Cornwall Gay Pride

We’re a diverse bunch here at Notes, or an ill-assorted one if you like, and I love that, but once in a while it means I second-guess myself before I post something. To be specific, how’s a more conservative subsection of readers going to feel if I talk about a Gay Pride celebration? Am I going to run anyone off?

When I worry about running someone off it’s not about numbers. Sure, I check my stats as obsessively (and pointlessly) as any other blogger, but mostly it’s because I don’t want Notes to turn into an echo chamber for voices who all agree on a 674-point charter that we argued over until we all hate each other. I value the comments I get, and the people behind the comments. I don’t want to lose contact.

But that can’t come at the expense of being who I am. If I shut myself up every time I might drag a reader outside their comfort zone, I’ll bore us all to tears. And right after that I’ll stop writing altogether, because good writing carries an element of risk. You’ll have to judge whether the writing here is that good, but as a goal? It’s what I aim for.

All that long-windedness leads up to this: I went to Cornwall’s Gay Pride Day last weekend, and if that makes anyone uncomfortable, I hope you’ll stay with me anyway. If you don’t, I regret it but that’s what I’m writing about today.

Cornwall Gay Pride.

Cornwall Gay Pride. Photo by Ida Swearingen.

After all that rigmarole, of course, I’ve made myself wonder if anyone who’d be uncomfortable with Gay Pride Day is still around. If you are you’re more than welcome and if you left quietly by the side door I’m sorry to hear it. Thanks for not letting it slam.

Wild Thing and I been in together for 38 years now, which is long enough to have seen a lot of changes in the way same-sex couples are received in the larger world, and a lot of changes in Gay Pride celebrations as well. Here’s what struck me about this one:

First, Cornwall’s a rural county, so it wasn’t a huge gathering, but it was bigger than I expected. It was very much a family celebration: gay people and their families and friends, transsexuals and their families and friends, straight people who weren’t related to anyone but turned out to show support or buy a burger, sit on the grass, and enjoy the entertainment. Little kids, including one girl in a rainbow tutu. And dogs. Lots of dogs.

Organizations had set up booths promoting themselves—hotlines, political parties, the environment agency (!), the fire department (more exclamation marks), the police (multiple exclamation marks). Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians had a booth, and they always leave me with a lump in my throat. They were started by a woman whose gay son had been beaten up while distributing gay-related leaflets. First she wrote a letter protesting police inaction. Then she went on the radio and TV, then she joined a Gay Pride March. Soon she had an organization on her hands, and it’s been going ever since.

When so many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual young people have been rejected by their families, it means the world to see families stepping forward in this way, embracing their relatives and their right to live in the open. Which leads me to this: To the families of the gay etc. kids in my life, I hope you know how spectacular you are, and how much you mean to me.

And here I have to stop and say a word or seventeen about that phrase gay etc. For a while the most common phrase was simply gay, then it was gay and lesbian, then it was gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, which was unwieldy enough that it was usually shortened to GLBT, which I can’t help thinking of that as gay, lesbian, bacon, and tomato. Recently I’ve seen a bunch of other letters added to the string, probably standing for pickles and mayonnaise and a side of chips, which in Britain are crisps, just in case this was in danger of sounding simple.

The world insists on getting more complicated. I’m as baffled as anyone else.

With the possible exception of mayonnaise, adding all these categories does make our language more accurate, and people get both passionate and political about it when they go to name an organization or write a leaflet. But it does make for a lot of words. Or letters. So for the moment, let’s settle for gay etc. I won’t argue that it’s the best phrase or the most accurate one, but it is the shortest.

With that out of the way, let’s go back to the involvement of the police. To understand why this struck me, you need two pieces of background.

One: Back in the day, when gay etc. sex was illegal (note: in Britain only sex between men was illegal, I’ve read, because Queen Victoria refused to believe that women would carry on that way), bars were one of the few places people could meet. The police could raid them at any time, though, because by definition what went on in there was illegal. Not that people were having sex on the premises necessarily. Dancing together was enough. Touching someone was enough. Being there was enough. People would be arrested, lose their jobs, lose their families. Lives were ruined.

Ah, the good old days.

Two, and this isn’t about the politics of being gay etc.: During one of the New York blackouts, a friend’s parents were in Grand Central Station. The friend’s father had MS, and when everything went dark and people started running around in a panic, his wife was struggling to keep him from getting knocked over. She saw a cop and went to him, saying, “Excuse me, but my husband has MS. Can you help us?”

To which the cop said, “Get outta my way, lady, I gotta help the people.”

And they were both straight and white.

God, I love New York.

I had a similar experience with a New York cop after a fender bender, but it wasn’t quite as outrageously absurd, so let’s stay with this as an example of what I expect from cops. I’m not even going to get into Ferguson, Staten Island, and black lives matter, but they’re not unrelated. When you’re outside the mainstream, you don’t assume the policeman is your friend. The history of the police and the gay community? Not friendly. And here they were, setting up booths about diversity, asking us to sign a petition to restore funding that’s been cut from the Devon and Cornwall police budget.

Wild Thing and I had been to a Cornwall Gay Pride Day before, so this wasn’t a complete surprise. That helps explain my final story.

On our way to the park, Wild Thing and I ran into friends, one of them in a wheelchair. We knew the name of the park but weren’t sure how to find it, and we asked a cop if he could point us in the right direction. You can’t do that just anywhere. But he offered to walk with us, and when the way got steep he took over pushing the wheelchair. He was young. We were once, but it was a long time ago. The pride I once took in doing that sort of thing myself has taken second place to the practical problems of bad backs and creaky shoulder joints and the need not to set that wheelchair rolling downhill when it’s supposed to be going up.

I did take responsibility for the liter of milk he’d been carrying.

So there we were, a young cop pushing a woman in a wheelchair to a Gay Pride gathering and three of us following behind with his liter of milk. I won’t argue that the world’s problems are over, but a few things have changed, and it gives me hope to see it.

People risked a lot to make that happen—their jobs, their families, their education, their peace of mind, sometimes their lives. In places around the world, they’re still taking those risks. Here’s a moment of silence to acknowledge them all.

107 thoughts on “Cornwall Gay Pride

  1. Thanks for sharing and being yourself. Rest assured, the writing is good :), glad you dropped the off-putting bacon & tomatoes acronym. Queen Victoria was delightfully true to form, and unfortunately also the cops … of the past? your young milk bearing friend is a step in the right direction. I participated in a march as a straight – which I am, but not sure I like the word? – supporter in Rome in 2000, and a number of my Italian acquaintances never quite stopped suspecting I’m a closet case …

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    • That could get strange. A (straight) friend whose second-hand car came with a second-hand gay bumper sticker (I can’t remember exactly what it said) found that life got interesting. No one coming on to her, but lots of looks she wasn’t used to.

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  2. I do enjoy how your writing kind of oozes all over the place until it finds where it is going. I am sure that you know where your writing is going (well, not entirely sure), but your keyboard does not, and is surely waiting with bated ink to find where you are sending it next. (mixed metaphors, anyone?)

    Gay etc is good. I like queer as a unifying word, but I have stopped using it so much, as my spouse has difficulty disentangling it from the derogatory ways in which she has heard it used though the years.

    Our world has changed so much. In a perfect world, we would not need any lettuce and tomato acronyms, or any special days. For now, we do.

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    • Maybe we should substitute lettuce and tomato for both gay and queer. It doesn’t include anyone–equally.

      For myself, gay sounds wrong when applied to women, and although I don’t object to queer I don’t use it. It’s an age thing. It’s just not a working part of my vocabulary. But it’s all hopelessly awkward and I do, to hell with it, sometimes use gay just for simplicity.

      Do I know where I’m going? Sometimes and sort of. There’s something about blogging, though, that encourages a free-form approach. If I’m writing for print, I tend to be more focused. But in print I have an editor standing between me and the world. That’s both a good thing (a good editor can improve a piece massively, not to mention save a writer from embarrassment) and a bad thing (edit-o-phobia can keep us from taking risks). Your reaction’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that free-form approach as a plus.

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      • I agree whole-heartedly on the editor benefits and negatives, as I see both of those at work with my (so-far-only) paying client for my writing. When I am writing for him, I have to keep his preferences in mind and know that he and his proof-reader will both make changes on every articles I submit before it is published. There is an old saying about editors like the taste better after they’ve had a chance to piss in it. On the other hand, having an editor forces me to go back over what I have written with a different POV and to double-check that I have not left out words or left in words that don’t belong.

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  3. A really lovely post. I got choked up a bit reading it.

    Regarding second-guessing oneself: ok, so whenever I hear that little voice inside my head saying, “You shouldn’t write about this on your blog!” that’s what convinces me that I should write about it. It’s as good as any method, I figure, and at least I’m being honest/genuine. So that’s been my rule.

    Until I got into a fracas yesterday on another blog when I left a comment that said (short version), “Yes, but I disagree and here’s why . . .” The blogger responded at length to my comment (their response was longer than the original blog post!) When I got home, I wrote a post about it–not about the argument, but about the original topic of the post—which linked back to the other blog, but now I’m having second thoughts. Normally, I would think, “Screw it. I’m posting it” but I’m afraid (no, I’m certain) the blogger will leave a diatribe in my comments.

    I’m on the fence about posting it, still. I can’t decide whether posting it would be an act of bravery or stupidity.

    Anyway, I’m here cheering you on to stop second guessing yourself. I read Trip Sheets over the summer, and, not to sound too much like a fan girl, that first chapter was some of the best writing I’ve ever read.

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    • Some of the best writing you’ve ever read? Whew! No one’s ever told me that before. I’m floored.

      That’s a tough choice about your post. Online fights can get so nasty. On the other hand–oh, hell, you know all the arguments. Sympathy, whatever you decide.

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      • You know, I’m reworking the post now. I’m thinking posting it will be an act of BOTH bravery and stupidity :)

        I work in a field where my thinking is constantly challenged, among people who will poke holes in an argument as entertainment, after work, over drinks, and I just forget there are people out there in the world who are not used to being challenged and don’t like it very much.

        I would gush more about that novel (the scene where Cath traces the guy’s appendectomy scar after they have sex and she means it to be a sexy but it just feels awkward–perfect) but it would probably embarrass us both.

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        • I think a lot of the time we don’t know what’s stupid as opposed to brave or brilliant until we’ve done it and can look back. I’ll look forward to seeing how this one plays out.

          (And yeah, I liked that scene myself.)

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      • Post it, gurrrl! First, if the other blogger jumps in with a whole lotta comment, you don’t have to engage – but I bet there are others of us who will. (Politely, of course.) And bloodbaths can be fun – sort of warm and splashy! When you get tired of it, you just put up another post and everyone gets distracted.

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    • Post it! You can always set your comments to be moderated, so that, if they do come to your site and try to be unpleasant, you can delete their comment unposted. I have all of my sites set for moderated comments until the person has been approved for at least one comment and, if any of them abuse that privilege, I can always ban them and remove their comment. YOU CONTROL YOUR BLOG and what is allowed on it. So, Post It!

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  4. A beautiful and hopeful post, thank you.
    I know what you mean about the acronym… I was at a lawn bowling fundraiser, apparently a trendy way to raise funds for AIDS awareness. I was explaining this to the group, about the popularity among GLBLT and giggled at the bacon lettuce tomato image that ran through my noggin. Not my finest public speaking moment.

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      • I LIKE “gay etc” just because it is not a salad of acronyms. Referring to a bunch of people as GLBTQ just looks like you are cursing about them. I look forward to the day when they can all just be called people, each with their own history as part of a distinct group, but that affiliation being raised only when it is relevant to the topic at hand.

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        • I consider myself a sort of home-brewed expert in cursing–or at least swearing–and I strongly recommend something pronounceable if you’re going to curse anyone. GLBTQ just doesn’t register on the pronounceability scale.

          I know what you’re saying about the day when we don’t need the labels, but at this point they mean a lot to people who’ve fought hard to define themselves in a way that feels like their own. The day they don’t have to do that–when they can be who they are without the battle–may be the day we can let them all go.

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  5. If you lose a reader, I’m not sure it’s your loss. I didn’t come here to make a statement, I came because I enjoy what you write, the way you write and the things you write about. I’ll stay for the same reasons. I was in New York during one of the power failures. You may have to endure that story if you keep following me. I’m glad the young policeman went beyond the requirements of duty to help people in need.

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    • I’ll look forward to your power failure story. I have one of my own, from the first power failure. I hadn’t thought about writing it, but I’ll add it to my growing list of things I can write about when my mind goes blank. I seldom remember to check it, but it’s reassuring to know it exists.

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  6. Well written Ellen, you are now my favourite to read Blog…can’t get enough of you, you are my first port of call after my toast and marmalade in a morning. Seems a long time ago now but I can still remember, prior to 1967, when to be gay was a crime punishable by prison, for men anyway. Thank God times are becoming more enlightened…not there yet, but we’re getting there…I hope !!
    Loved your term ‘gay etc’ , a very nice simplification, and one, I hope, that is acceptable by all the aforementioned groups. I am on ‘Tenterhooks’ awaiting your next pearls of wisdom. Forgive me for being pedantic Ellen….it’s Litre not Liter. A slip of the fingers I’m sure, and one which detracted not from your exceedingly well written and compassionate post…..regards from the ‘Steel City’

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    • Starting from the bottom: I ran to my American dictionary, which confirms the stubborn US spelling of liter. It’s an aging paperback and its pages and I are equally brittle. I’m stickin’ to the Amurrican spelling.

      And with the serious business out of the way–yeah, the bad old days. It seems odd now, when I occasionally get into conversations with people in their teens and early twenties, to hear myself talking about gay sex having been illegal but open discrimination against and sexual harassment of women in both jobs and education begin legal. I sound like I’m from another century.

      Wait, I am from another century. That explains it.

      I get the impression that young people are somewhat more aware of the US history of racial segregation and discrimination than they are of sexual discrimination–probably it was so notably outrageous and vicious.

      I love being a favorite blog. Beware, I’m about to get very vain.

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      • Hahahaha…how nice to get an upside down reply to a reply… I think you are right to have the impression of more awareness of the racial tensions in the USA by the young people in GB ( I hate Great Britain..we’re not great anymore !!!) here in the UK … only a few weeks ago there was a program on TV about life in the KKK…I was appalled !!! that it is flourishing so heartily … no programs about gender discrimination…just Race. Anyway, keep on blogging, I’ll keep on reading.

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        • Early in the 20th century, WEB DuBois wrote that the problem of the 20th century would be the color line. (In hindsight, it strikes me as demanding a lot of foresight, and self-confidence, to say that so early in a century.) And here we are in the 21st, still wrestling with it–and with some whites shaking their safe and baffled heads and saying, “Slavery ended so long ago, why haven’t they gotten over it?”

          As for the great in GB, I thought that was originally great as in large, not as in wonderful: the greater Manchester area; that kind of thing. Although, admittedly, it did serve a flag-waving purpose.

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          • I thought it was Great Britain because it included Wales, Scotland and Ireland, after James I of England (James IV of Scotland) united the the 2 kingdoms (of Britain and Scotland). Or maybe that’s when it became the United Kingdom? Hmm. I guess I just don’t know that much British history.

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            • The great, I believe, was originally used to mean large. Or maybe enlarged. Like the London street called Great Russell Street. I don’t think Russell was great, whoever he may have been, since street names don’t tend to turn themselves into essays, or that the street was ever particularly wonderful. Presumably there’s a smaller Russell Street somewhere. It’d be just like English (or British, but let’s not get into that) to have two streets by the (almost) same name. Exactly when it all became the UK I’m not sure. It would make an interesting post, now you’ve brought it up. I’ll add it to my rapidly expanding list but won’t make any promises about whether I’ll actually get around to it.

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  7. Oh my gosh! Gay Pride? You mean to tell me you and Wild Thing aren’t just roommates??? Taking deep breaths here. Heh.
    Loved this post and will be reblogging it. You are the bomb, and I mean that in the best way.

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  8. A colleague on the Minneapolis police force described how the city hired recruits in the 30’s and 40’s. They lined the candidates up by size and hire from the left. Once on the force, a recruit was assigned a territory and told that anything that happened there was their fault.

    Nowadays, like so many things, you need a college degree to become a cop and, like so many things, the attitude of the recruits reflect the attitudes of college graduates.

    On a personal note, like so many fathers of gay children, my daughter and I had quite a few (rather loud) arguments after she told me she was gay (something that didn’t surprise me). My position, and I still do not know if she fully appreciates it, is that sexuality is only one facet of life and it would be tragic to allow it to spill into everything else. I understand that the world makes a big deal of sexual choices – but that is an outside issue and should not define the personal.

    By the way, I adamantly oppose gay marriage – it’s too damned expensive. :) And oh yeah, we invited my rural conservative Catholic in-laws to the wedding and they had a great time.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great story about old-style police hiring.

      I’ll keep this short, because I could end up with a whole ‘nother post on the subject, but I think being gay or lesbian is about something more than simple sexual choice–not for everyone, but for many of us. Not being with someone of the opposite sex changes an endless number of things about how you live your life and who you are. Partly because of how the world sees you, but partly because the assumptions about what men and women do and who they are change. Sometimes you find yourself expanding into areas of life and self that seemed to be closed to you. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well, but it’s about much more than sexual preference–something I had to give some thought to the first time I heard someone talking about being a celibate lesbian.

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      • “Partly because of how the world sees you, but partly because the assumptions about what men and women do and who they are change”

        No doubt about it. I totally agree.

        But forgive me this poor analogy – there are writers and Writers. In the first (lower) case, writing is something a person does and though it may color everything that they do, it influences but does not define. In the second (upper) case, being a writer defines and too many cases consumes the personality.

        It is like love itself… one can integrate love into life or blot life out with love.

        These are my thoughts – so be kind. :)

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        • I see what you’re saying, but I hesitate to criticize people who do that. Or–no, wait. I hesitate to criticize in general, although I’ve known people who in person make me want to tear my hair out with the way they live out their differences, politicizing everything from breakfast to shoelaces. But much as it (and they) can drive me crazy, they’re often right about shoelaces being political. (And don’t think that doesn’t, from time to time, piss me off.)

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  9. ‘GLBT, which I can’t help thinking of that as gay, lesbian, bacon, and tomato’ – that is priceless! Thank you for reminding me how hard won freedom to be yourself can be, perhaps we all forget (or didn’t realise in the first place) the cost some have paid – and are still paying in many countries. Best party I ever unintentionally attended was the Mardi Gras in Sydney. We arrived as a group of travel agents on an ‘educational’ visit and it coincided with Mardi Gras. Fabulous time :)

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  10. So many things…but first – 38 years is a lot of years to be together. I raise my glass to you both – cheers!

    Although I live in a country that purports to have the most liberal constitution in the world, it sometimes doesn’t seem like it when I see what my gay etc (I like that) friends go, and have gone, through, particularly when it comes to parenting, particularly from the legal perspective (too particular, sorry!).

    The Husband had, I suppose, a baptism of fire when he “fell in” with me: I come from the opposite political spectrum from him and my friends were (and remain) my friends regardless of who/what they are, and one of my closest, a lesbian, was his first “close” encounter. As it turns out, they clicked and 15-odd years later, they get on like a house on fire; happily sometimes to the exclusion of “moi”. I’m rambling, but this “thang” is so often discussed around our table, and not just between the two of us, but in our circle of friends, and I find it sad. However, on reflection, it is good that the conversation is “out there”. It used not to be. Mind you, not long after we arrive in the village we were invited to a dinner party because the hostess said that she wanted a “normal” couple to make up her numbers! We have never been back, they have never been invited into our home, since. Sigh.

    On the police issue: because of what happened in South Africa in the 1980s and because of some of the things I was involved with, I have long had an antipathy towards the police. Twenty years into democracy, I still have difficulty seeing the police as a service rather than an authority. The world needs more of “your” young policeman.

    And on second-guessing yourself about what to write, I guess that depends on whether one has the courage for confrontation, on one hand, and exposing too much of one’s self, on the other. I acknowledge that I don’t have any appetite for confrontation and as for sharing too much of one’s self, that is another matter, and one I’m grappling with. I’m working on something following a school reunion; it’s a necessary but difficult piece to write, and which will, eventually appear on my blog.

    PS I also reacted to “liter” but reminded myself that you’re *not* a Brit! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, and I wish I could respond to all of it in detail but I’m overwhelmed with comments and much as I love that it’s a lot to keep up with. Briefly, though, on confrontation. It’s a hard balance to strike, I think, for all of us. I don’t like confrontation, but I can do it fairly well. I’m still a New Yorker at heart, even after 40 years in Minnesota and 9 in Cornwall. I can yell with the best of them. It’s harder, sometimes, but more useful to have a gentle conversation with people who may disagree with me. That’s what I was aiming for here–assuming, of course, that anyone who disagrees was actually reading. Hope you find the right balance in the school reunion piece. (I didn’t go to mine. Whew. Relief.)

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  11. I found myself smiling throughout your piece and when I got to the end I was looking like a Cheshire Cat. Any time I think about the state of equal rights (and I was just feeling my blood pressure rise when reading about officials refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples) I am going to use your story about the police officer pushing the wheelchair towards a Gay Pride event as a way of finding my political zen on this issue.

    The acronyms do get very confusing. I tend towards LGBT or LGBT+ for some reason I have not really pondered. Frankly I long for the day when all such labels are shed because putting people into categories has become so wholly unnecessary.

    I would love to take my kids to a Pride event some time. I just get a bit panic attacky in crowds which puts me off a bit but I think I will steel myself some time, face the sardine feeling and go along.

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    • Truro’s wasn’t sardine-y at all–spread out enough to be (I think; I’ve never been inside your sense of crowds, only my own) comfortable. But taking your kids? What a great thing to do. Plus it’a long way to go just for an afternoon’s visit.

      How wonderful, though, that Gay Pride’s been able to change from something risky (is anyone going to throw things? are the cops going to decide we’re a riot and charge the horses into the crowd?) to a celebration where families feel free to bring their kids. Yes, we all need a bit of zen in our lives–a quiet center to remind us that life isn’t all horror.

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    • The name comes from the Cornish language and was originally Kernow. Exactly how that became Cornwall I’m not sure. When you take the pieces of the name apart, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      The discrimination in both the UK and US was, within living memory, intense. When I was younger, I couldn’t have imagined how quickly things would change–although there’s still some distance to go.

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  12. Never have understood this need to judge other people’s relationships. I felt like a pretty wild person back in the early 60s “living in sin” and getting pregnant to boot. But then I always was a bit of a rebel. Moving from staid Boston to San Francisco in ’68 straightened a lot of that out. Very liberating indeed. It’s wonderful to feel more comfortable in your own skin. Screw the sanctimonious bastards and their judgmental ways. You likely won’t miss any of them if they choose to leave. They obviously need to get a life. Love the girl in a rainbow tutu. Oddly enough I collected rainbows before they became a symbol.

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  13. Thanks, Ellen, for your funny, thoughtful and interesting post (and look at all the great responses it brought up!). As the mother of a lesbian daughter – which I think I took in stride when she told me about it many years ago – I have to say that I’m really astonished at the enormous changes that have happened since the ’50’s, when I was growing up here in VT. I really didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘sexual preference’ and neither did any of my high school friends (as far as I know) – it just didn’t occur to us and certainly wasn’t taught in school or church. Your writing makes that so vivid and compassionate, I had tears in my eyes, just reading and remembering.

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  14. I’m not sure if this post made you loose a reader, but it definitely made me follow you. I’m happy perceptions are changing. At my straight wedding (not in UK) a gay friend had to be alone as his partner would raise eyebrows with the other guests, I felt embarrassed but that was it. My other friend didn’t come at all for the same reasons. In UK is so much better, but it’s still a long way to go and I can’t even imagine how it was 20-30 years ago.

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    • Welcome, Anca. I’m glad you’re here and glad to hear your experience. And although I do feel a loss when people younger than me can’t imagine how things used to be, I also celebrate it. Those days are gone, and none too soon.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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  15. Love is love. Attraction is attraction. I am no more interested in how two same-sex lovers express that behind closed doors than I am in how opposite-sex couples do. It shouldn’t be a big deal to anyone what other people do with their lives as long as it isn’t harming or exploiting anyone else.

    People need to attend to their own business and quit judging others based on their own narrow view of what ‘normal’ is. The whole thing about sexual orientation is BS anyway – it’s all based on social construction. If we could go back to the dawn of time, I doubt anyone was ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. Turns out enough people were ‘doing it’ with the opposite sex to ensure the world would end up crammed with way too many people.

    If I chose friends based on ‘normal’ – whatever TF that is – I would be very lonely. I am too busy living my life to react negatively to how other people live theirs. If I like you, I like you. It is shameful and worrying that we still live in times where people are being abused by others because of who they are. All the labels need to go. As long as there are labels it puts people into groups that can oppose each other. My nephew has had a male partner for years – I don’t see them as two gay men – I see them as two men who make each other very happy in all aspects of their lives. The fact that they have sex is just a part of that. What is the big deal? And why is it anyone else’s business?

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  16. Someone else noted (oh, it’s soooo far to scroll to the top!) that when you worry a post might offend readers, that’s when you know you’re really on target. Not the offending part, but pushing your own comfort envelope. And, as you can see by all the comments (soooo far to the top!), you hit a bullseye.

    I got weepy at the end, too, for all my friends who struggle for rights that should be theirs without question, for the tragedies of the past (like Alan Turing), for all the clever ways human beings destroy each other. But the young cop made me burst into real tears. Thank you for that touchstone.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great post – especially like the detail about the police officer, and how times are changing (frustrating as it may be that not everyone is yet on board). I hope my young sons are growing into a world that’s evolving for the better, into a more tolerant place, and it’s important to look past the loudmouths and Daily Mail rent-a-gobs and see the new “norms” that are emerging. Never be afraid to speak the truth x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mil gracias, Eduardo.

      It’s no mystery, I think, why people feel uncomfortable. For so long we were all told that being gay was almost the worst thing imaginable, and some people still do believe that. Those of us who not only are gay but don’t see it as a problem threaten a brittle balance they maintain. I’m sure it’s worse for people who are pushing down their own feelings and attractions.

      Oh, hell, why am I writing as if you didn’t know that? Sorry, I just went into know-it-all mode. Apologies.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Such a marvellous post to read, Ellen. Yes, we are so lucky to have come all this way and we have so many people to thank for it. I can remember being terrified of coming out to my parents because I thought they’d hate me. My father did, and it took a long time for my mother to accept me for what I was.
    I’ve not sure if you have seen the movie “Pride” but it’s people like the ones in that movie that we have to thank for what we have now. I’ll certainly raise my glass to them this evening.

    P.S – Here in Brighton and Hove we also have Doggy Pride where all us gay dog owners can show off their well loved dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doggy Pride? Of course. But you know what lesbians are like about cats, and what cats are like about going anyplace they didn’t plan to go, so it’s sad but I don’t think Kitty Pride Day is going to be practical.

      I did see Pride, and it’s wonderful. Both moving and funny.

      I think we also have to thank all the people who, like you, came out to their families–or their neighbors, their friends, their workmates, and so on, up and down the list, because the minute gays and lesbians and whoever became real to them it changed everything. So I’ll raise a glass to you tonight as well. Even though it’ll be full of water, since I don’t drink anymore.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Pingback: Guest Blog: “Comparative Racism” by Ellen Hawley | moon child...

  20. It took me ages to scroll through the thoughtful comments to get here to write mine. Of course, I stopped to read all of them on the way. It’s so heartening to see that in spite of the ignorance still existing in the world, many people are learning or already have an understanding of the true value of every human life. The importance of taking care of each other, being kind to each, valuing the myriad of differences in people around us should be built into our DNA in a perfect world. I like to think it is and that as we evolve on this planet, our better natures will come forward. I’d like to hold on tightly to that thought. Have a great week in Cornwall…..Clare

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thought you may like this link http://www.gayhistorycornwall.com
    Especially those parts relating to Cornwall Pride.

    The LGBT Gay History Cornwall website ‘One Queer Gay Life’ was put together from documents, photos, press articles, publications, letters etc. collated over the last 25yrs of Equality & HIV/AIDS campaigning in Cornwall & held in a small archive by a Discretionary Trust (est. 1995)…..

    Why? Because there was concern as Cornwall’s LGBT history was beginning to be being sanitized & re-written by authorities & some organisations & those with connections to them with a ‘less-than’ good track history on gay issues. Some of the information contained in the website is possibly uncomfortable reading for some, but it is honest, truthful & factual.

    The website http://www.gayhistorycornwall.com is now included in the National Community Archives & license has been issued for its inclusion in the British Library UK Web Archive.
    http://www.gayhistorycornwall.com

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m a deacon at an Episcopal church in a small, conservative town in Michigan. We did a marriage/blessing for two women a few weeks ago. What was really cool about the whole thing was that a bunch of their friends flew in from all over the country to attend. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the day that would happen in a “mainstream” church.

    Liked by 1 person

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