I’m an artist, a writer, a speaker, a dancer, a social activist, an environmentalist, an unabashed feminist, a lover of people, a lover of nature, a lover of peace. Other essential parts of me I wait to tell you, wanting you to know me a little first, wanting to give you an idea of who I am before adding the core of my existence, precious to me, still taught widely to be misunderstood, feared, mistrusted. But WorldPulse has asked for news about how we in the LGBTIQTS Community are doing, and this is such an important invitation to know each other more completely, and this strengthens us, so I will tell you - because by telling you, anyone surprised will have a new context, anyone discriminated against will have an open ally, and anyone with questions will have someone very willing to answer.
One of my greatest joys in life, and a source of great strength is that I am a lesbian. A woman whose deepest experiences in life are with other women. I don’t say so at first, because I don’t know yet what you have been taught, because the work that we are doing together is so critically important, and I cannot bear the possibility of any barriers between us. I don’t want to lose any connections with you just because, ironically, my closeness to women is what is taught to be feared.I also don’t want to contribute to any danger that any of you might be placed in by associating with an “out” lesbian. I do want to know how others are doing, globally.
I am part of this community, the LGBTIQTS community. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Two-Spirited. All in our own ways widening understanding that life is so much more complex and varied than we were taught. It is important for me to speak openly, from my own experience and from my heart, to work toward safety and freedom for everyone, including everyone in this community. I must speak out and identify myself so that more can be understood about who we are and what is needed for us all to live freely, without prejudice and punishment. I must speak out knowing all too well that my sisters are living through and dying from “corrective rape”, my brothers being thrown off roof tops for being, or for being accused of being gay. I must speak out about the indignities forced on sisters and brothers to describe the most intimate details of their relationships to prove refugee status fleeing countries that would imprison or kill them. My disgust at this vile treatment, my fear for the safety of LBGTIQTS people and the obscene debasement of an aspect of life that is deeply personal and spiritual lead me to accept this invitation that we all let each other know more about who we are. I must speak out as I witness others of you in our cherished World Pulse community speaking out on this topic despite possible danger to yourselves. And I must speak out from the privileged position of being able to do so, when the vast majority of this community is not.
I have been “out” since 1972. I found my way innocently. I have always cherished my freedom and knew early on that I was here to lead an unconventional life. I wasn’t lonely or unloved. I had plenty of offers of marriage from gentle, interesting, kind and loving men. But between the ages of 19 and 22 I had a recurring dream that I would agree to marry and became immediately filled with remorse and dread, remorse for any pain and disappointment I had caused, dread knowing I had to back out before making an enormous mistake, a mistake that would only grow if I did not face it right away. In some of the dreams I ran out before the dress was hemmed. In some I would get half way to the front of the ceremony, turn and run. Always, I would jump in a car, drive off and go camping, wind blowing in my hair. It wasn’t until I accepted this dream as a message, that I then found my way to the lesbian community.
We cannot all be “out”. Many have lost jobs, lost children, lost lives. I am writing this so that those without freedom to live their lives can find support and so that all of us wanting to be in touch can find and support each other. I have the safety to be able to speak openly, and so am taking this invitation by World Pulse to be vocal about this essential aspect of freedom, hoping that we can create a strong safety net together, dispel the myths and celebrate the wonder of all of our lives.
As a lesbian I am fully aware of how mistrusted an unmarried woman can be. Not all unmarried women are lesbians. And not all lesbians are single. Not all women who love other women are lesbians. We do all live in a world in which the deep love and trust between women is suspect, ridiculed and all too often severely punished. It is assumed that that women who live singly have some deep fault, that we are dangerous, unloved, or that we carry some deep threat. The choice of a woman to live life unmarried to a man is still one of the basic human rights inaccessible to many women and causing indignities and inhumane treatment. There is such resistance to women who live independently. Widows are thrown to the street, banished from communities, stripped of any land or property, or locked up inside and not allowed out. Girls are threatened, tortured, injured, killed for wanting a modicum of freedom. I have met girls as young as 7 who knew where they were headed. I have met women in their 90’s who have had to hide. All of this is part of what we are working on together. Freedom and respect. I have consciously chosen to remain as independent and free as I can be, knowing how few women have any choice at all, and dedicating my life to creating that change. So many of us lesbians have been working in this way, not only for our own freedom, but for basic human rights for all. I welcome this call for news and ideas on how to be sure that we include everyone in the work we are doing together. The very real and deep love that women have for each other is beautiful, powerful and much needed as we work to heal a very broken and cruel society of people and a very damaged planet.
To this end I invite anyone who suddenly upon reading this about me, about the deepest, most powerful part of me that I celebrate and embrace, for anyone who suddenly feels mistrust, differently about our connection, who feels the need to step back, to instead step forward, ask questions, send your thoughts, link arms even tighter so that we can work more closely than ever together to free girls and women to make their own choices, and to have ever more opportunities available to them to fully live their precious lives in exactly the way they choose.