Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Anti-Bullying Day!

Today you have the opportunity to join your voice (albeit silently) to the cry against bullying. It's truly simple - just wear purple.

All across our nation (and I hear in parts of Canada) people who are angry about bullying are becoming visible. A purple wave of human beings stand out, which in this case is also standing up.

So stand out today in PURPLE. Use your visibility to make a point. And if someone asks you why you're dressed in purple, gladly engage them in a conversation about the necessity to end bullying.

And of course, you could always point them to my book, The Boxer Rebellion. You'll find a link over there on the right side of this page, up near the top. Just click on the link and it will take you to where you can buy my most timely novel about bullying that leads to death through suicide and murder.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Five Day Give-Away!

Free October 13-17
My novel, The Boxer Rebellion*, is available as a free download on Amazon from October 13th through October 17th. 

From some of the recent reviews:
"Kudos to the author for having the gumption to tell this story. This subject is like a bad accident, you know what you see is going to be frightening, hard to take and perhaps life changing but you have to look anyhow. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. I literally read last night until the kindle said battery was low to charge and saw it was 3:30 am." - Kathy Brockman for MM Good Book Review
"The characters themselves are quite fabulous, every single one of them unique, every single one of them a masterpiece. The plot, while it had many twists and turns and a new horror waiting in every corner was well-balanced. I didn’t feel for one moment that it was too much. Well yeah, the emotions cause were too overwhelming and I needed “healing” breaks from time to time, but the plot did not make me feel uncomfortable with incredulity, or too much drama. The balance was literally perfect." - Thomaidha Papa on
If you haven't read it, here's your chance to grab it for free - and if you have read it, this is a great opportunity to 'gift' it to your friends, your local library, school board members, teachers, and of course, your family.

* People who have experienced teenage bullying first hand report being       triggered by this book.
Although The Boxer Rebellion is about teenagers, the subject matter is frankly mature and the language used by the bullies utilizes crude colloquialisms.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Famous LGBTQ Folk - Part II

In honor of National Coming Out Day yesterday, I am putting up another video slide show I put together, Famous LGBTQ Folk Part II.  I think it's important to put lists like this up for young (and older) LGBTQ folk to find. Many famous people have led creative, productive, inventive lives in the past, and others are making a name for themselves now. 
Role models can make a big difference in a life, just knowing that someone else has succeeded might change a person's life for the better. I think back to my own youth growing up in a very conservative county in California. It changed my life to know that Harvey Milk lived and died in support of LGBTQ issues. It made a difference to know that Eleanor Roosevelt had her lover with her in the White House. It inspires me to know that Ru Paul is making television history with his Drag Race. So here's to those who are making history on their own terms:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Today, October 11, 2013 is the 25th anniversary of NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY. It is the day we encourage all Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, and Intersexed individuals to come out of the closet of secrecy, to acknowledge their own identity for what it is, rather than what others wish it might be. Everyone must make their own choice about whether to come out of the closet or not (unless they actively work against the interest of LGBT folks, in which case they will be outted).

I came out on National Coming Out Day 1998. Never having done it before, I literally jumped out of the closet by coming out to my boss. I had some idea that I should tell administration before my co-workers and clients found out. I felt like an outlaw, and I was desperately trying to show that I still played by all the other rules. I was immediately terminated, with three days notice.

Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat, even knowing what it would cost me. But I definitely would not tell my boss - he'd have to find out through witnessing my life lived honestly. Now, fifteen years later, I'm sure it was never any of his business in the first place.

So I recognize that it's not an easy thing to come out, is what I'm trying to say. It's worth it, and in the long run it's the best thing you can ever do for yourself. But in the immediate future you will most likely face some kind of opposition. This is to be expected and I won't lie, your life will never be the same afterward. Publicly acknowledging who you are will change how the world views you, and how you walk through life. People you thought you could count on will disappoint you, and others you'd have sworn wouldn't accept you will become your biggest supporters. It will be easier for some, and more difficult for others, but such is life.

Today I am posting a slide show I put together ten years after coming out, Famous LGBTQ Folks. Tomorrow I will post another, Famous LGBTQ Folks Part II. I created them to shore up my own publicly acknowledged lesbianism, and remind myself and others of some incredible role models. Some of the people in these videos insisted on doing their work while out, if not loud or proud. Of those, some succeeded wonderfully and others were jailed, beaten, and/or murdered. Others in these lists stayed in the closet during their lifetimes to protect their careers, their truths only surfacing because of memories of still living lovers and gossip columnists.

If you're still in the closet, please come out and join us, living in the sunlight of truth, happiness, and freedom. Remember, a flower never bloomed while locked in a closet. The more of us who come out, the more straight people will recognize how normal we really are. Our rainbow garden grows bigger and more vibrant when you open that closet door, come out to the real world, and plant yourself in the sun.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Slut Shaming Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus VMA 2013
Okay, enough. It's time to quit all the slut shaming being thrown at Miley Cyrus for her FMA awards performance.

People are up in arms, claiming it's her mother's fault that she dresses like a 'whore', and demanding that all mothers watch their girl children and insist they tow the cultural line so as not to end up like Miley. I've seen her personally torn down in many discussions today, and children warned not to even enjoy her work (work, not life) as Hannah Montana lest it somehow 'turn' them into mini-Mileys. The moral outrage grew so intense I was glad we don't burn women at the stake anymore. Instead, we slut shame them.

First of all, Miley Cyrus is a grown woman, not a kid under parental control. Her mother is not to 'blame' for her behavior, and neither is her father. Disney Corporation might have some culpability in repressing her as a child, but even they cannot be blamed for the choices she is making as an adult.

Second of all, no matter how much parents (why do we always single out mothers?) get involved in the raising of their children, those children grow up and make their own decisions. Twenty-year-olds are notorious for not always making the wisest decisions, perhaps especially those who've lived under the strict direction of others during their childhoods.

When the whole world loves you as a kid, and then you grow up, you want them to love you for something other than being a kid. If they refuse to see you as anything other than your innocent child self, then it's not unusual to push back, resorting to shock treatment to shake up the way people view you. Many a child star has slipped into obscurity because the public refuses to accept them as anything other than children. Miley Cyrus, at the age of twenty, is deciding whether her performance career ended when puberty did, or if she's going to continue performing as an adult, separate from her character Hannah Montana.

Third, our male dominated society has obviously convinced this young woman that her entire worth is tied up in her body, beauty, and sexuality rather than her already established singing talent. Miley Cyrus is most certainly NOT the only young woman who is already aware of the clock ticking toward the loss of her physical attributes. Our culture tells women they have a tight window of sexual desirability (read power) and that after the first bloom wears off they'll have to compete with younger, more beautiful women for the same attention from men, and of course other women. It's not unusual for young women to feel they need to exploit their beauty while they still have it, according to the unwritten standards of our society.

Fourth, the automatic classification of any woman displaying her sexuality as a 'whore' is demeaning to all women and a throw back to the 'women are either saints or whores' mentality. Truly, the tantrums being thrown about Miley Cyrus' transformation from innocent (saintly) child to a woman exploiting her sexuality (whore) fits that dichotomy to a T. I've got news for you, world, women are complex beings who are neither saints nor whores. I totally reject that labeling. Miley Cyrus was not a saint as a child performer, and she's not a whore as an adult performer. Right now she's busy redefining herself, finding out who she is and what she wants in life. Unfortunately for her, she's doing it on the world's stage.

And finally, our rape culture has us judging her, rather than any of the other performers on the stage, many of whom were just as scantily clad and also twerking. Why? Because people feel betrayed that the sweet little girl who often quipped, "Stupid says what?" has ditched the long tresses for a butch cut and childish outfits for seductive adult ones. How dumb is that? We teach girls that they have to be sexually desirable to all men, and then condemn them when they succeed.

We always blame strong women. Just ask Beyonce about her Super Bowl performance. Ask Martha Stewart about trying to protect her money. Ask Paula Deen about the words she uttered as a young woman raised in the segregated South. Ask any successful woman about the inequalities she faces, and the hoops she must jump just to be considered almost equal to men.

Enough is enough. Stop the shaming of women whether it be about their sexuality, their financial success, their past mistakes, or their politics. As mothers have said many times, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Or as Jesus said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Or as Will Smith said in Men In Black, "Don't start nothin', there won't be nothin'.

When did we become so damned judgmental? I have my theories on that as well, but I'll save it for another post.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Climbing The Ladder Of Success

 In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want.  Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back.  Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.
 - Jason Nazar

The author of the piece I'm going to reference is only thirty-four years old, and he's offering sage advice. I'm not sure it will be the same advice he offers, if asked twenty years in the future, after following the same advice he's offering. Only time will tell.

I will say that I've been - oh what is the word? Saddened, confused, horrified, even angry about the lack of drive I see in so many young people these days (jeeze I'm old, those are my grandmother's words... sigh). But that's the right of people labeled as 'seniors', we get to say things like that and NOT compare them to our own lives. Young people do not. So hold up that mirror and check to see if any of this advice could make your personal journey more successful.

Jason Nazar of aimed his advice at people in their twenties. I'm going to widen that field and say it applies to anyone who has made a decision to succeed in their endeavors, even if their personal history isn't behind them.

Fledgling authors, artists, dancers, and performers should also look at this list with open eyes and a willingness to change. I'm not saying his advice is guaranteed, or even applicable to your specific case. But it just may be good advice for someone you know and/or love. Knowledge - Pass it on.

Enjoy this article by Jason Nazar: 20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don't Get

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dustin Is A Real Woman's Woman

As it happens...

I have written, and am rewriting, a novel called A Man's Man. It involves the son of a gay man who is determined to break up his father's relationship. That, he reasons as only a thirteen year old boy can, will turn his father straight again.

The title was chosen deliberately, as titles always are. But I chose the old-fashioned phrase because it had always been applied to self assured men that other men admire. To be labeled "a man's man" meant he was the ultimate in manliness, which in its turn meant integrity, strength, and an ability to inspire other men to their very best. Every guy wanted to be A Man's Man, or to be his best friend. It was a righteous compliment.

Today, after watching this video, I'm ready to acknowledge Dustin Hoffman as a real woman's woman, for all the same reasons. It took guts to make this video, and sheer bravery to put it out there for one and all to see, especially when there are many who will judge his tears rather than the meaning of his experience.

I had an automatic "well, duh" response, because I have understood this at a very basic societal level since my second day of Kindergarten. But my very next response was almost gleeful. I was surprised beyond belief that ANY man would have figured this out for himself, much less made the knowledge public. The euphoria quickly gave way to appreciation, and a determination to spread his story as widely as I might.

So I'm asking you to pass this entire video on. The clips they're showing on mainstream TV are hugely edited and don't give the entire impact of his personal journey. Don't let the media shape the message. I think it's important that Dustin say it in his own words, and in his own way.

I salute Tootsie/Dustin - a real woman's woman and a real man's man.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Let's (p)Lay A Game

The idea is self explanatory: Book Titles With One Letter Missing

Book Titles With One Letter Missing
John DiGilio iBraryGuy
An Ale of Two Cities -- It was the best of beers. It was the worst of beers. And they were ready to war over it. 

Madame Ovary -- A novel about a doctor's wife who flirts with the idea of becoming a surrogate mother.

Daniel Pink ‏@DanielPink
Liver Twist -- A scruffy orphan invents a delicious deli sandwich. 

Brilliant, yes? And there are quite a few other entertaining suggestions as well. So I thought I'd wade into the conversation with a few groaners of my own.

Cannery Ow - a scathing reprimand of the canning industry's lack of safety standards.

Wuthering Eights - Katherine and Heathcliff survive the hijinks of their six children.

Beak House - Chickens, and turkeys, and ducks. Oh my!

Hose of Sand and Fog - a bitter rivalry for ownership of a hosiery factory.

Back Beauty - A photo journal of tattoo artistry on the backs and hips of sensuous women.

and finally:

Harry Otter and the Goblet of Fir - Muskrat Harry sets out in search of the Goblet of Fir, a magic container some claim is a myth, others, a reality. (I know, technically I took away two letters in the title, but in my defense, one was actually a subtitle. Still, pretty funny, eh?)

And now it is your turn. Let me know if you join the conversation at #bookswithalettermissing. I'd love to hear your funnies.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Separate Vacations - Yes or No?

Okay, I know I'm long winded on this one, but I had to stop and think. Someone on Facebook asked a simple question: Separate vacations? Yes, or No?

A string of people responded Yes right away. One person pointed out that you have to trust your lover. Another said a little space wasn't a bad thing. I understand why they say that, and I agree about both times.

My Beloved

Of course I trust my Beloved when she's out of my site, and believe me when I say that she gets hit on a LOT (hot latina butch style). You have to trust your lover, but that's not the point of the question to me.

When she and I go on vacation together we're building memories, sharing life at the best of times on a vacation from the worst of times. We're building our family history together, day by day through adventures and experience, laughter and tears, through lumpy hotel mattresses and over curious wait staff in restaurants.

Our vacation time is when we remember and reconnect with the passion that drove us together in the first place. Day to day life has a way of dragging us into a routine that can get tedious and boring. But no one ever knows what's going to happen on vacation, which is why we avoid temptation together rather than alone.

If I'm going to get frisky and play around with someone, who better to raise my libidinal lust than the person I promised to love forever? If I'm going to spend time being romantic and seductive I'll spend it on the person who has loved, supported, and nurtured me for the last thirteen years. Why waste my best moves on a stranger who won't understand or appreciate the subtleties and nuances we two have worked out over the years?

And there's another point. How much fun do/could I have when I'm not with her? We just came back from a vacation in Costa Rica. (I highly recommend it but take bug spray - we didn't and came back with Dengue fever*). We stayed at an all inclusive resort and it was a bit of paradise I didn't think I'd ever see in my lifetime. We'd saved for years and finally went.
Riu Guanacosta

Howler Monkey babies
A hiding crocodile
If I had gone alone to Costa Rica while my Beloved
went somewhere else I would still have seen my first wild crocodile and howler monkeys, met the friendly local people, eaten the same fabulous food, and enjoyed the absolutely perfect (if a little hot) weather sitting by the pool under thatch umbrellas.

Iguana eating mango

Riu Guanacasta Lobby
But she wouldn't have seen the iguanas sneaking around to snatch up fallen flower petals before the vigilant groundskeepers raked them up. She wouldn't have marched up to a server to ask if the cheese on my cracker was goat or sheep. She wouldn't have returned the warm smile of the friendly waiter who greeted us each night. I could never have explained it to her half so well afterward, if she hadn't experienced it with me.

A part of me would be wondering what she was doing. Was she enjoying herself? Did she miss me? I'd probably spend long hours of the vacation on the phone with her discussing the events of the days we hadn't spent together.

And I would tell her all about my day because I tell her everything. We harbor no separate secrets from one another, and by going on vacation together I think we help keep it that way.

Monday, June 3, 2013

English Pronunciation Challenge

A Challenge for Writers and Speakers of English

This poem has seven hundred and sixty-seven words, four of which I honestly admit I mispronounced. I'm vain enough not to tell you which four, but I will reluctantly admit to not being perfectly at ease with the English language. However I am (insert smirk here) 99.995% proficient, and I'm an American.

Your challenge is to say the poem aloud and check your pronunciation at by clicking on the little speaker next to your search word. Be sure you have your volume on.

Then, if you dare, leave me a message telling me how many you mispronounced.

The Chaos

by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946)
aka Charivarius 

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,

Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,

But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.

From "desire": desirable--admirable from "admire."
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.

Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,

One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,

Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.

This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;

Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with "darky."

Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.

Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,

Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,

We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,

Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.

Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.

Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, want, grand, and grant.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.

Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Fepffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,

Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.

Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.

Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,

Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation--think of psyche--!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,

Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying "grits"?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!     

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Future Shock is Here

When I was a girl, Alvin Toffler wrote FUTURE SHOCK, which made me aware of the disconnect that can occur when you get too much change in too short an amount of time. I watched my parents struggle with new innovations, first VHS and later DVDs. My father died before the ' i 's and ' e 's arrived, never seeing a personal computer, listening to an iPad, or reading an eBook. My mother was battling her way through until it all got to be too much. Now when something doesn't work or needs reprogramming, she phones one of her children or grandchildren. Soon she'll have to rely on the younger ones and my siblings, as the new technology is quickly passing me by.

I have never used a smart phone, instead sticking with my old dumb one because I know how to make it work and I don't want to be less intelligent than my phone. I don't understand the difference between an iPad and a mini-laptop with a disconnecting keyboard. I can't Twitter, I can barely Facebook, and I don't know if I have any Pinterest. Like my mother before me, I'll be relying on my granddaughter to get me through each new step into the future until it all becomes too much for me and I settle for whether the 'darn thing' turns on or not.

So it is with some understanding, if not sympathy, that I will watch those people of Minnesota who worked so long and hard to keep marriage only between heterosexuals, struggle with their new way of life. Their churches are surely up in arms, the self-closeted among them sending up the loudest lamentations. Public businesses will have to treat their customers without discrimination, a right they've never had, yet hold most dear. The fun is over, and there will now be consequences for their hateful acts.

Because I don't for one minute believe that they'll stop exhibiting the ugly, discriminating, belittling bullying that defines their interaction with LGBTers. They've been doing it for far too long to give it up over night. A deep resentment will grow with each new arrest and lawsuit, and fester with each conviction and reparation payment.

Backlash will occur, as sure as spring follows winter. New Yorkers are living through the proof of my statement as this is published. This last week there were a string of attacks and a cold blooded murder, all obvious hate crimes aimed at LGBT people. Blood is being spilled in the war for equality; freedom from fear will be hard won.

In response to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage do I think there will be hate crimes committed against gays here in Minnesota, where Nice is the state's middle name? Maybe. We'll have to keep our eyes and ears open, protect each other as we always have, and be vigilant against hatred. This seems to be the classic 'two steps forward, one step back' pattern during social change, and I doubt Minnesotans will be much different.

Although I hope with all my heart that I'm wrong about that. If there's any state in the union where it's possible that spring won't follow winter, it's Minnesota.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jumping The Gun... I Mean Broom

Tomorrow, Monday May 12, 2013 will be a day that will be celebrated - if all goes as planned.

The Minnesota state senate will either vote to legalize same-sex marriage, or they will not, leaving the old 'one man and one woman' amendment alone. I, and many other Minnesotans expect our senators to keep their word and vote on the right side of history. Governor Mark Dayton has also promised he would sign any such legislation, clearing the way for legal weddings to start August 1st.

Well, plenty of Minnesota's gay population have started already planning for weddings, and details are being discussed. If I had a wedding oriented business locally I'd be figuring out ways to expand marketing to LGBT folk. (hint hint)

On the subject of wedding cakes, clearly some changes will have to be made, but to what extent is the decision of the pastry chef. I'll show you what I mean.

If The Law Says I Must bakeries will provide very little difference from the straight folks' wedding cakes they've been making for years. Very traditional except for the cardboard or tacky plastic figures used as toppers.

Friends Of and Friendly bakeries will offer the colors of the rainbow in an homage to the LGBT  symbol. 

Making beautiful cakes for the most special of occasions. The celebration of 
two lives joining as one family.

Very pretty work, and so sweet, tangy and generic too. The braver among them will experiment with flavors and added details.

Enthusiastic And Very Supportive bakeries will get into the swing of things and use their skills to create works of art that are also symbolic. A delight for the eyes and the mouth.

Right There With You bakeries will go that extra mile to make sure you've got just the right cake topper. I love that pants are optional for lesbian toppers.

And the Totally Get It and Wishing You The Very Best bakeries will design cakes specifically for you and your spouse to be. Reminders of your special times or experiences.

So for those who are dreaming of their special day a few words of advice:


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The magic of Christmas discovered in May

There's a euphoria burbling in my chest, simmering in the time it's necessary to wait. I find my knee jiggling under the desk, a symptom of an excitement that simply cannot be contained. It leaks out from me in the odd heart skipping a beat, or a sudden catching of breath at the merest passage of thought. 

Something is caught in my throat. It's the balloon of anticipation which has grown around my heart. It's full, threatening to splatter excitement at any moment, but hoping to burst when my dearest wish comes true. My state's legislature is deciding the issue of same sex marriage today. TODAY could/will be the day of jubilation.

It's THAT DAY I've waited for, longed for, ached for, dreamed of, and thought too many times would never get here. It's the day, quite honestly, which will determine much of my future. And it's finally, finally here.

And I feel just like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting to find the miracle in the morning. The miracle that I thought would come, but was never quite sure of because there is that whole naughty/nice clause and I'd worry about a few things. And yet, and Yet, and YET - I believed in the wonder with all my heart and soul, safe in the innocence of inexperienced youth.

It's happened to other people, even people I know. The internet tells stories of places where this particular miracle has happened and the people are joyful. I drift off into visions of happy people gathering to celebrate lives and loves, sanctifying and legalizing their families at last, and then I notice that my knee is jiggling under the desk.

It's THE DAY. Now. Here. In my reality, at last.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Red Sea on Facebook

You've seen them, and if you haven't then you're either blind, or *GASP* not on Facebook. They're the red equal signs that started appearing on Tuesday when the Supreme Court took up the Prop 8 case. By the end of yesterday, nearly a quarter of my friends list were flashing the neat red squares with the two pink rectangles upon it.

Many of them had been uniquely altered to suit the personality of the person displaying it. Mine, at the time of this writing, is:    I saw someone else using it, and quickly 'stole' it for myself. It exactly suited my mood at the time. I had just rewritten my last post and sent it out into the blogosphere and was feeling euphoric and hopeful.

I will never forget the first one I saw, however. It was the one my straight sister was using, being one of the very first to do so. You'd have to understand my family history to fully realize the importance of that act. Of all my four siblings and seven nieces and nephews, she is the only one to publicly support me, and gay civil rights. For my sake she does this, as well as to acknowledge her own moral imperatives. And it makes a difference. A huge, rib cracking hug difference.

The swelling sea of red cascading down the feeds in front of my very eyes is so healing, so emotionally supportive that it nearly makes me cry. Every single one of those people have declared themselves on the side of equality, straight and LGBT alike. The massive spiritual awakening taking place in America, reflected in the mirror of Facebook, feels substantive for the first time in my life.

Thank you, everyone who flew/flies/will fly the red equal sign during the Supreme Court hearings. You are publicly taking your place on the right side of history. Welcome to the fight.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

History Is Being Made

Our wedding day.
I haven't had butterflies this active in my stomach since the night I stood in line during a San Francisco winter rainstorm to have my chance to marry the woman I love. If we win today, can I sue the state of California to undo their vicious invalidation and reinstate our wedding day as Feb. 16, 2004? I'm serious. Can I?

I'm being flooded with memories fast and furious. So I'm going to share a piece I wrote in 2005 about our experiences during that now infamous, first Valentine's weekend of love.

by Genta Sebastian
Feb. 16, 2005

I looked up from my personal puddle, and down the line of huddled figures trying to find shelter under umbrellas and blankets from the frigid San Francisco storm. Strangers had come by earlier, but when they left, so did the last of the hot coffee. It was four in the morning of Monday, February 16, 2004, and I was camped in a borrowed lawn chair under two sodden umbrellas, waiting for the volunteers who would open City Hall on this Presidents’ Day holiday. Traf, the woman I’ve loved for years and planned to marry, was sleeping as best she could in our parked car across the street. Through the punishing rain I could just make out our Minnesota plates among the California ones.

We’d driven non-stop from my mother’s house in central California, where we were visiting, as soon as we heard legal gay marriages were being performed in San Francisco, and arrived on February 14th in the City of Love. It was already night, and City Hall was closed, so we’d waited in line for a Valentine dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf, relaxing in the atmosphere around us enough to whisper words of love and hold each others’ hand covertly beneath the cover of white tablecloths. 

We found the only hotel room left in the entire city that night, and slept like the two women in comfortable shoes that we are. My Beloved was fifty-six, I nine years younger, and the long road trip had taken its toll on mind and body.

At eight the next morning I rose first, still tired but excited by the knowledge that today at long last, was our wedding day. I was making complimentary coffee and had just turned on the news when the TV filled with coverage of block long lines around City Hall. I stared at Traf, she stared back at me, and we both turned to stare at the television. We flew into action and raced for our chance to be married. Apparently we weren’t the only ones eager to take part in this historical moment.

The gay community had been abuzz since the sudden action by Mayor Newsom three days earlier, legalizing marriage for the first time anywhere in the United States in the City of San Francisco. Conventional wisdom held that the weddings would be stopped on Tuesday, February 17th, as soon as government got back to business as usual, being run by duly elected homophobes and cowards. The weddings had started on Friday, and it was already Sunday morning when we arrived at City Hall. When we tried to join first one, and then the other line, we were told that only those with vouchers would be married today, Line A first, and if there was time, the people in Line B. We were told they’d decided not to hand out any more vouchers because they couldn’t be sure how long they’d be allowed to proceed legally, and we should go away and try again tomorrow.

I looked at Traf’s face, grumpy because she hadn’t had any coffee yet, and thought about just giving up. We’d raced off without the proper funds or preparations for a vacation, and we were exhausted after a 2,500 mile drive from Minnesota a few days earlier. We’d arrived too late the day before to get married, and today they were telling us only the two lines which had formed before dawn surrounding the block would be served.

We weren’t the only ones looking frustrated. Tuesday morning would surely bring an end to the weddings, and damn it, Traf and I wanted to be one of the fortunate couples. We wanted our chance to be married, and had come a long way to realize it. I was deeply in love with Traf, and had already tied my future to hers, but I wanted to honor that union as legal, to have our marriage recognized as equal to that of any other couple. So I stared at the lucky ones in Lines A and B and was jealous of their good fortune

We walked the block surrounding City Hall, talking to some of the excited couples waiting to get married. They crossed all economic, racial, and religious lines, since we’re a steady four to ten percent of all populations. Two women were both in white wedding dresses, and more than one couple of men wore tuxedos. Others were dressed very casually in jeans and t-shirts. Some people wore very feminine clothes and others more masculine ones. A few of the women might have passed for men. Some of the men were in drag, from the outrageous to the frumpy. Several couples were dressed as if they were attending a costume party, others were elegantly draped and coiffed. Many had family and friends in attendance, others had come in small groups together, and still others, like Traf and I, were little islands unto themselves.

After circling the block aimlessly, we finally talked to several people and found a group as lost as we were. Together we formed a third line, intending to wait and see if we could be fit in today, after those with vouchers had been married. We told anyone and everyone who would listen that we were the self-proclaimed C Line, and we would wait as long as it took to get married.

Volunteers wandered in and out as during the morning Line A, then in the afternoon Line B, were allowed into City Hall. Happy couples waving their licenses burst through the glass doors to descend the long stairway, jumping into their cars and honking horns as they drove away. Friends and families, and some total strangers eager to share in the joy, gathered at the foot of the long staircase, throwing rice and flower petals at the legal couples so happy in their declared love.

Traf was growing restless, wandering in and out of the crowd. Standing on the hard sidewalk was beginning to hurt the double fusion in her back. I found aspirin in my purse, and held our spot watching everything, determined to forget nothing.

We were maybe the tenth couple in the new line. A pair of men from Bakersfield stood in front of us, and a lesbian couple behind us, from Palm Springs, near the Mexico border. As the morning passed conversations rose around us. We joined in.

Strangers came. A mother, and daughter of perhaps seven, gave me a fresh pink rose and wished us good luck before passing other flowers to the couples waiting. Some people brought Valentine candy, handing out kisses and hugs with their own best wishes. University students arrived with their waivers and endless lists of questions. Youngsters drove by and honked their horns, some yelling, “Way to go!” and others shouting, “Faggots! Dykes!” Across the street a group of relatively normal looking people had gathered with signs that read: 1 MAN + 1 WOMAN = MARRIAGE; and GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE. A group of Muslim women had recently swelled their ranks, dressed in symbols of their servitude to a male dominated society. They held themselves apart, standing mutely in protest of the weddings being performed across the street in City Hall.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a gaggle of drag queen nuns who do great work raising funds for AIDS and it’s prevention, swept dramatically into view, grabbing the focus of the media. Television cameras and crews had been cruising the lines all day, interviewing a few couples, but mostly giving their “informed” take on what was happening. It was a relief to watch the Sisters work their particular brand of outrageous spiritual magic on the indifferent newscasters.

Once the floodlights turned off, the Sisters turned to us, offering coffee and asking about our stories. Standing sedately in their flamboyant costumes and makeup, they listened respectfully as each couple quietly explained their reasons for marrying, and when they turned to us, my beloved Traf said, “Because I want to die a first class citizen, with all those rights and responsibilities, rather than a second class citizen, as I’ve lived.” I swear to God those were her words.

Traf’s usually very quiet, but when she speaks, her wisdom glows. I beamed at her standing behind me, taking her hand proudly. My sweetie pulled hers free, unwilling even there, even then, to expose us to harassment, ridicule, or even danger from the homophobes across the street. Some of them looked bat poop crazy.

The drag queen smiled at me sadly, nodding. It’s the age old story of our people, hiding in plain sight, unwilling to risk our loved ones to the hatred of others. I’m long used to it, although it still chafes. But it kept our daughters relatively free of harassment as they grew up, and was still protecting our four grandchildren. That’s what mattered.

I looked up when Traf growled at the people standing across the street. They were loudly cheering a decorated truck covered with the slogans, Die QUEERS Die, and GOD HATES FAGS as it turned the corner, blaring it’s horn. I had already begun thinking of the people across the street as The Haters even before Westboro Baptist Church showed up with their dog and pony show. The people on our side of the street, strangers but still family, I thought of as The Lovers. The Haters didn’t bother me nearly as much as they bothered Traf. But then, I’ve never been on the receiving end of physical violence. She has.

The afternoon was overcast when we noticed the volunteers beginning to leave. It was clear the weddings were over for the day when Mabel Teng, San Francisco’s Assessor-Recorder, came out to speak with us. She wanted us to leave, telling us they couldn’t guarantee our safety. Mrs. Teng explained a winter storm was coming, and pointed to the darkening skies. She told us to go home, and come back in the morning.

A woman called out, asking if we’d be arrested if we stayed. Mrs. Teng explained that we wouldn’t be arrested, but we wouldn’t be protected either. The volunteers were going home. They were tired from a full, exhausting three days. They’d be back in the morning, and we could try again then.

The hundred or more couples who were now waiting with us began shouting. Someone asked for vouchers guaranteeing us a place in line to get married tomorrow. By that time I was wishing for one, then we could find another hotel room and rest. It had been a long day.

But no. Mrs. Teng held firm in the decision not to hand out vouchers. We’d just have to take our chances. She once more reiterated that they could not guarantee our safety if we insisted on staying in front of City Hall. She urged us to take shelter from the coming storm.

Someone spoke for us all and said that we weren’t giving up our one chance to get married, and we’d still be here when they got back in the morning. Mrs. Teng gestured helplessly at the group of protesters across the street, and said once more that they couldn’t guarantee our safety. Many of the off duty police who’d kept the Lovers and Haters separated during the day were also going home. It was clear she feared there could be violence.

Someone, maybe me, shouted that we would take care of each other like we always had, and there was vocal agreement up and down the line. More than a few defiant fists were raised in the air. Although she argued with us a while longer, Mrs. Teng had no choice but to leave us where we were, awaiting our destiny.

The small restaurants and shops in the vicinity were enjoying a brisk business from not only the gays and lesbians getting married and their friends and families, but also those who came to witness the phenomenon. As people started settling in for the night, I found a small drugstore and bought the last umbrella, and a pair of rain ponchos. With chips and cookies, bottled water and instant coffee, we settled into our chairs to try and relax. Groups of people had wisely rented nearby hotel rooms, now completely booked, and the majority were relaxing while the few took turns manning the line. Someone left us an umbrella.

Among those still in line, the mood turned festive. Before long people who lived close enough to fetch supplies began erecting pup tents on the small raised lawn surrounding City Hall. Others brought sleeping bags, and then unrolled them to sit more comfortably on the grass. A few people had lanterns, which began glowing softly in the pre-storm quiet. The weddings were over, the reporters had turned off their lights and packed up for the five o’clock news, the well wishers had gone home for dinner. A haze of happy exhaustion began wending through those of us who held our places in line. The Haters were still across the street, but they too were less vocal now that the weddings were over, their numbers reducing as the evening wore on.

“Get those tents and sleeping bags off the lawn!” came the loud bark of an angry city cop. He was average height and a little beefy, and his eyes were looking thunderbolts at everyone around him. His voice rose even louder as he echoed himself, adding, “...or you’ll be arrested!”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wondered if we were all going to end up guests of the City for the evening, and I thought about grabbing Traf and running across the street to jump in our car and speed off. Officer Power started walking the lawn, hurrying those who were quickly obeying his orders, and his hand rested threateningly on his nightstick. He was getting louder and more aggressive. An off duty cop I’d seen keeping the Haters at bay earlier suddenly showed up, a half eaten sandwich in one hand. He walked up to Officer Power and spoke to him quietly, gesturing at the people rapidly complying. Officer Power unpuffed, and walked off with Officer Peace.

No one wanted another confrontation, so the small tent city evaporated. The sleeping bags made islands on the sidewalk, used for a little insulation from the cold concrete. Friends and families of the couples waiting began to show up, either sharing in the lovers’ vigil, or taking their places to give them a rest. There were still some half hearted cat calls from the dwindling group of Haters, but we ignored them.

Out of the darkening gloom three of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence showed up again, still in drag, handing out homemade PB&J sandwiches and hot coffee. The Haters jeered loudly, but were clearly envious of the warm drinks. I was ecstatic. The temperature had dropped and I had naively dressed for a warmer climate. Drag queen nuns perhaps, but to me they were angels of mercy. I needed that coffee.

It had now been more than twenty-four hours since Traf and I left my surprised but supportive mother in Fresno to strike out on our greatest adventure together. We’d slept for six of those hours. My exhausted body and over stimulated brain were screaming for a bed, and I was sure that Traf’s were too, although she stoically denied it. We agreed to take turns grabbing some sleep in the car, but neither of us was willing to leave the other alone in the line, not with the Haters still across the street.

The after evening services crowd had begun arriving over there, and some of them looked the worse for a six pack or two. Traf asked me if I was sure I wanted to stay, that she’d understand if we admitted defeat and left before anything bad could happen. Her kind eyes were concerned. She didn’t want anything to happen to me.

I took her hand and held it firmly, causing someone to yell at us from across the street. This time Traf didn’t pull back, but gripped me tightly. A comfortable silence descended between us. We’d see this thing through, wherever it took us, just as we’d lived our lives.

But after awhile I needed a bathroom, and the businesses around us had closed. I’d never dropped my drawers to pee behind a bush in my life, and I certainly wasn’t going to start on the front lawn of San Francisco’s City Hall. I grit my teeth and refused to drink any more. Sitting very still helped, but only a little. I stopped talking to anyone, focusing on keeping control. After awhile I began to realize that soon I’d have no choice in the matter of where I went, and just then a miracle happened.

Some kind soul arranged for three port-a-potties to be set up at the corner. I wasn’t the only one to jump up and join the line and soon we all felt much better, exchanging words of support and encouragement once more. God bless and keep our wondrous benefactor. It’s a thousand times easier to be brave and true when you’re not doing the potty dance.

The rain began lightly enough, but grew steadily in intensity. At first it was possible to stay reasonably dry wearing ponchos and huddling under the umbrellas, but then the skies opened up and dumped gallons of water on us, a strong wind blowing it in and under everything. Drenched, miserable, we huddled in small groups, taking pleasure only in the sight of the Haters scattering. They stood up for what they believed all right, until they got wet.

Traf’s back had forced her to sit down hours earlier and the cold wind and rain were making her stiffen miserably. Since the Haters were gone she agreed to take shelter in our car. I told her I’d replace her in a few hours. She shambled off under the meager shelter of a ball cap some kind soul had distributed in the first minutes of the rain. I wrapped a sodden blanket around me and clenched the handles of the two umbrellas with my arthritic fingers.

The media showed up just after midnight, thrilled to film our misery. Their flood lights pierced the darkness, showing the sheets of pounding rain battering us. Handsome and/or beautiful reporters clutched their trench coats and pontificated on our determination. Each channel took turns interviewing the first couple in line. The two men were blooming, warming themselves on the attention. I was happy for them, but as for me I wished the media would go away and leave us alone. The flood lights swept over us again and again.

Three in the morning came and went and I let Traf sleep. I was already as cold and miserable as I was going to get, and I just closed my eyes and suffered the incessant pounding of the rain and the water running down my thoroughly chilled body. The early morning hours drew out for an eternity, and I filled the time remembering why I was doing this.

Traf and I owned a house, planted a garden, and took care of our family. We paid taxes, donated to charity, and baked cookies for the neighbors every Christmas. We lived exactly like the other married couples on the block, down to decorating Easter eggs with the grand kids, and holding a candlelight vigil on our street corner the evening of September 11, 2001.

Her back was broken at work, crashing two discs and injuring four more. Two surgeries later she was declared totally disabled. She chafed at the restrictions, begging her doctor for a work release. It was denied. I can’t speak for every butch, but all the ones I know, Traf included, feel very strongly identified with their jobs. It devastated her to stay at home.

When my school district finally discovered I was a lesbian after years of teaching, they fired me on the spot. Never mind my sterling record, many awards, and public recognition for saving a student’s life with the Heimlich maneuver. They refused to let “a pervert” work around children. That put me in a financial bind, and into a deep depression.

Thank goodness Traf was covered by Medicare when she started suffering angina in 2002. The worst moment of my life came when her eyes rolled back in her head and she crumpled at my feet, showing no signs of life. Time moved too fast and too slow in the nightmare time between the 911 call and driving to the hospital following the ambulance.

The Emergency Room nurse wouldn’t let me in to see her until one of our daughters arrived twenty minutes later and vouched for me. Nurse Ratchet wouldn’t even tell me if Traf was alive, or dead, smirking at me from her cage. She enjoyed heaping pain upon my already suffering head. It pleased her to hurt me. It was then I understood the plate glass between them and us; I wanted to reach in and throttle her.

Excellent doctors diagnosed heart disease and inserted three stents in Traf’s heart. However the surgeon didn’t consider me immediate family so I was not notified when my dear one came out of surgery. I was left sitting in the waiting room for several extra hours, worrying about the unusual length of the procedure, until a passing nurse took pity on me and told me where she was. I was still clutching her medical Power of Attorney in my hand, having shown it to one and all.

Every time I’ve been hurt Traf has been there to hold me and offer words of love and support. She’s been my rock and muse, a most wondrously unusual combination. Over the years our extended families have accepted us, even the born again Christian faction, and together we’ve suffered the anguish of loss and illness on both sides. I’ve dried her tears, she’s dried mine.

Traf taught me how to fish, and stay within a budget. I taught her to swim, and spell. She gave me two daughters, I gave her three cats. We’ve colored each others’ gray hairs, and kissed each wrinkle as they’ve blessed our faces. And yes, we’ve found passion in each other’s arms, as well as strength and comfort.

So I bore the cold wind and battering rain, because we’re a couple. We’d always been a family, and we always would be. A piece of paper wouldn’t change that one bit. But for the first times in our lives, we’d be recognized as just as good, just as valid a couple as any other - at least in San Francisco until Tuesday morning. But even if we were married for only a few hours, we would have told the world, “This is my wife, and I am hers, with all the same rights and responsibilities as any president, senator, or convicted felon.”

Traf prodded me out of my stupor at five in the morning. It was still very dark, and the rain showed no signs of letting up. She looked much refreshed, and I gratefully made my way stiffly to our car. I dropped the sodden blanket in the street beside the passenger door. No sense bringing it in with me. I locked the door, turned on the car heater and fell deeply asleep under the lap robe we always carry, ignoring the media trucks parking all around me, setting up for their early morning field reports.

Traf roused me at eight. Mrs. Teng was back, and had told those waiting in line that she’d been moved through the night by the news coverage of our determination to get married. She promised to open City Hall to get us in out of the rain as soon as possible. Then she turned to the watching TV cameras and asked all volunteers to come in as early as possible. She vowed to marry as many of us as possible. It was President’s Day Monday, the courts would open in twenty four hours. It was a race against time. We were allowed to move our line up the grand staircase. This was it.

The reporters chased her into the building, then turned to devour us. One even interviewed me as I watched Traf immediately wander out of sight. She rejoined me once the camera was turned off and playfully called out to the reporter, a pretty young woman, asking if she were married or not.

The reporter was walking away, and tossed back over her shoulder that no, she wasn’t married. Traf called loudly after her, “Well I’m single for a few more minutes. You want to mess around?” The reporter stopped dead in her tracks and did a slow swirl on one high heeled pump and then burst out into great guffaws of laughter, much larger than one would expect from a person so small. The people in line around us, who had heard the exchange, all laughed uproariously.

We were ready. The importance of the moment was flooding through those of us who had stood the storm, warming our chilled bodies and souls. We would all have the same anniversary, if we had any anniversary.

Around nine the rain finally began to let up, and as our line slowly filed into City Hall, we took turns changing clothes and sprucing up as best we could in the public restrooms. Someone had thoughtfully left a blow dryer, hair spray, and several shades of lipstick in the Ladies’ Room. Traf lugged in our overnight bag from the car, and we changed into our nice clothes, a dress for me and a suit for her. We might have been decades older but I felt every bit as much the eager bride as the young women around me. In only a few minutes more I would be a married lady.

Everyone had been well trained in the legalities, and great pains were taken to ensure that everything was done right so as to stand up under future legal challenges. Nothing was crossed out. If mistakes were made, new forms were supplied and filled out. Fees were paid, applications were sworn to and signed. When all the legalities had been observed, we joined a line in the rotunda.

All around that magnificent edifice, joy was abounding. Wherever there was room to gather, volunteer officials were performing legal marriages for glowing couples. Voices rang through the rounded dome, excitement in every one. As a wedding ended the marriage certificates were quickly signed, and a new group would pass the old, exchanging best wishes and congratulating each other.

A bright-eyed young man greeted us at the head of the line, asking if we needed a witness. Neither Traf nor I had considered this and we quickly agreed. He told us his name, and that he was a straight college student who’d seen the weddings on the news. He’d come to see the gay weddings for himself, and ended up staying to offer his services as a witness. He said to me, “I wish some of the guys in my dorm could see this for themselves. They’d know then it’s not about sex. It’s about love.” I nearly kissed him.

I expected to be led up the grand staircase to be married by one of the dozens of officials performing weddings, but instead we were swept up by a lovely young woman who introduced herself as one of Mayor Newsom’s assistants. She took us upstairs in a private elevator to the Office of the Mayor, and we were married there, standing before a window framed by one American flag, and one California flag. I was suddenly flooded with memories of Mayor Moscone, and brave Harvey Milk, and could almost feel their benevolent spirits blessing our union as we repeated the magic words that transform two into one.

As I kissed my wife, I knew completeness for the first time in my life. We’d done it. We were married. At this time, in this place, we were legally conjoined and recognized by a legitimate government. It was a moment of tremendous romance, historic significance, and personal triumph. I did what any other woman in my shoes would have done. I smiled through my tears, and hugged everyone in sight.

As we walked out of City Hall into the sunlight breaking through the clouds, we held hands. Traf lifted our newly printed marriage certificate over her head and the crowd of well wishing strangers gathered below cheered. The crowd across the street booed. Traf stared at them for one moment, then turned and kissed me right there, out in the open, for God and everyone to see. It was our first public kiss, the kiss of unashamed newlyweds in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In my hand I still clutched the rose, remarkably preserved in the cold weather, that the mother and child had given me over twenty four hours ago. I raised it to my lips and kissed it. As we walked down the steps together, hand in hand, I gave it to a glowing woman waiting her turn in line to marry the woman she loved.

The city of San Francisco fought discrimination long and hard. Six months later we were sent a letter from the State of California, invalidating our marriage, and offering a refund for the fees we’d paid. We donated the money to the continuing effort to legalize gay marriage.

The powers that be have stripped us of legitimate legal status once more, but for six months last year we were recognized as a legally married couple by the progressive City of San Francisco. I will be eternally grateful to Mayor Newsom, Mabel Teng, and the hundreds of volunteers who made my dearest wish possible.

Being equal for the first time in my long life has transformed me. I no longer sit back, content to hide in the shadows. When people are needed to make a statement, I am there and so is my pocketbook. I volunteer. I organize. I speak out. I’ve met great support, and great opposition. It is important that I do this for future generations of families like ours. I do it for Traf, and the past that binds us together.

There are too many times when I am beaten down, feeling myself a Don Quixote battling giant windmills. I wonder if it’s madness to expect change in the current regime of fear and repression. Will I live to see my own country recognize us as the equals we are, rather than the second class citizens they proclaim us to be? That thought always spurs me to action once more. I take a deep breath and rejoin the fray. I will fight for my family and the woman I love until my last breath, if need be.

Some impossible dreams are worth all sacrifice.