Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hope-filled and Greedy Still

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

Inspired and Wistful in Parallel

About four minutes into the video of the President Obama, speaking last night on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) inclusion, I began sobbing. My tears were triggered by the president's commitment to end discrimination against us; he said, "This fight continues now and I'm here with a simple message: I'm here with you in that fight."

I cried for the whole 37-second standing ovation he got for that message, and beyond it. Finally, respect and acknowledgment of my humanity from the top leader of my local world. Yes, I'd like to think of myself as a global citizen, but I am also American, and to hear my leader say that he values my people and me was a form of delivery and redemption. Seriously.

In my life, I have suffered indignities for my sexual orientation -- nowhere near as awful as others among my people -- but definitely, I have felt second-class for it.


My sense of redemption is incomplete, though, as I have transgender friends and if I'm psychic -- haven't yet checked with any of them -- they were unable to feel as celebratory as I felt, listening to the president's messages, since he did not explicitly include them when he spoke of the Employee Non-discrimination Act, though I was happy he at least spoke the words, "Transgender" and "gender identity" upfront.

Knowing how bad it feels to me to feel like a second-class citizen, how good can I feel if we don't all get included in parallel? The single-most frustrating feeling in the past several years has been people's request for my patience around gaining full citizenship, particularly regarding the human right to marry my partner of 17 years. And last night, I was still denied that right, since no explicit commitment came from the president around marriage for GLBT people in same-sex relationships.

And now, I cannot in good conscience be among the GLBT people who ask the transgender among us to hang on, first things first. If they're like me -- and I think that they are very much like me, since I believe that discrimination of transpeople comes from the same place as homophobia, i.e., a fear of people's criss-crossing and trespassing on established gender borders -- probably, they are also tired of hearing people, denying their priority, which translates for me as denying our humanity.

Still, Ground Was Broken Last Night

My father of blessed memory grew up in Washington, D.C. and maybe that's part of my association; I won't try to explain it rationally: Missing my father, since I was 17 when he died, I do search for father-figures mostly unconsciously as I go through life and last night, it was like having my father stand up for me, be there for me, even express love for me. How can I be comprehensible around these feelings?

I guess, metaphorically, there is no one more like a current father in my life than the leader of our country, which I did not recognize till my gratified tears came last night. The president, whoever he or she is, is like another parent; infantile or not, I do look to the president to help take care of me, I now realize consciously.


Denise said...

Here is a voice I recognize. It's been many years since I've heard it, but it still rings true and familiar. The first time I had read something you had written I was entranced,I immediatlly asked you for more.I am thrilled to see you writing. And am able to read it.I also watched the Presidents speech,having many similar emotions and thoughts.Within 20 min. I was googling you.I am new to this kind of communication, totally freaked by facebook. But I am tenatious. The farther away you are, the more I have to learn to communicate. See me on facebook.

October 12, 2009 1:59 AM

Sarah Siegel said...

Denise, my dear friend and Rugby coach, thank you for finding me and for your kind encouragement of my writing.

It turns out that I'm a writer because I write; when you knew me in Chicago, mostly, I dreamt of being a writer and writing.

These social tools have encouraged my voice, thank God. I'm so glad we're back in touch and have caught up a bit, and am looking forward to more.