You are the prayer
I tell you what
You gotta take it back from them
Because the prayers belong to you
All you gotta do is say hey hey
I'm down here too, I'm down here too
I'm down here too...
Ricki Lee Jones, "Where I Like It Best"
(Adapted from Valery's Letter from V is for Vendetta)
I don't know who you are. There is no way I can ever meet you to shake your hand. I don't care. I am Gerald Long. I don't know who you are but I thank you. I have a website http://www.crazypoliticos.com, a small one that doesn't get much traffic, one that they don't pay attention to. I started this website after I got on Social Security disability and I am writing it on the walls of my heart.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1957 with severe birth defects. After a year, I recovered enough for my family to move and we relocated to Columbus, Ohio. My early home life was dismal, and too private and too difficult to explain here in any real detail. I can say I came from a troubled family with an alcoholic father who died when I was 20 after drinking himself into a diabetic coma. I had my first operation the day after I was born. Many more would follow. I attended a school for children with disabilities and medical issues until I was about 8. After that I was home schooled.
When I was 8 my mother came to Salt Lake City and I was sent to Olive Hill, Kentucky to live with my grandparents. They were elderly (our middle aged) and not able to keep up with me. Before then, after my family moved to Columbus, my grandparents were a welcome refuge from my unpleasant home life. My grandmother made heroic attempts to help me cope with my GI issues which were severe and often painful. It wasn't pleasant for either one of us. I moved to Salt Lake City when I was 10. I finally started attending public school when I was 14. I was a troubled teen with severe incontinence, spinal issues and problems with my ankles. Still I managed to remain athletic and did 1,010 situps in one hour when I was in the 9th Grade.
Salt Lake City. I have been happy in SLC. In the 1980's I published a volume of poetry called A Definition of Darkness and read in the Utah Art's Festival. I held and lost a variety of jobs, some of them because of my own failures. But, I also lost a lot of jobs because of my persistent health issues. I have been hospitalized so many times I've lost track. I was even hospitalized for a week at Walter Reed back in the early 90's. I remember the nurses pointing out the floor reserved for the President and Five Star Generals. I continued working, as a paralegal, a document imaging project manager, a tech support agent. I did lots of customer service jobs.
Things started taking a turn for the worse in 2001. My symptoms worsened. I had more painful partial obstructions; more abdominal pain and distension. I was always bloated and uncomfortable. I was ending up in the emergency room over and over again. In 2004 I applied for Social Security and Medicare. It took three years to win my case. After I got on Medicaid and Social Security I had both cervical and lumbar spine surgery. I volunteered for an NIH study in 2010 for VACTERL related birth defects. I have been scanned and received x-rays and MRI's so often it's a wonder I don't glow in the dark.
I am not alone. There are many VACTERL's from the 1950's and 1960's who continue to experience symptoms and a decreased quality of life just like I do. Many have it far worse then I do I suspect. In fact, many VACTERL patients born in the 1950's died from infection and other complications after struggling for years.
I started this page after my best friend Michelle said I was bored and depressed. and needed something to do. She suggested I start some kind of website which would allow me to write again. She is the sweetest, kindest person I have ever known and she inspires me each day to be a better person. I can't tell you all the cool things she does, or how hard she works or what a great mother she is to her children because she would kill me in my sleep if I did.
Why are “they” so contemptuous of us? Why do they hate us? What have we ever done to them to make them feel so spiteful and disdainful towards us?
We are the 47% and I know I speak for most of us when I say thank you so much! Thank you for revealing their contempt and lack of humanity. Thank you for letting the entire country see how they view us in such stunningly graphic terms.
Whoever you are, the courage you exhibited in taking and releasing the recording of the Boca Raton meeting is fragile and wonderful and we must never lose it. We must never let the 1% who lie to, cheat and disparage us take that away from us.
I don't know who you are, or whether you are a man or a woman, Hispanic, Caucasian or African American or rich or poor. I may never see you, or hang out with you or smoke a doobie with you. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart. All Americans who have had real lives filled with real life challenges and illness without ever having even seen the inside of a mansion thank you and appreciate you. I wish I could hug you right now!
An afterthought: Readers: I implore all of you to share your stories, your struggles, your intimacy! Valery in V is for Vendetta is emblematic not only of the LGBT struggle, she lives in all of us. We need to give all of ourselves to the world. That is all we have! We need to reach out to each other if for no other reason than to rebut the awful things the disconnected, out of touch, rich say and think about us! There are many wonderful stories from working people who are raising their children, working very hard jobs at very low pay and for very long hours who face unbelievable challenges. I don't care how rich or poor you are or whether you are gay or straight. None of that is important!! The poignancy our stories is what connects us! I know you are down here too! Rilke expresses it beautifully in his gorgeous poem:
The rich and fortunate do well to keep silent,
for no one cares to know who and what they are.
But those in need must reveal themselves,
must say: I am blind,
or: I'm on the verge of going blind,
or: nothing goes well with me on earth,
or: I have a sickly child,
or: I have little to hold me together...
And chances are this is not nearly enough.
And because people try to ignore them as they
pass by them: these unfortunate ones have to sing!
And at times one hears some excellent singing!
Of course, people differ in their tastes: some would
prefer to listen to choirs of boy-castrati.
But God himself comes often and stays long,
when the castrati's singing disturbs Him.
Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming