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Lesbian Lessons for a Straight Woman

Lesbian Lessons for a Straight Woman
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Thursday, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) and this year Care2 is bringing you personal stories from around the world on the fight to eliminate anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination. For our complete coverage, please click here.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) has rolled around again, and I’m reminded how clueless I was growing up in Idaho. Among the sagebrush and sugar beets, the potatoes and flatland, I never even heard any of the words that make up the acronym LGBTQ.

How did I miss the clues? I search my memory and see so little. There was the physical education teacher who attracted certain of my classmates like moths to a flame. She was sarcastic and intolerant toward those of us whose gangly limbs struggled with gymnastics. She was the reason I lost the top spot at graduation, giving me the only C in an otherwise perfect sea of As.

Then there was the young woman who shared a room for three in my first year of college. She loved giving us back rubs, and I look back and see how much of herself she was afraid to share.

Still, clueless or not, I grew up with a single mother who had little tolerance for bigotry. Her attitudes rubbed off on me.

I was a senior high school librarian when a young man sat down beside me and asked my opinion on homosexuals. He was a devout Christian and deeply disappointed when I told him I saw nothing wrong with people’s being true to themselves. He never completely trusted me again. That haunts me still because I knew intuitively he was gay. Perhaps he thought my condemning gays would help give him the courage to deny his true self.

When I threw myself into the world of performance storytelling and began giving storytelling workshops, I met many gays and lesbians. The arts have more breathing room for those who wander the labyrinths outside of culturally defined norms.

But it was not until I met Theresa Healy that I truly examined my own stereotypes and hesitations. I should call them prejudices, because that’s what those stereotypes and hesitations really are.

I remember vividly sitting in the dining room at Baldy Hughes, where HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living in Northern British Columbia) was having its inaugural meeting. Theresa and I had discovered we were a facilitation duo that could work together seamlessly. We had been asked to facilitate the meeting.

At one of the meals, we sat opposite each other. I was in the dying days of a difficult marriage. She was glowing with the joy of her relationship. I realized with a jolt the partner who gave her such deep pleasure was a woman, Wendy Young. The relationship she described was what I longed for and had not found in marriages to two different men.

In the years that followed, my love for Theresa grew to be an anchor in my life. When I met Wendy, I felt I had come home. When my marriage fell apart, they took me in, patched my broken wings, and became the wind that let me fly again.

They had had a commitment ceremony before we became close friends. When the government of Canada came out in favor of same-sex marriage, they chose to celebrate their union on Gay Pride Day. I was thrilled to march with the PFLAG (parents and friends of lesbians and gays) contingent along a route that led to the park where their wedding took place.

In the months I lived with Tess and Wendy, I saw the kind of relationship I had always dreamed of having but never achieved. They were deliberate in their loving. They included me in weekly house meetings, where the past week’s highs and lows and the coming week’s demands were all laid out with loving attention. More than any couple I had ever known, they became models for what a relationship can be at its best.

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Photo of Wendy, Tess and Cathryn by Philip Kaake; photo of Sunday and her grandmother by Robin Jarman.

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85 comments

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10:48AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Thanks for sharing this beautiful and encouraging story!

7:15AM PDT on May 22, 2012

I'm sorry but children should not be taught just anything is acceptable if it goes against the Word of God... His are the words of truth and life.

God loves the sinner, just not the sin... He is God of love, man is the one who tries to twist His words to make Him into something He is not. It is man that says we should just accept anything... I stand on His words... I am not filled with hate, I am not a bigot, nor am I racist...

But I am sure I will be called all these things... He is my righteousness.

12:15AM PDT on May 22, 2012

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation. Children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anyone else. If children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help others not to tease or bully them.
It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught on LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier. Children should be taught the JOYS and the CONSEQUENCES of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in. Geometry and Algebra can be learned in college if needed. I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principles where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these values, I believe business and government would benefit greatly. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

10:28AM PDT on May 17, 2012

Yes he says "their" god...which means whichever one they choose. He did not say everyone must be a protestant and pay the church tax and go to church on sundays or pay a fine like england did. He wanted the usa to be totally different and support freedom of religion for all. Do you not get that?

10:22AM PDT on May 17, 2012

Emam, he.said by the god that made me...whoever that is...lol..and he has a.right to.have.a.religion. He.just didn't want the.country to be a.particula religion. he..wanted.a.huge wall up between chirch and state.where the two never mixed. So.it doeant matter if.he was religious. It matters that he. Wanted freedom of.religion for all us.citizens and for.th e usa to not be like england in the.way england was a parricular religion. Have.you mot read any of my posts? Quit posting about his religion....that has nothing.to do with this conversation. We are discussing if the wanted the country to be a.religion with a goberment imposed religion and the.answer is a.big whopping no.way in hell. Check out the law they made to make.sure.as.hell.that didn't happen. Pls ignore perioda...this was.typed.on my phone.

3:41AM PDT on May 17, 2012

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

3:31AM PDT on May 17, 2012

Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.Thomas Jefferson, November 29, 1775

10:33AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Educating people that what we have is not "contagious", and is not a choice, slowly will win over the masses and then have them see us as just loving individuals.

9:11AM PDT on May 16, 2012

What a wonderful story. Thank you for printing it.

8:16AM PDT on May 16, 2012

wonderful story!

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