Sunday, December 23, 2012

Three Years

It's been three years.

Three years since I loved a heart for every beat.
Three years since I gazed upon rings and wedding gowns counting down the days.
Three years since I told myself that I was ready.
It's also been three years since we broke up.
She wrote my sister today.
Left her words to float freely through my mind.
Every time, it cinches the rope around my heart.
Pulling it back again.
Today however I struggled to find the girl I knew in the woman that I saw.
I searched, but the resemblances were few.
We were young.
We had no concept of forever.
The closest we had come was a promise made on a couch in a basement on New Years Eve.
I love her.
To this day.
To say I don't is childish and naive.
I love the girl who cried the day I left.
The day I drove nearly 3,000 miles from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
I loved that girl.
I can remember her fists on my t-shirt, clinging to the last of what would be us.
I remember the months before where she drove 4 hours to meet me in Tennessee.
It was almost her birthday.
When she had to return home, I told her to stop for gas nearby at the slowest station around, and raced past her with a full tank.
I arrived at her home only minutes before where her family waited patiently with me to surprise her.
I put everything I had into that girl.
We were separated by miles, and anger.
Angry that we loved so intensely, but were in no place to be together.
Three years later, I'm still picking up the pieces.
Three years later I've broken two hearts who loved me, hoping I would feel the same.
I've made mistakes that I'll never be able to take back.
Three years later, I can finally look myself in the face without regretting who I am and what I've done.
I thought the distance killed us, but the truth is we had little in common except the love we had for one another.
Her dreams ended with a degree, and that's where mine began.
Three years later, and I know she was never the one.
She was a beautiful memory.
One that I'll use to remind myself to try and love again.
She's the girl that I'll reminisce upon as something I did well.
She's the girl that I can reflect on and say honestly that she loved me just as much as I did her, but we were young.
Not everything is supposed to work out.
Not every relationship is meant to last forever.
Three years ago prepared me for today.
See, three years ago, I didn't know what forever meant.
Three years ago I couldn't look at one woman and truly believe she would be the last taste on my lips.
Three years ago I had no idea what I wanted, much less what was best for me.
Frankly I still don't, but I'm three years closer.
When I walk up to a woman and take her hand.
When I tell her I love her now...
Those words will not be wasted.
I'm not saying the next woman I love will be the last.
I'm saying that if she's not, then I will be one love closer to the one that lasts.
I'm also saying that those in the past have taught me mistakes to not make again.
Never again will I be a stranger in the arms of a woman who loves me.
Never again will I hesitate.
I won't fear love, or loss.
I'll search until I find the woman who is looking for me as well.
The woman who tells me beautiful things because she means them.
Not because she believes they're what I want to hear.
Next time I'll find the woman who holds my hand, not because she's afraid I might leave.
But because she likes being synchronized with my footsteps.
I'll fall for the woman who holds me.
I'll fall for the woman who rolls into my arms when she wants to be held.
The woman who plays no games because her time is better spent winning my heart.
I'll fall for the woman who does her own thing all day long, but I'll still be the first and last thing on her mind.
It might be tomorrow, or three years from now.
She might never come, but never again will I settle for anything less.
After all, three years is nothing when you're facing an eternity.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Home For the Holidays

Rarely in my life can I remember sheer happiness. Not just a time where everything was going right, but a time where even the bad things seemed miniscule. I’d love to say that it’s the spirit of the Holiday’s and that the world is on it’s best behavior… But that isn’t it. No. The reason I’ve found happiness is because I’ve accepted things that I cannot change.

After five years of not speaking my father reached out to me. He has made a concentrated effort since probably July or August to be a part of my life. He calls me once every two or three weeks, and even paid for my flight home for Christmas. Since I’ve been here we’ve had dinner together three times, shared a few thoughtful texts, and even had a few friendly debates. All of which I never thought would happen. The thing that took me the most by surprise however was a conversation that we had over dinner with my sister, her best friend, and my nephew.

My father is going through a midlife crisis. He has been for a few years now it seems. He works all the time, his girlfriend of 14 years broke up with him when I was 16 and he has only dated around since. Never anything serious. The closest thing he has had to a girlfriend is a woman who lives over in the Philippines that he met online in a yahoo chat room. Honestly my sister and I never thought much about it. We figured that it was just something he did to occupy his time, but after talking for a while now… he informed us that he is going to the Philippines to meet this woman.

Now, I’m not one to judge, but I’ll admit I’m a little weary. I’ve heard lots of horror stories, and overseas is a little drastic, but over dinner we began discussing it.

“You better have her blood tested.” My sister said.

“Already doing it.” My father replied.

“There are a lot of tests you should have done. It’s called STD’s” I offered.

“You don’t know her like I do.” He said. “She’s very religious.”

“Great.” I responded.

“HEY!” piped in my sister’s best friend. She is also very religious. Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with that. To each their own. But in those same regards, not very often have I met people who were “very religious” and really liked me. It’s the whole being gay thing. “Gay and Religion” rarely go hand in hand.

Now by this point my sister was very confused, bless her heart. She didn’t understand why her friend reacted the way that she did, or why I was concerned about this woman religious beliefs. It didn’t dawn on her until she saw the look of worry on my face. I mean after all Dad and I spent five years of not talking because of my sexuality. In fact we have NEVER talked about it. He chose to ignore it all together when he found out from other people, and instead disowned me.

After staring at me for a few seconds, it hit her and she said. “OH. Dad. Did you tell her that your Daughter was a lesbian?”

And just like that every breath of air inside of me was knocked out. Had it not have been for the plate of food in front of me, I might have banged my head on the table. I even considered crawling under it. For almost ten years now I’ve managed to not have “that” conversation with my father. It even ended our relationship for a while, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t face him.

I’ve been told I’m the gayest person alive. My mother marched alongside me to protest homophobia in Nashville, we sat with Betty Degeneres during the filming of The Ellen Show, and I work with Sajdah and Chanel from the Real L Word at Motivate Equality. I’m so unbelievably proud to be gay because it’s an important part of who I am… Yet, I can’t tell him.

I guess my sister could see the anguish on my face, because her immediate response was “What in the world is wrong with you?”

I couldn’t speak. I wanted to vomit. My face turned bright red, and everyone at the table sat in silence.

“You know he knows, right?” she said.

“We’ve never talked about it.” was all I could get out.

“I told her.” He responded. Then he turned to me. “It’s your life, baby. I don’t care what you do.”

Just like that. After ten years of silence, there’s my anti-climatic story of how I “came out” to my father over hamburger helper, and sweet tea. Two years ago his response would have made me angry. I would have flew off the handle about how badly it hurt me that he left, and if he didn’t care what I did, then he wouldn’t have disowned me in the first place. I would have went into a rage over how not caring would have meant we could have talked about it, and that he would have been present for my college graduation and three broken hearts. Not caring would have meant that he would have met my ex-girlfriend, who I swore at the time was the love of my life. Two years ago… I would have reacted completely differently, but instead I nodded, gave a half-hearted smile, and finished my dinner.

See the thing is, when I wanted to change him I couldn’t, but he’s slowly doing it on his own. I’m putting up effort to build a relationship with him, and hopefully his love for me will be enough to get us through anything the future holds. Among the things I expect to face with him will be my engagement, marriage, having his grandchildren with a woman (they will probably be mixed), and eventually I hope that he will accept these things instead of just “not caring”.

I hope that all of you carry an open heart into this Holiday Season. Don’t base your happiness on presents, or lights, but instead on the moments that you spend with loved ones, and the efforts that they make. Love them for who they are, and not who you want them to be…. Just as we hope they’ll one day love us.

Happy Holidays to all!

- Tennessee

Sunday, December 16, 2012


 When I was fifteen years old, a freshman in high school, I began going through a change that would shape the rest of my life. In a high school with no more than a hundred students between all four grades, everyone knew your story. They knew everything about your life from who you dated, to who your parents were, what your home life was like.

I came out at age fifteen. It’s when I had my first girlfriend. I lost my best guy friend then because he realized I would never love him the way he loved me. My mother had been sick for four years at that point. I was helping to raise all of my younger siblings. I struggled through a body image complex, as well as many other issues that went hand in hand with high school.

One of the worst moments I can remember was my freshman year after I had just told my friend that I was gay. One of the guys on the basketball team found a journal that we kept between us. He read it out loud on the school bus on the way back from a field trip to half of my class. Mind you, that was only ten to fifteen people, but when the word came back around and I found out… I was devastated. I had no idea how I would ever survive the teasing and the humiliation.

Here’s the truth...

High school is hard. For some people it’s even miserable. For four years I searched for something to give that time in my life purpose. To make it make sense. I couldn’t relate to my parents. I had only one other friend who was gay, and she held that secret to her heart, never to let it out. I had friends who were going through pregnancy, one who was placed into foster care, others who dealt with rape, their parents divorce, and other unimaginable things. For a sixteen year old that is a lot to take on. Especially when there is no one around to help you through it.  I wish that I knew during that time that I wasn’t alone. That my life wasn’t the only one that was so difficult. I wish that I knew that although it wasn’t “normal”, I also wasn’t by myself. There are many young women out there who face the same issues every day. In fact, at some point or another, we all go through something.

That’s why I think that shows like High School Confidential are important. In 2008 the first season of this show was released. It followed the lives of 8-10 young women through all four years of high school. It tells their compelling stories, and brings to light the difficulties that many young women face every day.

This Wednesday the show will be back for it’s second season. For four years these young women have lived their lives on camera. Four years of strife and joy, trouble and triumph. Four years of girls slowly becoming women. The great thing about this show is it will help other young women cope with the same issues. Unlike my high school period when I felt I had no one, these young women will show us that we’re not alone. The show definitely isn’t only negative. It also shows some of the positive moments in high school. I hope to see the wonderful things I enjoyed like prom, homecoming, school-dances, first loves…

Hopefully this series will be educational for parents as well. Had my parents understood what I was going through, had I known that I could talk to them, life might have been easier during that time. Let’s hope that this series gives that assistance to families across the nation.

So join me on Dec. 19th to watch High School Confidential Season 2 premiere on WE. The season will open with back to back episodes of freshman year part one and two at 8 and 9 p.m.  We can recall our own lives as they find theirs, but remember… It’s confidential.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Like Words On A Page

I was 8. 

I sat tucked away behind a huge stack of hay bails, reading quietly on a summer afternoon. It was hot, and the hay trapped the humidity. Little drops of sweat rolled from my forehead, but I sat there feverishly reading my book. 

I was an exceptional reader. I was the child that begged to go to the library. I was the little girl that thought reading was fun. I often had teachers shoo me away from the side of the building, because I'd sit in the shade and read during playtime. In fact, the only time I ever got in trouble in grade school was for reading under my desk during class time. 

I used to rush through my tests and classwork, just so I could read until our next assignment. I loved to read. I loved words. I loved using my imagination. As I grew older that passion was neglected. I stopped reading as much, however that's when I began to write. My first stories began at age four or so. I won a poetry contest in the 4th grade. When I was 16 I began writing my first novel. I had over 100 pages handwritten. That's right. I wrote it by hand. Every word. I sobbed through half of them. 

My love for words not only remains, but it grows every day. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by them that it makes it difficult to breathe. I have to pick up a pen and write it out ferociously across a sheet of paper, just to let out the angst. 

Lately, however, the words haven't been coming.  

I began today's post last night. I usually post on Sunday's and I intended to, but I realized quickly that I had nothing to say. At least anything that I did.. I couldn't verbalize. I have been making more effort lately to develope my work, but I've also been sick this past week. My body is tired and worn down. I'm exhausted. The last two weeks have been especially taxing. 

What is the remedy for Los Angeles Exhaustion, you ask? Tennessee. 

I'm going home. Thursday I will get on a plane and head out to Memphis. I'm so excited I can't stand it. Maybe that's part of the problem right now. I'm so excited about going home that I can't focus on what i'm doing here. I have a lot to do even while I'm home, but I can't wait to hug the twins, and watch Ethan dance. I'm looking forward to watching my mom drink twelve cups of coffee in a sitting, and hearing my sister's laugh. I've been told we sound just alike. 

I'm also excited to sit outside with winter all around me. The crisp air. The sound of wind roaring instead of a car alarm. I'll admit it. I miss it. 

I am hoping to be revitalized this holiday season. I think this trip back to the South is going to be exactly what I need. I'm sorry for the short post, but i'll do better next week. 



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Change the World

"You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Despite the twang that Aaron Tippin' sang it with, the guy had a point. 

When I came back out to California, I asked my self "What is important in my life?" What I found was that the thing I wanted more than anything else was to make a positive difference. I didn't know where or with whom. I just knew I wanted to help. When Sajdah Golde mentioned that she was looking for help with Motivate Equality, I knew that I had found a place to volunteer and give back to the community.

Today, my friend and I got in the car at 8:50 on a Sunday morning, and drove down Crenshaw to this tiny yoga studio. We met up with Saj, Chanel and a few other volunteers, and we begin doing something that frankly I had been dreading. We did a phone bank to help raise funds for the Ali Forney center, an LGBT Safe Shelter for homeless youth. It was destroyed during Hurricane Snady leaving hundreds of young peple without resources or a place to find comfort. While I was preparing for it, I kept doubting the people I had on my list. I was certain that no one would donate, and that because half of our volunteers hadnt shown up, that the day would be a flop. 

As I sat in this peaceful room listening to an intimate group of people sharing their very diverse stories, I realized there was no other place I would rather be on a Sunday morning. Many people spend hours in church and don't accomplish what we did. We raised over $1,000 for the shelter in a matter of two hours, and bonded over a tragedy. I think it is easy to forget sometimes what other people are going through when it doesn't directly affect you. 

As we went around the room telling each other what motivated us, my friend spoke up. She was volunteering because she's from Philly, and had a friend lose his home in the storm. He lived without power for 30 days, and watched the steam rising off the water settled on his floor because the water was warmer than the air. Someone else volunteered because they had a tough experience coming out and wanted to help other youth. Others came because they were nosey, or had nothing else to do. By the end of the day we were high fiving each other as donations came in, making jokes, exchanging social media connections to keep in touch… And a few of us teared up about all of the love in the room. 

Today I was a part of something meaningful. Today I was reminded how much I love my family and friends for their incredible contributions. Even my acquaintances were supportive. 

Today I was reminded what is so beautiful about this country. 

It's like a family with multiple siblings. All of the siblings (represented by race, gender, religon, sexuality, and other segregative self descriptive stereotype supporting words) fight amongst one another. They drive each other crazy, sometimes take it to far, and always offend each other, hower if an external force steps in, we always take care of each other. Natural disasters included. It amazes me, the human race. Despite all of the bad in this world, there is some incredible good. It would be nice, however for the siblings to not fight at all. 

Do what you can to make this world a better place. Find a calling or a passion. Find one that benefits someone other than yourself, and see what it feels like to love selflessly. It's an incredible feeling, to help. Acts of kindness are unforgetable. 

Through kindness comes a legacy.

Remember me,