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This year I got a rainbow tattoo.  It has other things on it, but I decided on a rainbow to represent my pansexuality in a tattoo about freedom.  I know, I know, there are debates about whether or not those of us who are bi, pansexual, and all other kinds of ridiculous queer nomenclature are allowed to use the rainbow, but I do.  Why?  I like rainbows, and I hate pink.

I give this disclaimer because I have been repeatedly told that I am not allowed to be in the queer club because of my lifestyle, which makes me cringe every time I have to defend myself in a community that preaches acceptance and diversity.  I have had women walk out of dates when they find out I not only continue to sleep with men, but am married to one and not opposed to others.  As a pansexual male who by appearance is very masculine and seemingly heterosexual until you get to know him, my husband  gets it worse.  Most people simply don’t believe bi men exist, and he has been lectured by gay men, lesbians, and even bi women.  This has made both our dating lives a little more complicated than I feel they need to be despite it being the reason we chose polyamory in the first place.

When we first opened our marriage it was just for same-sex partners as a way of being able to express our sexuality honestly and completely.  Let me start by saying that this was never a requirement.  I am perfectly capable and happy having monogamous relationships no matter how my partner identifies.  This was simply a way I had never considered or tried before.  My husband’s first girlfriend, as I’ve mentioned before, was supposed to be part of a triad situation.  However, after our first sexual experience she decided she was not actually bisexual, so I was no longer a part of the equation.  This made a lot of our decisions hard, fast, and undefined.  Had we opened as two heterosexual adults things may not have gotten such a rocky start…then again, it could have been much worse.

My entire life I’ve had to field the assumption that as a bi woman I should just be ok with the man I’m seeing watching every encounter with a female partner, like my sex life exists purely for his fantasies.  Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of threesomes or being a spectacle.  I may be game for the occasional diversion in that direction, but not as standard protocol.  I cannot count how many times ex-boyfriends told me “of course you can see girls!  As long as I can watch!”  This has been a common thread even now that we’re poly.  Many times people seem shocked that I don’t sleep with Hubby’s girlfriend or that once I have a girlfriend of my own I don’t just lend her out to the rest of my household.  Apparently, nobody’s personal taste or chemistry matters in this scenario as long as the plumbing fits.  Hubby and I have shared partners, but that was because we loved the same person not because we wanted to share women.

I really enjoy the fact that I have the freedom to have my marriage and the freedom to put together the family I want to have, regardless of gender or sexuality.  Not all of our partners are queer, and I have never viewed any of my same-sex relationships in a different light than any others.  What really matters is how we interact and love one another and that there is respect and acceptance for everyone.

It really IS that simple.

Let me tell you  a story.

Let’s pretend you have a kid who’s sick.  He’s got a variety of things that make his health a daily battle, several of which could be terminal.  

You have two choices.

You can treat each battle as something to mourn and never stop pushing forward.  It’s for the kid’s survival.  What kind of parent or you.  You can dwell on the kids who are losing their battles, and never let your kid forget he could die any day.

Or you can celebrate the good days and let the kid enjoy his life despite the battles.  You don’t treat them any less seriously, and you don’t stop taking care of his health, but you take a deep breath once in a while and go to the park.  You keep the kids who have lost their battles in your heart, and you educate yourself on advancements in care.

This is how I feel we can handle the Supreme Court decision about Marriage Equality.  We can celebrate it as what it is.  A step in the right direction.  Not the last step or the most important step, but a step.  We’re allowed to celebrate small victories without forgetting the other issues or those who are still battling.  Why?  Because the kid is still a human being, that’s why.  Just because this decision doesn’t fix all the problems for all the people does not give us the right to invalidate the people the decision does help in any way.

I’ve been told at least half a dozen time today that I’ not allowed to have an opinion on the matter as anything but a bystander.  Because I’m already married.  Because I’m bi and chose to legally marry a man.  Because I’m white.  Because I’m cisgendered.  Because…because…because.  I have never understood this kid of isolation as anything but what we’re fighting against, and I do not understand it now.  As a community of humans fighting together we need to also recognize the importance of being a community of humans exalting together.  The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are both vitally important to the survival of the spirit and humanity of the community.

No, the journey is not even mostly over.  No, the war has not been one.  No, celebrating this victory does not erase from our memories the journey behind us or the long road yet before us.

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Be together.

In the past few weeks there have been more suicides in the young LGBT community than I can count on one hand.  As a teacher, a mother, a member of the queer community, and a citizen of the country that is doing nothing to protect these young people from harassment, abuse, and humiliation, I find this trend unacceptable on a violently angry level.  We’re talking the type of anger that makes my pupils twitch and my hands shake.  These kids, like many in our community, were treated in ways that would make anyone feel helpless and hopeless, especially at a point in their lives where they are vividly aware of their differences and want nothing more than to be accepted.

All across the country gay adolescents are told they’re just confused, that they’re broken or sick, and that they should be ashamed of how they feel, think, and love.  At best they are ignored by their parents, but often they are punished, chastised, or beaten.  They are cast away, kicked out of their homes, and shunned by their families.  Their spiritual leaders tell t hem they’re damned, their peers ostracize or bully them, and there is generally little to no support or protection from schools or the community.

But what about those of us who could help them?  What about those of us who have been in their shoes and could guide them through one of  the most trying and confusing points in their lives?  We’re kept away from them in hopes they’ll grow out of it and in fear that we’ll encourage them to be themselves.  Instead of being seen as a support system or valuable resource, queer adults are considered a detriment in a youth’s life.  Why is this ok?  At what point do we stop telling our children they can be anything they want to be when they grow up and giving them the mentors and environment to nurture whatever that might entail?  When do we instead start limiting and judging them?  More importantly, why is any of this treatment allowed to happen?  Why were these young people pushed to a point at such a young age that they felt it would never get better?

In his September 22 article Dan Savage speaks of how the first of the recently publicized suicides touched him.  Like many of us he was heartbroken.  Like many of us he has been where these kids were and are today.  Like many of us he knows that something needs to be done.  It’s time the people who can give these young people a little hope stopped being stuck in a closet and spoke out to them.

“Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids?”, he says. “We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.”

So, Dan and his partner made a video.  Then they made a channel on YouTube and encouraged members of the community to make and post their own videos to encourage these kids and share our stories to show that it does get better.  To find the instructions and post your own video, you can go to youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject .  As soon as I figure out how to use the camcorder function on my new smartphone I’ll be posting my own.  If I can get over my technophobia and do this, you should all be making videos!

My life as a bisexual teen (and at the time there was only gay or bisexual in my world…no pansexuals, homoflexibles, heteroflexibles or otherwise) was fairly quiet.  I kept it that way purposefully.  It had its rough moments, but for the most part I’ve forgotten the trappings.  Yes, I was in the San Francisco Bay Area, but that’s not always as free-thinking and forward as it sounds.  I went to an all girls catholic school, and had several strikes against me already.  I had friends who knew I was  pagan, but it wasn’t until I was extremely close that I admitted to my sexuality.

I knew at a very early age I loved everyone equally, but never expressed any of it.  I was told it was a phase, that I just didn’t know how to express my feelings towards friends, and that I’d get over it someday.  My mother passed before I could try to talk to her about it, and the rest of my family was all about not making waves.  My confusion and fear caused me to withdraw completely.  I didn’t go on dates.  I didn’t socialize much.  I didn’t have my first kiss until I was almost eighteen, and that one defining moment started a revolution inside me.  I could no longer be quiet.

I can’t imagine my life being any different.  It took moving to Philadelphia, a place most consider a lot more conservative that Berkeley, CA, to find “my people”.  I am never ashamed to talk about my husband and my girlfriend.  I am never ashamed to be poly, pagan, or pansexual.  I wish nothing more for these young people than to know how good life can be when you find where you belong.  We owe them that optimism as people who have laid the path.

Today begins LGBT History Month, and what better way to start than with each of our own personal histories.  Those who came before us gave us a wonderful foundation, and we have built the beginnings of a wonderful world, but these kids are the ones who will be in charge of finishing the job.  We need to invest in them the pride and freedom we know is possible.  Our goal isn’t just for them to survive, but to live.  Like a good bra, we must not just support but uplift.

This is my promise to the queer youth of America…You can always come to me.  You can share with me.  You can talk to me.  You can be safe with me.  You have all my love, support, and optimism.  You have my arms for hugging and my shoulder for crying.  I will help in whatever ways I can, and I will never abandon you.  I will never stop trying to show you that it does get better if you can promise me that you’ll never give up being you.

Yours, Autumn.

~*Namaste*~

By now most of us have heard of the girl in Mississippi who only wanted to take her girlfriend to prom.  Instead, in order to avoid conflict prom was canceled.  To me this seems a little bit like treating a hangnail by cutting off one’s finger.  The school now has more upheaval and bad publicity than it would have otherwise.  There have been Facebook pages, news articles, and an appearance on Ellen.  My school took a more clever approach.

My junior year of high school I decided I was taking my best friend to Winter Ball.  Whether or not we were dating is not really the issue.  I knew I was bi, but not a lot of other people did.  I had no luck with guys, so I decided to take her.  I went to a very small, all female, Catholic high school.  There would be no “stag” guys and all my friends had dates.  What could be the harm?

My only saving grace in this situation was the fact that my friend has a traditional Japanese name, which the administration may not have guessed is a pretty common female name.  Weeks before the ball we had to have a guest permit signed by our date’s parents and submitted for approval by the administration.  It never really dawned on me that I was doing anything wrong until I showed up at the ball with my friend on my arm.

The teacher in charge of checking us in gave me an incredulous stare.  She didn’t want to cause a scene, and my date had already been approved.  How could this have happened?  What would the nuns say?  Was the baby Jesus crying as we stood there for a second in pregnant silence?  She quickly regained her composure, the blood returning to her face, and made sure I was aware that this was not to happen again.  The formal excuse I was given was that we already had enough girls at the ball without adding them from other schools.  Apparently, if I wanted to share my night with a girl it shouldn’t matter who that girl was.

There was some discussion about it at school the following Monday, but I never made a big deal of it.  I took a boy, who I also wasn’t dating, to prom.  Friends of mine who were dating were able to attend because they both went to my school, and I couldn’t help but note the hypocrisy in the whole system.  I can’t imagine not being able to take someone I genuinely cared about to one of the most important, if not the most important night of a girl’s high school existence.

Years after graduation most of the petty arguments and crises one experiences in high school are forgotten, and we realize how meaningless most of it was.  It comes in the relationships we forge and the memories we make that last a lifetime.  I may not remember the food, the music, or the dress, but I have wonderful memories of that Winter Ball.  Everyone should have the right such things.  Should it matter with whom we have them?  Prom isn’t a wedding or having a child.  We haven’t even crossed over into these kinds of political issues.   It’s prom.  Let the kids have fun before they’re thrown into the real world and adulthood.

Go now, Facebook your prom date.

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