Category Archives: LGBT

Happy Father’s Day?

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Today is Father’s Day, with all of the commercial hoopla that usually accompanies American holidays. Love your father? Prove it by spending money. Publish your advertising saying “Happy Father’s Day! Come spend money with us!”

Here’s the thing: for many of us, there is no “happy” in Father’s Day. I lost my father when he died a year and a half ago. But in a larger sense, I had lost him several years before that, when I was outed to him as being transgender. This turned out to be a larger truth than his parochial worldview could encompass, and he cut off all contact with me. That was his interpretation of Biblical scripture: no matter what Jesus said about love, my father decided instead to follow a vaguely-worded Old Testament verse and disowning me completely.

But the time came when he reached out to me in an attempt at reconciliation. We spoke for over an hour on thee telephone, and concluded by saying we loved each other. That was our last time: he died four days later.

The Point?

If there’s a point to all of this, I think it’s this: don’t give up on love. Don’t give up on your parents, don’t give up on your children. And don’t base your acceptance of each other on the words of primitive sheepherders who thought everything they couldn’t explain was attributable to gods.

Remember, these people didn’t even know where the sun went at night.

Friday Nights At Ed’s

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Yes, it’s been a while. The Dementors had a hold on me for far too long, but I’ve shaken them off.

A large part of shaking them off was Friday Nights at Ed’s. And therein lies a tale.

I first met Ed near the middle of August. I needed to find a place to live and I found Ed’s post on Craig’s List. He had a room to rent, and I answered. A week and an interview later, I moved in.

Ed hosted a small gathering of friends on Friday night. It was a potluck, with Ed providing the main course, and everybody chipping in with side dishes and desserts.

The first time I went, I hadn’t planned on attending. I went downstairs to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich, and somebody—I think it was L.—told me to grab a plate and join in.

That was at the beginning of September, and I haven’t missed a night since. It took me a while to feel comfortable, but I managed to overcome my Social Anxiety Disorder and fit in.

It helped that I wasn’t the only one with emotional or mental issues. E., L., and J. suffer the Dementors, so they understand.

S. enjoys philosophical issues, as do I, so we have that in common. We both also are wrestling with weight issues, as we are both Persons of Size.

D. always serves as the bartender, and he mixes some wicked-cool drinks, which also help me relax. But let’s be clear: I know my limits, and only got drunk once. The rest of the time I’m a Good Girl™.

G. is always good for the herbal blessings; sometimes I participate, but most of the time I don’t. He’s also the permanent Dessert Queen, and his choices are always scrumdiddlyumptious. Just as some people have a knack for pairing foods with wines, G. is a master at matching for the munchies.

Other people drop by from time to time, and they always are a welcome presence.

Oh…one other thing: many of us are gay or lesbian, so I blend right in.

The point of All This

The Dementors feed on your loneliness. They strike while you’re at your lowest ebb, because that’s when you’re most vulnerable.

There are various ways to fight them: professional help—whether a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other form of counselor—is always at the top of my list of recommendations. Group therapy can also help you cope by putting you in touch with others who can share their experiences and help you that way.

For me, my group therapy is Friday Nights at Ed’s.

Rest in Power

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Untitled

Never forget their names:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Also killed this week, trans women Goddess Diamond, 20 years old

“When will they ever learn?
O, when will they ever learn.”

 

On Orlando, And Other Atrocities

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Today’s post is something friend Sarah posted on Facebook. It speaks for itself.

“My mother texted me this morning. After asking how our trip was, she said the following:

“And please please please be careful when you are out anywhere that you and friends have gathered! I was shocked and sickened by what went on in Orlando…not to mention, scared for you! I love you!!”

I told her that Julia and I are an old married couple and don’t go out clubbing, because, well, I needed to say something to reassure her.

Because, how do you explain to your mother what it’s like to have to be careful all the time?

How do you explain that going home to Ohio makes you anxious because, what if you kiss your wife in public without thinking about it prior to – because, heaven forbid, you love each other – and it happens to be in front of someone who thinks it’s an abomination?

How do you explain that when you’re on a family vacation to somewhere like Tennessee, outside of your hotel, you and your wife silently agree it’s safest to pretend to be best friends or sisters because you’re in unfamiliar territory?

How do you explain that when you plan trips and know you’ll have to drive through small, rural towns you don’t know, that the thought that you might need to get gas or find a restroom in those unknown places gives you a near panic attack because you’ve convinced yourself that the person with the Bible verses littering their car will immediately know you’re gay and take great pains to make sure you know you don’t belong there?

How do you explain that, on your very first date with a girl – a euphoric, wonderful thing where you were awkward and nervous and just all around kind of stupid like a love-struck teenager – that someone saw you talking. Simply talking. And felt the need to scream “DYKE” at you?

How do you explain the feeling of how that immediately stole the wind from your fresh-out-of-the-closet sails and reminded you that you needed to be careful, that you couldn’t let your guard down?

How do you explain how completely fucking liberating it was to go to a gay club for the first time. Overwhelmed and self-conscious, but also so sure that these were YOUR PEOPLE and at last you were home?

How do you explain that this attack shakes you to your core because this is the stealing of the safe haven that LGBTQIA+ clubs have always been. That the places where you weren’t afraid to truly be you – no mask, no worrying about what others think – are now tainted and you feel like you need to be even more on guard anyplace your community gathers?

How do you explain that every time you meet a new person, you have an anxious knot in your stomach because you don’t know how they’ll react about your “wife, Julia”. And you war inside yourself about how you’ll react if they aren’t approving. How every interaction can sometimes feel like a choice to be an outspoken activist or to keep yourself safe?

How do you explain that, as a middle-class white woman who can easily pass for straight with little effort, you often get overwhelmed thinking about how hard it must be to be any other combination of gender, race and economy, and that you get mad at yourself a lot because, in that way, you have it pretty easy, so shouldn’t you just stop whining?

How do you explain that the words of caution and staying safe are so, so hollow, because you’ve ALWAYS had to be safe. You’ve always had to be aware?

How do you explain that when you’re in a town like Northampton or Provincetown and you can hold hands with your wife without thinking first, and you can say I love you without worrying about who might overhear, it feels like a goddam miracle and you never want to leave?

How do you explain that you’re sobbing while you type this because everything has finally hit you and it all feels so goddam PERSONAL, even though it’s so far removed from your actual reality?

I am queer. I am blessed and lucky to be married to the absolute love of my life. I lead a life full of so many wonderful people that it almost feels like an embarrassment of riches how lucky I am.

So how do I explain that, yes mom, I’ll be careful, but it’s not me you have to worry about.

It’s the people who hate me for being happy. Who hate me for being in love. The people who have weapons of mass destruction and are driven to use them.

They’re who you need to worry about, mom.

I’m always careful, mom.

But, surely, so were those we lost in Orlando.”

Sara Hickman-Himes

On The Emergence of Caitlyn Jenner

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Once more, let me remind you that I speak only for myself. There is no such thing as an “official” trans community position on Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out—or anyone else’s, for that matter. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

That being said, I was a bit unhappy pissed off with the media furor surrounding Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement that she is a woman. At the same time newspapers and magazines—not to mention the Internet—were full of the sensationalization of MS. Jenner’s announcement, they continued to marginalize or ignore completely the fact that 9 trans women of color have ben murdered this year. And the count is now up to 11.

“White privilege,” I told myself. “So nice that a rich white woman can be so visible while far too many of us still suffer down here in the trenches.”

I admit that it took me a couple of weeks to overcome this attitude.

caitlyn

Yes, to overcome that attitude and to realize that celebrities have just as much to lose, and maybe even more, as the rest of us. And that they have the same reasons as the rest of us for choosing to do what many of us consider to be the most difficult thing we will ever do in our lives: become our authentic selves.

But just as important as realizing these things, I’ve also realized just what a tremendous service she is doing to our community: she is making us more visible, and doing so in a way that says, “Look at us; we’re normal. We’re no different from you.”

It takes courage to become your authentic self, no matter who you are, and no matter how famous or unsung you are. It costs, not just in terms of money but also in lost friends and family. In most states, we can be fired or refused employment and housing simply because of who we are. I myself have been denied medical care because I am transgender. I have experienced employment discrimination because of who I am.

So yes, I have changed my mind about Ms. Caitlyn Jenner. I was wrong, and now I say to her, “YOU GO, GIRLFRIEND!”