Sheila S. Kennedy

Do I Belong?

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | July 15, 2007 1:19 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Shiela Kennedy, straight allies

I am one of the "stable" of bloggers that Bil brought along when he turned Bilerico.com into the Bilerico Project. This will be my first post on this new, broader platform, and it seems only appropriate to make some disclosures, and to ask a couple of questions that flow from those disclosures.

As nearly as I can tell, I am the only heterosexual contributor at the present time. Worse, I'm not even a young, hip and/or "with it" member of the upcoming (clearly less homophobic) generation.

I'm a Jewish grandmother. A recovering lawyer. A nerdy college professor. And locally, a routinely vilified biweekly columnist for our local daily paper, the Indianapolis Star.

True, I have a gay son, a gay grandchild, gay nephews and a zillion gay friends. But my question for readers of this new and improved blog--all of whom appear to be little older than my oldest grandchild, for crissakes!--is simple.

Why should you give a rat's ass (pardon my language) about what I have to say??

Bil is a friend and obviously reluctant to show me the door, but I'm dubious. So I'm asking those of you who are regulars here to let me know. I promise my feelings won't be hurt!

Am I too old--and too straight--to be here?


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I have just started following the Bilerico Project, and I'm elated that an ally has been invited to contribute. Restricting contributors to just young queer folk, I think, would restrict the perspectives possible. Without allies, I think any movement is doomed to die out, for sometimes it is allies who can do the most to enact change.

I don't believe there's any such thing as "too old" or "too straight" — just "too narrow." :) I look forward to reading more from you.

Am I too old--and too straight--to be here?

The answer is clearly "no".

First, while many of the newer contributors are young, they still span the age range. In fact, the only two contributors in their 20's, that I know of, are still Bruce and me. And the readers aren't a bunch of kids either - according to our last reader survey, the most common age of a reader was 43. And our best commenters, from the age indicators they mention, are mostly above the age of 40.

And, of course, you're not the only straight contributor - there's Storm!

The point is, we value your writing and insights, and we'd like you to stay on as long as you'd like to be a part of the Bilerico family.

With such an expansive vision for the site, I know that a lot of contributors are going to feel like they don't belong. In fact, I was about to leave the site a while ago because I thought I didn't have a place in this format with everyone being so respectable. I mean, I keep another webpage pretty much solely devoted to masturbation jokes, for crying out loud!

But I'm much more comfortable reading insightful writing by someone older than than by someone younger, and someone with your relationship to the queers definitely has a place on this site.

A. J. Lopp | July 15, 2007 3:45 PM

Sheila, although it may be some months old, I discovered your post "Fear of Fucking" and it is one of my absolute favorites.

If anything, TBP needs more ally contributors, not less. We queers need input from others not entirely identical to ourselves, because our thinking can become ghetto-ized, just like any other group. (Hopefully not as ghetto-ized as the current group in the White House, for example.)

So, Sheila, I second Alex above: Stay as long as you can! I always look forward to your posts! And while it is good to get input from the different generations, it is also true that good writing, such as yours, is ageless.

[P.S.: Alex, you have a whole webpage full of masturbation jokes? Can I see it? Can I see it? Can I? Can I? ...]

Don't go. Please don't go. :)

Sheila, you know my thoughts on the matter so I won't belabor them here. I will say, however, that I would never consider you part of a "stable." As long as I've known you, you've always been more "free range" or "wild roaming" kinda gal. It's part of what I love about you. :)

Bruce Parker | July 15, 2007 7:15 PM

Sheila,

After thinking more about your post, I am personally invested in your thinking. Although I identify as queer myself, I would argue that the community within the meta community of lgbt life that I identify most with is the trans community. I am not trans however many of my closest friends and mentors are trans or are partners of transpeople. I primarily, although not exclusively, date transfolk. I believe that transgender advocacy and education is the most important work we can be doing right now in the lgbt movement. I have found that on the most part the transcommunity welcomes my presence and has profoundly changed my life. I would suggest that you, my friend, are queer by association and very much a part of our community.

The secret is that we not only have you but are incredibly lucky to do so.

Thanks for your presence and your work,

Bruce

Sheila -

You have, apart from your personal connections to the gay community, long been an ally of our community. To not have your voice -- and perspective here -- would be a great loss. Please, please continue to be a part of this forum!

Thanks for your continued support of our community!

David

Thank you all for these amazingly supportive comments. I'm really humbled--and gratified. So I guess I'm with you until the old bones fail......

Good to hear that Sheila

I was a fan of your writing In the Star, but have become even more appreciative after you began to post here. I would have really missed you if you'd left.

Eric Georgantes | July 16, 2007 12:03 AM

Considering that I tend to enjoy your editorials that I read in the Indianapolis Star, I'm glad to hear that you are a contributor.

So, no, you are not too straight. Perhaps too worried, but not too straight.

Allen - I'm always pushing it on this page! Just click on my name.... I know I probably made a false advertising claim there, but there are quite a few dirty jokes there, enough that I'm not about to link my dad to it even though he reads this site.

Reason #1 why Sheila should stay:

I'm not about to link my dad to it even though he reads this site.

Reason #2:

Getting 11 comments on a Sunday afternoon. I think that has to be a record for a Sunday. *grins*

Reason #3:

We love her here.

I'm glad you're staying. But you have to admit, I told you that if you put it to the readers they'd holler for you to stick around.

As for the straight thing, by the way... In Storm's intro he said he's hetero, but admits to kissing a guy. Maybe we could talk one of our lesbian readers/contributors into puckering up and making you "honorary" too. *laughs* I just couldn't resist that one. :)

Zach Adamson | July 16, 2007 7:54 AM

I'd say Sheila more than belongs! She offers insightful commentary with such a wit that much of what she writes warrants committing to memory for those moments when confronted with the insane rant of the religious right. On many occasions, they have felt the sting of her pen (keyboard)through me.
Sheila is a fixture here as well as around the city in progressive circles. She is a mover and a shaker. And while she may feel that she is too old, straight or Jewish to be here.. I would venture to say those may very well be the reasons that qualify here most to be here.
Also, there is the aspect of validation. Because she offers the insight of someone from the "outside" (non gay), there is the feeling that what she says is not tainted with personal prejudice. That "non gay", mature point of view will be more welcomed by the "non gay, non 20-30 something" crowd. A group we have not had much success with.
Additionally, being a mother, grandmother and aunt to our gay brethren, rather makes her sort of that really cool and hip relative to all the gays who read what you say.
So, yes Sheila. You belong. And Thank you.

You mean I'm no longer the single token straight?

Crap... and I was feeling soooo special!

;-)

Sheila, seriously, welcome aboard!

Marvin Wagner | July 16, 2007 11:44 AM

As a long ago paper carrier, I remember when Indpls, had three newspapers. Today there is one. I can also see what the lack of competition has done to the Star's content. They are the puppeteers pulling the strings of its readers or puppets. Fortunately we have Sheila to inform readers to resist deliberate mind control, pulling strings.

Ellen Andersen | July 16, 2007 2:04 PM

Well, Bil, if it helps Sheila's queer cred at all, she did sleep with me in Chicago last April. She even paid me $100. And left me her leather coat.

HA HA HA HA HA

That's great, Ellen. Now THAT is a story for the blog! *grins*

I'm late to the party, but I'll add my 2 cents worth: diversity = strength. It never occurred to me that you didn't belong here.