Photo credit Alex Cayley, Vogue
On the final weekend of 2019, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris of the US Women’s National Team got married. TO EACH OTHER. This was the lesbian sports social event of the decade, and teammates like Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe and family members like Ali’s brother Kyle—as well as the two brides themselves—did the rest of us a solid by sharing bits and pieces on social media.
Like many lesbian soccer fans (possibly even some of you…?), I spent the evening refreshing the #KrashlynWedding and #TheOtherRoyalWedding tags on Instagram and Twitter and sharing the fun updates with my wife and daughters. Our girls were especially impressed by the rainbow cake the newlyweds shared, even as I waxed on about the growth of LGBTQ+ rights in America in general and in the lesbian sports world in particular, as evidenced by this beautiful wedding attended by many members of the USWNT past and present.
Didn’t want to post a photo of the orange monster, so here you go instead.
This morning’s headline was expected (and, frankly, inevitable) but still gratifying: The House of Representatives is drawing up articles of impeachment against Trump even as I type, signalling a new chapter in the horror story of his so-called presidency. Finally! And yet, with the GOP in control of the Senate, will anything come of this attempt to fight corruption at the highest echelons of the US government? I honestly have no idea. I also have zero power to impact the outcome. Given that reality, I must adopt an approach my therapist calls “radical acceptance,” and wait with everyone else to see what happens with the current shit show that has overtaken our nation’s capital. Sigh…
Fortunately, my therapist also taught me that distraction is a valid method of dealing with the emotional distress typically associated with situations—like our current national constitutional crisis—that require radical acceptance. Over the years, I’ve learned that my favorite forms of distraction include writing (obviously), reading, and watching movies. While writing is necessarily solitary, I prefer to share the other two forms of entertainment with others—especially movies.
Many (many) summers ago, I was camping with friends at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park when a group of astronomy buffs showed up at the Visitor Center and invited visitors to view the stars through their assortment of high-powered telescopes. I’ll never forget the amazement I felt as I peered through one particularly impressive scope and focused in on Saturn, its rings clearly visible. I wasn’t looking at a photo or video or otherwise mediated image of the iconic planet. No, I was LOOKING AT SATURN.
That long ago weekend stands out for other reasons, too: a particularly beautiful, remote hike that required a tense drive along a one-lane logging road edged by miles of 2,000-foot drops; nights spent camping under massive Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars with the scent of evergreen needles on the breeze; and an early morning ferry ride back to Seattle that featured a pod of Orcas trailing us across Puget Sound. So many lovely things happened that it felt afterward like I had spent a long weekend inside a Mary Oliver poem. But Saturn’s rings? Wow. Just, wow.
Fast forward to earlier this month when a Facebook invitation popped up from a local organization to come to a park not far from our house and stargaze through our regional astronomy club’s scopes. I told Kris and the girls about it immediately, envisioning a memorable few hours when the far reaches of our solar system would be revealed. The event started at 6:30 p.m. on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, which to my mind meant it might be the perfect family outing. The girls were up for the adventure, especially when they learned we might be able to see planets as well as stars.
Note: This post discusses my upcoming series “Queering the Canon” from Second Growth Books. If you’re interested in helping crowdfund the series, please visit my Patreon profile.
Recently, a reader who has become a friend and regular correspondent about books, ideas, and life mentioned that as a Jane Austen fan, he had been somewhat worried about my P&P adaptation, Gay Pride and Prejudice, in which I added roughly 10,000 words to Austen’s novel in order to shift the classic love story from supposedly heteronormative to distinctly homo. Not everyone in Gay P&P is queer, you understand, but enough characters are switch hitters (or, as it was apparently known in the eighteenth century, practitioners of “the game of flats”) to tilt the novel’s central romance off-center—a revisionist choice that more than one reader has disliked. Intensely.
This wasn’t the first time someone who generally likes my writing confessed their doubts about my goal of queering Austen’s best-known novel. Prior to writing and publishing Gay P&P, in fact, I very much shared those concerns. I hesitated for more than a year to attempt an LGBT rewrite of P&P because, well, JANE AUSTEN. But at last, I grew tired of waiting for the novel I’d always longed to read, and went ahead and adapted the mother of all romance novels to make it queer.
A couple of nights ago at dinner, Kris was telling us about a book she’d just finished: My Squirrel Days, a collection of personal essays written by actor Ellie Kemper from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At one point, Kris explained, Kemper envisions herself on her death bed surrounded by her future children and grandchildren. One of her granddaughters is named Cabinet, Kemper writes, and the other Morph, short for Metamorphosis, because “popular girl names don’t get any less weird in the future.”
“Cabinet?” Sydney echoed.
“Metamorphosis?” Alex repeated, her eyes narrowing doubtfully.
I mean, really, how do you explain a concept like metamorphosis to elementary schoolchildren?