Jul 31, 2011

Getting Away for a Few Days

The past week has been a crazy whirlwind of events that have somehow left me with a week off work and no plans whatsoever.  A sort of surprise vacation.  It's sort of a long story, but it doesn't matter now.

No complaints here. I'm long overdue a vacation. But I'm not about to sit around my apartment all alone for a week. So, me and K decided to take a spontaneous trip to...Toronto, Canada!

It's everything I love, staying in hotel, taking a roadtrip, being with K, getting outside the U.S. for a couple of days, good food.

And it's everything she loves, seeing birds she hasn't seen before. K is a major bird nerd and the first thing she did when I said "Why don't we go to Toronto?" is look up which birds live around there.  So, we'll definitely take some binoculars and pack a picnic and spend some time at a nature preserve.  Maybe we'll see one of these (Scarlet Tananger):

or one of these (Wilson's Warbler):

I think it's so cute how much she loves birding. And the birds are cute too! I don't really care what we end up spending our time on.  I'm just so happy to be spending some time alone with her, she's been pretty preoccupied lately.  I do want to try to make it to Wellesley & Church, the famous gay area of the city in Toronto.

Anyone been to Toronto? It will be my first time in Canada, any tips?  Recommendations of things to see?

Jul 29, 2011

I Work...In a Closet

This is true on several levels.

One: no one at work knows I'm gay. Well, one person knew, because she suspected and asked me. And if someone directly asks me, I don't go out of my way to lie about it. But then she quit.

Two: my office is very small, so it actually does kind of feel like a closet. The whole business is small, and I share an office with 2 other people, so we are close, quite literally.

So here's what happens when you work in a closet. You overhear your co-workers saying lots of dumb shit about gay people. They say it freely because they don't know you're gay, and you hear everything...because no one is more than 20 feet away.

Here are some insightful comments they've made:
*Everyone has a gay cousin
*Everyone in California is gay
*People can do what they want, but it's just nasty
*Gay marriage is illegal and wrong and controversial, and we will not promote it
*Gay couples don't have love stories
*Lesbians all have the same body type, they're born that way (kind of boxy, big, masculine)
*Lesbians are usually ugly and dress awkwardly

The list goes on, but you get the point.  The truth is, I like these people and respect them. But when they say this stuff, every time they lose a little respect. I feel pity towards them for their ignorance and small-mindedness, but mostly, disappointment. They've shown themselves to be good people in so many other ways, why do so many people fall short in this category.

I wonder sometimes, how their view of gay people would change if they knew about me. How it might shake up their stereotypes.  Right now, I don't think it'd be a good move for me career wise. It's not illegal to fire someone for being gay in Indiana (in the private sector). So for now, I bide my time.  

Jul 27, 2011

Glimpses of Hope

It's easy to discouraged on the gay marriage front. There are still way too many places, including the state where I live, where gay marriage is banned. Yes, not "not recognized", not just overlooked by the law or not specified, but specifically banned.  Gotta love Indiana.

Gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states, I have no doubt.  I think it will happen in my lifetime.  But I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.  So until then, we'll just take baby steps.

My work is closely tied with the wedding industry. That is a whole story in and of itself. But I get pretty tired of looking at the same Mr. & Mrs. and hearing the same cookie-cutter story over and over...so imagine my surprise and happiness when I was browsing through Brides Magazine last summer and I saw this!

A Brides photo-editor married in New York, to her librarian love!  And now, a year later, their marriage in New York is actually legal. A lesbian wedding in a national bridal magazine, and another state in the U.S. seeing reason and granting equality.  Maybe that's only 6/50, but I still like to think of it as a glass half full.  It's amazing to see history in the making.

Jul 23, 2011

What gay is. What gay isn't.

Let's get started with this simple definition.

What gay is not:

Not a haircut.
Not a rainbow enthusiast.
Not a certain way of talking.
Not certain clothes.
Not a religion.
Not a political movement or agenda.
Not a perversion.
Not a sin.
Not an abomination.
Not an illness or mental problem.

What gay is:

Loving someone, and wanting to be in a relationship with, someone of the same gender.

That's it. If you think it's anything but that, I'm sorry to say you've been mis-informed. I hope I can help you, in some small way, understand that. Welcome to my blog.

Jul 22, 2011

Book Reviews

Best Lesbian Romance 2012; edited by Radclyffe
You may laugh at me, but in my naïveté I picked up this book thinking it'd be lesbian love stories. As in, girl meets girl. So... that's not exactly what it means. Not that I'm complaining...
Best Lesbian Romance 2012 is a compilation of short stories published by Cleis Press, edited by Radclyffe. The 2012 edition that I happened upon at a small independent book shop is actually the 4th edition (it looks like the first one was in 2009)....read more
Fancy Pants; by Cathy Marie Hake
Every so often, I set aside my endless reading lists and just browse at the library for something new and different. This book caught my eye with the playful cover and title, and I was intrigued to flip to the back cover and learn more.
Fancy Pants, by Cathy Marie Hake, is the story of Sydney Hathwell, a young girl from Britain who is sent to America, after her parents pass away, to meet a man she's been arranged to marry. She finds him very distasteful and schemes up a plan to escape and meet her long lost uncle living in Texas....read more
Fifty Shades of Grey; by E L James
I can already see you rolling your eyes at me! I know, I know. I basically just recognized that I would probably read it at some point in time, why not just get it over with? I had to understand why on earth this book by E.L. James has become so wildly popular. So, after reading it, do I understand why this book has become so wildly popular? No. No I do not....read more

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky; by Heidi Durrow
Heidi Durrow's novel, "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky", is about a young girl's search for identity. As a girl, Rachel is born and raised in Germany, with a black American G.I. father and a white Danish mother. Her parents struggle with alcoholism, and when her mother moves to Chicago to start a new life with the children, for the first time, Rachel is confronted with racism, still alive and well in early 1980's U.S.A....read more
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming; by Joshilyn Jackson
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson was an unexpected, beautiful story. I listened to the book on CD during some long driving hours (it's read by the author - she did such a wonderful job!), and it was one of those books where you don't want to turn off the car because you want to hear what happens next. This is my first Jackson book, and she really caught me by surprise. A beautiful writer, I mean really beautiful....read more
Girls of Riyadh; by Rajaa Alsanea
I was intrigued by this book the moment I saw it on the library shelf. I am always interested in learning about other cultures, but most especially when the information is coming from someone of that culture. Rajaa Alsanea is a girl of Riyadh herself.
I sadly did not even know what "Riyadh" was when I picked up the novel. Which shows you how pathetically little I know about Saudi Arabia.....read more
The Hunger Games Trilogy; by Suzanne Collins
Finally, I am finished being consumed by the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, & Mockingjay). Once you start reading, there's no turning back, you must accept that you will read all three books and just cut out blocks of time for it. (Or rather, stay up late reading even though you have work first thing in the morning).....read more
In One Person; by John Irving
This was my very first John Irving novel, but it definitely won't be my last. The thing I search for most, in good fiction, are true-to-life characters: three dimensional people that step off the pages, speak to you, and interrupt your life for a time.
We not only spend 60 years with Billy Abbot, the narrator, we get to know an entire cast of friends, families and others that wander in and out of his life. Time passes through the 50s, 60s, all the way up until current day, when Billy is a 70-year-old man looking back on his life and telling his story......read more
Keeping Faith; by Jodi Picoult
 I've read a handful of Jodi Picoult's books now. Here's what I like about them:
-She is quite a master at weaving a plot that will keep your interest until the very end (watch out for twists!)
-She does thorough research for each book, they're always about some relevant topic in our society, so they are usually pretty educational.
-She usually takes on a variety of characters in each book and helps you see
different perspectives.
-She has courtroom drama in every book I've read. I love courtroom drama....read more 

Landing; by Emma Donoghue
With "Landing", I welcome Emma Donoghue into my life. Someone (thank you Courtney!) recommended this to me after I posted a lesbian must-reads list. I'd not only recommend this one  for lesbians, but for anyone who has experienced a long distance relationship.
We meet young Jude, a 25 yr old Canadian, who's never known much outside of her small town life. She's comfortable with things just the way they are, and she's a traditionalist at heart. When tragedy strikes, fate crosses her path with Síle....read more
The Last Nude; by Ellis Avery
"The Last Nude", by Ellis Avery is the story of the passionate affair between artist Tamara De Lempicka and one of the models that inspired a series of paintings. After a brief amount of research, I'm pretty sure most of the story is fiction, and is loosely based around some of the facts of De Lempicka's life.
The sad truth is, when I picked up this book on the shelf, I did not know who De Lempicka was! I am the worst art student ever! But to be fair, I never took a western art history class. So, I began reading as though the book was complete fiction....read more

The Marriage Plot; by Jeffrey Eugenides
"The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides is a love story on the surface, but takes you behind the scenes of the human heart in a love triangle of three young college graduates.The novel begins at graduation from Brown in 1982. A time before texting or emails or social media. We meet three young, hopeful academics as they set forth on the next stage of life....read more
The Mermaid Chair; by Sue Monk Kidd
I recently finished Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair. I'm not sure if you've read one of her books before, but she a beautiful story teller. You can tell she relishes creating worlds & characters rich with history, spirituality and depth.
This is the second novel I've read of hers, the first was The Secret Life of Bees and I've also begun to read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which is her personal tale of spiritual awakening....read more
Monday Mornings; by Sanjay Gupta
I would say that this book was an out-of-the-norm choice for me, but I'm beginning to find that I have no norm. Although I do tend towards fiction, I'm not usually drawn towards medical stories. I made the mistake of wandering by the new books re-shelving cart at the library and Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta caught my eye. A book written by a neurosurgeon about the good, bad and the ugly of the daily lives of five doctors/surgeons at a large hospital in Michigan....read more

The Muse; by Suzie Carr
"The Muse: a novel of romance and discovery" was my first Suzie Carr book. I had no idea what to expect... based on the title I figured it'd be something of a lesbian chick-lit romance. Yes, there was some of that. But it delved for something much deeper.
The story Jane Knoll is told in first person. I can't lie... this character vexed me for much of the book. A 29-year-old copywriter, Jane lives alone and has barricaded herself in a very small comfort zone. She trusts very few people. She doesn't venture out much. But worst of all, she lives in disgust and hatred of herself....read more
Unfair: Why the "Christian" View of Gays Doesn't Work; by John Shore
I just finished reading John Shore's "Unfair: Why the 'Christian' View of Gays Doesn't Work". The book is not in print yet, just available in digital editions.
I'm not trying to exaggerate, but anyone who reads this book and still has a hard heart towards gay people defended by a christian worldview, I would seriously question the existence of their soul, conscience, heart or ability to reason....read more
What God Has Joined Together: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage; by David G. Meyers & Letha Dawson Scanzoni
I love reading. So I thought it'd be good to incorporate some relevant reading materials into the blog on occasion.  I read this book quite a few months ago, and afterwards bought 4 copies on Amazon because I thought it was very well done, and wanted to share it.
If you are at all interested in a christian case for gay marriage, this is a great book to start with.  Authors David G. Meyers & Letha Dawson Scanzoni (both Christian and straight), worked together and came up with a rational, genuine, and persuasive case for gay marriage....read more

Where'd You Go, Bernadette; by Maria Semple
Maria Semple's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" is the story of the bond between a mother and her daughter.Bernadette Fox is eccentric, she doesn't quite fit in with the other moms. In fact, she rather detests most of them. A once-famous architect, Bernadette has relocated to Seattle with her husband and daughter, Bee, and become something of a hermit.
Her past is riddled with secrets, and the story is unveiled through letters, emails and documents throughout the novel...read more
When She Woke; by Hillary Jordan
Just finished a new and intriguing book by Hillary Jordan, "When She Woke". It's the story of a girl named Hannah Payne, a futuristic reworking of the Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne).
In the future, the U.S. has implemented a new form of punishment for criminals: chroming. They literally inject a virus into you that changes the color of your skin. Depending on your crime, you get a specific color. Hannah gets a red injection after having an abortion. This branding is almost worse than prison, because although you are in society, you are shunned....read more

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
This was a wonderful way to introduce myself to Jeanette Winterson. I think we will be quite close from now on. Her memoir, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" was captivating, honest, and hopeful. I was amazed by her level of self-consciousness. I found myself repeating the same line just to let it sink in further. She doesn't waste one word. I loved her wry humor, philosophical viewpoints on the smallest life moments and her gift of seeing past black and white to the humanity in us all.....read more

Jul 21, 2011

Get In Touch

I'm always happy to hear from you! If you have ideas or suggestions for my blog, questions or comments on something I've written about--or you just want to say hi--drop me a line!

I might post something you send as an anonymous comment or question, so if you'd prefer me not to, please specify that in your email and I'll respect your wishes. Please do not reproduce any content (photos, artwork, writing) from this blog without permission first. Thank you!

Email: askruthiequestions@gmail.com

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Jul 20, 2011

Glossary of Terms

Coming Out: telling someone you're gay

Conservative Christian: someone who believes humans are sinners, and can be saved (from sin & eternal death) by believing in Jesus Christ (his death & resurrection), the Son of God

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): federal law in the U.S. defining marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law leaves it up to states to decide if same sex couples can marry, but no state is required to recognized same sex marriages outside of their own state.

Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT): the U.S. policy that GLBT service members could not serve and be open about their sexual orientation.  Those who were openly gay would be discharged from the armed forces.  This policy was recently overturned and the official end date is September 20, 2011.

Feminism: Belief in equality for women, free from cultural gender-role constraints.

Gay: someone who loves/is attracted to another person of the same sex

GLBT: initials that stand for: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. Sometimes it is listed as GLBTQI, which would also include the labels queer and intersex.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC): "The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than one million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community." (their website)

Pride: celebrating being gay (GLBT) in public as a community.

The Backstory

Once upon a time, this beautiful man & woman fell in love and started a family. After 2 siblings, along came me.  I was born in gorgeous California and only two weeks later was whisked away to Indiana, where I have been stuck ever since.

Sure, I've been other places. Here's me in Australia! --->

But inevitably, I've ended up back here again. And lately, I've really been feeling like a fish out of water.  

Here's what happened.  I was never out of water before, I always swam with the current and a big school of fish. I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian environment, and I didn't know any different. I didn't know much at all actually.

Here is a list of things I did not know much about:
1 Cusswords - I was paranoid I might say one, because I didn't know what they were. What if I word I thought was just normal turned out to be a cussword???
2  Unsaved people - I had heard of them, but didn't really know any. I figured they were sort of empty, unfeeling, sad beings wondering about in the world just waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus.
3  Sex - I was pretty sure you got pregnant from a boy's spit. But your clothes had to be off...or something. It was all pretty vague.

Now, I don't want you thinking I didn't know anything! Here are some things I DID know about:
1 God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.  I read the bible twice before I was 14 and I knew all my bible stories, verses and lessons backwards and forwards. I was the model Christian, youth group leader and witness for Christ.
2  I knew that I wished God had made me a boy, because God always seemed to like them better. I thought I'd be closer to Him. Girls were inferior to boys. No one said that out loud - of course - but it was always unspoken. I decided that since I couldn't be a guy, I would be grateful to God if he'd just let some guy choose me to be his wife. Please let me be picked, Lord!
3  I knew 100% that I was straight.  I had never dated a boy, or even held a boy's hand, but I was obsessed with the idea of getting a guy to pick me.  Besides...what other options were there?

Somehow, all of this remained the same for most of my school career through my senior year in high school (public high school). I was steadfast and committed to my faith, while at the same time, one of the most insecure teenage girls you could come across.  So, I move along to college.

At college (a Christian school) I was depressed and lost my freshman year. I hated myself and I didn't know why.  I was uncomfortable in my own body, and placed more importance than ever on finding a guy to marry.  I came not even remotely close, I was scared to talk to a human male.

Sophomore year was a growing pain year. I went through faith highs...and lows. Liking a guy high (he kind of sort of liked me back/talked to me)...realizing it was done and over....lows.  Hating myself more.

Junior year started off on a down and just kept going downhill.  I grew more and more cynical.  I started to question everything I "knew" (the Christianity, the female inferiority)...and then finally, I questioned the straightness.

Me & K, when we were still just friends.
Well, not exactly. I didn't consciously question my straightness.  I knew I was going to marry a man and have babies in my head.  But my body and yes, my heart, knew something I didn't know.  This is when I met K.  I was "best friends" with her, but now I understand I was falling in love with her.  It took my brain quite some time to put that together. But my body just got straight to the point.  I had never kissed anyone ever, or even considered being with a girl, when one night...I kissed her. And then I kept kissing her for 4 hours, because she was kissing me back...and good.

And for the first time I understood that this is what I had been looking for all along, and I had found it finally, and my heart was flying a million miles over the earth and I was alive and safe and free all at once. It's one of those things that you just know when you know. And I knew.

A piece of the puzzle of figuring out who I was, clicked into place. And I LOVE when things click into place where they are supposed to.

So...unfortunately it was not all fine and dandy from there. We had the slight problem that we were at a Christian school where homosexual conduct was strictly forbidden.  We could sneak around that (which was kind of fun), but we could not sneak around the guilt and shame that had been programmed into our brains since birth--that this was a sin.

Since this is getting plenty long, let's just say, it was quite a struggle. But no matter how much Christian counseling we did. Or how many times we tried to break it off. Or tried to just be friends. Love won out.  So now it's been several years and we're both out of school and we're a little bit long-distance at the time being, but we're still together.

The thing is, when you both grow up in Christian homes, and go to a Christian school, ALL of your friends are Christians. And while they may "still love you", they will always pair that with "but we don't agree with it".  Add that in to living in the middle of the midwestern U.S. (a not very open minded portion of the country), and you're bound to see a lot of the inside of a closet, and start to get pretty lonely in there.

I know it won't always be like this. But until I find my way back to the ocean, I think I'll just have to be a fish out of water.
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