Tag Archives: lesbian

Sneakin’ Sally through the alley

Back in June 1983, NASA did something rather unusual. A couple of things actually. For one, they sent a woman up into space, 20 years after the Soviet Union did it for the first time and a year after they did it for the second time.

For another, they set up a toll-free phone number for us space junkies to call and listen to the astronauts talk. I did that, several times. Just to hear Sally Ride. I mean, wow. The first American woman in space. Space, the final frontier. A woman astronaut.

A woman astronaut who got asked ridiculous things like, “do you cry when things go wrong on the job” by my beloved colleagues after she was named to STS-7, never mind she had a Ph.D. in phucking physics. From fucking Stanford. And she helped develop the robot arm. My colleagues can be such idiots.

OK, but that was 1983 you say. How really different is it now? Quite, actually. For one thing, the United States doesn’t even have a shuttle program anymore, and depends on the Soviet Union … erm, I mean Russia, to get astronauts to the space station. And my colleagues pretty much ignore the whole thing anyway. I can probably count on my two hands how many know that Suni Williams is up there right now, and probably on only one hand the number who know she’ll be the station commander in September.

But Sally. Sally Ride. The name, the woman. Space. Sally was the ground communicator for the 2nd and 3rd shuttle flights, flew for a second time in 1984 and was set to fly for a third time when Challenger — the very shuttle she flew in both her space missions — exploded. NASA named Sally to the commission to investigate the accident, and then later to do strategic planning in Washington.

But politics and science don’t mix very well. Kinda like religion and science, actually, so Sally left and went off to do science, with a particular aim at bringing more kids, particularly girls, on board. She still worked with NASA on the side, and was named to the commission investigating the Columbia accident in 2003 — the only person to serve on both.

Oh, and she was a lesbian. We found out about this because the obituary that she and her 27-year partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy (also a scientist) wrote mentioned Tam as her first survivor. Hell, we didn’t even know Sally had cancer, and now we find out she was a lesbian too?

Good thing they wrote that obit, though, because NASA used its own. It doesn’t mention Tam.

But damn, some of us said, why the hell did she wait until after she was dead to let us in on this secret? Isn’t Sally Ride the very kind of person we want to show the nutjobs that we are not only just like everybody else, but in some cases we are way better than everybody else?

Well, yeah. But Sally didn’t see it that way. I don’t know what discussions went on behind closed doors between her and Tam (although I’m sure there were plenty), but I can guess at what kinds of things may have helped her decide not to come out publicly. Do you cry when things go wrong at work?

Sally wanted to do science, not give lessons on how it is that a lesbian can be America’s first female astronaut and be so fucking brilliant the rest of us should just fall down at her feet. Sally wanted to promote science in a country where half of it — oddly enough the same half that would condemn her to hell for her “lifestyle choice” — doesn’t get that science isn’t a matter of what you decide to believe. Sally wanted to get more little girls interested in science, not fend off ridiculous accusations that she’s a dyke child molester — accusations that my colleagues were bound to take just as seriously as anything she could say to the contrary.

In short, an out lesbian Sally Ride could never have accomplished what she accomplished because she would have been too busy dealing with both the idiots who think lesbians are women who hate men and those of us on our side who think famous lesbians should spend all their time in the spotlight talking about how great it is to be gay.

And that, my friends, is just so fucking sad it hurts to think about it.

Disturbance in the blogosphere

I am disturbed. Very disturbed. First, my day lilies did not give me the explosion of color they had promised. They’re now nothing but dried sticks. Harumph, as they say. Second, I’m reading Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family.” Actually, I’ve been reading it for a while now, and it’s so disturbing that I can only read a few pages at a time before closing the book and worrying about our future for the next 6-10 hours.

If you’d really like to know how we got into the mess we’re in, read that book. And when you think that conservatives want us to return so some idealized vision of the 1950s, know this: It’s not a fairy tale. They do want to return the 1950s, when The Family was completely in charge of American foreign policy in its drive to spread Christian dictatorships around the world. Want to know why the United States props up certain dictators and not others? Read The Family. Then you’ll be as disturbed as I am and I won’t be alone.

But that’s not the worst of my disturbance. I’m really disturbed about Tom MacMaster and Bill Graber, two straight white guys who, we now know, spent considerable time and energy pretending to be lesbians.

Maybe I’m so disturbed about this because once upon a time I engaged in some online pretending-to-be-someone-I’m-not myself, much to my chagrin. I’m not proud of it. I hurt several people I cared deeply about. And that was between me and them. Bill and Tom’s excellent adventures were between them and the rest of the known world

Well, there’s Nunzia Rider. That’s me, yes, but it’s not my real name. I started blogging as Newswriter several years ago and changed to Nunzia when I wanted a real name, like a real person. The nom de bloggue was necessary because I worked for a giant media outlet that frowned on people thinking for themselves and sharing it with the world. Think for ourselves, yes, just keep it quiet. That’s no longer necessary. I’ll even tell you my real name — KC Wildmoon — but I’m going to keep Nunzia Rider here just so I don’t confuse myself any more than I already am.

But I am an honest-to-god white lesbian. Unlike Bill and Tom, who both pretended to be “gay girls,” in Tom’s case, “A Gay Girl in Damascus,” and in Bill’s, the publisher of “Lez Get Real, a gay girl’s view on the world.” Interesting that they both called themselves “gay girls” rather than lesbians, but that doesn’t disturb me half as much as the rest.

I’ve known a couple of men who pretended to be lesbians online to get their rocks off. That’s one thing, related to this thing but not the same. Tom, who must have an incredible need for attention, went so far as to concoct “her” kidnapping by Syrian thugs. He was just trying to get the word out about how awful it is there, and some of my friends have even sort of defended him on that ground. But jeez Louise, you don’t have to pretend to be someone diametrically opposed to who you really are to get the word out about what a wicked dictator is doing to his own people.

OK, so we don’t hear very often about what life is like for LGBT folks in Syria, but good god, do we really have to? What life is like for everyday people, including LGBT folk, is bad enough — anybody and everybody who even slightly opposes the Assad regime is at risk. Sexual orientation is the least of their worries, I’d say. Assad is killing everybody, just to hang onto power. He’s a first class asshole, ranking up there with Adolf Hitler, except Hitler’s regime at least tried to hide their wickedness. Not Assad. His goons are out there in the open killing people randomly. Unarmed people. People who really want to be free, not like these moronic Tea Partiers here who imagine themselves oppressed by democracy.

Want to know what it’s like in Syria? Get on Twitter and follow @Razaniyat or @Monajed or @SeekerSK or @RevolutionSyria or @SyrianWoman. Yemen? Try @NoonArabia or @RajaAlthaibani or @alguneid or @Nefermaat or @iomathanYemen or @ichamza or @womanfromyemen. Egypt? @3arabwy or @norashalaby or @monaeltahawy. Libya? @septimus_sever or @Tripolotanian or @dovenews. And these are just a few. There’s also the journalists reporting from inside these countries. It’s not rocket science.

But Tom MacMaster couldn’t do that. He couldn’t even get his sorry ass into Syria to report on what he actually saw. He took other people’s experiences and observations and put them on a blog as his own. It doesn’t matter that what he wrote was accurate. There are hundreds of people writing accurately about that region of the world, and they are there. They are not some white guy pretending to be a Syrian lesbian to attract attention to himself. Two words, Tom. James Frey. What he wrote was accurate too. Just none of it happened to him.

And Bill Graber. There must be a special level of hell for people like Bill Graber. He was exposed after some reporters thought he might actually be the gay girl in Damascus. Or rather, that “Paula Brooks” might be. That’s who Bill said he was. And to keep the lie going, he told reporters that “Paula” was deaf and could only speak to them on the phone through her “father,” who was, in fact, Bill himself.

I never read “Lez Get Real.” But hundreds, if not thousands did, and dozens of other lesbians (hopefully all actual lesbians) contributed and commented. Bill Graber isn’t a lesbian. He’s a straight, white, married, former construction worker. He may even fall into the category of straight guys pretending to be lesbians to get their rocks off for all I know. But he cannot, ever, write from an authentic lesbian experience. Maybe he should try fiction, since that’s what Lez Get Real is, at least his part of it.

This is disturbing, and, again, maybe more so because of my own shameful history. But it is disturbing nonetheless. Straight white guys have no business pretending to be lesbians, or anything else other than what they are. Privileged is what they are. They can have or do anything they want, for the most part.

Instead, they engaged in intellectual slumming. Insidious, but not the least bit surprising. When you live a privileged life, sometimes it leaks into your little pea brain that other people are actually living while you are plainly not.

Happy new year … maybe

In a few short hours, 2010 will be relegated to the proverbial dustbins of history, and none to soon. What a year.

I have no intention of reminding you or me of what transpired during this past 365 days. Suffice it to say they’ll not be remembered as days of glory. Shame, perhaps, but only if we wake up soon and smell the coffee, realize that it isn’t coffee at all but some concoction of crude oil and raw sewage and dump it out before any more poor saps drink it and become zombies.

That’s how it really happens, you know. Zombies. They’re all around us. And they do eat brains. Their own. And then, later, yours.

I feel relatively safe here in my little blue city in a red state. From the zombies, I mean. They’re afraid of queers, you know. Afraid it might rub off on ’em somehow. That’s why they don’t want us in the military, yknow. Good lord, what if we had an entire army of fucking queers? Spartans. Yeah, Spartans. And Spartans can kill zombies, easy.

Worse, of course, is if we get married. Because if the Spartans can marry each other, it automatically nullifies their zombie marriages. For every Spartan couple that marries, TWO zombie marriages die. Sad, isn’t it?

And here in my little blue city in a red state, there are a lot of queers. Spartans. And some are indeed married. To each other. The zombies take one big sniff as they pass by the entrance to the town and just keep right on rolling.

Plus, it really freaks the zombies out that the city council meets in what was once the assembly room of a chapel. Godless heathens. And queers. Spartans, the anti-zombie.

Zombies are welcome, of course, but they never come here. Too damn scared.

But just because me and my 800 or so fellow citizens are safe doesn’t mean our work is done. Besides, we have to leave the safe confines of our city sometimes. There are no grocery stores here, or jobs for that matter, and not enough of us are very good at growing at our food. Besides, they frown on having cows or goats for milk. I think chickens are OK though.

No, we have to keep fighting the make the rest of the world safe from the mindless zombies who stagger across the landscape searching for more brains to devour, and more sewage and crude oil too. We need to stop the rampant outpouring of oil and sewage and find a way to reverse the damage done. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do, especially for those whose brains have been eaten, but we have to try. We’re liberals. We’ll feel guilty if we don’t.

So, 2010 is riding off into the sunset, and 2011 is settling in for a year-long visit.

Let’s make sure we don’t regret the invitation.


Dammit to hell.

I’m driving home from work a night or two ago, and as the miles tick by, I’m composing, in my head of course, a most perfect post. It’s my first in a while — I’ve just been too busy to write, and too tired, from all the news that has swamped my team in recent weeks. I’m sure you know what all that is, so I won’t reiterate it here.

It’s a damn good post, and I am excited about it. But once I arrive on the homefront, the 45 things I need to do before I can take some time for myself get in the way, and by the time I’m done, I really am too damn tired to write.

Curse me for not dictating it while I was driving, because now I’ve forgotten the whole thing. Except for the first word.


It’s a word I use most often to indict my utter disgust at something. And that’s just not very helpful — I’m pretty damn disgusted right now, and nothing is standing out as the thing that disgusted me enough that night to want to write it all out.

It could be anything. My colleagues, for example, did a good job of disgusting me last week with their handling of Helen Thomas’s unfortunate choice of words and her subsequent and sudden retirement. “Get the hell out of the Middle East” just isn’t a very wise thing to say to Israel, although I can certainly understand the sentiment. But my god, you’d have thought my colleagues had heard her add “and throw them into the ovens” at the end. They reminded me of nothing so much as Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” hissing at pointing at those who aren’t like them.

Even the liberals. But then, they had no choice. Daring to criticize the Israelis is suicide in this country. If they hadn’t en masse joined in the hissing and pointing, they’d have been the ones hissed and pointed at, labeled anti-Semites no better than the Nazis.

See, in this country, calling someone a Nazi is OK, unless, of course, he or she really is one.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Take Glenn Beck, for example, who disgusts me pretty much every time he opens his mouth. He has a long history of labeling people he doesn’t agree with Nazis and fascists, right up until he promotes an actual fascist Nazi-sympathizer on his show, which apparently as AOK at Faux News.

I’m pretty sure my disgust wasn’t triggered by Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Al Krieger, because I just found out about him tonight. But it coulda been. Al, back on Memorial Day, delivered a speech praising the U.S. military for things like the invasion of Normandy, and then said

I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past.

He later defended those remarks, saying he was pretty sure that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln woulda said the same thing. And that his remarks came from the heart.

No, Al, they didn’t. They came from pure, unmitigated ignorance. Nobody asked Al if he really believed that no gay soldiers stormed the beach that day in France, or, as certainly happened, whether any lost their lives there defending their country. And nobody, of course, followed up with “Are you really that stupid?”

Apparently, he is. At least the religionists have something of an excuse for their ridiculous bigotry. Ignorance is never an excuse. It’s just ignorance. And, like most conservative ignorance like this, it’s willful.

Then there’s the fucking oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Any part of that might have been what triggered my disgust — John Boehner insisting that the taxpayers should pay for the clean-up, BP’s utter incompetence, Obama’s pansy-assed response, Bobby Jindal, CNN’s inability to talk with anybody about the disaster except Billy Nungesser, James Carville and Mary Matalin, oiled birds, the ever-increasing flow estimates, British politicians whining that we Yanks are being mean to BP, Michael Bloomberg saying it’s not BP executives fault. Oh wait, that last one was just today.

How about Democrats voting with Alaska’s Lisa Mikulski to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases because, apparently, the highly politicized, partisan Congress without a scientist among them could do it better? Thankfully, that vote failed. For now.

Yeah, that’s pretty disgusting. But so is the unemployment rate. And the lack of prospects to see it drop anytime soon. And Congress’ (and the administration’s) complete unwillingness to do anything about it. Instead, our elected officials and their appointed advisers would rather fret over the non-issue of the deficit.

People, the deficit don’t mean shit. Most of the money we owe we owe to ourselves. Nothing but some serious deficit spending is going to get people back to work. And if we don’t get people back to work soon, the deficit isn’t going to matter at all, under any circumstances. It’s a bullshit issue, and there again are my colleagues, playing politics like the politicians.

But unemployment doesn’t affect the rich. In fact, they’re happy about it because their labor costs are down and they can pocket more money. What is gonna happen, and real soon if something doesn’t give, is that we’re going to be plunged back into the late 19th century, with a permanent underclass that can’t find work. The Victorian era. Robber barons. Rampant disease. Good times. Can’t wait.

Anything could have triggered my disgust that night. I just can’t remember what it was. Guess it doesn’t really matter, though. I’ve probably become a member of the new permanently disgusted class.