Archive for June, 2008
One of the things I try to do is to stay out of the closet about as much as possible. Keeping secrets about who I am from others isn’t healthy or helpful. Those of you who have read the Path to Enlightened Insanity via Defacted Musings for a while realize that I’ve written about huge swaths of my life, including being gay, my long battle with depression, and my suicide attempt.
I’ve been seeing ads for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk around Seattle for a while. I kept thinking I should look into it, but I procrastinated about it for the longest time.
Recently, in the young adult newsletter from UUC there was a note that two of my fellow young adults, Katie Bishop and Shannon Parker would be participating. I looked into participating as well, but the fundraising goals were a bit more than I thought that I’d be able to make happen, so I opted to volunteer on the crew instead. So I’ll be bringing up the rear of the walk, as one of the team leaders for the trail sweep team.
Please consider supporting Katie and Shannon by making a donation via the links above.
So this will send anyone who is an objectivist into a seizure or at minimum a small fit.
I’m responsible for the well being of the other 6,673,409,088 people on the planet. This isn’t to say I’m responsible for making sure everyone is happy or is living what they consider is a meaningful life. No, it would be naive for me to think that I had that much influence and power. But, I am responsible for using what we share responsibly and rendering aid when there is an immediate, acute, and individual need.
On the other end of the spectrum there is family, which I am extremely responsible for and they are responsible for me.
One of the things I love(d) about Speakeasy, Chiquita, University Unitarian Church, South Hills Presbyterian, my biological family, Jenni’s family, Miami Valley, Lambda Union, and theatre is that they are communities where people understand and care about each other.
There has been a societal discussion about the isolation and division in our society. This may be true, but it is only true because people allow it to be true. Community does take effort and work, but it returns more than you put into it.
At this point I’ve probably lost the objectivists but who cares?
Some of you might say that it logically follows from capitalism that this is not a capitalistic idea, and instead of reeks of socialism or communism. The dirty little secret for those people is that capitalism already has codified that we all have responsibility for each other, via the insurance system. Somehow it becomes more palatable when a profit motive and a brand gets applied but all insurance is, is a set of contracts that state “We’ll take care of you if x happens.” On a fundamental level how is that any different taking care of your community?
Of course our responsibility to take care of those in our communities scales, the smaller the community the more specific responsibilities we each bear for each other, and the larger the community the less specific responsibilities we each bear for each other, but we each bear more general responsibilities for each other.
We our our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
I completed crewing the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk about two and a half hours ago.
I’m sure you want me to tell you that it was a moving experience, or some stuff like that. Honestly, it was a fulfilling event with some challenges and a lot of success.
What it did reveal to me is a great deal of uncomfortableness with my own suicide attempt. I discussed the situation I was in at the time I attempted to kill myself with a woman whose grandson had committed suicide. From what I remember at the time what had become my life and had made me happy had been forcibly removed from me. Really in a lot of ways I did not have the skills to deal with that.
I’m still uncomfortable with writing or talking about that time, but I’ve become stronger, realizing how to manage those times when I am overwhelmed.
I sent this email to the team I lead at the Out of the Darkness Overnight.
Trail Sweep Team,
Thank you making the overnight walk a great event that was safe and meaningful for everyone involved. You were truly the eyes and ears of the crew and staff, and did an excellent job of protecting the walkers out there!
Thank you for doing a great job with minimal leadership. I heard all of you using excellent judgment and heart to do the best thing for all of the walkers out there.
Thank you for making a difference for suicide prevention. Those who we have and will help may never know our names or faces, but we have and will make a difference in their lives.
A suicide attempt survivor
I was listening to Jon Luopa’s sermon, Been in the Wilderness Long Enough. I just listened Jon say
Gay and lesbian persons no longer have to lie about their sexuality, all the time. Indeed as they rightfully challenge the tradition bound concept of, marriage, I trust that they will fully enjoy all of its rights and privileges, in my lifetime.
I’m overwhelmed with a feeling that I don’t quite understand. I think it is related to gratitude and hope. It seems to also be the a curious cousin of schadenfreude. I would describe it as pleasure derived from somebody else’s hope and vision.
I recently made a decision to not work on social issues that would directly benefit myself. In many ways, I have been following this for quite some time, I just haven’t stated it as such. This isn’t to say that I won’t show up at a march for gay marriage rights, or sign a petition in support of gay marriage rights, but I’m not going to editorialize for gay marriage, or organize that march.
I’ve been thinking back to the work I did with Lambda Union and the plays I directed at Wright State. One of the things that struck me about that period is how shortsighted in vision and demanding I was of others.
One of the things I did at Wright State when I lived in the dorm, is that I insisted that if my roommates wanted to have a woman over for an overnight stay, they had to allow me to have a man over for an overnight stay. They refused to allow me to have a man for an overnight stay, so I didn’t allow them to have a woman over for an overnight stay. (If they had known the status of my dating life at the time, they could’ve made a pretty good bet that I’d not have had anyone over, but I digress.)
In the end I injured their romantic life because of their discomfort. This did not improve their impression of gay people nor did it improve the general social environment.
Take a more recent example:
I was meeting potential roommates almost a year ago. When I first met my current roommate the biggest thing that gave me pause, is that he was from the middle of nowhere Nebraska. (Otherwise known as Laurel, Nebraska.) I know I’m applying a stereotype here, but Laurel, Nebraska doesn’t come to mind as being a pinnacle of GLBT tolerance.
After I calmed my irrational fears about living with an 18 year old from Nebraska, we developed a great and mutually respectful relationship. The whole having people over thing hasn’t ever become an issue. (Well, except for the one night the cats slept with him in his bed, because having cats attempt to sleep on your bed while you’re making out with someone is well, unsexy, and the cats are just used to sleeping next to a human.)
The results here? At least one stereotype debunked (mine) and probably some of my roommate’s stereotypes debunked as well.
I know this is how I’ve personally interacted with others, but I’ve approached advocacy work in much the same way.
The bottom line is I honestly don’t think I can have the appropriate mix of detachment, patience, and wisdom when working on GLBT issues. They’re just too personal for me.
In many ways, I think this may be partially at the core of the reoccurring and historical infighting with GLBT organizations. Fighting for your own rights is almost necessarily an emotional endeavor. It is rare that a grass roots group has a leader with the vision and skill to channel that energy to positive ends.
So when I someone powerfully states they trust that GLBT people will be allowed to marry and “…will fully enjoy all of its rights and privileges, in my lifetime.” It is immensely gratifying to know that while I’m not working on GLBT issues, others are carrying that torch with the wisdom and balance that it requires and deserves.