I remember when I made fun of a girl in elementary school whose father was a garbage collector. My mom literally slapped my face when she found out about it. But everyone was doing it, right? And I was so relieved not to be getting picked on myself. But she told me that I should instead be grateful that someone was willing to put their hands in the garbage and do all that lifting and take it all to the smelly dump for me, and honor any worthwhile work. She told me that there isn't much work more worthwhile, and less appreciated, than the work of cleaning up other peoples' messes. To this day, I take that to heart.
What brought that on is that we had to hire a new janitor yesterday. (I can't get into why the old one left, but it was a damn good reason.) Anyway, my office was just at a standstill over it. Knowing that there was one less janitor, people kept making messes and not cleaning them up. They just whined instead. It really got to me. Why can't people clear a table in the break room after they eat at it, for instance, instead of leaving their wrappers? I don't mean that executives should be on their hands and knees scrubbing toilets, but they can at least not go out of their way to create as big a mess as possible for the ones who have to clean it up, and then treat the ones who do clean it up like something scraped off the sole of their shoe. And it wasn't just executives, either, but other administrative-type people like me doing it. I told BossLady how I felt after I witnessed one get yelled at by a secretary, and we put out a memo explaining that our janitors have to do extra work and we need to be patient with them. Yesterday, we gave the three janitors who had to do extra work thank you cards with twenty-dollar gift cards for Subway as a token of our appreciation. (That was difficult to clear with BossLady's BossMan, but we ever-so-nicely made him feel guilty, which honestly, someone needed to. :-) Two of them don't speak or read English all that well, but they did understand "thank you" and "free food", the way they understood nasty tones of voice. Sometimes I feel very good doing human resources work.
I keep thinking about poor Zach from the MySpace blog. I will be doing a work for him in Hermes' name tonight. I thought about Erzulie Freda, the patroness of queer boys in Vodoun, but Hermes seems a lot more appropriate. He is not only considered a patron of gay/bi/effeminate men these days, but He has always been a God of communication. And what Zach, in the isolation forced on him by his parents and those wastes of carbon at "Love" in Action who are taking advantage of their fear and prejudice, really needs is communication. He needs for a line to the rest of the world to open up, and he will need some help to do it. It is literally going to be a lifeline for him, I can feel it. A lot of people are claiming to speak for him, which is good in its way, but he needs to do it for himself again. I hurt for every teenager in that situation. I am suddenly so grateful that my mom never did that to me. She did a lot of things wrong when I came out, but never, ever, ever anything that blatantly wrong!
I used to think it was okay for a parent to enforce their own values. I used to think it was okay for a parent to try ex-gay psychotherapy for their kids. Maybe I still do, but I am angry. This is so much more than just talking to a counselor, as I wrote about in my unpublished novel Passing the River. (But at least PTR is based on real programs, and I wish Zach's parents had found one of those if they had to do something.) I have given Zach information on how to survive interrogation and legal emancipation of minors. (The latter was a bit of a mental struggle for me, but the link I gave him, which I made damned certain is reputable, also suggests other alternatives. And I'm sure he has thought about it himself anyway. He can't just run the hell away, you know, even if he really wants to.) Maybe he needs to know about the Point Foundation, too, though I have no idea what his grades are like.
I want to ask ex-gays and ex-gay promoters what they think of this. This seems more feasible (and legal) than L'Ailee's latest duct tape fantasy, which was brought on by the whole sorry-ass situation. It'll probably be less likely to get me a straight answer, however. (No pun intended!) My wife is going to run out of theoretical duct tape soon. Sure it's theoretical, but people who need to be bound with it so that she can punch them until her arms get tired just keep on coming...
Incidentally, I think my wife used up all her words for the weekend at that blog! Zach should be honored. :-)
L'Ailee gave me figurines of the penguins from Madagascar to put onto my desk. The penguins are so cute; they are the only worthwhile thing about that movie. I love how they use their flippers! The confluence of Zach and the penguins made me think of the gay penguins in Germany that I wrote about. (I'll link to the article for anyone who hasn't read it, because I really think it's one of my all-time best, one of those "I want it in my obituary" pieces: Homophobia in Black and White.) The little guys peacefully and successfully rebelled against their keepers' mistreatment and attempt to force straightness onto them, even though they have even less power than the kids in "Love" in Action.
Gods, I love penguins. Even when I'm thinking about depressing shit, thinking of them makes me smile. Maybe some penguins can help y'all, too--wanna see?
Oh, and baby pandas help, too. I just adore those black-and-white creatures!
There are other kinds of prejudice in this world. My favorite sport, auto racing, is considered a bastion of it. Danica Patrick is helping with that, and Erin Crocker just might help, too. But it still needs some...ah...*color*! I once asked my 18-year-old cousin who his favorite driver was, and he smartassedly replied "the white guy." Time for that to be a slightly narrower category, I think, and eliminate a few drivers, not to mention pit crew and executives. But black people were always a part of the sport, even though they weren't treated very fairly at all. Did you know NASCAR had a "Negro league"? Me neither! There is a new documentary called Black Wheels about black participation in NASCAR, which I would very much love to see. Charles Wiggins is my new hero. (Love his last name, and I bet he and Daddy would've had a lot to talk about--he chopped up and rebuilt cars, too!) The past is past, but we need to reclaim it so we have a foundation for the future. I hope the future gets a lot more integrated, very quickly.
My wife and I also leafed absentmindedly through an issue of the Newport News catalog yesterday. We both like it for basics. Now, we've heard the whole "female couples who live together get to look like each other" thing all our adult lives, throughout our courtship, and we just laughed and laughed with the confidence of the two most physically unlike each other short white women ever slapped together by the hands of the Fates. I mean, I'm golden-toned all over, hair and skin--I even have little gold rings in my green eyes--and I have a face that is frequently described as "cute" and looks much more innocent than I am, and I'm "zaftig" (I love that word; BossLady says it means "juicy, like a peach.") L'Ailee's angular all over, a wiry little thing with lovely Snow White coloring and unusual steel gray eyes that I thought were two of a kind until I met some of her relatives. The only color that looks good on both of us is pink, and then not in every shade. I can't wear heels the way she does. So how surprised were we when we realized that we were looking at virtually the same outfits, but in different colors and patterns?!
"You can't borrow mine," I told her. "You'll stretch it out." She laughed just a little too hard at that joke! "First the rings, and now this. Everyone's right."
"Prepare to be assimilated," she said in a monotone. We laughed until we collapsed on top of each other, and then we got to kissing even though she was exhausted.
Love can be so, so, so good, including queer love, if only it is allowed to be that way. We were led to expect that it couldn't be this good when we were kids, and the people who told us all that were wrong. Some of them even support us now. Hopefully Zach and those other kids subjected to "Love" in Action can have that too one day.