Ten years ago I was asked to mentor a young women in a class on ageism as part of a Master’s degree in the nursing program. She was working as a caregiver to a neighbor,who was a paraplegic. I had met her at a party and other times when I was visiting with our neighbor. I agreed to mentor her but I was unaware that the young woman I was mentoring was very homophobic and she did not know that I was a lesbian.
The Masters group had been meeting in small groups,eating,talking,watching movies discussing. Finally, we met with all the others to have a round table discussion.
During this time, one of participants lumped,pedophiles, prisoners, and homosexuals in the same statement!!!
I was on my feet and in the face of the of the young offender and she was back peddling and apologizing. How dare she group us in such a way!!! I raged with great passion of how I was”out” and proud.etc,etc.
I looked down at my new young friend and she was red faced and thunderstuck and I knew she did know I was gay.
At the break the Professor thanked me and congratulated me on being such a lighting rod in the discussion. I told her I had not planned on it.
G. and I talked on the way home but I felt the need to write the next morning:
I assumed you knew I was gay and because the whole neighborhood knew and you have been around the neighborhood for quite a while now.
Let me say this first: I loved being with the small Master's group---it was very nice: They treated with kindness,respect and tried to include me. Socially, eating and conversing with them I felt o.k.
However, for me it is very uncomfortable to interact, discuss a movie or social issue with any group without letting them know that I am gay. I bring things to the table that these people have never thought about or considered thinking about because gayness has been so misunderstood.
It is my responsiblity as an old lesbian to educate you. I refuse to be invisible because I am gay. When I live in a world where people are KILLED just for being gay then I must say "I am gay." What you don't understand we must continue to FIGHT for our rights ---all the rights that are available to you should be available to me. Spousal,legal,marriage etc.. I know gay woman that have been together for 40 years and would have loved to be married, but can't have that piece of paper that is so important to some.
I am 67 years old and I have known I was a different since I was nine. When I was 18, I was in love with a woman my same age. However, I married a man when I was 18 because during that social era that is what my family expected me to do. I was a good daughter so when I met a man that my mother liked I married him. That put me in the closet.
CAN YOU IN YOUR ABSOLUTE WILDEST OF DREAMS IMAGINE WHAT IT IS LIKE LIVING IN A CLOSET FOR 40 SOME YEARS !!! Close your eyes and put yourself there. I could never love a woman again. And I never did--until I fell in love with another lesbian. Lesbians really only fall in love with women that fall in love with them.
Not only is ageism a social disease--misunderstanding homosexuality is also a social disease. I am not perverted--though how many times do you suppose people of "my kind " have been called "queer." I openly use the words "queer" and "dyke" because now they are words of power for me. I am out of the closet and I am an old lesbian who must be fearless so another young lesbian does not have to live the life I led. I want anyone to be free to love a woman that loves her
You thought you were being gracious when you you said you had gay friends. But said you did not understand "it ". You were not comfortable saying the words---two woman loving each other. (Please, I am not criticizing---you are a product of conforming to what society thinks.) I want to change that. I may only educate a small group of people at a time--but it makes no difference to me how many as long as I continue to do it. Those people will educate someone else ,etc.,etc., the ripple in the water.
I certainly know I cannot educate or change everyone----how very well I know. My brother, who adored me all my life---now no longer speaks to me because I am "out". I risked everything that has been near and dear to me to be "out". I created a tidal wave in my family. My children listened to me, absorbed,understood and still love me. Even though I am a lesbian, I was a great mother and they will tell you that and so will my gracious ex-husband.
Do I look at woman differently? Of course, I do. I look at women as works of art--just like do men. Do I admire beautiful faces, and bodies? Of course, I do. Don't you and your friends do the same things with men? Of course, you do. And both sexes comment back and forth to their friends and think of it as "admiration conversation," right??
My comments on the movie even as it progressed would have been much different had I felt truly "free" to be me.
Examples:The panty lines and the butt so unattractive in the very first part of the movie was no accident. W.A. was making a statement about women.
W.A. is out to lay everyone he can. Dysfuntional and shallow.
D.K.'s use of marijuana is our first clue that she didn't love him. (I've been with women that really looked good after two cocktails That's why I don"t drink anymore. )
D. K. has a great body why would she ever waste that on a man? Etc. ,etc., etc.,so do you see what I mean?
The other thing is that converstion about the nursing home scene. Shouldn't society be discreet enough to close the door and allow my partner and I to engage in sex or cuddling or whatever we perceive in pleasing each other. Because we are two woman must society say we can no longer please each other?? Or even if it was two males still in love after long years of being together.
The social problems for gays are of course, not just about sex. In order to make a change, society must perceive me as they would any other socially acceptable individual that deserves the same rights you have extended to you without question. All I am asking that you do accept me as a socially responsible individual that deals with the usual everyday problems.
Please do not patronize me as being "feisty"--this trivializes my comments. I consider myself to be a courageous old lesbian that is truly trying to make a difference in society in her own small way.
I must be in your group on my own terms. I am gay. If I am correct they will soon forget that I am gay and just accept me as another human being that can contribute greatly to their knowledge. Soon they will get to know me as a non threatening,kind, and loving individual that happens to be gay. And the next time they go to the polls to vote they will remember me as a person of value. Hopefully, they will think that all people of value deserve the same rights.
If they can't handle it then I don't want to be there. My comfort level where I work and with the people that know I am gay is very high. Do you know why??? I educate them each day with humor and love.
The other reason: I lived a lie for 40 some years and I can no longer do that.
Dear G, you are such a sweet woman and I want to get to know you better. I must have you understand me to do that.
Thanks for listening.
Love from a dear queer named, Jean
We did meet several times after this with the small group and it was was better for me but I finally found out that G. could not accept any gay person because of her religion. The poor girl. Also that is the way I lost my brother. Forever.