This week a friend posted something on Facebook about not caring about anything and being heartless. She got quite aggravated at me because I pointed out, and I recruited my boyfriend to point out there’s no way she can be heartless. We all belong to a private group and we’re straight allies for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. She had also supported him the day before when he dropped a sofa on his foot at work. He told her his princess had told him stories about her and said something like he knew his princess could attest to someone’s good character. I can, as a fact, attest to her good character. I thought she might be going through my caring too much syndrome, but she wasn’t.
My syndrome is that I care too much about everything and I get on sensory overload until I have a freakin’ meltdown. I don’t do this much anymore because i learned not to fill my plate so full of stuff to do. I take baby bites and then I can handle being an activist. I can’t go out and conquer the world all at one time by myself. I have to have a team of people to help me do this. I learned my lesson the hard way when my youngest daughter was in pre-school. The director of the program asked me if I was good at organizing. I should have said no, but I said yes. The next thing I know I’m being introduced as the new president of the PTO at a reception in front of the whole entire pre-school. I was standing there like deer in headlights while everyone applauded.. I have no idea how this happened. I had to figure out how to make it unhappen. I struggled through until the end of the school year and knew I would never again get myself in the position.
That lasted until my mother signed her up for cheerleading and volunteered me to be the team mother. She had the cheerleading coach who should never been a coach. She cried at the coaches’ meetings. They ended up removing her as coach. It was one big mess. The next year I got my own cheerleading team. I knew I could do better and I did. I coached the Mighty-Mite Cowboys for three years. By the third year I had it down pat and we won grand champions. After that I moved onto traveling cheerleading and the girls starting playing traveling softball. That was my life back then. They grew up and it changed. But while they were doing it, I gave it everything I had and then some.
I still had my candidates i voted for and my women’s rights I campaigned for and donated money to when it came time. I never got out there on the streets until the March of Dimes called me one year and asked me to be the person who canvassed our street. I sent out the cards they sent me and talked to the neighbors. That was really easy.
We moved to Wisconsin in 2000. I had helped at the athletic association, I had been involved in a bunch of fundraisers, and attended many fundraisers with my former husband through his work as a journalistand my work, but I had never really participated in anything that really made a huge difference in my community. When I join the Kenosha Junior Woman’s Club, I was given that opportunity. I was taught by the best too. Those women knew how to be wonderful hostesses and they were gracious. The people in Wisconsin taught me about generosity too. They came to our biggest fundraiser of the year, “A Taste of Elegance” and placed bids on the silent auction items that really made a huge difference to the charities we were raising the money for those years. In 2003, I was co-chair of the event and I remember my co-chair, Cindy, saying we raised more money than they had in previous years. I was so proud of the work we did and of the restaurants who donated the food.and the vendors who donated the beverages. It was a labor of love. The money we raised was going to a special childcare center..We all worked together as a team for that fundraiser to be a success.
The month before my junior varsity cheerleading team had won the JAM State Championship in Wisconsin and that was a huge team effort. It took a lot of work to pull that together. I was incredibly proud of every single girl on that team.I poured everything I had into coaching them and extra love too..
At the same time, I worried about my oldest daughter. She had come out the year before and I worried about her fitting in and having friends at school. Was she having a great senior year? It was difficult for me to tell. We were in the middle of moving and eventually ended up in Auburn. She got a softball scholarship to a college in South Carolina to play softball, but I worried about her. I worried about her sister too. All of the moves she had been through the previous year were tough. Three different schools in one year. That’s pretty difficult when you’re a sophomore. My transition was hard enough, so to say there was tension is putting it mildly.
I ended up writing the food page and threw myself into learning all about food. I had been watching all the food channels during those months I was snowed in up in Wis. So, I was able to put the knowledge to work. The food page in Kenosha had been great, so I had a good layout to follow and of course, I grew up reading the Atlanta Journal Constitution every Sunday and the Gainesville Times when visiting my grandparents. This is how I got to know the people in the community. I really cared what went on the page and wanted to feature local cooks and restaurants.
Let’s fast forward to after the divorce. When I came back to Auburn in 2009, I was a hot mess. It took a disaster team to put me back together and we all worked really hard. I knew the creator, I say God, you can call him/her whatever you wish, had plans for me or I wouldn’t have made it this far. So, I searched my heart and I started listening and learning. The main thing I heard was there was not a Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Auburn and there needed to be an official chapter. This is a college town, it should be progressive. What’s the deal? Where are the safe zones on campus? They used to have them. There used to be a support group for LGBT people, but it went away too. I couldn’t solve all these problems at once, but our group could start a chapter and lay out a mission to educate the people about acceptance.
Well, Dan Cathy, the COO of Chick-Fil-A, went on record talking about marriage equality being a bad thing and then Mike Huckabee jumped on the bandwagon and they had an appreciation day. i was on Facebook 24/7 for several days helping people deal with it. The backlash it caused of feelings with hate towards LGBT people was horrible. I was deleting people who didn’t understand on my Facebook page left and right. If they couldn’t accept my daughters were both lesbians, and were still going to support what Chick-Fil-A was doing, then I asked them to kindly leave. There was stuff going on behind the scenes with my daughter being discriminated against while she was working at Chick-fil-A too, so I had another dimension to the whole scenario.
In the meantime we had to call a PFLAG Auburn meeting and a meeting with Spectrum, the student group at the university, together to decide how we were going to respond to this crisis. I had already decided I didn’t what to do anything that included the word Chick-Fil-A. I was tired of saying it, typing it and didn’t even want to talk about it. I just wanted everyone to heal and feel better about themselves. I didn’t think picketing was a good idea either. Luckily, we all agreed and we had a great party that pulled people together from the community. We stood in a circle on Samford lawn and held a candlelight vigil for all those who had been killed, hurt or were still hurting. Whether it was from bullies, bullying, not being accepted by their families or whatever the reason.
There are so many people who don’t have homes, clothes to wear, food to eat. They’ve been beaten and abused. Some have been raped or mutilated. Others are no longer with us. This is all because other people can’t accept them for who they are and because they were born different,
I go to bed and think about those children, they’re just kids, and they’re walking the streets. Some of these streets aren’t so safe. I’ve been on them at night. Why can’t parents just love their children enough to understand? I wonder what will become of them and I wonder what I’m going to do next. What can I do next?