Tag Archives: LGBTQ

2016: The Good Stuff

2016-year-in-review

It’s time for the 2016 year in review. As I mentioned in my best books of the year post, a lot of 2016 was shit. But we know that; I’d rather talk about some of the good stuff that happened this year. The good stuff is what is going to sustain me going forward. Yeah some really scary, sad, and frustrating things happened in 2016. Nothing can change that, but remembering the good things that happened will give me hope to keep going.

Professional life:

Nominated to the 2019 Printz ballot – voting in March/April 2017. I’m very nervous about this but deeply thankful to be nominated. I really hope that I get on the committee but if I don’t, I can always try again.

Went to PLA in Denver which was such a great experience. I got to hear about innovative programming, make new librarian friends and connect with old ones, and even meet a WWAC friend in real life.

Got a new coworker – the amazing Renata! Listen to her podcast, The Worst Bestsellers, she’s super cool and a great librarian.

Read some great books: 30% were by people of color, 51% were by women. That improves slightly upon my authors of color numbers from last year, but I also read less books by women. Interesting! (2015 I read 28% authors of color, and 53% women.)

Continued Girls Who Code at MHL – a wonderful program that I’m so happy to be able to present.

Dungeons & Dragons is still going strong. It’s a riot! If you ever would like to feel more control of your life, host a D&D game for 8 – 10 middle school teens. Your life will seem calm and controlled in comparison.

Kept writing for Women Write About Comics. I’m especially proud of these posts this year: The Fear of a Cage: Re-reading Eowyn; In Defense of the [YA] Love Triangle; Why I Game: Trying to Try; and Super Sad Depressing YA Books: How They Help Me to Feel.

Personal life:

I got to travel a lot in 2016: Punta Cana, DR; Scotland; Montreal; New Hampshire; Connecticut, Chicago; Denver! What a year! 

punta-cana

My trip to the Dominican Republic was an amazing trip with my best lady friends for the year most of us turned 30. It’s something we’ve been talking about for 10 years or more! It was absolutely perfect. We sat in the sun, drank cocktails, read, and swam in the blue-green ocean. Probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been. 

scotland

Scotland was a trip with my mom, sister, cousin, and two aunts. We drove around, ate the best food, talked to the most wonderful people, and enjoyed the beautiful Scottish countryside. We saw castles and sheep, laughed and joked, and had just most wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back! 

Doug and I went to Montreal in July. (No good pictures – it was too sweaty!) It was hot but we ate some really good poutine and pastries. We had to drive over a huge bridge and neither of us spoke French so it was a bit hilarious.

wedding-party
Also, duh, we got married, which was amazing! I have the best family and friends who did incredible amounts of work. Family did everything from sewing a wedding dress is basically a weekend, making a million paper flowers, giving us money to pay for the wedding we wanted, took amazing photographs, and came out to celebrate with us. Our incredible friends picked up ice cream, coordinated the entire event the day of, threw us parties, officiated the freaking wedding ceremony (!) wrangled tablecloths and more. As is every year, the best part of it was family and friends.

I also love being married to Doug. He’s the sweetest, kindest, most hilarious person I know. I’m very lucky. </schmoop>

Last year my goals were to: “Read more, sew more, bake more, write more, run more (and get better!), game more, librarian more, and well . . . more. Just more of all of it, really!”

And I can say I did most of that. I read a lot of great things and I even had time to sew some new clothes. I made macarons the other day and am working my way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I wrote a lot for WWAC but not really for anyone else. I need to work on my blogging, clearly.

I’ve been running and am hoping to ease back into races – like 5k distance – in the spring. We joined the YMCA in town and I’m also looking forward to trying out some yoga classes.

I’ve gamed a lot. Doug loves games and I’ve really come to love them as well. Some favorites I’ve played this year include: Eldritch Horror; Mission: Red Planet; Inis; Jaipur; Castles of Mad King Ludwig; Survive: Escape from Atlantis, and Betrayal at House on the Hill.Oh and Dungeons & Dragons. I love it so much. 🙂

As far as next year? Here are some goals:

-Read more books by authors of color and other writers whose lives differ from my own.
-Generally, listen to other peoples’ stories.
-Become more politically active and fight/campaign for the things I believe in: women’s rights, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, LGBTQ rights, accessible health care, slowing climate change, and supporting immigrants and refugees.
-Write more critically.
-Sewing goals: learn to install a zipper and experiment with different fabrics.
-Food goals: improve my macaron; make miso soup; figure out that food processor recall….
-Exercise because it makes me feel good; keep running.
-Be kind.
-Go on adventures!

 

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North Shore Pride

On Saturday I had the immense privilege of being in my first Pride Parade! I marched with OneGordon at the North Shore Pride parade in Salem and we had such a great time.

That's me, with the hips.

That’s me, with the hips.

We had about 12-15 people with us and the response from the city and crowd was incredible! There was this definite feeling of, “Gordon?! Why are they . . . oh! It’s Gordon people who SUPPORT LGBTQ students! YAY!” It was pretty funny.

We walked by a street preacher dude who was yelling about repenting and such, and I think we drowned him out with our yelling. It mad me sad because we don’t have to be on separate “sides” – there is room in Christianity and other faiths for all people. Being Christian and pro-LGBTQ rights shouldn’t have to be at odds with each other; many of us in the OneGordon section were proving that, but the street preacher dude wasn’t having it. I’m pretty sure it’s the same street preacher that is always in Salem during Halloween telling people to turn away from their touristy witchcraft. I want to tell them to turn away because Halloween in Salem is tacky and but that’s another issue.

onegordon1

I did feel a little weird about carrying the banner; I guess I just didn’t want people to think that I was braver for faring Gordon than I was. I have no problem with people thinking I’m gay – it’s a running joke between Hannah and I that we get confused for being a couple often but are not. Then we say, “Hey, we could each do a lot worse!”  I’m not LGBTQ+, but I am an ally so I guess that counts?

After the parade we staffed a table on the Salem Commons with T-shirts to sell and just talked to people. Almost everyone who talked to us – after initial incredulity and us explaining we were not official affiliated with Gordon College – said that they were so happy to see us. There was the guy whose parents went to Gordon and grew up in Wenham who was so happy to see people at the college having conversations and trying to support students. There was the recently out and recently retired Southern Baptist minister who repeatedly told us how proud he was of OneGordon. There were many, many more who were surprised and happy to see us there. OneGordon even won an award from North Shore Pride for a new organization helping students!

Despite getting sunburned on my head – I’m not used to the summer and the shaved side yet apparently – it was a wonderful day! Hopefully this will be the start of a great tradition for OneGordon and a way to support the LGBTQ+ students at Gordon. Maybe we’ll even change the administration’s mind some day.

Finally, some self promotion before I go. My first big piece for Women Write About Comics is up. It’s about my refusal to see the Lord of the Rings movie adaptations and how I am trying not to be a huge jerk about that. Take a look and spend some time reading the other pieces on the site. There are so many talented women writing and lots to read, even if you’re not a comics person!

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Current Gordon College and OneGordon news

“If gay and lesbian community activists have been treated 10 years ago the way that Gordon College has been treated in the last 9 months, they would have been significantly silenced, not have had any of their opportunities. So some of the very people who were at one time, by their own sort of perspective, oppressed, now have become the oppressors.” – Gordon College President Lindsay from The Blaze.

Oh dear. Yes that is the very oppressed, white, straight, well-off, privileged, male president of my alma mater. Before I get into everything else, let me talk about the oppression of Christians. I know that Christians are being oppressed, persecuted, and martyred for their faith around the world. Take a look at what ISIS does to Christians for just an example. But having people say mean things about you while you are still the majority religion in the richest country in the world is not being oppressed. Yes, I am a Christian and I have had people tease for it or think I’m odd and that’s fine. I don’t feel oppressed. Can it be hard? Sometimes, but I have not felt silenced for being a Christian or felt that I haven’t had any of the opportunities that I’ve had. I’m not at any great risk of hate crimes in the U.S. for being a Christian, or being fired from my job, or denied many of the same basic rights as others, like what happens to LGBTQ people. It’s not the same.

It’s not the same, President Lindsay. Criticism does not equal oppression.

Anyway, the actual point of this post is to update people about what’s been going on with Gordon College since last summer. A lot of things happened in the last week, so I wanted to update you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my letter to the president here. Since the summer, OneGordon – a group not affiliated with Gordon but made up of friends and alum of Gordon – has had a number of events for students and alumni. Basically the goals have been to support current students, to create dialogue and discussion, and in a sort of unspoken goal, to get Gordon to change it’s Life and Conduct statement, and maybe even it’s stance of homosexuality. The Life and Conduct Statement is something students have to sign every year. The problematic phrase has to do with students promising not to engage in “homosexuality activity.” There is not a promise not to engage in “heterosexual activity” but rather just not premarital sex. Fine, many of us think. We know it’s a Christian college so premarital sex is out. But can’t premarital sex just include heterosexuality and homosexuality. (Plus, what does “homosexual activity” really mean? Gay hand holding? Lesbian hugging?!) Making a separate point for LGBTQ students is unfair.

The college convened a “working group” in the fall to work out some of these issues and you can read the one of sole LGBTQ student’s view of the working group here. Jesse says in his letter of resignation from the group, “The individuals in charge of this working group are the very Trustees who will take all the dialogue material into account during their retreat as they consider the current stance of Gordon College’s policies and procedures. Within the group are four trustees who are tasked to take their firsthand experience onto the retreat with them. While I find it extremely valuable to have personal conversations with those in charge I have noticed power-biases within conversations. I have been disregarded for my claims even though they have been rooted in fact or objective experiences, however this has not been respected.”

And finally, which I find very telling, “More importantly, the student body, faculty, staff and any other individual with connection to Gordon College has not been given the full picture of the situation. Following each meeting emails were distributed to the “community” (I use this word as a grouping sense and not to provide any portrayal of the interpersonal feelings) that were extremely positive, even though there were rarely any meetings that I did not cry at.”

The whole working group seemed disingenuous to me from the start; a way to make it seem like they were thinking about it all when the conclusion was set from the beginning. So it came as little surprise to me when President Lindsay sent an email to the Gordon alumni. My interpretation of this is: we “thought” about it and we’re going to stay the same, but I guess we’ll make sure any LGBTQ isn’t bullied. But bullied by the students, teachers? From what I hear it’s not the students or professors that are the problem. I’m also not against more training for bullying prevention and care, but I don’t think that’s the problem here.

Then there was the news that Gordon is planning on selling part of it’s rare book collection which was donated to the college. Generally, you aren’t supposed to sell those things and it’s embarrassing when the relatives of the donor call you up and ask why. Then finally, amidst all this, we find out President Lindsay – who many of us hoped would not continue as the president of our college – got his contract extended.

But there has been some bright spots. David Gushee, a prominent evangelical ethicist, spoke at Gordon yesterday about changing his mind about LGBTQ people in and out of the church. I wasn’t able to attend the lecture – but I did attend the after party because I’m that kind of person – but I heard it was very affirming and amazing. My friend Hannah who is on the OneGordon board made a recording and if it becomes available I’ll let you know.

Also, Jesse Steele, who is quoted above is publishing a zine and holding an art show responding to the events at Gordon over the last year. I love this idea and am so happy that students, alumni, and community members are using art to express themselves. These are the types of things that make me proud to have attended Gordon. If you’re in the Northshore area, the show will be at the Salem Old Town Hall on Friday. Or you can donate to Jesse’s zine and project here.

Finally, I just want to say, if you’re not where I am in regards to LGBTQ people in the church, in life, in marriage in whatever, I don’t hate you. I know and love many people who disagree with me about this. One of the wonderful things about being complex human beings with opinions and also compassion is that we get to disagree and discuss. I have close friends and family who take the more traditional and evangelical view of LGBTQ people. I still love them and hang out with them. I hope that they come around to my view, but I’m sure that they hope that I come around to their view. What’s important to me in those situations is that we are in respectful discussion and dialogue, that we are both putting in the work to understand each other.

I remember once at Gordon we had a speaker come talk to us about Ignatius of Loyola. Now, I am not a philosopher or a theologian so I may be butchering this interpretation but I’m also kind of a pluralist Episcopalian, so what the hell here I go… He was talking about when you are in an argument with someone or in dialogue, your role is to try and understand the other person’s point of view so much that you are actually defending their point of view. That is the only way that we can ensure we are being kind and the most understanding of other people. I think I found the quote that he was talking about from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, the Presupposition:

In order that both he who is giving the Spiritual Exercises, and he who is receiving them, may more help and benefit themselves, let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it.

I don’t think that this applies to just “good Christians,” or Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, I think it applies to everyone who has ever had an argument or disagreement. I know that I need to work on this myself. To me, it says that we need to listen so intently and carefully to the ‘other side’ that we strive towards compassion and full understanding. That is the only way that we can have discussions; once we are working towards that we can start to decide.

 

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Letter to Gordon College President Lindsay

I realize that this is not about libraries but this is important. Last week I read an article during a break at work shared by a friend on Facebook saying that Gordon College, my alma mater, had affixed its name to a document that urges the White House to  include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.

I was so angry I found it hard to concentrate. My school – the school that I loved, that gave me a great education, that gave me most of my current friends, that taught me to write a good paper thesis, that allowed me to study the works of Chopin, Bach, and more, that instilled in me a love of discussion and critical thinking, that taught about me about the human condition through literature classes – was asking for permission to discriminate against LGBTQ employees? Did I mention that some of those friends Gordon gave me are gay?

I knew that this would get picked up in the local press. And it did.  I am glad because so it is awful and hateful, and because some former Gordon students got to share their thoughts on the matter. Paul Miller, one of the alumni quoted in the article, is a close friend of mine. He’s gay and I love him. End of story. I have other gay friends from Gordon – some continue in their faith and some do not. They are still my friends.

After letting this all stew in my head all weekend and having a number of rants about it to let off some steam, I wrote a letter this morning. I’m going to send it to the president of the college tomorrow. If this cruel desire to discriminate, to have hatred allowed and encouraged infuriates you, write him a letter:

D. Michael Lindsay
Gordon College
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984
Here’s a link to his contact information and the contact information for his staff. I will probably also email a copy of my letter.

If you’re an alum of Gordon, even better. Your words matter. This is our college and it shouldn’t matter if you are gay or straight.

Here’s what I say:

Dear President Lindsay,

I am an alumni of Gordon College and have been proud to say so for the last six years. Not so in the last week. I was horrified and hurt to read your name prominently displayed on a letter for the Obama Administration seeking a religious exemption to discriminate against LGBTQ employees.

Not that it matters, but I am straight. I always have been and have always known that I am. My sexual orientation is a fundamental part of my being and something that I haven’t had to defend because it is the cultural norm. I know that my gay and lesbian friends have always known that they were gay. This is also a fundamental part of their being. Being gay or straight has nothing to do with whether or not you can be a Christian and accept God’s love. So why therefore is Gordon College, an institution where I received an exemplary education, and a love and desire to serve others in my current job as a public librarian, saying that this is so? And why are you making what is a clear political statement – despite what you write in the letter – that these two matters cannot work together. Why are you saying, in fact, they cannot work together to the point that Gordon should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people in hiring practices.

Have you thought for a moment about the fact that you are desiring to discriminate? At a place that holds the foundational belief that grace, truth, and salvation come through faith in Jesus? Where is the grace and truth in a desire to discriminate? That does not sound like my Jesus.

I am not here to debate theological matters with you; I’m confident that you would know more than I. I would rather not get into a discussion of whether or not homosexuality is a sin: I don’t believe it is and I don’t believe the Bible is clear on this. I am here to say that I am disappointed and I know hundreds, maybe even thousands of alumni are disappointed as well. The Jesus in whom I believe loves all. The word of God is pretty clear on that point: Jesus loves and accepts everyone whether sinner, righteous, rich, or poor if they believe and confess their faith in him.

I urge you to reconsider your stance on this. When I was at Gordon I thought the student body was getting to a point where the intersection between homosexuality and Christianity was becoming a more acceptable topic of conversation. A student publication, “If I Told You” told the brave and challenging stories of LBGTQ students and their struggles with faith, acceptance, feeling physically safe, and extremely damaging anti-gay therapy. SoulForce, a nonprofit group of often Christian LBGTQ community members who travel to colleges to speak about LGBTQ issues and faith, visited Gordon during my time as a student. I was proud that we were having dialogues and showing Christ’s love to a community that other colleges and religious institutions have been hateful and violent toward.

But now I am not so proud. I believe this to be a large step backward in the journey of Gordon College toward compassionate, understanding, and accepting LGBTQ support. I also believe this letter to which you signed your name will be a turning point for Gordon. There is still time to change it for the better. I hope that you choose the right side of history and the right side of Christ’s love: the side that accepts all of God’s children, no matter who they are and who they love.

In closing, I’d like my close friend Paul who spoke to the Boston Globe in Evan Allen’s article from July 4, “Gordon College leader joins request for exemption to hiring rule,” to have the last word. If this heartbreaking sentence doesn’t make you pause and reconsider your actions, then I am afraid nothing will. What is more important for a college that has been a wonderful place for so many people: to make overt hateful and political statements for the sake of ultra conservative donors or to support people of faith no matter their sexual orientation? I would like to hope you will reconsider your actions. Please listen to Paul:

“I wonder, if Gordon had been affirming of LGBT people, if I’d still be a person of faith,” said Miller. “And the reason I’m not is the place that provided the most compassionate and intellectually robust and civic-minded Christianity that I’d ever encountered told me that I couldn’t be part of their community.”

Sincerely,

Anna Tschetter

Class of 2008

 

 

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Fortnight

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted. I’m having a bit of trouble at the beginning of this year keeping up with my twice a week posting schedule. Life and work has been busy and that’s ok.

One of the bigger and more stressful events of the last few weeks was Leslea Newman’s visit to our library. It wasn’t stressful because of her; she is lovely and amazing. Nevertheless, trying to coordinate with Methuen’s GSA, our library and staff, and stupid Mother Nature who was threatening to snow last Thursday made for a couple of sleepless nights. I don’t usually get myself so worked up about a program that I will lose sleep over it, but this one has two nights where I either stayed up later than usual thinking about it, or had to send myself an email at 1am because I had awoken with an item to remember to do.

But once the day came, all went smoothly. Leslea Newman read from her book October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and talked about his life. Her presentation is really moving – I had seen it at NELA last year – and it still made me cry. At one point she talks about young people who have killed themselves because of anti-gay bullying. The handful of lives she talks about range from 18-year-old Tyler Clementi to 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover who hung himself in 2009 after kids bullied him daily calling him “gay” and “girlie.”

11 years old. I can’t even begin to say how ill this makes me, how thinking about how despite this poor boy felt makes me cry.

Leslea also has a point in her presentation where she asks us all to close our eyes and imagine a perfect world where we can do all the things we are afraid to do in our current world. It could be anything, either being with the person you love openly, or walking down the street, or whatever. This also gets me because I realize that one of my dreams of perfection is to go running at night without fear. It’s so silly in a way and I feel almost embarrassed of how easy my life is compared to others’ lives: I don’t have to worry about being assaulted, harassed, or worse for being gay, trans, a minority, in prison, living in poverty, physically or mentally disabled, or any other identity or situation that comes with a lot of danger. I’m a white, straight, middle class, cisgendered lady who wants to go running at night. Really? It’s a really good and striking reminder that I have it pretty easy in a lot of way. This makes me grateful and sad.

On a separate note, I am also grateful that I am not a woman (poor, black, or royal – this book has all three points of view) in medieval Scandinavia. Why? Well, I just finished The Kingdom of Little Wounds, a Printz honor book for this year. It was good, I think? I did like it, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The author’s afterward calls the book a “fairytale about syphilis” and that’s pretty accurate. There are lots of political machinations, sad realities of women’s lives, sexual assault, the madness that comes from syphilis, and one especially memorable body modification that brings particular meaning to the euphemism of a man’s “crown jewels.” (Once you get there, you’ll know…)

All the makings for a great YA book, right? I do think some teens will read it, but it is definitely for the older set. I did enjoy it and can recommend it at least for the very reason that you will continue to think about it for days after you finish it.

What about you? Are your weeks busy and full of lovely art and books?

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