Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Humanist to Share my Thoughts on Sexual Identity

When I'm not actively posting on my blog, I am still writing---lists of tasks, notes to my children, pieces of poems, pages of my novel and, sometimes, essays, which feel most at home in publications separate from Bugs, Books & Beauty. Occasionally, the editors agree with me and embrace the opportunity to share my words with their audience. It's always an honor.

Recently, while perched at the Taproom in Atlanta's Kirkwood neighborhood, I read a Huffington Post summary of new vocabulary terms for describing a person's sexual identity.  I felt unexpectedly inspired to categorize myself, and the insights which emerged are awaiting publication in an upcoming edition of The Humanist

According to the magazine's website:

The Humanist magazine applies humanism—a natural and democratic outlook informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion—to broad areas of social and personal concern.

I encourage my readers to take a look at the publication now. I will also provide a link to my article on Bugs, Books & Beauty when it runs. Meanwhile, I want to share a section of my original draft with you. Please consider it as you prepare to embrace the holiday season in the company of loved ones whose relationships may challenge the status quo.

Here's the excerpt:

Growing up in northwest Georgia in the 1980s and 90s, I received the following message from middle class American culture:

You will be born a girl or a boy. Boys and girls grow into men and women, who will later fall in love with each other. You will have one true love with whom you will partner in marriage, the goal of which is to “live happily ever after.” Sometimes, it doesn't work out this way. For example, men may love other men. Or women may love other women. Or marriages will be broken and end in divorce. It is okay that these things happen, but it isn't normal or expected for you.

While this message is arguably better than some older alternatives, it still has many flaws. When I share a more accurate version with my children, it will go something like this:

You will be born with traits of boys, girls or both together. All children grow into adults who will question every aspect of their identity and reach multiple conclusions. As you continue to experience life, you will form a variety of relationships, each of which has its own value and ideally brings you closer to understanding and appreciating your own self worth. Remember the goal is not to live happily ever after with your one true love forever, but to share your life with people who help you feel authentic, empowered and whole. 

Here we go--the center piece of an unusual family.


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