Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Trade in that Dirty mind for an Open Mind - Part 3

I was twenty when I met a gay couple, the first I had met who were openly gay. At first I was curious about their lives; as I got to know them better I began to enjoy their company. They were the most 'normal' couple I had met in three years. Conventional in their relationship, with rather strict roles, they seemed more settled and closer to a loving family than any of the hippie types who I had been associating with. Other than meeting gay or lesbians as I traveled across the USA, I had little contact with the 'alternative' lifestyle community for many years.

In 1991 I went to work at a summer stock theater. Most of the staff were gay as were the numerous actors in the show the theater was producing; 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'. What a time that was! Each night the festivities began after the show, and often included an impromptu disco, fabulous food, lots of dressing up (for everyone) and loving time spent watching the autumn aurora borealis on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I spent three years working at the theater from beginning of May until mid October; each year brought me new friends, new fun and a fresh way to see life. In those three years, I was never looked at as being an outsider even though I was married, in a heterosexual union.
In my second year at the theater, some of the actors did not return to play in the various productions. I began to hear about their deaths from AIDS and at that time, I felt the loss of each of their lights from this planet.
Over the years I have remained friends with all of the people I met at the theater.
Some have moved on to other things; theater management, movies, producing, television. Almost all travel for their work and so I see them less than I would like to, however we still communicate and visit as often as possible.
As an artist and writer I have added many other GLBT friends along the way. Each one has become a beacon for me to measure the values and morals of a true equal society. I am not speaking about a hypocritical closed society, but a society that values the skill, talent and commitment of each individual.
Not one day has not passed when I worry about my friends and how our society has marginalized them, demonized them, demoralized them and eradicated the equal rights that every citizen is entitled to based on the constitution of the United States.

Heterosexual people often do not socialize with other people who are not like them. Actually, most people tend to stay within the realm of their own personal comfort, economic status, professional status and sadly, religion.
The past five and a half years has seen more damage done to the constitutional rights of the citizens of the United States than has been seen since before the civil war.
It is my observation that every society needs a scapegoat. The USA has begun to use GLBT people as the new scapegoat. Gender and Race are now legislated by laws granting specific rights to women and people of color. Until legislation is created and implemented in every state of the union, and in federal courts, I believe that GLBT people will continue to be the new scapegoats for America.

I must ask: why would sexual orientation eliminate an entire class of people from the same protections and rights as every other citizen? When our federal and state governments do not recognize EACH AND EVERY person in this country as having equal rights, are we not saying that a the denied group is not a citizen, is not entitled to equality?
It is consensus that this attitude springs from religious zealotry. I do not know if this is the case; it seems to me that one can have faith in their god of choice, yet not marginalize others for their lifestyle. The historic Jesus never spoke of discrimination against anyone. It seems to me that it would be a just thing if each person who practices discrimination, hatred or inequality against any person for any reason should be judged based on their own actions.

I can see why some people would feel discomfort outside of what they call their comfort zone. Some people are homophobic because they are not sure of their own sexuality or they may even fear it. Others may feel as they do because they have no connection to it, never having known a 'respectable' alternative lifestyle person. Still others feel moral outrage at something they have been told is wrong.
Whatever the reason, it is the obligation of every thinking, reasoning person to do whatever is within their power to educate those who are open enough to listen.
And for those who are too narrow minded to accept, much less care about GLBT persons, there is another tolerant human. Those of us who are self actualized and accepting of all are duty bound to lift our voices with the hopes that we are louder, we are more spiritual, we are more responsible for setting right what has gone horribly wrong.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you better?
Are you brighter?
Are your teeth any whiter?
Ah, so you say
your sword is mightier.
Pull down your hood,
we who are free
chose not to see your face.

Let me ask:
Were YOU born a native of this land?
there are no natives
of this land.
We all had to come from somewhere
And we all came from the same
we all came
out of Africa.
Does that disturb you?

Why do you believe
that what others chose
undermines your choices?
How is your marriage
threatened by a
marriage of
he and he
she and she?

How is your life threatened by
the color of a person's skin?
The name by which they call
on god?
The place where they were born?
The food they eat?

Who are you to discriminate?
What gives you the right
to sit in judgment
of others?

Who are you to deny
of the same rights
which you feel
are yours
by virtue of
your conditioning?

Who are you to judge
how free someone is?
To control their
reproductive freedom?

Who are you to discriminate?

Where do you draw your 'power' to
You say: The Bible.
I say,
read it again -
Jesus never said
Hate your brother, hold back
your sister, keep food from
the people, keep money in
the temple, be strong - seek
You say: the Qur'an.
I say,
read it again -
Mohammed never said:
kill children and
of those who do not
believe in me.
You say: the Talmud.
I say,
read it again -
the commandments are
mind your own life,
and I will mind mine.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you the hypocrite?
Are you god?
You answer "no".
I say live -
live again
and give others
the right to do
the same.

Poem, © L. Jody Kuchar, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Rant about Indiana

Mommy, are we there yet?
It's been 7 months ago that we moved from Wisconsin, a truly northern state. First note of grace, weather improvement. Second note of grace, health care system - which indulges it's patients with "spa hospitals".

Where oh where is the Mason Dixon line? I was led to believe that in the civil war, indiana was a "northern" state. Yankees one and all.
Yet today the preponderance of rebel flags used as window treatments in homes across the city belies that northern heritage.
In the USA, only 4 states in the union have not adopted, or put on the legislative books, an anti-hate law. Those states are (not surprisingly) North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Hey! Indiana. Whats up with that? Do the residents of Indiana enjoy being in the company of the most illiterate, er, under-educated states?

Well shocking as the last fact may be, even more shocking is that a girl like me, born and raised in Chicago, is still fighting for equal rights based on gender. I am a modern suffragette living in a backass state. Why would I make this claim? Oh let me count the ways:
Upon moving here and transferring home and auto insurance, (which in WI had been either jointly in my husabnd and my name, or individually in the case of auto insurance), all of our insurance was simply put in my husband's name. We do not have John Doe Insurance, we have a nationally recognized, long established insurance company. When the final policies were received by me in the mail, my hackles immediately raised and I called what would come to be our new local agents' office. When I asked that my auto insurance be put back in my name and not my husbands', I was asked "What difference does it make whose name it is in. You're insured aren't you?" Comments like this make a woman don her boxing gloves. It wasn't long before this problem was solved to my satisfaction, yet, it should never have come up. Each individual, regardless of gender, is entitled, HAS THE RIGHT, to hold their own, autonomous insurance policy.
Shortly after getting the insurance issues straightened out, I headed for the BMV to register my car (read: be bled to death by taxes) and get my IN drivers license.
Doing these tasks made me realize a number of things, but in the interest of not digressing, I will cover only one thing for now: it is the option of the BMV to provide voter registration to people applying for and getting new drivers licenses. This option was never mentioned to me (Gasp! Women VOTE???), yet it was not only offered to my husband, it was recommended and handled in an expedient manner. Oh no, women have to go to the County Court House (counting on MapQuest to not get a newbie lost) and present every paper known to humanity to get a humble voting card.
Being the founder, president and owner of a small not for profit organization, my next step upon moving was to register this business organization with the secretary of state. I blithely wrote a personal check from a joint banking account which has BOTH MY HUSBAND AND MY NAMES imprinted on the check face. Into the snail mail with the forms and check to the office of Todd Rokita. When the response form was returned by mail, it was not addressed to myself, the business owner and person filing the form, but it was sent to my husband as his name was on the personal check. You may ask if perhaps he had signed the check or the form. And my response would be NO. His name appeared NOWHERE on the form, or as the signatory for the check. Yet it was the MALE that the SOS office recognized. How could they do that if his name did not appear on any of the papers? It would seem that disregarding the form, some clerk in the SOS office took longer to read the face of the personal check and chose the MALE name as the principal applicant.
Maybe people in the SOS office should stop reading personal checks and pay attention to the forms that are being filed.

I'll stop ranting now about equal rights in this state. I'd like to rant more, as other things have come up, but there is a lot of ground to cover here and enough is enough. Suffice it to say, IN has 3 big strikes against it with feminists. And to think, equal rights is guaranteed to each human in this country - I guess that means we females have to fight for them every day.

You know I could get to like it here if I didn't have to deal with misogyny and intolerance. Where might these two traits come from? I hate to do this, being the non-confrontational kind of woman that I am, but I'm doing it anyways - I think it is the Moral Majority, the Christian Right, the Holier than Thou, Read the Bible, family values crap that has sadly infected the rest of this once free nation.
You know the type - they dictate to the family based on loose interpretations of a book that is grounded in myth and legend. Anything to keep the man the head of the household and the woman tied to the ox-plow.
My husband used to work with a guy who has recently quit his job and moved to a state much like IN in order to follow his minister and keep his family under control.
This is Bush-ism thinking. So the country goes, so the family follows. I can't wait for the backlash of young people who will be so disgusted with the hypocrisy and control imposed on them for so long they will break free of it with a gusto not seen since the 60s.

Ok, lets talk about culture. Indianapolis is gaining a reputation for being very arts oriented. It is all the talk in travel magazines, and rightly so. Indiana can be proud of the wonderful venues available for mainstream artists. It also is developing a nice little counter culture, a fringe element, as it likes to call itself. I simply love Mass Ave and its restaurants and galleries and theaters. All fringe-y, all good.
And Fountain Square is pretty hip with the art scene as any first friday will illustrate. Lots to see, do and talk about.
But damn people! Lets not all think we are qualifying for NASCAR or Brickyard pole positions! I thought I had never seen drivers as crappy as those in WI. That is until I lived here for a month or so.
When I applied for my drivers license, I had to take the rules of the road test, which I almost did not pass because I thought that much of the stuff on the test was so wrong. Like the two second rule for allowing space between your car and the one in front of you. TWO SECONDS!?? Like, One - Two? You have to be kidding right? Nope, not kidding. People, let me tell you this: you know why your cars look like shit and drive even worse? Because you over drive them. you drive too fast, follow too closely and are too anxious about being FIRST! First in the door of a store, first off the line at a traffic light, first at what ever it is you perceive as more important than safety. Get a clue Hoosiers, lighten up on the gas pedal. Price of fuel is going up and you keep pounding on your cars. No wonder you can't afford to go anyplace other than grocery shop. You don't know what being conservative is really about.
Being conservative is not about hating Planned Parenthood, Gays and Lesbians, people who don't go to church. No, being conservative is about using less, pushing less, fighting less, keeping an open mind.

I know you all want to be modern. You all love Chicago and the hipness and culture there. And you deserve it here too. But you'll never get it as long as your minds are narrow, your vision is shortsighted and you embrace the rebel cause.
No, you need a bit of sophistication. Maybe I'll stay here just long enough to give you all a bit of mine.
Then I'll be off to a new place with hopes that I won't have to work so hard to fit in like a normal person would in the northern states.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Taken Down a Notch

Often when I post here, I do so with prepared material in a copy/paste way. Tonight that is not the case, this is free flow thought. Look out.
At the beginning of the month, I had the misfortune to be ill with a strange affliction that seems to be my fate; an infection of the salivary gland. This may sound benign; the truth is, it is anything but. I was so ill that when I finally did get to see a physician, he immediately admitted me to hospital. And you know you must be sick when the first thing they do after getting an IV line into you is mainline morphine. Oddly enough, even morphine did not take away the pain, although it did much to make me not care. The first thing I lost feeling in was my butt. So sitting upright in a bed for 36 hours was not a problem.

One thing about Indiana that I must say, the health care system here is amazing. I was lucky enough to spend four days in what I am affectionately calling the Spa Hospital. We're talking private room with ambient lighting, a flat panel HD TV, a computer in each room with high speed internet connections. Art all over the place, including handmade headboards or glass with pampas grasses embedded in them. This was some hospital.
But it was still a hospital with someone coming into the room every two hours, presumably to make sure I still had a pulse.
Funny though, I got more rest then I normally do get at home.
Which leads me to this: I am determined to not wear myself down again. To work fewer hours on ScribeSpirit, to work less around the house - or if you like, stop being a perfectionist bitch about things. Hard to do especially when you are changing a number of habits like reduction of smoking cigarettes (I'm down to about 6 or 7 a day), no coffee (but lots of chai), eating four times a day - little bits of food AND testing 3 times a day for blood sugar levels.
No, I was never diabetic before, but after being on heavy intravenous anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids), I developed crazy blood sugar levels which led to the 3 times a day testing.

When we get taken down a notch by illness, we have to stop denying that our lifestyles may not be the healthiest. And so, at 55 I am admitting that and trying to make some changes.

My opinion of doctors has changed now that I have been treated by some who are humane.... in Wisconsin, it seemed that the doctors may have gone to veterinarian school first, they treated everyone like cattle. Here that was not the case.
So doctors beware! I may start to trust you all a bit now.
Frightening concept.