Posted by Chanel Dubofsky
I went to visit my friend D in the apartment where he’s staying with his husband while they’re in the city. This apartment is a dream on so many levels, in square footage, decor, bookshelves, etc. It’s also the home of a woman who has lived there for ten years alone. She has never been married, and has no children. This house has always been hers, and only hers, and it’s where she lives a full, beautiful, creative life. I imagined myself in every room, growing into every corner. Because he usually knows what I’m thinking, D said, “You could live here and write and work, and it would be just yours.”
For women, it seems, it is always about someone else. We’re taught to compete for men because we’re expected to find someone to share our lives with, to be caretakers to. We’re taught to believe that this is our nature. In spite of intellect and creativity and the many other things that make us up, our energy is really expected to be channeled into other people, namely, men.
A woman who elects to not share her life with a man, but to keep it for her very own, pays a price. She’s a lesbian, which demonizes her in a whole different way, because among other things, never, ever should a woman’s primary relationship be with another woman. Other alternatives: she was abused as a child, she’s been traumatized by a bad relationship, or she just doesn’t know what she wants. No matter what, her priorities are all messed up (“Yes, dear, those other things are nice, but the point is to find a man.”)
Women who aren’t focused in some capacity or another on this goal are castigated for acting contrary to the nature of women, and not just by men. As women, we can be deeply hurtful to one another. We judge the choices we do and do not make, instead of supporting and affirming each other, corroding our vital female friendships.
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February 24, 2011 | 7:24 pm
Posted by Tera Greene
There are two ways to act: one is based on fear, the other is based on love.
Today I spoke to about 50 6th and 8th graders as a Keynote Speaker and this is one of the concepts I delivered to the youth as it pertains to building community. I know at least one of them “got it”, and I’m sure many more will “get it” over the course of their lives.
I was on a high! I was filled with the ruach of their spirits, the spirit of their enthusiasm, and left feeling celebratory about the fact that up until a week ago, I really had no idea what I really wanted to say for this Keynote Speaking engagement, but I knew that I had no time to act based on fear, which leads to avoiding and manifesting of unwanted outcomes. I intended to find my words and focus on what I wanted, not what I did not want, because if you’re gunna get what you want, may as well manifest only what you want and not what you don’t want. I chose to act based on love, to give the kids the best chat I could based on the community engagement lessons I have really learned since I first was booked over a year ago for this event.
I came home and a few hours later, I was confronted with seeing two fire ambulances pull up across the street. They were coming to take my good friend - an older gentleman - away. The high of the morning became the uncertainty of the on-coming afternoon. Fear was beginning to rush over me.
“I don’t want him to die,” I thought.
I paced and paced and paced, and finally the little voice told me, “Go meet him as they bring him from the house. Act based on love.”
Though I was fearful the medics would say, “Get away ma’am” or that I’d just burst into tears and be an embarrassment, I put the intention out to myself that I intended to tell my beloved neighbor that I loved him. As they wheeled my neighbor out, I crossed the street and said, “You’re gunna be OK right? I LOVE YOU, MR. H!”
I truly acted in love.
There are times when we hesitate to act based on love and instead succumb to fear and miss opportunities… even opportunities to tell someone we love that we love them. This was not going to be that time. I began walking away, and a rush of tears and almost hyperventilation overcame me as I crossed my grandpa in the backyard on the way to go back inside our home. He asked if our neighbor was still conscious, and I said yes, but uncontrollably began to cry even more.
“I just want him to be OK,” I thought.
I was overwhelmingly exhausted.
I don’t know what will happen, but at least I acted based on love.
Recently it was Valentine’s Day, and it was the first year in two years that I’ve been relationship-less. The last time I saw/spoke to my ex, she was acting on fear, not on love, causing me to feel as though I was a bad person, not worthy of the respect and common decency of the acknowledgement of the time we spent together. In essence, she royally dissed me. Here I was acting out of love, but being met with fear-based shunning from someone who had for many years called me her “best friend”. It’s been a year of growth for me, and I realize that through many healing exercises, including an intense 8 week period of shedding last year, that I did not deserve the mistreatment that I was faced with as the relationship started to fade. I deserved, and deserve, more than that. Hell, I demand it.
Do I still love her? Very much so, and with all of my heart of hearts. So much that I pray for her well-being every day, among other things before I go to bed.
But, today it became clear that I am truly someone who acts based on love, and I have to continue to attract that same back to me.
I am looking for a REAL-ationship. One that won’t allow me to feel like I’ve done something wrong simply because the person I think of as my equal chooses to act based on fear.
As I move forward into more of my Power, may the universe put in front of me more opportunities to act based on love.
And may my heart remain open and I find the realationship that I truly, truly, truly deserve.
Make sure you tell someone you love that you love them everyday, because tomorrow ain’t promised to no one. Choose to go against the grain and not be wishy-washy and miss opportunities to tell someone that you love them, and not only that, don’t shun them because of your fear. We’re human beings. We are made from love. It’s time to express it. And I don’t mean in a confusing way that gives mixed signals, but in a way that is not selfish and purely filled on the goodness of the Way we were Created to Be.
So, if tomorrow never comes, know, gentle reader, that I love you.
Tera* currently has a wide-open heart and her CD of the past couple of months in heavy rotation is Sting’s “Brand New Day”. You can read more from her at the “Challah Back” blog on NextGenJews or just find her at www.djnovajade.com
February 14, 2011 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Kalil Cohen
Happy Valentines Day!
For those of you in loving relationships, this may be an exciting day to honor and celebrate your love, while it can be rather disheartening for others. I am blessed to be celebrating this day with a lovely partner whose kind words of encouragement have helped me get through many challenging moments. As a transgender person, I always believed that transitioning meant that I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. After all who could possibly love someone as freakish as me? I was also under the mistaken belief that I would have to leave behind almost all the friends I had known before, certainly the straight ones. Not only have I experienced true love with someone who loves me in part because of, not despite, being transgender, but I also have the love of old friends to go along with it. Through the process of transitioning I was faced with the enormous challenge of loving myself in a minefield of cultural hate and contempt and through this self-love, allowing others to love me as well. We all experience this in some way, especially due to the destructive influence of advertising, however it did feel particularly intense as I was transitioning.
Two years ago in the wake of the Prop 8 fiasco, my wife and I had an opportunity to create a short film about our relationship. We were part of a wonderful collaboration between London-based photographer Gideon Mendel and the UCLA World Arts and Cultures Department called “13 Love Stories”. This series of short films coupled with a photography exhibit profiled 13 LGBT couples and families, traveling to exhibitions and schools throughout southern California.
As explained on the 13 Love Stories website, the project came out of the absence of actual LGBT families in the media put out by either side of the Prop 8 campaign: “In the media campaign leading up to the hotly contested November 2008 vote, something essential was missing: images of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples whose relationships hung in the balance. 13LoveStories.com presents a series of short films that redress the absence of such images. Featuring real voices and personal photographs, the films provide direct access to a diverse cross-section of committed couples in and around Los Angeles.
The project began in late January 2009. London-based photographer Gideon Mendel made portraits of each couple along with still life pictures from their homes. UCLA students worked with the couples to unearth an array of snapshots from their personal archives. Creative editor Derrick Shore interviewed the couples and created short videos from the plethora of assembled materials. The videos were completed in mid-February, just in time to go live on Valentine’s Day. An outdoor exhibition version of 13LoveStories.com was launched at Bruin Plaza on the UCLA campus, March 5, 2009, the day that oral arguments in the case are presented to the California Supreme Court. The project was directed by Mendel in collaboration with co-curators David Gere and Janna Shadduck Hernandez, professors at UCLA, and it was produced by Bobby Gordon.” - http://www.13lovestories.com/
“Madly In Love”, the short film made about my partner Karin and I focused on how hard it can be for transgender people to feel lovable, worthy of being loved. We are told by the culture all around us that we are despicable, disposable, and even demonic. For this reason, it is crucial that we highlight the healthy relationships that do exist and that can exist for transgender people. It is only through positive, accurate media that we will be able to stem the tide of self-destructive thoughts and actions within our community.
Watch our video here:
Watch all the 13 love stories videos here:
February 14, 2011 | 2:19 am
Posted by Maital Guttman
This morning I met with Ruth Selwyn, creator of Lizzy the Lezzy, at the coffeeshop under the gay center in Gan Meir Park. Ruth’s sometimes rude but always lovable animated character, Lizzy, is the first stand up comedy lesbian animated character. She has made her way around the world- from Logo to the L Word, picking up millions of online views along the way. My personal favorite video is her music video, “I’m a lesbian” which features some of Israel’s top LGBTQ folk and an incredibly catchy chorus you’ll find yourself singing in the most (in)appropriate places.
And, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Lizzy’s e-cards can help express your true thoughts to your girlfriend, lover, or “roommate.” Thanks, Lizzy!
February 12, 2011 | 2:37 am
Posted by Lia Mandelbaum
The last gathering that we had at our home was a JQ Shabbat dinner, which we held to celebrate Tu Bishvat. This special holiday is traditionally known as the birthday for the trees, and is a time where people take a moment to connect and relate to the natural world. At one point during the evening we all gathered to recite the Sabbath prayers and listen to Yael Green give a drosh about the significance of Tu Bishvat. She spoke about Etz Chayim, the Tree of Life, and how it can be used as a beautiful metaphor for life. As Jews, we are rooted to the earth through studying Torah, by learning the stories of our ancestors, and by applying the wisdom we gain to our everyday lives. The wooden rods which hold together the scrolls of the Torah are called atzei chayim – the “trees of life.” In the same way you can determine a tree’s age by looking at the number of rings within its trunk, by looking at the amount of scroll on each rod of the Torah, you can decipher where we are in our people’s history. It was a beautiful and meaningful evening for me personally because of my deep love and appreciation for nature. At the end of the evening, everyone had the option to take home a tiny tree to plant.
For many years prior to coming to California, I was very ungrounded and had no direction in my life. I didn’t know who I was, and I was out of touch with the world around me. Over the last four years I’ve embarked on a spiritual journey and planted my own tree of life in Los Angeles and worked tremendously hard to allow it to grow. I now feel my roots growing within the earth, nourished by Judaism, community, family, education, nature and the arts. The tree within myself that I have nurtured has begun to bear fruit. I find so much richness in sharing my journey with others that I have decided to go back to school to become a psychotherapist, and use the wisdom I have gained from my own struggles to help someone who has also lost their way.
The metaphor of the Tree of Life teaches us that there is a sacred relationship that is formed within the soil of the earth, where our essence is rooted with G-d. When everything is aligned between Adonai and us, and we acknowledge that His world is in perfect order, we can truly embrace the blessings we are offered and open up to the world in ways we could never have imagined.
Check out JQ, International at: http://www.jqinternational.org/
February 7, 2011 | 5:59 am
Posted by Maital Guttman
On January 26, 2011, Ugandan David Kato was brutally murdered. He was a visible member of the LGBTI community and a human rights activist. An unfortunate result of globalization, homophobia and laws have made their way to Uganda. This has resulted in discrimination and sadly violence against LGBTI advocates. Sign AJWS’ petition to stand in solidarity with the Ugandan LGBTI community.
Find out more through this video:
And sign the petition at: https://secure.ajws.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=517