When I was a young man my beliefs were different, mainly because my knowledge was self limited. Even a college if something an instructor said didn’t match what I had in my head as being “right” I just never let it sink in.
I was a know it all, who had ingrained dogma pumped into me. My values were shaped by the low number of years I’d lived. I was not “sticking up for what was right”. I was play acting life as I knew it.
I credit my wife for beginning my change. She taught me that women should be respected, and that their opinions counted. She quickly let me know that marriage is a shared endeavor, not a case of “this is the woman’s job, and this is the mans. By the time my first son arrived, we’d been through a good “practice run” with my daughter and were pretty much out of the bad fighting stage. Over the years I have taken on a big part of her love for animals, and have relied on her to tell me when I’m generally totally wrong about things.
I went on in my working career to be a supervisor in QA, which was pretty much populated by women….except of course by the supervisor. I always treated everyone of them with respect, and deferred to their knowledge in many cases. For over twenty years I had women working for me in various jobs and never, ever had a complaint of a harassing nature. There are a couple of FB friends on here who worked with me during that time, who can back me up on that point. I treated women thee same as I did the occasional man who worked for me. I very much regret not trying to go above and beyond to get a higher wage for them, but I just went with the flow of what the company paid. Wages weren’t bad, but the men were paid more per hour in the areas in which they worked. I always made sure that they each got good Christmas presents from me, and I always made them free copies of the song demos I recorded.
There was one lady who was an inspector for me, who really liked country music. I had given her a full CD of songs while we were working together. I got a call from a man about five years after that business had been sold out to a large carpet company. “I’m ——-‘s husband,” He said “She had a stroke two years ago and can’t speak well. She wore out the CD you gave her and desperately wants another copy. I tracked you down through another old worker from the plant”.
I made another copy, and took it too her house in Armuchee. I spoke with her as best I could for an hour while I was there, about good old times at the plant, how hard the work was. She was almost paralyzed totally, but she thanked me very much for the CD. “You were the best boss we ever had” she said.
I wept as I drove home. The truth is, she’d been one of my least favorite workers. Always griping, but getting her work done. But she had liked me more than I had liked her. I never knew. I had always treated her the same, so she never knew either.
I never had much use for gay people when I was young. I thought they were all just perverts. That’s because I had never known one. When Paula and I moved back home, I started buying plants for our yard from these two guys who owned a nursery. I thought they were just business partners, but over the months I found they were also partners. This was still back in the mid seventies, so their relationship was still very frowned upon as a general thing. They didn’t have any friends, so we started inviting them over to our house for meals and card games. They loved playing with our daughter and our dog. They were intelligent, well spoken and well educated. They were out to bother nobody else, they just wanted to live their lives. We had the over for quite a few years, and we always had good times. One year, I noticed their relationship starting to crumble. Pressure was being applied by one of the guys family to quit the relationship. He gave in to his family, and the other partner moved back to Chattanooga. The one who stayed behind is an “old bachelor”
I never considered gay people to be abnormal or abominations anymore after that. I purposely opened myself up to knowing more gay and lesbian people, and the more of them I knew, the more I understood that they were as they were because it’s the way they were made. Many people still won’t agree with me. I don’t really care though. I do not see how we cannot be a society which is compassionate enough to just “live and let live”
Now we come to today.
Over the past several years I have had a Facebook friend who is transgender. I know that for sure now, although I have long suspected it. Over the past several months I have witnessed the hell he is having to go through….yes he, now she has had to go through to do something that could not help but be done. It was not a choice, but an imperative that had to be done in order that this individual could be complete. In order that she could be who she was born to be. I read as relationships crumbled, as extreme loss was suffered in those relationships. I cried as I thought, how I had been born with a brain wired to match my body, but that’s not always the case. That’s not always the case.
There was a man on America’s Got Talent who sang today. He was born in a female body, but always identified as a boy. He was tormented, bullied, beaten and abused. But I watched as he sang beautifully today on that show as a fully transitioned man and I openly wept. Oh, the things he has had to go through that I never had to. The things that my gay friends have suffered from family and peers that I’ve never had to experience. The travails of being a woman in a man’s world I have gotten a pass on because of my luck in chromosome placement.
Some will read this long piece, and think I’m dead wrong and disagree. Some will read, and as usual just won’t comment. Some will give it a like, some will just scroll on by as soon as they realize the subject matter. I don’t care, this is my opinion and mine alone. This the chronicle of my needed change, which didn’t come as soon as it should have. My shame along with a tiny bit of retribution. Take it however you want, or not at all.
After that song today, which my seven month old granddaughter stood and watched in rapt attention without so much as a twitch, it had to be written. It just had to.