State of Emergency

If it wasn’t for the “state of emergency” in Connecticut this weekend, my mind might drift further than the three feet of snow that has igloo me in, waiting for distressed plow workers to come to my rescue.  As a poet, I work hard to stay away from clichés; however, stuck inside, I can’t deny I think in clichés sometimes, especially with Valentines Day exploding onto Hallmark shelves everywhere. Where is my lover to snuggle with, the wine to drink until we’re both warm with laughter? Not to mention the chocolate and non-Hershey kisses?Sins Invalid makes me dote on open highways, wishing I could turn my power chair up to six miles an hour and speed all the way to San Francisco. Instead, I sit at my computer and yearn for a love far more fulfilling than that of any single lover. That love is for the community of Sins Invalid that recognizes, acknowledges and celebrates all of me—the femme disabled lesbian adopted from Calcutta, India.I was born with Cerebral Palsy and for thirty years I have been living with it and despite it. Realizing I was gay did not happen until I was a sophomore in college. I’ve lived with this and am still struggling to live despite it. While my parents always have been and are still behind me as their daughter—the advocate, the artist and the college professor, they are not totally behind their daughter—the femme lesbian. And, in part, I don’t blame them. No matter my age, they’re still my parents and coming out, for all involved, don’t have a reputation of being easy. And it didn’t help that my first and only relationship, at age twenty-five, had many societal strikes against it.  I was head over wheels (cheesiness is an admirable trait) for a woman more than twice my age that already had a solid relationship.  She has been arrested many times for civil disobedience, something my mother took very kindly to the first time they were the same room together (note the sarcasm). Although I’m very outgoing I can also be very quiet (which usually means I’m scheming for some good change), but my partner had a generally boisterous personality.  Her age, arrests, relationship status and loudness meant there was no convincing my family of the love between us. Even though the end our relationship was inevitable, it raised questions: Was it just my girlfriend my parents hated? Was it her age? Her other relationship? Or just being gay?  At the time, my answer was, all of the above, but, almost three years later, I know it’s because I am their disabled daughter. Yes, they know I’m not asexual and capable of accomplishments they would never set for themselves, but they can’t ignore my wheelchair. They have spent their lives tirelessly fighting to make sure I have the best life possible. But my sister was the one who was always warned about boys.  Not me. And I never brought it up because I didn’t have a boy crush. Nor do I feel attracted to any girl. So, although my parents have never said don’t be gay they’ve never been outright affirming. Instead, we just don’t talk about it. Even though I “get it,” it amazes me how parents who have adopted three children from India (two of which have always been “different” due to disabilities) and fought so hard to help us thrive, can’t fully accept me.This is where my yearning to join Sins Invalid kicks into high gear, I have read the stories, watched the stories and, dare I say it, been inspired by the creativity, acceptance and strength that this community continues to share. I can’t wait until the movie comes out! In the meantime, I dream that this type of love can grow if it never succumbs to cliché thinking.Sarah Rizzuto