LGBT youth

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I remember once upon a time as I was realizing I was not a member of the heterosexual majority. There was a brief window in time when I was in a period of self discovery where I was an LGBT youth attending university. I had an intro English class about long stories. A girl my age named Meg sat next to me one lecture. She sported a bald head, bright eyes and seemed intensely curious about life. After class she invited me to hang out with her. She led me past the room of the university’s newspaper and into a room that was decked out in rainbows and had bulletin boards plastered with notices and sheets depicting human rights and gay friendly messages. I immediately went quiet and withdrew into myself like a turtle from harm. I had lost the ability to speak.  Who did she think I was? Gay? I was not gay! I told her I had to leave and never looked back.

I had felt bad about what I had done. But I had felt homophobia that had come from within. I was not afraid of gay men but when a gay woman had approached me, I had fled because I knew that on some level I was different too. I was not ready to accept that yet. Apparently I had a lot of internal homophobia that I had to peel away in the next few years.

Recently I started volunteering my time with a local LGBT youth group. One of my exes friends asked if I would be interested. I said I’d love to help out if I could. I have volunteered two nights so far (missed others due to illness) and I enjoy it. Most nights there is a topic that we discuss. The coordinator sometimes brings speakers or activities to the youth group.

Last night there was a large turn out of a dozen youth ages 14-20 who showed up. It was amazing to see how many youth had reached a place of acceptance of themselves and others at such young ages despite the possible pressures from family, peers and society.  We spoke about homophobia, growing up, the impact of words (such as dyke, queer and the contexts behind them.)

It made me smile. It gives me hope. The future is brighter with these new generations who will hopefully bring more acceptance into society.

Family woes

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In the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to catch up on bills that I have wracked up in my absence of the trip to Mexico with my girlfriend. I apologize for my lack of attention to this blog. I have also been facing some family woes. I’m not sure if this is because my family still feels ashamed of me for being gay, and they’re trying to be ok with it or they’re just very flawed and not able to open up to how others feel.

Image(PhotoCredit: Everyday feminism)

 

As soon as we touched down from Mexico, my mom decided to publicly out my girlfriend on Facebook. My girlfriend was out to her close friends and a few family members, but by my mother publicly stating, “Hope you had fun in Mexico with YOUR girlfriend” (yes the ‘your’ was capitalized in the post), it was blatantly stated that my girlfriend had a girlfriend she was dating. My girlfriend had wanted to save the news for conversations in person where it was her news to tell, not for someone to tell it for her on a public platform like Facebook.

Outing is the way that some people feel it is their news to tell if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer etc. Of course it does not only apply to sexual orientations, it can apply to any number of things such as announcing big news, or conflicts with others. For this topic I will refer to Outing as the Outing of one’s sexual orientation or having a same sex partner. If you’ve ever been outed you will likely know how horrible it feels when you aren’t ready for the present people or person being told to hear the news. Being outed is a violation of trust, it’s a violation of boundaries, and it hurts. Now some people may say that they didn’t out someone they had cruel intentions; some people don’t have cruel intentions and it comes out in conversation. Those cases are when you approach the person relaying the news, tell them how you feel and ask that they respect your wish to remain silent about their news.

Then there are cases where the person attempting to out someone means to cruelly get to someone by relaying the news that the person discussed was not ready to discuss. That was the case for my mother publicly outing my girlfriend. And it hurt a lot. I knew right away that that was her intention. My girlfriend didn’t see it that way at first and so she wasn’t sure what had happened until one of her family members left her a voice mail who appeared hurt at having not been told in person. Having lived with my manipulative mother most of my life, I have known that’s what she intended to do-cause a ruckus and somehow hurt my girlfriend and I.

My girlfriend has done nothing wrong. In fact she has brought a gift for my parents each time she has visited. My mom snubs her, and tries to talk over her in an attempt to speak with me. When I call her on her rude behaviour (via Facebook), because I just cannot handle her childish behaviour in my face. I always get a sob story from her, told that I am ungrateful, or told that my girlfriend is going to ruin my life. I have tried explaining and sharing all the wonderful things that have happened in my life since being with my girlfriend but my mother eisn’t having any of it. And who knows what my mom tells my dad about us because he’s always on her side even when I am simply trying to stick up for myself and my girlfriend.

My parents have not liked my girlfriend from the start. I don’t know if it’s because she has kids, or if it’s because I’m so serious about this relationship that I moved in with her and the kids. I shouldn’t pretend to know the reasoning. Some of it might be because I hardly visit her and dad anymore-but to be honest my visits with my parents were getting fewer and farther between visits. My girlfriend is cut off in conversation in front of others. My mother is incredibly rude to her face. And I can’t deal with having my self esteem hacked at with a blunt machete that leaves rusted wounds that only time away from them will scar and heal slightly before the next visit and then do it all over again. My life has been like this even before I met my girlfriend. It’s only now that I realize what I have to do.

I have been working myself up in an attempt to write a letter about my feelings, how violated, and hurt I’ve felt. The letter will include how I hope to be treated from now on. It will also include how I hope we can learn how to communicate without abuse, go to counseling together etc. And it will give an ultimatum. Thoughts about writing an ultimatum has left me a mess the past few weeks. I go from feeling fine, to crying and leaving the room, wanting to be alone and sometimes lashing out at my girlfriend for something she doesn’t deserve. I don’t know how else to do this but try to salvage some sort of a healthy relationship, healthier boundaries and if they aren’t up for it, sever the ties. It hurts. I know what I have to do. But doing it is the hardest part. I love my parents, but I need to love myself and those in my life more in order to be toxic free. I need to love myself and my girlfriend more in order to be happy and more at peace.

Buenos Dias!

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I haven’t posted a lot lately because I’ve been getting ready to vacation in Mexico with my girlfriend.  And now we’re here. I just finished day three in Mexico. We booked an all inclusive vacation in the beautiful city of Puerto Vallarta. I’ve never been on a tropical vacation before so this has been a treat. To do so with the love of my life has been nothing short of amazing.

Puerto Vallarta is beautiful.  Our plane landed and we descended onto the tarmac to board a bus to the airport. From there we bused to our hotel. Culture shock hit when we really hit the highway. Buses sped past us on either side with a mere inch. Mopeds,  ATVs and pick up trucks full of the locals sped past and changed lanes at a dizzying pace like rapid fire. I wouldn’t want to have to get a drivers license here as I’m afraid that would be putting my life into the hands of others. I’m surprised there doesn’t appear to be more road rage here. Back home people would have been honking,  flipping the bird etc. I suppose if one were to grow up here you’d become accustomed to the pace.

We were welcomed into our hotel which has a beautiful atrium where plants and vines dangle from the upper levels in the main plaza. A waiter greated us. My girlfriend gave the man a tip and cervezas (beer), were brought to us immediately.  I have never been in an all inclusive resort but the service is amazing here. It is great how tipping brings such swift, and smiling service.  It saddened me a bit realizing that tipping a small $2 in Canadian but 20 pesos to them was a quarter of what they make a day. We are so fortunate to live well off compared to most of the world.

My girlfriend,  who is much more outgoing than I has made it easy to speak with the locals. We met a couple young people who work at the resort. We bought a night out to a nightclub called Senor Frogs for $40 Canadian each. This included our cab ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta, our way in, free drinks and a party that should have lasted till 5am. We were tired by 3am but we enjoyed a night of body paint,  glitter,  the company of some Mexican gay boys, lively Spanish club music and watching a bikini contest. The friends we met were very accepting of my girlfriend and I as a couple.

My girlfriend tells me this often but I am starting to learn that stereotypes do not always apply. Case in point: we befriended a fellow Canadian who worked in an oil rig the first evening. He looked like the typical douce bag with a lot of money to blow and an attitude to go with it. But he showed us he wasn’t a bad guy. He was friendly,  respectful and fun. I’m learning first impressions based on biases aren’t always accurate.

I have to say my more disappointing moments was last night when I became black out drunk.  Having 30+ drinks will likely do that to anyone. I made a fool of myself but the people I spoke with they next day said it was ok because “This is Mexico”. I regret not remembering when I apparently asked my girlfriend to marry me in our hotel room. *Facepalm* One of the most memorable times in someone’s life and the person asking should at least remember saying something that significant,  no? That was not how I pictured asking her to marry me. I have played with the idea in my mind before but doing more romantic things than be black out drunk. *sigh* I will work on this. My girlfriend is amazing and I know she deserves a better proposal.

Today we had the experience of taking a bus to Bucerias. Bucerias was a beautiful fishing village. The main strip, roads and buildings appeared war torn and broken. Mexico seems to be a mosiac of the richer more tourust places and the real third world sections. We wandered down to the beach at a liesurely pace. My girlfriend was patient with me being a shutter bug and snapping photos of everything. We ate a spicy mango which involved the peddler chopping slivers off the pit with a machete which made the mango look like a flower. He then squeezed lime and sprinkled chili flakes on it.  We drank a fresh coconut on the beach as well. We are both nursing sunburns (even though we wore sunscreen). We met Mark Jacobs (not the designer), and his dog Lou who loved it when we threw a coconut into the surf for him to fetch. We capped off the day with a bucket of cervezas (beer), seafood, nachos and real guacamole!

We took a cab back and had a quiet evening.  Tomorrow we’re heading out on a bus tour of Puerto Vallarta. Maybe we’ll find Old Town,  a tattoo parlour, the Blue Chairs (the gay district) or some new adventures. I look forward to it.

My 5 Year anniversary

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… of being out of the closet has rolled around.  I remember it well. How could I forget a significant period of upheaval,  emotion and life changes?

I remember speaking with one of my friends whom at the time was very close with me. My mom overheard our conversation,  tempers flared and the news was out. Rather than blatantly tell everyone I let my mom tell my sister and dad. I wasn’t able to face other horrible reactions.  But they came nonetheless. My mom and sister who used to hug me while saying goodnight suddenly stopped hugging me. Because of ignorance,  they worried I was suddenly attracted to them. I fought daily. Mean insults were hurled. Our relationships became more toxic. I took up smoking cigarettes regularly at work.

Fast forward to now. My family knows and I believe accepts me for being gay. At times I wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to tell my family till I was out of the house for good. When I came out years ago, I did so on Easter. I had been attending college and I went to live with my family every summer in between each school year.

The first year was definitely the hardest. I chopped my beautiful wavy hair off a few weeks after I broke the news to a shaggy pixie cut. I loved it. I felt so liberated.

I started dressing more comfortably.  This involved experimenting with different clothing styles. I tried out dressing like a butch and found it wasn’t quite my thing. But I realized that I enjoy cross dressing and rocking a tie some days.

I loved my short hair. I played with my hair and started doing more funky styles. When my hair was longer I kept it in a ponytail most of the time because I didn’t want to bother with styling it. With short hair I felt free, fun and spunky and I enjoyed styling it.

I stopped trying to be uber feminine and fit the circular mould that I as a square would never fit in. This caused conflict with my parents but I was an adult now and as time progressed, they realized I was my own person and they couldn’t make me do anything.

I learned that what I looked like on the outside by not conforming to the standard of feminine beauty most women do makes one an outcast. People look at you differently when you have short hair,  don’t wear much makeup (or any) and you wear comfortable/slightly masculine clothing.

It was a wakeup call. I don’t think I’d been terrible to people before coming out, but I definitely began becoming more empathic to others afterwards. I now knew what it was like to be an obvious minority. I knew what it was like to be judged for something many knew nothing about or didn’t understand. I knew what it was like to feel hurt and have friends and strangers alike be disgusted with me because I made a choice to follow my heart.

As the years passed, my family has come around. I have made new friends. Many of my old ones have stuck by me, and funnily enough they ended up being gay too! A couple friends who appeared to temporarily leave have also returned and apologized.

I have had a few jobs since.  I have settled into a long term career that may last awhile till I can think of something I may wish to pursue after furthering my education.

I have had several same sex relationships in the five years I’ve been out. I have had long and short ones. I learned how to be a better partner. I continue to learn how to communicate more effectively instead of shutting down or running away as those are my default settings it seems. My girlfriend seems to be an expert at communication even though she assures me it’s taken her a long time to get where she is now. I believe she is my soulmate and I want to marry her some day.

I’ve become involved in the gay community. I attend local events, and Pride every year. I feel so great every pride being able to live freely from discrimination or the thought of it for a day/week/weekend.

Life has definitely changed in 5 years. Some of it was an uphill battle. But I didn’t stop working at it.  I’m grateful to those people who stuck by me through the years. But now I can say it does get better. It did get better.  Life is better now.

Things that made me realize I was not straight

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I have been working on a memoir and even though I’m not sure if I wish to publish it one day, it has been triggering memories in sweet succession. Some of my memoir revolves around discovering myself, my sexual identity, my sexual orientation and learning lessons by overcoming obstacles.

1. Watched two friends kiss
It was a day I would never forget. I saw two of my (female) friends kiss one night after work. I was awestruck and amazed. I felt sexual urges towards them thay I hadn’t felt towards any of my high school boyfriends. At the time wondered,  “Is this how attraction is supposed to feel?”

 

2. I was nervous around other women

So maybe this one isn’t obvious for others, but for me it was obvious. I could talk to guys and males easily in a friendly manner. When it came to women (especially ones I was attracted to), I clammed up and found it difficult to speak to them easily before I learned how to flirt with them. No wonder. I was attracted to them!

 

3. I wasn’t able to understand my female friends

My female friends would go gaga over their boyfriends in high school saying things like “Oh my gosh I love him so much. Our chemistry is amazing.  When you have sex it will be amazing.” I was still a virgin till university. As a high school virgin, I still didn’t understand the chemical attraction they had to their boyfriends until I first crushed (big time) for a woman in university.

 

4. I wasn’t fully connected to then men I dated

I was often detached from the men I dated. I was friends with them but I still felt like I couldn’t give all of myself to them.  No wonder because I kept having female crushes on my female friends and other women I met.

 

5. Denied I was attracted to same sex

I denied my sexual orientation for a long time to the point where I struggled with alcohol abuse, binge drinking, anxiety and depression. I put myself in some dangerous situations.  As time passed, my heart, body, and soul knew what it wanted in order to be happy. So I finally had to stop denying that part of me and come clean to my loved ones and the world.

Life is too short to live unhappily or not living a life true to yourself.

I’m detoxing

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..from my vibrator.

Note: This post is about my sex life.  If you’re uncomfortable with that, quit reading now.

In the past, I had a high sex drive. I learned how to pleasure myself. Having grown up in a home that taught that it was inappropriate made me refrain from masturbating till I was about 19 years old. Once I discovered it I was in love. I could have sex with my partners and get myself off whenever I wanted to. It was great.

Moving to the present… mid 20s. I was faced with a diemma. I was starting to lose sensitivity in my neather regions. I was choked. How was I supposed to feel pleasure? Was it part of aging? Was I broken? I compensated by buying a high powered USB rechargeable egg shaped vibrator with 6 different settings.  I was set.

My partner at the time wasn’t hot on the idea. She kept getting upset that she wasn’t able to please me any other way. We used to have fights about it. She blamed my vibrator.  I got mad. But ultimately she was right. Who could compete with a vibrator that vibrated at 1000th speed as fingers or a tongue?

Fast forward to the present, I have had troubles with sensitivity and pleasing myself. I dodmt wamt to admit my vibrator might have something tp dowith my issue. My most recent ex was chatting with my girlfriend about this issue. My ex said “Take the thing away from her if you want things to improve in that area.” So my girlfriend did.

The first few days were tough.  I went through withdrawals. Several times during the day, I wished that I had my vibrator because I couldn’t feel pleasure any other way and my sex drive was high. But now thar I’ve detoxed, I’m pleased to say that sensitivity has returned and I am not broken.

Sexy Sports Bras and Lingerie

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So my girlfriend loves her lingerie. She has so many beautiful sets of lingerie and lace bras that crowd our underwear and bra drawers. I am now beginning to build my own collection of sexy lingerie and bras that

When we first srarted dating, my attitude towards bras and underwear was “they look nice and sometimes I’ll wear them but they aren’t necessary.” In other words, I could take them or leave them. My undwrwear didn’t have to be sexy but if they were, cool beans. I also am trying to break the habit of wearing sports bras. I wore them for comfort and for support. My B/[sometimes C] cups need them! And hey… it encourages me to go to the gym. Going to the gym with lingerie not that sexy after a sweat filled workout session. And sports bras can be sexy! Right..? …

Well my girlfriend was tired of me wearing sports bras all the time. In the past she had explained that she couldn’t understand why I would wear things that weren’t so sexy and confident inducing. To prove a point, she turned the tables on me.  We were making out, and when I went to remove her shirt, she was wearing a sports bra. “Not so sexy now hey?” She had a playful smirk plastered on her face. I couldn’t help but laugh. I deserved that. I love her witty side.

“I see your point.” I remarked.

“So can we agree sports bras are for gym only?”

“I’ll try to remember that.”

“Sports bras are offensive.  You should dress up your girls.”

Spring has sprung!

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At this point in the new year, I’ve started to feel the gloom of winter lifting. My energy has improved, I feel a spring in my step, I’m more productive in work and daily activities. I feel like socializing more. It’s the time of year when I shed winter’s dreary cloak. Spring has sprung!

spring-15

(PhotoCredit: Nhlifefiles)

Gardening has also been on my mind. Since I have completely moved in with my girlfriend and her kids (yes I pulled a Uhaul), we are now in the process of buying new furniture, gardening, and turning a portion of the house into an art studio. My girlfriend has been gracious in making me feel very welcome and a part of the life of her family. She has told me that I also deserve a spot in their lives to run wild with my creative side. In addition to writing I also love to paint, draw and do photography.

The other week, I planted some flowers into pots outside the front door, some vegetables and lavender in the back yard pots. I love being able to beautify the home and make it feel like home. It’s a beautiful home filled with plants, a lovable cat, energetic and loving kids, a caring, intelligent and beautiful woman – and me! I feel so blessed. I’m a bit late on the Spring Equinox (March 21/22) but Happy Spring!

Are you two friends? Roommates?

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The other day, I crossed the Canada/US border with my girlfriend. Something I’ve noticed is that the US border agents are pretty serious. I mean they have a serious job of making sure terrorists, traffickers, drug runners and other criminals don’t enter their country. And that makes sense… but I am not trafficking or a terrorist.

When we were speaking with the US border agent, we were asked the usual questions. “Where are you coming from? Where do you live? Where are you headed?  Why are you headed there? How long will you be?” And… “Are you two sisters? How do you two know each other? Just what is your relationship? ” Wait. What??

Is it because I seem close with my girlfriend?  I mean when you’re dating someone of course you seem close to them. You’re best friends. You laugh, cry, love and support one another. How would you not be close?

But these questions and the manner of questioning were said in a malicious and probing manner. I looked to my girlfriend and the border guard.  “We’re friends.” If there’s something I’ve learned upon coming out and being true to yourself is that sometimes you have to lie and sacrifice the truth in order to remain safe. Is it ideal?  No. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it upsetting? Of course. Who wouldn’t want to live a life of just being able to be honest (not just when asked) and tell everyone you meet that the love of your life is the person you’re with no matter what biological sex they are? But it seems to be a problem even in the 21st century even when world countries and states (in the US) slowly pass Same sex marriage laws.

Silent vieled bigotry in the form of questions such as “How are you two related?” Are things we face. Had we answered honestly who knows what the border agent would have done of said.  Would we have been turned around and told to stay in our country and denied entry to the US? It’s possible. As a border agent who has powers of deciding who enters her country, who knows what she could have said to deny us the power of entry simply because she didn’t like the look of us.

Anti-hate laws aren’t exactly formed into the US constitution or laws like they are in Canada. And even if they were, from my experience, I’ve found homophobic or ignorant people find other excuses to use in order to spread ignorance and homophobia. Is it fair? No. It reminds me of the closet door I have come through and tried to keep open. It reminds me that sometimes it’s safer to lie because I am different than the majority. It reminds me that some people will never approve of who I love and I try not to let it reflect on me because I know in my heart that I’m not a bad person. But this is why we continue to fight for human rights and stamp out bigotry and ignorance. We do so one person at a time, educating them about ourselves to show that the only difference is that we love someone of the same sex. Our love is otherwise the same. We still want the same things that other couples want: health, happiness, love, support. Maybe one day ignorance will die off or at least be a distant,  faded memory. I hope I get to see such a day.

Let It Go, Let it Go…

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I watched Frozen with my girlfriend’s youngest daughter today. I had heard good reviews from a few friends, gay and otherwise. I had read reviews online that either praised or dragged the movie through the [metaphorical] mud. It seemed that there are underlying themes that some people find horribly disgusting. Some of the themes I read about made me snort in laughter. After the laugh was over, I shook my head in disbelief because I really didn’t think Disney/Pixar had some of those things in mind when they made the film.

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Photocredit: http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20131103205459/disney/images/6/66/Frozen_castposter.jpg)

So I decided to find out for myself. This is my review/opinion of Frozen. Spoilers included (for those who don’t like to be spoiled, look away).

This movie doesn’t exactly involve the typical Disney story of Princesses where boy meets girl, falls in love, someone disagrees but true love prevails and they go happily ever after riding into a forest/sunset or living in a castle etc. I’ve liked that the past decade or so has shown Disney taking different directions in their most recent films by including people of different races, species (Finding Nemo), toys, heroines, and time periods. It has also started showing people from all walks of life and for that I am grateful. Life doesn’t exist in a set parameter or box. There is one large canvas and it’s a webbed mosiac and we are all a part of it while remaining individual within it.

Frozen starts off in a castle where we are introduced to Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the older sister who has special powers and it’s later asked if she was cursed or born with them (note: the famous question many people ask is if you are born or choose to be LGBT). When an accident happens, Elsa is told by her parents to not associate with her younger sister Anna. Anna grows up wondering why all of a sudden Elsa has lost touch with her. Their parents also shut the closet-I’m sorry, gates to keep anyone from knowing anything about Elsa or her powers.

Later on, when it’s time for Elsa’s coronation as Queen, she ends up exposing her powers to her kingdom of Arendelle due to being unable to control her powers (likely do her fear of them). Due to self hatred, fear and persecution from her subjects, and the neighbouring kingdoms, Elsa isolates herself after plunging her kingdom in eternal winter.

Anna seeks out her sister to put an end to the winter, reunite and attempt to understand her sister. Thus, an adventure ensues.

Themes like unconditional love, infatuation, self hatred, self love, friendship, and forgiveness flow and interweave throughout the story and are conveyed by the various characters.

I’m not saying that the story was meant to be a template for all LGBT people. I think people are allowed to pick and choose what they want to see from the story. To me, it was a story of misunderstanding, conflict of self and love. As a gay woman, I feel I identified mostly with Elsa. Not because I have special powers (but that’d be rad if I did!), but I feel that I know what it’s like to be shunned for who I am by family. I know what it’s like to feel afraid-terrified even-to be myself for fear of being judged by my family and society in general. I know what it’s like to know that there are parts so different about yourself, and feel so alone because you don’t know anyone around you who shares common ground with you. I know what it’s like to feel self hatred and choose to be alone than show your differences for fear of being persecuted. And finally I know what it’s like to be loved unconditionally for all the parts that make me me.  Conceal, don’t feel is something I don’t have to do anymore.

It’s the 21st century. Isn’t it time we Let It Go and just accepted that everyone is different, show some unconditional love and focus what’s really important? Learn tolerance, love yourself (and others), and practice forgiveness.

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Photo Credit: Nocookie net)

Interesting Links:
Official Frozen Trailer here.

Online Reviews:
Sydney Morning Herald
Polymic
AfterEllen

Well Behaved Mormon
Response to Well Behaved Mormon from a Gay Dad