Tag Archives: voty

Fashion forward

diva dress

Image credit: Pinup Darling

Last week I bought a new dress.

It took me a long time to make up my mind to buy it. It’s not my usual thing. It’s red and fitted – no, downright snug – and cut alarmingly low in the front. It’s sophisticated and sexy. The fabric has just enough give that it’s comfortable, not confining, and I loved it from the moment I put it on.

Still I hesitated. I stared at myself in the mirror, turning to see myself from every angle. Every curve, every panty line. When I finally peeled it off, I forced myself to take a deep breath and bring it to the counter. Three days later I’m still wavering about whether I will have the guts to wear it when I get up on stage next month to speak in front of hundreds of people.

A friend accused me gently of having body image issues. I didn’t know how to respond without sounding defensive. The thing is, I don’t have body image issues. I like the way I look. I’m not perfect but I have killer legs from biking and plenty of honest curves elsewhere. I like the way this dress looks. It shows off the best parts of me. I look like Mad Men’s Joan Holloway in this dress. I feel absolutely fabulous in it.

I don’t have body image issues; I have confidence issues. This is a dress that says, “Look at me.” Eyes will be on me, and that’s scary. Not because of how I look, but because of how I’m afraid people will see me.

Poser.

She’s trying too hard.

What was she thinking?

What were they thinking?

Next month I’m going to be up on a stage reading a thing I wrote. A thing I’m pretty proud of. And I want people to know I’m proud of it. I want the woman at the center of it to elbow her neighbors and say, “Hey, that’s my wife up there” because she knows best of anyone how hard it is for me to put myself out there. It’s not my usual thing, this dress or this attitude.

A woman I met in the park one day asked me if I was a writer. She’d seen my yellow satchel printed with a Ray Bradbury quote about writing.

“I like to write,” I hedged. It was a cop-out, I admit, and one of my favorites. I use it all the time.

This dress won’t let me cop out.

This is not a dress for fading into the background. For self-deprecation. For claiming not to be a writer. When I’m making the rounds and talking to strangers, when they ask me what I do, what I’m all about, this dress won’t let me shrug and glance down at my feet and mumble something about luck and hobbies and I-dunno-really. People are going to ask about my blog. They’re going to expect things, whatever I’m wearing. I want to deliver.

I do have a backup dress. It’s lovely. It’s sweet and feminine and it makes me feel young and pretty. It doesn’t make me feel kick-ass fabulous, though. My new dress won’t let me defer. It won’t let me be mansplained to. This dress won’t let me second-guess myself. There’s no room for it – literally and figuratively. I mean, it’s so snug, where would I hide a first guess, let alone a second one?

All right. I bought the dress; now I just need to own it.



 

 

Rights and Privileges

When the federal judge struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage, I didn’t expect to cry. After all, it was more or less a foregone conclusion. The state flat-out refused to defend its own law in court. Requests from out-of-state conservative activist groups to defend the ban, and later, to stay the ruling, were denied. According to a recent public opinion poll, 58% of Oregonians support gay marriage. The judge himself is gay, has a partner and a son. So I wasn’t exactly worried.

Almost ten years ago, Oregon voted on the infamous Measure 36. I was in Washington, DC for work. I watched the results of the referendum roll across my hotel room TV screen in utter shock. Measure 36, which would amend the Oregon constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman, passed. It wasn’t even close. 57% of Oregonians voted for it.

I cried then. I sobbed, sitting alone in my room in our nation’s capital, still in my suit and heels. I truly was convinced that there was no way Oregon — beautiful, amazing, welcoming Oregon — would pass such a hateful law. But they did, and it felt like 1,028,546 people had slapped me in the face.

All the right things were said. Celebrities and activists condemned the decision. Local organizations vowed to continue the fight. Friends expressed their condolences, and my partner and I swallowed our bitterness, trying to stay hopeful. Eventually that bitterness faded, but it was always there: a hint of quinine on the back of the tongue. We decided to throw a wedding anyway. Our friends and families were there. Our closest friend officiated at the ceremony. We changed our names and made plans for a family of our own.

In 2007 Oregon passed a law creating the “separate but equal” status of Registered Domestic Partners, granting us all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage. Filing that paperwork was about as romantic as paying your water bill, but a friend served as our notary and we gathered at the local watering hole to drink chocolate martinis all night long.

Other states passed marriage laws, but mostly we stopped paying attention. We had two boys who occupied most of our time and energy. We had jobs to think about, and daycare, an ailing cat, vacations, house projects. (You know, the famous gay agenda.) Instead of the big picture, we were focused on our own tiny piece of the tapestry as attitudes changed around us.

Until today. At noon on Monday, May 19, 2014, Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional. I got a text alert somewhere in the Housewares section of Ikea. I showed it to my partner. We smiled at each other and went on looking for the drawer organizer we needed.

It was the top story on the news later, of course. The camera showed dozens of people cheering, celebrating, waving their new marriage certificates, hugging their new spouses and their children. And I cried. I did. I cried for all those people who got married today after 5, 15, 33 years together — or more. I cried for their kids. I cried out of sheer gratefulness that I could glance at a world-changing text message and continue on with my shopping.

We briefly talked about running down to the county office to grab our marriage license this afternoon. But there was grocery shopping to be done, kids to pick up at daycare, blog posts to write. We’ll get around to it soon enough. It’s our right and our privilege, now.

[Update: We did eventually tie the knot, legally and officially. Because taxes.]