Monday, November 30, 2009

The other Secret unveiled

A few years ago I went to a friend's 50th birthday party. I don't know her too well. We were more casual acquaintances than anything else I guess, although I like her a lot and have fun in her presence. Anyway, her partner Helen happens to be a woman I've known for many years, also as more of an acquaintance, because of the age gap between us. When I was at school, Helen was probably about 40. She went away one weekend and another mutual friend (Patty) organised a friend (Elize) to housesit. They had a dinner party one evening and I was invited.

Imagine the scene... still in school (probably just on 18) and invited to this very grown up and very lesbian evening. I was nearing the end of my school career and was planning on leaving my hometown to go off to university in a matter of months, and I was desperate to be with a woman.

I had told my mom I was staying the night at a friend's - and I got there on my scooter. I was very drawn to the house-sitter, Elize, who was a journalist with the most wonderfully delicate hands you have ever seen. She was about 4 or 5 years older than me, although when you're 18, that may as well be 10 or 15 years older! We got through rather a lot of red wine that night, as I recall, and the mutual friend, Patty, left quite soon after dinner. I remained. I can't recall what was said about why I was staying. Perhaps I was too drunk to drive anywhere!

Anyway, the delicious Elize was very kind and very sweet and before I knew it our conversation turned to things more Sapphic. To cut a long story short, we decided at that moment that it would be perfect to skinny dip. She slid into the pool first. I was but 18 and very shy, you understand. Under the cover of darkness I got into the pool too, and we shared out first, but by no means our last, kiss of the evening. Lord, this is sounding very cheesy! It really was a wonderful initiation, and from the swimming pool, we went to the bedroom. It was in reality Helen's bedroom, but remember that Elize was housesitting. I am very grateful for that night. Wow. For a first time, it was everything I had hoped for. And more. She was attentive and gentle and soft and taught me a lot. I am very grateful to Elize and for that wonderful and unexpected night together.

Anyway, the point is that at Helen's partner's 50th birthday not so long ago, we all had to reveal a secret. It was a spoof of The Secret you see - and the revelations that afternoon were hilarious and daring. Mine, to just the birthday girl and Helen, was what had happened in their home some 22 years prior. I told them about the housesitting and the wine and the pool and the education I received and they both threw back their heads and laughed and laughed, delighted to have been a part of my early education in some small, unfathomable way! I was glad to have shared that particular secret and I must admit to wondering where Elize was today and what her memory of that night had been.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Settling for second best

People who cannot be single for any significant period of time fascinate me. One of the saddest things I've heard was a colleague's inebriated confession, about 10 years ago, that while he was desperately unhappy in a loveless marriage, he could not leave because he was more terrified of being alone. He was hoping to meet someone new, whilst in his marriage, and then leave the one bed for the other.

He and his wife are still married to this day, not that things are any better. He just hasn't found the right bed to leapfrog into.

Hearing that confession, I made a silent promise to myself never to become like that. I would rather be on my own, than settle. How insulting to your partner, and how soul destroying to yourself.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adam shouldn't have taken the 'bite'

There's been a lot of hype this week over Adam Lambert's performance at the American Music Awards. Apparently about 1500 complaints have been logged after he was swept away in the moment, apparently, and started improvising in his performance. The 'offensive' bits were his sexual interactions with men on stage: simulating oral sex, S&M, and then of course the kiss with one of the band members.

He later told Rolling Stone magazine: "Female performers have been doing this for years – pushing the envelope about sexuality – and the minute a man does it everybody freaks out." And I have to say, I agreed with him 100% (think Janet Jackson's boob incident and Britney's kiss with Madonna) until I saw the video, that is.

I have never watched American Idols until this latest season, when I was off sick and it was on during the day. It was down to the top 8, I think, and I was blown away by Adam's talent. He flaunted his sexuality with such confidence; he swaggered his stuff with such passion; and the singing - was powerful and amazing. Add his coming out in Rolling Stone to the mix, and the fact that America chose the blue-eyed 'nice guy' over him in the end, and I was a big, big fan. I still am, and I still think his talent is limitless, but I think he did get carried away.

Not only did he sing 'For your entertainment' terribly, but the aggression behind that kiss was a little much. The 27-year-old's admitted to totally improvising on the night, which means that the poor guy he kissed had no idea what was going to happen, and Adam literally grabs him, pulling him violently into the lip lock. That's the worst part of this for me. Sexy it was not.

Perhaps he's trying to break free of the Idols image and shock the world. Maybe he was trying to stir controversy in the hope it would boost album sales (and maybe it has, and maybe he was just acting out the lyrics, but I think he overstepped the mark. Absolutely, spice things up by showing a same sex kiss, but don't leave us with the feeling that it was stolen forcibly. He would not have gotten away with it if it had been a women either. I think ultimately, if I had read that the whole stunt had been planned and rehearsed etc, I would feel differently. But it wasn't, and role models - especially gay ones - should know better.

Update: The YouTube video I had posted has been removed 'due to copyright' issues.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The chilling reality

A very disturbing media release has been issued by the South African gay umbrella body, the Joint Working Group, to highlight concerns over proposed legislation in Uganda, in East Africa.

Gay rights groups in Uganda have appealed for activists across the world to hold protests at the Ugandan Embassies and High Commissions in their countries to oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being tabled in the Ugandan parliament.

According to the release by the Joint Working Group (JWC): "The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill aims to build on the current homophobic legislation already in force in that country by adding further offences and even more stringent punishments for anyone caught committing the crime of homosexuality. Among many horrific clauses in the proposed law are the imposition of the death penalty for what they term “aggravated homosexuality”, punishment for people who do not report on homosexuals and the criminalisation of activists who work in LGBTI organisations."

While gay rights are entrenched in South Africa, the situation is not the same in other parts of the continent, as the Ugandan example clearly states. Even in South Africa, lesbian women are raped in townships to 'cure them' or 'teach them a lesson', while homophobia is rife in many communities and being gay or lesbian is seen as being un-African.

In terms of the Ugandan issue, the JWC is holding a protest outside the Ugandan High Commission in Arcadia, Pretoria, on the 17 November from 12pm to 2pm, to show its disgust at the proposed bill. It's also calling on the South African government to break its silence on the matter, saying such silence is unacceptable.

If you're in Gauteng and can join the protest, please do so. And if you're elsewhere in the world, with the power to write about this situation, please spread the word.

And on a separate note, South Africans feeling isolated or needing help from LGBTI organisations, can possibly Google any of the JWC members as listed below.

Activate WITS, Behind the Mask, Coalition of African Lesbians, Durban Gay and Lesbian Community , D Gayle, Engender
Forum for the Empowerment of Women, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Gay and Lesbian Network (PMB), Gay Umbrella, Gender Dynamix, Glorious Light MCC, Good Hope MCC, Hope and Unity MCC, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), Jewish Outlook, Out in Africa, OUT LGBT Well-being, OUT Rhodes, Rainbow UCT, SAYLO, The Inner Circle, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Triangle Project, Unisa Centre for Applied Psychology, XX/Y Flame.

(Image thanks to Wikipedia)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The more things change...

The more things change, the more things stay the same, it appears. Today was a case in point. Had an appointment with a fertility specialist. He's highly recommended and one of the city's top experts. But before I even got to meet him, several things just totally offended me.

1) His receptionist was rude and insensitive. Women approach this doctor at their most vulnerable. They turn here in a crisis and to have the front-line person barking instructions at you and telling you it's cash only, is a little much. I was also told that it would take until mid December to get an appointment and then, once I asked to be on standby, was told I would have to call in weekly to see if there was any 'vacancy'. Talk about a God-complex, and this isn't even from the doctor who creates life each day!
2) Step two was being called by the receptionist and told, 'we have an appointment for you, but if you cannot come to this one, we cannot help you.' Nice.
3) Accepted the appointment and then argued with the woman about form of payment, saying it was 'utterly ridiculous' the Dr didn't accept cards or an EFT. Eventually she conceded that I could pay by EFT.
4) Arrived for my appointment 15 minutes early. Waited 1hr45 to actually get in to see the Dr. Before that, had to fill in THE FORM. Hoo boy, was this a beaut. Absolutely no consideration for any possibility but the married couple. Form actually said: 'Wife's name' (that would be me, I guess!), then 'Husband's job description' (need to make sure the hubby can afford the treatment!) and the piece de resistance was the line under payment: 'Husband's medical aid'. Let's just say I had to scratch out rather a lot.
5) Walked in to the Dr's office, to be greeted by a 'Hello Mrs XYZ, or is it Miss?'. He had just caught sight of my form, you see, and so did a little double take. "Miss," I replied. 'Oh!' he said, 'Please have a seat.'

It's a very vulnerable place to find yourself in, and I find it appalling that in 2009, one has to be subjected to this sort of sexist drivel. Forget about the gay women out there, the message is that being a mother is only acceptable for a 'wife', and only as long as there is a bank-rolling husband in the picture too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The long wait...

I am currently waiting to find out if my latest A.I (artificial insemination) round has taken. Had two this month. One nine days ago and the other, six days ago. It's amazing how few sites out there have info on exactly what should be happening now. It's also remarkable how hyper-vigilant you are about your body. Little cramps or pains I've probably had for the past 25 or so years are suddenly being felt for the first time. Grumpiness too is taking on a new dimension. I hit a low on Wednesday when I felt terribly pre-menstrual. The first sign was when I nearly ripped out a colleague's throat. Ok, not quite, but you get the picture. Everything is heightened right now and I do not feel in control! I have Googled early pregnancy symptoms ad nauseam. I then Googled 'very, very, very early pregnancy signs' and that still did not provide me with much comfort.

Early signs you see are frequent urination (I am peeing so much lately because I am WAITING to see if I am pregnant and drinking so much water because sub-consciously I know that peeing frequently is a sign!)
Another indication is tender breasts. How do you tell if your breasts are tender? I guess if you need to ask the question you've answered your question. I find frequent prodding of my breasts does help to cause tenderness!

Another sign is mood swings. OK, so that's just unfair. Of course I have mood swings. I am WAITING! And I am possibly PMT.
Another indication is sensitivity to aromas. Yes, yes, I have that! Erm, but I always have that. All-bloody-year round. OK, so this is not going so well.

Missed period? Well - not yet, because as pointed out earlier, it is EARLY, EARLY at this stage. Dizziness and / or fainting - no. Crap. OK, so it is not looking too good, really. I should know in the next few days. The wait though really is agonising, as anyone in the same boat will be able to confirm. Definitely a time of obsessing and naval gazing. Oh, to be a lady in waiting...