Next month marks a “milestone” birthday for me. I will be 40! Yup, I can see it now: the Valentine’s Day heart with “Lordy, lordy, look who’s 40!” There will be black balloons, the doctor telling me to get a mammogram. “Waiter, I’ll have some Doan’s pills with my calcium!”
Seriously, I am not freaking out over entering into another decade of life. Instead, I am taking pause to reflect on where I’ve been and thinking, “Damn! I’m amazed that I’m still here to even see 40!” With that attitude comes a healthy (I think) understanding that having a life, a roof over my head at night, and an interest in learning is all I really need or want at this time.
OK, I take that last bit back. If I could get what I want it would be Yamaha V-Star or Harley Sportster 1200 motorcycle, and health insurance. But, as the great rock ‘n roll philosopher Mick Jagger once sang, “You can’t always get what you want”.
And so, for my 40th birthday, I am throwing what I call my “Big Heart” party in which I am asking people to forego gifts…serious and silly alike….and instead consider placing their spare change, some dollars or a check into one of four chambers of a big heart. The chambers represent four non-profit causes that, in their own ways, are helping to create a world where those of us of the “non-straight” community can live in peace. I’ll bundle the boodle and send it to the designated organizations. On my list of causes: Fairness for All Families, This Way Out, PFLAG’s Straight for Equality, Queer As Faust Festival.
Interestingly, I have received two very different responses to this idea. There are those who think it is a brilliant way to ring in a big birthday. And then there are those who just don’t get it.
“You don’t want anything?!”
“Just give whatever money you’d have normally spent on a gift to one of my causes!”
This is met with grumbling, harrumphing, and questions of whether I’m in my right mind. I assure anyone who thinks I’ve flipped my lid: if wanting to turn my 40th birthday into a fundraiser for LGBT-friendly groups is a sign of insanity, then Baker Act me! I’d rather be crazy this way than to accumulate more material possessions. And that gets to need. I don't need anything because I feel my needs are being met at this time.
Now, about those causes:
Fairness is working to defeat the proposed “anti-gay marriage amendment”. That amendment may NOT make it on the ballot, and I think Fairness and its campaign to educate people early on about this hateful proposal has helped to disrupt the homophobes petition drive.
This Way Out is very close to my inner reporter. This half-hour weekly program isn’t heard in Tallahassee, but I used to eagerly await it every Wednesday on KOPN in Columbia, Missouri, as a college student coming out in the late 80s. It was my one and only connection to the greater world of gay people, my best friend on the radio.
PFLAG has been an invaluable help to my family, especially my mom. This organization has aided countless families navigate the topsy-turvy emotions of learning they have a loved one who is queer, and channel their anger toward political action. “Straight for Equality” is their new campaign to give our allies the tools to talk more freely and openly about the dangers of discrimination.
Queer As Faust Festival: what can I say? Can anyone be as queer as Faust?? We are such a strange lot of people. And we aren’t rich, and yet we have a desire to put on a phat festival for Gay Pride month. Besides doing a cabaret performance, we’re looking to bring in guest performers, speakers, and movies that talk to the many diverse elements of our community.
If I can garner financial support for any and all of the above, I will have my needs and wants met for my 40th! Happy Birthday to me.