The October 8th Ruling: Ghoulishness Even Scarier than Halloween 🕸☠

As the leaves perform their leafy magic, and the October 1st tax increases loom here in the Constitution State, I’m commiserating with those eager to flee Connecticut because of high taxes and seemingly endless budget deficits. Another of Connecticut’s nicknames, the “tax you to death,” is no doubt well-earned.

However, unlike most of my compatriots who dream of or are actually planning a move to a more financially stable state, I know I won’t be leaving any time soon, for one, because I’ve already adapted to the $.10 plastic bag tax, never having been a fan of seeing them flap in the wind from bare tree branches in winter. But the reality is I can’t leave, not if I want to continue having the audacity to live as an out lesbian and be a public school teacher.

Currently, in nearly thirty states in this “free” country of ours, I can be fired from my job for living openly as a lesbian. All it would take is a complaint or two from parents, and suddenly, my livelihood is in jeopardy because, in certain parts of the US, I’m viewed as unfit to educate children. My lifestyle is immoral, and according to some serious right-wing extremism, I may be secretly pushing my gay agenda on impressionable youngsters—as if we could win free timeshare points for every kid we recruit. I wish. 

On the Weekends We be Extra!

Now this may sound like the plot of an old black and white movie about rampant bigotry in the pre-Civil Rights South, but it isn’t. This is 2019. And while, it’s long been illegal to fire African-Americans from their jobs simply because they’re black, it is still legal to dismiss members of the LGBTQ community if an employer feels that our lifestyles conflict with their religious sensibilities. This is because the LGBTQ community is not specifically listed as a protected minority in the Civil Rights Act pertaining to job discrimination.

Atticus Finch, where are you?

But on October 8, 2019, our Supreme Court will issue a highly consequential ruling that will either change that or solidify it. And frankly, I’m terrified of the possibility of it being solidified, as it is a ruling that will likely stand for the rest of my life. (click link below for article)

https://www.businessinsider.com/lgbtq-employment-supreme-court-cases-explainer-2019-9

What that means is I’m stuck here in Connecticut, the tax-you-to-death-state because it’s one of only about twenty that have legislated equal rights for its LGBTQ citizens in all aspects of our lives. In essence, the ridiculously high taxes most residents here view as an unjust burden, I view as “protection money” so to speak, like one would pay to mobsters or prison gangs—money that I shouldn’t have to part with, but if I want the dignity to live and work safely and in true freedom, money I must pay.

So to anyone who still thinks presidents and politicians have no say in Americans’ civil rights, let me remind you once again that they do. Had Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell not obstructed President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, I wouldn’t be quite so riddled with anxiety right now awaiting my fate as it now rests in a majority of justices whose ideological beliefs mirror the conservative anti-LGBTQ values that continue to oppress us. 

I have to admit that it requires more mental energy than I care to expend to process living in a country where my access to equal protection under the law has to be voted on every few years. The angst is worse than trying to choose the quickest checkout lane in a grocery store during the busiest time of day. But at least if I pick the wrong lane, the worst thing that can happen is my rotisserie chicken won’t be as warm as I’m hoping when I get it home.

Get it while it’s hot!

If the Supreme Court chooses the wrong lane on this issue, I won’t ever bring home a warm rotisserie chicken again. As I count down to their decision on October 8th, I can’t help contemplating how I will feel should they rule in favor of discrimination instead of equality. How shitty will it be if I’m condemned to live the rest of my life in a state I may not choose to because in over half of all the other states, I’ll still be regarded as a second-class citizen?

So from now until October 8th, while you’re getting all curmudgeony that your trip to Shop-Rite now costs you $.30 more, be glad you’re not standing with me in the express lane to inequity. And if you decide that you’re fed up paying all these taxes and want to evacuate the state like a refugee of an economic disaster, be glad your main concern won’t be finding a state where something as insignificant as who you love can cost you your career.

Jean Copeland is a high school English teacher and award-winning lesfic novelist from Connecticut.

Shop her books: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Copeland/e/B00P7YT9DS%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

The Anniversary of a Promise 🤞

Twenty-nine years ago today I started a job I didn’t want in a career I wanted even less. I remember the day as if it were yesterday for both the warm, sunny late summer weather outside and for the dark, depressing pall of doom that hovered over me inside the building. I didn’t want to be a receptionist.

At twenty-one, I wanted to be an actress or a screenwriter—my heart knew it, my soul knew it, and my Leo astrological sign knew it best of all. That was my destiny, to embark on a journey of creative exploration through which I could reach the masses, not as a mere computer keyboard-poking paper pusher.

The screenplay I had written a year earlier and a literary agent in Texas had agreed to represent, not surprisingly, was not picked up for production by a Hollywood studio, so after a year under contract, the agency had returned the manuscript to me with their warmest regards. Dejected, bordering on despondent but still living with my parents, I felt obliged to at least try to assimilate like a normally functioning adult in the working world.

And so it was, the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend 1990, I sat down at my new post at the Fuchs Lubricants Co. reception desk, a job handed me by a friend who was headed off to her senior year in college, and tried desperately not to bawl my eyes out. The thought of eight hours a day, five days at week staring at fake plants, 1970s interior décor, and the faces of a bunch of adults with that definitive look of having given up long ago, loomed over me like the Grim Reaper of hopes and dreams.

Seriously? A lesbian working for a company called Fuchs Lubricants?

I don’t remember anything of what was said to me that first day or what I’d said to others, but I remember each syllable of the promise I’d made to myself. “This isn’t forever.” I’d whispered it aloud as I willed my eyes not to pool and dug deep within my self-preservation reserve for something, anything to help me believe it.

But it wasn’t easy.

Life, low self-confidence, and the lowest of expectations anchored me in the job for the next thirteen years. As the years went by, I feared that this was indeed my manifest destiny. My heart never accepted it, but my brain, ever the realist, observed, as each year came and went, the light of the hope of future greatness dimming ever so gradually until it finally went black.

That was about when my life partner at the time rigorously encouraged me to quit my wretched employment and embark on a new journey toward a profession that would bring me at least enough fulfillment that I’d stop coming home each night and making her life miserable with a never-ending litany of job complaints.  

When I reached the stage where even I couldn’t stand myself anymore, I took the dive—quit the security of that full-time position, endured the culture shock of full-time college campus life, and somehow found the self-discipline to do at thirty-three years old what most people were doing at twenty. The end result? I became an English teacher. Huzzah!

Almost exactly fifteen years to the day I’d nearly surrendered all my dreams to a steady paycheck and impressive health benefits package, I’d finally made good on the promise I’d made myself that sad day in 1990.

I was now a high school English teacher…a nervous high school English teacher who needed to get a Master’s degree to keep her full-time position.

Enter the creative writing program at Southern CT State University. Again forced into something I probably never would’ve pursued through my own volition, I opted for the creative writing thesis to avoid having to take two extra classes. During that time, I gave birth to my first “child,” the thesis novella that would become the coming out, coming of age Goldie award-winning lesfic novel, The Revelation of Beatrice Darby.

Biggest, Bestest Surprise Ever!

Now as I observe the twenty-ninth anniversary of the most important promise I’ve ever made, I write this to commune with all those who’ve ever promised something to themselves and have made it happen, are still waiting to make it happen, or have simply never had the inspiration to make a promise to themselves at all. To all of you, I say make the promise, and for fuck’s sake, keep the promise! No matter how long it takes, remember what you wanted, remember what you felt you deserved from this life and scrounge up the fucking the courage, whether you beg, borrow, or steal it, to make it happen.

At age fifty, am I the rich, famous writer I’d fantasized about being as a kid? Fuck no. But I’m living my best life, and I make no apologies and harbor no regrets.

I teach, I write, and I live. What more can I ask of this crazy, messy cluster fuck of an existence than to be free enough to allow myself permission to feel satisfied with myself and my life at the end of each day?

Shop Jean’s novels at:

https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Copeland/e/B00P7YT9DS%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share