Pulse

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I was 18 years old in 1998 when two men tied Matthew Shepard to a fence and beat him to death.

I had just finished high school.

I had spent most of my high school career trying to convince the principal to allow a gay-straight alliance club on campus.

We were told that our club wasn’t in line with the values of the school.

It wasn’t in line with the pulse of education.

 

I was 12 years old when I had my first “family life” class.

I was taught about menstruation and relationships and sex.

Relationships were between one man and one women.

I remember my face turning red and my pulse quickening.

I was five years old when I kissed my best friend on the lips and told her that I loved her.

 

I was 19 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people at Columbine High School.

I watched the news in my parent’s bedroom with the covers pulled up to my chin.

I wished then that I would never again see something so awful.

That was 17 years ago.

That was too many lives ago.

 

I was 21 years old on September 11th 2001.

I heard the news on the radio on my way to my community college.

We cried and sent confused glances at each other in the parking lot.

I had a test in my philosophy class that morning.

We were 60 kids filling out scantrons, trying to make sense of the world.

Nothing was the same after that.

 

I was 22 years old when I went to college at UC Davis.

The pulse of the world had changed.

Between classes, we protested the war.

Between classes we protested rape.

Between classes, we protested the military-industrial complex.

In 2003 we protested Lt. John Pike who was sued for gay-bashing one of his fellow members of the force.

Eight years later Lt. Pike became famous for brutally pepper spraying students for protesting.

 

I was 28 years old when Prop 8 passed.

I had protested that too.

And I had been spat on and chased and followed and terrorized.

Prop 8 gave a legitimacy to haters and bigots.

They felt empowered by policy.

We learned to take different routes home if we were walking, just in case.

 

I was 16 years old when I understood that I was queer.

I knew I was different and I knew that it mattered.

My mother had read my diary.

She told me to pretend that I was straight.

Not for social graces.  But for my own safety.

 

I was 33 years old when I married the love of my life.

We got married in Disneyland.

Our families were there.

We exchanged vows and rings.

We rode the train and it roared like the pulse of our heartbeats.

She wore a tux.  I wore a dress.

We ate red velvet cupcakes.

It was the best day of my life.

We still check our surroundings when we hold hands in public.

 

 

 

I’m 36 years old now.

And I feel like I have spent most of my life either grieving or living in fear.

This isn’t the world I had expected.

This isn’t the world I was promised.

This isn’t the world I had wanted.

I don’t want a world where people are shot for being gay.

I don’t want a world where people are shot.

 

We have to stop telling our children that it gets better until it is actually going to get better.

It has not gotten better.

 

I want to believe that love conquers all.

It’s just that love is a verb, an action word,

And without action, love does nothing.

 

We must be active in policy making

We must be active in peace making.

We must be active when we see injustice.

We must take action.

We must change the pulse of society.

 

 

 

 

Enough Enough Enough

Today, a lot of my friends on Facebook circulated the video of Ellen’s monologue from her talk show condemning new discriminatory legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi.  At first, I didn’t watch the video.  I had already seen so many comments from my friends and from several activists.  I read the legislation and I know what it means for LGTBQ people in North Carolina and Mississippi. It means that they would be safer if they moved out of state. There’s a scene from the movie, Milk, that keeps playing over and over in my mind:

I love Ellen.  I love her show.  I admire her trailblazing.  I adore her for what she has done for women in comedy.  I will forever be grateful for her role in LGBTQ visibility and progress.  There is no doubt that she sacrificed her career and personal well-being when she came out publicly.  What she has done for LGBTQ people is nothing short of revolutionary.  I appreciate everything that she has historically put on the line for the LGBTQ movement.

That said, I thought her commentary about recent legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi was frivolous and insensitive.

We are past the point of cute jokes and ha-ha interludes. They belittle the argument about human rights. From the perspective of a queer person, from someone who has also experienced discrimination for being a lesbian, I thought that Ellen’s monologue was weak. Since North Carolina’s discriminatory law passed, at least two LGBTQ people have committed suicide, citing injustice and a lack of protection. We will see the same in Mississippi. Children and friends are dying, literally dying, because of these laws. There is no room for joking.

For some people within the LGBTQ community, it is easy to feel tired about the the fact that we are still fighting. On many days, I feel tired.  The privileged, passing, white, middle-class part of me, feels tired.  Because the privileged, passing, white, middle-class part of me can, for the most part, live in peace.

Recent legislation in the south is a stark indication that we are not yet out the weeds on the issue of human rights for LGBTQ people.  This is especially true when it comes to particular cross sections of the LGBTQ community–transgender people, people of color, young people, and poor members of our community.

It is not okay to make light of recent discriminatory laws enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi.  It’s not okay to use a mass media platform to joke about spelling or references to musical groups in the context of discrimination, suicide, and hate.

There are many of us in the LGBTQ community who have seen incredible progress in the last decade.  We have seen incredible victories.  Let us not forget that in more than half the states in the union it is completely legal to be fired from a job for no reason other than one’s sexual orientation. Essentially, in more than 27 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay.  In many states, an LGBTQ orientation can lawfully get you kicked out of a restaurant or refused service from a retail store.

The elders of the LGBTQ community in the United States have worked loudly, smartly, and diligently for years to gain the equal rights and protections that so many of the LGBTQ community enjoy today.  There has been incredible progress.  But, to be fair, the LGBTQ community didn’t earn “equal rights” because our small percent of the population was loud enough to make it happen.  The LGBTQ community was granted marriage equality and a smattering of other equal protections because there were several communities, including privileged and straight allies, who came to the table and demanded equal protection. Marriage equality and other protections happened for the gay community, not because we were here and queer, but because we worked for it and because we had help.

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There are still many people in the LGBTQ community working and there are still many people within the community who need help.  Not all of us live in big cities.  Not all of us have financial resources.  Not all of us are white.  There are many people who live under the LGBTQ umbrella and who live in places with laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. There are many people who face discrimination even when the law is supposed to protect them.

Right now North Carolina and Mississippi are the most glaring cases because they are current and have been in the news.  However, there are people all over our country living in fear.  Subtle discrimination can be just as dehumanizing as lawful and overt discrimination.

When a state passes legislation that puts an entire population of people at risk, it is no time for making jokes.  There is nothing light or funny about the lawful marginalization of people.  It is up to those of us who live in places of privilege, or who come from places of privilege, to stick our necks out for those who are hurting the most.  It is the only way that justice can be realized.

 

June 26 2015

It is 11:59pm. If I had to pick a single day to live over and over and over again, today would easily be listed in my top three, maybe in my top two.

 

This morning, I awoke just after 8am in Grass Valley, California, Pacific Standard Time. I was afraid to pick up my smart phone. I was afraid look at my Facebook Feed. I awoke in a haze from a night of staying up too late and worrying.

I went to bed just after 11:30pm on June 25th. The last thing I posted on social media was, “Tomorrow may be one of the most important days of my life, and for many of the lives of people I love. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court may be handing down a decision about Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that may decide Marriage Equality for the entire country. Having lived through Prop 8, every bone in my body is on edge and every tear in my soul is ready to move. Hold us gay people in your hearts. We need it tonight.” I tossed and turned for the next few hours waiting to find sleep.

I knew that when I looked at my phone this morning I would need to prepare for one of two things: We were going to march or we were going celebrate. I wasn’t prepared for what followed.

One of the first pictures I saw was of my friends Nicola and Diana. It was the picture they took, all dressed in white, just after they were told that they could no longer apply for a marriage license in California. They were in tears. It was seven years ago. It was next to a post that announced that the Supreme Court had made a decision to uphold the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Gay people could marry in all 50 states.

I immediately lost my shit.

My wife, sleeping next to me, awoke to me whimpering, tears streaming down my face. She stretched like she was about to roll over for snuggles and then saw my face and immediately sat up.

She went to bed early the night before so I didn’t get to tell her about the impending decision. She sat up and asked me what was wrong.

That’s when I started ugly crying and handed her my phone full of rainbows.

“The Supreme Court made a decision.” I managed. “Everyone can get married.” I sobbed.

My wife and I spent the next hour in bed looking at our social media feeds, sharing stories and anecdotes. We looked at pictures and quips. We looked at old photos of protests we had attended together. We looked at the news about people getting married. We forgot about coffee. We laughed and cried. Our cats looked up at us like we were crazy.

 

We eventually got up and happily did chores. I watered the plants in the garden and my wife went to pick up the mail from the post office. She bought us coffee.

We woke up our nieces, who have been staying with us for the summer, and told them the good news. They jumped up and hugged us. Then we made them do chores and help us clean the floors. Sometimes, even on the best days, life is still life.

After chores we headed into town.

 

We scheduled a field trip for the nieces. We scheduled a private tour of a local brewery in town. It included lunch and we were excited to show our nieces the science of fermentation. Beer-making is very chemistry-based and the process has very accessible applications that young people understand. (They did not drink beer.) I’m not entirely sure that the nieces were entertained by the brewing lesson but they were happy for lunch afterward. We had two kinds of pizza, a plate of olives, and a brownie for dessert.

We spent the afternoon shopping in Nevada City. We went into a few clothing stores, some specialty stores, a science store, and a toy store. After an afternoon of shopping, my nieces and I decided on an R2D2 model, a sticker book of Disney Stickers, and a book of Star Wars Mad Libs.

We finished the afternoon with ice cream cones.

 

When we got home I took a nap with our cats and my wife hosted arts and crafts hour with the girls. They made gift boxes out of old newspapers and takeout cartons.

My wife woke me up from my nap and we prepared to head out for an evening concert. We had tickets to see Randy Newman outdoors at the beautiful Nevada County Fairgrounds. We played Uno until Randy Newman took the stage. I lost at Uno. Randy Newman was great and his songs were beautiful. The evening was warm and the sky was filled with stars.

After the concert, the nieces decided that we needed to make a trip to the store for crayons and coloring books. We went to an all-night drug store and picked up coloring books and crayons. We also found Otter Pops, a delightful frozen treat from the 1980s.

When we got home, we sat and colored. We sat and colored as a family until the last minute of the day.

Lesbian Proposes Signed Authorization for Viagra in Response to Marriage Discrimination

The issue of marriage equality found its way back to the Supreme Court last week and this one could be the big one.

Kelly and Sarie whole

The outcome of the latest Supreme Court hearing about gay marriage could dictate that all states in the United States have to recognize same-sex marriage contracts. This pending decision has more than a few people riding the crazy train.

I support religious freedom. This blogger supports a person’s right to have a religious marriage. I think that if a person believes that their religion prevents them from supporting same-sex marriages then they should opt for a religion-only marriage.

A simple religious ceremony for marriage requires nothing more than two people showing up to a place of worship and practicing whatever religious rites transmit in the context of a marriage ceremony as it applies to a particular religion. Forget the license. Forget city hall. The government should stay out of religious freedom. If what is important is a religious marriage, then have a religious marriage and keep the government out of it.

Of course, a religion-only, non-government marriage prevents the married spouses from receiving all of the legal benefits that a marriage license provides married people.

Wait wait wait. There are legal benefits to marriage?

Hell yeah there are.

Contrary to the delusional belief that marriage is a stream-lined religious construct, and something that God dictated, marriage is actually a legal contract sanctioned by the government and enforced based on the laws of the land. If a marriage were simply between two people and their God, no one would have to pay city hall or their church for a “license” to get married.

But people pay for a license (even when getting married in a church) because they want all the legal benefits of marriage.

Duh. The legal benefits of marriages are hella sweet.

There are tax breaks and discounts on insurance. There are inheritance rights, and parental rights, and spousal rights. There are lower interest rates and waived financial penalties. There are all kinds of benefits from being legally married.

According to Federal Law, there are 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections provided on the basis of marital status. They include practical family financial allowances such as Social Security benefits and survivor benefits. They apply to health benefits and state sales tax. They apply to spousal sponsorship as it applies to immigration law. The list goes on and on.

Marriage isn’t about religion. It’s just not. Even outside of the United States, in most countries all over the world, marriage is a social and societal construct. Within the United States, it’s a government racket. Single people, and those not wanting to get married, or who can’t get married, like priests, should be far more outraged about the legal implications of marriage than one man and one woman who believe in God’s laws.

But marriage is what it is in in the United States today. That is to say, marriage is a legal protection providing legal benefits that should be extended to all consenting adults who agree to enter into the loving and legal contract of marriage.

Based on the 14th amendment, (which was “written by god himself” according to Tom Delay), it is unlawful for states to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Basically, because marriage provides protections under its legal contract, two people willingly entering said contract, should be afforded the same protections as anyone else. That protection extends to same-sex couples.

But hey. I can ride the crazy train too. If Pastor John Stephen Piper wants to adhere to the idea that marriage is for making children, I can get on board. Rather than taking the legal construct of marriage and trying to use it to discriminate against loving same-sex couples, an idea that just won’t work in America’s legal system, why don’t we try something new?

Let’s attack something that doesn’t already have a legal precedent affording rights to a privileged class. Let’s target flaccid, floppy penises. Hanging dangles are ugly and they have no place in America. They are a stain on God’s intention and any remedy or mainstreaming of this terrible affliction should be highly scrutinized.  I propose that we require anyone seeking a prescription for Viagra to get a signed authorization from their legal wife, who must be an adult, fertile woman of child-bearing age, and who can give specific details about the use of Viagra within a marriage to produce children.

Let’s stop the unnecessary inclusion of broken dicks into society! Who is with me?

The Art Of Candy Making

Today is my wedding anniversary. Despite the fact that my partner and I are both a bit stressed, short on money, and have several deadlines in front of us, we made today a really special day. We decided to take the day off and go out for a fancy lunch near our home town.

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A fancy lunch is much less expensive than a fancy dinner. It’s also quieter.

My partner and I got to spend some much needed time gazing into each others’ eyes and setting goals for the next year. We brought our wedding photo album with us to lunch. We waited for our food to arrive and we reviewed our wedding day and reaffirmed our vows. We laughed at the pictures of our friends and family and gave thanks for the incredible support that we have in our lives. We made a pact to always review our album and vows each year on our anniversary.

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Lunch was delicious. It was filling and it was plentiful, so much so that we boxed it up and ate it for dinner this evening.

This afternoon, after lunch at the restaurant, our server asked us about dessert. We requested the dessert menu and perused it. After a few moments of mutual ambivalence I looked up at my partner and said, “Why don’t we just go get truffles?”

“Yes!”

We walked a few blocks from the restaurant. I went to get us some chocolate and my partner ducked into a coffee shop to order us some coffee. We met at the coffee shop to eat our chocolate and have a cup of coffee. It was quiet and romantic and wonderful. Afterward, we walked around town. We didn’t finish all the candy I had bought. (I might have overdone it.)

This evening, my partner and I sat outside on our porch with our cats and tried to address some of our stress and looming deadlines. I sent a few emails. My partner worked on a paper for a class. We both drank more coffee.

At 8pm, I got out our leftover candy and set out our remaining truffles. I joked about the fact that I had probably eaten more truffles in the past year than I had in all the years prior.

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We have two favorite candy stores nearby, the Lazy Dog Chocolateria in Grass Valley and The Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe. Both stores are unique and offer an assortment of traditional and gourmet candies. Both shops specialize in artisan chocolate. Both shops possess an amazing talent for crafting delicious chocolates and candies. Both shops are less than five miles from our house.

I have never thought of myself as a “candy person.” I don’t eat regular candy bars. I was never much of a trick-or-treater as a kid. But now that I have become accustomed to fine candy, I’m learning that I enjoy it.

My marriage is similar. My partner and I make every effort to only put the fine ingredients into our marriage. No additives, no artificial sugar, no artificial coloring. We work at our marriage and make every attempt to add only the finest elements.

This is not to say that we are not without argument. For example, I prefer toffee and she enjoys marzipan. I like maple crisp and she would rather have a coconut cream. Similarly, I prefer to do the cooking and she prefers to drive.

In our marriage, we allow each other to add our finer qualities to the relationship. We give the best of ourselves each day and we allow each other the freedom to contribute the best of what we have to offer. It’s not always perfect. Neither of us like sugared marshmallows. And we both hate having to do the dishes. But we do our best.

The best is all anyone can do.

With chocolate and with my marriage, I have found that when a person puts in fine ingredients the result is a sweetness that couldn’t have been predicted.

When We Fight

I cringed yesterday as a watched my Facebook feed turn red with support for same-sex marriage. I literally squinted at my computer screen and withdrew. Cringed.

 

For many in the LGBTIQ community, the past four years have been stained with episodes of depression and despair. The passing of Proposition 8 was devastating to people all over the country. For many in the gay community, especially for those under the age of 40, the passing of Prop 8 was the first experience in being viscerally aware of what it feels like to be a marginalized population. Between 2008 and 2010 I lost three friends to suicide.

The passing of Prop 8 gave license to gay bashers all over America to be more outward with their views. Suddenly, they had popular support. Prop 8 gave credence to their discriminatory views, whatever form it took. When I worked on the campaign to defeat Prop 8 I had been spat on, cursed at and chased. Once Prop 8 passed, nothing changed. I was frightened. I was scared for my friends, for our lives and for our mental health.

Then something really strange happened to me. About a year ago, I stopped noticing that I’m a lesbian. There are days when I completely forget that I’m gay. It just stopped being an issue. I moved to Nevada County, California and, while I’m sure there are anti-gay people in the county somewhere, they must have better things to worry about than my gayness. The Tea Party and the NRA have a huge following in the county but no one seems to give a shit that I’m gay. No one has tried to run me off the road. No one has flinched when my partner and I hold hands. No one has started a sentence with “I don’t hate gay people but…” and we had Christmas dinner with Baptists. It’s just not important that I’m gay. And I like it that way.

I like it that no one is spitting in my face. I like it that no one calls me a fag or a dyke or tells me that I just “haven’t met the right man.” It has been years since someone has followed me to a Starbucks to intercept me before coffee and scream at me that I’m going to hell. It’s delightful.

Too bad it can’t last.

When gay issues are nationally covered and highly publicized, when people are talking about gay rights, when Facebook goes red for gays, suddenly, I have to “be gay” again. I have to be gay. I have to pump my gay gas, pick up my gay groceries, and cook my gay dinner. I have to put on my pretty gay face and be on my best gay behavior because, when we are in the news, each one of us is a damn spokesperson for the whole gay community. It’s not just Ellen anymore.

I enjoyed my time being a “next-door neighbor”, instead of “the lesbian next door.” I really liked being “the lady who gets a small coffee” instead of “the dyke who gets a small coffee.” It was nice to be “the woman who volunteers on Wednesdays” instead of “you know, the lesbian.”

We queers get to have a few days of national news coverage as Justice Sotomayor does her best not to roll her eyes while a bunch of confused and misled lawyers use moronic arguments against equal rights for gays. We get to listen to NPR report on the support for and against gay marriage. We get to read our friends’ Facebook feeds and see their quirky uncle’s belligerent comments about “faggotts”. We get to see pictures on the internet of protesters in front of the Supreme Court. We get to remember that we’re gay.

 

According to a Gallup poll, in 1996 , 27 percent of Americans said they supported same-sex marriage. Today, by contrast, more than half, 51 percent, of Americans report that they support same-sex marriage. We would have won if we had gone back to the ballot in California. We could have proved that we have the public support needed and we could have overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in California by popular demand. It’s too late for that now. And besides, we still would have had DOMA to contend with.

So here we are. The Supreme Court of the United States of America.

When it comes to the courts, public support for same-sex marriage shouldn’t matter. The Supreme Court of the United States isn’t there to support popularity contests. They are there to uphold our Constitution, the supreme law of our land. And it just so happens that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

There are a number of ways that this Big Gay Supreme Court Battle could go.  If the Supreme Court were to do its job, it would rule that all bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution and would implement a sweeping verdict that would protect gays from this violation—in all fifty states. The United States Constitution is the blanket under which all other laws in the United States are implemented. All citizens of the United States of America are protected by the US Constitution and it is the job of the Supreme Court to ensure that no laws violate that protection. With regard to institutionalized discrimination and constitutionally protected equal rights, United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry should be this generation’s Brown v Board of Education.

 

brown v board of education

 

But, if the Supreme Court does its job, or even if they half-ass it and apply their verdict only to California, if the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, California’s ban on same sex marriage in any way, shape, or form, us gays better be prepared to be gay every single day for a good long while. Even our friends who are not gay should be prepared to be gay for a while too. Because there will still be discrimination. There will still be hate.

When the verdict comes out, presumably in late June, everyone in the LGBTIQ community better be ready, really ready, to take on the responsibility of that verdict. If history is any indicator, we can be damn sure there will be a backlash.

And we will need to be ready for that. We will need to be ready for whatever ensues. We will need to talk to our children and our families. We will need to talk to our friends. We will need to talk to our communities. We will need to be prepared.

It’s just that…it’s just…you see the thing is…when we fight, we use our words. When they fight, they chain us to barbed wire fences.

And I’m not sure how to be ready for that.

 

 

 

 

 

Queer and Aware: A Gay Girl’s Peak Oil Story

My partner had “taken the red pill” and was hip to peak oil before I had been introduced to the concept. I knew intuitively that society could not continue down the path of rampant consumerism but I didn’t know the imminent danger. Even as a child I was a conservationist—turning off the water when I brushed my teeth, turning off lights when I left the room. As I got older I recycled, composted, sent money to various endangered animals and rode my bike to work. I even had a backyard garden in a major city, I was way ahead of the curve. But nothing prepared me for the reality of peak oil. My partner rented Collapse with Michael C. Ruppert for us to watch on our third date in July of 2010.

 

At the time we were living in Sacramento. After California’s Proposition 8, the voter initiative to ban marriage equality, had passed in California in 2008, Sacramento had somewhat become a hub for LGBTIQ activism. I belonged to several queer activist groups, many LGBTIQ-associated activity groups and was the Entertainment Manager for Sacramento’s Gay Pride. I had many interests but the majority of my friends were other queers. That’s one of the great things about being queer in a metropolitan area. It doesn’t matter what you are interested in—hiking, biking, reading, singing, riding motorcycles—there is likely an organized group of gays willing to get together for that purpose.

 

But life wasn’t all bike rides and book clubs. By the end of 2010, things were looking grim. I worked in social services and the agency was talking about mass lay-offs. My partner was commuting to her job in the Sierra Foothills an hour and a half each way and gas prices were nearly $5/gallon. Crime in downtown Sacramento had become the norm. There was no place to garden. I tried to get to know my neighbors but no one was interested in forming friendships. I felt isolated in a city of half a million people.

 

For many in the LGBTIQ community, the previous couple of years had been marked with episodes of depression and despair. The passing of Proposition 8 was devastating to people all over the country. For many in the gay community, especially for those under the age of 40, the passing of Prop 8 was the first experience in being viscerally aware of what it feels like to be a marginalized population. Between 2008 and 2010 I had lost three friends to suicide. The passing of Prop 8 gave license to gay bashers all over America to be more outward with their views. When I worked on the campaign to defeat Prop 8 I had been spat on, cursed at and chased. Once Prop 8 passed, nothing changed. I was frightened. I was scared for my friends, for our lives and for our mental health. The gay community was deeply important to me because the gay community was my ally.

 

But now I had a new problem on my hands: peak oil. And by the spring of 2011 my frustration had deepened. Like many people who have recently found out about peak oil, I felt like Cassandra of Greek mythology trying to get people to understand this very important issue and having almost no one take me seriously. My partner and I tried to bring our concerns up to our friends, to try and form a lifeboat network, but our friends were keen to “extend and pretend,” as James Howard Kunstler calls it.

 

In March of 2011 my partner and I started talking seriously about a change. We didn’t really want to give up city life. We loved walking to get coffee on Sunday mornings. I enjoyed running around Sacramento’s McKinley park. We took advantage of the city’s many book stores. We loved the great variety of fruit trees along Sacramento’s midtown streets. Sacramento was out home. But we wanted out of the city. We sat down and brainstormed what we really wanted, what was really important to us: local food, neighbors that talked to each other, skills sharing, community, family, organic farms, friendship. The list went on.

 

Then we did the math. If I were to be laid off and were getting unemployment benefits, we would break even if we moved closer to my partner’s work and saved on gas. So we did the thing that most peak oil veterans say not to do: we moved.

In May of 2011 I was laid-off and we moved to an organic farm in Nevada County. We helped take care of the crops and the chickens in exchange for living in a tiny cottage on the property. It was very hard work and an incredible learning experience.

 

When we interviewed for the new place I was incredibly nervous. Rural America isn’t exactly known for its gay-friendly atmosphere. When I answered the Craigslist ad, I had made sure that it was pretty clear that we were lesbians. I didn’t want there to be any surprises. But it turned out to be a non-issue.

 

It was pretty much a non-issue all over Nevada County. I had only had one incident where someone said something and he didn’t even say anything to me. He commented to our landlord that he was uncomfortable with gay people. That was it.

 

It was August before I met another queer person in Nevada County. PFLAG had a booth at the county fair. I knew that there was a chapter of PFLAG in Nevada County but I didn’t go out of my way to check it out because PFLAG stands for “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays”. I was a lesbian. Not a parent of one.

 

But by then it almost didn’t matter. I had found a community and that community didn’t care or didn’t notice that my partner and I were a couple of homos.

 

Almost a year ago we moved deeper into the foothills, to the other side of Nevada County. We now live in our own rental in a community of nine units on five acres of property. We have our own backyard mini-farm and share an organic garden. We are so glad we moved.

 

If you are a member of the LGBTIQ community and thinking of relocating because you want a community focused on localism, resiliency, and post-petroleum living, I say go for it! But before moving, try to become fully informed. Research nearby rural communities. Check to see if they have an organization like Nevada County’s APPLE, the Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy. Browse the Transition Town website for local transition towns. Once you’ve established that your prospective new community is preparing for a post-industrial world, check to see if they have any services or organizations for the LGBTIQ community. See if there is a county or town gay and lesbian facebook page. Try and contact someone in the area and start pen-palling. In states that have had a vote on the gay marriage issue, it is likely public record how each county voted. Here is a map of California’s 2004 Prop 8 vote: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-2008election-prop8prop22,0,333635.htmlstory

 

Relocating can be really hard. It took us about a year before we felt like we were really a part of the community. It can often be hard to break into the social scene in places with a small-town legacy. The best advice that I could give is to volunteer. Volunteer at the food bank, volunteer with local organizations, volunteer at the schools. I’ve found that most communities are like the gay community: if you embrace it, it will embrace you back.

Stop Buying Girl Scout Cookies

I remember my first and last Girl Scout meeting. My mom told me that I was going to be a scout and I was so excited to learn to tie knots, and for wilderness adventures, that I was jumping for joy. When, at the first meeting, I was told that I would learn to sew a pillow and not much else, I was incredibly disappointed. I refused to return. I am hopeful that the Girl Scouts have come a long way baby in the last 20 years but the fact that the organization still calls itself the “Girl” Scouts, still recruits based on gender interpretation, and whose primary fundraiser involves the distribution of sugar-laden, processed food tells me that the organization still has a long way to go.

Recently, the Huffington Post ran an article about a young Girl Scout who was launching a campaign against the organization for what she perceived to be outward support of transgender rights. She called for the boycott of the organization and their tasty cookies because she didn’t want to support an organization that even remotely tolerates gender non-conformity or is perceived to support LGBT rights. (Too bad she couldn’t be a boy scout. That organization still outwardly discriminates against homosexuals, who are forbidden to join the Boy Scouts or participate in the organization’s activities.) As a counter-action and as a supportive strategy to combating this outright gender discrimination, and gender-perception discrimination, on the part of one particular Girl Scout and those who share her views, many supporters of the LGBT community have begun upping their orders of Girl Scout Cookies.

According to an article put out by CBS News, Girl Scout Cookies are produced by subsidiary agencies of Keebler, whose parent company is Kellogg’s. Like most giant food corporations, the Kellogg Company has been the guilty party in a number of dirty dealings in recent years. Kellogg’s had to pay consumers after a class-action lawsuit determined that the company purposefully misled consumers about the health of their products. Currently, the company is under investigation after three deaths resulting from Salmonella poisoning were genetically linked to the company’s products. Among a vast number of organizations, an organization known as Eco Women, which was founded by women from all across the US to promote access to healthy foods and a healthy environment, called for the boycott of the Kellogg Company in 2008 because of its use of genetically-modified sugar beets in their products. For a well-researched and cited article about the risks of genetically modified foods: http://citizensforjustice.org/component/content/article/112

I am an organic farmer on a small, organic, sustainable farm. I am also a lesbian. I implore folks who are trying to end discriminatory practices to immediately discontinue the policy of buying Girl Scout Cookies. I understand the message our community is trying to send, but buying corporate and processed foods will not end discrimination. On the contrary, buying and supporting corporate agribusiness will absolutely further discrimination in the deepest roots of our societal fabric.

The disenfranchisement of marginalized populations that results from agri-business, and the mass-production and distribution of processed food is many-fold. Corporate food conglomerates have served to destroy small, family-owned businesses all across the country, taking government subsidies to further mono-crop productivity and out-pricing small, diverse farms; they have infiltrated low-income populations with unhealthy foods by systematically cornering markets and blocking access to healthier alternatives; they have consistently and successfully lobbied to limit consumer choices; they have been responsible for a number of extreme pollution incidents, particularly with regard to pesticides and water-poisoning in rural and poorer communities; they have, without apology or a hint of regret, introduced genetically modified foods with no labeling and little or no research as to the GMOs long-term effects on either the earth or the human body; and they are almost single-handedly responsible for the obesity epidemic in this country, which by and large adversely affects already underserved populations, specifically women, children and people of color. The answer to one person’s discriminatory policy should not be to support another’s.

I believe that we need to combat discrimination, empower young women and support our community. I am for supporting programs and organizations that strengthen the community, encourage diversity and enrich lives. Unfortunately, the buying, distributing and eating of Girl Scout Cookies does not serve that purpose.

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