Welcome one and all! It's wonderful to participate in this years Hop Against Homopobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia this year as we all celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biophobia and Transpobia this May 17th, 2015.
I sat for a while trying my darnedest to figure out what I should write about. I have lots to say, but when it came to this post I was stumped. I've written about bisexuality, homophobia, and all sorts of related topics so this should've been easy. I have talked about my bisexuality, should I talk about identifying as gender fluid? What would I say? I have talked about who I live in a conservative area so it makes it hard to met people like myself. To identify with anyone. Did I really want to discuss it again?
Nope. I write about those things in my books. I wanted something different for my blog post.
I sat staring at the screen and couldn't think of a thing. Frustrated I got up several times and came back, going 'round and 'round trying to decide what to say. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I had to do something.
So what did I do? I took a walk. I didn't think forcing myself to watch a cursor blink, and not have something to say, would be productive.
The walk cleared my head, let my mind wander. It gave me space from the problem and made me feel better (instead of being absolutely frustrated and no outlet for my energy). And while out on my walk I took my "usual route." A route I have taken since I was in high school, needing an escape. (Yes, I have lived in the area for a long ass time.)
Best decision ever.
It's a nice time of year in Chicagoland. The air is fresh, alive. Everything is in bloom. The weather is just cool enough to not be cold, but not so warm you're sweating buckets. You can appreciate the smells and sights around you.
I have several houses I enjoy seeing aka stalking (and their yards—what can I say? I'm a garden voyeur. A construction voyeur. A, well, a "I like to watch change" voyeur.) We have some perpetual home improvement tinkerers in the area. Something new is always popping up in their yard, around their house, etc.. You can't help watching and taking note of what's going on if you've lived in the area a long time.
One of those house is a little carpenter-style stucco house. It sits on a corner so you can see 3/4ths of the house and yard. The owners take good care of it. Over the years it has changed colors. White. Off-white. Green. And with those color changes came other improvements as well.
First was the the front porch. Earlier on they went with a cinderblock design that went surprising well. Not something you expected but it worked. Then they added a back patio. Nice pavers with garden boxes around it.
For years the guys in the house focused on the inside. There were two doors that entered the side of the house, which seemed a little odd until I figured out door was meant for down (the basement level) and the other for up (the ground level). Slowly the floors were replaced with wood. A state of the art kitchen went in. The entry with the doors? Well, that always seemed unfitted because there was no divide between them.
But hey, it wasn't my house. If they wanted to share the entry and have two doors, go for it. Odd design, but I've seen weirder. (Including one that added a pirate ship in their yard - no joke.)
After they renovated inside to their satisfaction (I assume), the guys focused back outside. A tall fence went up in the backyard—maybe to keep us voyeurs from looking in. But you could still see the yard, so *shrugs*.
A tiny garage was added. Their regular cars never go in it, but it holds the lawnmower and other fun stuff. Their porch table and chairs go in over the winter. Their fire pit too.
Yes, I notice a lot happening in and around the house, but I walk by it nearly every days for years and years. When I went away to college I missed stuff. That sucked because then I had to figure out what changed because stuff had changed there. Little improvements happened.
Decades (yes, decades) passed. Twenty years makes it plural.
The two guys that lived there obviously held a great deal of pride in their work. They had one of the nicest houses because it was loved. Their cars went from being beaters to the expensive kind. They had a dog. It grew up, barked when I walked by. Eventually he was gone, though. The stone steps to the front of the house have been replaced by wooden steps. So, yes, changes happened. Big and small.
Oh, a few years ago the guys added one minor detail. One little thing that had changed in the twenty years I've walked by their house in the right-wing, conservation, catholic neighborhood they lived in.
On the outside of the fence, the one that went around their backyard, they added a flag holder.
The first flag they flew? A Pride flag. A beautiful rainbow flag. Four blocks from the catholic church. Three from the high school.
You know what happened?
Not a damn thing.
You could say "No big deal, I see pride flags all the time." But the thing is, here? In my neighborhood? You don't. Their pride flag is the only one I have ever seen out and proud as soon as the weather permits.
Could that have happened twenty years ago? No. Not one bit. Do we have other LGBTQ families in the area. For sure. I mean, I live here. But it's not like we go around advertising it. Not like what these guys did.
What that flag represents, the fact that no one has complained or damaged their property in any way, means so much to me. The fact that these guys can hang their flag, and no one bats an eye, shows how far we've come as a people. It gives me hope. It fills me with pride. It shows the amount of change that has occurred in our area over the last twenty years.
The other thing that changed? The two doors to make the house look like separate living spaces? French doors now.
The couple went from pretending to share a house to feeling safe enough to live there as a couple. One of their cars even has an marriage equality bumper sticker on it.
That is huge. So huge. It speaks volumes more than I could ever say here.
It shows how even conservative areas like mine are changing, can change, to be a place where all people are comfortable being who they are and not fear the consequences.
I will take that small pride flag over any declaration people could make to me in town any day because it shows progress. It shows hope. And it proves acceptance can happen anywhere.
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I tend to be a little squirrelly, but my friends still love me anyway. ;)