Friday, June 26, 2015

In 1993, my father came out.

It was five years later that Matthew Shepard was murdered.

For the first year after my father came out, I didn't tell anyone. I'm not new to openness and honesty so imagine a highly social 14 year old girl who simply does not tell a soul that her father has dropped the biggest shock of her life in her lap. I didn't tell because I was afraid.

I was afraid someone would hurt my dad. I was afraid he'd get AIDS and die. I was afraid someone at my school would find out and hurt me or make my life a living hell. I wasn't over-the-top in these fears. At the time, people were permissible hazed for this sort of thing. I was at a conservative school. I was genuinely afraid of the hate that might come my way.

But then I was at a pride parade where I thought, I can't be here pretending to be "proud" if there I don't tell a soul. So I went home and said, oh well. If it costs me all the social groups in the world, this is who he is and this is who I am. I'm proud and I have to be honest to be truly proud.

And I did.

I went home and told anyone, any time it came up, that my dad was gay. And interestingly no one batted an eye. I was lucky that way. I'd love to take credit for being brazen in the way I presented the information, and I was. Or give credit to the people who didn't let it influence any part of what they thought of me, because good on them. But in all reality, I think I was just lucky. I didn't get picked out as a target for the hate of that time period toward gay people.

So today, and every day that I see progress toward truly equal rights, I feel amazingly blessed. I feel grateful to see where we're headed. I feel grateful that when my son says he wants to marry the guy painting the house (he's also said he wants to marry a few girls his age,) that I can say, "you can marry anyone who you feel is the one and who feels the same way about you."

Make Matthew Shepard and all those who have fallen to the hate that went before proud. Be proud of the progress. And grateful. I am.

Monday, June 1, 2015

I'm dying... a writing prompt... not for reals.

I'm reading Tuesdays with Morrie with one of my classes this summer. I'm supposed to be teaching it but I think the truth is that I learn far more when I teach than I ever do just muddling about in the world on my own. I learn from my students and from the deapths with which I study materials trying to see it through their eyes, anticipating their responses, wanting to share the light of artful reading and writing with them. I want my passions to be catching, sparks that send them on to love it too, or at least enjoy it more than they had previously.

So we're reading Tuesdays with Morrie and I've just given them the writing prompt that they've been told they're dying of ALS. Right now. What do you do?

So I've decided to do this prompt in order to be sure to not let my excitement hinder their response time and in order to give time and space to think about this great book. So what would I do? I've got ALS.


I'm going skiing while I still can. That's the first thing. But shit, my hands won't work forever. So do I learn to write by getting used to the voice to text software so that I'll be able to write longer or do I get as much as I can down while I can still type?

I definitely read books. I hug my kids, of course, but I'm not sure there's much more I could possibly do that. I'm always hugging and kissing on those babies who aren't babies anymore but I can still see their baby faces and their soft, soft cheeks. I have some crazy sex with my husband because, seriously? How much longer will I be able to move these ways?

And pay someone else to clean my house because why on earth would I spend one single other moment folding laundry or clean another toilet... uh ever?

Other than a vacation though, I'm not sure exactly what I do. Ah?

I swim. And swim and swim and love that water around my body.

We go to the hotsprings and I do backflips off the diving board over and over and we go to Belize and snorkel and I go to that water park in Kansas city with the epic-sized waterslide and piss my swimsuit riding down that thing. BUt I do it. Because I can't. Not ever again.

Then I get depressed. I take drugs trying to make it go away. Trying to run from it. Then I regret the time I lost that I could've written or read or watched movies. I love watching movies.

Then I think of what to do to deal with the logistics of the illness. Tonight, the moment of diagnosis, I give my husband a copy of this book and make him promise that we can talk about it all. Because in this book is written exactly how to live. To live.

And also how to die. And I'd want to talk to him about how I wanted to die. And this book would be the vehicle for me to tell him how.