gay

Never Hide Again

Pride balloons        As this day, this “National Coming Out” day comes to a close here in America. I am reminded of something Bashert and I promised ourselves about 16 years ago; we will never hide again.

You see, Bashert’s first ‘real’ job after graduating from college was teaching art at a local, private high school. Thing is, this private high school was also a Catholic school, complete with their very own nun and moral turpitude contract clauses. Bashert could not reveal the fact that not only was she living in ‘sin’, she was also living in sin with a woman. So, for the first year of our relationship, we lived in hiding.

Every morning before Bashert left for work, she took the ring off her finger. It broke my heart each time. We were careful not to be seen too close together when out and about town. There was many a time I took off for other parts when one of her students or their parents were spotted. Even as far away as Atlanta, we had to watch out. We ran into a student of hers up there in a jewelry store, of all places. We became professional level dodgers.

Why did we do this? Fear. Bashert was our only means of support. I was still in school with no job. Our livelihood depended upon her livelihood and she could be fired for being openly gay.

After a year of this exhausting life in the closet, Bashert said she didn’t want to hide anymore. She couldn’t stand all the avoiding and having to take a ‘beard’ (false male date) to school functions. So, we quietly began living our lives in the open. Well, sort of. She still took her ring off and I just became an unnamed entity in Bashert’s life: her unspoken partner, her ‘friend’. I attended fund raisers and didn’t leave her side when kids or their parents came up to her. I helped with community projects and we attended Pride festivities in Atlanta. We went to dinners with other faculty. Some knew our relationship, others chose not to acknowledge it and others didn’t like it a bit.

What did this cost us? The least thing was a keyed car. The biggest thing was her job. At the end of that school year, the principal stated that there wasn’t enough money to continue the art program. They were cutting back and didn’t need a full time art teacher for the next year. Her contract was not renewed. Next fall, the art program was suddenly back on – with another teacher.

It was that year, we told ourselves no more hiding. If we lived in the closet and shamed ourselves, how were we to expect others to treat us with any dignity or understanding? How could be expect my daughter to accept us as the family we were if we didn’t set the example? We decided then and there to just be us. No fancy or dramatic coming outs, no topless marching in the Pride parade (although eventually I did get to ride in the Dykes on Bikes segment thanks to some very good friends who owned motorcycles at the time). Nope, we just went about our lives as matter of fact. And for the most part it was okay and became more and more natural as we practiced what we preached.

The only other time we shied away from the full truth was when I went to work. I got a part time job at the local library. I didn’t really go back into hiding or so I told myself: Bashert and I continued to live in the open outside of my job, I just didn’t talk about it at work.

This was my second time working at the county library, the first being 20 years earlier and with many of the same people. From what they knew, I was no different from that young student, except a good bit older and greyer. As said, I didn’t talk about my present outside life.

I worked there two years before the rumours and comments began. Of course, a lot of it probably had to do with the timing of Yoda’s birth. Not many ‘roommates’ get that excited about the other roommate’s pregnancy and birth. I took my vacation around Yoda’s birth for goodness sake and kept a picture of Bashert and him on my desk – not so subtle.

One coworker kept dropping the hint that she loved watching the HBO show “Queer As Folk”. If I hadn’t been so exhausted from now working two part time jobs and having a newborn and a teenager in the house, I might have recognized an ally, but I was pretty blind.

Another coworker, actually, my boss at the time kept making side comments as to how she was grossed out by seeing two women kiss on television. These were never made quite in my full presence, but as I was passing through the room or loud enough so that I could hear them through the doors in my area next to hers. I got that picture.

Why didn’t I stand up? Why didn’t I fight back? One reason alone – fear. At this point, I was the sole means of support. I needed my two part time jobs and I lived in a state and worked for a county government where I was not protected under the law. I could be fired for being gay. Money won out, plain and simple.

I was fortunate enough to be offered a full time position at my other job not too long after Yoda was born. At that job, I was protected under their anti-discrimination policies. I said goodbye to library and the last time I ever avoided the truth of my family.

Bashert and I reaffirmed our stance with each other after my stint at the library. No job was worth lying about ourselves even if it was by omission. Yoda and Nene would not know parents who were together, yet separate. We were a family and took our place in the world.

For the last ten of almost 18 years, Bashert and I have just lived our lives, no fanfare, no dramatics, just matter of fact. We are lucky. Despite a few, short rough patches in other family relationships and our initial forays in the job market, we have met with few who deny our place. Yoda’s school and friends know he has two moms. Nene has grown proud of her relationship with Bashert and considers her a stepmom of the best character. My job continues to support and expand their anti-discrimination policies and Bashert is now a substitute teacher for the same government that could have fired me ten years ago.

It did get better and we have kept our promise to each other; we will never hide again.

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Ice Cream & Horseradish: Baby Chapter 13

J&EThink back on your childhood days when your parent made you take your Flintstones One-A-Day™. Oh, yeah, they pulled you in with their little effigies of Bedrock’s favorite inhabitant’s (except Betty, ‘cause Betty’s Not A Vitamin). You could giggle and bite off Barney’s head or feet in a little defiant act of cannibalism, but did Barney or Fred or Wilma or even Dino really taste like grapes or cherries? I think not.

Oh, a first there was a strange unidentifiable sweet – just enough to fool you – then came the slow realization that the back of your tongue was now coated in tin foil and no amount of water would scrape it off. It forced you to go brush your teeth – a cooperative childhood conspiracy between the vitamin and toothpaste companies and our parents, I say. Anyway, the dang things were just gross.

Now, prenatal vitamins are horse pills, big, long oval horse pills. They don’t even come in appealing little cartoon shapes. The ones Bashert took were light kidney bean colour and they smelled like rust. They tasted like, well, vitamins (see above). So, you may excuse me the grimace that comes over my face when I write the next line.

Bashert loved to suck on her prenatal vitamins.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Bless her little pea picking, pregnant, weird craving heart, that is exactly what Bashert did with her prenatal vitamins. Sucked the goodie right out of them, she did. Even Dr. OBwan thought that one topped the charts for her records. Excuse me, I think I need to go brush my teeth.

Another peculiarity about Bashert’s dietary changes during pregnancy, she could consume as much milk as she wanted. Normally borderline lactose allergic (think Meg Ryan on the train in French Kiss), once she realized that she was free from the bonds lactic tyranny it was look out ice cream! She became the dairy industry’s poster child. Cheap, expensive, soft serve, cone, or Klondike Bar™, no mixture of creamy frozen milk was denied. For someone who had to down four lactic counteractive pills before tasting the sample at the frozen yogurt place, this was a dream come true.

After the ice cream, came the need to consume all things that burn out your entire gastrointestinal track. Up until Bashert’s pregnancy neither one of us really had a palate for spicy foods – savory, yes; spicy, no. Pepper to us was just a doll from the 60s. That all changed for her during the pregnancy.

For some reason, Bashert’s body chemistry took a weird turn and decided to keep her sinuses blocked up for weeks on end. She didn’t want to take medications, so asked around for ideas. A friend suggested consuming something spicy – not an appealing thought, but she was desperate for some kind of relief and decided to take the chance.

The first opportunity (since we didn’t keep any peppery spices in the house) came when we attended a Passover seder at a friend’s home. Passover is full of traditional stuff, from the actual order of the meal (seder means order) to the things simply repeated year after year by the friends gathering round the table. Sometimes the traditions can combine, ancient and invented. One of the combined traditions was “Charlie’s Horseradish.”

Part of the seder is to consume bitter herbs (maror) to symbolically remember the bitterness and tears of slavery. The primary food of choice for this bit is horseradish. Charlie’s horseradish had to be kept in a specially designed jar – it ate through ordinary containers. When the lid was removed to start partaking of the lethal concoction, it did not take long before everyone’s eyes filled with tears. This stuff could have been used as a chemical agent for warfare or riot control.

So, why was this night not like any other night? Normally, Bashert and I would take the tiniest portion possible of Charlie’s horseradish, say an imaginary one, but this night Bashert took a heaping spoonful of the slow burning acid, spread it on her matzah and popped into her mouth.

I was writhing in sympathetic agony when I first realized what she had done, but then I got a look at her face. The transformation from the initial, “oh shit, what did I just put in my mouth” to “praise be, I can breath” was nothing short of a miracle. The look wonder and profound joy was incredible. My eyes filled with tears – the fumes were killing me.

Just Ducky: Baby Chapter 12

J&EYou know what? I was going to write about some of the other “challenges” we faced during Bashert’s pregnancy, but I was really depressing myself.

There was her job at the private dining club that made the environment so hostile she had to quit. There was the inequality between the treatment Dad’s-to-be received and the treatment I received at my job that was supposed to not recognize any difference. There were our ever present money worries. There were her demeaning experiences with the WIC office and last but by no means least; the most painful for Bashert was our “excommunication” by the Jewish community.

Yes, I could write about those and probably dig up plenty more, but why? If the picture of the inequities we suffered just because of who we loved is not apparent by now then perhaps, just perhaps this is not a story for you to read.

From this segment on, I just want to concentrate on the good things – the wonderful and joyful things that came with expecting our baby boy. We still went to Borders Bookstore and poured over all the baby books we could get our hands on, except for the really graphic ones. Bashert couldn’t take the graphic ones.

We had hysterical moments trying to come up with names we both loved or at least could live with. We seriously considered naming the baby Céilidh (pronounced Kaylee) since that was Bashert’s mother’s Hebrew name. It also means a type of party in Gaelic. But when we asked a friend’s eight year old what she thought of it, she went into a singsong rhyme, “Gayly, Kaylee. Gayly Kaylee.” Nope, we could not do that to the boy. It was going to be hard enough with two moms. We might as well as name him Sue.

We had fun just watching him grow and move – well, I had fun watching him move – Bashert often felt like she had an alien parasite inside her. One of our favorite times was when I got home in the early morning hours after work. I would crawl into bed and massage Bashert’s stomach before falling asleep. It didn’t take long for the little guy to become accustomed to our nightly routine. He would lean into my hand like a cat asking for a head rub. Those were lovely time suspending moments.

Then there was the baby shower. If ever we doubted that we had any friends or supporters, that wonderfully over-the-top shower proved us wrong. Bashert against all Jewish tradition (and superstition) decided she wanted a baby shower AND she wanted it fairly early in her pregnancy. She wanted to look pregnant, but not be in the final month where she wouldn’t enjoy anything but making it to the bathroom on time. So, in true Bashert form she made it happen. She got our ducks in a row quite nicely.

She spoke with two of our wonderful and beautiful friends – both of whom I have written of before – Betty who has endless capabilities of turning rotten things into fodder for beauty and Alberta, who lost her battle with breast cancer, but left a song in our hearts. Betty agreed to host the party at her warm and spacious home and Alberta agreed to be co-host and caterer. Bashert said she would take care of the invitations. I just looked on and said, “Yes, dear” a lot.

When it came time to register for stuff, I often felt really silly and uncomfortable trying to decide what things other people could buy for us. I am not an ‘ask for’ kind of person. It made me uneasy, but we knew that we could not provide many of even the most basic things we needed for the baby after Bashert lost her job, so unless I wanted the kiddo to sleep in a drawer and wear only white t-shirts I had to get over it and accept the kindness of our friends and family.

I am big enough to admit that once I got over the idea of asking people for things, it was fun going to the baby store to register. It had been 16 years since I was into any baby items and I was amazed at the sheer number of items now available. There literally was enough stuff to fill a warehouse sized store.

Bashert and I wandered up and down those aisles for the longest time looking at the tiny little clothes and accoutrements that one could fill a nursery with – baby wipe warmers, cart covers, monitors, magic diaper disposal systems, any kind of lotion you could ever want – it was enough to make my head spin. For goodness sake, I used cloth diapers for Nene!

After we played with everything, we sat down and figured out what we thought we would need and just registered for those things. The theme we both loved was John Lennon’s Imagine animal prints. It was just off center enough for two artists and the song lyrics really sat well with us, too. We still have the little diaper bag someone gave us. It holds socks now instead of diapers and bottles.

The shower itself was wonderful. Every single person we invited showed up! Either they were just curious as to what a lesbian baby shower would be like or we can pick some good friends. I like the think the latter, although we did get some looks for the pregnant lady cake…which was awesome and delicious, by the way. The weather was perfect, the setting warm and welcoming, the food was fabulous, the company fun, and the gifts were a plentiful and much, much appreciated bounty. Those two lovely ladies pulled off a celebration that made our hearts ache with joy.

All the adversities we had suffered up to that point kind of melted away that day. Our friends and family members made such special efforts for us (and that includes Nene as recipient, too). We may have been “the girls”, but that day we were also just another couple having a baby and celebrating with friends. And that my friends was just ducky.

http://wp.me/p1Bz9K-12 – Alberta 🙂

http://wp.me/p1Bz9K-cN – Betty 🙂

Boy Parts?: Baby Chapter 11

J&ENow that our house had grown by one for sure, it was time to see how many more might be joining us in the next nine months. Bashert had to brace herself for another vaginal sonogram. This time though we were going to our doctor on our terms.

From the get-go Dr. OBwan was in our corner all the way. There was never a question that I was part of this whole thing. I was the other parent, period. You cannot imagine the feeling of breathing that free air. It was simply incredible.

The day of the sonogram, I was nervous. Bashert had been through such horrible circumstances during her previous exam and I was afraid for her. And I was admittedly nervous to see if we were going to see more than one baby in there.

OBwan couldn’t have been more gentle and understanding. Now the procedure was still uncomfortable for Bashert, but there was no pain, no clinching, no terrified gasps. I was vibrating with happiness. I think at one point, Bashert had to ask me to settle down. I have to tell you it is a lot easier to be excited when you are not the one in the stirrups with your feet in the air and bum exposed to the world.

The sonogram revealed that we were having just one. Although I questioned a dark spot next to the little fluttering thing on the screen, OBwan assured me that it was not another baby. I was a little bit disappointed, but still overjoyed to see the tiny dancing blob on the screen. Back in the dark ages when I was pregnant with Nenè, these exams were not routine, so I did not get to see her image until she was about four months along. This was really cool.

It was a stinking relief to leave a doctor’s office with joy instead of heartache. Bashert couldn’t help but share it with our world, damn all the superstitions. She figured if anything were to happen she wanted as much support as possible and how was she to have that if no one knew what was going on. Hard logic to fight.

One sticking point between us was finding out the sex of the baby. I generally do not like surprises, they cause too much expectation on both the surpriser and the surprisee, but in this situation, I had a case of the old-fashions. I didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until he or she came into the world. Bashert on the other hand wanted to know right away. But we are talking about the woman, whose mother had to do triple security on all gifts so that Bashert, the child would not pre-open them. She cannot stand the lure of a wrapped package. “Do not open until Chanukah” she does not understand.

She finally convinced me to go along with the idea when she told me about her dream/visit with her Mom. Her mom passed away when Bashert was 15, but has remained a guiding voice throughout Bashert’s life. So when she told me that her mom had spoken to her about our “son” and mentioned several specific things about him, she got me to relinquish. We would find out.

The opportunity for the big reveal arrived at 12 weeks. Bashert was all excited to sit in the waiting room with all the other pregnant women. I don’t think the excitement of her condition had once left her (except maybe when all she could eat was crackers and drink ginger ale – yeah, that wasn’t fun). She was happy that she was finally showing and could take her place among the visibly pregnant.

Like with everything else, we had done some homework about what we would see on this sonogram. We used to spend hours in the local Borders Bookstore pouring over the baby books to see what was going with the developmental stages of this week or that month. These were some of the things I missed out on when I had Nenè, so I was enjoying this second chance. Anyway, we knew that developmentally, the baby was pretty much all there – it would be much more than just a dancing blob this go around.

We had also asked around about our sonographer. We wanted to make sure that we were going to get a good reading and that like OBwan, she would be accepting of our family. After being burned so many times at the infertility clinic, we tended to get a bit paranoid about each new person involved. We did not have to worry about this sonographer a bit. She worked from inside the offices where OBwan practiced and her reputation as one of the best in town had been confirmed by multiple sources. OBwan herself, vouched for her professionalism. Yay for us.

I keep repeating this, but it really was a relief to be in OBwan’s care. So much so, that it allowed us to be silly again. Those of you who are devotees of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” will appreciate what happened next.

The entire suite that houses OBwan’s offices is quite large (there are over 10 doctors in all). It occupies about one third of an entire hospital floor and the hallways in the back leading to the exam rooms are quite the labyrinth. You have to be led to your respective room or get lost without a map. So when Bashert’s name was called we knew we were in for a little trek, but what we weren’t prepared for was the appearance of the sonographer.

She was as solid as she was tall and completely expressionless. She checked her clipboard for some unknown data and then turned with that fateful phrase – wait for it – “Walk this way.” I swear, I could not help myself. Igor appeared within me. As I hunched and dragged myself down the hall behind the unaware woman, I thought Bashert was going to punch me in the arm, but she couldn’t even if she tried because she was giggling too hard. Wow, did it feel good to laugh again.

The sonogram was awesome. The little bugger in there was magnificent. Sonograms are difficult to distinguish for me, but with the aid of the expert I was able to discern all those lovely parts that were supposed to be there. It was so funny to see the outline of the baby’s facial profile. All I could see was the distinct Bashert family resemblance in the nose area. It made me smile.

After the sonographer had taken all the measurements and said all looked okay, she asked the question of questions, “Is there anything else you want to know?” Bashert looked at me and I at her and we both took a breath and said yes. I asked to know the sex of the baby. No going back now.

I watched the monitor with my breath held. I had my own worries about having a boy – the difficulties he may have with having two moms, the unknown of raising a boy instead of a girl, and a myriad of others I cannot even recall now. Bashert was in a private place waiting to hear if her mother’s words would show true.

When the sonogram wand hit the right spot, there was no doubt. “It” was a boy. We were going to have a son! I whispered to Bashert to look at the screen. Tears began to leak out and in a quiet voice she asked if what she saw was really what she saw. When the sonographer confirmed that it was indeed a “boy part” (her phrase), the tears really began to flow. I told Bashert, “Yes, it’s a boy. Your Mom was right!”

Well, between me talking about Bashert’s mom and all the tears, the sonographer finally showed some emotion: nervousness. She got the completely wrong idea about what was going on. She thought we were upset that the baby was a boy! We laughingly told her of Bashert’s dream and mother’s predictions and her apprehensions about us disappeared. She handed us our first photos of our son and we were on our smiling way.

OBwan met with us briefly after that – another wonderful experience and I can finally say that without a hint of sarcasm. She congratulated us (imagine that!) and laid out the plan for the rest of Bashert’s prenatal care. Our frightening and fabulous journey was back on track.

At least for the time being.

We Need to Break Up (or I’m going to prison): Baby Chpt. 9

J&ESince Bashert, and then I  began writing about our journey toward parenthood people have asked us why we didn’t just report the infertility clinic and Dr. Lizardo. The answer is a plain and yet complicated one: Fear.

We are a lesbian couple. Now to many fair-minded folks that may be a nonissue anymore, but remember our story takes place 10 years ago when it was not quite so chic to be out and proud. Oh, sure we were affectionately known in our neighborhood as “the girls,” but in our other social and professional circles we were made to feel outcast. We lost friends after coming out to the world. There were still iffy situations within our respective families. There was my government job where Bashert had to remain known as my “roommate.” There were many in our religious community that, at the time, treated us as pariahs – they avoided close contact, as if we had some kind of contagious disease. The medical community we had to deal with did not accept “us” and we had to use subterfuge in order to get what is was we needed.

We were scared of losing it all. Bashert was afraid that she would be found out and denied service. We were afraid we would have to go to some half-baked quack (the actual infertility doctor was very well qualified) or travel such distances that we could not financially afford, as others of our “tribe” had to do.

Were we naive? Yes. Were we blinded by fear? Yes. Would we do the same thing again? Not knowing what we know now, of course not, but at the time it was all we could do to hold on and move inch by inch toward our final goal – having a baby.

So, with that being said, I am glad to announce that after the blood test came back positive that Bashert truly was pregnant, we were able to break free from the infertility clinic. It was not a clean break by any means. They took what should have been one of the most joyous times of our lives and continued to interject fear and worry into Bashert’s mind.

The clinic nurse had called with the “official” results of the blood test, but after letting Bashert know she was indeed pregnant at the moment, her hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – wow, huh?) levels were uncomfortably “high.” They wanted her to come in as soon as possible to be checked out, after all, she was a high risk pregnancy. Read that as, more blood testing and vaginal sonograms. What the hell? I was getting ready to do bodily harm to someone at that place.

I could see Bashert getting more and more upset and when she told me all of this, I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore – not the pettiness of the money grubbing – not the emotional and physical torture they put her through – not the idea that these people wanted to control our very lives for another nine months. I told Bashert we just needed to call our own doctor and get some kind of straight talk and get the freaking hell out of Dodge. We had what we wanted, now let’s get some real help.

Our OB/GYN’ staff was absolutely wonderful! For the first time since all of this started I saw genuine pleasure in Bashert’s countenance. Our nurse explained in delighted detail just exactly what the high hCG levels meant (I almost fainted at this one) – it could be an indicator of multiple birth! It didn’t mean that Bashert had entered some high risk category of imminent spontaneous abortion. What a relief to talk to someone who actually sounded pleased at the insemination’s outcome. We set up some appointments and took a big sigh – we could really kiss that nuthouse goodbye.

Bashert was armed and ready when the nurse called back from the infertility clinic. As the woman rattled off the appointment date for the next blood letting and assault, Bashert calmly interrupted the woman and said “we” would no longer be in need of their services. She thanked the woman, but said “we” had made other arrangements with “our” regular doctor. From the sound of it, the nurse was not happy with this, but Bashert stood her ground and hung up.

I don’t think I have ever been so happy to break up with anyone as I was at that moment.

Now, what was that about having more than one?

Back Alleys & Laundry Day: Chapter 7

J&ENovember 16th – a dark, damp morning with a misty rain drizzling out of stone-grey clouds. It was a day made more for crawling back under the covers than for jumping out to greet it with joy. This was especially true after having spent a long rather fitful night of nail biting, but Bashert was up before dawn too excited to stay in bed any longer.

You know the saying about having something burning a hole in your pocket? That was Bashert. She was more than ready to bolt out the door and storm the doors of the clinic at sunrise. It took some convincing to hold her back. Our appointment with the infertility clinic wasn’t until 8:30 and we lived only a few minutes away.

Bashert had made arrangements for me to come with her on insemination day – as a friend. The ID had no problem with this at all. Finally, I was going to be allowed to participate! And on the THE DAY.  The knowledge that she had to go through all the previous stuff alone was frustrating and frankly hurtful. I wanted to be there every step of the way for the creation of our child and to support Bashert the best I could. It meant the world to me to be able to be there on creation day.

When we both could stand the tension no longer, we loaded into our car and made our way downtown. According to the on-call nurse, the clinic had moved into temporary digs while the main offices were being renovated. (With all the damn money they were soaking out of everyone, I guess they had to spend it somewhere – but that’s different part of the story). We had the address, but it took a minute to find the place. It was tucked behind another building.

There are some sensory things that will always stay with you, sights, smells, sounds. One of several things I will never forget from that day was the sound of the loose gravel under the car wheels as we pulled into the parking lot. The crunching and grinding permeated my senses as we cruised the perimeter looking for any signage to tell us we really were in the right place. It was a very strange feeling.

I recognized the strip of connected offices. This was the former location of my ophthalmologist’s office way back in the 70s. It had been old then. Now it looked dilapidated and abandoned. The old veneered doors were weathered and stained. With the gloom of the drizzly rain and overcast skies, the whole vibe of the area gave the aura of a gritty film noir. Trying to find the right office was a warped Burtonesque version of “Let’s Make a Deal” – guess what’s behind door number two, Monty. There was still no official signage to be found. We didn’t know if door number two held the temporary office of the infertility clinic or a guy with a machete ready to do away with us in a most unpleasant manner.

Only by slowly checking out each door did I happen to see a piece of paper stuck to one of the doors. It was a simple 8.5 x 10 piece of paper with nothing but the address typed on it. No name, no hours, no indication that anyone was currently occupying the offices. The creep factor just kept on rising. Nothing like two scared women roaming a deserted parking lot downtown in the early winter morning.  I started wondering who would play me in the movie of the week.

Given that this was the only indication that life may exist among this cluster of offices, we  took a breath and tried the door: locked. Bashert noticed a little sign next to the door that asked us to, “Please ring the bell”. By this time I would not have been surprised to see the guy from the Wizard of Oz poke out his head and cry, “Who rang that bell?” But instead a normal, average woman peered out from behind the curtain covering the tall thin window next to the door. She spoke through the glass and asked us to wait a moment.

Sure, no problem. We’ll just hang out here in the creepy abandoned parking lot, in the rain, waiting patiently, still not quite positive if we are in the right place or not. Good times.

When the woman finally opened the door, she confirmed that this was indeed the clinic. The woman pleasantly took Bashert’s name and information, confirmed her appointment – “You are early” and asked if the $500 dollars was going to be cash, check or card and oh, yeah, reconfirmed that Dr. Lizardo was, in fact, the on-call doctor. Talk about a set up for wham, bam, thank you ma’am.  It just kept getting better.

After the woman took the credit card, which was by the way in my name – some friend, eh? – it was hurry up and wait time, again. You see, not only did we have to wait for Dr. Lizardo to show up (far be it from her to be there at the appointed time on off hours), but the specimen had to be prepared. It had to be thawed, washed, spin cycled and whatever else had to be done to make ready for the IUI procedure.

The inside of the office did not offer much to buoy our spirits about the place. The lobby decor was early threadbare carpets, washed out wood paneling and the stale smell of a place left long empty. Cardboard boxes filled all open areas. The entire office gave off a the feel of a back alley practitioner’s secret lair.

There wasn’t much to do while waiting, Bashert and I were only friends after all, so it is not like we could discuss future plans or I hold her close help soothe her worries. So we flipped through magazines and watched the clock move through sludge. Finally, the door to the back opened and Dr. Lizardo called Bashert’s name. I could feel the electric panic run through Bashert.

Dr. Lizardo seemed confused and disturbed to find me accompanying Bashert. I thought to myself, what the hell was this woman’s problem? What difference did it make if a patient brought someone with her to help her through a very intimate and nerve wracking experience? Did she have the same reaction to women who brought their husband’s? I tried to catch Bashert’s eye to give her the raised eyebrow, “What the hell?”, but she was already beginning to zone out and take herself away from the circumstances she was facing. Cannot say I blame her one bit.

The doctor’s demeanor was cold and unwelcoming, the hallway we were led down was claustrophobic inducing, with boxes crowding the walkway. The exam room we were shown to was equally as stuffed. Boxes and files filled the corners and all flat surfaces, there was barely enough room left for the exam table, one chair and the doctor. The walls were the same age bleached wood and the floors were crappy stained linoleum. All of this was not confidence inspiring to say the least.

The doctor instructed Bashert get undressed, put on the ubiquitous and fashionable exam gown and get on the table then she left. It was a bit of a relief to have her out of the room. I knew that if I was nervous, Bashert must be triply so, after all, I wasn’t the one on the table. I tried to lighten the mood a bit by joking about what earth they could actually be storing in all these boxes and why they would need to be in such a dilapidated facility. We laughed nervously in fits and starts trying to fill the nervous silences.

When the doctor returned with all the accoutrements to perform the procedure, to say the woman lacked any kind of bedside manner would be a gross overstatement. Bashert tried to engage her in some kind of conversation, asking her where she was from, desperately trying to find some sort of common ground to break this cold and distant woman’s attitude. Nothing seemed to penetrate this woman’s shell. It got even worse as we went along. My brain was spinning – “this is a doctor”?

After the doctor had prepared the syringe to do the insemination, she turned as if ready to move ahead with the procedure. Instead, she went into a diatribe about how far fetched the odds were to getting pregnant on the first attempt and how low a motile sperm count our donor had (I knew this was untrue, I did the research before hand). I wanted to reach across the table and throttle the damn woman. How dare she do this? How dare she? I kept my temper under control only for Bashert’s sake, as she had started to cry. I didn’t care what that bitch doctor thought right now, I took Bashert’s hand to give whatever little support I could offer.

As I took Bashert’s hand, Dr. Lizardo inserted the syringe and Bashert’s entire body clinched and leapt up with pain. I looked daggers at the doctor and could barely constrain myself from ripping her arm away from Bashert as I asked if she was okay. Dr. Lizardo must have finally sensed that she was pushing it because she deemed me fit to speak to. She said that all was okay, that Bashert’s cervix was just contracting in response to the insemination. “It happens,” she said. (Bullshit, it is not supposed to hurt or cause pain – this doctor was full of shit.)

Watching Bashert lie there was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life. I wanted to kill that doctor, and fling her from the room, but I knew Bashert would have cried out against the interruption of the procedure. She would rather face the pain than give up our chances of having a baby.

After the procedure was complete, the doctor told Bashert that she needed to stay lying down for 20 minutes and then left the room again stating she would return when time was up. We were ready to bolt from the room immediately, but made ourselves stay. I chanted positive things and gave Bashert’s tummy a good luck Buddha massage, trying to pass on what ever positive energy I could.

I was leaning over Bashert, whispering words of encouragement when Dr. Lizardo returned. The look she shot me is another thing I will never forget. It was only an instant but it was if she truly hated me for being there. I can still see the narrowing of her eyes and then her face freeze into a neutral, but distain filled expression. We were dismissed.

We emerged from that surreal back alley to find that the rain had stopped. We hugged each other in relief both for the weather break and the fact we were out of there. Then a thought popped into my head. I told Bashert that everything was going to be okay, I just – knew it. I said if things had gone smoothly then it would not be us – everything she did was a wild ride one way or another!

The rest of the day was delicately and surreally mundane. We relaxed around the house watching t.v. and doing little household chores, it was after all Saturday – laundry day.

Gay? Marriage

An old acquaintance approached me at the Pride parade today.  She was proudly wearing her I ♥ New York t-shirt.

She had come to the parade to show her support of her cousin still living in NYC and possibly her son, but we didn’t go there.

When we worked together we never discussed politics or sexual orientation.  I was semi-closeted at the time because it was a government job and knew the opinions of my superiors at the time.  I know, I know., but let’s get real – I needed the job.

Tiger, as she was called must have known something was up because she made the comment to me once, “I really like watching Queer as Folk”.  I replied, “That’s nice, don’t watch it myself, but okay.”  My partner will tell you, I’m not the quickest to catch on to things.

It was a quiet outreach, a sort of underground communique that let me know that I had an ally and I did appreciate it despite my inelegant response.

But today at our home town parade, Tiger came up to me and reintroduced herself and we were able to speak openly and with matter of fact about how proud she was of New York of passing the legalization of gay marriage bill. Time and age had given us both confidence.

Another friend posted a great photograph of a statement that also hit home with the theme of this weekend.  It reminded me that Pride is not only about having the confidence about being oneself and the camaraderie of having all those people of like around you, but to me its also about showing to the rest of the world that we are no different just because of who we love.

I go to work everyday to support my family.  We pay taxes and worry about our children’s education and future.  We have pets and have memberships to the YMCA.  We have cranky days and days full of wonderment. We teach, we learn, we are good citizens and bad ones, too.  The full gamut of the rainbow of humanity.

We are just people.

 It’s not gay marriage; it’s just marriage, as simple and as complicated as everyone else’s.

It’s taken 42 years since Stonewall to get six states to agree.  I hope that my blog name will not be fullcnote before the rest of the country follows suite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pride

On June 27, 1969, the winds of fate gathered and the patrons of Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn fought back.  The seeds of Pride were planted.

And on this Saturday, 42 years after the riots on Christopher Street, the second annual Pride Parade and Festival will be held in our fair city.

There will be other parades and festivals more elaborate and attended by thousands around the world. I’ve been to the great parade and festival in Atlanta many times before.  I’ve even been in that parade, but there is nothing to compare to the emotion and inspiration of having this celebration in my own town.

My family and I had been absent from the Pride celebrations for several years until last year.

We would ordinarily choose not to go to the parade because number one it’s hot as blazes in Georgia in June, especially standing in a crowd of thousands and two, as parents we acknowledge that the Atlanta parade can be for more mature audiences, much as Mardi Gras is.

The festival, however had always been wonderful for any age group and we’d always had a great time there.  Except possibly the time our daughter kept fainting, but that was due to the heat and hypoglycemia, not the atmosphere.

The change came when our son was not quite 5 years old.  He was floating on cloud nine because he had gotten so many compliments on his Spiderman costume he chose to wear all day. It had been a good day at the festival despite the usual afternoon showers and fierce southern humidity.

We were tiredly trooping back to our car for the long ride home and it was then that some lovely, Southern gentleman decided that he needed to vent his hostility over our family unit.  This frightened our son, who couldn’t possibly understand that someone would hate his family. He clamored into my arms, buried his face into my shoulder and wouldn’t come out until we were well out of earshot.

If you want to demonstrate your narrow mind to adults that’s one thing, but to take it out on small children – shame on you.

Try to explain to a 4 year old, who has known only love and acceptance, that there are some people in the world who hate him because he has two moms.  Even his spidey powers couldn’t protect him that day in Atlanta.  It broke our hearts.

This combined with the heat (my partner says, yeah – give the gays the hottest damn month of the year to celebrate) gave us the excuse to stay home when Pride came around.

Then our very conventional, conservative town allowed something magical to happen. It granted a permit for a Pride parade.

We decided to go still wary about attending another arena where our son could be subjected to the vitriol of others, but he has in the past four years demonstrated a strength of character that we thought would sustain him if we were confronted again.

Boy, were we surprised, so brilliantly surprised.

The parade was filled with families and friends.  Our son saw his school mates with their straight parents and caught candy thrown by beautiful, well heeled drag queens.The festival was full of music, balloons and games designed for the kids to play.

Smiles abounded. Words of encouragement and love were spoken by supporters.  Tears of joy and wonder were spilled. Many exclaimed with choked voices that they didn’t think they would ever see the day our town celebrated its GLBT citizens with such kindness.

Oh, there were the odd protesters (and some were really odd), but all were welcomed and given and gave respect even when they were holding placards damning us to eternal fire.

In the gay/lesbian community, we often refer to each other as ‘family’.  That Saturday in June of last year was about family. We are looking forward to another Saturday spent with family this year.

I am so proud of my city and the fantastic people who made this happen.  My family thanks you.

*http://socialistalternative.org/literature/stonewall.html  (good site to visit for information on Stonewall.)

The beauty of a rainbow after a storm.