Tag Archives: Lesbian

Lesbian Watch! keeping an eye on those pesky lesbians who want to serve our country.

Dear Tiffany,

I spent some time this weekend catching up on the news and came across a story called ‘Trial opens for lesbian seeking to return to the military‘ (edited to add: the story has been updated and is now titled ‘Former colleagues testify for lesbian flight nurse’). The title of the article drew my attention because I was curious as to why the Seattle P.I chose to label Maj. Margaret Witt as a ‘lesbian’ rather than call her by her name. I wondered, what was so important to this article that the Seattle P.I felt it necessary to call this person a lesbian above and beyond all other things? What power does the word ‘lesbian’ carry that Maj. Witt’s name does not?

Tiffany, we’ve been having a lot of conversations lately regarding identity and the power that words play in establishing identity. And, I think this story is a striking representation of what we mean when we say our culture is all too willing to marginalize certain people by placing arbitrary labels on them. For example, if this story had been about a straight white woman, would it have read ‘Trial opens for heterosexual white woman seeking to return to the military’? Absolutely not. Yet, to label Maj. Margaret Witt as ‘lesbian’, and nothing more than such, is somehow considered appropriate. Could this possibly be about fear over the so-called ‘radical homosexual agenda’?

Maj. Margaret Witt has served her country in the military for 19 years. In order to do so, she was forced to hide a part of who she is. Now, unjustly, she is having to fight for her honor in a court of a law. And, ironically, the one aspect of herself that she was forced to hide is now the one aspect she is being identified as! Shouldn’t we as a society have enough maturity to respect her service, move beyond fear and understand that her struggle is a civil rights issue, and not a ‘lesbian’ issue? We should. But, apparently ‘othering’ Maj. Witt as a lesbian for the sake of a catchy, fear-mongering news headline is still acceptable.

To offer some context to this issue of words, I ran across another column that I encourage everyone to read. In her article ‘What are Words Worth?’, Princeton University Professor and Nation Magazine contributor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell argues that social and political structures at play are what truly bring power and meaning to the words we use. As examples, Harris-Lacewell looks at the cultural and political background surrounding some of our nations most historically significant speeches on social justice. Although her article doesn’t specifically focus on GLBT issues, her points are still applicable to Maj. Margaret Witt’s story.

Sadly, our culture continues to be polarized by fear of ‘others’. Harris-Lacewell ends her article with the following quote “Do not be afraid of the talking; it is time to work”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Lesbians with Strollers at Drag Shows don’t make a Good First Impression

Dear Tad,

Speaking of possibly bringing up children bi-racial and bilingual (whether it be English/Jive or something else), I wanted to chat about the many things that changed when I became a mother. When you’re a lesbian and you become a mother, some people want to know what on Earth you were thinking.

For starters, friends I used to know dropped away, some relationships changed, and others were just dumbfounded as to what I was doing with my life. Many of my single gay friends in Paris thought I should just forget about the idea; who would want to change the single lifestyle for parenthood? Some of my old friends have still managed to hang on, and although they do not all have children, they respect my decision. But, to become a mother was my plan despite some of the criticisms I received.

The truth is that when we become parents, our lives are transformed, whether we are gay or straight. How do new parents get the people around them to see and understand these changes? I sort of liken becoming a parent to getting up the nerve to attend one’s first AA meeting. When your old drinking buddies realize that you no longer want to drink, they move on – especially when they are Aussie’s drinking Foster’s at 10am during Footy season. You’re no longer any fun. Somehow, the numbers of people who can get used to you being a parent just dwindle. Your friends still want to continue to enjoy their adult fun, free of diapers and play dates. And, let’s face it: hauling kids along to your gay boyfriend’s drag show just might not escape the radar of CPS. So, it’s best to reconsider what it means to be mature and responsible. You and your stroller just cramp the cool, single, child-free lifestyle.

Our lives are very different when we are no longer single and hopping around the globe doing whatever we want (as was in my case). I was an international teacher for several years. I had a fabulous time living in Paris and then Abu Dhabi and then parts of Asia. Then, when I had my son, my entire world changed dramatically. For now, I have become a kind of soccer mom, sans mini-van, but with an HRC sticker on my car bumper. Most of the other parents at the PTA meetings in my God-fearing small town don’t get the sticker and just presume I like to go diving. I let them think that, choosing my battles as I go.

In the end, I have to say, I don’t regret becoming a parent for one minute, despite the many challenges. My son is the light of my life, the joy of my world and I wouldn’t trade him ever for the single life again–not for The Eiffel Tower, The Berlin Wall, or The Coliseum. Having him was the best choice I’ve made. If there’s anyone who has taught me more about love and enjoying one’s life, it is my child.

Why, just the other day he asked, “Mama, can we go to Rome one day and see gladiators?” To which I replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Very kind regards,

Tiffany

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