To celebrate our birthdays, Tina and I bought tickets for each other to this past Wednesday's Ani DiFranco concert at the Riverside. Melissa Ferrick, lesbian folk-rocker extraordinaire was opening for the beloved Ani, so we were sure it was going to be a beautiful way to spend the evening.
We were right. Not only were both Ani and Melissa in top form, breaking out amazing new settings for some of our favorite songs, the audience was a happy mix of women we know, women we probably should get to know, and a few of their best male friends.
I noticed right away, though, a woman in the lobby who didn't fall anywhere on the stereotypical flannel-to-flounce lesbian fashion spectrum. She was wearing tight jeans and a tight blouse with, clearly, a filled-to-the-brim pushup bra underneath. She had a French manicure and bleached blond hair. With her was a polo shirt-clad guy who looked like he was cut straight out of the middle-management heart of Brookfield.
"That's cool," I thought. "Good for them. Ani fans from suburbia over the age of 15! She's really crossing over now."
It's a good thing I thought that was cool because, turns out, they had the seats right next to me.
If you get enough gay people in one room at the same moment, the room becomes queerspace, as we fondly refer to it. That means I can hold hands with my wife and I can even kiss her in public, even if it's the Riverside Theatre and Jon Bon Jovi just played there. Unless, of course, some super-straight people sit next to you. Then you have to start asking the same questions you have to ask yourself outside of queerspace, like: "Is that guy holding back a sneeze or is he looking at me funny because I've got my arm around my girl?" And, "Is his girlfriend going to beat me up in the bathroom?"
I decided I didn't care. They were outnumbered and we were celebrating our birthday, the day we say, "I'm glad you were born," and seal it with a kiss.
P.S.: A couple songs into Ani's set, the straight couple got up and left. Tina said she thought it was because the woman was irritated that the man was way too into the show. I wasn't paying any attention to them, so I wouldn't know.
Jennifer Morales is an elected member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, the first person of Latino descent to hold that position. She was first elected in 2001 and was unopposed for re-election in 2005. In 2004, she ran for a seat in the Wisconsin state senate, earning 43% of the vote against a 12-year incumbent.
Previously, she served as the editorial assistant at the educational journal Rethinking Schools; as assistant director of two education policy research centers at UW-Milwaukee; and as the development director for 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
She became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, earning a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures from Beloit College in 1991.
In addition to her work on the school board, she is a freelance editorial consultant and a mother.