I have a day off…at last. I hope you will forgive my lack of a column lately. Going back to school and working extra gigs for some vacation money has eaten into my free time. For all of his faults and support of mayoral candidates who do not have our community’s best interests at heart, Mr. Dave Ramsey taught me long ago that the “blow” fund needs to come from outside your normal paycheck; I continue to agree (and I hear the snickering…stop that!).
For my daughter’s sixteenth birthday we are going on a lad and dad trip overseas. Where? Far, far away…that’s all you need to know. A week somewhere else, where we can hang with folks who do not think being transgender or queer in any of its wonderful colors and tastes is anything to hide or to be ashamed of. Queer, family-friendly Xanadu costs a small bit of lucre though, and I have been toiling nicely to earn this coin. Daughter-unit is budding into a gender-freeish young woman, and I have been growing quite confident in my female presentation. I can pass for a very butch female as long as I keep my mouth shut…but frankly I could care less what anyone else thinks save Soulmate.
Not everyone feels this way. This column comes as a direct response to the latest plan from the current occupants of 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue to eliminate transgender people from daily life. The move was not unexpected. Disappointing, perhaps…but well in line with the rumors that have been seeping out from that cesspool of alt-right politics. We are hearing that the next election campaign will be fought for the hearts and minds of all those who want to roll back pretty much everything gained from the Civil Rights era.
Hey, they’re Nazis (yes, I finally said that.) What else is new?
NewsChannel5’s recent flip-flop over displaying a pride logo on their idents in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall followed extreme conservative backlash. I remember when the Nashville Scene placed an unofficial ban on LGBTQ+ stories back in their early days as a result of real threats to themselves and their major advertisers. Perhaps we should temper judgement sometimes. Allies are human too…and no one tells them in advance how perilous the support of freedom may sometimes be.
The Tennessee Equality Project’s Chris Sanders has been instrumental in banging the drum of freedom for those of us who choose to live openly as our true selves in a part of the country where the majority of its citizenry seem to opt for those who oppose us in local and state government. I am very glad to see Chris keep up this effort. He and others in his position are doing what my generation’s LGBTQ+ heroes did back in the day, when daily life for the majority of our kind was far worse…
Except I chose not to listen then. Breaking into my fifties with some bit of age and wisdom bestowed upon my person, I now realize how wrong I was to question those who have the courage to put all on the line to defend our gains and to keep our community focused on the prize…an American South were being LGBTQ+ is not something to hide or to be ashamed of anymore no matter your background.
Message to those with flagging hearts who are tired of fighting for our community’s freedom: Don’t be me when I was your age; you do better. I am very tired too, but the next generation of “us” is depending upon us to stand up and be counted…now.
The Memorial Day holiday is a time when we commemorate those who went down fighting for our freedom. Many of those heroes were LGBTQ+. Think about that. Folks who gave up their lives for a cause that did not always include them…and yes, I do understand that African Americans and other historically marginalized groups can very much relate to this too.
I went to a military school up north where one of our instructors was a top non-commissioned Army officer from California. He was a Japanese-American who was drafted into the Army straight out of the internment camp our government sent his family and relatives to soon after the Pearl Harbor attack. He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all Japanese-American unit whom the Nazi soldiers they faced off with in Italy feared with good reason.
In the early 1980s, he was a retired Command Sergeant Major with a uniform that resembled a Christmas tree of full of decorations earned from that conflict. He taught us two important things: internment camps are wrong no matter the rationale, and freedom is worth fighting for.
The people who choose to be led into darkness have given up on the future. We have not. Frankly, we no longer have a choice…and this includes me. As much as I sometimes dream of going back to my old life, I always know that those days are gone forever. I fight for Soulmate, my daughter, my new friends and my previous lovers. I am sure that the majority of you do so also. We have come too far for our cause to die no matter how badly some would wish for that to happen.
Keep fighting, and just as importantly, keep hoping for better days. It may get worse before it gets better, but we will win. Count on it. Our community has seen worse before, and we are still here.
As my hipster daughter in a training binder puts it: Gallifrey stands.
Julie Chase is the pen name for a local trans woman.