Melissa Williams

Roving Hoosier in NYC

Filed By Melissa Williams | August 05, 2006 5:04 PM | comments

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Hi, I am Melissa Williams, and I am new to bilerico. I thought it was cute that Bil referred to me as the "feminist voice" of bilerico, because I consider myelf very post-feminist and very intellectually identified with queer theory. He and I need to have more coffee dates so we can get to know each other better.

I was born in Indianapolis in the late seventies to two too-young parents. My mom's father came to Indianapolis via the Great Migration from Eastern Kentucky after the mechanization of the coal mines. My great-grandfather and his father and his father before him were coal miners, paid in company script that had to be spent at the company store to stock the company house in the company town (read: indentured servitude). All of them died of black lung. My grandpa escaped by joining the army and going to Korea. He met my grandmother at Camp Atterbury where she lived with her migrant farm working parents. My dad's side are also Appalachian transplants from my great-grandfather's generation. My dad's grandfather was a grocery store owner in Fletcher Place. I have never really identified as "Hoosier." I have never felt connected to this land.

I went to college in Cincinnati and lived there for six years while attending Xavier University. While there, I had to come to terms with the rememberances of "kissing moments" with girls in middle school and crushes on girls in high school, although I was also attracted to men and actively dating men. I began to identify as bisexual. I am a two year Americorps grad and I traveled to Nepal for a semester in college.

I reluctantly moved back to Indianapolis after graduating because I was broke. Then I met my now husband and started a graduate program at IUPUI (occupational therapy). I am queer-identified but struggle with the implications of "passing" for straight. I came out to my long-suspecting mother at the same time that I told her I was getting married (to my wonderful amazing cute supportive husband).

I am in NYC right now and just attended evening services at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the largest GLBT synagogue in the world. (I am in the process of converting to Judaism). The services were led by Sharon Kleinbaum, named one of the Top Jewish leaders in the country by Jewish Week.The assistant Rabbi is Eyelet Cohen, who was named one of the most influential Jews by Heeb magazine (I have a crush on her [blush]) Rabbi Kleinbaum gave a compelling talk about the Israel/Lebanon situation. To paraphrase, she feels, though she is a Zionist, that Israel is playing into Hezbollah's plan. For every Lebanese person who watches her child or grandmother die, there is another recruit for Hezbollah. Israel will never solve the situation by continuing to bomb cilvilian areas. Rabbi Kleinbaum questioned if Israel should or will exist if the state continues to ignore it's own ethical teachings. I agree with her views.

I look forward to discussing Hoosier politics and issues on bilerico. I am particularly interested in State Senator Patricia Miller, who many know tried to introduce a bill that would prohibit single people from using artificial insemination (read: no more "my two mommies"). I recently found out that she is one of the main reasons why my future profession, occupational therapy, is not licensed in Indiana, one of only four states in the country without licensed OT's. She believes that OT's should defer to doctors, which is convenient since she apparently receives lots of campaign money from their state association (don't sue me please).

Signing off for now. Shabbat Shalom.


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Nick Clarkson | August 5, 2006 8:15 PM

Hey Melissa. Welcome from another newbie.

Hearing people identify as post-feminist always freaks me out. Care to say a little more about what that means to you? It seems like your identification with queer theory replaces an identification with feminist theory. It's my sense that while the two projects may not precisely advance each other, both are still very important.

I really liked a professor's response to the idea of post-feminist identification. She said, "When we're post-patriarchy, I'll be post-feminist."

Shabbat Shalom Melissa! Mazel tov on your upcoming conversion! My name is Annette and I'm a regular poster here on bilerico. I have a gay son and am the president of the Indianapolis Chapter of PFLAG. I am also a born New Yorker (the Bronx)! I have heard of the synagogue you attended and of Rabbi Kleinbaum. I would like to talk to you - ask Bil how to reach me.

Welcome to the blog Melissa! I'm happy to have you on the blog!

I have to ask though - what the hell is post-feminism?

Bruce Parker | August 6, 2006 1:07 AM

Melissa,

Welcome, I am thrilled to have you on the blog... Anywhere, you share your thoughts always feels a little more welcoming to me.

1. I didn't know you were of Appalachian descent. This only makes me love you more my fellow hill folk.

2. I would argue aggressively that you approach your life through a queer theory lens with strong feminist bent. You are very conversational and personal in your ideas as far as I have seen.

Welcome!

Yay, Melissa! Did Bil tell you it was an IAN board requirement to blog here? He'd do something like that. We've got the whole board now!

Welcome to the blog.

Marla R. Stevens | September 1, 2006 11:52 PM

While I'm not from Kentucky or Appalachia, my wife's birth parents were and, as she's been reunited with that family, it's my family, too. It gives you an automatic warm spot with me. Welcome.

Marla R. Stevens | September 1, 2006 11:58 PM

P.S. Don't be at all shy about Sen. Miller and her doc (and dentist) money connections. Can't tell you how many times on late nights near session end when the bills were passing fast that I'd hear a chorus of "Ka-ching!" followed by laughing high-fives amidst a gaggle of doctors', nursing home, big pharma, and hospital association lobbyists when yet another of their Miller-authored or shepherded bills passed its second house third reading. Yes, it was that blatant.