Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pagan Pride

Saturday was the local observance of Pagan Pride Day, a national event celebrated around Mabon every year. It was held at the lake directly across from my house, but I did not go. Oh, I knew about it beforehand; I just didn't go.

This is not to say that I am not proud of being Pagan. On the contrary, I am extremely proud of the path I have chosen. Who wouldn't be? Most (if not all) forms of Paganism are liberal positive faiths which recognize the inherent worth of every person, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, etc. My marriage to the wonderful Anna is accepted and celebrated within its bounds. I have never (and cannot see myself ever) considered converting to any other faith. Even in my involvement with the local Unitarian Universalists was not in search of a religion to convert to, but an intellectual community of spiritual people with social justice foremost in its priorities.

So, if there is enough of a local Pagan community to hold a Pagan Pride event, why did I go searching? In churches, and covens and Pagan groups, you look for a place that not only fits with your worldview and spiritual intentions but in which you feel welcome. All of teh events I have attended have had one thing in common--I most certainly did not feel welcomed. I will probably attend the Samhain Labyrinth as I did last year because of the wonderful calm and spiritual refreshment I found. I will not however stay for the social time after the ceremony like I did last year; it would only serve to shatter the calm I gathered in the candlelight with confusion.

The Myth of the Wealthy Gay People

Let me just start by saying that I love Chris Rock. I think he is hilarious and tells the freakin truth when it needs to be told. However, he made a comment in a show I watched the other night that bothers me. And truthfully it didn't offend, and really it isn't even something only he says. He just happens to be the one that said it the most recently in earshot.

There is this notion in the media and among the straights that we gay people are significantly more well-off than the straight people. While in theory, this might make sense...many of us do not have kids and therefore do not have the extra expenses that this brings with it. However, it is simply not true. As a matter of fact, the majority of gay couples and singles that I know are working class or just plain poor, myself included. We do not have all this expendable income lying about. We live paycheck to paycheck just like some straight people (and I would say the majority) do. Even our own media and larger community buys into this or at least gears itself toward this ideal. Take a look at Out magazine or The L Word sometime. The people are generally affluent. And these are just two examples. When was the last time you saw a poor gay person on tv? Chris Rock also made the joke that there are no gay homeless people. This, again, is simply not true. The first two homeless guys I ever met (as in more than a conversation about whether I had change) were gay.

So, what does it matter if the world thinks we're fabulously wealthy? Well, it matters. If we are presented as this community that is kind of elevated above the "regular" society, this is just one more way for us to be the "other" rather than just the people next door. In the long run, this will hurt us. The only major difference between my marriage and that of my straight friends is my spouse is a woman rather than a man. Once the world can accept this, we might be able to convince them that certain rights and privileges would not be out of order.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A little intro

According to the National Institute of Mental Health,

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.

This of course, is only the tip of the iceberg for those of dealing with it on a daily basis. Definitions are only a way for outsiders to put a practical, working face on what can be a debilitating condition. Sufferers know better. These "rituals" are, in reality, not just a function of making the thoughts go away. While this is a part of it, it's more a matter of, if they are not done, the anxiety and untetheredness to reality is increased to unbelievable levels. For some of us, there is a belief that if certain things are not done, and done in a particular way, harm will befall us or our friends and family. My particular neuroses do not have this addendum, which I am thankful for, but it doesn't make the struggle any less difficult.

What makes OCD such a horror is that most of the time, we know perfectly well that our actions and compulsions make little to no sense, but we simply do not have the capacity to stop them. My particular OCD seems to be cyclical and conditional. At home, I am usually okay, with the exception of various standard rituals and occasional fits of truly frantic action, but in public, I feel the things I know to be the least sensical creep in. For instance, I went to the bathroom the other day before class. I used the bathroom and washed my hands normally, but then I was confronted with the task of getting paper towels out of the dispenser. What if the previous person hadn't washed her hands thoroughly enough? So, I used my wrist (which usually fixes this situation), but then I felt my wrist had gotten the germs, so I had to wash my hands again, after which I simply shook them dry. But then I had to leave the bathroom, which meant touching the door handle. In order to get paper towels to open the door, I would have to touch the dispenser again and wash my hands again. AND this bathroom had two doors. Needless to say, it took me literally about 20 minutes AFTER using the bathroom to get out. I knew the whole time that it made no sense, and that I could simply use hand sanitizer, but that wasn't enough. The thought of touching these things left me stranded, both mentally and physically, and exhausted by the whole affair afterward. Medications do not work and self-checking my behavior usually only causes higher levels of anxiety.

Welcome to our world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

just noticing

While this is neither important nor profound...the hotel room I am in at the moment has an individual coffee maker in the room. Not unusual. BUT it has no pot! The coffee is in individual packs, and you place a coffee cup under the spout to use it rather than having a glass pot that has goddess knows what manner of germs and bacteria festering in it. obsessive compulsive coffee drinkers rejoice!! There is hope yet!

To Begin...

This is the first post of probably way too many, or very few...it's hard to tell...in my earliest romps on the net I gathered at least a dozen email addresses and several now defunct webpages, all of which I obsessed over for a while and then abandoned mercilessly as the desire left me...I am a bad internet mother. I create these wayward children of my diseased little brain and then leave them to flounder in the open vacuum of cyberspace. Do you think the virtual social workers will come for me soon? Should I be blogging under an assumed name? Considering some of the things that occur to me to write, it is a distinct possibility.

In any case, here I am, just what the title says and more...an obsessive-compulsive feminist lesbian pagan...I am currently working on dual degrees in women's studies and religion at Florida State University, and on some days, I would also say a nervous breakdown. I struggle daily with my ocd as I have for years, and it has, over the last few years, become an increasingly large part of my mental landscape. I also struggle daily with what it means to be a feminist lesbian pagan who hails from rural Alabama and with what I am planning to do with my degrees once conferred. Whatever weirdness and possible profound thoughts appear here are my way of working through all of this and, sometimes, lashing out a world in which I find it increasingly hard to function on both practical and existential levels. Forgive my randomness and occasional rage, and we shall be wonderful friends.