Born this way

We are all born a certain way.  With a certain genetic code that decides what color hair we will have, will it be straight or curly, how tall will we be, how stout will we be.  It tells us what color eyes we will have, hazel, green, brown or blue.  Or in the case of my friend Tanja, one blue and one brown.  Actually, Tanja has one blue eye and her other eye is half brown and half blue.  It is impossible NOT to look her in the eyes.  Our DNA decides if we will be born with all of our body parts and brains fully functioning, or if we are missing a chromosome, or piece of DNA it decides if we will have Down’s Syndrome, or autism, or any number of other myriad of genetic birth defects.

That being said, what about gender and sex?  Of course we know our gender and sex are determined by our DNA.  But what about sexual orientation?
Many people will say that people CHOOSE to be gay or straight.  Many say they are born gay or straight.  I am not a scholar and I have not done enough research to determine if the scientific data supports either theory.  All I can tell you is what people have told me.

I wrote last week about how I was on a panel of LGBT people for a class at church.  Our church teaches sexuality classes using a curriculum called Our Whole Lives.  It is a wonderful curriculum that is age appropriate and divided into age groups such as 4-5 grade, 7-9 grade, 10-12 grade as well as adult classes.  We are currently teaching a 7-9 grade class, and there is a session that is a guest panel of LGBT people.  This session is the final session of the group of sessions discussing sexual orientation, gender, and stereotypes.  I invited a young man who is 19 and came out as a gay male the summer before his senior year of high school, a young lady who came out a few weeks ago (she is a senior in high school) and a young man who is a senior and who has not completely come out yet, just to some friends.  I decided I would put myself on the panel as a “back up” in case any of the young people didn’t show up.  I prefer to have young people on the panel because they relate well to 7-9 grade kids.
It was prior to that class that I had the discussion about exactly what my sexuality is and one of the people I was talking to told me about Pansexuality.

I was very intrigued by what one of the guests on the panel had to say when he told his story.  I am going to call him “GQ Dude”.  If you have ever seen the handsome men on the cover of that magazine, you will get the picture. GQ Dude is 19 years old.  He is very handsome and is NOTHING like a stereotypical gay male.  He is athletic.  He is not flamboyant at all.  As a matter of fact he is not someone I would ever guess is gay if I were to meet him for the first time.  I actually knew who this young man was, because he dated The NewYorRican’s daughter for a short time a few years ago.  His family lives in my neighborhood.  I had never met him personally, but I knew his mom and dad.  Very nice people!
GQ Dude was kind enough to come to the GLBT panel for my 7-9 graders, and he told us his story.  He told us that after years of trying to fool himself by dating lots of young ladies, he came out the summer before his senior year.  He said his friends all but abandoned him, and the church where his family had been worshiping for years turned their backs on him.  He was told he was “going to Hell”, and that they could “love him, but not his sin.”  He told us about how he spent weeks inside the house because his friends would not speak to him or answer his calls.  He felt alone,betrayed and abandoned.  All because he decided to be honest about who he is.

It was at that point that he stopped himself, and said, “You know, I hear people say that gay people choose to be gay, but I am here to tell you that is not true.  Why would I choose this lifestyle?  Choose being discriminated against?  Choose a lifestyle that made my friends and church family abandon me?  Choose an orientation where I can’t even walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand? Who would choose that? Nobody would.”

GQ Dude articulated the thoughts that I believe MANY GLBT people have had.  Why in the world would we CHOOSE to be born that way?  A life of discrimination, ridicule and being treated differently?  A life where you can’t have a legally binding civil union or marriage (or whatever term you prefer to use) in most of the 50 states in this country.  A lifestyle where you get bullied and picked on in school.

These are questions that anyone who feels being gay is a choice should ask themselves.  It would be much easier to be heterosexual. I think GQ Dude is absolutely right!!  You Go Dude!!

However, as my friend Lady GaGa says,

Thanksgiving oops……….

Thanksgiving has been a holiday in the United States since President Abraham Lincoln declared the 4th Thursday to be a national day of thanks in 1863. That was 148 years ago. When I was in elementary school we learned about the “first Thanksgiving” with the Pilgrims and the Indians. I learned how the Indians (I went to school in the late 70’s and early 80’s, so we didn’t have the PC term Native American back then. They were Indians.) helped the Pilgrims learn to plant crops and they celebrated the harvest with their Indian friends and shared the bounty. What I couldn’t wrap my head around was how they forgot how to plant crops while they were on the boat crossing the ocean. I mean, they knew how to plant crops in England didn’t they? They weren’t starving there, so why didn’t they know how to plant here in America?

Of course as I got older I learned how the soil and climate were different enough that the settlers needed to learn how to plant different crops than what they were used to in England and how the Native Americans helped them with that. I may have been taught that in third grade, but I just don’t remember those small details anymore….sigh…

So, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln (one of my favorite presidents), and we have been celebrating it since then. Many families have Thanksgiving traditions. Foods that they MUST have on the table. Or things they do together. Maybe the turkey has to be cooked the way grandma cooked it, or maybe there MUST be a football game played by the family outside after the meal, or maybe the meal just isn’t complete without a special dessert. To be honest, I don’t remember any special traditions in my family. There may have been some, but as my mother so gently told me recently, “Carol, I think you get it wrong a lot.” That was a sweet way to say, “WTF???” That just isn’t something my mother would say, and “geez, your memory sucks” isn’t her style either. Now don’t get me wrong, she is definitely one to call a spade a spade, but she usually does it with a certain finesse and tact.

I spoke with my mother on the phone today, and it didn’t occur to me to ask her if we had any special traditions when I was a kid. But truly, none jump to mind. I do have some traditions with my family now, but most of those revolve around Christmas, so you will get to read about them at a later date. For Thanksgiving, to be honest, in the past 6 years or so, my kids have usually gone to their dad’s house for Thanksgiving, so Bluebell and I have used that as an excuse to have a weekend away. Last year was the first year my kids did not visit their father, and we had Thanksgiving dinner with some of my closest friends. None of us has family in the area, so we decided it would be fun to make our own “family holiday”. We had a wonderful time and we have decided to do that again this year.

However, I have had my share of Thanksgiving calamities. I know everyone has a story they can tell about the dog eating the bird, or the turkey being so hard and dry it couldn’t be sliced, or the dinner not tasting good etc. What I would like from you all, is to outdo each other with your Thanksgiving calamity stories. I would love for each reader to write a comment and tell about a particularly funny, or strange, or “uh oh” story.

I will get you started with mine. It is really the only one I can think of, but it is a doozy. One year my ex-husband J decided he wanted to smoke the turkey. We lived in Pensacola at that time, and I was pregnant with Jacob, so it must have been November 1998. Well, we did not have a smoker, so we borrowed one from some friends. It was a brand new one, and our friend told J how to use it and gave him the instruction booklet to read. We decided we wanted to use Jack Daniels and apple chips to give the turkey a yummy taste. J followed the instructions exactly, and the turkey was almost finished, and he was getting ready to baste it. The way a smoker is set up, the juice pan sits above the coals, so the juices and smoke mix to flavor the bird even more. Well, J went to baste the bird and spilled the pan of juices. All of a sudden as the oils in the juice pan hit the coals, flames shot up at least 7-8 feet in the air. As a matter of fact the flames were high enough for our next door neighbor to see them over the 6 foot fence separating our yard. Because it was a grease fire we couldn’t put out the flames with the hose and I ran inside to look for a fire extinguisher.

I found the extinguisher and ran back outside and handed it to J who quickly put out the flames. Of course a turkey that is burned and then covered with carbon dioxide from the fire extinguisher did not make for an appetizing meal, so there was no turkey that year. I think we enjoyed all the carbohydrate-laden sides with no protein. Not to mention that the fire was so hot in the smoker that it burned the paint off the smoker and we had to buy a new one for our friends. That was a scary and expensive turkey dinner.

That is my Thanksgiving calamity story. Bad news we had no turkey, good news was we didn’t burn down the house. I guess you have to take the bad with the good.

So I want to hear your Thanksgiving story. What tradition MUST you do every year, or what food must you eat, or did you experience a Thanksgiving calamity also? Inquiring minds want to know…..

Silent Sunday Even more photos from Barbados

So I am working on my laptop today!  I am sitting at a Panera while my son The Genius is at a Color Me Mine studio with his mentor Sunshine, (she is like everyone’s favorite Auntie…sweet, smart, fun, beautiful, cool, etc etc).  The Genius doesn’t have an Auntie on my side, so Sunshine fills that void for him!  I just love her to pieces!  Anyway, I have photos on here that I don’t have on my desktop (need to fix that today) of Barbados:

My nephews at the pool
Joe Cool….ummm not sure what he’s doing in the pool…. 🙂
Flamboyant tree outside villa
The Genius was so tired after the first day he fell asleep with his iPod in his hand.
Sleeping iPod in his hand…
Pool and back of Villa
Back of villa from poolside
Name of villa
front of villa
Nidhe Synagogue. The oldest synagogue in Barbados
Cemetery at Nidhe Synagogue, Bridgetown Barbados
Women’s bathhouse at Nidhe Synagogue
Altar with Torah inside at Nidhe Synagogue, Bridgetown Barbados
Joe Cool reading the 10 Commandments….I now have proof he has seen them. 🙂
Joe Cool rfising his camera Grandmother gave him inside Nidhe Synagogue
Joe Cool and my brother “The Old Man” at the synagogue
Joe Cool in Bridgetown Barbados.
Joe Cool and my nephew GI Joe in front of the bathhouse
The Genius outside the synagogue


More later.  🙂