5/8/10 This past Friday was Military Spouse Appreciation Day and of course, I have immense mixed emotions. President Obama issued the following proclamation, “we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to supporting and honoring the husbands, wives, and loved ones of our Nation’s servicemembers.” As a military spouse, I have met incredible individuals who certainly deserve to be honored. Unfortunately, this honor is bittersweet coming from someone like me. I am no less of a supportive spouse, yet I am not supported by the Military. In fact, I am invisible and Jo is simply single.
The President eloquently described the difficult job of a military spouse who is ‘at the heart of our Armed Forces.’ I was impressed by his gesture until I was reminded that for me his words are meaningless. The President made promises of, “increasing servicemembers’ compensation as well as funding for better housing, job training, counseling, outreach, and support for spouses and their families.”
Well, Mr. President, what about us, the gay spouses? You know we deserve the support just as much as the next wife. You say that your administration is seriously committed to ‘fulfilling our obligations to them’ but don’t you think those obligations should include ALL servicemembers, not just the heterosexual ones?
Let us honor the spouses and families who support our servicemembers, including all of us invisible ones.
Throughout February, Courtney pushed through sickness and continued to workout and job search. Like many recent college graduates, she found herself with part-time work and absolutely no healthcare. Despite aching bones and swollen lymph nodes, she avoided extensive medical testing due to cost. After a Z-pack proved unsuccessful, the clinic sent her to the ER for follow-up. With her white blood cell count through the roof, she was quickly admitted and then transferred to Robert Wood Johnson, ranked among the top hospitals in cancer care according to U.S. News & World Report.
On March 10, 2010, Courtney was diagnosed with Pre B cell acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with Philadelphia chromosome. There are only five years of research on this particular strand of leukemia and much of the treatment is still in clinical trials. Courtney simply describes this as a “fork in the garbage disposal.”
She started chemotherapy and will need a bone marrow transplant; yet, shockingly, she isn’t scared. The power of love has something to do with that. Her girlfriend of four years just began a new job to be closer. While they want to take it one day at a time, domestic partner medical benefits may be available for Courtney if they decide to make it official with a civil union.
And now, with last week’s historic health reform, she may have other options. Political opinions aside, Congress is undeniably providing Americans something that is greatly needed. Courtney, with no heath insurance and extremely high medical costs ahead of her, has a lot to say. “The expenses are killer but I have great friends and family that are fighting very hard to make sure I get the best. I cried because of the stress of how this is going to get paid, not because of the leukemia.”
This young woman put herself through college and comes from a hard-working middle class family. One of her biggest pet peeves is Republicans who say Obama is a socialist for trying to pass healthcare reform. Simply put, Courtney says, “ I just want to know I’ll be taken care of.” She adds, "I want to deal with my cancer. Heath insurance adds drama but I am fortunate enough to have family taking care of the rest.”
Courtney attributes much of her stamina to watching her sister’s fiancé, Andrew, fight Stage IV stomach cancer. Doctors gave him two weeks to live and he beat the odds for many years. Andrew’s battle ended in November 2009. In his blog, lifedeathandcancer, Andrew said, “You can't choose the way you leave this life, but you can choose the way you live this life.”
And live Courtney Talbot will. She has started a website to help with her medical expenses and raise awareness about all things cancer related. The Almighty Talbot is a window into the world of cancer. Courtney compares her cancer with going to war, “I have a long battle ahead of me, but I can laugh again.”
Through The Almighty Talbot, Courtney hopes individuals will follow her experience, share their own, and ask questions. This is not only her outlet, it is yours. And your mother’s, your brother’s, and anyone else who has been touched by this horrible disease. This line of open communication gives Courtney a new lease on life. She says it is us, and her commitment to shedding light on cancer for all, that is giving her the energy to get out of bed each day.
Turns out, my initial thoughts of Courtney’s leukemia were all wrong. She doesn’t need to be reminded to Just Keep Swimming. She’ll be the one reminding us.
Share your story. Share a dollar. Visit The Almighty Talbot.
I remember like it was yesterday welling up with tears on the buffet line in my Jessica McClinton gown. My crush (best friend) was already in touch with her lesbianism and she 'missed her girlfriend.' I don't if I was stricken with pain that I was not her girlfriend, or if I was simply freaking out because I felt doomed. Surrounded by young couples dancing, kissing and enjoying one last blissful night before college, I feared I wouldn't experience that kind of joy. I thought I would never be able to dance with the woman I loved as carefree as my straight peers.
Ironically, after years of openly experiencing that kind of teenage bliss, I am once again hiding. Only now, instead of high school, I am in a grown-up closet filled with Navy uniforms. Sometimes I still feel like that seventeen year old in her red ball gall, praying no one finds out who I really am.
Yesterday, Jo and I worked out at the gym on base. Despite the need to constantly keep my hands and words (honey, baby, sweetheart) in check, I love the equipment and spending extra time with my love. I play my favorite lesbian tunes on my iPod which gives me a secret thrill. Today, I was working out to As Cool As I Am By Dar Williams. Ironically, upon the line You tried to make me doubt, to make me guess, tried to make me feel like a little less, something on the television grabbed my eye.
Constance McMillen. I'm sure by now, you have become familiar with her name. In case you have not, she is the teen whose prom has been canceled because she asked to bring her girlfriend and wear a tux.
While I would typically rant about her school board, I only feel Hope. Constance provides Hope in this crazy country that is denying us the right to marry, serve openly in our military, share benefits with our spouse, adopt children. Constance, at such a young age, chose to be who she is, without fear of judgment. She gives me Hope that in the near future we will live in a world where everyone can go to prom with who they like, dressed how they like.
I wish I could boldly stand up like her. For now, I will smile on the elliptical knowing that this young woman is out there, changing the world for us all. And I'll turn up my iPod and rock out, surrounded by all of the military personnel who assume I'm just another Navy Wife.
And then I go outside and join the others, I am the others. Oh--and thats not easy, I don't know what you saw, I want somebody who sees me.
AHHH, so excited:
Since Jo and I moved, I have been working from home. While I love writing all day, I need to supplement my income. My money troubles have been interfering with the creative process and to be honest, I feel pretty damn guilty that Jo always takes me out. Let's remember: as a result of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, she doesn't get a penny for my existence (unlike her straight counterparts who receive additional income for their spouse and children.)
Hence, I have been MIA on my blog; instead, I have been all over Monster. Unfortunately,
we are in a recession. Who knew? I've been away from the job search for so long, I didn't realize what slim pickings are out there. I received a few callbacks regarding my resume, but sadly, no one who has called is paying much.
I have no service experience or I would most likely be tending bar right now. I decided to return to a job I haven't done since college, but figured it would be like riding a bike. Grabbing the classifieds
and perusing Craig's List, I searched for a nanny position.
I found the perfect family in no time and began my new position quickly. The kids have been good. Ok, it has been challenging to transition from young professional to professional poopy wiper, but
we shall save that for another post. The reason I write today is to get my secret off my chest...I'm gay!
Sure, all of you know this already and could care less. But my new family has no idea. Jo is simply my roommate and I dive deeper into the closet on a daily basis. Go figure? I hoped getting a new job would get me OUT of the house. Oh, the irony.
Why didn't I just tell them? Well, for one, you never know if parents will be weird. Some actually have the false belief that we will infect their children with 'the gay.' Another huge reason I didn't share my sexuality? Jo's career. What if my new employers had friends in the military? Even if they were comfortable with my sexual identity, what if they told the wrong person about mine and Jo's relationship?
Alas, my bank account has some padding and the depression from my lonely days has subsided. But I lie, just like Jo does, about who I am. I'm finally getting up and OUT every day, only now, I'm more IN than ever.
Check out my new post on a great new site: http://www.ourbiggayborhood.com/2010/03/a-new-kind-of-straight-bar/
Imagine for a moment:
What would your life be like if you could not live openly with the woman or man of your choice. This is how gays in the military, and we- their invisible partners- must live each day. We hide.
As Bridget reported earlier (read here), the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 was introduced to the Senate today. This bill would REPEAL Don't Ask, Don't Tell. If passed, The Department of Defense would still conduct its study; however, they would be determining HOW to implement repeal and not WHETHER to implement repeal. In addition, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act would END discharges immediately.
The Senate needs to hear from you. Please take action now!!! Tell your Senators to co-sponsor and pass the Senate's Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010. PFLAG has a great site to figure out who you should contact. Learn the name of your U.S. Senators, here.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a disgusting law that must end. Even if this bill will not change your daily life, please help us bring change to our nation. This is an important step in all of our equal rights.