Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Old Time Religion: Native Redux

This Native's spin, on an old classic.  My beliefs aren't a "religion" but the song is what it is, so I went with it!

Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
It's good enough for me

Sunrise: I offer up prayers
With tobacco in layers
For Earth’s state of affairs
It's good enough for me

I will drum, sing, and rattle
I will pray and be thankful
Yes, the forest is my chapel
It's good enough for me

Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
It's good enough for me

Smoky sage, sweetgrass and cedar
Brings forth spirits of the creatures
Yes, they are all my Teachers
It's good enough for me

The Sun, Moon and Elders
All the spirit realm dwellers
I embrace them as treasures
It's good enough for me

Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
It's good enough for me


When the sun is a-Westing
I give thanks for my blessings
to the Powers acquiescing
It's good enough for me

I will stand in my teachings
I will stand in my teachings
It's good enough for me!

It's good enough for me!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What We Need

There are so many initiatives related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations... and I think this is a very good thing.  However the fact that these exist is often perceived by people outside of the LGBT community to mean that we want or need something unique and special.  I haven't seen a single mission statement, program objective or proposal that seeks to elevate the LGBT population above others. It is all pretty simple really.  IMHO what we need is:
  • First - what we don't need... is an intervention.  We don't need to be repaired, cured, re-oriented or any other such thing, thank you very much!
  • The same respect that every human being deserves... to be regarded and treated with respect regarding who we are.  If who we are conflicts with your personal views, respect the rights of LGBT persons to be who we are and live authentic lives.
  • The same legal status as our heterosexual peers - call it what you want, I'm not so worried about semantics.  If we would choose to enter into a legal partnership with another soul on life's path, we should have that option.
  • To know that our sisters and brothers, have our backs, that they won't be a part of oppressive systems... that they will in fact treat us as deserving equals.  Not superiors, but not inferior either. To quote Aunt Eller in the musical Oklahoma! "I'm not saying that I'm better than anybody else... but I'll be danged if I aint just as good!"
Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On Death & Dying

Each culture has its own practices, rituals and beliefs regarding death.  Many of them are essentially the same notion of something else beyond this earthly realm to which we move after we have departed our physical bodies.  In many Native American cultures this is referred to as "walking on", "walking through the Western Door" or "Westing."  I believe that there is more, that when a person dies, that their spirit walks through that Western Door to a better place.  I believe that there are reunions of those who have been separated.  I believe that the spirits of two-leggeds, four leggeds, one leggeds and no-leggeds all inhabit that place. I believe that being now only spiritual essence, that there is no more pain or handicap... that each beautiful soul is restored to its purest state and is as one with their Creator. I believe all of this, will all that I am.  But I also grieve at times... like today.  How does that work?  Well I guess in these moments I am in a selfish place, I need the people who I don't have the same kind of access to any more.  The loss of my Mom was devastating, I need to talk to her, I need her lessons and her wit and her way of cutting through the bullshit.  I need that... as part of my day.  When Cindy walked on, an incredible void was left behind in my life. She was a kind and compassionate person of very deep faith, who lived with great integrity. She looked her death in the eye and ultimately left it in the hands of her Creator. 

I know, that death, is a part of the circle of our lives.  It is part of the medicine wheel teachings... but I still have trouble with people who have lived honestly and with compassion for their fellow humans... suffering like that.

Dammit I MISS her! I miss her laugh, I miss her smile, I miss her voice... she always knew when I needed to hear from her... and the phone would ring.  That was a two-way street with us... we were always tuned in to each other's frequency. The hurt I feel today... is a selfish thing I guess, for I know Cindy is just fine, but I'm just NOT. I will never ever make sense of her experience.  I do not understand why she had to suffer as she did, and why she had to die as she did, when she did.  It is number one on my questions for God whenever I have the opportunity.  I KNOW we are not supposed to ask such things... but ya know that whole "where were you when I created the earth" thing just does NOT help me to understand.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaching... that's so GAY!

This is the story of "Tommy."  I will tell the story from "Tommy's" perspective as he told it to me.  
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I have this problem.  I am a teacher.... I LOVE teaching... it is my calling, it is my PASSION. In an age where so many people seem to be discontented with in their work. I LOVE MY JOB! So what's the problem?   Well you see, I'm gay.  I work in a school system in a traditionally minded community.   I love my kids, and I know that I make a difference in their lives.  Until recently this hasn't been a huge issue. I didn't like the fact that I was hiding my sexuality... but it wasn't causing conflict in my life. Then something happened to change all of that. I met Bill... and we fell in love.  We've been in this relationship for over a two years now, each day brings new joys and I am more fulfilled by our relationship than any I have ever had.  We understand one another and support one another in all things.  Bill owns his own business and has this amazing house and has asked me to move in with him. I am so excited,,, and conflicted.  Part of me wants to start packing NOW, but I am fearful that if I move in with Bill, our relationship will be discovered and I will be in danger of losing my job.  I've worked at my school for 8 years, have stellar reviews from my Principal, and am well regarded by my colleagues.  However, recently... our town had the opportunity to add protections to its municipal code to help prevent discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the fundamentalists came out in force spewing hatred and creating a very hostile climate for GLBT people and their allies in the community.  I am afraid that this climate has the potential to cost me my job if my sexuality were revealed. How much longer do I have to my life on hold?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I too am a teacher, but I am blessed beyond measure to be in a setting where I can be out, and my sexuality does not endanger my job. Tommy's story is all too common, at least here in the midwest.  There is a fear of gay teachers, that I simply cannot understand, it follows no logic that I can identify.

The theory goes something like this: Since gays cannot have children biologically, recruitment of children to their cause, especially at a young age, is essential.

This creates an environment where LGBT individuals who work with children in any capacity are suspect.  Teachers are of particular interest as they spend extended time with children. Many people just assume that a gay teacher is stalking his male students, and lesbian teachers are intent on seducing their female students.  

Okay lets put that shoe on the other foot... shall we? Imagine a male heterosexual teacher, do people automatically assume that this teacher views his female students as sexual objects? Do people assume that heterosexual female teachers are stalking the little boys in their classroom?  No, of course not. So WHY when the teacher is not heterosexual do people make that assumption?

Teachers who are GLBT serve as positive role models... not only to GLBTQ students, but to the entire school community.   To students who identify as queer or questioning, seeing someone on the teaching staff that is gay can be very powerful and promote a positive sense of self. To heterosexual members of the school community, a gay teacher just might be the person that helps them deconstruct their stereotypes and challenge erroneous assumptions.

It is estimated that one teacher in ten has a sexual orientation other than heterosexual.  According to the 2000 census, there are 6.5 million teachers in the United States. If one teacher in ten is GLBT that makes 650,000 teachers whose lives and careers could be shattered by whole "gay teachers as recruiters" mentality. 

So... what are we... as forward thinking individuals going to do about it?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Times they are achangin...

I celebrate today! I celebrate the fact that after twenty-five years of deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Church Council has abolished its anti-gay policies, effective immediately. Of course I have to wonder WHY it took 25 years of deliberation to arrive at this place, but I celebrate nonetheless.  There are a great many denominations that have been discussing this for much longer and are not there yet.  I am not Lutheran, I'm not even exclusively Christian... but I do believe that this is a sign of hope. It is encouraging to see a Christian denomination conducting themselves in a Christ-like manner! I know... sounds like a no-brainer... but that is not always the case.  I'm not one to bash... just sayin'.  The fact that a major denomination like ELCA can take this step... is a very good thing.  But it IS only a step... I'll be interested to see how these policy changes translate into action, into affirmation and IN YOUR FACE inclusiveness in ELCA congregations in this country. 

Keepin' It Real...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

That's Not All I Am!

Too much for some…
Not enough for others…
Defying the parameters of definition
Marvelous mixed-up blood
Indian? Yes!
But that’s not all I am

Not to some…
I don’t march…
Under their banner
Activist? Yes!
But that’s not all I am

That depends…
on who you ask…
Or where we are…
Wife? Yes!
But that’s not all I am

Not butch…
Not femme…
Criss-cross categories
Late bloomer
Lesbian? Yes!
But that’s not all I am


Don’t LUMP me in your categories
That’s   not   all   I   am  !

Monday, March 15, 2010

Milking Goats

My partner Jen and I live on a small farm in Indiana. This very true story happened on our farm a couple of years ago. 

We have lots of animals, and have had goats most of the time we’ve been together.  Right now we have all pygmy goats, but we have had a few dairy goats from time to time.  When the goats (the dairy goats in particular) have their babies, even though the kids nurse at every opportunity, the Momma goats often have so much milk they can get into trouble with a milk engorged udder.   I am a very “back to nature” kind of person. I don’t like to waste anything, and l prefer to make natural products for my own use.  I decided I wanted to try to make goat’s milk soap and lotion (I had used commercial ones and loved them).  Well to do that I needed goat’s milk... no problem says I… I’ve got a bunch of that just needing to be used! 

We had one goat in particular, Cocoa, who ended up needing milked down every single day. She gave birth to twins and lost one of them right away.  Goat kids are funny they take preference to a certain side and will ignore the other side no matter how much milk it has to offer. We had been milking Cocoa down every night and just giving the milk to the horde of barn cats.  The cats had been getting increasingly insistent on getting their nightly goat milk.  So much so that they would walk up to Cocoa and hiss at her as if to say “give it UP biotch!”  More often than not, Jen would do the milking, she was raised on a farm, and I’m relatively new to the endeavor… though I feel I was born in the wrong place and just took a while to find my way “home.”  Anyhow… when we were just milking for the cats, we’d just let it pool on the floor and then move the goat a few times while the cats were cleaning up.

Well my first attempt of milking to KEEP the milk was quite an adventure. I headed to the barn; Jen calls “you want some help?”  “No, I got it” I reply.  I go out all ready, bucket in hand and tie up the goat.  She was getting rather sore down there by this point and not a big fan of this whole process.  I always wore bibs to the barn in those days, you know the kind, with a million pockets, and such, and handy dandy hammer-hanging strap.  I got the cantankerous goat tied up (a half-assed tie job at best), pushed her against the side of the pen, kind of pinning her in place like I’d seen Jen do flawlessly countless times.  This was so the goat couldn’t get away from me (rriiiggghhhttt). I positioned the bucket where it needed to be and got started.  As SOON as the cats heard the milk hit the bucket they descend upon me… remember the movie Willard when the rats swarm all over the guy... envision that - but with cats!  I had cats trying to get into the bucket, up ON my back (cause I’m bent over... right?), under the goat, around my legs. Then the big tomcat who NEEDED his milk RIGHT NOW, figured out that it is the goat that gives the milk, so he pounced on her back, and dug in his claws (or so I presume... it all happened so fast!) Cocoa reared up kicked the milk bucket over… spilling what milk I had managed to collect onto the floor making a very attractive pool of milk to which every cat in the universe made a beeline.  As Cocoa reared up one of her horns caught the hammer strap on the leg of my bibs and I was suddenly on one leg!  The foot that by some miracle had remained on the ground, slipped in the milk and I executed acrobatics never before seen or performed by humankind!  The soundtrack to this whole routine consisted of the terrified cries of Cocoa the goat, and the hissing and screeching of a dozen or so cats that STILL wanted their damned milk!  I landed on my ass in the milk puddle with one leg up over the goat screaming “son of a BITCH” as the cats scatter. Cocoa’s horn was still tangled in the hammer strap.  Cocoa was scared to death…. I have no idea why, she about got her head twisted off by my entanglement and subsequent fall… she got cat scratched, screamed at and run over by a hoarde of milk crazed cats.  What’s the problem Cocoa, a little jumpy?   I counted to ten… slowly… gently disentangled myself from the poor goat, talking soothingly to her for fear she will get all freaked out again and take me with her as she goes hell-bent through the barn... as my half-assed tie job didn’t hold worth a damn.  I hobbled to the house, when I finally got there, my Jen looked up at me and asked “where’s the milk?”  My reply, “don’t ask!”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maybe Someday...

A friend of ours is in Iowa today attending his Brother's wedding. These two men are finally able to be married (in my friends words) "thanks to the Iowa Supreme Court, this event is possible. I'm proud to be from a state the values the rights of all citizens!"

We've talked bout how some couples go to states like Iowa to have a marriage performed. I think that is great... but to me it might be so depressing to go and have this wonderful celebration of acceptance... and then come home to a state where not only the marriage itself is not recognized, but the validity of your relationship is called into question.

Maybe someday... in Indiana.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Giving... Receiving...

I was honored to be asked to conduct a morning ritual for a Women's Leadership Retreat.  The participants backgrounds and ages ranged widely. The ritual was this morning... participants and organizers were very open and engaged and deeply moved.  I am always blown away by how much I GET out of doing things like this!  One of my teachers who is very wise gave me this teaching, that has served me well, more times than I could ever count.  "Love at its best, is GIVING what you need most."  In other words whatever it is that you need... put that out into the world... give it away.  It will come to you.   By doing this ritual this morning... by giving to these women, my own spirit was rejuvenated and lifted up.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Collage

Images from sand creek
form a gruesome collage in my head
the People
some finally seeking sanctuary
under the banner
that represents their doom

the soldiers
wearing as trophies
the very future of the People
leaving only wind
and cold silence
where the dead suckle the dead

the anthem conjures up
images of bravery and freedoms
but also brings to mind
the collage

Why Now?

I came across an article today that the Attorney General in Virginia has ordered all of the institutions of higher education in the state to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  It seems that the AG feels that the institutions don't have the authority to create their own policies (what?)  This seems to be the latest in a string of anti inclusiveness steps being taken by the newly elected leadership in Virginia. Hey Virginia: What's that sound??? It's the sound of your freedoms... fluttering away!   I can only hope that the good people who work in Higher Ed in Virginia rise up and fight this with everything that they have!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm all for helping... but...

I am so proud of the support and assistance that Americans have poured out to Haiti and now Chile.  I'm all or helping those in need and there are SO many. I do wonder how THIS ... so close to home, so reachable, has gone un-noticed:  Feels to this Indian like one more instance that first nations people just are not a priority.