Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sex with Dogs

          If there's any myth about gays and lesbians I'd like to debunk it's the stereotype that we are a hyper-sexed people prone to one-night stands, threesomes, and all manner of fetishes.  (Please.  We don't even own chains for our tires.) Some would pontificate that condoning homosexuality pushes the sled of morality down an icy, slippery slope at breakneck speed.  What would happen next?, they posit.  Plural marriage?  Sex with animals?
          We are here to attest that our sex life is about as scandal-free as they come.  (No pun intended.)  While our dog does factor into this aspect of our lives, she serves a role the Morality Police would relish: that of a deterrent.
           Our dog Fluffy is a sweet little rescue pup who dearly loves her people.  She curls up with us on the couch when we watch t.v. and rides in the car with us on brief errands.  She "helps" drop off the recycling each week and makes a wonderful hiking companion.  We often pick dog-friendly restaurants when eating out so that she can join us.  She wants to do everything with us.  And we mean everything.
          To her credit, our dog has been ingenious in developing a wide repertoire of strategies for derailing our most intimate moments.  Sometimes, she sets a romantic mood by bringing her food in the bedroom to crunch loudly or by slurping water from her bowl with significant force, as if it suddenly occurred to her that she is very, very thirsty.  (Move over, Barry White.  There's a new soundtrack in town.)  Other times, she thinks the whole event is a big puppy pile-on, jumps on the bed, and rests on top of both of us while furiously licking our faces.  Usually, she opts for a more direct approach and brings us a squeaky tug toy.  We imagine her thought bubble is, "Hey, guys!  I know a better game we can play!"
          Since adopting Fluffy two years ago, our foreplay has devolved from passionate kisses and gentle whispers to ridiculous attempts to keep the dog occupied and off our bed.  Once, hearts palpitating, we hid small treats for her around the living room in the style of an Easter egg hunt.  Dog biscuits were under couch cushions, behind table legs, and even in plain view.  Our plan was foiled, however, when she found the most obvious bones and did not think to search for others.  We were just a few kisses into the act when we heard the jangle of dog tags and the pitter-patter of little paws coming down the hall. 
          Over time, we've gotten a bit wiser and have figured out that a large, chewy bone will keep Fluffy busy for a mostly adequate amount of time.  In our house, this is what we call a sex toy.  Even though we don't keep pace with the licentious stereotypes, on a good night you just might find us kissing, exchanging knowing looks, and saying, "Shall we give Fluffy a big treat?" 


Friday, May 4, 2012

To Know Us Is To Love Us?

        For a long time, Danielle and I have been floating around in a bubble.  To be sure, it's a beautiful bubble and a cheerful one.  If it had a noise, it would sound like children's laughter.  Its color is the yellow of sunlight streaming through a window.  Its insides are filled with the lightness of easy confidence and a naive faith in, well, the goodness of us.  Encapsulated in this bubble, Danielle and I sincerely believed that if people opposed to gay marriage or homosexuality in general simply got to know us, they would have a change of heart and reconsider their beliefs on the subject.  That they would vote for our civil rights and not against them.  That they would become our advocates.  I mean, surely they would like us.
      And so we struck out, full of idealism and the determination to be the best little gay ambassadors anyone had ever seen.  It was a charge we took seriously, and we did it with gusto.  Striving to be the textbook definition of "fine upstanding citizens", we paid our bills on time, paid taxes without complaint, and got not so much as a speeding ticket.  We recycled as if we got paid by the pound (still do), and, to Danielle's dismay, I even picked up discarded cans lying in parking lots.  To this day, if you pass us on the street as we're walking our dog, you are likely to see us toting two- count 'em- two poop bags just in case our pooch decides to get overly ambitious about blessing the neighborhood with free fertilizer.  We own a house that we responsibly maintain.  We care about curb appeal and property value.  We work in service professions and devote a great deal of our personal time and personal finances to our work.  We support local businesses and use fuel-efficient cars to take us to them.  We give 20 percent tips.  We teach Sunday School.  Other than being lesbians, we've done everything we were "supposed to" do.
    Our diplomatic powers seemed to work, and people were, in fact, changed as our lives intersected with theirs.  Our lifestyle was incongruous with all the stereotypes they had been fed.  We were not godless and immoral.  We never invited them to orgies, and not once did we wear leather and chains.  We put an ordinary, human face on homosexuality.  Suddenly, the abstract became personal.  The same people who once wanted to restrict the rights of gays now got fairly riled up against placing said restrictions on Danielle and Elaine.  Being able to watch this evolution in some friends and family members was a profound and powerful experience.  This is, after all, the stuff that makes you believe in humanity.
     It is no wonder, then, that our bubble floated on.
     When the bubble finally burst, it felt more like an explosion.  Danielle was reading an article online and came upon a quote from a colleague of hers who was speaking in favor of North Carolina's Amendment One, a proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to a man and woman.  This was not a case of some casual acquaintance running her mouth; rather, this was a friend we had invited to our wedding.  This was a woman who had shared countless conversations with Danielle about fertility and all the ups and downs that come with trying to start a family.  How could she talk, laugh with, and advise Danielle on the crazy world of family planning and then vote to undermine the very family we are striving to create?  Was she only tolerating us and simply pretending to be open-minded?  How could she betray my Beloved in this way?  How was it possible, I wondered, for anyone to meet Danielle and not be compelled to fight for her?
     Even in my anger, I knew we had learned a powerful and important lesson: prejudice is one friggin' knotted ball of twine, and it won't be unwound without much time and painstaking effort.  Sometimes personal relationships are not enough.  Sometimes the quiet example of an honorable life persuades no one.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we work to be "good", it won't be good enough.
     This betrayal was extremely hurtful, a punch in the gut preserved in the black and white of print.  It was a low point in our journey.  Our once shiny, delirious bubble had been reduced to a slimy puddle at our feet.  However, there was a much more hopeful lesson in store for us: as much as people can disappoint you, they can also surprise you in the most marvelous of ways.
     We learned this second lesson via Facebook when a friend of ours began speaking out against Amendment One in a very public, passionate, and vocal manner.  She posted videos, forwards, quotes, and even Bible verses to explain her reasons for fighting against the amendment.  And boy did she catch a lot of flak for her stance!  Our parents did not reject or reprimand us for being gay, but she experienced friction within her family simply because she is supportive of gay rights.  Sometimes Danielle and I become so caught up in our own struggles and battles that we forget how much courage it can take to stand up publicly as an ally of the gay community.  In a note our friend sent to us, she recounted her experience, "I live in a tiny little town and got yelled at by my dad the other day because I am telling EVERYONE on Facebook that "I love gays" (his words, not mine)...... Well, after my dad yelled at me I "accidentally" left some of the videos about Christians who are against the amendment up on his computer before I left the room. He shortly after came and apologized, saying he would educate himself more before making a vote."
     Our friend's life will not be affected one iota by the Amendment One vote.  She does not have anything personal to gain from its passage or rejection.  Even so, she is risking rebuff from her family, friends, and faith community.  She is doing so in the name of justice and because her faith compels her to do so.  She is also doing so because she is our friend- our true friend- and friends don't let their friends get pushed out or pushed around.  Even after attracting controversy, she held fast to her position and never let up on trying to persuade others to bend in the direction of equality and justice.  These days, she is my heroine and a far better ambassador for the cause than Danielle and I could have hoped to be.
     While I cannot pretend to be thankful for all of the hullabaloo about Amendment One, I can at least admit that there might be a few roses hidden in this thorny patch.  Danielle and I are reminded that bubbles, lovely as they are, do pop.  Putting unreasonable amounts of faith in people can, at times, be as futile as trying to will a bubble to stay intact on a windy day.  However, there are times people can fill your heart with such hope and optimism that you feel you could burst with happiness. 
     So forget bubbles.  Friends on a mission- now there is something to marvel at.