Time for some self-honesty about my professional life. As I’ve mentioned once or twice on here previously, I have been a devoted volunteer. I hesitate to specify who I volunteer for, out of a need to keep my male side’s professional integrity and dignity intact. I will, however, hint that part of my volunteering involves work with a certain educational organization that has a presence here in Dane County. It was with that organization that I volunteered with earlier today.
A couple of quick thoughts on this Sunday afternoon. First, I had mentioned in my last post about a bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly that would prevent local municipalities in the state (cities, counties, townships, etc.) from enacting and enforcing anti-discriminatory employment regulations and protections. A State Assembly committee had a hearing on the measure Wednesday afternoon. And from what I recall hearing Friday night at the trans/CD support group I regularly attend, there is a little bit of good news on the matter. Apparently, there were quite a bit of comments made in the hearing against the bill. And it may have made an influence on the conservative powers-that-be in the committee, who hinted they had no plans to send the bill to a full vote by the Assembly. That’s good, for it’s a piece of legislation that can potentially do a lot of harm to several groups of workers, including those who are trans or gender non-conforming. Needless to say, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is against the Assembly bill (as well as a similar measure in the State Senate), comparing it to the controversial HB2 measure in North Carolina, which was one of the most anti-LGBT ordinances in the United States.
Okay, I’m about to get serious. I’ve always admired how Wisconsin has, generally, had a history of progressive treatment of citizens who are part of diverse groups. A prime example of this was the 1982 legislation that prohibited discrimination in fields such as housing and public and private employment based on a person’s sexual orientation. That law had bipartisan support and was signed into law by a Republican governor who was fiscally conservative yet progressive on social/cultural issues.
Time for something I haven’t done on here in a while: Clear out a bookmark that’s long been sitting idle in my browser. It’s about a business here in Madison that I’ve highlighted a couple of times on here before: Mallatt’s, which has long been known for its prescription services, home health care and convenience items, and more famously a wide selection of costumes and theatrical makeup. In the autumn of 2016, Mallatt’s made the decision to discontinue its prescription services, due to changing times and increased corporate competition. Then a year ago, they closed their remaining brick-and-mortar locations. Since then, Mallatt’s has concentrated on their online sales and services, both in home care services and costume sales.
First off, I may be ranting in a couple of spots in this post, so please accept my apologies in advance. Okay, as I’ve mentioned at least a couple of times on here, I don’t get into watching awards shows very much. Oh, sure, I may sample some of the pre-show red carpet coverage. And I’ll catch a moment or two of the ceremony as I’m surfing through the channels. And I’ll certainly read up and/or watch some of the highlights the next morning. But watching 3+ hours of one award after another and performance after another can feel like a tedious slog. On top of that, there’s the fact that most awards shows occur on a Sunday night, when I tend to turn in early so that my body and mind (the latter especially) can rest up for the week to come. (Notice I’m leaving out politics; a certain segment of the populace will sneer at whatever statement of social/cultural import a host, winner, or presenter may say, but I’ll never dissuade them from saying it, especially these days.)
After another long, tiring, downer of a week, I thought I’d use this Saturday post to catch up on some works of note from the accomplished actress Jessica Chastain. And it’s not just about her acting skills, which I’ll dive into in a moment. To use a common contemporary term, Ms. Chastain is one woke person, and not just because she wears black on the Golden Globes red carpet in solidarity for the Time’s Up movement. Nope, Jessica Chastain talks the talk and walks the walk. She has been a prominent voice regarding the issues of gender equality, safety, and misogyny that are plaguing Hollywood. A particular concern of hers has been matters of pay equality: When she’s negotiating to be the leading lady in a film, Jessica abides by a personal rule of seeking compensation for her talents that’s equal to that of the male lead (the “favored nation” clause). Even if the producers balk or she must walk away from a plum role, Jessica takes satisfaction in drawing that line of fairness, no matter how many zeroes that paycheck may or may not include. In other words, it’s not about the money; it’s about sticking to her principles of equal pay for equal work.
Okay, peoples, time to show off yours truly in another outfit.
Last weekend, I attended another meeting of the trans support group I am part of. This is the outfit I chose to wear:
An anecdote to lead off: Back in October, I joined fellow members of a trans support group at the OutReach Awards Banquet. One of our cis-gender allies joined us, and at first, she wasn’t sure exactly which table was which, but she checked her table number on her name tag and, by coincidence, sat right next to me. Ours was Table 44. “Good,” she chuckled, “because I like ’44’ better than ’45.'”
Note the quote marks around “44” and “45” in that last sentence, for our friend wasn’t joking about the tables on that night. No, hers was a remark about the era in which we’re stuck in right now. One year ago this weekend, You Know Who formally and officially became the 45th You Know What. In the 52 weeks since then, it’s felt as if we’ve collectively turned around an endless line of dark corners, each bend darker than the one before it. There are far too many of those dark corners to be specific about here, though I should note the latest… er, one of the latest of dark corners from this week concerned an “overhaul” of the Department of Health & Human Services’ Civil Rights Office. The proposal would add a division that protects those in the medical profession who desire to “profess their religious expressions,” up to and including their objections to providing services or caring for people they have religious objections to, including abortions or treatment to trans patients.
The other day, I heard a great quote uttered during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration here in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the speaker or the full quote. However, I do recall it being a “show me this and I’ll show you that” kind of quote, one where two people see the same thing but see it very different… like, say, one person seeing the glass as half-empty and the other seeing it as half-full.
The “show me… and I’ll show you…” portion of that quote stuck with me the rest of the holiday, and it inspired me to write… and rewrite… and rewrite (as I usually do) the following poem. As you’ll read (and especially notice in the last stanza), I’m not afraid to call out someone who is dismissive of those who do not live the same “pure” life they profess to live. What’s for sure, the holier-than-thou set aren’t saints themselves, no matter how much they proselytize with their “holy book” of choice.
Show me fields that have long been fallow
Overgrown with unsightly weeds
I’ll show you land that can spring to life
With someone’s ideas and dreams
Show me an artist’s canvas or a poet’s notebook
That are still blank and untouched
I’ll show you space that can be
The ground spring of a masterpiece
Show me someone immature and unruly
And I’ll show you a bright mind
That, if molded the right way
Will grow the fruits of their full potential
Show me someone not following the rules
And I’ll show you someone living free
Show me someone who doesn’t respect others
And I’ll show you someone who lets others be
Show me who should stay in a gilded cage
That with iron and lock and key you construct
And I’ll show you someone yearning to soar
To heights that will leave you awestruck
Show me someone who you prefer to stay quiet
And I’ll show you a person ready to roar
I’ll also show you someone ready to rebuild
If you only see someone you have no hope for
Show me someone who’s immoral
And I’ll show you someone on the straight and narrow
Show me someone that should conform
And I’ll show you someone who’s blazing their own trail
Show me someone whose existence you deny
And I’ll show you someone who needs to thrive
Even though caring for them is what you’re sworn to do
Would your “conscience” be quick to shun them…
And not care for them…
And seal their doom…
Just because they’re not like you?
Show me someone who’s only a gender
Or a skin color
Or a religion
Or an age
Or a behavior
Or “less” than you
And I’ll show you someone more than a label
For they’re much more than your closed mind
Forbids your open eyes to see
You think you see the scourges of the earth
But I see someone who can clear those fields
And plow those lands
And construct those buildings
And write those sonnets
And paint those masterpieces
And mold those minds
And help build a future
That will benefit the whole world
Show me all that you claim is ugly
And I’ll show you a mirror
So that you can look into it
And see true ugliness
Staring right back at you
As I’ve admitted once or twice on here before, I don’t get into watching awards shows on television very much. So, if you were with me in my apartment this past Sunday (January 7), not only would you have been sweltering with me in an apartment that has the heat stuck in a way-too-high position (a subject for another post, I promise), you’d also would’ve been switching back and forth between football and college basketball and hockey and even cricket. In other words, we wouldn’t have been watching any of the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony or preceding red carpet.
And judging from the social media talk during the ceremony, as well as the post-ceremony analysis… oh, what a night we would’ve missed. For one, there were the award winners, of course. Then there was Seth Meyers’ opening monologue and his getting help with the jokes he couldn’t tell. And definitely bigger than all of that, there was the appearance of a certain TV anchor turned talk show host turned actress turned media mogul — yeah, I’m talking about Oprah — who, when accepting a career achievement award, brought down the house with a speech about justice for women that many equaled to a speech from a campaign in two years’ time for a certain public office (the one currently occupied by You Know Who). No doubt, her speech was a rousing and optimistic one that will certainly inspire more than a few women, of all ages and identifications, to stand up and stand strong.