Category Archives: Equality

Defending Normal

It’s hard to defend normal.

The quirks every person carries hidden within — the eccentricities we all display — the oddities we’re barely aware of that cause others to stare and quickly look away. Ironically, in healthy humans, many abnormalities are actually signs of normality. The issue becomes confusing because in our culture, all Normal is not created equal. 

For instance — suppose I put a bright blue streak down the middle of my bushy gray hair. I’m 59 years old, Caucasian, 5’4”, therapist-turned-author, mother of three grown children. Most likely, people would smile and shake their heads in quiet amusement. Some might find me ridiculous, but others might admire my moxie: “Kudos to embracing middle age!” 

Suppose a teenager put the same bright blue streak down the middle of her thick brown hair, and gave a speech to support #NeverAgain. Her blue streak might draw an entirely different reaction. For people who disagree with gun control, hunting for a way to discredit that girl — her blue streak would provide the perfect lightning rod. “She’s just a teen pitching a tantrum; I mean, c’mon, look at that blue streak!”

Finally, suppose a gay or lesbian parent put a blue streak in his or her or their hair. For those uncomfortable with same sex moms and dads, an entirely different reaction would rocket to the surface. “Gays and lesbians shouldn’t be parents; I mean, c’mon, look at that blue streak!”

The LGBTQ+ community continues to be under attack, and Oklahoma has now enabled adoptions to be banned if the parents are gay men or lesbian women, single mothers or interfaith couples. To me, the LGBTQ+ spectrum, added to cisgender and straight, is simply the range of normal. But as I said, it’s hard to defend normal. If you’re bound and determined to find quirks in these potential parents, you’ll have no trouble finding them, not because they’re gay or trans or single or bi or straight or interfaith or non binary — but because they’re human. And if you’re equally intent on viewing those quirks as flaws, then you’ll disqualify a lot of loving and stable homes. 

We all carry a blue streak of one kind or another, literal or figurative. But a blue streak in a cisgender, straight, Caucasian mother of three grown children is often assigned a vastly different meaning from that same blue streak in others. If somebody makes you uncomfortable, then suddenly their blue streak is evidence of a massive character deficit. All blue streaks are not created equal.

If you’re judging parents for being gay men or lesbian women, then I wonder if you’ve actually met LGBTQ+ parents. Do you know them well? Did you have a friendly conversation, or were you digging for evidence of flaws? I do know parents who identify with various parts of the gender and sexual spectrum. Lesbian parents, gay parents, cis parents, bi parents, trans parents, straight parents, other parents —  we’re all in the community of parents. Would you consider that maybe, possibly, we might share more common ground than you expect?

Since I write fiction, I decided to do a bit of research. I googled lesbian parents in literature. Then gay parents. Then novels with LGBT parents. I was extremely glad to see that the number of children’s books on the subject is growing. But novels that include in the plot a same sex couple raising children — a portrayal of perfectly imperfect people who are loving and stable parents — I couldn’t find much. I did find some, and my second novel is among them — Tightwire. Meet Jeanne and Tracy, a lesbian couple raising two children, Heather (age 6) and Henry (age 9). As the plot unfolds, Jeanne and Tracy become role model parents for the main character, Collier — a young adult sorting out a troubled childhood. Jeanne and Tracy are caring and funny and lesbians and steady and quirky and loving and flawed and most of all — normal. 

Oklahoma, I’d like to introduce you to Jeanne and Tracy. They’d like to meet you, too.

____

Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, follows a rookie psych intern through her first year of clinical training, treating a stormy, troubled and talented young man, Collier. Two characters vital to the story are Jeanne and Tracy, a lesbian couple raising two children, who become role model parents for Collier, giving him the opportunity to experience a home built with love and stability. Tightwire is a story of the empowerment of becoming your full self.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Equality, family, gay and lesbian parents, LGBT, Uncategorized

LGBTQ+ Posts

Dear Reader,

Before I decided to write fiction, I was a psychologist for 25 years. I’ve always been drawn to the process of self-discovery and personal transformation – first as a therapist, and now as a writer. Our culture often makes this process extremely difficult for people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and I hope my writing can help.

As I write each post for my blog, I’m drawn to the same underlying themes. My blog includes a body of work on LGBTQ issues, which focus on different aspects of self-discovery, personal transformation and ally support.

Below is a “hit list” of these posts.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

 

“Imagine”

Written in support of trans students, and to try to help people understand why bathroom issues are so harmful.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/imagine/

 

“More Bathroom Bills”

A trans ally is fed up with bathroom bills.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/more-bathroom-bills/

 

“GLSEN 100 Days Of Kindness”

In high school, a friend stopped a bullying incident with one simple question.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/glsen-100-days-of-kindness/

 

“Amy vs. Chapter 37 — GLSEN No Name Calling Week”

Writing as a form of healing from words used as weapons.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/amy-vs-chapter-37-glsen-no-name-calling-week/

 

“GLSEN Ally Week — Let’s Open The Conversation”

A 91-year-old woman’s path to becoming an LGBT ally.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/glsen-ally-week-lets-open-the-conversation/

 

“Use Restroom, Wash Hands, Leave”

Written in response to HB2, signed by North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/use-restroom-wash-hands-leave/

 

“Confused Children (Or Not…)”

In support of same-sex parents.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/confused-children-or-not/

 

“Rainbow Cake”

A celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold same-sex marriage.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/rainbow-cake/

 

“LGBT Pride Month: Yale Has Come A Long Way”

An experience in college that taught me how to be a better ally.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/lgbt-pride-month-yale-has-come-a-long-way/

 

“LGBT Pride Month: I Wish He Had Told Me”

About a boy I knew when I was in high school, who didn’t feel safe coming out.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/lgbt-pride-month-i-wish-he-had-told-me/

 

“Huge Mistake”

Written in response to the homophobic Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/huge-mistake/

 

“Same-Sex Parents”

In support of gay dads and lesbian moms — addresses some common concerns and misconceptions.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/same-sex-parents/

 

“If My Child Came Out As Trans”

To help families handle this situation with togetherness and support.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/if-my-child-came-out-as-trans/

 

“Heartbeat of AIDS”

About being a psych trainee, in San Francisco, in the early 1980s, trying to figure out why healthy young men were inexplicably dying.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/heartbeat-of-aids/

 

“Spectrum Of Normal”

A perspective on the LGBTQIA spectrum.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/spectrum-of-normal/

 

“Everyone Can Be An Ally”

The bullying incident in high school that motivated me to write my first novel.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/everyone-can-be-an-ally/

 

“Two Weddings And A Novel”

How my first novel was influenced by Gavin Newsom’s legalizing same-sex marriage in San Francisco.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/two-weddings-and-a-novel-2/

 

“All Love Is Created Equal”

A a child, realizing that gay and straight couples were viewed differently.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/all-love-is-created-equal/

 

“They Came Out And Gay Fills The Room”

Support for families when a daughter or son comes out, and suddenly all the parents can see is GAY.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/they-came-out-and-gay-fills-the-room/

 

“When Your Daughter Or Son Comes Out”

Support for families, a model of togetherness.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/when-your-daughter-or-son-comes-out/

 

“Speak Gay With Pride”

About the homophobic expression “It’s so gay”, and how parents can handle it.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/speak-gay-with-pride/

 

“Reading Guides for Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable and Tightwire”

Both of my novels have LGBTQ themes central to the plots. Without the gay and lesbian characters, the stories could not exist. As I wrote the reading guides, I included several questions inviting readers to share their experiences. Understanding diverse perspectives creates a path to acceptance and support. Let’s open the conversation.

https://amykaufmanburk.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/reading-guides-for-hollywood-high-achieve-the-honorable-and-tightwire/

____

Amy Kaufman Burk is an author and blogger. Her first novel, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, was written in reaction to seeing gay students bullied in high school, and follows one family’s journey after their daughter comes out. Her second novel, Tightwire, includes a strong friendship between a gay man and a straight man, as well as two women, a couple raising 2 children, who become role model parents to the main character. 

Amy’s Author Page On Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Kaufman-Burk/e/B00R0S66Y4

 

Leave a comment

Filed under AIDS awareness, bullying, coming out, Equality, family, gay and lesbian parents, LGBT, parenting, Transgender

Spectrum Of Normal

LGBTQIA.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (Queer), Intersexual, Asexual (Ally). Pansexual, as well. More words will follow, and I’m ready to learn them all. Each letter, each word, is important, deserving respect, opening our minds to the full spectrum of sex and sexuality.

Yet, it’s not the “full” spectrum. When people talk about sexuality, Straight seems to have its own separate “spectrum” – more accurately, its own separate throne. There are The Heterosexuals and there are The Others.

My perspective is different. I was raised by a straight mother and father (born in 1922 and 1917) who were absolutely comfortable with gay men and lesbian women. My earliest memories include my parents’ closest friends, couples comprised of a woman and a man, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. This was a part of my life from the cradle. This was, is, and always will be my Spectrum of Normal.

I was eight years old when I learned there were separate words for “straight”, “gay” and “lesbian” couples. I also learned that none of the gay and lesbian couples I knew were married, because they weren’t allowed. I knew the ban on same-sex marriage was just plain wrong, but my reaction to the separate words was mixed. I was comfortable with the words as descriptive language, but extremely uncomfortable with the words as a divisive force. Couples were couples, love was love, people were people. I didn’t have a gay/straight litmus test, and I still don’t.

I hope to see the day when there’s just one sexual spectrum, which will include “S” for “Straight”. This new spectrum will give each letter and each word equal emphasis, equal respect, equal everything. This will be a spectrum of acceptance of the many shades of normal. I don’t categorize Straight Sexuality as separate from Other Sexuality. All of us are individuals on the Spectrum of Normal.

____

Amy Kaufman Burk is an author and blogger. Her first novel, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, was written in reaction to seeing gay students bullied in high school, and follows one family’s journey after their daughter comes out. Her second novel, Tightwire, includes a strong friendship between two men, one gay and one straight — as well as a same-sex couple (two women), raising a daughter and a son, who become role model parents to the main character. Amy’s blog has several posts in strong support of LGBTQ+. Check out Amy’s Author Page on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Kaufman-Burk/e/B00R0S66Y4

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ally Support, Equality, LGBT, sexuality