I left my home in Hartford this morning at 7:30 am to embark on a long journey that will really only just begin on Sunday night in Johannesburg, South Africa. As some of you know, I began dating a man named Glen Retief. Glen grew up in South Africa (in Kruger National Park!) and has begun writing a memoir about his life as a white gay guy during apartheid and during the great transition that took place which brought Nelson Mandela and the ANC into power.
Glen had planned to travel to South Africa for his work. He’s a college professor and is organizing a winter course in South Africa for next year. This also would give him a chance to visit his family. He asked if I wanted to come along and see much of South Africa including Kruger, Johannesburg, Cape Town and a bunch of other places that look and sound so amazing (tubing a wild river, staying in a Xhosa village, hiking, etc). I will also have a gig in Cape Town, the first of the New Year!
The past two years since my mom passed away, I have gone overseas for the holidays (first Scotland and last year Sweden), so another country that starts with the letter “S” seemed in the cards. I too have begun working on a book project, so my biggest concern was if I was going to have time to write everyday while we traveled. Fortunately Glen is very disciplined and dedicated about his writing, so everyday during our trip we will put aside about two hours to write. We will also use this time for silent worship and prayer. (He too is a Quaker).
What amazes me is that I leave Connecticut, a state that provides full marriage to gays and lesbians, and travel to South Africa, a country that not only offers the right to marry to its gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens who marry someone of the same sex, they have enshrined LGBT rights into their constitution.
Glen is a man with a liberated mind. As a queer activist in South Africa when the ANC came to power, he witnessed a profound shift in a society that reeked with privilege and oppression. As we travel the country he has known since birth, I feel excited (and only a little apprehensive) about spending so much time with Glen, journeying with him and getting to know him much more. This will give us an excellent opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
I don’t know how often I will get to blog the next three weeks, but if I don’t get the chance to write it again, have a happy Christmas (if that is your thing) or whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, and I hope that 2009 will bring us all much hope and creativity and love as we face some huge challenges with the economy. May we all have more liberated minds as we enter this new year.