I know it's been a good long while. And for that, I am sorry.
A lot has happened in the last few months. I'd like to think I'll take time to write about those things, but realistically (and lately, I am all about being realistic), I won't.
I write today (rather than yesterday, last week or tomorrow) because something very important happened today. Today, President Obama publicly endorsed marriage equality for gays and lesbians (I am not including the B and the T right now because this kind of specifically applies to same sex couples, so maybe some bisexuals will benefit too).
As some of you may know, I had the good fortune to work for the Obama campaign. I also worked for Senator Kerry's campaign. I threw my everything into those campaigns. Quite literally, blood/sweat/tears. However, the fact that neither of my candidates publicly supported (real) marriage equality always nettled me. Granted, I was not in a same sex relationship until AFTER Obama was elected, but I always identified as a switch-hitter (my preferred term for bisexuality) and had scores of friends who were gay as the day is long. My attitude during these campaigns was typically: "well, the alternative is horrible." I stand by that claim. Both times the alternatives were really, truly horrible.
In this next election cycle, the first I will be FORCED to sit out, I will finally know that my candidate supports me fully. I will know that he will actually take a stand for civil rights--that he'll hopefully be more likely to appoint Supreme Court Justices that feel similarly.
When I was stationed in Adrian, MI for the Kerry campaign I was pretty miserable. Keep in mind that 2004 was the year that the marriage amendment was on the ballot in Michigan. (Yes, we mitten folks outlawed gay marriage long before North Carolina, remember that.) Adrian is a small town, surrounded by smaller towns. It has a strange dynamic in that it has a fairly large Hispanic population (for Michigan) and a HUGE convent, the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Surprisingly, the most liberal folks in town were those blessed nuns. I think I've mentioned this before, but they phone-banked for Kerry every Tuesday. However, that's not the point of this story. The point is that while I was working for Kerry in this kinda-backward town, I had to work with Democrats that HATED gay people. Some of my best volunteers had terribly offensive, anti-gay marriage yard signs. It got to me. I spent three very, very long weeks there. On my drives home (which was a lovely, 82 year old volunteer's house who made me lunch every day and 'kissed' Jon Stewart each night he showed up on her television), I would count these hateful yard signs. On a few particularly defeated days, I would cry. Barbara (that lovely lady), would wipe my tear-stained face, tell me I had worked too hard, and send me to bed.
Weird, weird times those were.
Importantly, though, if 'my' candidate supports gay marriage, I don't have to put up with the gay-hate bullshit that I did in the past. (Not that I ever had to put up with it, but if you've worked on a Presidential campaign, you know what I mean.) I don't have to defend a president that believes I don't deserve equal rights. For that, I am eternally greatful. I really am.
So, I want to say in as public a way as I can: thank you, President Obama. Thank you for having the guts to stand up and say what you feel is right. I don't think this is pandering (because realistically, it might hurt him). I think the pressure of his supporters finally got to him, and I am glad. I am thrilled.
I chose a conservative field. Part of me thinks this is because I am an opositional/defiant type: "Oh, you don't like gay people? Let me make it really hard for you to deny I'm a good person." Part of me thinks it's because I didn't realize how hard it would be to exist as a head-strong liberal among those who are either apathetic or vote with their wallet in mind. Either way, I'm here, I'm fairly queer, and I do a damned good job of working with patients.
I haven't been discriminated against in a really vicious way just yet (I don't think), but my daily life is awkward. In a way that my boo, Jess, doesn't have to be, I am cautious as hell when talking about my personal life. Generally, I throw out a few political topics over a few days with new colleagues before I dare mention the word 'partner' instead of boyfriend/fiancee/husband. If my attending or resident seems reasonable, I'll bring Jess up in a casual way. Normally, it's fine. It gets glazed over, or at most 'Oh... you date ladies?' There have been a few funny/awkward reactions since I've been on surgery, though. Good one first, or bad one? I like to get the bad out of the way.
The not so good: There is one surgeon I've been working with very frequently over the past three weeks. She's kind and smart and generally a really admirable lady. I generally feel like female surgeons are strong women who are interested in equality. They have had to fight an uphill battle, and I have MAD respect for that. She wears golden retriever a pin on her white coat and her hair is generally all done up. I think she's pretty cool. She asks a lot of personal questions in the OR--not in a bad way. Just in a 'I like to get to know my med students way.' Somehow, she had avoided romantic relationships... until two days ago. Over the open abdomen of our patient, me with retractors, her with a scalpel and hemostat: "So, Em, when you are applying to your psych residency, what are you taking into account?"
This is a normal question. One that has many, many answers. For me, I have a few things to consider:
- Jess--wherever we go, she'll need to get a job. Both because I can't be captain moneybags and because she is interested in not going crazy. Her work requires either a college campus or a fairly urban area.
- Pita--our baby's gotta come with us! This means Pit Bull friendly housing. Something we can't compromise on.
- Gay-Friendly--Jess and I are not interested in being hate-crimed. In fact, I refuse to live in an area that is even remotely hostile to the gays.
- Close-Enough--Jess and I would like to stay within a day or so's drive from our families. We are close with both sides and will need their support.
- Affordable--we aren't interested in going house-poor.
- Good-ish Programs--At this point, I am applying to Psych-Family and Psych residencies. As I'll probably do a fellowship afterward, I am interested in an academic program.
So, all that shit is running through my head. And what's most important? Jess. So, I tell her that I do have some geographic restrictions in that my PARTNER needs to be able to get a job. The response?
"Oh. Your partner."
That was the end of that conversation. Well... so, no more gay talk around the lady surgeon?
The good: I am on a team with some pretty funny dudes. There are five of us total, and they are all pretty cool. One of them is a resident from a local program that is temporarily rotating at our hospital. He's funny and kinda brilliant. I could tell from his banter that he was a liberal. Yay! One morning, on rounds, we were talking about good places to hang around town. I told him: "My boo and I like to go to Corner, she's really into beer."
"You're gay? Ha! Cool. I just didn't take you for the lesbian type."
"Hahahah, yeah, I am not 'butch' I suppose."
"No, no you're not. Is she?"
"Definitely more so. You can 'tell' she's gay."
And that was it. I like when people aren't afraid to continue a conversation, or point out difference. Difference is cool, it's OK. It can be recognized without being marginalized. I have mad respect for him now. Also, in a way that I have found is pretty common, straight dudes open up to gay ladies. It's interesting. It's kind of similar to how women relate to gay men. It's like they don't feel threatened, or feel like I am going to 'go after' them. So now he tells me about his dates with various nurses at his hospital. It's cute. I wouldn't recommend him (he's pretty unavailable), but he's fun to talk with.
So, that's life right now. More later. Maybe. I am on nights, so while I can talk on the phone, I can kinda get away with blogging.