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Archive for June, 2009

The Gifts of Stonewall – 40 Years Later

Friday, June 26th, 2009

It was the evening of June 27, 1969 – the NYC Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn – and Greenwich Village was turned upside down. These raids were common and people were arrested for being homosexual. Gay men were beaten, dragged onto the streets, and arrested because of their sexuality. But on this night, gays had enough, and fought back in what has been called the Stonewall Riots. For many nights, protestors stood outside the Stonewall Inn and fought off the cops. This is what history has deemed as the beginning of the Gay Movement. And, yes, we have moved forward in so many ways, and yet, not enough in some areas.

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This is an opportunity to look back with gratitude for all who stood outside the Stonewall Inn and stood up for GLBT rights and say thank you. It is also an opportunity to make sure that all the sacrifices by those who came before us were not made in vain. They prepared the way for greater liberation for all. We can thank them by our continued efforts to educate, advocate, and bring our ideas and visions forward.

At a time when our President announces benefits for same-sex federal employees, we still have a military policy of, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” At a time when couples are rushing to Iowa (yes, Iowa!) to get married, many states are telling us that civil unions are enough or worse yet, reversing same-sex marriage.

People have told me to wait until the right time to speak about marriage equality, adoptions, and medical protections. “When is the right time for civil rights?” asked Lance Black, screen writer for the movie Milk. He went on to say that this country historically has worked on civil rights issues during times of unrest. Was it good timing when Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus? Every movement has its time and I believe this is our time to open up the conversation for equality for the GLBT community. If we think back to the time of prosperity during the Clinton presidency, we walked away with two terrible policies, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

Everyone has their views and I respect that. What I really desire is a society that honors love between adults. I dream of a day when it is not a matter of straight marriage and gay marriage, but honoring love. I have been with my partner for 15 wonderful years. We are present in the lives of our families during both times of joy and pain. We have lost loved ones and have been there for each other through sickness and health. Yet, I have to consciously decide when and to whom to share my life’s story and how. I have to choose how to answer medical forms which often leave my relationship out when I am asked to circle, “married, single or divorced.” I have had to accept being introduced (after 15 years) as my partners “friend.” I accept that change is slow and I accept that change is possible – because on a personal level, I have changed how I show up in the world and live my life with openness and vulnerability.

The best part of my life is the fact that I share it with everyone – men, women, gay, straight, bi-sexual, African American, Indian, white, social workers, city workers, life coaches, shamans, writers, nuns, nurses, business owners etc…I love that we are all of it. We are woven into the fabric of society.

The gift of Stonewall is that we stood up and said we are here – see us. I didn’t “come out” because I wanted people to tolerate me. I came out because I wanted folks to know I love and hurt like everyone else. This is a time of celebrating 40 years of a rich and diverse community. This year, I invite you to stand alongside a gay or lesbian friend or family member. Stand alongside and thank them for the gift of love and courage they give to the world. Stonewall lives on.

I am grateful for all the men and women who went before me and stood up for their right to be loved and love others – no matter their sexual orientation. I am grateful for all those in the Stonewall Rebellion. I am grateful for my loving life partner, Lorene, for 15 wonderful years.

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Living Succinctly

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I recently finished the book The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta. In his book he talks about creating a blueprint for living with less clutter, noise, distractions, and unnecessary interruptions in our daily living. Babauta says, “By setting limitations, we must choose the essential.”

How can we choose the essential? I started looking at all the “stuff” in my life. These are the things that fill up my home, my desk, my inbox, and even the trunk of my car. I began to notice that I was surrounded by so many unessential things. My vision is to live more succinctly. I want to be able to live with fewer things and make myself available for more experiences. A rich filled life for me is not having more things, but the ability to spend time with good friends, travel to new places, and create space for more learning.

To live succinctly means keeping the essential and letting the rest fall away. A good example that Babauta refers to in choosing the essential is in a poetry form known as a haiku. A haiku is Japanese style poetry written in seventeen syllables on three lines (five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables). A haiku is usually written about a nature related ordinary moment. Back in 1990, I wrote a Haiku poem in response to some volunteer work I was doing with children in the Bahamas.

Little arms and hands

Wrapped around my waist show me

The beauty of God-

Here is to speaking and living succinctly – and noticing what begins to show up in your life. Are there places in your life where you can set limitations and free yourself for more of the essential? Take notice of how you fill your days, your desk, and your home.

Start with the beauty of a Haiku. Everyone is invited to send me their haiku poems and I will post them. Send your poems to toningtheom@yahoo.com.

This blog is dedicated to all my English teachers who inspired me to read poetry and encouraged me to write. The haiku is dedicated to all the children in the Bahamas where living succinctly and lovingly was a gift I still carry today.

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“Truth Be Told – I Choose You”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Truth Be Told - I Choose You

Truth Be Told - I Choose You

I opened up my email from a friend, and read the first line, “Truth be told – I choose you.” Seeing the words on the screen, a flood of tears came. I took a breath and read it again. More tears came rolling down my cheeks. Suddenly, I felt overcome with emotion. I turned the computer off and just repeated the words. I felt a huge release come over my body. I began to shake and I could feel an old protective rusty cage around my heart snap open. My heart felt softer and expansive at the same time. Years of caution and mistrust just melted away with that one powerful line.

My heart felt open and ready to receive love. I wiped the tears from my face and sat quietly. I repeated the line, truth be told – I choose you, over and over again. Voicing the phrase aloud, I felt an enormous power inside that revealed a pure essence that has always been there, but one I had not accepted. Each word in that line was a transformative vibration – truth, be, told, I, choose, you. This phrase represented the grandest invitation to life. This is the experience of totality – the gift of fully inviting another person on your life’s journey. It’s the power of invitation.

When we invite others to join us on our journey, we open ourselves up to a vulnerable place that can reveal incredible gifts. If we really allow others into our hearts, we can experience the fullness of life. One invitation can be the difference in how we experience the world. Inviting others into our world can be a life changing event. Truth be told – I chose you was a spiritual awakening.

I so deeply experienced the intimacy of allowing a friend to connect with my essence – it wasn’t about what I do or who I know – it was about inviting me because of who I AM. I felt like an apostle when Jesus said, “Come, Follow Me.” This is the greatest of faiths. The invitation is about dropping everything to be present with another.

I turned the computer back on, read the line, and smiled. I felt so much gratitude to have such a wonderful friend and hoped she knew just how powerful that opening line was in her message. There was so much relief after so many years of carrying such a protective cage around my heart. Now, my heart feels open to receive more love in every form.

How do you invite more love into your life? Byron Katie says, “Love is action.” Choose to invite someone into your heart. Give the gift of invitation.

Truth Be Told – I Choose You, Too!

Special thanks to my friend for sending me this powerful message of invitation and love. I am blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for opening my heart and feeding my soul.

More Love!

Mary Anne

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