Today is National Coming Out Day. Just for the record, I'm bisexual. I've been out of the closet for... gosh. 20 years? Close to it, at least. I mean, ok, I don't announce it the moment I meet people, but who does? "Hi, I'm Sally Snowflake, I'm straigth." "I'm Joe Pedestrian, and I'm bi." Normal people just do not start out casual conversations like that. I don't wear a sign any more than I announce it upon first meeting someone, although talk to me long enough and I may mention an ex girlfriend or two. Just the same, I'm pretty sure most of the teachers I work with don't know that I'm bi and a witch (I volunteer in the media centre at a K-5 school)--unless they google my name because a long time ago, I decided to use my real name on the web. I use it when I write fanfiction (HBPattskyn), for my Facebook page (also HBPattskyn), and when I write reviews on Amazon and Ebay. If you guessed I use "HBPattskyn" there, too, have a cookie on me! I use my real name on my Witchvox profile, when I teach at Pagan gatherings and when I sign my art. If you're here, you know that I used my real name for this blog. I have chosen not to hide who I am. It's an individual choice, but for me it's the only choice there is. I embrace who I am.
If you've read my ramblings about the story behind the story I want to write called "1954" (working title), you have some idea of my feelings on LGBT rights and issues, particularly when it comes to ignorance--that is, ignorance that I've witnessed firsthand from young LGBT people who don't understand how profoundly lucky we are to have the freedomes we have in this, and other, counteries in the 21st century.
Through the course of the research I've done for the story I want to write in November for NaNoWriMo and also through the research I've done for the one I'm currently working on (33,000 words and counting--whoohoo!) I have truly begun to appreciate how profoundly fortunate we are in this century. (Which isn't to say that we don't have a long way to go in the United States, just look at the struggle for marriage equality.) .
The Labouchère Amendment (1885-1967)
"In the Victorian era, common wisdom held that women were passive, sexually innocent beings who did not initiate sexual contact, while men possessed a lustful nature that could destroy the foundations of the family if not contained. Accordingly, the bill debated in the British House of Commons on August 6, 1885, "An Act to Make Further Provision for the Protection of Women, Girls, the Suppression of Brothels and Other Purposes," blamed men for all sexual transgressions and proposed to raise the age of consent for heterosexual intercourse.
Unexpectedly, the Radical MP Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912) proposed an amendment to make sex between men a crime. This Eleventh Clause of the Criminal Law Amendments Act stated that, "Any male person who in public or private commits or is a party to the commission of or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of any act of gross indecency with another male person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years with or without hard labor."
~Caryn E. Neumann
Which is pretty small potatoes compared to what's going on Uganda today. Here's another, slightly older, artical.
I was aware of the Uganda situation, but Uganda is, literally, a world away. Sometimes it's easy to not think about something happening so far from home, especially when there's so much happening here. Then, last night I caught a show on Court TV (or it used to be Court TV, now it's something else) that took an in-depth look at the situation. My heart is still hurting over what I saw. The level of hatred and fear being propigated by the Christian right--hatred and fear that intensified after a visit by American Evangelical ministers in 2009--is sickening. It's slanderous. It's dangerous. I don't know what you or I can do about it. We can raise awarenss by talking about it; we sign petitions so our leaders know how we feel, and pray for an opening of minds and hearts. Yet that makes me feel helpless. It also made me feel angry when I thought about the young gay man who lived with us for a little while, who was blithely and willfully unware--uncaring--about the issues faced by gay men and lesbians in other periods of history and other parts of the world. The young gay man who said to me that "it doesn't matter because it doesn't affect me."
It affects all of us.
Unless everyone who cares stands up and does something--even it's as simple as lighting a candle and sending a prayer to whichever Deity you pray to--it will never end. The hate will never stop.
(I want to state for the record that I do not view all Christians the way I veiw Martin Ssempa and his contemporaries. These people are filled with hate and fear and willful ignorance and they're trying to use their religion to make it 'ok' to be that way. It isn't. Christianity isn't about hate; hatred is a purely human poinson. I was very glad to read that Joyce Meyer, a Christian minister who has always struck me as pretty level headed say “As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God's word to justify bigotry and persecution...” Full artical here.)
Lastly, while doing a little research for this post, I came across this wonderful article called "A Step in Faith".
~Helen Barbara Pattskyn,
Bisexual and Witch
HPS Silver Skein Coven
PS--the spell check has gone all wonky, so apologies for typos!