Saturday, June 30, 2012

LGBT Love Story #5

This last LGBT Pride Month Love Story perfectly embodies the message I had hoped to convey by publishing these tales. It is written as a letter to me...

Dear Bunny,

I've been thinking about this and thinking about this. MJ and I - which story should I tell? The one about our commitment ceremony and how all but one of her relatives pretended we didn't exist, didn't show up, and didn't even return or acknowledge the invitations? How my own Sister-in-law had to seek spiritual counseling to figure out whether or not she could attend? She did, and she made the most gorgeous cupcakes for the event! Or what about the one where we drove down to DC to get it done legally? It was just MJ, myself, and the Clerk of the Court and all three of us were laughing and crying by the time the short ceremony was over. Or the ones that we write everyday when we meet a new store clerk, bank teller, neighbor or doctor? In rural Carroll County we are still a bit of a curiosity, but because of MJ by the time the meeting is over, however brief it may have been, the new people are smiling.

I suppose that this is our story then, short as it is. We love each other and three years later we're still going strong. Almost every day we "come out' to someone new and it is always a little bit scary because you really don't know how people are going to react. I'm very happy to say that even in our rural small town we may be greeted with suspicion or stares but so far when we leave it is with smiles and sometimes relief that we really aren't nearly as bad as some of the churches and media say we are.

I love our life together and I adore my Wife. We're building our tiny homestead here in Carroll County and we're planning on staying here as long as we possibly can. We have the best neighbors and a great little family that includes one Mother-in-Law, two cats, one border collie and four laying hens. It's perfect. Our Bramble Patch.

Lauren Bramble
CrowBirdie Beads

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Challenge: The Simple Life/The Basics

I love the entries for this month's challenge:  The Simple Life/The Basics

And if my teammates don't mind, I'd like to dedicate this one to our fearless leader, Michelley, who has packed up all her worldly belonging and moved cross-country, and in her own words is "living the ESSENCE of the simple life right now."

We start with a beautiful necklace from Mariana, a simple polished gemstone, on a basic silver chain...

Simple Ruby Sterling Silver Necklace

by Livingatnight

Vee submitted another simple silver chain with a vintage charm...

Sailboat Vintage Abalone Necklace

by vee41dmb

And like me, Vee is a book lover and says, "as long as I have a book I'm happy - that's about as simple as it gets."

Dragonfly Bookmark Swarovski Crystals Pink Purple Blue

by vee41dmb

My favorite entry is from Lauren, who said, "When I think of the simple life I think of homesteading, gardening, and anything that doesn't use electricity :D How about backyard chickens?"

Purty the Glass Hen Lampwork Chicken Animal Focal Bead Aqua Sea Foam Green

by CrowbirdieBeads

Jennet entered this beautiful banner and added, "to me, love is the essence of a simple life since it's the only thing you need for a happy life."

Love Felt and Fabric Bunting (Banner)

by featheredneststudio

Roxanne submitted these "basic black" earrings...

Basic Black Onyx

by EightCatDesign

And a *basic* color in our house, these pretty pink bracelets from Mariana...

Pink Sapphire Bracelets in 14k White Gold, individually wire wrapped gemstones. Transparent pink sapphires, amazing clarity.

by Livingatnight

Handmade by my own darling, this simple wooden bead necklace on hemp embodies the Simple Life to us...

Colors of Nature Wooden Bead Necklace

by FaerieGardenFancies

And last but not least more basic black earrings, this time from Mariana!

Black Onyx & Swarovski Crystal Earrings. Sterling silver Bali beads and bead tip earwires. Faceted 10mm stones

by Livingatnight

And here's a treasury including the lovelies above, and some other member listings that fit the theme!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

LGBT Love Story #4

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Sara Hickman-Himes from Papersaurus Creative, is a familiar tale from here in the US...

The story of us.

People still ask my wife and I how we met – I worked nights and she was a student in divinity school, not much room for chance meetings there. We met on MySpace, of all places. Julia – my wife – saw in my profile that I was interested in learning more about religion, so she messaged me. Apparently the whole minister-to-be thing scared off other ladies. Not me. There was something irrefutably sexy to me about an out and proud lesbian and a proud Christian residing in the same body. We met for coffee and talked for hours. Julia likes to tease me now about the fact that, at the time, I didn’t realize we were on a date. I thought we were just going out for coffee … apparently I hadn’t yet learned that “coffee” is lesbian code for date. So now we jokingly celebrate two different first date anniversaries. Mine is four days later, when we met for breakfast and it dawned on me just how much I liked her.

That was in November, 2006. We were inseparable after that.

Julia proposed to me on our one-year anniversary (well, her one-year anniversary). She knew I wasn’t a fan of diamonds, so she found a ring crafted by an artisan in Northampton, MA. It’s a single piece of sterling silver wound together at the ends. To me it symbolizes two becoming one. I love it.

Our friends and family were incredibly supportive when we told them about our engagement. We are both blessed to be surrounding by such amazing people. Julia is from Connecticut and I’m from Ohio. Most of the Midwest hasn’t seen fit to think our union worthy of the title “marriage” yet, and Julia had a home church in Connecticut that she held dearly, so we decided to get married there. We planned to have a quick courthouse wedding in Massachusetts, then do the whole church, family, friends thing at her church in Connecticut.

Then in October, 2008, an amazing thing happened – the Connecticut Supreme Court released a ruling guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights. Suddenly, our wedding became easier and more important – we were the first legal same-sex marriage at South Church.

So we planned our wedding – the service would take place in the gorgeous sanctuary of South Church, and the reception would be a passed hors d’oeuvres afternoon affair at the New Britain Museum of American Art. The wedding and reception were the perfect union for our perfect union – the tradition of a church wedding for her, and the modern, cool museum reception for me.

The week before the wedding, we went to City Hall to get our marriage license. We were both a little nervous about how our request would be received – and it was refreshing to be seen by the desk clerk as just another routine, boring task. No scandal, no shifty eyes, no judgment. Just the boredom of another ho-hum average workday.

We were married shortly thereafter by a minister who I believe could single-handedly, with his sermons and teachings of love and acceptance, bring back to the fold all those who have felt shunned by church over the years.

We were blessed to have bridesmaids and friends and family travel from as far as England and California to be with us as we stood at that altar and made our vows and cried and hugged and celebrated. It was like we were surrounded by this bubble of love that could protect us from anything.

It was amazing. Then we came back to Rochester.

Don’t get me wrong — I love this city, and it had been a great home for the past five years. But it was kind of a slap in the face to come back and remember that all the vows we made in our little bubble suddenly became null and void.

While we were lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who recognized our vows, we still couldn't share spousal healthcare benefits, and we still had to have special legal documents to make sure we had the power to take care of each other — especially in emergency situations. I couldn’t even list my wife as “my wife” on my life insurance policy. She was my “other.”

This is why marriage equality is important. I had pledged to love and honor my wife until death do us part. That’s commitment. In fact, it’s the same commitment that our family and friends have made — forever. What makes their commitment so much more worthy than ours? What’s so different about our love that makes us second-class citizens?

Everyone deserves to experience the pure love and acceptance that surrounded Julia and I in our bubble on our wedding day. The thing this world needs most is love. Why are we trying to legislate it away? And while some argue that Julia and I can still love each other without being married, the same could be said for every heterosexual couple out there.

Thankfully, in the years since. New York has legalized same sex marriage and made our lives easier. We are now on the same health insurance plan – as spouses, not “others”. We have settled nicely into married life – always there for each other, for better or worse. Thankfully we’re blessed with a lot of the better and only a little of the worse. We’re at the point where we’re thinking about children, planning actually. We want to have our own, I’ll carry them. We even have names picked out. But we also want to foster. We want to offer a home to LGBT youth who come from less accepting places than us.

We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Three years of the roller coaster ups and downs that life and marriage bring. Three years of sharing a bed, of sharing a life. I can’t imagine life without her – and she constantly reassures me I’ll never have to. Our love is simple – we are open in our affections, in word and deed. We talk through things. We patch each other up when life knocks us down. We see the flaws and imperfections in each other and we find them endearing – that’s the key to knowing you’re truly in love.

Above all, we simply are. And I can’t imagine anything better.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

LGBT Love Story #3

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Kate from CatBirdCraft, is a traditional love story from across the pond...

Crow and I met online on a social network forum called GingerBeer. She contacted me after I had started a thread about Winter Solstice as I was having friends around to make candles; she was writing a short story about a candlemaker. Over two months we chatted online and learnt we had many things in common, especially our shared love of nature. We decided to meet. There was an exhibition about Women Explorers* at the National Portrait Gallery I had seen advertised and was getting a group together to meet up there and we thought it was probably sensible to arrange meeting in a casual setting. Before it happened I got nervous and nearly called it off, when a week before it there was a large meetup of Beeries at a pub near Kings Cross. I was going with some friends and she came with one of hers. The Queen’s Head was packed to the rafters of partying lesbians. I hadn’t even seen a photo of her but I had a mental image of what I thought she looked like. Neither of us wanted to believe we’d found a soulmate but when we did meet it was as if the crowd disappeared and there was only her and I.

She told me that night that one day she would marry me and do you know what? Her saying that didn’t frighten me. But I did laugh. Fast forward nearly a year later and I (had not long moved in) was the one on one knee in the kitchen asking her. Perhaps we would have taken it slower, but my parents had decided to visit the UK (my immediate family all live in Australia) the following summer. Not knowing if we would have the opportunity again for them to be there with us, we decided on a date.

We went to the registry office and the wonderful woman there helped us with arrangements. The place itself is an old Georgian property; we definitely wanted a ceremony to share with our friends. We decided we wanted our outfits along the lines of the Regency period, and as a nod to our Pagan beliefs we got tied on the 1st May and dressed in green. It was an amazing day, my dad proudly walked me down the aisle, and my mother walked just as proudly down with Crow. Our friends packed the room and two of our best friends did readings for us, one was an excerpt from a Gertrude Stein poem ‘21’ and Edward Lear’s magical ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. Two more friends played Take That’s ‘Rule the World’ on guitar and mandolin for us while we signed the register. Afterwards we all piled back to our garden. One of our friends is Pagan High Priestess, and we had asked her to do a blessing for us. This was done under our rickety old arch, and after it we jumped over the bessom she had blessed. Neither of us could have ever dreamed of such a day, and to all intents and purposes what we had was a wedding. We consider ourselves married and I call Crow my wifebird. Whether or not the government ever recognises this will remain to be seen. I hope it will.

Civil Partnership in the UK is the equivalent of Civil Union and below is taken from Wikipedia about the difference between marriage and Civil Partnership.
“Many supporters of same-sex marriage state that the word 'marriage' matters and that the term 'civil union' (and its equivalents) do not convey the emotional meaning or bring the respect that comes with marriage.”
“In order to counter claims that this is instituting same-sex marriage, government spokespersons emphasised that civil partnership is quite separate from marriage. However, in September 2011, the UK Government announced that Same-Sex Civil Marriage would be legalised, by 2015 at the latest. The future status of civil partnerships is unclear.
Aside from the manner in which couples register and the non-use of the word "marriage", civil partnerships and civil marriages give exactly the same legal rights and operate under the same constrictions and it is not legal to be in both a civil partnership and a marriage at the same time. Nevertheless, some of those in favour of legal same-sex marriage object that civil partnerships fall short of granting equality. They see legal marriage and civil partnerships as artificially segregated institutions, and draw parallels with the racial segregation of the United States' past. Civil partnership ceremonies are prohibited by law from including religious readings, symbols or music, even if the church involved supports such use.”
*The Women Explorers exhibition consisted of one small room with about eight photographs of well-heeled women and a blurb even Wiki would be embarrassed about with so little information. These were surrounded by huge portraits of male explorers painted out on safari. Totally insulting and I’m still annoyed by this.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

LGBT Love Story #2

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Jenn from LadyBugClay, is a tale of self-love...

Denial is a powerful, powerful thing. I have lived in some form of it or another for many years. I am now in my 40thyear of life; maybe it’s time to come out. 

I’ve always been Ok with being different. I was ok with being a single person running a family daycare, then I was fine with being a single adoptive parent running a family daycare, lets throw in now being a single adoptive HOMESCHOOLING parent. How much weirder can you get?

A single, LESBIAN, homeschooling, adoptive parent???? I didn’t WANT to be that!

In my younger years I tried to date. I never got past the first few dates. I had excuses like you wouldn’t believe. But I kept trying. I wanted to be “normal”. Turns out you can’t make yourself normal. Finally I stopped dating. Yet I still wasn’t ready to say I was a lesbian. I had kids, they needed to come first, I had TOUGH kids, they REALLY needed to come first! It was easy then to be in denial. When I was in the process of adopting my first child, I decided I needed to find a Church to belong to. I had been told about a great Church that was very supportive of single parents; I checked it out and felt immediately at home. Not only was it very accepting of single parents, but it was welcoming of gays and lesbians. I now had the kid excuse, which made it easier to be in denial, but I was in a place that would be very safe to “come out”. I stuck with denial; it was so ingrained. At this point had someone accused me of being a lesbian, I would have argued with them; but the true battle in my head had begun.

My oldest daughter took a class at church one year; it was a Sex Ed class. Being that we were in a welcoming church, it included information about gay and lesbian people. She was my talk to me about anything child, denial became harder and harder as she talked more and more and came out as bi-sexual. I started not believing myself when I told myself I was not a lesbian. Then the words in my head changed. I am a lesbian; but I don’t want to be one. Now what do I do?

I took sometime getting used to the idea in my head.  I KNEW I was a lesbian, but nobody else did. I didn’t want to be one. Am I a liar? Do I have to tell anyone? For a while I decided I didn’t have to tell anyone, I was still me, nothing had changed. Eventually I began to feel the need to say it out loud. I picked an easy person. My minister. My UU lesbian minister, how much easier can you get? That was a breeze. Ok, so I had said it out loud? NOW what? I STILL didn’t WANT to be a lesbian, but I am, and now, I said it out loud, oh God it’s real and I can’t take it back!

I had two friends at the time I felt I had to tell, one because when I met her she’d been in a lesbian relationship, and she was my closest friend nearby, and the other because we were very good, getting closer friends, and I felt she had a right to know. The first one was easy of course. The second was a bit trickier.  I had to wait to tell her in person, and she lived far far away. I think I waited months. We were visiting, here was my chance! But I couldn’t bring it up, with my minister that part was easy, with my other friend, it was also easy. This friend was the first person I told who might have freaked. I didn’t think she would, but she could have. She actually made it easier to bring up the subject, for the first time ever she asked me a question about why I didn’t date. She didn’t freak, in fact, she seemed almost happy. I believe she chanted something like “yeah, my best friend is a lesbian!”

So now, it’s out there, my best friend (and her HUSBAND!) know. But still, I don’t want to be a lesbian. I try really hard for a long time to pretend I am not. It is virtually impossible to go back into denial once you have left it let me tell you! It’s real! And I can’t take it back!

I’m still at a place now where I do not want to be a lesbian. But I now know I have no choice. I will be 40 years old in less than a year and I have been wrestling with this for probably 25 years. I have reached the point where when asked, I won’t lie. Every person I have told has been OK.
Maybe just maybe I’ll be OK.

I realize now that it is always going to be a process, I will meet new people and have to decided if I need to tell them, when I need to tell them. Why do I need to tell them?  There is also the aspect of the more people I tell, the harder it is to slip back into denial, or even to pretend it doesn’t matter. The internal struggle is unbelievable.

Do I want to be alone for the rest of my life? No I don’t. Is it fair to do that to myself just because I want so desperately to be considered normal? NO.
I don’t know where I will go from here. I do know that I am slow in this process, I have fought it every step of the way. I am getting tired of the fight.

I am still me; I hope you can all see that. I am the very same person I have been for the 10 plus years we have been together. I hope by sending this I haven’t done something horrible. I will be doing something that I can’t take back, even if the minute I hit send I regret it. So far I have only regretted the things I haven’t done, the chances I haven’t taken. But every single time I tell someone there is the, "well there’s that, it’s real and I can’t take it back" thought. Is that good, or bad? I don't know.

This is my biggest step by far, a leap of faith; I am putting my trust in all of you. 

Ok, I need to bite the bullet and hit send. I hope you all are still there when I come back.


I sent the above letter to a group of close friends nearly 3 years ago. (It is slightly edited as there were things mentioned pertaining more to that group.)

I was going to be turning 40 the next year; I am now just days away from turning 42. 

Once I sent this letter, it was like I was a new person. All of my friends accepted me with open arms, the one I was most worried about, cried and said she wants for me to have a person to come home to, to comfort me, like she does. She also said she had figured it out long ago and was just waiting for me to say it. In fact, most people I told already KNEW!!!! It was very freeing. Once this letter was sent I came out in full force. My 4 kids all accepted it well, even my teenaged son. Within six months I met my girlfriend and my life will never be the same again. And that is a good thing. I am finally truly happy in my own skin. 

I took a long time to get here, but it was so worth it. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

LGBT Love Story #1

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Lisa Marchbanks of BunnyBearDesigns, is the story of love between parent and child...

As a young child I had a hard time understanding my feelings. The crush on my 3rd grade elementary school teacher, Ms. Rowe, was something I never talked about...maybe because I just didn't understand it. In 6th grade I found a Playboy magazine of two girls kissing. I hid it under my bed and looked at it often. It stirred feelings inside that I just didn't understand.

In high school, I did what all the girls were doing...I dated boys. In fact I dated several. All the while I found myself attracted to several girls in my classes. I never spoke of it, thinking I was the only one. I look back on that time and realize that while I DID have feelings of suicide, I always thought they were because of the repressed home life I had. I'm sure that was part of it, but now I realize it was probably because I felt so different from everyone else. Here I was dating boys and going out on double dates and hanging with my friends when really all I wanted to do was cuddle and hold my best friend. I had the biggest crush on her and I don't think she really ever knew it. Even to this day she doesn’t.

After high school, even though I was taking precautions, I ended up pregnant and in a relationship I didn't really want to be in. During my son's early years I met someone who showed me that I wasn't the only one. It was definitely an eye opening experience. And within a few short months I was dating a girl.

We were together for nearly a year when I thought it was time to tell my mom. First, I needed to tell her that I was no longer with my son's father and second that I was dating someone new. My call to her went something like this:

Me: Hi mom, I've got something to tell you.

Mom: Let me guess, you left ____ and you're not together anymore.

Me: Riiiiiiiight ~looooong pause of silence~

Mom: For another man?

Me:~more loooooooooong silence and getting the feeling she's understanding what I'm saying but not saying~

Mom: ~slowly~ Oooooooooookay?

Me: And I want you to meet her!

We made arrangements to visit.

My girl fussed over what to wear. She ironed her shirt and jeans and was just a nervous wreck.

We arrived at my parents' house and as I walked in to hug mom my girlfriend was standing behind me. My mom looked over my shoulder at my girlfriend and the first thing out of her mouth was "You should've been a man!"

"Moooooother!" I said. "Be nice, please." Expecting her to not know how to handle it all.

We ended up having a nice visit. Mom was a bit shocked but seemed to handle it all very well, surprisingly. She made the decision during that discussion that I was just "going through a phase" and we should just give it some time before we tell my dad. I let her make that decision. I really didn't care what she did.

My girlfriend and I left and considered the meeting a win. I felt rather proud of my mom for being so open-minded.

The next day I got a call from my mom, which wasn't out of the ordinary considering we generally talked to each other several times a day. Here's how it went:

Mom: (very casual and nonchalant) Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?

Me: Not sure, why?

Mom (very quickly she took an angry turn and started crying and raising her voice) Because I suggest you come over here and tell your father what you've done and I don't EVER want to see you again (by this time I'M crying) and I don't want you to see your son again, either! I suggest you move out of the state!


I was a crying, balling mess in the matter of a 30 second phone call. I couldn't understand why my mother, who'd told me my entire life that she loved me DIDN'T love me, after all.

During the next two years I tried to call her several times. I would get, what we came to call, "the Ice Princess" treatment:

Me: Hi mom, how's it going?

Mom: (in a cold, very monotone voice) whatdoyouwant?

Me: I miss you. I want to see you.

Mom: Don't call me again. ~SLAM~

It was tough. I missed her so much I'd find myself crying myself to sleep at least once a week.

But then, through a friend, I found out my brother and her had a bit of a scuffle. One that angered me...because you just don't do that with your parents. Elders deserve respect. Something my brother had not given to my mother on this particular occasion.

I told a friend about it and explained my apprehension in calling my mom to check on her. My friend suggested I sit down and write her a letter. One of those "therapy letters", you know the kind you write more for yourself that you don’t necessarily mail? Yeah, that kind.

So, I did. I sat down at my typewriter (yes, typewriter) and started spilling my guts. I told her that I never meant to hurt her and that this wasn't something just to make her mad. In fact, it wasn’t about her at all. It was something I'd felt my whole life. Spilling my guts like that was so intense that by the time I got to the bottom of page 3 I was crying so hard my tears were smearing the ink on the page.

That was when I just said, forget it -- I'm calling my momma. She answered the phone and I was crying so hard that it started her crying too. We both apologized to each other and she begged me to come over right then. I got in the car and how in the world I drove there, while I was a sloppy crying mess, I’ll never know.

She opened the door as I drove up, I ran up to her and we hugged and cried and cried and hugged. We spent the next several hours sitting on the couch just holding each other and crying. (I'm tearing up as I write this remembering those moments).

She truly knew what it felt like to lose a child, even though it was a self-imposed loss, it was a loss all the same. She said she never wanted to go through that again. And thankfully she hasn’t. Since then she’s been my biggest supporter. She has loved and cared for the people in my life even during the hard times. It was a tough experience, but I’d like to think we BOTH grew and learned from it. It is a part of the fabric of our lives.


Shortly after writing this commentary, I called my mother to wish her happy birthday. She asked what I was doing for the day and I told I’d just finished writing our story about my “coming out” and asked her if she wanted me to read it to her? It IS after all, partly her story too and I felt it only respectful to ask her permission to publish it. It was only a matter of time that we both would end up in a crying blubbering mess as I read. She apologized upon recognizing her failure and I’m sure a twinge of guilt flared up in her as well. It was a tough read for us both but ultimately we came to the conclusion that it will hopefully help many more than it would just hurt us (or namely, her). If just ONE parent reads this and comes to the realization that the pain they might incur on their child, due to their personal or religious beliefs, is more important than their beliefs, then this story and our pain, has done its job.

Parents, please take into consideration that the secret your child holds is so delicate and tender, how you react to it could change their world entirely. In what way, is entirely up to you.

Lisa Marchbanks is an artist, a writer, a marriage equality activist and a collector of oddities. She lives in Pasadena with her partner and dog, Eddie. la_princessa_tx at yahoo

Friday, June 1, 2012

LGBT Love Stories

Here in the US, today starts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.  As our President, Barack Obama, said today, "The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story. From brave men and women who came out and spoke out, to union and faith leaders who rallied for equality, to activists and advocates who challenged unjust laws and marched on Washington, LGBT Americans and allies have achieved what once seemed inconceivable. This month, we reflect on their enduring legacy, celebrate the movement that has made progress possible, and recommit to securing the fullest blessings of freedom for all Americans."

As part of this movement, the Queer Etsy Street Team would like to share our stories.  Stories of discovering our sexuality, coming out, falling in love, and dealing with the backlash of not being "normal" in the eyes of our friends & family, co-workers & communities.  Each Saturday this month, starting tomorrow, you will find the story of one of our team members.  I hope that you will share them with others, pass them along, and spread the message that we *are* normal, that we share the same feelings and want the same things, and we have no reason to feel shame for how our love manifests.  These are our personal love stories.