I hadn’t been planning to write a blog post tonight, but the significance of today is too important to ignore. So, here goes, and forgive me if the thoughts I want to communicate don’t come out perfect: Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day. Basically, this is a date to commemorate the progress women have made throughout the world, honor the women who pushed for that progress, and recognize the progress that still needs to be gained to ensure that women worldwide have equal rights and opportunities.
My previous post recounted the first part of my busy weekend performing poetry at Mother Fool’s. Here, I want to talk about something from the second half of same weekend, after the trans/CD support group I regularly attend held their meeting. Several of us gathered at a pizza place located, ironically enough, kitty corner from Mother Fool’s. Among our group was a cis-gender ally who was there with her partner. The conversation between the two of us ventured into where we had previously lived and worked, and it raised familiar territory for me: She noted that she used to work in the Green Bay area at… let’s just say it’s a certain company that’s part of a certain industry we’ll need to rely on at least once in our lives. I mentioned to her matter-of-factly that I used to live in Green Bay as well… and I used to work at that very same company, around the same time she had been there. (We worked in separate offices and different departments, natch.)
It’s Sunday afternoon as I write this, and instead of going to the gym or running errands as I usually do on a Sunday, I’m just relaxing and doing an odd job or two around the house. And, of course, writing this blog entry. The reason I’m relaxing is because the past 48 hours or so have been pretty busy for my feminine side. The CD/trans support group I’m a part of had a Saturday afternoon meeting. And Friday night, I took part in what I want to talk up here — another open-mic poetry reading Friday night at Mother Fool’s coffee house on Williamson Street.
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.
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:
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
This is the final weekend of 2017. And, yikes, what a year. When I say that, I obviously don’t mean that 2017 was full of happiness and good cheer. To the contrary, 2017 was crappy. To confirm that, one needn’t look to far from the current occupant of a certain house in Washington. Yes, the man with thin orange skin, the biggest ego in the universe, truly poor character, and a reputation of wanting to destroy (or at least unjustly distort the reputation of) anyone who doesn’t get in line with him and see the world the way he sees it. And the way he sees it, he’s the only savior from this world of evil and prejudice, despite overwhelming evidence that he’s the leading propellant of evil and prejudice.
Yeah, You Know Who (my shorthand for the above mentioned man with thin orange skin) and his minions have led us into very dark times here in 2017. But for every dark story this old year has wrought, there has been at least one positive story to counter it. And with it being the end of the year, it’s high time for me to think of some positives.
It’s after 5:30PM in Madison as I write this, and my Christmas Day 2017 was… rather lonely. For the second year in a row, my family had our annual Christmas get together and gift exchange on a day other than Christmas Day. Last year, it was on New Year’s Eve. This year, it was last Saturday, the 23rd. So, my Christmas Day was spent working on the computer and sending an important (for me) e-mail; exercising in the gym at work at midday; cleaning house in the afternoon; and writing this post in the evening. Yeah, I tend to live the exciting life, don’t I? (Note the sarcasm there.)
This is the holiday season, a time usually observed with holiday-specific traditions, religious commemorations, parties, and gift giving. This time is also usually associated with being with or at least thinking about the family members you know, love, and hold dear to your heart. Or at least those who share with you some sort of trait. When one thinks “family,” they usually associate the word with being bound by blood or marriage. That includes the parents who raised you from youth to adolescence and wished you good luck and good guidance as you ventured into adulthood; the siblings who grew with you and look up and to you for mutual support; and the cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents who provide their own versions of love, support, and encouragement.
Unfortunately, for some in the broad LGBT+ community, the term “family” doesn’t mean the natural definition of parents, siblings, etc. noted above. Many has been the case where someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or even simply questioning has been blackballed by their relatives. Not only is it heartbreaking to think that those who identify as LGBT+ can face such shunning, it should also make one reconsider the traditional definition of “family.”