Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Stories We Tell

I haven't been posting as much as usual. My writing continues but it has migrated to a more personal level involving poems and stories. Politically, the repression our uprising faced has caused a period of remission, a time for self-reflection and regrouping, a gathering in of forces.

This blog celebrated its two year anniversary on February 10th, 2013. Two years in the blink of an eye. I began it in a time of great change and upheaval as an attempt to support the worldwide struggle against capitalist oppression and economic inequality, not to mention the many other forms of discrimination it engenders. Yes, I know that these ideals are ridiculously high and I wish I actually possessed the power to instigate real change. 

I was also coming to terms with my diminshing rights as a worker as well as my demotion from the middle class to the working class, a status I'd tried all my working life to transcend. The dawning of awareness that this was not a personal failing but a shared predicament illustrates the way that mass social movements are born. 

Blogging is a remarkable thing, it's a kind of open diary and a chronological framework to a person's state of mind, and, through their eyes, the state of the country and the world. It produces something notable, like a time capsule, even if it is not read by many. 

The other reason I began blogging was a story I'd read in the New York Times Magazine called "Cyberspace When You're Dead," about ghosts that linger on the Internet long after their creator has passed on. As a cancer survivor, I'm acutely aware of how quickly that rug can be pulled out from beneath your feet! The idea of an online legacy is an intriguing one, an interesting and provacative way for a non-famous person to leave their mark on society.

In newsrooms, online and printed alike, personal blogs are now utilized as research material after death. Regardless of the quality or merit of the writing, they provide a window onto a person's thought process, the way they percieved their personal universe. 

As a sixty-something, lesbian woman, I am trying to make sense of my time on earth, to turn it into stories and poetry because, just like every one of us, I have a unique and compelling story to tell. My mother, who died at 48, never had this chance to look back on her life from a distance and tell her story. I know these extra years are a gift, one I don't want to squander.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Here, Queer and Becoming Visible

Just 118 years after Oscar Wilde’s arrest for sodomy, the LGBT struggle is finally being validated as a worthy cause. The news is full of LGBT issues, from a lesbian military widow being denied spousal benefits, queers being thrown out of restaurants, denied marriage venues and wedding cakes, anti-gay prom efforts in the Midwest and the Associated Press Style controversy over whether the words husband or wife should be used for same-gender couples. Even Obama refers to us with some regularity, linking Selma and Seneca Falls to Stonewall.

This is not to imply that we are winning these battles, actually, in many instances, the backlash has become stronger. Soul-numbing slights have been an expected occurrence for queers for centuries. But it takes public validation for many heterosexuals to be able to see the forest through the trees. And, as in the Black civil rights struggle, people are coming of the woodwork claiming they supported us all along. Well, they say that hindsight is 20/20 and that is definitely preferable to total blindness.

In the bad old days, as an inveterate leftist, mostly what our community faced was invisibility. Bringing up the subject of our oppression would sometimes elicit accusations of “bourgeois decadence” or in some way imply that we were diverting attention from class and racial struggles as though we didn’t occupy places in all other groups.

When a brave non-queer stood up for us, more often than not the comment would have been preceded by an “I’m straight but…” disclaimer. Even in the early gay pride parades straight folks could, more safely, employ the option of marching together as “straights for gay rights.”

But we have persisted and in the geological timeframe of historical change. Will we eventually see full equal rights in this country and perhaps even in this world? I can only live in hope. Still, we have to brace ourselves for the end game struggle. The laps directly before the finish line tend to be the most draining and exhausting of the entire race.