening at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Jinkx Monsoon serving Marilyn realness.

Top 10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong*

1. It’s Not Natural

Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2. Other People Will Be Gay

Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3. It Will Lead To Other Crazy Behavior

Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4. Marraige Isn’t Open To Change

Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all. Women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5. The Sanctity of Marriage Will Be Broken

Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed. The sanctity of Britney Spears’ 55-hour-just-for-fun and Kim Kardashian’s 72-day-highly-profitable marriage would be destroyed.

6. Marriage Should Produce Children

Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

7. Gay Parents = Gay Kids

Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8. It Is Not Supported By Religion

Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

9. A Male And Female Role Model Is Required

Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressively forbid single parents to raise children.

 10. It Will Change the Foundation Of Society

Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. We could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the downfall economy, or longer life spans.

*Taken from TheOtherTeam.com

Gay Marriage