Monday, May 10, 2010

HOT GAY WILDERNESS SEX! (or; Bigots are Silly)

This article is titled "Gay Families Can't Camp in Iowa?", but the title is a bit misleading. It may well be true that gay families can't BE camp in Iowa, but they can camp there. At issue is whether they can camp as a family.

Families at Iowa state parks get to pitch an extra tent or so on their site without incurring an extra fee. For the kids, of course. I went camping as a kid with my father and sort-of-stepmother, and my sister and I got a tent to ourselves. Which was the way all of us liked it. And the powers that control these things with regards to Iowa state parks want to allow all families this little concession to their familyhood. Which means they have to work around the language of their policy, which mentions "husband and wife" instead of "spouses". So given that same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, the Department of Natural Resources wants to update the wording to something more reality-based, more 21st-century. Great. But hold! Iowa State Senator Merlin Bartz is not happy about this one bit!

Bartz is a noted opponent of same-sex marriage, by which I of course mean that he's a homophobe. And he is currently in a froth about campgrounds treating all families equally. And admitting that legal marriages are legal. Which makes some sense, since he first tried to stop same-sex marriages from becoming legal, then tried to stop them from being performed, and having failed at both attempts, is with astonishing perseverance now trying to get people to pretend that the legalized marriages don't exist. Memo to Bartz: Google the phrase "Quit while you're ahead". But if you give the matter a modicum of thought, he's not making any sense.

A family that has to pay more to put up extra tents is basically being encouraged not to put up extra tents. (Didja hear about the gay dads who went camping? They pitched two tents!) Let's think on this one. A same-sex couple is being encouraged to have their children in the same tent with them. How does this sound good to people who think gays are icky?

Perhaps the forced co-sleeping is to prevent immorality. Allowed their own tent, gay and lesbian couples will doubtless engage in HOT GAY WILDERNESS SEX! This should be prevented; therefore, let us force proximity to their adenoidal pre-teen, bed-wetting toddler, or Mr Bun, the three-foot furry creature their six-year-old can't sleep without. That'll fix them!

And it will. Because parents don't tend to get sexual when their kids are right there with them. Most parents, anyway. My mother felt fine about having sex with her boyfriend in the same room with her two young daughters, but I don't think she represents the majority. And may I mention here that I felt anything but fine about that situation? Please don't fuck in front of your kids. It makes them feel icky. Back to my point, though: same-sex couples don't do it next to their kids for the same reason opposite-sex couples don't. Because they care about not screwing their kids up. A fact Bartz comes perilously close to admitting. Because if same-sex couples really consist of depraved perverts, it would be better to let them erect (hee hee) a tent city rather than expose innocent children to HOT GAY WILDERNESS SEX! Won't someone please THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

Bartz is not thinking of the children. Bartz doesn't even seem to be thinking of their parents. Bartz's thought processes, as far as I can determine, are as follows: Privilege GOOD. Gays BAD. Letting gays have privilege BAD. That's a large portion of homophobia in a nutshell, right there.

If Mr Bartz objects to camping gay families, then I encourage him to take a firm stand and not camp where gay families camp. Or where any families camp. Because frankly, I wouldn't want him around my children, and I don't think he's a great guy to have around anybody's children. No matter how many tents are involved.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happiness Cat

I did a course of group therapy for women who had survived incest. The sessions were two and a half hours every week, with homework in between,for sixteen weeks. It was an intense experience, and when the time came for us to finish, our therapists held a graduation party for us with all sorts of surprises.

One of our activities was a give-away game in which a structured process was used for us all to receive gifts, and then have opportunities to trade with others if desired. [It didn't occur to me at the time, but looking back on the game now, I see it as a lesson in consent and autonomy]. I ended up with a bright yellow ceramic cat-shaped coin bank, painted with daisies and a very happy smile. The bank is one of a large number made for Dollarama (big dollar store chain), but because of the way I received it, it is very special to me and I cherish it. It's a very cheerful object, and I named it Happiness Cat.

Happiness Cat's true role was launched by a friend who, seeing my new acquisition, added a penny from her pocket so that Cat would have something inside. I saw the penny as a contribution to my happiness, from a friend, which seemed appropriate. And so the rule for Happiness Cat was born: contributions to my happiness are accepted from friends, but can also be made by me, with money that I have found on the ground, or in unexpected places, as a twist on the the "lucky penny" ritual. In fact, almost all of Happiness Cat's contents came this way. I am not generally good at keeping up daily rituals, but I have been gathering coins for Happiness Cat for three years now.

I did an inventory of Happiness Cat's contents for this post. Happiness Cat currently contains 59 pennies, 6 dimes, 3 nickels, 2 quarters, the outer ring from a twoonie and a foam happy face. There is no intended goal for the money. Just a happy cat with a bellyful of luck, and an aura of friends, resource and support.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Losing The Maypole

As I write, Beltane has just passed by an hour. This is how I started one of my religion's most important holidays:

At half past noon I woke up a bit, and struggled to wake up the rest of the way. It can take a while for me to get from the part where I open my eyes to being able to place myself in space and time, move deliberately, and form speech. Coherent speech takes longer. I often babble wordlessly. My wife manages to understand much of this by listening to the tone, and by paying attention to my body language. Also by using telepathy, or so she claims.

At some point during the night, I had thrust my lower leg over the edge of the bed. That added a wrenched knee to the usual back, neck and shoulder pain that grips me in the morning. The knee clinched a decision I needed to make. I will not travel two hours from my home this weekend. I will not attend a Beltane ritual, or even an important meeting. I can't sit at a table, in a chair, for hours. I can't ride in a car for two hours without arriving at the destination in something like my awakening state; disoriented, sleepy, unable to speak, moving slowly and clumsily.

Today contained a lot of napping, a lot of medications. This is nothing new. But today is Beltane. I have led both private and public Beltane rituals. I have joined in at many more, including one which set a world record for largest number of people to dance a Maypole (albeit by being the first one to establish the record category). I love a good ritual. I love Beltane. And what I love most about Beltane is the Maypole dance.

The usual Maypole dance is about the simplest dance going. Nobody should be able to mess it up. Somebody always does. It never matters. But today I thought about the simple activity I love, and realized I can't. I can't duck under and hold over. I can't step in a circle. I don't know if you can bring a cane into a Maypole dance. A wheelchair? The mind boggles.

I can't jump the fire, either. Beltane is, more than any other Sabbat, about bodies and what they can do. Maybe that's why the main rites are so physical. There is no requirement to do them, of course. Everyone celebrates in their own way, and it's also true that someone needs to tend the fire, drum the beat, ward the circle or whatever else is required. I am not unable to participate in a ritual, much less to live my faith. But this loss cuts deeper than most. I want to hold a bright satin ribbon and weave in and out, chanting and jostling and smiling. I want the sacred things somehow not to be touched, not to have to be modified and worked around and foregone like mundane life. I do not want to lose the Maypole.