Two Movies and One Small Act of Kindness

23 08 2013

The Butler
I just saw the movie “The Butler,” an excellent movie, with a star-studded cast and Oscar-worthy performances. I appreciated how they told the civil rights story through the real life of one man from his impoverished youth, through the service industry ranks, to becoming butler for eight presidents in the White House.

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Creative Intermission: There’s a powerful scene when the butler’s son becomes an early Freedom Rider and is assaulted as he participates in a sit-in at an all-white section of a lunch counter in the 60’s segregated south. This scene is cut with the staff at a formal White House dinner preparing and serving the meal. This powerful juxtaposing of these two different events visually speaks volumes.

The movie made apparent how far we have come in this battle for equal rights. I know there is still work to be done and there may always be racism and injustice in the world, but “The Butler” gave me hope that we are moving in the right direction.

I work in a large office building; there are around 100 people who work in this space. There is one woman, Deborah, whose job it is to keep the workplace clean. I thought of her in the scenes when the butler was learning his trade and learned to be invisible. Deborah has that same invisible ability. She stealthily slips in to empty our trashcans and dust and vacuum, while we work. She doesn’t distract us from our jobs and heads rarely look up from computers when she slips in.

The Black Stallion
It was a rare conversation with Deborah and my office-mates, when we learned that she loves to fish and ride horses. This led to a conversation about movies about horses. We asked her if she had ever seen “The Black Stallion.” This movie came out decades ago and was produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s is a stunningly beautiful film.

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Creative Intermission:  A young boy and the wild horse are stranded on a deserted island. The scene that has stayed with me since this movie premiered in 1979 is shot from underwater as boy and horse learn to trust each other. You see the horse’s four legs and the boy’s two legs as they play in the surf. As time goes by, you no longer see the legs of the boy, you know he is now atop his companion, the black stallion. They have come to trust each other.

Deborah was excited to learn of this movie and was ready to run out and buy it. We told her it was an old movie and that she’d have to find it online. What became slowly apparent to me is that she doesn’t have a computer and buying something online is a foreign concept. Shortly after the conversation with Deborah, I read my friend, Lisa Froman of Tao Flashes blog post on doing random acts of kindness.  So I went online and ordered this movie and gave it to Deborah.

This simple act opened a door that allowed us to see each other. I was able to thank her for her hard work and she now saw me too. I’m now someone she has a small connection with, not just some woman with her head buried in that box on a desk. We are no longer invisible to each other anymore. We smile and ask about each other’s day and our weekend plans.

Small random acts of kindness…as Mother Teresa said, “do little things with great love.” I believe it’s what moves us forward.

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I am Gay Married

30 06 2013

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I try not to be too political or too personal on this blog space, but the events of this past week are too big and close to my heart to stay quiet about. Civil rights were front and center. One step backwards with the rollback of a decades old legislation that supported the right for everyone’s vote to count and one step forward with eliminating a roadblock to who can marry.  Add to that Texas politics and Paula Deen and well…it’s been a  helluva rollercoaster of a week.

I am a proud daughter of the South, even if my extended family members are sometimes crazy. Crazy is, after all, a proud Southern tradition. It’s why we say, “bless their heart” down here so often. I live in South Louisiana. I’ve always felt this little pocket of the South is it’s own special world. It’s epicenter, New Orleans, embraces it’s diversity and tolerance with a wild joie de vie. I’ve stood in line for brunch in the French Quarter in the shadow of St. Louis Cathedral with Bloody Mary in hand and watched as a six-foot drag queen sashayed by in miniskirt, fishnet stockings and cowboy hat and no one turned a head. Black, white, cajun, creole, hispanic, vietnamese, gay, straight, young and old, we all simmer together pretty well in this big ole gumbo pot.

I work for a healthcare organization that has a noble mission, to improve the health of women and infants. It’s a caring place to work and that care is not just extended to the patients but to the people who work there. This caring place also extends benefits to same-sex couples.

It dawned on me when my sweetie moved in—even though we’re not the same sex—that those benefits might apply to me. We’re not anti-marriage, but with grown kids and he’s been divorced and widowed and I’ve been divorced, we kinda have a been-there-done-that feeling about getting married again. It’s also not a good financial decision for us. If circumstances change, we may fly to Vegas some weekend and have Elvis marry us, but until then we’ll keep living in sin. Bless our hearts.

In order for my sweetie to receive benefits from my employer, we had to prove we’ve been living together for a year, fill out a form and get it notarized. And poof, we did and our domestic partnership was legally recognized. That’s how we became, what we call, Gay Married.

Civil rights and equality for women, blacks, gays should be the same as for men, whites and straights. Some days it’s a step forward and others a step back, and yet other days it’s that half step that moves it forward. This bumpy path toward equality is a slow journey, but it is moving forward. In the two years since my sweetie and I entered our notarized domestic partnership, real same-sex marriage has started to happen.

It’s Gay Pride week. I cheer with my gay friends the step forward this country has made this week. I walk with you on the path of love and equality. And I’m proud to say I’m Gay Married!

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