#heterosexualprideday

Ah, the hashtag.

Used from the banal:

#girl #pretty #blessed #party #partylife #philly #philadelphia

etc. etc. etc.

To the useful:

#giveelsaagirlfriend #nowomanever #givecaptainamericaaboyfriend

Hashtags can be used on Twitter to create a conversation, occasionally – once in a blue moon – an important conversation. But today? Today, they’re being used to make everyone seem a little more dumb.

The hashtag #heterosexualprideday is trending, and the entire thing has brought up a discussion that, well, like a heterosexual pride day, just doesn’t seem necessary.

There have been some great responses, giving the hashtag just as much flack as support, it seems, which is solid. For example:

Then there are just some dumb responses:

Well, @cartoonjunkie1 (CJ… Can I call you CJ? Have we reached that point? I assume we have), and everyone else who genuinely believes that Heterosexual Pride Day should be a thing, I feel kind of sorry for you, and kind of scared of you. Scared because not long ago, there was a horrific hate crime committed against the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why we have to have gay pride, that’s why we have to all stand together, so that in holding our hands and raising them up high, we’re telling each other that we aren’t alone, it’s all going to be okay, and we’re going to get through this.

To shift attention away from the community that’s hurting and mourning, a community who needs support from those who have the privilege of not being a part of it, that’s rude. And it’s scary. And it’s hurtful. And it needs to stop.

on pride, guns, and the usa

I’ve been putting off writing a blog post since I woke up yesterday morning to the news about what happened in Orlando. I’ve gone through the gambit of emotions – shock, dismay, anger, grief. Now morning is here again and I’ve had the chance to sleep on it and things are slowly going back to normal. I wonder, though, if they ever really can – especially for members of the LGBT community, the world has become suddenly a scarier place. We got marriage equality last summer and this summer, we’re getting shot.

Hate crimes have always taken place in small numbers, but persecution on such a grand scale is something of the past in the Western world. Or so I thought. There are other places in this world you can’t hold hands or kiss in public, as an openly queer person, without being punished by the law. And while my heart breaks today as it always has for the LGBT community in places where they must hide out of fear, my heart now breaks anew for LGBT people in my own country.

uganda pride parade

The 2012 Pride Parade in Uganda, one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be LGBT via

The shooter was, according to his father, enraged after seeing two men kissing in Miami. What kind of horrific culture of homophobia has been fostered in our own backyards that such a thing – seeing two men kissing – could set off enough anger in a human being that he would go into a gay club and kill 50 people?

Of course, it isn’t that simple. It isn’t just the two men he saw that drove him to do this. It could be any number of things – it could be the open bitter hatred for the LGBT community that gets expressed every day by radical Christians in our country, or public figures on the right, or even just every day people who make homophobic comments on the Internet and in person. All of these groups have been extra loud lately amidst the “bathroom debate,” which has gone on far too long and become far too big of a deal. People have said awful things and I’m sure I don’t need to highlight them here, because everyone’s been seeing and hearing nothing but opinions on either side of the debate. But the fact that it’s given lots of people the opportunity to emerge from the woodwork spewing hate has created a crackling negative energy that surrounds our whole country these days.

There are lots of things that we could do in the wake of this tragedy. I remember that after Sandy Hook, I thought things would really change. I had faith in our country and our lawmakers. I had faith in everyone who called themselves Americans. I had faith that the slaughter of innocent children would force everyone to unite and make a significant change. I couldn’t imagine a world where a man walks into a building with a gun, shoots 20 children, and nothing changes.

So in the wake of that tragedy, we decorated our Christmases with conversations about mental health, violent video games, and gun control. And when the New Year came around, we all went back to school and work and moved on.

Some states changed things. Most didn’t.

It sickens me to my core, as it should sicken you, that there are people in this country who would rather protect their freedom to own a gun – an outdated freedom, one that no one in our free country needs – than keep the children of the United States safe.

So here’s what will happen: we’ll talk about the shooter’s religion. We’ll talk about his mental health. We’ll wonder if he played violent video games. We’ll talk about homophobia. And in a few days, weeks, months, all of the above, there’ll be another shooting. And another. And another.

In this time of grief and mourning, as we in the LGBT community try to find our voices and words to say, we must remember that it is important above all to speak. We must not allow the national dialogue to stray away from the issues at the heart of what happened. We must be loud and constant and tell our lawmakers, neighbors, the whole world that the United States will not tolerate such acts of terrorism and homophobia. The year is 2016. We cannot be a country that allows for these tragedies to happen again, and again, and again. We must put pressure on the levee until it breaks, and let our freedom, our lives, our voices as a community pour out like water. We must fill the country with our protest, our heart, and say that we will not be killed, we will not allow anyone to be killed.

This should not have happened. But how we move forward from here can save thousands, millions of American lives on our own soil.

Sign petitions. Join protests. Call, write, tweet, and email your local politicians. When the election comes, fill Washington DC with people who might work toward greater gun control. Don’t sit down. Never sit down until the children of this country, the minorities of this country, every single person who has ever walked into a movie theater, a shopping mall, a school building, a college campus, a gay club in this country is safe.

Visit http://everytown.org/act/ for some information on what you can do to join the fight.

Grocery Shopping

So I’ve noticed a lot of the time when I’m at home I have absolutely no self-restraint. If there are hostess cupcakes or cookies or even chocolate chips in the pantry, I’ll eat them all. I’ll genuinely dig into that bag of chocolate chips with a spoon and stand in the kitchen eating my pure chocolate and generally considering what exactly it is that has brought me to this point.

I’m also incredibly lazy when it comes to food preparation. If it takes more than 20 minutes I’m out, because most likely I’ve waited until the last minute of hunger to start preparing my meal. I usually end up snacking while making lunch or dinner because I just can’t wait any longer to eat.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. As a society we are generally very lazy human beings with limited self-restraint. Most people I know will not be able to ignore the pudding snacks in the pantry for long before tearing into them after supper.

When I first started living on my own at college I was in an apartment in London with several other girls. The fridge was a public venture and I only had one shelf to house my items; more than that, I could only buy food for a few days because the walk to and from the grocery store was so long that lugging a full bag of groceries would have slowly torn my arms off. And then I’d have been stuck at home trying to figure out how to eat my seven cans of soup with my feet.

I wasted a lot of food that first semester. I didn’t realize just how hard it can be to plan your meals around expiration dates and various events – I also didn’t yet realize that if you’re one person buying a loaf of bread, unless you eat two pieces of bread a day, you’d better freeze your damn bread. There were a lot of rookie mistakes to be made, and believe me, I still make rookie mistakes a lot.

But I did realize some things in my journey to becoming at least slightly capable of maintaining a full kitchen with healthy things, so here are my tips for sustaining yourself with nutritious things in our current society!

It all pivots upon a healthy grocery trip. Seriously. What I said earlier about having no self-restraint is true, and that’s why it’s important to only buy healthy foods when you’re shopping. If you allow yourself to be tempted by unhealthy snacks at the grocery store, then you’re going to end up eating them at home. But if you’re home and want something to snack on but all you have in your fridge is fruit and pretzels, then that’s what you’re going to eat.

Healthy doesn’t have to be boring. I’ve found a lot of snacks and desserts that I really enjoy that involve a little bit of unhealthy food paired with a little bit of healthy food. For example, I like to mix semi-sweet chocolate chips with craisins in a bowl. A good dinner that I’ll post about later is what I call Honey Apple Chicken, which is just making apples and chicken cooked in honey on the stove. It’s sweet and summery but healthy.

Buy basics once a week and buy fruits and augmentations more frequently. It’s best to go grocery shopping a few times a week, but only one time does it have to be a huge trip. I’ve gotten in the habit of buying bread, eggs, rice, pasta, cereal, peanut butter, etc. once a week, and then on my way home from class or at least a few times a week getting something for that night and the following night. Sometimes that’ll be an avocado to add to my eggs and toast, sometimes it’ll be apples to make the apple and chicken meal I mentioned, sometimes it’ll be veggies to put in a risotto. This helps to keep your day-to-day shopping trips lighter.

On Sunday night, figure out your dinner plans for the week. Especially if you’re on a budget, this can be really helpful because it means you won’t be buying extra things that you’ll never use. Last semester I had three cans of tuna sit on my shelf from August to December and I ended up throwing them out when it was time to move out. Only buy things that you’ll realistically prepare and eat, and get them just a few days before you eat them to ensure they don’t go bad.

I’m definitely not an expert in the least but if you’re heading off to college and you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to deal with the stress of grocery shopping, use these tips to avoid making some of the simple mistakes that I made at first. And if you have any other tips, leave a comment below!

Reunion

You’ve dreamt of it for ages. Maybe months, maybe several weeks. Maybe just  a few days. You’re standing in the airport (substitute bus terminal, parking lot, your own driveway, your car, etc.) holding flowers you bought at the grocery store for a (whopping) $10 earlier today. It’s midnight (or maybe for you it’s the middle of the day) and people are slowly coming into baggage claim, where you’ve set up shop. You’re holding your flowers and trying to look as normal as possible while your entire body is buzzing with excitement. Your kindle, which you shoved in your bag in case of long wait, remains unread. You picture, over and over, the moment she comes into view. You’re so excited, adrenaline is pumping, you don’t care what time it is, you’re wide awake —

You see her, finally, and she sees you. Her face breaks into a smile and you feel a whoosh, a release of the tension of being apart for all the days since you last saw her. The last moment lasts a very short time, and you aren’t sure if it’s a last moment or a first. She runs toward you, entirely undignified, and  you open your arms and accept her into them. The flowers press against her back.

I thought about this moment a lot in the first month my girlfriend and I were parted. I thought about what it would feel like to hug her and kiss her. I fantasized about how great it would feel.

I worried too, briefly, about the other people waiting around me. With one sharp look or a word of disapproval they could shatter my perfect moment. As I stood there with the flowers in my hand, a chauffeur holding a sign that said “Mr. Smith” on it looked at me, then looked away, then slowly looked back at me. The brightly dyed daisies I was carrying were maybe a little startling to me – why was this girl wearing flip flops and a Shakespeare t-shirt, in the airport, half past midnight, holding flowers? The key word, of course, being girl. Carrying flowers she would give to another girl. I worried that if she came before he left he might make some snide remark and boom – shattered. He would ruin the moment.

Being in a queer relationship long distance is interesting – it takes away the constant decision making surrounding whether or not to hold her hand or kiss her in public. Usually, in an ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ attitude, I act normally and don’t change my behavior in the slightest for anyone’s comfort. But when she’s not around, no one would guess that I’m in a relationship with a woman. I’m a cisgendered woman who presents female most of the time. I’m not particularly femme but I definitely look, dress, and act ‘female’. As I stood waiting for my girlfriend to come down the stairs and into baggage claim, I became increasingly worried about what the people around me would think of a display of affection between two women who seemed, more or less, straight up until the moment they were kissing each other.

She came and I had the aforementioned moment – I saw her, she ran to me, we hugged, we kissed, I presented her with the flowers, we were basically in our own little world. I forgot about everyone else around us and my worries from the moments before – until a woman came up to us.

She must have been in her twenties, and she walked up and said, “Excuse me?”

Neither of us could stop grinning and my arm was around Kayla as we looked to her in a bit of confusion. I was a little apprehensive before she said, “I just saw that whole thing unfold and I wanted you guys to know that you’re both adorable and that I almost cried a little bit.”

We both responded and thanked her, and she walked away.

I didn’t notice anyone reacting in any negative way, which was good, and the woman who came up to us and told us how cute we were made me feel so much better. Of course the reunion would have been perfect either way, but this woman’s positive reaction – and the fact that she had the guts to come up and tell us about it – gave me a world of confidence. For some reason we’re often afraid to go up to someone and give them a compliment, but after knowing how good this woman made me feel, I feel differently about that. Especially if I see a queer couple holding hands or kissing in couple, instead of looking away (or maybe staring too long, as younger me would have) I’m going to make a conscious effort to smile at them or nod or even, if the situation warrants it, go up and tell them that I think they’re adorable together, so they can feel as welcomed as I did.

“Gay Pilgrimage”

Hey guys! I hope your weeks have all been LOVELY. I’ve been a little absent this week because my girlfriend is visiting from Colorado, so of course I’ve been trying to soak up as much time with her as possible. We’ve been pretty busy and we’re about three-quarters of the way through her two-week visit.

For Memorial Day weekend we went to the beach with my family. We’ve gone to Rehoboth every summer for years, and if you’re from the East Coast, you might know that Rehoboth Beach is the “gayest beach”. A few years back my mom and I were exploring the town and we stumbled upon an LGBT bookstore called Proud Bookstore. At the time I was closeted and confused, so we left, but I’ve been curious about the place ever since. Each time I’ve found myself alone on the boardwalk I’ve wandered up and down, searching for it, being too nervous to look up the address and pretending that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Now I knew that I had to go back, as like a pilgrimage to my younger self who had been too nervous to go in and explore this part of who I was. It was actually so cool, and while there were a lot of things angled to gay men, the parts of the store that were devoted to women loving women were especially enjoyable. There were books that told stories about lesbian couples, photographs and postcards and magnets and greeting cards and sex books and advice books and on and on. This is my girlfriend with a little flag we found.

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All in all the place was really cool and we agreed that we’d never felt quite so able to be open anywhere before. I think it’s important that there be more LGBT-geared places that aren’t bars or clubs. Bookstores and cafes and restaurants, places that are geared to the LGBT community, should become more common, because it’s so important to have a place you feel you truly belong and aren’t judged at all.

So, to my younger self who was afraid to go into the bookstore and explore what it really meant to be part of the LGBT community: when you’re twenty, you’re going to go in with your girlfriend, and you’ll browse the books and talk and laugh and be completely comfortable, and you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid of this part of yourself. Just wait.