Archive for Uncategorized

Doing Pride Differently

Pride marches, parades, festivals… they’ve meant different things to me at different times.

Activism.  Partying. Hooking up.  Marching topless down the streets of NYC is always a gratifying experience, even the pasties in Brooklyn were fun.  Pride as a young newly out dyke with my young newly out girlfriend was about validation.  Pride on my island with my mother and my at the time partner was about representin’, integrating my identity and defying homophobia.   Pride with a huge Latino contingent in NYC with our respective flags was empowering.  Pride in Idaho was about my pastor at the MCC who was losing his battle to cancer and we were pretty sure it would be his last pride.  I’ve skipped various prides, just not feelin’ it.  I’ve gone alone.  I’ve gone with partners.  I’ve been on the prowl.

This year I’m getting ready for Long Beach Pride and it’s a different experience.  Yes, I still went shopping for the right outfit.  This time though even my shopping experience was different.  See, I am with a group wearing denim and colored shirts (they are doing horizontal striped polo shirts but those of us who just won’t do stripes are going solid).  So I was looking for a denim skirt.  Not quite my thing.  I asked the salesperson who offered help and she gathered some for me.  Cute skirts really.  So I try a few on and discover they won’t do.  One of them has a front slit that is a bit too much… so then I explain to the salesperson that I’m shopping for pride.  That gets some recognition and a friendly reaction (no, I was not kicking game and neither was she I am sure).  Then I have to explain that I need something a bit less revealing.  And, well, then I have to deal with her perplexed expression as I explain that I’m singing with a church group so I can’t quite have the high slits or micro minis.  So yeah, I was shopping for a church skirt for pride.  You see how it’s different?

This year I am blessed to be part of outreach ministry for Open Door Ministries. I will be working the booth for a while and I will be singing on a float as part of the worship team.

I am very excited about this opportunity.  I think it’s a great chance to minister and witness.  I feel called to do it.  And I’ve learned in my walk with God that I can be sure I’m called to something when I feel this combination of excitement, rightness, and terror, discomfort, and “really?????” ness.

So I am doing pride differently this year.  I’m not there to party, although I’m going to get my dancing in and hopefully see some friends.  I’m not there to hook up or flirt with random butches.  I’m there to minister to my community.  I’m going there to share a message.

I’m there to tell people and show people that it’s possible to be Queer and Christian.  That God made us and loves us, God longs for us, God watches over us, God wants us.  That no matter how much the church may have hurt people, God’s love is theirs to keep.  That it’s safe to come back to church.  Part of our message is an apology.  We apologize for the damage un-Christlike churches have done.  And we are an example of the JOY you can have in Christ and that it’s okay to be gay.   I personally am not into recruiting just for one church.  It’s bigger than my church.  It’s about healing some wounds and opening doors for people.   And as much as I feel that this ministry blesses me, I am terrified.

I have been a lukewarm Christian, a closet Christian, an uncertain Christian, an afraid-to-get-too-deep Christian.  That has changed in my life and now I can’t be silent anymore, and I can’t be lukewarm, and I can’t just be passive about my faith.  This is a recent change.  I’ve been growing in my walk with God and I”ve been stepping out in faith and learning to be empowered by my faith. That doesn’t change that I am afraid.

I grew up being told that faith was stupid, literally compromising my intellience.  I grew up being ridiculed for believing when I dared to believe.  I struggle with these wounds from my childhood.  I struggle with visibility.  And yet I know that I can’t be silent. I have to be authentic.  I have to be fully me.

When I get up on that float to sing songs of worship, it’s not about vocal dexterity, it’s about making a joyful noise.  And it’s not about me.  It’s about sharing my joy and lifting my voice to God.

When I share blessings with people at the booth, listen to anyone willing to talk, pray with anyone who might want prayer, it’s not about me.  It’s not about whether I’m comfortable with it or not.  It’s bigger than me.

One of the things we are prepared to share in outreach is our personal witness for Christ.  I can’t imagine anything more terrifying.  Intellectually and politically I can break it down for you, why I think this is important. But I have to get real with it. What has God done in my life?  Can I share that?

God has done so much for me.  I stand in awe of God’s love daily, even when I’m cranky, even when earthly love has failed me, even when I’m a mess, I can see God’s love around me, in me, everywhere.  God has given me opportunities for service.  God has given me LIFE.  God has given me joy.  God has cradled me in love and God has given me courage.  God is taking me through it all.  God is too big for words.  What God has done for me is just too big.  What God has done for me is love me, just as I am, complete with fears, with loneliness, with exhaustion, with uncertainty.  God loves me, sassy femme that I am, I am God’s babygrrl and I can count on God’s love to see me through it all.  God hasn’t made my life perfect.  But God gives me grace and strength daily to walk in love and walk in faith.  And I will sing praises as long as I have breath.

So, I will be sharing more about my church (and yes, I’m like someone with a new significant other, I get all giddy talking about MY church and talking with a friend who said OUR church a few times in the conversation made me bouncy).  I’ll be sharing more about my Queerness and Christianity.  I am not fragmented.  And I am changing in some significant ways.  Change is hard and it can be hard to share changes.   God has blessed me with a fierce and courageous spirit and I will continue to strive daily to meet these challenges.

In the meanwhile, pride is in a few days and I ask for your prayers that this may be a great opportunity for ministry.  I hope to be a blessing to others and an example of God’s amazing love.

And I’ll be a Queer Christian even in the dance tents, so hit me up if you are going to pride and you know how to salsa, merengue, or even a cumbia or two! I’ll be in the yellow section tabling.  Come say hi and get a blessing from us!

Happy Pride to LB and OC folks!

Advertisements

Angry brown grrl

Memo to all who participate in my life:

Yes, I am a very sparkly, serious yet playful, intense, intelligent, driven, angry brown grrl.

And if you aren’t down with that. You aren’t down with me.

The end.

Pink + Five Year Old Boy= Happy Femme

It’s official.  I live with the coolest kid evah!  Not only does this bioboy child (who is, for the record five, turning six in February a few days before I turn… yeah before my birthday)  okay… so not only is he the kind of child who finds random sparklies and jewels at school and brings them home for me because he knew I’d like them, not only is he the kinda kid who knows what my favorite dress is for going out (it’s black with large red polka dots and he knows I wear it with red shoes!), not only does he make me random treasure maps, cut off my arms and legs when we’re playing pirate (and thinks I should have a pink eyepatch), he’s also the kind of kid who actually KNOWS (and remembers) that I used to hate pink but then I started liking it…and explains that he used to like raisins, but now he doesn’t anymore, kinda like I didn’t used to like pink, but now I do, but backwards.  All with his toothy grin.

He’s the kinda kid who, when I sit down to have dinner with him tonight, goes to the drawer to get our forks and picks out the pink one special just for me!

It’s impossible to have a bad day around that.  Simply impossible.

Comida Mexicana

I don’t know when comida mexicana became comfort food for me.

I was tempted to attribute it to recent experiences but I think it was born before that.

I think it was the first time I tasted Ana’s home made tamales when I lived in Idaho.  It still makes my mouth water to think of that mujer’s tamales.  I gorged myself on them till I was up to my eyeballs in glorious smooth creamy firm masa.

Or maybe it was born, around the same time, in my visits to La Fuente where I knew I could be surounded by Spanish language, welcome respite and a cold tres equis didn’t hurt either.

Or it could be the first time I went with Sonia to a hole in the wall, a secret club of sorts, that sold gallons of crema, enormous rounds of queso blanco, mountains of chorizo, and made the most amazing menudo I’ve ever tasted.  The first mouthful made my eyes water with the amazing blend of the taste of home combining with the new flavors that were so familiar and bold.  My ex was repulsed at the patitas which Sonia and I eagerly snatched up from her bowl.  She was confused at the enthusiastic squirts of limon and hot sauce that went into our brimming bowls.  I didn’t grow up with that costumbre but it tasted like home even then.  Maybe it was the relief from monotony that a taco truck provided when I could banter in Spanish and eat delicious fresh tacos.  Or the homes I was invited to where I was fed fresh tortillas or mangos with chile.

I first noticed the comfort food connection after the elections this November.  After voting, a very emotional moment for me given that it’s the first presidential election I’ve been able to vote in.  I’ve voted for other seats in the past but happened to be in PR every time a new prez was being elected, and we don’t have voting rights on the island.  So, not only did I get to vote but I got to vote for a black man.  Wow.  I came out of the polling booth with tears streaming down my face.  And I went to the bodega on my way to work and stopped for a paleta.  The taste of mango making the tears come that much quicker, taste of home.

I’m experiencing conflict in a few different areas of my life and I was trying to figure out if I could eat without getting sick, and the first thing that came to mind was tamales.  I wanted tamales, carnitas, aguas frescas, or maybe a licuado.  I didn’t exactly get that order but instead I walked down to the colmado.  I walked to where I feel like I’m part of the comunidad, where the sadness in my eyes is recognized and garners gentle inquiries and kindness.  They roast chickens there on weekends and the whole neighborhood is fragrant with the smell of pollo asado making my mouth water as I approach.  With the loud sad corrida playing on the speakers I gather the few things I need, lingering as I walk through the aisles.  With my rice, beans, tortillas, and fresh salsa I was set.  I had a refresco de tamarindo to wash it all down.

And it tasted like home.

It was the perfect meal to nourish tired body and soul.

And isn’t that what comfort food is for?  It’s the food that makes you feel cared for, loved, the foods that remind you of home, of simpler times, bring happy memories even if they are vague and fuzzy they are Good.

It makes everything else that much easier to handle when I know I can care for myself in simple and healthy ways.  And it makes me smile to find that comida mexicana is part of what gives me comfort.  It used to be that living far away from home, or far from places where Puerto Rican food was readily available meant that I had fierce cravings for mi comida.  I haven’t experienced that here.  Even when I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for I’ve found that my idea of what tastes like home has expanded and my taste buds for patria are evolving.

And now to find the perfect tamales!

Holidays and Holidaze

So the South Coast Chorale’s Holidaze concert is coming up… um TOMORROW!  It will be fabulous get your tickets if you haven’t slacker!

This holiday season has been different for me.  I usually dread the holidays for many many many reasons but I’ve been trying to go through the craze differently this year.

I got to do caroling with the Chorale and have survived the holiday hype for our show, which did I mention is going to be fabulous?!

The Center LB will be open on Christmas Day and I’ll be kicking it there with my community and friends, video games, chess, poker, snacks and festiveness.  I even helped my coworker decorate which was not only decidedly ungrinchy of me but also soothed my soul.  My main wish for this holiday season is that I may be a blessing to others, that I may find ways to give and to share the gifts that matter most, friendship, kindness, compassion, love, time, and energy.

Today I visited my homegrrl Kimmy’s blog and found the best letter to Santa evah!  Well, okay second only to mine when I wrote to Santa to find out if he really existed and peppered my letter with “no offense”s to make sure I wouldn’t miss out on the loot if the dude was real.  Isagani’s letter made me smile big though.  With his earnest wisdom he captured the essence of the season.  It’s okay to want cool shit for yourself.  Who doesn’t?!  Honestly!  But we also want cool shit for those we love.  And it’s a blessing to be able to love abundantly!

So, that’s my Christmas wish for y’all!  Cool shit for you and yours.  That’s about as maudlin as I’m bound to get for now.

Baby Femme

I was on the train this week and I saw the cutest little girl.  She had on pretty white stockings with multicolor stars on them and a sweet pair of patent mary janes.  She had on a skirt and you could tell she was lovin’ her outfit, she was swinging from side to side to see her skirt move and dancing around a little.  My first thought was that I wanted her stockings.  Then suddenly memories came rushing back…

As a kid I always wanted a pair of cute patent leather shoes.  ALWAYS.  Did I say wanted?  That’s not right.  Longed for, craved, coveted, NEEDED.  They were the little girl version of high heels and I had to have them.  I’m not sure where this longing came from.  While my mom shares my obsession with shoes, when I was growing up she wasn’t the shoe queen that she is today.  So yeah, I needed those shoes.  BUT, we were poor and I was cursed with Wide Feet.  Triple E to be exact.  So I had to shop at the ugly shoes section and get practical shit.  We didn’t have the budget to get me special shoes which would have cost a mint to get them in wider sizes I was told (not convinced today of the accuracy of that statement but whatever).  So I was stuck with practical shoes.  Not cute.  Not shiny.  No pretty heels that made clicking sounds when I walked.  Flexible, stretchy, comfortable, boring shoes.  *sigh*

As I grew and grew I never got the cute shoes I longed for.  In fact, I didn’t get store-bought clothes either.  My mom sewed all my outfits and her sense of fashion was not always au courant if you know what I mean. My party dresses were more in line with Laura Ingalls Wilder than 80s Madonna.  I tried to make do but it wasn’t always easy.

After my father’s death my mom slowly reclaimed her fabulousness.  Shoes were part of that process as I saw it.  Gradually her shoe collection grew until she had the perfect aquamarine wedges to match her outfit.  And suddenly my feet were no longer freakishly wide (still not convinced they ever were).  I could buy shoes.  And I did.  From the weird bowling shoes that I then proceeded to paint in fabulous designs to the treasured suede cowgirl boots (with heels, thank you very much).  From the lime green pumps on discount for two dollars because who needs lime green shoes, well I DO of course, to the beautiful black fuck me pumps.

I love shoes.  When clothing sizes are an issue because if you are size 16 or over you either want to wear disney characters on your clothing or brightly colored tents, I know that I can always find solace in the shoe section where the perfect pair of 71/2 or 8 shoes are just waiting for me to slide on in.  When budget is an issue I can always find cheap shoes.  Just picked up some red shoes with white polka dots for a buck fifty at the thrift store by my work.  There are times when I base my entire outfit on my shoes.

Mind you, I’m not a high maintenance shoes whore.  I don’t think I’d ever want a pair of manolos.  I like quality but I like reasonable.  I would pay obscene amounts for shoes if I could, but they would be fetish shoes and not some designer fetish either.  I don’t buy at payless only because their shoes disintegrate and I want mah shit to last.  But I’m an equal opportunity shoe queen.  Luv luv luv.  I luv ugly shoes, the ones with character that you have to have pizzaz to pull off.  I luv sexy shoes.  I luv sassy shoes.  I luv dancing all night shoes and I luv I-can’t-walk-in-these-but-I’ll-wear-’em-while-we-fuck shoes.

There was a period of time when mobility was an issue for me because of my fms and I had to use a cane.  I hated giving up cute shoes.  HATED it!

Now I have to modify my shoe choices because of budget and transportation.  I walk a lot and while I am capable of walking Very Long Distances in Very High Heels, it’s not good for the shoes… or my body.

Watching that little girl in her party shoes took me back and made me realize my shoe obsession must have been an innate thing.  Possibly hereditary.  Someday they might discover the gene.   And what a fabulous thing that would be!

Petition to Re-Open Proposition 8

To sign the petition click here!
To: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

I, myself, and many Californians I know are disgusted with the hatred that the passing of proposition 8 brought. I am asking you to read this over, THE FACTS, not the propaganda. Open your mind for a minute, and realize that this is terrible for future generations as well. How do you know that your future children or grandchildren won’t come to you and tell you they are homosexual? Wouldn’t you want your child to live a life in which the love they found was supported? Plain and simple, if you are an American, you should believe in preserving the constitution. Proposition 8’s passing took away the 14th amendment for a group of people, and I would like to give it back.

Facts v. Fiction
Proposition 8 would eliminate fundamental rights for a group of Californians. It�s unfair and it�s wrong.

Fiction: Prop 8 doesn�t discriminate against gay people.
Fact: Prop 8 is simple: it eliminates the rights for same-sex couples to marry. Prop 8 would deny equal protections and write discrimination against one group of people�lesbian and gay people�into our state constitution.

Fiction: Teaching children about same-sex marriage will happen here unless we pass Prop 8.
Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education. And no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it.
California�s top educators including Superintendent of Schools Jack O�Connell and California Teachers all agree: Prop 8 has nothing to do with education.

Fiction: Churches could lose their tax-exemption status.
Fact: The court decision regarding marriage specifically says �no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.�

Fiction: A Massachusetts case about a parent�s objection to the school curriculum will happen here.
Fact: California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don�t agree with. The opponents know that California law already covers this and Prop 8 won�t affect it, so they bring up an irrelevant case in Massachusetts.

Fiction: Four Activist Judges in San Francisco�
Fact: Prop 8 is about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn�t grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. Proponents of Prop 8 use an outdated and stale argument that judges aren�t supposed to protect rights and freedoms. Prop 8 is about whether Californians are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens.

Fiction: If Prop 8 isn�t passed, people can be sued over personal beliefs.
Fact: California�s laws already prohibit discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This has nothing to do with marriage.

Fiction: Pepperdine University supports the Yes on 8 campaign.
Fact: The University has publicly disassociated itself from Professor Richard Peterson of Pepperdine University, who is featured in the ad, and has asked to not be identified in the Yes on 8 advertisements.

Fiction: Unless Prop 8 passes, California parents won�t have the right to object to what their children are taught in school.
Fact: California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Sincerely,
Sign here

March against Prop 8 in Long Beach Friday Nov 7th!

Voice Your Disgust With The Prop. 8 Outcome

‘MARCH DOWN BROADWAY’

TOMORROW, November 7th at 7pm

(from Redondo to Hamburger Mary’s)

Meet @ Broadway & Redondo before 7pm

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD

(Do you really want to continue feeling like a 2nd class citizen?)

Please spread the words to your family and friends. We need to keep this effort alive and in front of the public media.

Manicure

I got the best manicure this weekend from a sweet boi who sat at my feet and diligently made a mess of my fingertips with red polish while keeping me laughing with commentary about his expertise and skills. The paintjob was rescued thanks to some femme magicking and eventually dried despite the boi’s enthusiastic application of thick coats.

The best part of the manicure was when the boi proudly announced to a gathering of friends that he had painted my nails. When someone commented that that was kinda femme (because that’s a bad thing?) I unhesitatingly clarified that it was, in fact, a lucky butch thing.

As I go through the days with my uneven coat of red, I know I am feeling like a pretty lucky femme!

Pronouns

I was talking with a friend about pronouns.  Not just any ole pronouns.  Gendered pronouns and the genderqueer experience.  My friend is transgendered and prefers male pronouns.  He is a butch and experiences regularly the application of female pronouns, not just by the ignorant average joes and janes, but by fellow queers and friends who either slip or who sometimes with what appears to be malicious intent, decide to she him for shits and giggles.  And we were talking about the reverse as well: butches who identify with female pronouns who get he-d by friends and lovers despite objections.  And the use of male pronouns by femmes to keep from outing themselves.

That just blows my mind.  I struggle with pronouns for very different reasons.  I struggle with dating a “him” and with having a “boifriend” (when I have one).  I struggle because as much as I have wanted on occasion to use female pronouns to avoid perpetuating my being read as hetero, I can’t do that.  If someone identifies with masculine pronouns, for me to suddenly pop a “she” to make myself comfortable feels like a deep betrayal, not just of them, but of myself.

I remember once I had to deal with some financial bullshit for a transgendered boy I was dating.  I had to make some calls and I had to fill out some forms and I had to use his given name, use female pronouns and swallow the Ms. silently.  I kept hanging up before getting connected to the customer service people because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  He intensely disliked using his given name.  And it felt so awful for me to have to do it, it was necessary but it felt so, well, wrong.

Other bois/boys have different positions on that and I take my cues from them.  One boi I knew used his given name for very public professional purposes and didn’t mind being referred to by his very feminine given name.  I didn’t mind identifying him by it, although it always confused people when I continued to refer to him as him despite the obvious “girl” name.

I dated a butch who was woman identified and used female pronouns.  That was cool too.  I then found that I had to correct friends who are used to my dating trannies and would regularly refer to her by male pronouns.

To think that some people consciously apply the wrong pronoun to cover up their queerness just blows my mind.  And to hear that it’s acceptable because someone is butch really really blows my mind.  So, would a butch refer to me by male pronouns to cover?  Would they try to apply male pronouns to me when subterfuge was not necessary in order to be more comfortable with their sexuality?  Would it be okay if I, high fucking femme, was a he?  Not to say a femme can’t go by male pronouns, don’t get me wrong, but this high femme does not, unless you count Daddy as a pronoun, I like my shes and hers just fine thank you.

So, when I’m dating a he, I still have moments of discomfort, not with his gender identity, but with my invisibility.  And most often it’s complicated by the fact that if you see us out in public, in most cases, the queerness becomes obvious.  They don’t pass, have nothing to pass as being genderqueer butches, that’s exactly what they present as.  But, when in casual conversation it comes up by someone who hasn’t met the him in question there’s often the question mark look.  Has Thea turned straight?  Or the complacency, Of course Thea’s straight, she looks straight doesn’t she?  So I have many ways to add qualifiers.  Either I throw the word butch around (always fun anyway) or at some point clarify that he is a female.  Or, if the person I’m seeing pronoun shifts, that makes it easier for me, and more confusing for the listener (which can be great fun!).

I guess it just doesn’t even occur to me that some people are still so stuck in their own homophobia that they feel the need to modify their partner’s gender across contexts to be more acceptable.  How much more heteronormative can we get?

Me, I’m a big ole queer.  I may be dating a he but not only am I not defined by who I date, I also take great care to ensure that I don’t feel like my own words and actions contribute to my being perceived as straight.  That matters to me.  I need that balance, the place where I can honor the other person’s gender identity as well as my own queerness.  Hence, I don’t date transguys who are stealth.  Hence I don’t date people who are not fully comfortable with their own queerness.  That’s not to say that we all have to be out all the time about everything, but if in my need to be out I end up outing them, that needs to be okay.

My first girlfriend, back in my lesbian days was not okay being out.  We were young, it was her first relationship with a woman, it was all so new.  I was out and proud and militant.  She was tentatively out.  We went to pride together and I vividly remember parking the car a block or so from the park where the festival was being held and her not wanting to hold my hand to cross the street over into pride.  Since that time I’ve never again dated anyone who wasn’t comfortable being out because I inevitably burst out into queerness. Contextual appropriateness is one thing, I won’t sit on their lap at their office, I won’t push pda in front of parents unless they’re that kind of parents, but for the most part, I walk through the world as a queer femme and if someone is with me, they have to deal with my sparkly self shining through!  And I’ll be damned if I for a minute consider in any way getting them to modify their speech, dress, pronouns, name, behavior to ‘tone it down.’  That would be like asking a butch to put on a dress so you can pass as decidedly unqueer ‘friends’.  I say fuck that.  And I pity the people who are so self hating they need to resort to such ridiculous strategies and disrespect their lovers and themselves.

Next entries » · « Previous entries