author spotlight: Jean Copeland

What happens when a lesbian and a Republican share beers? In Jean Copeland’s case, you get an image of a star-spangled elephant flipping you off over your friend’s head, as she explains in “On Wings and a Prayer.”

“How did we begin this quiet journey down such divergent paths, despite still living in our hometown? I suppose the quick answer can be distilled into a single notion: I’m gay and you’re not. Not a calamity…except that you’re a Republican and I’m not. You have your traditional family: husband, house, and two kids. I have my traditional gay family: life partner, townhouse, and two cats. In our hearts, our difference doesn’t matter. You don’t have any personal conflicts with gays and lesbians, as you once quoted from Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with it.” In fact, you’re quite cool about it. You’re the one who asked if you could attend my civil-union ceremony and read the lesbian short stories I’ve had published. But when you tell me–and yourself–you “don’t care” that I’m gay, what are you really saying? Because here’s the thing: It’s one thing to “accept” a gay friend, but quite another to feel outraged over society’s lack of acceptance of our lifestyle. Have you ever considered how every time you case your vote for another conservative Republican, you’re voting against me–against my dignity, my equality, my right to the pursuit of happiness? Knowing you support the driving force behind the ideology that wants me and everyone like me to disappear, slink off, and denounce our very essences, makes it difficult to enjoy light conversation with you without flashing to an image of a star-spangled elephant flipping me off above your head…”

JEAN COPELAND is a Connecticut-based writer and poet whose fiction has appeared in Off the Rocks, Best Lesbian Love Stories 2009, Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, and The First Line, and on and After Barack Obama won the election, she and Val rekindled their friendship, avoiding politics like the high-school cheerleader they couldn’t stand (and who now shops at their grocery store). Jean would like to express her gratitude to Governor Sarah Palin for getting her riled up enough to write this letter.

Read the rest of Jean’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, available now on Amazon!



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