Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hi, I'm a lesbian, I live in Kansas, & I don't want anything from you except fairness

By Diane Silver

I decided to celebrate National Coming Out Day by stating what any regular reader of this blog knows -- I am a lesbian.

But I wonder whether many of you, particularly my heterosexual readers, have thought much about what that means.

In some ways that fact is monumental. Because of who I am, my family faces constant discrimination. We are, in fact, second-class citizens. I don't even have the right to visit a spouse in the hospital, let alone the ability to be part of a spouse's health insurance or pension plan.

It doesn't matter what church I belong to or how I live my life. It doesn't matter if I'm thief or a saint. The laws of my country treat me unfairly because I'm gay.

On the other hand, the fact that I'm a lesbian means very little. It certainly doesn't change my day much. I get up, get dressed and go to work. I pay the bills.

I worry that I'm going to have to put way too much money into foundation work soon for my house. I worry that the plumbing needs attention. And I'm tired of pouring money into my 100-year-old home when I'd rather spend those dollars on a vacation.

Thirteen years ago my spouse died of breast cancer. Recently, I fell in love very deeply and sincerely, but right now it doesn't look like that is going to work out. Those losses hurt me just as deeply as they would any straight person. I despair. I bleed, and yes, there have been times when I just wanted to die.

These days, though, life is also a joy. I love writing. It makes me feel alive. I love the crisp air of fall and the smell of the leaves on the ground. I love my son who is a junior at the local university. I delight in our once-a-week dinners.

If I had my way, this country and my home state of Kansas would do nothing more and nothing less than treat me like it does every other citizen. I don't want to take a single thing from you except for what you give to everyone else -- a chance to live and be treated fairly.

May you all have a marvelous Coming Out Day in whatever way makes sense to you.

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