Tag Archives: LGBTQ+

Pride Month: Becoming Who You’re Meant To Be

As an adolescent, I promised myself that when I grew up, I’d write a novel in support of the LGBTQ+ community. I decided that I’d portray many forms of homophobia — from covert attitudes to overt violence. I’d also include validation and support from friends — the empowerment of family acceptance — several paths to becoming an ally.

This post is a chapter from the book that evolved many years later. I’ve changed the names in this post from the names in the book. I made this choice for readers, so that the character who comes out can reveal herself in her own time, in her own way, as the novel progresses. Aside from the names, this post portrays the chapter exactly as it was written. 

I wish for each person a safe, supportive path toward becoming who you’re meant to be.

Happy Pride Month!

Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable

Chapter 30

Surfing

“Follow me!” Joe ran into the water, diving onto his surfboard. He glanced over his shoulder at his mother and sister. “Come on!”

Sue and Mrs. Smith ran in after him. They all skimmed through the warm sea, but Joe didn’t stop with the other surfers. He paddled beyond the breakers, where the world turned still.

Mrs. Smith sat on her board, and looked back at the Maui shore. “It’s beautiful here.” The water was a sheath of sun-drenched blues.

After a moment, Sue spoke up. “Are we going to surf?”

In a minute,” Joe answered. “First we talk.”

“About what?” Sue’s hair reflected the heat like onyx. 

“About IT.” Joe looked at his mother “We all maneuver around IT. Time to talk.”

“Okay, where do we start?” Sue asked.

“Some of my friends want to ask you out. What should I say?”

“Who?” Sue grinned.

“They swore me to secrecy. What should I tell them?” 

“Tell them…Mom, fasten your seatbelt…tell them I’m seeing someone.”

Mrs. Smith smiled. “That’s nice, then it won’t hurt their feelings, and..” her smile froze. “You’re not actually…oh dear, you are actually seeing someone.”

Sue nodded.

“May I ask who?”

“Not yet,” Sue said quietly. “Soon, but not yet.”

“Do I know her?” Mrs. Smith asked.

“Yes.”

“Do I like her?”

“Yes.”

“Oh shit,” Mrs. Smith said so primly that both of her children burst out laughing.

A long pause.

“I thought I was getting more comfortable with a gay daughter, but it seems I have work to do.”

“Mom, it’s just like me with my girlfriend,” Joe said. “I mean, Sue and her girlfriend do the same stuff I do with…”

“Thank you for that image I shall try mightily to forget,” Mrs. Smith interrupted, and they all laughed again.

“Look, substitute the word gay for straight, and she’s the exact same pain in the neck kid sister she was before she told us.” Joe watched the swells closely. “Gotta go. Surfing calls. Good talk.” Then he paddled furiously and caught the next wave.

“Well, that was enlightening,” Mrs. Smith grinned, and Sue laughed.

“It’s not just you, Mom. I’m still not totally comfortable being gay.”

“Can I help in any way?”

Sue’s eyes filled with tears. “Thanks, Mom, you just did help.”

“I’m getting used to the idea.”

“Me too. It’s getting better.”

“May I ask a difficult question?”

“Absolutely yes, ask it, whatever it is.”

“Did I do something wrong? Or is it because your father died?”

“No it’s nothing like that. I don’t understand where it comes from. But I’ve known since I was twelve, even though I didn’t know the word gay.”

“That makes me feel a lot better,” her mother smiled. “It’s not about something going wrong.”

“I’m not sure what it’s about.”

“It’s about your becoming who you’re meant to be.”

____

Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable deals with homophobic bullying in high school, and follows a girl’s journey after she comes out to her family. The story tracks a group of diverse high school friends as they confront homophobia in themselves and others, and find individual paths to becoming allies.

 

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Pride Month And Ally Support

Welcome to Pride Month! 

I feel tremendous joy and gratitude about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to my personal world and beyond. At the same time, I’m acutely aware that we’re living in a strange and dangerous time. Too many are openly hostile toward the LGBTQ+ community — a hostility sanctioned, endorsed and perpetuated by our country’s administration. As Pride Month begins, I’m thinking about the meaning of being a straight, cisgender ally during the Trump era.  

Entering LGBTQ+ Pride Month, I pledge to treat every month as Pride Month.

While resistance is vital, I fully celebrate Pride Month, because the heart and soul of Pride have nothing to do with Donald Trump. 

As I celebrate, I’ll respect that Pride Month is not about me or for me. It’s my moment to support others, and their moment to shine.

I offer equal support to those who are completely out, partially out and not out. For those who don’t feel safe coming out, please know that even if we’ve never met, I’m a part of your safe zone of acceptance.

If I see anyone being bullied, I’ll step in. If I’m afraid, I’ll still step in.

I’ll continue to write my resistance against the policies that target people for being themselves, that threaten the rights that should be inalienable.

I’ll welcome people who want to become allies, but don’t know how. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. There’s a place for you.

I’ll remain open to learning. Through the past year, I’ve become increasingly comfortable with the singular pronoun “they.” I’ve expanded my definition of “gender identity” to be much more inclusive. I’ve let go of what I now consider a rigid definition of a “female body” or a “male body.” A body is a body, and how each person defines his/her/their relationship to that body is highly individualized. I no longer view “male anatomy” as strictly male, or “female anatomy” as strictly female. The person owns the body and defines the body, including the gender of the body. I’ve learned to make no assumptions about gender identity based on appearance; I ask for people’s pronouns and accept without judgment. I’m ready to learn more, and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way.

If I make a mistake, I’ll apologize. I’ll try to do better. 

I’ll ask questions, starting now: Anyone of any gender and any sexuality — do you want to add something that I’ve missed? Feel free to comment.

Finally — to everyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I see you and accept you. You enrich our world every day. And to my LGBTQ+ friends — I can’t imagine my life without you. 

Happy Pride Month! 

____

Novels By An LGBTQ+ Ally

Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable deals with homophobic bullying in high school, and follows a girl’s journey after she comes out to her family. The story tracks a group of diverse high school friends as they confront homophobia in themselves and others, and find individual paths to becoming allies.

Tightwire follows a rookie psych intern through her first year of clinical training, treating a stormy and talented young man who ran away from the circus to find himself. The story tracks a strong friendship between two men, one gay and one straight. Two other key characters are a lesbian couple, raising two children, who become role model parents to the main character. This novel is about the importance of becoming your full self.

Click here to check out Amy’s novels on Amazon:

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

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Filed under Ally Support, LGBT, LGBT Pride Month, Uncategorized

They

I never realized how crucial awkwardness was to being a true LGBTQ+ ally. Recently, the pronoun they changed my mind. They has evolved beyond plural, into a singular pronoun for an individual with a non-binary gender identity. For some folks, they works well, while she or he doesn’t. But the word they, used in this way, seems to cause discomfort. I’ve heard many complaints and (in my admittedly limited experience) these are the most common.

The grammar is wrong.

Let’s weigh this issue on the scales of social justice. On one side, let’s place the weight of the traditional Rules of Grammar. On the other side, let’s place a language evolving to match a deeper understanding of the gender identity spectrum. C’mon — although life often presents us with close calls, this isn’t one of them.

I can’t get used to it.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who likes classic movies while you prefer sports events, and you get used to it? Have you ever been diagnosed with an allergy, and you can no longer eat your favorite foods, and you get used to it? How about having kids — that’s an average of an adjustment every 10 minutes, for 18 years, and you get used to it. And now you’re saying you can’t get used to a new definition of a pronoun. Really.

It’s not proper English.

Language is continuously evolving. Language — like life — is a dynamic process, not a static state of immobility. And yeah, that even applies to pronouns.

It’s awkward.

I agree, I feel awkward, and I’m still learning how to use they as a singular pronoun in a sentence. But this isn’t about my awkwardness. Actually, this isn’t about me at all. It’s about expanding language, stretching words to match a spectrum of gender identity that wasn’t fully articulated until now. Healthy growing and healthy stretching are often awkward, so maybe feeling awkward is a sign that we’re on a healthy track.

When I’m comfortable, it’s easy to be an ally. However, when I feel awkward, I’ve found that I can turn to the LGBTQ+ community for help. Without fail, 100% of the time, my LGBTQ+ friends have answered my questions with respect. They’ve supported my need to learn, never once disparaging the gaps in my knowledge. If I’ve said I’m uncomfortable but want to grow comfortable, they’ve reached out.

I’ve never formally studied linguistics, but They has shown me how a word can serve as a catalyst, expanding language to promote values of equality. They has also enriched my personal growth, adding another dimension to my definition of myself as an ally. Now, I think LGBTQ+  ally support includes a willingness to stand awkward. Feeling awkward no longer seems negative. Actually, I’m growing more comfortable every day, as I embrace my own awkwardness.

Thank you, They.

___

Amy’s Novels:
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable deals with homophobic bullying at school, and follows a girl’s journey after she comes out to her family. The story tracks a group of diverse high school friends as they confront homophobia in themselves and others, and find individual paths to becoming LGBTQ+ allies.

Tightwire follows a rookie psych intern through her first year of clinical training, treating a stormy and talented young man. This book tracks a strong friendship between two men, one gay and one straight. Two other key characters are a lesbian couple, raising two children, who become role model parents to the main character. This is a story of the importance of becoming your full self.

Amy’s Author Page — read reviews, check out recent blog posts, purchase a book.

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

 

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Filed under LGBT, non-binary, social justice, They, Them, Their, Uncategorized