Free to Be Me

Reasons for giving thanks in 2007

Every year at this time in the month of November,

I like to take stock, take some time and remember

That even though much is oppressive and hateful,

The world’s full of reasons that I should be grateful.


I may not have wealth stashed away in Swiss banks,

But I still have a lot for which I can give thanks:

My wife and my friends and my health, just for starters

And also my freedom from girdles and garters.


I’m thankful I’m free to be out as a dyke

And to dress just as butch (or as femme) as I like.

I’m glad I am me, and I’m thankful because it

Feels really good to be out of the closet.


I’m thankful for PRIDE day, and queer celebrations

And all of our national organizations

Like PFLAG and GLAAD and the ACLU,

And locally Basic Rights Oregon, too.


I know it’s important to stop and revere

The shoulders I stand on and who got me here —

My feminist forebears, that suffragist force,

Who won me the vote and the right to divorce.


Our heroes at Stonewall, those drag queens and dykes

In dresses and heels and on big motor bikes,

Who fought the police in their wagons and cars

In the riot protesting the raiding of bars.


To all who have struggled and joined in the fights

For hate crimes protection and immigrant rights,

Who’ve called on the Congress with emails and notes

And sent in their money and spoken with votes.


I’d like to say thanks for our U.S. democracy,

Except for the fraud and the blatant hypocrisy.

The Christian far right and the family Bush

Are running a scam that’s a pain in the tush.


Health care’s in shambles and millions are sick

And nobody’s fixing the mess very quick.

Our billions on war are not finding the answer

To homelessness, AIDS or ovarian cancer.


While bigots in power continue the plague,

Like hypocrites Haggart and Senator Craig,

Our lawmakers cave to the war-machine spenders

And won’t pass a law to protect our transgenders.


The president says he is earnestly trying

To make it all better but oh, how he’s lying!

Yes, lying and stealing and cheating us all

For reasons Gonzales just couldn’t recall.


I’m sick of the war and of all the bad news

That makes me disheartened and gives me the blues.

I’m stressed about bigotry, war and injustice,

And cannabis laws that are set up to bust us.


I fret over apathy, gloom and inaction

And how our good minds are so prone to distraction.

We let media images mangle and warp us

And barely say boo over habeas corpus.


As if losing freedom could be the solution

To threats to our country or our Constitution,

It’s crazy, it’s nuts, so much violence and fear

Taking away what we used to hold dear.


But here I am focused on all that is wrong

So I need to remember my GOOD list is long

Despite the intolerance, greed and exclusion,

Sweet blessings abound in abundant profusion.


I’ve plenty to eat and clean water to drink

And an outlet to write and to say what I think.

I’m more or less free to speak out with impunity

Thanks to my friends and supportive community.


Tune in and refocus, I tell myself now,

And watch what goes on without having a cow.

Try to stay open, serene and aware,

Change what you can; for the rest, say a prayer.


So even though much is oppressive and hateful,

I still have a lot for which I can be grateful.

That’s why I take time to take stock and remember

Each year at this time in the month of November.

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow is grateful Eugene Weekly has been running her column since 1999.