Paddling Tandem

Thirty-four years ago Fred Ellis and I got married. It was the happiest day of my life, with many more happy days to come, and I wake up everyday and feel that I love him a little bit more. Of course we have had good days and problem days, but the problem days are much easier when you have a best friend to share them with. On about our fourth date, I decided that Fred was definitely the guy for me. I am 6 years older than Fred, and he was not quite as ready to settle down, so I had to play it cool. But, I was determined, and two and a half years later he said yes, and we tied the knot in the ballroom of the Hermitage Hotel, the perfect spot for a wedding in Nashville. When we met, I was a teacher and he was a lawyer. We went from that to running a jewelry business together. Most people thought we were totally crazy when we quit our day jobs. And now, we are planning to have a whole new life together in Mexico, and we don’t care if people think we’re crazy.

I moved into Fred’s house a year before we got married. And, being me, I started decorating. Over the years we have transformed a duplex into our single family home, living in it all the while that walls were being knocked down and following after the workers with paint brushes in our hands. This house has been the only real home I have ever had, and it has served us well. However, I realized after our long stay in Mexico this past fall and winter that home is wherever Fred is. We lived in four different places while we traveled and each one of them felt like home to me.

Fred has never let me down. He has never disappointed me. We agree on almost everything and rarely have we had angry moments with each other. We are alike in the important ways, but have very different personalities. Sort of a yin and yang thang. I am very outgoing and impulsive, Fred is more reserved and deliberate. Sometimes when I am being extremely exuberant I catch a glimpse of him watching me. I love it that he’s smiling. When we first started dating, I mistakenly thought Fred was sort of conservative. That was because he always wore a suit and tie. (I had never, ever, dated a guy who dressed like that.) I tried to “behave” myself when we were together. Then I started to notice that the more I was just myself, the more he seemed to like me. And let’s get real…there is no way I could be with someone that I couldn’t just be myself with.

I know that there are some people who probably function better single. And, that’s fine. But, for me, having a wonderful partner to share life with has really been the ticket. I wish that everyone (who is looking for a partner) could find someone as great for them as Fred is for me. Personally, I believe that a long and happy marriage is one of the greatest marks of a successful life.

We are having a “happy” anniversary. Today the carpet got laid in our two upstairs dressing rooms, and now the plumber is here to fix a problem. Several room are either finished, or almost finished. Packing is happening. We’ll go to Margot Cafe tonight to celebrate. We just had avocado toast for lunch and are seriously thinking about taking a little siesta. We are eagerly anticipating the next chapter of our lives together. I feel like I could do anything, as long as I did it with Fred.

Taking It to the Streets


Taking It to the Streets

In any civil rights movement that is successful there is a need for radical leaders and foot soldiers. The two people in this photograph are two radical leaders that I respect and admire so much, Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project and Marisa Richmond of Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. These two people truly walk what they talk, and are always on the front lines. They are not radical in the sense of being pushy and obnoxious. They simply stand their ground, move courteously and effectively, and never give up. They are present and accounted for.
There have been no civil rights in this country that have been won without people who were willing to take it to the streets, the foot soldiers. For some people this is somehow distasteful. For me, it has always been energizing, I have marched for the original Civil Rights (racial equality), for women’s rights, and against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. I am now involved in what has been called the “last great civil rights struggle of our lifetime,” the movement for equal rights for LGBT citizens.
It is urgently important that those of us who believe that no one is free unless everyone is free take part in this movement. The time has come for us to let our voices be heard. The time is ripe for change.
While it is quite true that organizations like the HRC ( just to name one–there are many) work to fight for rights through legal venues, there is always a need to show up and be counted when the street is where the action is. It is the energy that is generated in the street that sparks the consciousness of those who make decisions in the courts, and in the legislatures. We are fortunate to live in a country where we can do this without fear for our lives. The time is now, and we are the called.
It is time to speak up loud, proud, and clear for what we believe in.
For this reason I urge you, if you believe as I do, that the time is ripe for equality, to show up on August 31 at 4 PM at the Metro Public Square and rally for Marriage Equality. The Tennessee Equality Project is partnering with the Human Rights Campaign on this one and it needs to be a great big show. Make signs and bring them. The Neanderthal Tennessee legislature has declared August 31 to be “traditional marriage day” (oh, please) and we need to step it up for diversity and inclusion. See you there.