Proud to be Irish

Dalai8My husband is 100% Irish-American, and in spite of the three generations that form a wall between him and the old country, he feels the tie. Maybe it is the 100% part — all of his family history and traditions come from the same place. Maybe it is the 16 years of catholic schooling he got along the way.  Today, he is proud of his heritage in a new way. The people he has to thank for his genes and much of his outlook surprised the world.

They didn’t hold a bitterly fought election on gay marriage in which one side managed to barely out talk the other. Instead, they voted in droves, as parties ranging from conservative to liberal stood up and said “it’s wrong to oppress people”. As a group, the Irish do know a thing or two about being oppressed. As a group, it looks like they’d as soon see less of that in this world.

The odd thing is that many in Ireland continue to hold very traditional religious views. I’ve gotten to visit the island four times, and wouldn’t particularly describe it as a hotbed of progressiveness. However, I would describe it as having a culture in which being openhearted is considered a virtue. My thoughts are that, as a group, the Irish just voted to put warmth and kindness ahead of politics or religion. You have got to love that. I plan to drink a Guinness or two tonight to celebrate. Go Ireland!

 

 

State pride

texas-bluebonnetsI’m struggling right now with news that members of the Texas GOP want to take a stance against the gay community. The moderates seem to want to recommend therapy for those seeking to escape from their homosexual lifestyle while the hardliners would prefer a statement that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society. Seriously?

These freedom loving folks — who so clearly do not want the government telling them how to live their lives — seem hell bent on telling about 10% of the population how to live. Is there no sense of irony in the GOP?

Today as I was looking for a post to move to this new umbrella blog, I stumbled on a video from awhile back. It reminds me that Texans of all kinds value courtesy, freedom of choice and just plain old letting others be themselves.

The Texans in this video make me proud of my home state.  I wish that more of them were helping to write the GOP platform.

How things change: the eye of the beholder

Visit psychsearch.net

Visit psychsearch.net

When I graduated from high school, apparently  homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental conditions. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, because to the best of my knowledge there weren’t any homosexuals in my home town and there possibly weren’t even any in the whole state of Kansas.  It was a rare condition, my mother assured me.

Unbeknownst to me, there were also gay activists in 1974, and they pushed the American Psychiatric Association to remove it from the DSM. It was removed, and since then a lot a of new illnesses have been added. As edition five came out this spring, psychiatrists took a lot of grief for classing so many types of behavior as “illnesses.” For example, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder threatens to turn children with too many temper tantrums into those with a mental disorder and binge eating (defined as excessive eating 12 times in 3 months and I wonder if my ice cream habit puts me over the top here) is now an official mental illness.

On the one hand, classification as an illness does allow those who want help to get their insurance to pay for it, if they have insurance 🙂 . On the other hand, having your idiosyncrasies or your own areas for personal growth classed as a mental disorder could be life altering in negative ways as well.

So what of homosexuality as a form of mental illness? Well, a few months ago Saul Levin, an openly gay man, was named the  new American Psychiatric Association chief executive officer and medical director.

Things do change with time. In the case of Dr. Levin, I’m glad that they have and I wish him the best. In the case of the new mental illness referred to as “hoarding disorder” …… well, I prefer to still consider it one my more charming little eccentricities.

For more on how things change with time, visit my z2 blog here for thoughts on human trafficking and Broadway musicals. Also visit my x0 blog here for thoughts on veggie burgers, humor and empathy.

NOT going to hell in a hand-basket

Many people my age (over 50) seem to enjoy pointing out the many ways in which society has decayed.  From breaking up with your boyfriend by text message to posting videos of a rape on facebook, let’s face it, the ammunition is there. So maybe a little perspective is in order.

As I child I watched a movie called “Advise and Consent” with my parents. The only thing I remember at all about the plot was that some member of congress was blackmailed. When I pressed for information, both of my parents were too embarrassed to answer and later my mother madoilyde an attempt to explain homosexuality to me. This was still a world in which blacks could not eat in white restaurants, women with career ambitions were regularly denounced as ugly, and I met protestant children who were not suppose to socialize with me because I was catholic. By the way, I attended daily mass back then with a lace doily pinned to my head because it was sinful for women to be in church without their head covered. When I lost my doily (which I often did) I had to use a kleenex instead, because looking silly was far better than offending God with my bare head. Sigh….

click to visit Chris Zarconi photography

click to visit Chris Zarconi photography

Today and tomorrow the supreme court hears two cases concerning gay marriage. I hope that those rights are upheld, first and foremost because I am a strong believer in the right of every human to pursue happiness. I believe that individual rights trump arbitrary rules that protect no one but rather have been put in place for the convenience or comfort of part of the population. (I’m just not comfortable with gays, with African Americans in the same restaurant as me, with women  who work outside the home or who are in church with bare heads).  I don’t believe that we get to limit each other merely to make ourselves comfortable.

Tonight, I am taking a few minutes just to be amazed.  Yes, there are things in this world that are worse that they were fifty years ago. (Fast food.) And there are things that are better. (Produce aisles in any grocery store.) And then there are things that are just plain amazing. Tomorrow, the Supreme court considers a case concerning gay marriage. People are lined up outside to show support and 58% of the population agrees with them.

Allow a sort-of old person to point out just how incredible this turn of events really is, no matter what the court decides. A society that moves towards more love and tolerance is NOT going to hell.  And I have absolutely no idea what a hand-basket is.

 

 

Way to go Texas!!!

kissingEvery time I do a write up about y1, I have to decide whether I should mention to potential readers that main character Zane is a young gay male. Every time, I decide it’s not that relevant to the plot. It is a part of who he is, sure, and there is a mild romance in the novel (actually two romances, the other involves a hetero couple) but I’d rather use my limited words to entice readers with other things. Plus, while I have nothing against steamy sex scenes in other people’s books, it’s not what I write. Both love affairs are told so tamely that I felt to mention them would risk disappointing those who might want more.

So I’ve been a little surprised. y1 has been out since last September and I’ve received 8 reviews so far from people who I have no idea who they are. (And a few more from friends and online writing buddies and thank you guys for that!) The book has been mostly well received, averaging 4.3/5 over all and 3.9/5 from total strangers. But, a quarter of my strangers have felt the need to “warn” other potential readers that the book contains references to a homosexual relationship. Oh dear.

Thwaitressings like this tend to put me in a funk, not just about my writing but about humanity in general. It was in the middle of this dour frame of mind that my youngest daughter sent me a link to the video below.

Please watch this staged scene of a waitress criticizing gay and lesbian couples, as over and over the citizens of Texas tell her to stop being rude and to mind her own business. Mind you, in this state one still occasionally sees marquees in front of churches proclaiming anti-gay rhetoric. So I was pound and delighted to watch so many of the fine citizens of my home state, what-ever their beliefs, put courtesy and respect for the rights of others ahead of their own political feelings.

That’s right. If it can happen that consistently here, you have just got to feel better  about the world.

Defending my marriage

Picture3Yeah.  I really am going to post about that.

A few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated 31 years of marriage. Truthfully, it was less “wahoo” and more “how the hell did that happen?”  You see, sometimes he really, truly pisses me off. As I do him. Yet, we have grown together for so many decades that we are now two plants that intertwine so thoroughly that we can’t be separated. We support and caress each other in some spots, while in other places we grow at odds so that we can each allow the other the sunlight and space that we need.  I suspect, for all its ups and downs, that our friendship and our love is what a good marriage is. And yet, what we have is apparently under vicious attack. The Supreme Court just announced that it will consider U.S.A. vs Windsor, a constitutional challenge to the “Defense of Marriage Act”, a law that is supposed to be protecting my husband and I.  DOMA.  And it is protecting our relationship from what exactly?

There are two romantic relationships  in the novel y1. Heterosexual couple Joy and Toby have challenges to overcome but, of course, love triumphs.  I am at heart a romantic. Homosexual couple Zane and Afi have the same issues and a good many more. International boundaries separate them, and their is love is actually illegal in Afi’s home. It will take nothing less than fully recognized marital status to resolve their issues. Legalities matter.  Oh but wait.  Fully recognized marital status for these two young lovers is a threat to my marriage, because ….  because?

What does it take to make a marriage work for thirty one years? My husband and I had the blessings of society and few of the difficulties often faced by others.  We are the same age, race, and religion. Most of our problems we caused all by ourselves. Luckily, we dealt with them. The biggest threat to finding solutions? A cynical society that often conveyed the message of “oh, just give up if gets tough”.  Romance is dead.  No relationship can last. Nobody’s ever happy in a long term relationship. It’s a powerful message that is out there and, I know from experience that it does not help a couple push through those tough times and find a way to make it work.

So today, I am picking up my pen and defending my marriage. Yes, allowing two people in love to have all the legal support for making their relationship last, helps my marriage too. That’s right. A world where love and long term commitment between any two people is honored is a world in which making ones own long term commitment work is just a little bit easier.  It helps every single married couple if every time two people, any two people, find the courage and desire to make a commitment to each other, we don’t just tolerate.  We celebrate with them.

Obviously, I am not saying that marriage is right or preferred for everyone.  But if it is what you have chosen, consider defending your marriage now.  Allow me to suggest signing Kirsten Gillibrand‘s petition to repeal DOMA by clicking here. Let’s really defend the institution of marriage!

Picture1