Friday, Nov 15, 2019
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Friday, Nov 15, 2019
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Not Thinking Straight
E-mails from afar
by Madelyn Arnold - SGN Contributing Writer

My Invitation to the Largest H.S. Fieldhouse in the USA
(Yes, my old High School really did build the biggest fieldhouse - anything for basketball.) Perhaps you've been invited to a high school or college reunion. I've been corresponding with MBK, an old high school classmate over my invitation. And he's been hard at work, urging me to come. Actually, I can't go. But if it were possible, I wouldn't. I also regularly correspond with an old high school friend, PKN. Both are straight.

All I've done here is change the order of the e-mails and edit for clarity.

After My Nth Invitation
From: Me

Dear MBK;

I appreciate all the squirreling around you've been doing [for the school reunion], but ... since there's no way I can get there, e-mail ought to work well enough. I live in Seattle.

My, that list of names is evocative ... of so many of us big "children" desperate to run off and be adults. Some of us had more (and better) reasons than others.

I realize you may not understand why I'm telling you this, but here goes: I'm a Lesbian and was one of the first Gay rights activists in 1969. And anyone who cannot handle that is welcome not to.

Thank you for this opportunity....


Dear PKN:

- this [letter above] was sent [to MBK] earlier today. I wonder if the effect has been/will be like throwing a rock into a pond full of frogs & but it's finally been said, and the pretending's over...!

I think he's been exaggerating my welcome.

[from one ol' frog to another]


Dear Me;

I had wanted to ask you prior to this e-mail, if you mind me telling MNK about how ill you are. Each time I got an e-mail about one of them having surgery or cancer, etc., I wanted to let them know to add you to their thoughts and prayers, but would not invade your privacy like that without asking first.


From: Me

Dear PKN -

Tell what you think is right ... oddly, MBK says he already knew. He says the usual thing a ... kind but clueless individual says [in his letter, following]:

From: MBK

....The one thing that is curious to me about the Gay/Lesbian community is how they limit the definition of who they are. If one should say, "I am Gay" or "I am a Lesbian" is not the definition of who that individual is.

I have a sexual relationship with a female, who is my wife. But that relationship doesn't define who I am, let alone define the relationship I have with my wife. I am a father and a father-in-law but those roles do not exclusively define who I am. I am many things; a creation of God, one who tries to follow God's will, a member of families, a citizen, a student, a helper and many other things make up who I am - not just one aspect of me.

It appears to me that you are many things also - not just a Lesbian. You are a daughter, a sister, an aunt, an author, a person with physical challenges ... and on and on. The point is that you are an amalgamation of a multitude of personas, not [just] one.

If you felt compelled to tell of your sexuality to seek my approval or reaction - you need neither. If I were a car thief, some would give a stamp of approval and others would disapprove. What would be important is whether the proper authorities approved and unfortunately, they do not. It is against the law to do that. Even if the worldly authorities approved of my thievery, I would still have to answer to my Creator. If the Great Creator disapproved of the activity, then I would have to alter my activity regardless of how many others approved.

From: PKN.

Omy goodness. I wonder if he really meant to be so judgmental. AT least that is the way it sounded to me there at the end, comparing being a Lesbian to car thief in "a higher power's eyes." ???? Or maybe I am taking it wrong because I already know he is ... clergy of some kind. Maybe it's me who is being judgmental of him???? Oh well, guess it really doesn't matter one way or the other in the grand scheme of things.

I know we both remember in the backs of our minds that these are all people who didn't have much to do with us socially as kids. Now, they are all trying to be the "bigger person." Bless their little hearts. It still stings.

Hmmm, perhaps a little bitterness ... there? LOL.


All of a sudden many have e-mailed me like we are long-lost friends. I won't be spending $1000 or more to go up, but I will contribute some time and effort to help with some music and pictures. That's enough.

Hope you are hanging in there. I remember things. Nuff said.


Dear MBK;

I seem to recall you were in [debate] ... or is my memory playing tricks. If so, I guess the comparison to Grand Theft Auto wasn't inadvertent....

In any case I absolutely agree: my sexual identity hardly defines me.

Once upon a time I was 17 and had multiple scholarships, the support of my [biology] department, a new double major ... medical illustration; friends, talents, the love of my brothers and sisters, a good heart and a childishly earnest desire always to do right (deeply troubled about the civil rights of others - asking whether we were right or wrong about the war, about which aspects and why, about the definition and functions of patriotism, about the poor we always have with us) and the purely selfish desire just to be ordinary. You know - getting along with others around me and having private life that was just that: private.

I wanted and had always wanted to be a doctor. To marry a hospital ... etc (I also love lab work). I was wanting to ... get on with my education, with my various jobs, with my (much too pridefully executed) little research projects (alongside my lover - the home, the garden, the fireplace, etc.). I wanted my former teachers and current supporters to be proud of me, glad they had supported me, pleased they'd backed the right horse. How many of us have wanted (even those too proud to admit it) the same?

Yes: I had so many parameters. As a daughter, a sister, a young scientist ... a representative of my family, my town, my time, my country. And 2/3 of the way thru my first year of college, I was invited to a convocation of college representatives and ejected. My transcripts were frozen, so that I couldn't enroll in another Indiana school.

Because the only part of me that counted, that parameter that outvoted all the other parameters, was ... was it my good heart?

My parents beat the truth out of me. Suddenly that parameter was the only one they were caring about. They locked me in my room, telling me that they would do - what? Something worse than a beating. When I had finally admitted what Jean and I had been doing in our own little cloak-and-dagger, so to speak, love affair, my mother had announced "I'd rather you had been a murderess!" to which I'd blurted: "Ma, there's still time."

I left the house as soon as it was quiet and disappeared. When I was picked up some [weeks] ... later, I was put in a mental hospital ... you don't want the details*. My two favorite doctors, so supportive of my medical hopes, consigned me there. Only one parameter mattered to them. I bided my time and ran away.

I had learned a lot while locked up. When I began to be human again a few years later, I had lost all interest in waiting to see if my marvelous self would show that I was a worthy person - and then if my TERRIBLE SECRET got inadvertently revealed, people might OVERLOOK my oh-so-terrible threatening sin as a peccadillo. Like, if I were absolutely PERFECT in every way but ONE [others' reckoning, not mine] I could earn a living without too much interference. Except being occasionally Queer-bashed (as has happened five times, even though I'm a rather ordinary woman. Not even especially Queer looking...). Except occasionally being fired, or not hired, because there's this RUMOR....

I got tired of lying. I got tired of waiting for the axe to fall. Now I often announce I'm Gay to get everything out of the way. I never think of my sexual proclivities as defining me - I just want to avoid the many people who do or will. It saves time.

There. I guess I said it.

* I wrote a book fictionalizing [the hospital stay]. Barely fictionalizing it. Which was favorably reviewed by the New York Times ...[etc].

But anyway ....

Take care.


Since I sent the above answer to him, he hasn't written back. I wonder why?

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