“Courage is not posturing, shouting, beating up people, or carrying a gun on your hip. Courage is knowingly taking on personal risk in order to preserve the ideals that are worth preserving.”
This piece first appeared on the Baby Mama website–feel free to read it there and also some of the other pieces I’ve written for them. Actually, click around the whole site while you’re there. Lots of good stuff. I’m reprinting it here to reach those of you who haven’t discovered Baby Mama yet. There’s adult language below. Be warned.
This morning, I woke up excited to go to the Los Angeles Pride Parade with my twenty-two-year-old gay son. We went last year and had a blast. I had already planned my outfit and we’d made a pre-parade brunch reservation in West Hollywood. This was going to be fun.
Then I looked at my phone and saw the breaking news: fifty people killed, many more injured, in a mass slaughter at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
I don’t need to tell you how I felt. If you’re a human being, you know.
When my son woke up, I went into his room to talk to him. He hadn’t seen the news yet. I told him. And then I said I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to the parade, wasn’t even sure if we should go. It felt wrong to laugh and cheer and dance after a tragedy like that—and the Pride Parade is all about laughing and cheering and dancing.
And then my son said, “We have to go and show our support. We can’t let anyone scare us away or subdue or quiet us.”
So we went. I didn’t wear the bright pink skirt I was going to—my heart wasn’t in it—but I did wear my “fuck the patriarchy” tank top and Johnny wore his. (Doesn’t every family have matching “fuck the patriarchy” tank tops? If not, they should.) Republican senators had blocked a bill that might have prevented the shooter from easy access to the firearms he used to take so many innocent lives. So, you know … seriously, fuck the patriarchy.
We even kept our brunch reservation. While we were enjoying some really good eggs, we started getting texts from friends and family. Some guy had been arrested in Santa Monica with tons of weapons and claimed he’d been on his way to the Pride Parade. People were scared—he might have been caught but what if there were others who hadn’t been? Would we be safe?
Johnny and I looked at each other and shrugged and drank our coffee. We’d already made our decision. We wanted to be there.
We had a great time at the Parade. Yes, there were some religious nuts who had a very loud loudspeaker and were saying horrible things and damning us all to hell, and yes, there were bagpipers who stopped and played in front of us for way too long, but those were minor annoyances in a morning spent filled with people waving, smiling, throwing kisses, and loving one another.
There’s a lot to be scared of in this world. And there’s a lot to be proud of. I want to be someone who increases the amount of pride in the world and decreases the amount of fear. Join me, will you? Let’s start by going to the polls in November and voting for the candidates who are pro gun-control and anti-bigotry.
And maybe throw on a rainbow scarf or a “fuck the patriarchy” top if you’re lucky enough to have one. Can’t hurt.
I’ll be at the Barnes and Noble in Torrance, at the Del Amo Fashion Center, tomorrow at 1 pm. Please come visit! I will sign anything you want (usual disclaimers apply–I’m squeamish about flesh) and if experience proves correct, I’ll have plenty of time to just sit and chat with you because no one ever comes to these things. This is your chance to push me to write a sequel to EPIC FAIL!
Some things I feel really strongly about. I haven’t been blogging much lately, but this is so much on my mind that I needed to write about it publicly. So I’m just going to put it all down here and hope maybe it changes a few people’s perspectives.
I posted the following on a thread on Target’s FB page because people are threatening to boycott Target for refusing to bar transgender people from the bathrooms.
We mustn’t take away rights from the innocent because there are criminals in the world. People who identify as the opposite sex are not molesters. In fact, they are far more vulnerable to being molested or attacked than others–and need to feel safe when they use the bathroom. No one is checking genitalia at any of the bathrooms I’ve ever used and I feel perfectly safe–nor do I WANT someone checking to make sure our genitalia is what they want it to be. If you find someone peeping or molesting in a bathroom, by all means throw the law at that person (those things ARE illegal). But i see no reason to punish innocent people who just want to feel safe when they use the bathroom.
I’m just adding here, on my own blog, that people who are using the “a man will pretend to be a woman and rape girls in a bathroom” argument are being ridiculous. First of all, I’ve never heard of that happening. Second of all, a man who wants to molest women can pretend to be anything he wants, but that doesn’t mean you punish people who aren’t molesting women by taking away their rights. Barring trans women from women’s bathrooms because you’re worried about some mythical molester is the equivalent of telling little kids they can’t carry backpacks to school anymore because some terrorists carry bombs in backpacks.
But I don’t believe that the people who are up in arms about inclusive bathrooms are really scared about being molested, anymore than I think that people who object to gay marriage are really worried about “the sanctity of marriage” being abused or their “religious freedoms” being impinged upon. Nope. It’s just trying to find an excuse for their fundamental bigotry, intolerance, and xenophobia. I’m tired of the small-mindedness and I’m tired of the hypocrisy.
I am not the slightest bit afraid of someone with a penis peeing in the stall next to me. I’m terrified that someone who identifies as a woman will get beaten up if she uses the men’s bathroom.
And you should be too.
Please, go to Target’s page and thank them for being openminded and progressive. And shop there. They’ve been on the right side of history in so many ways.
Wow, I’ve really been awful about blogging lately. The main reason is that I’ve been posting a lot on BabyMama, so if you want to see what I’ve been writing about, check that out. I’m especially fond of this piece but roam around the site and see what you think.
I’ve also just been busy, happily working on a bunch of different projects with different people and also just enjoying hanging with my kids and traveling a little. I just had an amazing trip to the east coast, stopping first at my college reunion and then going on to see some plays and have some work meetings in New York. (Except REALLY it was all just an excuse to see my son, who’s in college in Connecticut and won’t be home until Thanksgiving.) When I think back to where I was almost exactly a year ago (here’s a reminder), I can’t believe how far I’ve come in twelve months. I’m in a very good place right now and beyond grateful to be here.
Anyway, the big news here is that I’ve sold another YA novel, so expect to see a new one from me in spring of 2017! I’m so happy about this one–it’s a whole new direction for me. I’m working with a new publishing house (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin) and an editor who’s lovely, and the manuscript is already written, so I only need to edit and change a few things, which makes it all play and no work. This one isn’t based on Austen or any other of the greats–it’s just ME from start to end. We’re still playing around with the title so I’ll let you know what it is when I know it.
Finally, if you want a smile, watch this. (You can skip to the one minute mark to get to the good stuff.) I can’t NOT smile when I watch this. Plus the refrain of “Look around, look around–how lucky we are to be alive right now” kind of makes your heart swell, even when it’s sung by lip-synching men in little King George crowns.
Here’s a link to an article of mine in an online magazine I’ve been doing some writing for. While you’re there, check out the whole site–there’s a lot of good stuff there.
Anyway, here’s my article–it’s about stopping the college push insanity. Sometimes I feel like an alien on the west side of LA, because I don’t care whether or not my kids go to a big name school. My article explains why . . .
Now back to VACATION.
I just had my IUD taken out. It gave me nine years of wonderful service but I don’t need it anymore–ain’t no fertility left in this old chicken.
I just talked about a) contraception and b) menopause. Should I be embarrassed?
No. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the sort of person who’ll talk about anything at any time with anybody. It’s because I think this world would be an infinitely better place if people just talked freely and comfortably about their bodies and its drives, needs, and physical make-up.
I hate the concept of shame more than anything else. I want that word stricken from our vocabulary. The only thing people should feel shame about is being mean, unfair, petty, or callous. But no one should feel shame because her body has desires, impulses or needs. Obviously, we need to be in control of those desires, impulses, and needs–if we ate ten donuts every time we got hungry, we’d be harming ourselves (although . . . what a way to go).
But feeling shame because our bodies get aroused or have some sort of dysfunction or simply because they’re BODIES? Think of how often you hear people try to shame women for wearing skimpy clothing, as if the body itself is shameful and it’s the woman’s responsibility to keep hers covered up. That’s bullshit–it’s a woman’s right to show as much skin as she wants. Period.
There are two things that scientific studies have linked to a reduction in teen pregnancy (and therefore abortions); access to contraception and sexual education that’s NOT abstinence only (that ridiculous approach doesn’t work because URGES). In other words, teach kids to understand how their bodies work, allow them to feel comfortable with its desires and needs, then educate them in the ways to SAFELY act on those desires and needs. (And of course, by “safely,” I mean in ways that are safe to OTHERS as well as yourself. Anything non-consensual is not safe.) It’s astonishing to me that there are people who preach against masturbation and contraception. What’s safer than masturbation? It’s good, clean, calorie-free fun. And contraception lets you have sex without worrying about getting pregnant or getting an STD–it’s like the greatest thing in the WORLD and I dream of being the contraception Easter Bunny, tossing out condoms where e’er I go.
We have bodies that shit, piss, get boners, get aroused, vomit, eat, produce earwax, mucus, and that weird black stuff between our toes. Educating ourselves about how to keep those bodies as healthy as possible–without denying that any of that exists–is the only way to be at peace with ourselves and accepting of others. Frankness, honesty, acceptance, education, shared experiences, a sense of humor . . . those are our salvation.
Let’s own our bodies’ urges, figure out how to act on them safely, and educate others to do the same. Above all, let’s TALK freely and openly about what our bodies want and need. There’s no shame in that. The only true shame is ignorance and small-mindedness.
That said, I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of my gyno exam today. Not out of shame. Just because it was boring.