Tag Archives: equality

INTIMACY MATTERS

A Reminder Of My Love

Intimacy, between those in love, is what you get to enjoy with one special person that you don’t share with anyone else on earth. It means, the partner you think of as ‘one in a million’ is actually 1 in 7.325 billion. It’s recognizing the state of ‘being in love’ as a blessing. It’s why falling in love feels destined.

If you truly want to grow old with the one person you love most, intimacy is sacrosanct. It’s not to be trampled on by others, or diluted through the disclosing of what makes you, as two, one.

Intimacy is being on the same wavelength. It’s how attentive you become when the other enters the room. It’s in how close you stand and sit. It’s in the tenderness of talk and the eagerness to listen. It’s accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against each, repeatedly, in the course of a day. It’s in the glances, the face making, the hand signals, the code spoken, the names given, the notes passed, the cards signed, the double intendre of places mentioned, music played, words whispered, initials added to wet cement, and carved in wood, and formed by toes in wet sand. It’s in hands held while falling asleep.

Intimacy is disguised as brooches, beads, bangles, bracelets and bands, accompanied by promises made, many of them etched in silver, or gold, and crowned with jewels.

And, as we age — especially those of us who are women without children — we begin to wonder, what’s to become of those tangibles?

No, not so much the house, or car, or investments requiring named beneficiaries early on — but the special gifts, the private collections, the photographs, the love letters, the anniversary and birthday cards, the journals, the trinkets, the lockbox keepsakes.

What’s to become of our rings?

Because these decisions, too, are intimacy matters, emblematic of what two people in love quietly cherished about each other.

…and more.

THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015


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C O L D – C A S E

Entire worlds exist of just two people in love.

Entire worlds exist of just two people in love.

In 1959, I knew a girl who (like me) aspired to be a writer.

Her name was Ann.

She was an oddity of sorts among the girls I occasionally accompanied to Brown’s Pharmacy where we sat at the counter on hot summer afternoons and ate Cheese Doodles while sipping Cokes through waxed paper straws in glasses topped off with half inch ice cubes.

At barely five feet and under 90 pounds, I was a wisp. She was taller by five inches and heavier, with a pronounced pear shaped body. Although her family was prominent, living in a big house in a better neighborhood, Ann dressed in drab colors, had wing shaped eyeglasses that she was constantly shoving back up to the top of her flat nostril nose, wore braces to correct an overbite and fixed her mousey brown hair in an unflattering bob.

But Ann was smart and witty and we made each other laugh.

We’d both turned 13 in ‘59 (on a maturity scale of 8 by todays standards) and were as innocent as the hits of Brenda Lee, Del Shannon, Connie Francis and Dion sounded on the radio, or Leave It To Beaver, Donna Reed, and Bonanza appeared on the tube. Girls wore skirts or dresses to school with knee highs or bobby socks. Family dinners were served at 6. Nobody smoked, nobody swore, and if anyone knew about sex, nobody said.

When the 20th anniversary showing of Gone With The Wind came to town that year, Ann and I went to a matinee together, sitting in the front row of the balcony in a downtown theater.

Enthralled by the majesty of the production and enchanted by the correspondence exchanged between Scarlett O’Hara and Ashley Wilkes who was off to war, we decided the best way to hone our writing skills would be to challenge each other by pretending to be Scarlett, writing letters to Ashley.

We did this by purchasing a small brown notebook of lined paper in which Ann, as Scarlett, would pen a love letter to Ashley, and give it to me as a challenge. I’d try to out write her by following course. We would hand this booklet back and forth from day to day, each one allowed the evening after school to compose a new letter.

The notebook and whatever words we might have written are now long gone and forgotten, but nothing we wrote was vulgar or suggestive; neither of us understood the intimacies of love, the innuendo of scenes seen on the screen, nor even the emotional definition of words at the time. It was just a game of pretend.

This exchange went on until a week before our first day of  9th grade. That’s when Ann informed me her mother said she could no longer associate with me in any manner, anywhere, at any time.

“Can I have the notebook back?” I asked.

“My mom burned it.”

I assumed our friendship ended because her parents were wealthier than mine and members of the country club set, or because Ann always buttoned her blouses at the top and I didn’t, or because I was color coordinated, or they didn’t want her being a writer.

It never occurred to me that her mother interpreted the innocence of our words as perverse.

I would tell you that I was hurt by both it and the many years of meanness from other former classmates and several teachers that followed — but I wasn’t.

Because I didn’t know that Ann had been told I was queer, and I didn’t know Ann told all our mutual friends her mother said I was queer, and I didn’t know her mother told the parents of our mutual friends I was queer, and I didn’t know certain teachers were warned of the same.

In fact, I didn’t even know the word ‘queer’ meant anything other than unconventional and curious.

(I’ve always been both of those.)

Nevertheless, over time and looking back I came to wonder why one girl had written “queer” in two places in my 9th grade yearbook, and the word was scrawled as graffiti in large block letters taking up the full five feet of my hall locker in 11th grade.

It must have been disappointing that I never seemed fazed by the queer tag given me by that childhood clique of classmates and group of teachers. But how could they know, the primary reason I never accepted party invitations, or attended sports events, or showed up at school dances was because, by 14, I’d forged my folks names to a work permit so I could take a job from 4 to 9, five nights a week, and 9 to 9 on Saturdays.

All that hatred shot to hell on the target being oblivious.

Five years later, after never having had a crush, fling, or intimate relationship of any kind with anyone (male or female), I looked across a crowded room and fell in love with the woman looking back at me.

Fast forward to this morning.

Upon checking my emails, I found one from someone who’d attended my 50th high school reunion over the weekend, 1300 miles away. The celebration had come and gone (as did all other reunions before this one) without me.

The email was part apology and part confession for having heard of the brown book, and being complicit in the mocking, backstabbing and shunning, and remaining silent, even to the snide remarks made at the reunion of “have you heard” and “I told you so” from those who never knew squat.

…and more

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P L E A S E   S H A R E

°

Have you ever gone to your high school reunion?
If not, why not?

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I’m all eyes and heart.

DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

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I’m all eyes and heart.

THE TELLTALE HEART

Publicly, Thomas Jefferson believed in the principles of freedom. But privately, he grappled over whether the worst white man was still better than the best black man.

Ultimately, Jefferson’s failure to champion equality left his own illegitimate child enslaved, opening the wound which has since defined – not the competency of his mind – but the capacity of his heart.

We are once again at a crossroads governing the use of fine print to qualify equality.

But this time, the Jeffersonian paradox challenges whether we, as a nation, believe the worst heterosexual is still better than the best homosexual.

Because all the worst heterosexuals can marry anywhere in America. But even the best homosexuals cannot.

As the high court strips away all righteous rhetoric and political posturing, it’s possible they’ll recognize a raw reality, i.e., even when heterosexuals commit the most heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse, terrorism, treason, and crimes against humanity), their known deviant behaviors are ignored by American marriage laws.

However, even when homosexuals are model citizens, their single, aberrant activity is prepossessed.

The court must then question whether this speaks to the heart of who we truly are, regardless of what we profess ourselves to be.

On the one hand, we insist the purpose of marriage is a belief in the sanctity of family.

On the other, we ignore the fact that millions of felons sitting in high security prisons are predominately heterosexuals possessing marginal moral character at best.

Yet each has a right to marry.

In some sit the suspects and convicts held for complicity in the 9/11 and Boston marathon attacks. And even they have the legal right to marry in every state.

But Lily Tomlin doesn’t.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, David Berkowitz, the Menendez brothers, Theodore Kaczynski, James Eagan Holmes and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can.

But Ellen DeGeneres can’t.

The former, loathsome, dictator Saddam Hussein, terrorist leader Osama Bin Ladin, and even Chancellor Adolf Hitler could have.

But Kate Smith, an American icon of our anthem, God Bless America, could not.

If the court entertains the position that “sin” is the foundation on which law is defined, will it validate the proponent “hate the sin, not the sinner” premise?

Can it then ignore evidence that it isn’t “sin” being shunned, profiled, attacked, ridiculed, denied equal rights and murdered?

Only American citizens are.

Will the court ask why there are no marches planned, political wars being waged, or state constitutional amendments being drafted against the seven deadly sins? Will it demand to know why it’s only a singular, Bible referenced, declared abomination being targeted? And, if it’s determined the sin/sinner assertion is an inflamed edict, could it set precedence for other inflamed edicts as just-cause to alter constitutional law?

Should the court recognize the Ten Commandments governing the worship of other Gods, building graven images, working on the Sabbath, blasphemy, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness as written-in-stone, will it be compelled to admit that being gay is not?

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

THIS LINK OPENS TO A FREE 3+ CHAPTER PREVIEW
(If it skips ahead, just tap the left arrow.)

 

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This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in 2004 to benefit L.I. Pride. Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2004 & 2013.

What’s your stand the issue of equality? How will the Supreme Court decision on DOMA affect you, personally?

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I’m all eyes and heart.

–  –  –  –

A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

B1

The preliminary police report rendered me dead upon impact.

A drunk driving a Marathon cab fitted with an extended, reinforced steel bumper had broadsided us. He was clocking up to 70 in a 30-mph zone when he ran a red light and collided with the VW Bug I was easing into a parking spot as Liz sat next to me in the suicide seat.

The impact was ferocious. While peripheral vision allowed me a glimpse of my killer, there was no other warning. No screeching of brakes. No screaming of pedestrians. No sense of impending doom. Just a mild feeling of astonishment before whispering, “Oh my God, I’m dead.” That’s what I said.

Our car was ripped apart (lengthwise) from hood to trunk, welding the sheared pieces to the front end of the taxi. Twenty feet away, our flung wreckage had come to a halt at the entrance of a branch bank. I hung down twisted and broken through the remains, my face hovering just above the pavement, my auburn curls resembling a red rag mop.

Most gay couples are drawn and quartered by such tragedy. They’re impeded by laws awarding jurisdiction to distant family members. They’re intimidated by protocol and prodded by propriety. Their feelings and wishes are summarily dismissed as irrelevant. Barred from the ambulance. Excluded from intensive care. Denied decision-making.

“She’s my sister,” Liz lied emphatically. It instantly ended any question of her authority.

The first time she lied was to the officers who barricaded the wreckage, then tried to restrain her from reaching back for me. They’d dragged her clear, insisting I was beyond help.

How she broke loose, and what transpired is a wonder.

I must have responded to the energy of her touch. I must have been warmed to the blending of her tears in my stone-cold eyes. I must have sensed the silent incantations of her heart imploring mine to hold the course of ‘us’ as one, against all obstacles and odds.

“Hey, babe!” I breathed.

Her second lie was to the ambulance attendants. The third, to emergency room doctors. The fourth, to nurses. And then to technicians, aides, and investigators. She didn’t hesitate to claim me as her sister, knowing involuntary deceit had long been coerced from gays in lieu of being banished and public humiliation.

Lies were once our only conceivable lifeline.

Fortunately, I was a corporate executive for a large conglomerate. It gave me special insurance privileges that provided her with unlimited hospital access. She stayed in my room. She partook in every detail of my care and was privy to all my medical information. My doctors consulted her. My nurses kept her updated.

Nevertheless, when it came to certain courses of action, not everything suggested was automatically allowed.

It’s because (even now) most lesbians mistrust the medical profession. We cringe at the prospect of contact with male doctors. We shy to probes pertaining to our personal lives and intimate behavior. And, even though many older women entered conventional relationships in an effort to hide their true sexual identities, there are vast numbers of lesbians who have never engaged in intimacy with a man. Women who know being gay goes far beyond an aversion to heterosexual sex; that the differences in our genetic codes include a wiring that circuits a deep-seated aversion and basic incompatibility with all dominant aspects of the opposite gender.

It’s as if (equivalent to the distinction found between Asian and African elephants trumpeting in the night) science will someday discover that we, too, are a similar — but different — species.

So it came as no surprise to Liz when I refused to be catheterized, even though catheterization was necessary to save me. Regardless of the brutal total body trauma I suffered, this perfectly natural anomaly had triggered my sense of dignity, demanding decorum. Only the empathy and courage of a surgical nurse named Christine could clear the emergency room of male doctors and provide me with the symbiosis I needed to survive.

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

THIS LINK OPENS TO A FREE 3+ CHAPTER PREVIEW
(If it skips ahead, just tap the left arrow.)

 

 

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This freshly updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the third person in The St. Petersburg Times (2008) and Venus Magazine in the first person (2010).  Copyright by M. Quantaine © 2008 / 2010 / 2013.

Please share your thoughts here by selecting REPLY.

I’m all eyes and heart.

AS GOOD AS GAY GETS

One determined little 5 year old.

One determined little 5 year old.

By Marguerite Quantaine

Someday my novel will be optioned by a mainstream publisher, rate stellar reviews, be adapted to film oozing romance through eloquent innuendo, and receive the acclaim of people who’ll prattle over my sudden success.

But they’ll be instantaneously mistaken (about my success being sudden) because I’ve worked hard all of my (remembered) life.

I began my callings at age 5, collecting castoff bottles for return to wooden crates at the corner, single pump gas station with its big red cooler of cola immersed in ice water and a grease monkey teetering on a beat-up stool next to it paying me a penny a find.

At 7 (being small and scrawny for my age), my brother dressed me as a waif to knock on the doors of upper class condos, selling occupants Christmas cards they probably never sent, but gave me my dollar a box because I looked so pitifully poor, like a melancholic mutt on the street corner wagging its tail, twanging their untuned heartstrings.

At 8, I shoveled snow with a spade in the winter (that’s right, a spade), pushed mowers in the summer, and raked leaves in the fall, underpaid with nickels by anyone willing to exploit me.

At 10, I delivered newspapers on my brothers routes, rising before daybreak to cut the hairy nylon twine from big bundles left on neighborhood street corners, rolling and folding each paper to perfection, burnishing and stuffing them into a canvas bag dragged along behind me, pitching the papers towards porches, then hurrying home in time to don a dress and walk 3 miles to school (that’s right, 3 miles).

At 14, I claimed I was 15 to get a genuine job (4 to 9 weekdays, 9 to 9 on Saturday) selling records at a store that only hired boys for the 30 years before I sailed through the door.

“Why should I hire you?” asked the owner, a doddering, Dickens-like character whose bifocals were as thick as block glass and modish flattop belied his desire to appear younger. “Boys bring in girls who like records.”

“Boys flirt with girls that giggle and irk paying customers,” I countered. “Boys arrive late, leave early, take cigarette breaks, and call in sick from phone booths at football games.” I let that set a second before adding, “I have red hair. I’m cute enough to attract boys who’ll talk to me about girls. I’ll sell them records for those girls. Whenever they win one over — and they will (I winked) with my expert advice — they’ll be back to buy more.”

“Expert advice?”

“I have a two-sport-varsity older brother and one bombshell of a sister. I’ve heard all their gameplay. Try me. You’ll see.”

He did, teaching me purchasing, cataloging, product display, inventory control, advertising, and promotion. I was the first girl hired there, then the first girl hired as a research editor for a local trade magazine, then the first girl hired as a proof-runner for the daily newspaper before I finally fled my hometown for the big city beat.

I arrived in New York with $126.00 lining my red-rubber boots, no job prospects, no place to live, and no plans beyond attending The American Academy of Dramatic Arts where I’d earned an entry after winning the regional finals of a television talent search in which I’d been entered (unknowingly).

Being awed and alone in Manhattan was thrilling. I saw all directions as arrows angled upwards.

All I had going for me was attitude on my first day (faking-it) as a graphic artist.

All I had going for me was attitude on my first day (faking-it) as a graphic artist.

Insisting “Oh sure, I can do that” gained me the gig of being the first female hired as a graphic artist at the United Parcel Service (even though I’d never seen a t-square, held a razor knife, or knew how to crop a photograph). After several months of (intense) covert tutelage by the fellow at an adjacent art board, I snagged a (enviable) job at a Fifth Avenue ad agency where I was promoted to management (the first female Purchasing Agent) in 5 months time. Within 3 years I parlayed that into a corporate office fashion industry position where I excelled until being struck by a drunk-driven taxicab. The driver flew the coop and the cab company declared bankruptcy (as did the insurance company holding the cab’s policy), catapulting my career back to ground zero (accompanied by chronic disabilities).

and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

THIS LINK OPENS TO A FREE 3+ CHAPTER PREVIEW
(If it skips ahead, just tap the left arrow.)

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Is (gay) life good for you? Are you (still) dreaming (big)?
Select REPLY and tell me.

I’m all eyes (and heart).