Tag: Trail

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

Special to Lesbian.com

Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris are in office, I’ve been able to have my first Covid 19 vaccine shot. It was no big deal. I went to our county fairgrounds expecting to be injected through my car window, the way I was tested. I thank my lucky stars the test was negative. I’m grateful to the medical profession that persisted in making tests and vaccines available despite the disinformation and profiteering of our former leaders.

Turned out, the vaccines were administered in the same exhibit building that’s used for our winter farmers’ market, a very familiar and reassuring space. The six-foot tables that usually serve to display crafts or local mushrooms and goat cheeses, were now place markers.

Two representatives of our Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, minus their mounts, stood at the door, masked and chatting with new arrivals. We weren’t exactly an unruly crowd—age seventy-five at the youngest—so there was little for them to do. Once inside, our temperatures were taken, we were sent along to show ID and turn in required paperwork. Some internet averse or disabled people filled out that paperwork on site, assisted by caretakers and community helpers.

One half hour was allotted for each group to be vaccinated. Firefighters led the way to makeshift corrals, maybe twelve foot by twelve foot, and to inadequately distanced folding chairs. No matter, it’s in the nature of groups to group, and people knew each other so there was never a chance some would voluntarily social distance, despite the fact that they were there to prevent dying in a pandemic.

The firefighters then deposited us, one at each end of the tables. I spotted non-gay neighbors in front of me and we cheerfully visited—at a distance. They’ve since invited me to ride with them for our second shots. That could have been fun and memorable, I thought later, especially if we gave one another the virus while enclosed in a car.

Which brought me back to the first inoculation I remember. I was in elementary school when American schoolchildren became guinea pigs for Dr. Salk’s vaccine. We waited on line outside the Flushing, Queens P.S. 20 gymnasium, in enforced quiet, dozens of solemn, worried kids. Personally, I was terrified of being shut inside an iron lung and welcomed the chance to avoid that fate.

The Covid 19 vaccines have emergency authorization; the polio shots were experimental. Some children received the actual inoculation, others a placebo. We filed into the gym and stopped at little stations staffed by who-knew-who. I asked this time, and confirmed that RNs were giving the Covid injections.

As Polio Pioneers, we received pins and certificates (which many of us still have, including me). Mothers of pupils volunteered to comfort us. I lucked out with a mom who put her arms around me and held me close during my ordeal. If I hadn’t already been a dyke, I would have become one from that experience alone—what pain?

The more recent injection was painless. For about two days afterward I couldn’t lift that arm without great discomfort, but as vulnerable elders, we accepted the necessity of inoculation with stoicism. There was a nurse for each row of recipients so those in the back were able to watch for horrendous reactions from the procedure. There were none.

The last corral was the observation room where we waited thirty minutes, in case we needed an epi pen or ambulance. The firefighters roamed among us, smiling and joking with people they knew, checking on us all. Eventually, we crammed together on line to schedule appointments for our second shots.

As a seasoned Polio Pioneer, sixty-odd years later, it strikes me as funny that I felt a little proud, just as I had in grade school, to be part of this mass health effort. There’s a bond now, between my neighbors and myself, that we went through the unknown together, that we believed in the science and the medicine and did our patriotic duty to keep America safe.

Before my observation period ended, I took a seat at one end of a long bench and exchanged greetings with a courageous man perhaps twenty-five years my senior. As I watched the clock, I considered myself lucky, way back when, to have received the real polio vaccine rather than the placebo. In the present, I know I’m lucky to have reached the current vaccine eligibility cutoff age. And lucky to have outlived the willful mismanagement of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2021 / February 2021

The Amazon Trail: But … – Lesbian.com

The Amazon Trail: But … – Lesbian.com

Special to Lesbian.com

The year 2020 wasn’t a total bust except for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who should not have died or have been permanently harmed by Covid 19. In the U.S., many lay those deaths and disablements at the hands of the greedy, power hungry 2020 administration and its followers.

Personally, I’ve been taking inventory of the bad and the good with my sweetheart, and finding some surprises.

Yes, over seventy-four million Americans voted to keep the traitorous officials in office, but eighty-one million plus voted to restore our democracy.

There are arms-bearing fanatics at the gates, but they have served to expose long-entrenched enemies of this country: racism, misogyny, religious zealotry, fear of any kind of difference, from xenophobia to homophobia. I trust many Americans are finally acknowledging these defects in ourselves.

I couldn’t see my family this year, but I can call them without the long distance charges that accrued when I was a kid and my mother dialed her family once a week at low Friday night rates, if no one was on the party line.

To compound that loss, our much-loved niece is sick and in pain from cancer treatments, but the treatments will cure her and then she’s going to treat herself to Disneyland.

We lost our good and gorgeous gray cat Bolo, but we’ve adopted a shelter cat and a foster dog.

A long-term couple, old friends of ours, are no longer together, but are finding their ways.

Our perfect lesbian neighbors are moving away, but now are our fast friends and are trying to find a buyer compatible with us.

We endured colonoscopies, but have clean bills of health.

Covid isolation made me put on the pounds, but I’ve already lost more than I gained.

My sweetheart has a demanding job with long hours, but with her sacrifice, we can afford our goofy, loving cat and dog.

We had to give up feeding seed and suet to the birds when rodents discovered the food source—and our house—but our sugar water feeders were so swarmed by hummingbirds that everyone, from friends to delivery people, delighted in coming to our door. The hummers outnumbered humans enough to relax their shimmery bodies and let us watch them from inches away. Other neighbors provided for the birds we lost.

The roof needs replacing like, last summer, but by staying home we’ve saved enough money to get it done next spring.

Our neighborhood cancelled the monthly potlucks, but I’m no longer exposed to that ridiculous number of homemade desserts.

Speaking of food, the women’s lunch, the Mexican lunch, the men’s breakfast, and worst of all, Butches’ Night Out—all were cancelled in 2020, but have I mentioned my clothes suddenly stopped shrinking?

My county just entered the extreme risk category for COVID, but I know no one who has gotten sick and we tested negative, thanks to our ability to isolate.

A beloved old friend died, but we had one last joyous visit in the mountains around Crater Lake in Oregon before her last decline and her spouse is going to, slowly, be alright.

Top conferences like the Golden Crown Literary Society and Saints and Sinners went virtual. I missed getting together with friends, other readers, and writers, but the popularization of Zoom and Duo and Skype have strangely given us perhaps more in depth encounters than hurried lunches and large group dinners.

Shopping became an infrequent, rushed chore, but impulse buying, useless accumulation, and shopping as fun may help save the planet.

Between the plague and the threat of a Totalitarian state, I feared my time on earth had been shortened, and it still might be, but day to day I’ve had more time than ever to finish a book, start another, be with my sweetheart, and just be.

For me, the word “but” has become synonymous with the word “gratitude,” as in: the 2020 occupier of the White House severely damaged our country and my gratitude to everyone who helped oust him is strong—no buts about it.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2020

The Amazon Trail: A Giant – Lesbian.com

The Amazon Trail: A Giant – Lesbian.com

By Lee Lynch

“We lost a giant today,” tweeted California State Sen. Scott Weiner, who is chairman of the LGBTQ caucus. A giant is exactly what the ninety-five-year-old Phyllis Lyon was, along with her partner Del Martin, who died at age eighty-seven in 2008.

My friend the sailor broke the news to me. She e-mailed, Del and Phyllis made a difference in my life. Yours too? No finer compliment could be given.

I responded: Oh, this hurts. They certainly made a difference for me. I was able to read their creation, “The Ladder,” from age fifteen on. They were role models as a couple and in their activism. Thanks for breaking it to me.”

Yes, with my hair slicked back by my father’s Vitalis, in the hand me downs from a boy across the court, hoping to someday own a pinky ring, and waiting to reach an age when I could frequent the rough and tumble gay bars downtown, my girlfriend Suzy and I spotted the magazine founded by Phyllis and Del.

It was an unthinkable accomplishment then, the production of a periodical about ourselves. We weren’t even old enough to legally buy it. Suzy, the bolder of us, probably took it to the register anyway. Or maybe some other babydyke swiped it, afraid to take it to a cashier, and passed it on, afraid to take it home to Brooklyn or New Jersey where she lived with her parents.

If Suzy and I were afraid to purchase “The Ladder,” I cannot imagine the enormous courage of Del and Phyllis. They gathered material from closeted lesbians, signed their real names to their own writings, and, braver still, approached a printer. I remember the struggle Tee Corinne and I had twenty-five years later, getting our local copy shop to print our self-published works.

Where had this paper miracle come from? Who was behind it? I was a contributor to “The Ladder” before I knew its history. By 1960, the year I first read it, “The Ladder” was on Volume 5. It was published in San Francisco. How had it been distributed to a magazine store in New York? Of course, we were still children and adults ran the world, even our world. We might question and defy authority, but the magazine was a product of adults and whatever magic they supplied to make things work. I was in awe.

Today, “The Ladder” might look like a dinky little magazine. In 1955, when they first achieved this marvel, it must have represented a logistical obstacle course for Del and Phyllis, whose activism consisted of much more than the printed word. Like so many lesbian projects right up to the present day, the work they and their cohorts produced was all volunteer. They risked loss of their jobs, their birth families, their lovers, their homes, their very sanity, to assert the legitimacy of our condemned lives. There was nothing dinky about that magazine, or the men’s equivalent, “One.” Both periodicals were powder kegs fueling what was to become the gay rights movement, a movement that changed government, schools, religious institutions, the military, and the lives of fearful, confused, often self-hating individuals who found our way to fuller lives and healthier psyches.

Phyllis Lyon made a profound difference in my life. It was due to Phyllis that I survived my otherwise unguided, unmodeled teens. It was due to Phyllis I was able to resist the course of conversion therapy (not called that then) my college unofficially required of me. It was due to Phyllis that an outlet existed for my words. It was due to Phyllis and her union with Del that I saw I could commit to a woman I loved and stay for better or worse. It was due to the tenacity and victories of Phyllis Lyon and our other giants that I lived to embrace who I am because she so publicly embraced who she was.

So yes, my sailor friend, let’s just say she made it possible for me to be a very happy, stable, exultantly married woman and published lesbian writer today. I am one of her accomplishments. I hope she was just as proud of me as I’ve always been of her.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2020