Of Ballads and Bisexuality

I envy kids these days. It seems like there is a lot more room to move in terms of sexuality, or at least more acceptance than there was when I was younger. I’m not trying to sound like a crotchety old lady, but things are considerably different and for that, I am happy and thankful. In my day, we had to be a bit more careful about expressing ourselves. While Boy George (my first crush) might have been wearing eyeliner, it still wasn’t the norm for the rest of us to go around saying we liked both boys and girls.

Like everything though, I found a way to express myself, albeit under the radar. I was 13 and I wrote a ballad for a girl in my class. It was filled with descriptions of her golden curls and green eyes. The ballad was set in medieval times about a King’s daughter who wasn’t allowed to marry the person she loved, and how she decided to end her life rather than follow through with an arranged marriage. It was my first love poem, really. I had it set to music and sung (not by me) in front of our whole class. I also gave her an illustrated copy of the ballad. So maybe I wasn’t as under the radar as I thought.

Poetry granted me the opportunity to express myself and the freedom to express my love. If I ever manage to clean up my basement and find my Middle School poetry collection, I promise to post my first ballad here. In the meantime, here’s the first verse and the refrain (to the best of my recollection):

Julie was a King’s daughter, she was
Men fought for her left and right.
But her heart was given to a peasant boy
Who worked in fields day and night.

Julie, Julie, don’t ever quit smiling
Smile ’til the end of your days,
For you have a smile which so lightens the heart
Oh, smile ’til the end of your days.

¹ I couldn’t be too obvious, in case you were wondering why I cast myself as a boy in the poem.

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Love Wins!

I was wanting to write something eloquent and profound about yesterday’s landmark victory for the United States, but no words could even come close to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s final paragraph which reads:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.


Congratulations friends and neighbours! This is truly a time to celebrate!

I’m so proud and happy for my friends, family, and all others who will directly benefit from this ruling. And to all of us who have witnessed this historic moment, this shift from hope to reality, let this be a reminder that love truly does conquer all. Love wins.


 If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Language, lovely language.

I’ve been noticeably absent on my blog lately. I’ve been writing. About blogging. Just not blogging. Does that make any sense? I mentioned earlier that I was giving a presentation at a local university regarding my experience blogging about (but not limited to) gender. I gave the presentation today, and overall I think it went okay. I’m never completely sure about these sorts of things. At any rate, when I was writing my presentation I was having a great deal of difficulty organizing my thoughts. Then I came across a beautiful quote about writing that helped me frame my paper. Here it is:

Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. —Audre Lorde

There is so much more to say about the incredible beauty and meaning in this lovely language, but I think it needs to just sit and settle for a bit. I will leave it to you, dear Reader, to enjoy at your leisure.  And perhaps we can consider this quotation and all of its implications another time.

If you’d like to read Lorde’s entire essay here’s a good link: http://www.onbeing.org/program/words-shimmer/feature/poetry-not-luxury-audre-lorde/318

 If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Throwback Thursday: Why Gap, Why?

I wonder a lot. Like, a lot. About a lot of things. And I often wonder why. Here’s my latest wondering:

Harris is a wonderful almost 6 year-old boy, full of passion, depth, and excitement. I love watching him grow into a creative, caring, imaginative individual. Many times through out the day, he will practise his moves to “defeat the bad guys.” He plans on being a super-hero when he grows up and already knows the name of his alter ego: Super Runner. The other day he told a family friend that he was “trying to talk less because he wanted to be a man of action” and then proceeded to continue talking non-stop about his super-hero aspirations.

So, you might say Harris is a sterotypical boy. Except that his favourite colour is pink, he loves to have his nails painted and is always asking when he can wear lip gloss like his mom. He always chooses to be a princess in any role-play we do. And he wants to shop almost exclusively in the girl’s section.

I’m not worried about any of this. I love my son. But I do wonder why in 2014 it’s still such a boy or girl world. When we go into the Gap to do some shopping, he is drawn to the beautiful designs and bright sparkles on the girls t-shirts and passes by the dull sports numbers or the ubiquitous GAP logo on the front of the boys shirts.

English: The GAP logo.

English: The GAP logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He has a shirt from the Gap that he loves to pieces. It’s blue with a picture of the London Eye on it. It also has sparkles and some small pink hearts. There was a Paris shirt that he was debating on because of the Eiffel Tower but in the end he chose the London one. There were no city shirts for boys, so even if I had wanted to steer him in a more neutral direction there was nothing comparable. So I bought him the one he wanted.

I wonder why the Gap design department doesn’t think boys would also like graphics like the ones I’ve seen on girls t-shirts–the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, ferris wheels, hot air balloons, retro cameras, vintage cars (yes, vintage cars, but nary a one to be found in the Boy’s section) Maybe not all boys want them in pink or sequins like my son, but I am sure that many would like a break from skulls and sports numbers.

Harris has told me about a store he has invented in his head: one that isn’t divided into a Boys side and Girls side, but rather one where all the hoodies are organized in one spot, all the t-shirts are in another area, and so on. If you need some jeans, you go to the jeans department and find a style and fit that is right for you. It’s a great idea.

Gap purports to be accepting and welcoming of all. Their 2013 Holiday Campaign featured Indian Sikh-American, Waris Ahluwahlia, an actor and fashion designer–a fantastic, inclusive move. But somehow that inclusiveness has not extended to boys clothing. Arsalan Iftikhar wrote in the Daily Beast¹: “I want to live in an America where a fashion model can be a handsome, bearded brown dude in a turban who is considered as beautiful as a busty blonde-haired white girl in see-through lingerie.” He praised Gap for “doing a great job forging a path for minority and under-represented fashion models who do not conveniently fit into our traditional American notions of beauty and actually challenge how we have superficially defined those terms since our country’s existence.”

I want to live in that world too, but I also want to live in a world where it’s not just skulls, sports, and skateboarding for boys. My son doesn’t conveniently fit into traditional American notions of boyhood and I hope that one day Gap will forge a path for this minority as well and challenge the superficial definitions this country has of gender.

It’s a lot to ask of a clothing company. But on their official blog² they recently posted the following statement: We know that innovation is a key ingredient to our continued success and growth. To do this, we foster an environment where our employees can be themselves, challenge conventions and push boundaries to find ways of doing things better. I hope the Gap honours this promise and does their best to be innovative and challenge conventions. I could go somewhere else to shop for Harris, but I like the Gap. They just need to work on a few things. Just like the rest of us.


BRIDGING THE GAP (Photo credit: Leo Reynolds)


  1. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/26/gap-ad-featuring-an-indian-model-goes-viral-after-racist-vandalism.html
  2. http://blogs.gapinc.com/blog/2014/3/26/winning-through-innovation.html

Notes: In my last post I mentioned that I was giving a talk about gender issues and blogging at a local university. I’ve been working at it fairly steadily for the last few weeks. This is one of the first posts I wrote on the subject, and since I haven’t had time to write anything new, I thought this one might be worth re-posting.

*An earlier version of this post was first published in April 2014 under the title W is for Why: Why Gap, why? Part 1 of a 3(?) part series*

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stereoTYPING: Blogging Toward Acceptance and Understanding

Happy Tuesday!

This post is a series of questions for other bloggers. I am giving a presentation next week at a local university regarding my experience with blogging about gender issues and how writing can deepen understandings and begin conversations.

So, my questions to you are:

  1. Why did you start blogging? (as opposed to a different form of writing) Why do you continue?
  2. Does your blog have a particular focus? (parenting, poetry, etc.) Why or why not?
  3. Do you read other blogs? If so, are they related to the writing you do on your own blog?
  4. Do you actively encourage comments/discussion on your blog? Do you comment on other blogs?
  5. Any other comments about blogging?

Please take a moment to think about and answer these questions if you have the time. I would really appreciate it. You can either write your answers in the comment section or contact me via email or twitter.

 judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com                      @JudyAmy74

Labels for Kids

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just finished ordering labels for my son’s school supplies and shoes. Although I have supported Harris in all of his choices thus far, I must admit, I still breathed a sigh of relief when he chose the shark design over the butterfly one. (Without any input from me.) I don’t care which labels he chooses. I just really,  really don’t want him to be hurt by others who aren’t as accepting. We’ve discussed this before and Harris always says that he is okay if people tease him and that he stands by his choices. I hope this strength stays with him as he continues on his school journey. Especially since immediately after I finished processing the order, he decided that he wanted the butterfly labels, not the shark ones. Butterflies are nicer than sharks. I guess I too, would rather have a butterfly, since I phoned the company back and changed my order.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

René at Home: A Postcard Story

I look in the mirror, dissatisfied at the lumps that no matter how tight I bind them still seem obvious. At least they are to me. Tori says I could go to the mall and pass for a guy but I’m not sure. She’s my friend, and besides, she’d say anything to go to the mall. I saw someone like me at the movies once. He walked confidently up to the counter and bought a ticket. Then I saw his hesitation as he paused by the bathrooms, deliberating. Eventually he walked into the girl’s bathroom. I understood. Too risky.

The transgender pride flag

The transgender pride flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notes: This piece came from a Writing Workshop I attended this summer. The task was to write from the perspective of a different gender. Since I am not a big believer in a gender binary, and also because I could not figure out how to write as a guy, I chose to write as a transgender teenager. It was still a big stretch because it’s been years since I’ve been a teenager. I didn’t have the postcard framework in mind when I began writing this piece, but in the rewriting/revising process, I decided that it would be a good match.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74