It’s Okay To Be Queer At The Academy

 

My name is Matthew, I’m standing in the Director’s office in the Academy waiting for my release papers. I always imagined that the sky from this room would be a baby blue but what little I can gleam through the shuttered blinds is not blue but a mixture of gray and white. Nothing is as you imagine it to be.

I’m 22 and there are things that should make sense to me now but they don’t. My parents, well, my dad, insisted I go to this Academy to “toughen me up”,  I don’t even know what that means but to him it means  “becoming straight.” As if. I am who I am, who I have always been but he won’t accept that, he thinks a therapist or a school could change me. I AM me.

My militant father refuses to accept all gay people, as if we have a choice. We were born this way! Hey, it’s a lot easier to be straight with prejudiced people like him than it is being gay.

Once, when I was younger, I challenged him about his narrow-minded views. He looked at me for one second and then pummeled me so badly I was black and blue for a week.  I looked so bad my mom called the school and said I was in a car accident. She tried to stand up for me but I said it was okay, I didn’t want him to hit her too.

My mother accepts me being gay and loves me for who I am. I have confided in her and while she worries that it is a hard life (and it is) she has accepted my choice and she loves me and supports me. My father is a mean bastard, when I first told him, he threw chairs around the room and would not let me even say the words out loud, ever. I tried to tell him that I was still his son but he viciously replied “I have no son, I have a faggot. You are not part of this family anymore.” How could he do that? I haven’t seen him since.

I love men, not women, is that such a crime? I wanted to go to college and be free but my dad forbid it. He sent me to this stupid Academy “to make a man out of me.”  I guess he thought the Academy would make me straight and I would start liking girls. I had the last laugh though, all the other guys were there for the same reason.Their parents sent them there to “toughen up” too. My father had no idea that most guys in the school were gay. I guess the joke was on him.

We call each other “queer” here in the Academy, it’s used as a term of endearment, I don’t understand how a parent can just stop loving a child, I really don’t but a lot of the guys here have had the same experience. I envy the men and women whose family love and support them no matter who they choose to love.

My mom has tried to talk to my dad many times about accepting me but he won’t budge. Fuck it, I guess I’m better off without him. I don’t need his lectures, his abuse and his screaming. All i ever wanted was his love. But, I knew, I always knew that I would never get that, ever. Yet, deep down, in a child-like way, I still hope that one day he will change and he will accept and love me for who I am. Yeah, I know, keep dreaming.

Dedicated to the LGBT community who do not feel loved by their families.

No photos due to Zemanta broken.

The Sanctity Of The Sauna

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We tiptoe in, mostly we avoid eye contact but if we make it we acknowledge it quickly with a nod of our heads; dressed in white towels, the room is absolutely silent. Nobody breaks these unwritten rules either, you just know them. No talking in the sauna. Not one word. Someone leaves, they don’t say “good-bye and have a nice weekend,” that would be against the rules. ” She exits silently, closes the door quickly behind her and disappears into the locker room.

We know the procedure, even if it is our first time, we know what to do and what not to do. Is it in our genes? How else would we know? Perhaps it’s passed down from our mothers?  I have seen the occasional aberration from the norm, but mostly one evil look, or two, will silence the uneducated. Oh, they will get the message.  Don’t do this again, if you want to chat, go to Starbucks.

I go after a swim, where I feel that I am getting some of the chemicals out of my body, making my body glow naturally with heat. I can only stay inside for about five minutes, there are no watches or clocks, you need to know your own body and your body tells you when it’s time to leave. Don’t fool around with that. Drink a bottle of water right away to hydrate your body. It’s your own, private club, or at least that’s what you pretend. Other women work painstakingly with their hair and hair dryers for a long time trying to straighten their hair, but once I’ve showered I’m relieved to go out into the sunshine where my hair will curl naturally by the sun. I should pay more attention to make-up and clothing and accessories, I know, but to me, a little lipstick is all I do. It’s all I care to do.

Maybe the sauna takes us back to a place where there are no phones, no meetings, nothing to do in today’s ever so quick, changing lives. I admit, I have a cell phone but only use it for my children, it is usually turned off. Perhaps the sauna brings me back to the quiet, to the way things used to be, before the latest technology. I like it there.

An Open Letter To Lindsay Lohan

My files (found the original; it's not much be...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Lindsay,

I am not a reporter or a tabloid hunter, I don’t have anything to do with Hollywood or acting, modeling or AA. The only thing I over indulge with are oatmeal raisin cookies, and the occasional (not THAT occasional) Almond Joy bar or half a piece of baklava. It won’t end me up in rehab or the Betty Ford Clinic but it does make my clothing too tight and uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be able to be a plus-sized model, I’d need to probably go up to a double plus.

That said, I can deal with emotional eating and extra pounds; I’m not twenty anymore so even though it doesn’t make me happy, I deal with it. I’m sure women in their 50’s can relate to me. I’m a parent of two teenagers, a boy 19 and a girl 17. I’m not a saint and either are they but we cope as best we can. My son has done things I don’t approve of, I’m sure my daughter will do the same. Thus ends the comparison. We’ve instilled good values in them, they are bound to make mistakes, but we will be here, always, to help them get it right with every ounce of our being and love.

You were a sweet, adorable kid. Don’t believe me? Watch The Parent Trap again. You got turned around. Turned around again and again and so fast that you seemed not to have a childhood or an adolescence or two strict parents on the same page. You have made mistakes, tried (feebly, in my own opinion) to correct them and failed, tried and failed again and again. Listen up, there’s hope, you are not Amy Winehouse. Yet.

I’m not being mean or cruel or trying to blame. I am begging you to wake up, leave your friends that party with you and move on, and most importantly, move AWAY.  Don’t care about Hollywood or movies for the time being or modeling. Just think about being clean, and whole, loved and TRUSTED. Turn your life around while you can. Don’t lose this chance. Please.

I’m not your mom, I’m not even a fan but I implore you to think about what you have been through and where you are going. You must know a lot of rich, DOWN TO EARTH celebrities that don’t live in Hollywood or NYC anymore. Reach out to them. Better yet, is there anyone that can help Lindsay, actors, philanthropists, solid, strict, good people-who don’t drink or use drugs and that have real values and appreciate life? Reach out to Lindsay, please. How about Rosie O’Donnell or Ellen Degeneres? The seem like sweethearts to me. If you know them CALL them or knowing them, RETURN their calls. I know, to my dismay, that Oprah is in a different place than she was once but I bet if you called her for help, she WOULD help you.

You are invited here, to our tiny house, but it would not be what you are used to. Maybe that’s a good thing. My husband may kill me but you can stay with us, upstairs right next to our bedroom in a tiny spare room. I wouldn’t rat you out to the press or to anyone. I would help you learn to trust again. There are people out there that you can rely on, you need to find them. Stick with them and they will stick with you.

Please don’t be the next Amy Winehouse, there is no need for that. You have a chance while so many terminally ill people DON’T. You have a choice. Now, get honest and get real, dye your hair, change your name and come over.

P.S. you would not be exempt from loading the dishes into the dishwasher or any other household family chore.

P.S.S.  My husband said it was fine.

From A Concerned Parent

Simple Truths

Mind sets: we all draw a line in  our minds, a dividing point, a moral measure, for a variety of  issues: religion, romance, love, food, friends, work, relationships. The list goes on and on and how we stand on something can change like a puff of wind to a dandelion. We all have our own truths. We make our own rules, adjust accordingly and somehow, someway, sometimes because we have no choice, we find our way back. It isn’t always easy.

I met a woman at a party a week ago, Kate,  and her face is still sketched in my mind. Taut, tanned skin, blond, perfectly highlighted hair, her body upright and rigid, wearing a swimsuit with a long flowered wrap tied at her waist.  We were talking about graduations and I said that I will definitely cry when my son and daughter graduate. She said “I never would cry, never at a happy event, as long as I have all my loved ones around me.” Her comment took me by surprise. Her face was hard, still and emotionless; the words emphatic and cold. She swept her hand towards her extended family including her children, her sisters and her elderly parents.  It was as if she was wearing an emotional shield, made of armour, but tiny, invisible cracks were beginning to form.

I felt bad for her, for the innocence that one day will be lost. It’s as if there was a vulnerable and frightened five-year old girl inside her, covered up with layers and layers of an impenetrable facade. It won’t stay like this forever, I thought.  Her family will not always be in this perfect order. I felt sad because I know what it feels like when someone you love dearly, dies. Nothing is ever the same, it’s before and it’s after and nothing in-between. Your world changes forever at that moment, frozen in time.

I nodded my head in agreement with her bold statements but mostly, I wanted to somehow keep her safe, or prepare her though I knew I couldn’t.  I knew she was appreciating everything she had now but was in no way prepared for the future. I am NOT saying that you can ever be prepared but I knew, in my heart, that this particular woman, will become undone, so unable to cope. I hope I am wrong but I had that strange eery inner sense that I get sometimes, that 6th sense. I’m usually right. Let’s face it, we don’t know how WE will react when an unknown situation is strewn our way.

I have been that little girl, in some ways I still am.  I was the girl who grew up worried and anxious and afraid. I’m not entirely sure why, part nature, part nurture perhaps. Can you ever be prepared for a life that can change in a second’s time? Do we worry about everything because something is bound to happen? Why can’t I imagine the good, the great popping up like beautiful purple and yellow, blue and red wildflowers instead of focusing on the bad?

I try so hard, and have failed so many times, not to worry about the future. “Don’t meet problems half-way” an old, lesbian, Irish ex-nun friend once told me. She was absolutely right but sometimes my mind wanders, drifts to the “what if’s.”  I have to remind myself, like I am doing now, that we have no control over ourselves or our future.

Who would have predicted a massive oil spill in the one element, water, that I have always loved so dearly. My fantasy was to live near the beach somewhere, next to the turbulent, gentle, overpowering ocean with its moody green waters and it’s whipped foam topping, crashing relentlessly against the giant rocks. The dream seems gone now, because of the BP gas spill that threatens our waters and our animals, innocent animals.

Not worrying is a lesson I need to learn and relearn and I must be failing because it happens over and over again. Why can’t I learn it, I wonder?  Maybe it is just the way I am?  Maybe I was never reassured enough as a child? I have faith too and even with that, I sit up nights, anxious, with my head playing mind games, rolling tape like the old-fashioned movie cameras, reel to reel, over and over and over again.