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There she lies

There she lies
Turning nine before my very eyes
Turning nine before my very tired eyes
Effortlessly, in her sleep
Bigger now than she has ever been
Yet half the age she’ll be when she leaves home.

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Here, now

Dadtryptich
Left of his bed, our hands, right of his bed, Castro Valley, CA.

Tomorrow will be the twenty-year anniversary of my mother’s death. Breast cancer metastasis. Hers was the second in a three-part string of family cancer deaths, the oldest to go (my dad’s younger sister died not very many years before).

My dad had only just retired from his position as a Geography professor just a few years earlier, and had been teaching classes at the local community college, primarily for the enjoyment of it, and because he’d been asked. The two of them were going to write a textbook together, a long-discussed and long-delayed project. Hydrology of California? Something in the field of physical geography. He had met my mom when they were both graduate students in Geography, and hydrology was her area of concentration. She helped draw the maps for his doctoral dissertation, later helped him craft syllabi, grade papers, and, when he was away, guest-taught his classes. She was always a hit.

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Do something about cancer

Everyone complains about cancer but few of us do anything about it.  Not because it doesn’t touch us; it does. I don’t know a person whom it hasn’t, directly or indirectly. It has changed (more appropriately rent) the fabric of my family of origin dramatically. (Aunt. Mother. Nephew.)

Most of us don’t do much about cancer because we have no idea what we can do, beyond informed changes in our personal habits. That changes with the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study.

20130308-ACS-130308-0042

Study participants enrolling in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA, Atlanta, Georgia, March 8, 2013. [PHOTO CREDIT: ACS]

For some background: the American Cancer Society (ACS) studies have been instrumental in our learning about how we can prevent cancer. Past long-term studies have demonstrated the link between smoking and lung cancer; the impact of body mass on cancer risk; the impact of hormones, physical activity, and diet on cancer risk; and the link between aspirin use and reduced colon cancer risk.

The Cancer Prevention Study-3 is now out in the field: it’s a long-term study, running for 20 years, and aiming for hundreds of thousands of participants. They’ve got a lot now, but need more, and I’m writing this post to convince you to join me as one of them. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be part of something very big, and very consequential. Many participate out of a sense of protectiveness for their own or the next generation. Some, like me, will be participating as a way, one among many, of paying back a debt.

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If you build it, they will come

Folks, I’ve arrived! That piece that came out in the Advocate earlier this week did indeed flush some detritus out from under the bushes.  My first ad hominem homophobic attack (in seven years of online publishing) arrived in ye olde inbox this morning!  Name redacted to protect the woefully ignorant:

After reading about you in the ADVOCATE, I’d like to say some things.

When you were very young, you became emotionally alienated from your
mother/mother figure(s).  Maybe she was absent.  Maybe she was mean, or weak, or
too girly.  She didn’t connect with you well, and didn’t give you the mothering
you needed.  You came to identify with males, and continued to crave that mother
connection, but transferred it to other females.

See [URL of some wacky antigay website].

That is the truth.  You weren’t born that way.

Your kids do need a dad, but you are not a dad.

[URL of another wacky antigay website]
[URL of yet another wacky antigay website]

“Gays” have been useful to the Left.  They have been exploited by both
parties.

The ex-gay truth will prevail.  It will not cease to be true.

Mrs. Dad, ever of the theater world, quipped: “It’s like you’re an off-Broadway show and you just got picketed! This is great!”

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“It’s okay, sweetie.”

IMG_0239IMG_0240
Note from mom, found posthumously.

 

A note from a father to a son, posted on FCKH8.com’s Facebook page (and their Twitter feed), has gone viral and is going viraler even as you read this. It was written by a dad to his son after he overheard his son talking to a friend about how to come out to his parents.  I first saw it at The Good Men Project, in a post by William Lucas Walker. According to Parentdish, “FCKH8.com founder Luke Montgomery said the letter was mailed to them by Nate, a high school student in Michigan.” Bless Nate; bless Nate’s parents.

These publicly shared moments, in which straight parents express their love and understanding of their gay children, are becoming more and common, thanks to the concurrent (and not at all coincidental) growths of social media and mainstream support of LGBT people. They’re also bittersweet. Sweet, surely life-changing (and sometimes life-saving) for the kids of these parents, who are hearing them now. Bitter for those of us whose parents neither knew nor understood this hugely consequential facet of us, or at least not at the time we were young, vulnerable, and in deepest need of their understanding and approval.

I say this as one such who, at the time, considered myself lucky. I felt sure that my parents wouldn’t have disowned me, had they known the truth about my first love. But what they would do or say, I didn’t quite know. I sensed that they would be disappointed and not understand, which was more or less the case.

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