USC Upstate – here we come!


The Eighth Biennial Bodies of Knowledge Symposium will be held this week at USC Upstate April 9 – 11. The theme for this year’s symposium is Creating a Better World for LGBTQ people. You gotta love it.

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, the 10th.) a panel discussing our book Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will begin the day’s sessions at 10:50 in the Campus Life Center Ballroom, room 310.

I’m not hopeful that any of my cyberspace friends and followers will actually be in Spartanburg, South Carolina for the event; but I added Room 310 because that was my dorm room number for my 3 years at the University of Texas Blanton Dormitory. I thought that was somehow a bit of small world karma.

Pretty is driving two Miss Daisies, Harriet Hancock and me, to the event. I had hoped for more contributors to be able to make it, but then I began to think what could be more appropriate than to moderate a panel of the woman who was really the inspiration for the book (Harriet) and the woman who wouldn’t let me give up on the project in the dark days (Pretty).

So off we go – intrepid travelers reminiscent of circuit preachers with just  a different gospel of truth. Hallelujah. Can I get an amen on that?

http://www.uscupstate.edu/bodiesofknowledge

 

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

BONUS pics from Francis Marion trip!


I was pleasantly surprised to find a very kind note from Dr. Lance Weldy this morning when I opened my email, and he sent more pictures he took after the panel presentation when we were signing copies of Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home that people purchased…sweet.

Pretty and I sign books…

while lady who prepared yummy refreshments looks on.

Michael Haigler and Pat Patterson sign books

(while Pretty looks, well, pretty)

Pat talks, Pretty signs, while I eat probably my 10th. little sandwich

We had a great conversation with students Andi (l.) and Sierra

we were excited to hear their wedding plans after graduation

Thanks again to Michael, Lance, Pretty, and Pat for a fun time!

My special gratitude to all the students and faculty from Francis Marion University who came to the event and showed us and our book some love.

 

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road trip to Francis Marion University!


What a wonderful reception for Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home at Pride Week at Francis Marion University last night! A group of 30 students plus several faculty members gathered in Lowrimore Auditorium to hear four contributors discuss the book and  their individual essays as gay alliance faculty sponsor Dr. Lance Weldy moderated the panel.

Contributor Pat Patterson was the person who originally suggested the panel discussion with Dr. Weldy since Pat is a regular participant at other Pride events. Dr. Weldy took the idea and ran with it – even giving his English Lit students extra credit for attending the event. (No wonder so many students were furiously taking notes! )

Pretty listens intently as Dr. Weldy briefs us prior to program

Pretty, Michael Haigler, Sheila –

Michael entertained Pretty and me on the road trip from Columbia

Pat Patterson makes us all smile with his stories

the old girl in action

Many thanks to Francis Marion student Amanda Montgomery for the pictures since Pretty was pressed into panel service for the evening. Amanda took pictures in between note-taking so maybe Dr. Weldy will give her extra, extra credit?

Following the book talk, delicious refreshments were provided, books sold and signed. In the midst of signing books, a young lesbian couple came to tell Pretty they couldn’t afford a book but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to talk to us. Would we sign a piece of paper they could use as a bookmark when they did buy the book later. Of course we were happy to write something for them and as we did, one of the young women told Pretty she had never talked to any lesbians older than 20…what the night meant to her and her girlfriend to hear us talk so openly about being who we are. They live together now and plan to get married when they graduate. Repeat: they plan to get married when they graduate.

Pat reminded us last night that the students in the auditorium were our hope for the future – no disrespect to us oldies but goodies on the panel but these young people aren’t exhausted from the crusades – they’re just beginning the journey. Some of them will see injustice and become agents of change. Thanks for the reminder, Pat.

Michael, Lance, Pretty, Sheila, Pat

Stay tuned.

 

 

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committed to home goes to Francis Marion University


Good fortune is mine this week because of an invitation to bring contributors from Southern Perspectives to Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, as a part of their Pride Week celebration…Wednesday evening from 6 – 7:30.

The LGBTS Alliance sponsors Pride Week. Lance Weldy, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of English and faculty advisor for the Alliance. He is also the person who will moderate our book panel.

Francis Marion was founded in 1970 and is located on the outskirts of Florence in the heart of South Carolina’s famous Pee Dee region which gets its name from the Pee Dee River that reflects its native American lineage. The Pee Dee region encompasses the northeastern corner of the state and is a largely rural area. The college has about 4,000 students and offers a wide range of undergraduate degrees and graduate programs.

Pat Patterson a/k/a Patti O’Furniture, Michael Haigler (stepping up for Harriet Hancock) and Pretty will be on the panel with me so the event promises to be fun and full of great storytelling.

I wish all of my cyberspace friends and followers could be with us this Wednesday night, but I will have a report and, hopefully, pictures.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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hail, hail – the gang’s all here


Christmas memories seem strange on Good Friday, but then the mind often ignores time or at least is able to reconstruct its meandering corridors to bring buried secrets to the surface of consciousness.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts when I was a child growing up in Richards, Texas in rural Grimes County was not one that I received but one that I gave to my maternal grandmother Louise whose name I shortened to Dude when I was unable to pronounce Louise. Louise became Dude-ese, then simply Dude.

I was two years old when my dad and mother and I moved into my grandmother’s small Sears Roebuck designed house in Richards in 1948. We lived in that little house with her for eleven Christmases, and each Christmas she gave me two new pairs of underwear that she bought from the general store where she clerked six days a week from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening with an hour for lunch. Two new pairs of underwear wrapped in last year’s red paper she carefully saved and used again and again, tied with a gold string and a tiny tag signed in her scrawling handwriting Lots of love, Dude.

The Christmas before we moved away from Richards I bought Dude a present at Mr. McAfee’s drug store from money I saved from my allowance. I had never bought her a gift before and was so excited about my purchase: a door chime that played Hail, Hail – the Gang’s All Here. I hadn’t told anyone about my gift, so imagine the look on Dude’s face when she opened it. Just what she needed, she said, and had me believing it.

Dude had been 50 years old when we moved in with her and was 63 when we moved away to a town 70 miles from Richards leaving her with a disabled adult son, no transportation since she never learned to drive, and very little income. My dad and mother and I came back to visit every two weeks, and whenever the front door opened we were welcomed with the chimes playing hail, hail – the gang’s all here. And on those weekends her gang was there.

I was totally unaware of what loneliness and loss of laughter and love must have been for her the other days and nights of her life at that time because I was, after all, a self-absorbed teenager whose only experience with loneliness was self-imposed and transitory. I was never at a loss for laughter.

By the time I graduated from high school, my grandmother’s life had the beginnings of her roller coaster battle with depression that would plague her for the rest of her days – a war really – on battlegrounds she fought in doctors’ offices and hospitals,  fought sometimes with medicines, sometimes without medicines, sometimes with electroshock therapy.

My visits to see her became less frequent when I went away to college, and I remember being surprised on one of those visits to discover the door chimes no longer played when I opened the front door. Surprised, but totally unaware of the significance. Her gang was no longer there.

This morning I was taking a shower and for some reason the shower song du jour was Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here which brought the Christmas memories of my grandmother’s door chime pouring over me like the hot water that rinsed my hair.

Dude (1898 -1972)

In this final post I will make for women’s history month, I honor with love and gratitude one of the most important women in my life, the first woman to love me unconditionally with all her heart.

And on this good Friday I hope that your gang, however you define it, will be with you this weekend.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

a joyful evening with Openings


What an awesome night the panel of Committed to Home contributors and I had at the monthly meeting of Openings last night at the Jubilee! Circle Center. Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, who is the pastor of Jubilee! Circle, welcomed us warmly and shared part of her journey from journalist to minister after 9-11 in 2001. She and Rev. Tom Summers are both graduates of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

(l. to r.) Dick Hubbard, Michael Haigler,

Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, Rev. Tom Summers

the panel did well in spite of their moderator (me)

Openings, a group co-founded by one of the contributors to Committed to Home, Michael Haigler (who remains the President of the group), is an effort to build a closer  relationship between L GBTQ people and the established faith community in Columbia. Michael has spent a lifetime of service to others beginning with three years in the Peace Corps in Africa after graduating from Clemson with a degree in architecture. His journey home to South Carolina involved several intriguing detours taken at University of California – Berkeley and San Francisco.

The Openings group of about 40 people listened intently to the compelling personal stories shared by the panel.

Rev. Tom Summers has been an ally of the LGBTQ community for many years, marched in every Pride March carrying the banner of Clergy for LGBTQ Rights, written op-ed pieces on behalf of our community and testified before the state legislature whenever bills relating to marginalizing the queer community are introduced in the state legislature.

Dick Hubbard is a realtor who has been active in the gay rights movement in Columbia  since the days  before the 1993 March on Washington which, he says, empowered him to true activism when he came home to South Carolina. In the early 1980s he and his partner Freddie Mullis focused on bridging the gap inside the gay community between what he called the “bar scene” and the “dinner party” culture and had a measurable level of success. He was a reluctant contributor to Committed to Home and only agreed to the interview because he thought the book wouldn’t be published. Oh my, good surprise..

Michael wrote today, Hanging out after the meeting, I heard nothing but rave reviews about the program and all the really interesting stories. It ties so well into our ongoing theme of “Sharing Our Stories” through our programs. Thanks to all of you for contributing so much!

My personal thanks to Openings for this opportunity to share the homecoming stories of five of the twenty-one contributors to the anthology.

Next week a panel discussing Committed to Home will participate in Gay Pride week at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina on Wednesday night from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Harriet Hancock, Pat Patterson, Pretty and I are looking forward to helping the students and faculty celebrate.

Stay tuned.

Photos today courtesy of Pretty

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I stand with Emma – we call BS


We don’t get them back, y’all said Jennifer Hudson in the middle of her moving musical tribute at the March For Our Lives in Washington, DC today. Hudson sang The Times, They Are A-Changing with a DC choir backing her up and a clearly spiritual feel to the finale of an amazing gathering of hundreds of thousands of Americans who rallied with the survivors of gun violence in our schools and on our streets in the nation’s capitol and around the world.

Led by high school senior Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, chants of democracy in action and never again rang through the air of the nonviolent protests of our children and their families and friends who are committed to changing the gun culture that rules in the halls of Congress and the office of the President.

The movement’s major mantra was R-E-V: Register to vote, Educate yourself, Vote!

Be afraid, incumbents everywhere, be very afraid.

Pretty marched in Columbia today 

and captured this memorable image

of South Carolina teens registering to vote

Our children want to come home safely in our houses, our schools, our churches, our synagogues, our mosques. They want to feel safe on city streets and country back roads. They are crying out for help, adding organized action to those cries – and not leaving outcomes to the same old, same old. It’s a new day, America.

I don’t know about you, but I’m standing with Emma and calling BS on anyone who refuses to listen to the voices of  change for a new and better America. United we stand. I hear you. I’m with you.

Onward.

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

keeping on keeping on


“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

                        ———-  attributed to Martha Graham

One of the coolest rejection emails I ever received (and there were tons of them) was sent to me by Mileta Schaum. I can’t even remember what she rejected of my work, but I will never forget these words of encouragement she passed along to me from Martha Graham.

To all of my fellow bloggers, writers, authors, poets, and all my cyberspace amigas and sports fans – I am passing this forward to you with my fervent wishes to keep your channels open.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

prop me up beside the jukebox if I die


Lordy, Lordy. So hard to believe I wrote this 4 years ago just before we left Worsham Street to return to South Carolina for better or worse. I still love a jukebox.

I'll Call It Like I See It

Lordy, Lordy.  I think I’ve just seen the green weenie, as my paternal grandmother used to say when she saw something so inexplicable she was at a loss for descriptive words. For example, if the  preacher at the Richards Baptist Church had stood up in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and said the title of his sermon was  Sin Was a Good Thing, my grandmother would say she’d seen the green weenie. Of course, he never would have said that in a million years, but if he had…

Tonight I went to my favorite TexMex restaurant, The Big Sombrero, with my neighbors here on Worsham Street. I rank it very high on my all-time favorite Mexican restaurant list – definitely in the top five. I was one of the first patrons when it opened two years ago and have been a regular customer ever since.

My friend Lisa and I arrived before the rest…

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Maya Angelou and Coach Dawn Staley – the power of personhood


American poet, author, civil rights activist Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) and Coach Dawn Staley, head basketball coach of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team – what’s not to love and admire about these women in March or any other month?

https://thedrabble.wordpress.com.

http://www.espn.com/espnw/feature/22732028/for-south-carolina-coach-dawn-staley-game-life-life-game

Stay tuned.

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