Sunday, March 16, 2008

And Another Thing: Holy World War III

By Carole Taylor

Now this is truly not a new concept, but in my last column I wrote about the problems caused throughout the centuries by nasty little things called holy wars. I was thinking at the time just that the holy wars in the Middle East and in the Near East are so dangerous that they may put an end to war, and rights, altogether by putting an end to people altogether.

But one of my readers reminded me of something I’ve written about briefly before: There is a holy war going on right here in this country and has been for decades.

Gays and lesbians are the victims of domestic terrorism in nearly every city and town in this country. We’re fighting as involuntary soldiers in the ‘holy’ war that right wing religious types wage against us every day and twice on Sunday--Christians and Jews and Moslems alike. Their hate speech is what fires the torches of the cross-burning, white/straight supremacists; it’s the adrenaline pumping through your average, red-blooded American gay basher.

God told them to do it.

Well, not exactly. Not directly. They heard it from some politician, who heard it from some preacher, who heard it from some other preacher, who heard it from some bishop, who read it in some book whose author may or may not have been God. That trail of hearsay wouldn’t even stand up as evidence in a circuit court in Alabama.

When anyone invokes the name of God, or Godde, or Jesus, or Allah, or Vishnu, or whoever else may require that His or Her pronouns be capitalized, that politician or minister has you by the short hairs. If a politician or anyone else out to grab power says that God told him to do or say yada yada, that it’s in the Bible or the Koran, you can forget about it’s being in the Constitution. Reason and law are both beyond superfluous if God has been called to have a seat in Congress. There will be no discussion here, because that’s not the side of the brain that will be engaged. The left side reasons and discusses, the right side feels and lights fires.

It’s like playing the national anthem or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in the background behind Private Ryan. You don’t see the blood or feel the pain. You only think about the patriotic phlegm that music is intended to pour down your throat. It’s hard to swallow, but you do it. That’s what that lump is. Music touches the right side of your brain. So does religion.

Because religion is about nothing if not about nothing. Nothing you can see or count, that is. If you can’t take it on faith, you can’t take it.

So when the jackboots come for gays and lesbians, they have to quote scripture as their cadence. Theirs has to be a holy war, because they don’t want anyone really thinking about what they’re saying. They don’t want anyone realizing that he might know someone gay, like someone gay, even love someone gay, might even BE someone gay.

And when George W. talks about fighting terrorism, let’s ask him if he means ALL terrorism. You and I live with the possibility of it every day, and this violence is not delivered by someone on an FBI watch list. The soldiers in this holy war may be our own parents or best friend.

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Amazon Trail: Scaling the Heights

By Lee Lynch

Have you ever spent the weekend with your favorite lesbian writers? Not only had I not done so myself, but I never dreamed I'd be one of the writers with whom readers would want to spend time.

It was Valentine's Day weekend, the framework for a lesbian literary celebration like no other. The headliners of Bold Strokes Books gathered in Palm Springs, California. Given the town's reputation for luxury, celebrities and just plain money, I had never expected to visit it. After a few days at Casitas Laquita Resort, though, I'd go back any time. The Northwest, where I have been living, doesn't lend itself to relaxation. Northwesterners are a busy, industrious people. Palm Springs exudes ease and comfort.

This was a working trip, with authors Kim Baldwin, Erin Dutton, Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall, JLee Meyer, Julie Cannon, Radclyffe, Jennifer Fulton, Rose Beecham, Lisa Girolami and Larkin Rose performing readings -- and meeting with Senior Consulting Editor Jennifer Knight -- but still gave me a welcome respite from the incessant moisture at home. After weeks of rain, hail, snow and black ice, I was able to lie on a chaise lounge by a pretty pool for an hour. I even have pictures for friends who won't believe I sat down that long!

I had no warning, when I wrote my first stories, that a writer is no longer just a writer. We're entertainers now. Some of the Bold Strokes authors read inside a half-caged stage at Mixie's Bar downtown, like go-go wordsmiths. They read through loud talking and big TVs, with computer games flashing around them. After the readings, a singer took the stage and we writers danced with one another, our partners and our beloved readers. It was great fun, but a long way from my job description. I'd envisioned a starving poet in her garret. The modern world has its perks.

As always, my fear of public speaking was soothed by the warmth and appreciation of readers. They came from the west coast, the east coast, the Midwest. As for the writers: Justine Saracen traveled from Belgium, and Xenia Alexiou, from Greece.

We read indoors at Casitas Aquinas, poolside at The Queen of Hearts Resort around the corner and we read at the public library, as well as at the bar. That was my first reading in a public library – unthinkable two decades ago. The readers didn't seem to mind how unorthodox the settings were. Among those readers with whom I got to speak, there was a parole officer, a farmer, a nanny, a professional dog walker, an Air Force employee, retirees galore, women introduced to lesbian literature through the "Xena: Warrior Princess" T.V. series and women whose first lesbian books were my very own in the early 1980s.

Cradling us all were the mountains. It snowed one day, front page news for the local newspaper. My sweetheart and I, accompanied by author Catherine Friend and her partner Melissa Peleter, took the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness, 8,500 feet above sea level. This involved dangling in a box suspended on cables while standing on a revolving platform, almost brushing the mountain's craggy sides. Even the World Trade Center was only 1,368 feet at its tallest. High up, we hiked to benches which were seat-deep in snow. Children bellowed in delight as they coasted on their plastic sleds. Backpackers with snowshoes and trekking sticks moved along the trails. I made a snowball, but it was lethally icy so I spared my friends.

From our vantage point we could see wind farms with their 3,500 turbines turning to produce 1.5% of California's electricity. Odd-looking, spare white stilts sporting spiky pinwheels, the desert winds spun them like miniature toys below us.

Back in the desert, we discovered Q Trading Company, a gay business with lesbian books dating as far back, at least, as my 1989 feline mystery spoof, Sue Slate, Private Eye, a true find for an out of print title. We also walked the celebrated Palm Canyon Drive with the other tourists and met up with author Gabrielle Goldsby, Bold Strokes attorney Paula Tighe and her partner. They shot a picture of my sweetheart and me dancing on the sidewalk star immortalizing Ginger Rogers.

The sight of palm and fruit-bearing trees always thrills me. Palm Springs residents can pick oranges in their yards. At a poolside reading a desert bird accompanied British author Jane Fletcher with song and a Costa's hummingbird lighted on an overhead branch, as still for once as me, as if alert to Fletcher's words.

We're going to do this Palm Springs thing every year. I just hope I get to dance with more readers in 2009!

Copyright Lee Lynch 2008

Lee Lynch is the writer of more than a dozen dyke books, among them "Sweet Creek", as well as book reviews, articles, feature stories and a syndicated column. You can read more about Lee here . You can check out her Lee's Myspace page . And visit Lee's Tripod homepage .

Labels: , , , ,