Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why Always...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Gay, Gay, Gay?

Reading an essay on Susan Sontag's journals from 1947-1963 earlier today, I'm re-inspired to feel unapologetic about the frequency of my writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) -- well, mostly lesbian -- themes.

Now that I'm back in at least Facebook touch with so many of my early-learning and high school classmates, I think sometimes about the eyeful they're getting of my lesbian identity -- an identity I tried so fiercely to keep hidden for most of those years; they can't miss it, even if they avoid this blog and peek only glancingly at my Facebook "news." I'm always joining or creating this or that GLBT group. Ironically, as I write this, a childhood friend might be this very moment tagging me in a photo her dad took of me in a Charlie Chaplin costume and posting it on Facebook. She told me she'd be posting a couple of photos she had of us this weekend, including that tell-tale one.

In the essay, I see two quotes from Sontag's journal from when she was 15 and 17, and feel vindicated about my focus:
I wanted so much to feel a physical attraction for him and prove, at least, that I am bisexual....I marry Philip with full consciousness + fear of my will toward self-destructiveness.

In the same essay, her son and editor, who published the journals, says that his mother was not typically a "self-revealing person."

What touches me is the image of a vulnerable, teenage Susan Sontag, feeling the same sort of panic and internal war that I felt at that age, even though until recently, I've known of her only as the mostly-too-erudite-for-me culture essayist.

In the Wikipedia article on her, she is said to have been quoted by Brendan Lemon of Out magazine as follows:
Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, but it's never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody's in drastic need. I'd rather give pleasure, or shake things up.

I guess that's where we differ -- I'm always looking to gain, if not also give, comfort, as well as pleasure and amusement. And I have little desire to shake things up.

24 Hours a Day

Thinking about Susan Sontag and Reverand Ted Haggard as I've been doing this week, I'm reminded that each of us is doing the best we can. Talking further with my mom about "Prayers for Bobby" and Reverand Haggard, my mom said, "Remember that Jewish couple you helped, whose son was dying of AIDS?"


"In Florida. When you lived in Chicago."

"Oh, yeah, he went to our synagogue."

"They had rejected him. And you called them and masterfully convinced them to speak with him, and they reconciled before he died."

"I had forgotten all about that." I still have the piece of smoky quartz he gave me from his things the last time I saw him alive; I keep it on my desk in my office at work. I remember my friend via the quartz, but I had forgotten about the one long-distance exchange with his parents.

It's for the experiences like the one my mom recalled for me that I'm honored to be "all gay, all the time." I trust it's clear that it's not noble on my part to be this way; instead, I'm on a mission to enable people to see GLBT people's humanity, including my own, until one day we're routinely recognized as human, rather than as Other.

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