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Dancing on Donald's Wall/The Culture Wars

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 11/11/2015 Nora Dunn

A dear friend of mine sent me a video on my cell phone the other day of her daughter dancing at The Harvest Festival. She is, my friend's daughter, a wonderful dancer who never stops doing pirouettes, Ariel's, cartwheels, and various other extravagant moves she has choreographed alone and with her dance teacher. She lives to dance. She is also, at age ten, a mermaid who slips on her mermaid tail, shiny blue with golden fins, and turns into an ancient myth in the pool at The Hollywood Roosevelt. She is able to mesmerize even the most hardened pool side hipsters and tells me that when she is in the water with her fins and tail she feels the freest. She is unique in may ways, one of them being that she is transgender. Since the age of four she has stood her ground that she is a girl, and now at age ten it is clear that she is.
Many eyebrows will raise at the thought of that, but this mermaid has gone to therapy and stood up against the nausea of child pschologists who forbade her to "dress up" more than a few hours a week. Phooey. She is who she is in the purist sense of what that means. And what is the controversy all about anyway? She's happy, smart, and social being exactly who she is.
I watched a wonderful video piece in The Huffington Post recently on parents who had come to terms with their daughter, also transgender. It was the same scenario, starting at age four, one of their twin sons wanted feminine clothes and identified with dolls and dollhouses. The father, who had the hardest time accepting it, began to weep as he talked of the suffering and anxiety that denying someone's identity brings. He talked of how he learned to love and understand his daughter who is now in her teens and she still is who she is.
Everyone seems to want to weigh in on transgenderism, and many seem to feel that their own non-transgenderism is what is normal and even superior. Those who sit in judgment seem to feel they are losing something when it comes to transgender identity. But what? If people being who they are and being accepted in society as equals sinks your boat, get on a better boat or fix the one you're in. If you are certain of your own identity, why are you threatened by someone's else's?
My dear friend's daughter is not going back to being who she is not. Being around her is intoxicating because she insists upon her freedom, and that is what we are really about in this country or we are supposed to be; acceptance and equality, not dividing ourselves into camps and waging war on each other.
I recently wrote a piece on Trump's hosting of SNL, and I called his followers morons. I also called Ben Carson a creepizoid, which isn't even a word. It's hard to come up with descriptive words for these two without stooping down and finding the wrong ones. What can you say about a candidate who declares that once he is President we will all be able to say Merry Christmas again?
Is he going to give everybody a present?
The message of both these candidates fuels the fears of many Americans about anyone who is not who they are. Why assuage that fear when you can capitalize on it? And Trump is nothing if not a capitalist. Carson quotes the bible and insinuates an apocalyptical future when it comes to women's rights and gay marriage. He condescends to the poor as if they want to be impoverished. He was recently in favor of raising the minimum wage, but now he thinks it would ruin us. He's an evangelical Christian who wants all of us to to walk the walk he does. No thank you. I don't find him the least bit enlightened.
I chose the wrong words in describing the followers of these two front runners, but the word that describes their philosophy that lingers in the back of my mind is fascism, although using that word trivializes the most famous fascist of all.
I grew up in a working class neighborhood in Chicago and we used the word moron all the time. It's still a staple in Chicago-speak. But name calling in my youth was not productive really, nor is it productive now. I decided to leave Chicago in my early twenties and head west to be an actress or playwright. In those days you could go to school for a dollar in California. I ended up in San Francisco where sexual identity was exploding and gays and straights mixed in one of the merriest nightclub scenes I've ever known. The city was filled with people who had left their lives behind to come to a place where they could find themselves. The actor I worked with in my acting class was a transvestite and worked at a high end drag club. It was my first encounter with that side of life.
As free as San Francisco was in those days, people who were different were living undercover. It was an island and there was a sense that when you left it was like leaving Brigadoon. And here we are now, many years later after making pretty good ground when it comes to civil liberty, faced with the notion of Donald Trump's Wall, which makes many citizens cheer, but yet is symbolic of more than keeping out Mexico. The arenas he fills are packed more by a mob than a crowd, and mobs scare me. But his wall is a blockade against more than just "illegal" aliens. It's about him picking and choosing exactly who the aliens are.
The cultural revolution is not going to slow down even in the face of a mob or hypocritical dogmatists like Kim Davis and her followers. Pope Francis has pretty much asked everyone to chill, and her private meeting with him turned out to be evangelic propaganda. Pope Francis's message was about understanding each other and accepting each other. Yes, the Church is not pro-choice and does not give women equal status to men, but for the pope to soften its views on abortion by offering women forgiveness (something women do not need) is a big step. For him to say "who are we to judge?" when it comes to homosexuals, and open his arms to his gay friends, well, that's a big step too. This pope came as a promoter of peace.
There are things we share as human beings that rise above politics, and what bonds humans the most is love. We have a deep capacity for it and it should not be mistaken for zealotry. Love has no religion, it's not organized, and it hurts. The more you love, the more you will pay for it, but life and its complexity is inescapable. So is who we are. Why can't we just agree on that?
So much suffering has been inflicted on the human spirit by the fascist notion that one one kind of person is superior to another. The Mormon Church has issued its latest edict, and now will punish the children of any parent who comes out of the closet and dare marry in a same-sex union. That is a churche's response to freedom of the spirit. What kind of faith is that? Who are gays and transgender people by these standards, sub-humans?
There are no sub-humans, which was Hitler's pathological view of Jews most vehemently, but also included homosexuals, Gypsies, Russians, anyone with Down Syndrome or birth defects, and Roman Catholics. His rabid philosophy cost sixty million lives, including millions of Americans who fought against that deadly bigotry.
America, even with our violent and complecated past and our current state of affairs, is a great idea. We are a society that does not require you to be of one faith or one way of thinking. One can practice their faith without forcing it on another. Evangelic believers insist that the only way they can express their faith is to impose it on everyone else. No one is asking anyone to come out of their closet, we are just saying some of us want to live outside of ours. We have passed laws forbidding discrimination against people because of their color or sexual orientation, but those laws are under attack now. This fear-driven backlash has twisted discrimination into a freedom of religion. Is Trump's declaration that he will "do something" about Muslims a real policy, or is it just meant to arouse his mob into harassing them?
Merry Christmas.
While we quibble about who we are we are losing sight of what we are. America is a melting pot, remember? But we are becoming more corporate and less human as the gap between rich and poor becomes so wide it could be a tourist attraction, like the Grand Canyon. Let's fix that instead of trying to fix people who don't need fixing.
As I watch my friend's transgender daughter dance, her body swirls in several pirouettes and then suddenly her legs sweep off the ground as she cascades gracefully upside down and lands confidently on her feet before she makes her next move. Her long blonde hair shines like a halo, and I am moved beyond measure. She is uninhibited and is the brave example of what that's all about. She is adamantly who she is and she's entitled to everything that someone who is not like her is entitled to. To me, she is the future of America. Freedom. She is joy, and she gives me hope. I wish more of our presidential candidates did that.

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