Archive for August, 2020

Maybe it’s my Buddhist nature that makes me so good at ignoring things. Or maybe it’s because I’m a lesbian of a certain age, and I’ve had plenty to ignore over the years.

It could also be that patriarchy is boring as well as toxic and I have lived – thriving  — by ignoring it.

So when I was once again harassed online about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (Adelaide Books; 2018), I sighed and was tempted to ignore it. I did for a few days. I was working on something new, making it easy to have single focus. But this homophobic response to THEY stayed in the back of my mind. I argued with myself that I was obliged to respond because I wasn’t just speaking for myself.

The online harassment that I speak of came in the form of two webpages (from different sites) that quoted extensively from homophobic passages in the Bible. Yes, there are homophobic passages in the Bible. The webpage talks about “distorted desires” and quotes extensively from the Apostle Paul (who scholars think was gay, hence his internalized homophobia).

One translation that was sent to me was “male prostitutes and homosexual offenders.” For some reason, I found this very amusing. The fact that anti “homosexual” sentiment does exist in the Bible is proof that queer people did exist in biblical times — the premise of THEY.

One website has a number of videos of gay-looking white men talking about the dangers of pursuing same sex attractions and ignoring what is in the bible. My knee-jerk response was a very loud voice in my mind that said, “IT IS NOT HEALTHY TO SUPPRESS YOURSELF.”

I’m tempted to say it was the voice of God. I thought I was kidding, but who knows?

It might have been her.

But it’s true: suppression of the self is not healthy for children or adults. It can – and often does – lead to self-destructive behavior.

I won’t get into why I think that there are entire websites devoted to the anti-gay parts of the Bible. (But I will say — It seems like someone doth protest too much.)

The fact that there is anti-gay sentiment in the Bible, doesn’t mean that LGBTQ people cannot find a spiritual home in religion. In fact, there are many welcoming congregations. This means that all are welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation.

This morning, I attended digital services at the Unitarian Universalist church of which I am a member. The service reminded all of us that we are in a period of change and to have hope for that change. The lay minister who led the service quoted the late John Lewis extensively, reminding us that we are here to make “good trouble.”


To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.


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This morning, I helped with a Unitarian Universalist digital Poetry Sunday Service. The service is an annual UU tradition.

The YouTube video of my talk is below. The complete text of my talk is below that.  The service took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration on Stenton Ave. in Philadelphia.



Janet Mason on Sappho

Author and UU lay minister Janet Mason reflects on Sappho and on her own experiences learning Greek in this reflection given (digitally) to the congregation …



Twenty years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to the homeland of the poet Sappho to the island of Lesvos in Greece. A few months ago, when I attended the digital poetry group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, Kin asked me what I meant when I used the word “pilgrimage.” I replied that it was just like a religious pilgrimage except in a poetic context.  Sandy, who was also in the group, asked me what drew me to Sappho.  As an adult, after coming out as a lesbian in my early twenties, I saw Sappho as the pinnacle – in my mind the connection between pre-written matrilineal history and the later history (sometimes referred to as the patriarchy in which she was preserved – perhaps in no small part because she echoed Homer). 

Sappho was perhaps one of the first poets to place herself firmly in the center of her poem, in the center of her own existence and in ours.

Shortly after the poetry group, I began learning Greek. (The language instruction that I use is Greekpod.com.  I like the way the lessons are organized, and that the website has easy access audio as well as written instruction.)

The Greek language has long been an interest of mine.  As a writer, I have an interesting in improving my brain and learning the characters and structure of a language that will allow me to go deeper in my writing. I also have a memory of going into a bookstore in Athens and asking for the poet Sappho in her native language. “The Poetess?” the proprietor responded – “Sapfo?”

I nodded and then he disappeared into the backroom and brought out a slim volume of Sappho’s work written in classical Greek with a modern Greek translation. And so now, by learning Greek I am taking the first step to being able to read this volume.  Learning Greek also brings back memories from that pilgrimage and remembrances of snatches of the language that I used to get around.

Learning Greek brings me joy – as much joy as reading good poetry. I am going to end by reading a poem that I wrote on that trip to Greece which is published in my book titled, “a woman alone.”



It is a poem written for, perhaps, this exact moment in time when self-reflection and joy are essential.


a woman alone
hears darkness
rising in cloaked
bearded in black robes,
priests caught
in their own shadows—
a woman alone
into courtyards,
their candles
ablaze with their own light.


To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.



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