Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scouting it "OUT",

The Yin and Yang of it all ....
There was just something so Life Magazine about seeing the video footage of Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta stepping off of her ship in Virginia Beach yesterday and planting a big one on her partner’s lips, in full view of a cheering audience, God, country, and the religious right. Now that she no longer has to fear the wrath of the Navy, since President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Marissa is free enjoy the little things she was forbidden to do heretofore, such as put her partner’s picture up in her cabin, call her from the ship, tell her goodnight and that she loves her, and continue to defend our country (which includes the religious right), as she has done for all of her career. Good for her, good for the LGBT family, and good for America.

All of that being said, I couldn’t help but to be tinged with a bit of jealousy as I pondered what the reaction of the crowd would have been if she had been a transgendered person coming off that ship and into the arms of her loved one. Oh right, that never would have happened, because she would have been long gone from the Navy. You see, when you are transgendered, there is no living stealth, as Petty Officer Gaeta apparently did. You are out from Day One, and you are as obvious as a Hassidic Rabbi at a Klan meeting.   

“Oh here we go! My God, again with the transgendered thing.  Why do you have to stick this into every post? Get off your soapbox already!  All you people do is whine about how badly the world treats you. Wah, wah, wah.   WE get it, okay? You know, some of us read this just to laugh. We don’t need you preaching to us.”

Well hello, Generic Voice #1. I haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you?

Never mind the nicey-nices, sister. The reason I’ve been so quiet is because the stuff you’ve been throwing up here lately has been amusing me. But don’t think that I haven’t noticed that you’ve snuck in your little transgender message into almost every one of these essays. And this was the by-gumbo last straw that broke the camel’s back!

So does that mean you won’t read it any more, GV 1?

I didn’t say that honey. Don’t go putting words in my mouth. I’ll still read it, but I’ll have disdain when I get to the transgender parts. Capisce?

Si Signore, ho capito. Ora si prega di lasciare, Generico Voce Numero Uno.

What? Are you swearing at me?

 Look it up. See you later, GV. Scoot now! I have work to do. Grazie, e bona sera.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, Petty Officer Gaeta. She did look dashing in her uniform, did she not? And speaking of uniforms (wow Julia, a lamer segue there never was), I’d like to both applaud and deride them in this next section.
When I was little, my big sister joined the Girl Scouts, which as we all know, is the organization that invented the cookie. As monumental as cookie-inventing is, the Scouts also had some very cool uniforms. Granted, they had a vaguely reminiscent Third Reich-ish feel to them,  but they gave the wearer a sense of confidence and authority, and sent the message to anyone who saw a Girl Scout in full regalia that this was a young woman to be reckoned with. 

Take my sister for example. I can clearly remember day she got her Girl Scout General Issue. My mother, my sister and I boarded the  #22 bus, and cruised down Anderson Avenue, spewing a toxic black diesel cloud behind us. We chugged through lower Fairview, Nungessers, through North Bergen,  and finally into West New York, New Jersey. The trip was long (in kid time), about a half an hour. My mother Nina, who always feared starvation on any trip, had packed my favorite, pepper and egg sandwiches for the ride. Note to the reader. If you are prone to car-sickness on moving vehicles like I am, it is advisable not to eat pepper and egg sandwiches. The consequences can be devastating to the innocent public, as I proved on that bus trip and just about every car trip I’ve ever been on. .

With little dignity left, the three of us alit from the now vomit-covered bus and stood on Bergenline Avenue, which was at that time the Mecca of immigrant shopping. This was before malls were invented and sunshine became a deadly threat, obviously.

There before us, in all its epic grandeur, stood Schlesinger’s, a mystical department store that boasted, gasp, not only three floors, but an entire section just for Girl Scouts paraphernalia. We bowed our heads and recited in unison, God Bless Mister Schlesinger ...God Bless the United States Of America! God bless us, EVERYONE.

As the magical moving staircase shuttled us up to the second floor, I could begin to see at the far end of the store a sea of the color green that is unlike any other within the visible light spectrum. And although my tiny kid eyes could not yet discern anything with clarity, I knew. Oh yes, dear reader; I knew I was about to enter Girl Scout Nirvana.

With mathematical precision I immediately began calculating the Adult-to-Kid ‘step’ ratio, and estimated that we would be there in approximately 3.6 six minutes. As I double-timed it to keep up with Nina and my sister’s pace, I could begin to make out figures that adorned the wall. I ran, transfixed at the proud mannequins growing larger and larger, who bore every single Girl Scout thing that there was to own on their rigid, lifeless forms. Dizzy with excitement, I continued my sprint, until that one, life changing moment when I realized ....I was there. Yes reader, I was surrounded by all things Girl Scout; camping equipment, uniforms, sashes, berets, knives, guns (it was a tough neighborhood), you name it, good old Schlesinger’s had it. And my mother bought it. My sister got one of everything. If she had been shipwrecked in the wilds of urban New Jersey she could have survived indefinitely with her trusty Girl Scout stuff.

 And then there was the uniform! I am certain that my mother blew our entire year's fresh meat budget on it ; there was the  Girl Scout green jumper and blouse, the darker green beret with “GSA” emblazoned across it. These were necessities, as we were all convinced that my sister would be leading parades and making White House visits regularly to confer with President Kennedy.

 I recall her sash in particular, which announced to the world that she was a proud member of Troop 451 of Saint John’s Parish. On it were sewn the merit badges she had so courageously fought for; the Battle of the Campfire, the Siege at Sewing, and the Carnage of Cooking. To me, my big sis was a symbol of all that was good and right and holy in the world; A champion of democracy. She was the American Ideal, a Girl Scout. And even though she was a trailblazer in our fractured little family, I was certain that I’d follow in her patent leather footsteps someday.

 So it’s two years later, and they are lacing giant boxing gloves on my chubby, twelve-year-old recently-into-puberty hands. I am in the church basement of Our Lady of Grace, across town, and I am standing in a makeshift ring, wearing a drab, olive green para-military Boy Scout uniform and facing down Joey Anzilotti, a fifteen-year-old high school behemoth. Joey would later serve time in juvie for hijacking a Good Humor truck, but that's another story altogether. Back  in the 1960s, Catholics were big on boxing. The Vatican had bought into the Spencer Tracy/Father Flannagan mindset that beating the hell out of one another in the boxing ring somehow built character in boys. However for Joey, it only served to build yet another weapon into his arsenal for inflicting pain on other, less physically endowed wretches, like me.

“Alright you two, I want a fair fight, yuz hear me?” bellowed Scoutmaster Charlie. Fair fight? FAIR FIGHT? Look at him. This guy was so tough that on his tenth birthday, he didn’t ask for a bike, he asked for a tattoo!

I won’t bore you with the gory details of my short-lived boxing career, but suffice to say that the Fairview Volunteer Ambulance Corps did a very good job halting the blood flow from the various wounds to my face, particularly my nose. The emotional scars, however, took a lot longer to heal.

I am telling you all of this because this morning, after I read the piece on Petty Officer Gaeta, my elation was dampened dramatically when later in the day I had the misfortune of reading an update to the Bobby Montoya story. Don’t know him? Read on, MacDuff.

Bobby is the 7-year-old son transgendered son of Archuleta Montoya, an extraordinary mother, who despite her desire to retain her ‘son’, loves her enough to allow her to live as a girl, based on the desire Bobby has shown since she was first able to articulate her preference.

 Mrs. Montoya has stood by Bobby’s side, and through a herculean effort, has managed to make life as normal for her little girl as possible; something any loving mother would do. So when Bobby wanted to join the Girl Scouts, Archuleta signed her up at the Northlake Christian School’s local troop. That’s when it all hit the fan.

Archuleta Montoya was told by the Girl Scout leader that Bobby could not join the troop (let’s not forget, she’s 7), because she has ‘boy parts’.

Mrs. Montoya took her case to the top, petitioning the Colorado Girl Scouts for a ruling. To their credit, they came down on her side, stating, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”  This is a marked difference from the Boy Scouts position on gay scouts and gay scout leaders who are still barred from participation in the group.

So with no choice but to admit Bobby, three of the ‘leaders’ who pitched a bitch in the first place have resigned and pulled their kids from the troop.

According to the Huffington Post , Susan Bryant – Snure (no known relation to Anita Bryant), one of the leaders who resigned, told The Baptist Press, that the Girl Scouts action is “extremely confusing” and (are you ready for this?) an “almost dangerous situation”. Hey Joey, this is almost as funny as them calling your massacre of me a fair fight!  

The upshot of all of this is that Mrs. Bryant-Snure and her minions have enrolled their children in something called The American Heritage Girls, a Christian organization that was founded in 1995 as a response to the Girl Scouts decision to let scouts use a word other God in their pledge. I wonder if they’ll be true to the honesty of the American Heritage and allow their kids to burn witches and keep slaves? But no matter. I’m sure their children will be nice and safe and away from boy parts and danger within the confines of the Baptists, because we all know there are NO gay or transgendered people there.

Poor God. I feel badly Him sometimes. On the one hand, He’s got these people thumping their Bibles and their chests in righteous indignation over a 7-year-old who just wants to be. And on the other, He’s got these same people preaching his message of love, peace, and tolerance, with the caveat; as long as ‘those people’ aren’t in our church.  

So Bobby, I hope you are loving the Girl Scouts and earn all the merit badges you want.  And be sure to memorize the Girl Scout  Law. Oh, Mrs. Bryant-Snure, you might want to look at this too. In case you forgot, it goes like this ....

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful
Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a BETTER place,
And be a SISTER to every Girl Scout.

Take  that, Joey Anzilotti!

That’s it, I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, let’s eat! Abbondanza!...


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