The World Series and Elections

Well, I hardly think this requires a ‘spoiler alert,’ it’s been on the news and every social media platform you can name–the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night, taking ten innings to break their tie with the Cleveland Indians. They won in spite of play being put on hold for seventeen minutes for a dousing rain, in spite of a one-hundred-eight-year drought (or curse, as many have called it) since their last World Series win, in spite of their controversial pitcher blowing their two-run lead in the eighth inning.

So, here’s the thing. I didn’t see it. I watched Game Seven from the beginning, had watched the series from Game Four, but I didn’t have a dog in this fight, not like I’d used to. I followed baseball years ago, actually followed the Cubbies when their lineup consisted of a majority of traded or free-agent former Atlanta Braves players, but I hadn’t watched a televised game in years.

This was history in the making, though. Both teams had gone without winning the Championship for decades (and decades and decades). Generations of families had rooted for these teams together, and many of those family members have passed from this world without seeing either take the win.

History.

And when the rains came and the officials called a weather delay and the tarp was rolled out by the grounds crew, the announcers said play was expected to resume in thirty minutes. It was already past quarter-after-midnight. I was tired, I was agitated after watching the Cubs lose their lead, and I was not sure I wanted to watch them be denied once again, so I went to bed.

Just before I drifted off, I thought about the race to the finish and how maybe this game was good practice for next Tuesday night. Election night. Another night that will be one for the history books, no matter the outcome. This time, though, there is a lot more at stake. Could I watch the results, rolling east coast to west coast, as the states report their counts and the electoral votes are tallied? I suspect there will be a teetering of the lead as the polls close across the country, states going ‘red’ or ‘blue,’ and I just don’t think I would sleep at all if the worst predictions come true. So, frankly, it may be wise to go to bed, to get the last good night’s sleep I may get for a while.

I will probably place a moratorium on my use of social media and TV viewing for that night. I’m planning on a nice meal, maybe I’ll read a book, listen to music, and then go to bed none the wiser. On Wednesday morning, I’ll learn the results, at which time I hope to find that my country remains in the 21st century, and not that it has become Germany in the 1930’s.

Fingers crossed.

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NC Legislature Passes ‘HateBill 2’

This is a piece on the NC Legislature’s recently-passed ‘Restroom Law’ that I had written in the week it was passed and signed into law. In the time since the passage of HB2, Gov. McCrory has attempted to back-pedal on the intent of the law, signing an Executive Order that tried, poorly, to ‘clarify’ the bill, resulting in a deeper pit of shit from which he cannot extract himself.

Over the past few weeks, this state has lost millions upon millions of dollars from the loss of a number of potential businesses, meaning a huge loss of tax dollars and jobs for under- and unemployed residents and vendors. It may also lose millions of dollars in federal aid, if it has not already, funds that impact a number of programs and businesses statewide.

Not that this state really cares about that. The Republican legislators prefer a large, poorly-educated voter base over an educated middle class, and that is reflected in the cutting of education funding over the past two decades. A full reading of the bill will also provide information as to what the legislature is actually hiding (and, in my opinion, the absolute and entire reason for the bill itself) regarding workers’ rights–they now have absolutely none in this right-to-work state, thanks to this bill, and attention is being deflected away from those actions with the ‘bathroom’ shenanigans laid atop them.

Admittedly, there are ‘pockets’ of liberalism in the areas surrounding the universities and the few larger cities in the state, with populations bolstered by out-of-state students and residents transferred in by large corporations.  Not far outside of those cities, however, less than twenty miles in many places, are the rural areas where the majority population of the state reside. The area east of Raleigh, extending from state line to state line (a portion of the state I am extremely familiar with), is agrarian-based, where the ‘Religious Right’ is the ruling class, and is why this state is so deeply mired in the bigotry and contempt that has long been its history.

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“Who needs dystopian novels when we can just read the news?”–this isn’t mine, credit to whomever it belongs…

 

I’m sad. And mad. And I am too damned old for this shit.

I live in North Carolina. I am a butch lesbian living in North Carolina. And I’m really, really pissed, but, strangely, not surprised by the heinous actions of the NC legislature. I have lived here long enough to know that this state has been heading in this direction for the past twenty years.

From “Complacency Kills:”

I’m in a small, rural, southern town in a ‘red’ state, a state that has a legislature comprised almost solely of white men who are trying to pass laws that would turn back time, take the state and, in their last, best hope, the country, back to the 1950s. They are trying to legislate my people back into the closet, and, being ‘female,’ back into the kitchen. Trying to legislate the poor back into the fields and the warehouses by gutting education funding. Trying to rig elections by passing the ‘first cousins’ of Jim Crow laws. Their ‘rule of law’ is based on the Bible, or rather, their interpretation of it, where they, as white men, are at the top of the heap, standing on the backs of the people who’d elected them, their sheep, easily frightened by the slightest noises of the things they don’t understand, do not wish to comprehend, or even acknowledge. 

theautonomousbutch.wordpress.com

 

I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know if there are enough people in this state to turn this around, understanding that the world is not just as ‘black and white,’ ‘male and female,’ as so many here would like it to be. The legislation passed by the predominantly-Republican legislators literally undoes decades of fairness in employment laws and wages, as well as the ‘restroom issue.’ The deed is done, for now, and I believe that it is not going to change until an Appellate Court and/or the Supreme Court of the United States hears a case that challenges this law, either from here or from another state.

From the time I was a teenage lesbian in the ’70’s and, at that time, living in the State of Georgia, wearing the typical jeans, boots and flannel, I have always been a little nervous about using public restrooms. I was relieved when, on road trips, I would find myself alone in the ladies room of whatever fast-food restaurant or service station we’d stopped at, moving fast to get in and out without encountering another woman. When that was managed, I could literally feel the stress leave my body as I walked out. On the occasions when I was not alone, I would wash up and leave without making eye contact, except for a few glances that let me know that I was being suspiciously appraised, and found lacking.

 On more than one occasion, when I was younger, I’ve had women, usually older, say, “Excuse me, this is the ladies’ room.” “Yes, it is,” I would reply, then smile. The looks I would receive following that were sometimes sneering, sometimes tight-lipped, but always disgusted. They were aware of my ‘femaleness’ after I spoke, but I wonder how many of them would have liked to tell me to grow out my hair, wear makeup, a skirt, hosiery, and heels, so that I would not look so ‘mannish.’

Today, however, I’m in North Carolina and, with those encounters in mind, I think that if a man was found in the ladies’ room, a man who entered said facility with the intent of doing harm to a woman, any woman he encountered would not be afraid to 1) call him on it, 2) give him a beat-down the likes he has not received since his mother or grandmother last whupped him. See, I know the women in this state and they work hard. They are tough. I just wish they believed themselves to be that way.

The NC Legislature believes, however, that ‘women and children need protection,’ that only they, as white men, can give them, from ‘bad’ decisions and ‘dangerous’ situations. And that is the plank this whole ‘restroom’ mess of hatred rests upon and hides behind; first, that men think women need ‘protection,’ and secondly, that men think women are only just above children in the Male Hierarchy of Human Value. This is a trope (I’ve heard this word more in the past month than I’ve ever heard in my life) that is perpetuated by the White Male Patriarchy (another term that I am thoroughly sick of), and it is drilled into little North Carolina girls’ heads from the time they are old enough to recognize the difference in the sexes. It is perpetuated from the start and, as these women grow up and move through their lives, it is reinforced from all sides by their church-based communities.

And that is what makes this fight so damn difficult.

Far too many women born and raised in this state seemingly believe that they need protection, not just from anyone not straight, white, and male, but also from themselves, as seen in the ‘War on Women’ regarding birth control and abortion. These women are given no faith in their own ability to make decisions for themselves, and they acquiese to the whims of their ‘betters’ on every matter in contention, letting ‘the men’ make laws regarding their bodies and their lives, with only a few taking a stand against them for themselves. Incredibly, there are women in the NC Statehouse, holding high office, who rgularly vote with their male counterparts to pass such atrocious legislation, siding with the oppressors of all beings not white and male.

It is a present-day Stockholm Syndrome compounded by a real lack of education, both scholarly and worldly, and the nationwide scholastic testing results bear this out. Admittedly, these are harsh words, and I’ll insert the required ‘Not-All-Women’ here, but I see and interact with these people every day, as I have for the past twenty-five years. I make this point to say that far too many of  the women born and raised in this state have and will vote in the same manner as their straight, white male fathers, husbands, and pastors, because they truly believe what they’ve been told their whole lives–that they are only being ‘protected,’ that whatever ‘it’ is, it is ‘for their own good.’ 

How gallant of these straight, white males.

I don’t know how to ‘fix’ that, either.

I can only hope that North Carolina will be where the LGBT Community and its supporters take a stand, in a way that mirrors the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro in the 1960s. The predominately-white male NC State legislature needs a reminder of its own history, because they obviously did not learn it well enough the first time.

Still, once again, because of this mess, I suspect that I will be closely scrutinized when I use any public restroom in the State of North Carolina. I believe that an altercation is far more likely to occur, given that the white male population, old and young, righteous and ‘in charge,’ will use this law as permission to put their hands on me and demand that I prove my ‘birth sex,’ in whatever way they may deem necessary in that time and place.

Ignorance and fear make people do terrible things…

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Thankfully, there have been calls for ‘sit-ins’ and lawsuits have been filed by several groups to seek relief from the courts but the law essentially stands as it was written, even with Gov. McCrory’s hastily-written, changes-nothing Executive Order. Some may protest the claims I have made above, that women are ‘brainwashed’ into believing they are unable to determine what is ‘right’ for themselves, to make their own ‘Life’ decisions, and that people who believe in the full intent of HB2 allows them to physically stop me, or anyone else they may decide is using the ‘wrong’ public restroom, but I stand by my assertions and words, determined by my own interactions and observations, and by the actions best displayed by Trump enthusiasts at his rallies. They are all of the same ilk.

ALSO: In addition to noting that women had voted for this bill (following the Republican ‘party’ line), I was also truly shocked to learn, nearly ten days after the bill’s passage, that this group of cowardly legislators, working quickly and in the dark, also included eleven Democrats, six of them male, elderly, and black. This was left out of nearly every news account I had read up to that point. I found the information in an op-ed piece and the writer speculated that the Democrats’ votes were cast at the behest of the pastors of their respective churches, but I still find it amazing that, within that group, is a once- and still-oppressed minority that would willingly turn on another, and do so ‘in the name of Jesus.’

Or, maybe I should not be so naive, that these men would so quickly forget their own history in this state, or perhaps bigotry only exists when it is levelled directly at them. The Human Race has long had a ‘Hierarchy of Value’ when it comes to the people who comprise it, using skin color and religion as its quide to ratings’ worth. I find it disturbing, though, that an elected official would be so quick to discount another human’s value at a time when everyone not white and male is trying to ‘matter.’

I am quite sure that this entire piece will truly offend some people, but they should only be as dismayed and disturbed as I was when this legislation was passed and I was made aware of those behind it. I know that I should not fear my government but, given the circumstances, I have no reason not to, as both a worker and a lesbian. 

BD

Highway

This old North-South highway has been a part of my Life

twice now, I’ve lived on its edges

but in different places, different States,

different Lives.

Sometimes, when it’s late

and I’m tired, sorrowful,

I wonder…

if I was to stand looking down that southbound lane,

would I connect with that girl,

the one who, in the dark heat

of that summer night long ago,

paused on its asphalt,

and looked North,

her hopes stretched out like that ribbon of road,

Or has too much time passed

to catch even a glimpse.

Books About Us

“Where are your books?” she’d asked, as she entered my living room for the first time, taking a look at the books in my bookcase.

“My books? They’re right there,” I answered.

“No, I mean your books-on being gay, on how to be a lesbian,” she answered.

I laughed.

“What?” She didn’t understand why I’d laughed.

“There aren’t any.”

“There aren’t any books? On being a lesbian?”

“Do you mean like “So You Think You’re a Lesbian?”

“Well, okay, yeah.”

“There aren’t any.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No. Well, the only thing I ever read growing up was ‘Rubyfruit Jungle,’ but that was years ago, and I really didn’t think it was very good.” In fact, I remember thinking that I could be a writer if that book could be published. That I could tell a better story. The reality was, I didn’t ‘get it’ then, as a teenager, how truly important that book had been, in that day and time, that its merely being published was an achievement in itself.

The thing is, I never really looked for an outside source to answer any questions I had about loving women. None of my friends did, either. Mostly because we didn’t have any questions. What was there to ask, really? As a teenager, I had crushes, had dates to dinner, movies, followed by hot make-out sessions, like every other teenager in the world, I just had them with girls who were ‘like’ me, or weren’t, but wanted to kiss a girl, to discover what they needed to know about themselves. What we did amounted to ‘field research,’ studying what worked, and what didn’t, ‘out there’ for ourselves.

I don’t remember questioning anything about being ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ or a ‘dyke,’ which I was, so totally and completely that I got ‘sir’d, a lot (and although it was uncomfortable, for a few short minutes, for the person who’d said it, and for me, I secretly appreciated it). I didn’t question myself because ‘introspection’ was not a word used much, if at all, by anyone, back then.
So, I had no books on being a lesbian. Years later, I still didn’t think that there were any.

She wanted to check for herself.

We went to one of the major retail bookstores, found the ‘lgbt’ section, which amounted to maybe three shelves between the Social Sciences and Psychology sections. Most of the books were gay-male related, or were porn, books of hot fucks written to titillate, but none of them were designed to answer her questions.

“That’s it?”

Oh, for god sake.

“Told you.”

“Then, how am I supposed to…how do I…”

“What. What do you need to know about?”

“I want to know ‘why.’ Why I’m attracted to you. Why I would even consider having a relationship with you. I don’t…I’ve never had crushes, not any on women, at least, not before now, I like men, I don’t ‘not like’ them, what does that make me, besides confused?”

“Look, I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I don’t know why you’re attracted to me. You wanted to know my ‘story,’ and I told it to you, and, ever since then, you’ve, I don’t know, been even more interested in me, and I don’t know why. My story isn’t any different than anyone else’s, I’ve had relationships, some died of neglect, some exploded because of cheating, one was based solely on my lover’s narcissistic personality. The only difference is that they all involved women. You could substitute men in the telling of it, and then my story would be just like, well, any of yours.”

“But, when you were ‘young,’ (I shot her a look) “okay, ‘younger,’ didn’t you wonder? About why you were, about why you liked…like women?”

I sighed.

“What I remember, mostly, was that when I kissed a woman, I felt like it was the most natural thing in the world, that I was right where I was supposed to be. After that, there was nothing to question. And while I know that people thought that my loving girls was wrong, what I didn’t know was that people also thought I was ‘mentally ill,’ and should be hospitalized, put in an institution, based only on the fact that I loved girls, I didn’t know that I could not be hired for a job, or not be allowed to live somewhere, in an apartment or someone’s rental house, also based on my loving girls. I didn’t know that.

“And, maybe that was good, though. I mean, if I had known all of that, would it have made me afraid? To even try to do the things I’ve done? I think it would have only made me mad, frankly, and I already had enough things that made me mad. Like, I was only supposed to want to be a secretary, or a nurse, or a teacher, that those were my only options for a career, for a life. I didn’t think about my loving women as even being an issue, that ship had sailed, I really never thought about it, compared to what I was going to ‘be’ in my life. I had more ‘important’ things to think about.”

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When I was seventeen, my best friend had introduced me to an older friend of hers, ‘Charlotte,’ and, apparently seeing something in me that I did not acknowledge, at that time, she did her best to educate me about ‘all things lesbian,’ things that she wanted me to know about. To take an interest in. Talking about the Daughters of Bilitis, showing me her issues of ‘The Ladder,’ sent to her from San Francisco. This was in the mid-1970s, and that was the only ‘print’ information I had ever seen about lesbians, all that I would see for a very long time. Sadly, though, I was really ‘just a kid,’ with minimal ‘real life’ experience, and I couldn’t relate to the things that she was telling me.

In a side note: Charlotte, I wish I’d been a better student. A better listener. Had asked more questions. Had appreciated what you were trying to share with me, by introducing me to and trying to encourage my ‘political interest’ in being a lesbian. I didn’t realize the ‘history’ of all of that at the time, that you were trying to tell me what the hell was really going on in the world, that we were considered ‘degenerates,’ ‘perverts,’ ‘sexual deviants,’ that the material you were showing me was ‘contraband,’ in a way that the pot we’d smoked was, and was not. I understand it now, and I have for some time. So, thank you. I’m sorry for not ‘getting it’ then.
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So, she found a few, though not exactly choice, books, and she left them at my house, to read when she could, trying to educate herself as to why she was attracted to me. I looked at them, thumbed through them, read some of the anecdotes written by women who’d suddenly, unexpectantly, found themselves drawn to a ‘lesbian,’ a ‘butch,’ a ‘dyke,’ but none of them seemed to know why, either. The stories just detailed how they’d met, what they’d gone through to be together, some relationships not surviving, for various reasons, but none of the stories were actually ‘educational’ to her in the sense that she could pinpoint just why she was attracted to me.

Those books would come years later, after we’d moved on from each other, when people were less guarded, less private, about their lives and the ‘sex researchers’ could perform studies, then publish their findings on ‘human sexuality’ without losing their funding or their positions in universities or medical schools due to the ‘immorality’ of the research they were conducting.

Today is so much better than when I was growing up. There are books for lesbians, and for many others on the sexuality scale, how-to-‘s, so-you’re-a-‘s, and so on, along with websites that offer far more information on an amazing multitude of topics. Surprisingly, though, or maybe not, in this age of lightning-fast information access, some lesbians, and others, expect more, searching for books that speak to them, to their own ‘blend’ of who they are, their personal demographics. They don’t understand why “there aren’t any.”

The point is, just three or four decades ago, there weren’t any books at all, for any of us. That may seem like ‘ages,’ in this day and time, but it’s not, not really, when the printed word has been around for only about five hundred years.

So, if a lesbian, or anyone else on the spectrum, wants a book that speaks specifically to her own personal ‘take’ on the world, and “there aren’t any,” well, she’s going to have to wait until it’s written.

Or, she could write it for herself. For the next girl like her.