WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Proud to Be Out

By Lynette Yetter

Editor's Note: The following reflection—published with the assistance and consent of Lynette's spouse—refers to the tender subjects of suicide and homophobia; we encourage you to take care of yourself as you engage this story. While some readers might find it difficult to read, it's important to remember that Pride arose out of a painful history. It's also important to acknowledge what's at risk if we fail to protect LGBTQI+ rights, freedom, and acceptance—and if we fail to protect the LGBTQI+ people in our lives and communities.

"[A]s we deepen and broaden the range of what we define as lesbian existence…we begin to discover the erotic in female terms: as that which is unconfined to any single part of the body or solely to the body itself; as an energy not only diffuse but, as Audre Lorde has described it, omnipresent in 'the sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic,' and in the sharing of work…”
—Adrienne Rich, in her 1980 essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence"

Two middle-aged people, seen from the shoulders up, press their faces together intimately and smile broadly. A Pride flag is wrapped around their shoulders.

After years of futilely searching for my soulmate and egalitarian community, I visited North America from Bolivia on my DIY book tour. There I found my soulmate and egalitarian community! The woman who hosted my reading in Portland, Oregon, and the scattered lesbian egalitarian community she had been nurturing for about half a century, filled my yearning. She and I are now happily married and have been together for going on fourteen years. I'm learning lots of lesbian and Pride history through her life story.

As a lesbian, she was denied the student teaching portion of her BA in Physical Education. It turned out the head of the department was a closeted lesbian who feared for her own career if she let a not-so-closeted lesbian become a girls’ P.E. teacher.

My partner dropped out of college for three years to work and save money to finish her degree somewhere else. Once she was back in school she eventually learned that the head of the women's P.E. department at her new school was good friends with the department head at her old one; they both knew she was a lesbian and thereby blacklisted from ever teaching. But being a girls' P.E. teacher was my partner's life's dream. She was so depressed she didn't attend her own graduation. Instead she stuffed rags under her apartment door, turned on the gas, and waited to die.

Fortunately, some lesbian friends who had dropped by to visit smelled the gas, got the door open, and saved her life. They took her to live with them in another town and helped her find work. She worked in Girl Scout camps and taught at an outdoor school (which didn't require a teaching credential). The outdoor school quickly promoted her to principal.

But she had to be in the closet so she wouldn't get fired.

Later, she proudly marched in the first ever Pride Parade in Portland, Oregon, where she was almost killed by men standing on top of buildings, spewing hate as they threw full beer cans, aerial bombardment, on the heads of Pride marchers.

I am proud to be a lesbian, together with my partner and our many "out" lesbian friends with whom we share in egalitarian community: sharing food at potlucks, together tending each other's gardens, doing group dump runs. Sharing all the ups and downs of love and life. Yes, this reciprocal community makes me feel connected to my ancestors—for all humans lived in reciprocal/mutual aid community until the rise of patriarchy five thousand years ago.


May everyone feel safe and free to love as they choose, and nurture their own beloved community.