Tag Archives: lesbian

Burn It All Down

I have been out and visible since I was 18. I came out through the fire of a fanatical Christian cult (still hard to admit). I have been an out lesbian, dyke, butch, in all its glorious splendor for almost 30 years. I have fought first for gay rights, then lesbian and gay rights, then LGBT rights, and, most recently, queer rights. I have participated in civil rights rallies for Latinos and African Americans. I have protested attempts to restrict a woman’s right to choose. I have fought for change in the legal and corporate world. On the one hand, I am a liberal feminist, bordering on fanatical, adamant for equal rights for all. Since I’ve never been arrested protesting, I don’t think I get to be “radical.”

On the other hand, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a neighbor, a friend, and an employee. And the thought that someone might harm my mother and father, wife, kids, neighbors, friends, or coworkers makes me want to burn that person’s village to the ground. I want to climb to the top of something very high and pick off those who would harm me or mine with methodical precision. And doing so would most likely require one of these “military grade” “semi-automatic” weapons. Who am I kidding? I would want a weapon that rivals anything Dead Pool or Batman might have access to. 

That is how I feel right now. I want to find a way to identify everyone that wants to harm my many-layered community and unceremoniously remove them from existence. Punish them for their hatred by taking out anyone “they” love and then them. The anger is blinding. I want to burn it all down. 

But here is the thing. I will never burn it all down. I will never climb to the top of anything high and pick off anyone. Unless of course, social media counts as a high point and my words can be considered the weapon.

The irony, the absolutely ridiculous and beautiful irony of America is that “they” have the right to hate me. “They” have the right to try and change the laws to make my life uncomfortable. “They” have the right to shout at the top of their lungs in a public square, “I hate you, Butch. I despise you and your equality, your gayness, your lack of conformity!” Yes, “they” get to say whatever the hell “they” want. And to think whatever “they” want. And so do I.

Maybe the paradox of our free-speech, free-religion society is that the more rights we have individually, the more important it is that we not have guns. Or rather, if you will, that “they” not have guns. Fair enough. Now, if we could just figure out who “they” are.

Imagine this (tortured) example…I am standing in a public square eloquently shouting my beliefs of equality and fairness to an LGBT crowd. On the other side of the square, “they” stand shouting that a woman’s place is in the home, homosexuality is a sin, and extolling the virtues of white pride. Everyone in the square has a gun – of any type. How does this rally end?

When Mateen walked into Pulse, he used weapons of mass destruction on a micro scale. He did not use freedom of religion. He was not exercising his constitutional right to hate. He brought down a permanent and unappealable sentence on hundreds of people based on his hatred. He should not be able to do that. It should be very, very hard to do that. Or impossible even. 

Since he (and all of us) has the right to hate, we must remove the awful temptation to turn that hate into violent action. Without a gun, he’s just a homophobic asshole. With one, he is a homicidal maniac. No one should be allowed to burn it all down.

We suck at this. America needs to get better. Right now. The rest of the world already thinks we are idiots. We have such resolve, such strength. Why can’t we work together to change this landscape once and for all?

It’s Butch to fight the urge to burn it all down. Be Butch.


Antigone Rising: Everywhere is Home

 Antigone Rising, an all girl, boot stomping, alt country band, released their new music video for their song “Everywhere is Home” from the lesbian mob comedy feature film “Alto.”

Alto is a quirky love story set in the midst of an unanticipated run-in with the New York mafia. It stars Diana DeGarmo, Natalie Knepp, David Valcin, Lou Martini, Jr., Melanie Minichino, and Antigone’s own Nini Camps.

Antigone Rising isn’t content to simply make music. They continue to rise to the challenge of being role models by using their musical success to educating youth around the globe as cultural ambassadors to the United States government. 

The band has successfully launched their own noprofit organization Girl Bands Rock to inspire and educate kids, especially young girls, that it’s ok to think outside the box and pursue careers in non-traditional fields. They have partnered with school districts and youth centers all over the country to create innovative programming dedicated to building confidence in youth by developing leadership and creative skills through musical workshops, outreach programs and performances.

Check out the new video and the band Antigone Rising. Because, after all, girl bands rock. 


The Sir-offender

I’ve got a new post up over on the Huffington Post. Will you go check it out for me? Maybe like it so the good folks at HuffPost know some people read what I write?

It’s Butch to support ButchOnTap on Huffington Post. Be Butch. 


And the Winner is…

Tonight, I drew the winner of The Dinah weekend pass giveaway. Check out the video as the drama unfolds. 

It’s Butch to enter contests with ButchOnTap. Thanks for Being Butch!


Butch: My New Permanent (marker) Tattoo

Tonight, while writing our Christmas cards, my wife got bored and started drawing on my arm with a pen. What did she write? “Butch,” of course. Just like Lea Delaria.

Now, I would never claim to be as Butch as Lea. Nor would I claim to be as talented a singer as Lea. I would never claim to be as funny as Lea. And obviously, I am nowhere near as famous as Lea.

But then, I have interviewed her. I have had drinks with her. I am taller than her. And, I do drink better beer than she does…  At any rate, I am a huge fan of Lea’s. She is one of my heroes. Really, only one of a very few Butches that I look up to. So, when I saw the tattoo that Lea has on her arm on my own arm, I of course said, “Grab the camera!”

The following ensued…

  

  And, because I feel ridiculous when I try to “look sexy” or even “look extra Butch” for that matter, so did this…


  
I may not be as Butch as Lea, but I am Butch enough for me. It’s Butch to proclaim your Butchness in whatever way you see fit. Be Butch.  


All Elle (the) King!

    

She’s dominating the airwaves and ruling the Billboard charts with her foot-stompin’ hit single “Exs & Ohs”, but Elle King’s world domination has only just begun. She just received her first Grammy Nominations in not one but two categories “Best Rock Performance” and “Best Rock Song.” The platinum blonde with the free-spirited personality, loads of rad tattoos and the perfect rebel attitude to go with it has already become a household name.

Now the self-described soulful rock’n roll artist who plays lots of banjo and a mean guitar is set to conquer the largest lesbian event in the world with a headlining performance at the epic Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, CA.

Elle King is having more than a breakout year. A force to be reckoned with, her sound shook up the music scene with her bluesy pop/rock anthem to ‘badass bitches’ (her words), “Exs & Ohs,” the lead single off of her 2015 debut album “Love Stuff.”

“Ex’s & Oh’s” was recently certified platinum by the RIAA, and has topped the radio charts at #1 at 3 formats – Alternative, AAA and Hot AC. “Ex’s & Oh’s” has been Top 10 on the Billboard Digital Songs Chart for the last 10 weeks, #1 on the iTunes Alternative Songs Chart for 13 weeks, #1 on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart for 8 weeks and #4 most viral track of 2015 on Spotify.

The Brooklyn-based rock, blues-pop singer made history when her infectiously catchy rockabilly single hit the #1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Chart – making her the second woman in two decades to achieve that feat (the other artist being Lorde with her 2013 tune “Royals”).

Raised on everyone from AC/DC to Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton, the sexy sassy blonde with that raspy voice a la Janis Joplin, blends blues, country, rock, soul, and honky-tonk into a sound that’s uniquely Elle.

She’s arrived and is definitely here to stay. But King’s music reign didn’t happen overnight, and she’s certainly paid her dues!

After years of playing small gigs in New York City when she was only sixteen, the Ohio-raised singer finally landed a major record deal with RCA in 2012. She released the critically acclaimed “The Elle King EP,” which produced the single “Playing for Keeps” that was picked up as the theme to VH1’s “Mob Wives Chicago,” and made her broadcast television debut on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Entertainment Weekly just named Elle King “Rock’s New Badass,” and she has been described by The New York Times as “a sassy, hard-drinking, love-’em-and-leave-’em hellion with bad tattoos and a broad pedigree across rock, pop and country. She has Adele’s determination and Joan Jett’s stomp, Brenda Lee’s high-voiced bite and some AC/DC shriek,” and she has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, USA Today, and many more.

She debuted “Ex’s & Oh’s” on Late Night with Seth Meyers and has also performed on the season finale of Dancing with The Stars, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Today Show, Late Late Show with James Corden, Live with Kelly and Michael, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Talk and VH1 Big Morning Buzz Live, and VH1 Big in 2015, in support of her debut LOVE STUFF which has received overwhelming critical acclaim. 

Who else names her debut album after a sex shop in Florida (true story), picks up the banjo (of all instruments) after seeing a cute boy in Philly play it, and then writes her first real song on it, which got her signed?

She’s toured with James Bay and Ed Sheeran, appeared at festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and sold out her first two headlining tours.

Elle King oozes the kind of raw talent that is charismatic and leaves you wanting more; it’s electrifying and undeniably best experienced live!

Don’t miss her Dinah performance. If 2015 was the year she conquered, there’s already every indication that 2016 will be the year King will rule the music world!


Want Need Wear Read Christmas Challenge

 

moneysavingsisters.com


My wife shared this idea with me and I love it. The thinking is that kids get overwhelmed at Christmas if there are too many gifts. If you have kids, and are lucky enough to be able to buy gifts, you’ve seen it on Christmas morning: that glossy stare. It means, “I’ve gotten too much. It’s all wonderful, but I can’t remember it all already.” It breaks down into a very crowded tree, tons of packages, trying to keep up getting them opened, and months later some or many gifts not played with, worn, or used.

Yes, it’s hard not to give your kids gobs of gifts (if you are able), but what message are we sending them? How about doing something different? Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. See how it goes.

We are doing it this year and it has already changed things for us. Shopping is easier and we’ve spent less. Which category is that? If we don’t know or it’s none of the 4 (and doesn’t belong in a stocking), then we don’t buy it. I will let you know how well it is received. 

Have any of you done this or anything like it? Share what you’ve tried in the comments so we can learn from each other. 

It’s Butch to give your kids presents while teaching them gratitude. Be Butch. 


Cheddar Cheese Sticks

 
My wife is working on her PhD. She’s been researching, thinking, collecting, sampling, measuring, and writing for several years now. We are in the home stretch. Seriously. But it doesn’t feel like that to her. To my wife, she’s miles away from the end. And no wonder.

The whole process is miserable and demoralizing. By its very nature, a PhD requires you to answer a question that no one else in the world has answered. That means no one can really tell you if you are right, or what’s next. You are meant to advance science. But the process is brutal. You write about what you did and also what you didn’t do, what you did wrong, and what others can/should do different or better than you. No wonder she’s questioning her intellect. Why didn’t I do it this way from the start? So, it stands to reason that my wife is umm … stressed.

I know it. I see it. But, this morning brought a new level of understanding. I was feeling frisky. Very frisky. My wife, not so much. She basically said “fine.” What a turn on, right? I joked that maybe she shouldn’t talk, to which she wryly responded a moment later by suggesting we go over our shopping list. We laughed and then in a sultry voice she cooed, “Cheddar cheese sticks…”

We began to giggle. Then more robustly. Soon, she was laughing so hard she was crying. Then she was only crying. And apologizing. Poor baby. I held her until she was all cried out. Afterwards, we both felt better – more connected, comforted, though not quite satisfied. I’ll never understand the level of her stress, but I can understand the emotions that I see. My job now is to build her up. To tell her that the questions she’s asking herself about her work don’t apply to her – not to her intellect, her worth, or her self.

It’s Butch to build up your partner – PhD or not. Be Butch. 


The Cult of Conversion & Confession

Source: bluenationreview.com

Source: bluenationreview.com

A few of my longtime friends have told me that they want to see more of the real writing that I do. The stuff that is about my life, my feelings, my struggles. Like this one about my physical disabilities and battle with pain. Sure, being funny is good, but how about being real? What can I say?

I’ve been in a period of intense business and stress. Literally, the most stressed I think I have ever been. But it’s stress for good reasons, so I am super aware of not complaining. I will tell you though, it is really hard to think about being introspective and real when I am trying to get through the day without passing out from stress and anxiety. Plus, I thought y’all liked my funny. My serious pieces don’t tend to be very popular. Did you read the piece about Israel?

Anyway, tonight, as I sit here in my hotel room far from home, I am feeling a little introspective. What can I say? What to talk about? Hmm… The embarrassing bra fitting? My first kiss with a boy? With a girl? How awkward I was in high school? My family? What I wanted to be when I grew up? My experience in a cult? Coming out? My first love? Becoming an attorney? Learning to dress? Finding my butchness? What’s that? Oh, yes, I did say cult. Would you like to hear about that? It is probably several different pieces because it will be too long. Why don’t we start with the story itself? And, I will leave the impact and my recent life lessons for later.

When I was a junior in high school, I was struggling with lots of stuff. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I always wanted to be part of a big family, but as an only child of a mom with three sisters all of whom live far away, that just wasn’t my daily reality. I think, as I look back, though, that my struggle to fit in was no different than anyone else’s. But I didn’t know that. And then, along came a friend that I really liked. We were in theater and chorus together. I loved spending time with her and her family. And she and her family were part of a cult.

I didn’t know it was a cult, of course. I just knew it was a great group of people who were really energetic and made me feel like I belonged there. I was not raised with a religion and so it turns out there was a lack of information or experience that the group filled. Plus, remember my friend? I had no idea at the time, and of course never did anything about it, but I had a raging crush on her.

So, into the cult I dove, head first. There is some painful family stuff here, but I will leave that aside. Suffice it to say that my family was distraught and we all acted in ways that hurt a lot. I moved out before my high school graduation and into a condo with women from the cult. I regret this so much. I hate the choices I made then. But that’s part of the insidiousness of it, you see. Separate you from your family and your non-cult friends. When you are only around people from the cult the crazy stuff the cult preaches and requires don’t seem so odd – without the balance of a family member or friend looking at you and asking, “They told you what?” These women were all wonderful. If I am attacking anything, it is the cult, the organization, not my friend, her parents, or the women I lived with.

So, first, I lost my family (for a while). Then I lost all of my other friends. They didn’t shun me or anything. I just disappeared and in the disappearing, I lost them. I still regret deeply disappearing for our junior and senior years. I am thankful that my closest friends have welcomed me back into the fold, many years later. It angers me to think of the fun and adventures that I missed for those two years of high school.

Then, the control started. If you really love God, you need to come to all cult events. There was something every night, or almost every night. Remember the power in separating you? Well, I went to stuff every night. And, then there was the encouragement to break all earthly ties – everything that grounds you to your old sinful life and self. That means memories, yearbooks, and childhood mementos. A rummage sale of all your old stuff is a great way to support the cult! And, so you guessed it, I sold, donated, or threw away almost everything from my old “sinful” past. I won’t even begin to describe the regret and pain that I feel at this. I have no middle school or high school yearbooks. No class photos. No love letters from boys or girls. No medals from my swim competitions. Nothing. And that feels awful.

If you are keeping track, I lost my family, my friends, control of my schedule, my freedom, and all of my earthly possessions. Literally. All of this was supposed to make me a good Christian. All of this meant that I loved God more. And do you know what else was supposed to make me a good Christian? Confession.

My first experience with the cult confessions was when a friend drove me home. She told me that she struggled with “homosexuality.” She said that she had impure thoughts about other women. I remember distinctly this conversation. We were sitting in her old beat up Honda. Outside my house, parked by the curb, she shared this. It was like I had been struck by lightning. I said, “I think I struggle with that, too.” Then I got out of the tiny Honda and went inside. I am a sinner. I am going to hell because I struggle with “homosexuality.” Even though I had never slept with a woman. Never acted on this – indeed, messed around more with boys than girls at that point. Except for a girl in 4th grade. We kissed, pretending I was “the boy.” But, that doesn’t count, right? I will leave my actual coming out for later, but the “homosexual thoughts” were crucial to the abuse in the cult.

There was lots of confession. All the time. And, not just the things that I did that broke the rules. But also, the thoughts that I had of things that if I did them would break the rules. Yes. The thoughts. Forget free will. Forget the idea that we can control our actions, but maybe not always our thoughts. It is a sin to think of things that are sins. This means that if you thought about stealing a bag of chips, but didn’t do it, you had committed a sin as much as if you had actually stolen the bag of chips. Why not go ahead and steal the damn chips, then? Thinking about cheating on your wife, but thought better of it and left the situation? Too bad. In the eyes of God, you have sinned by cheating on your wife. I imagine that almost every wife we ask would agree that actually kissing or sleeping with someone is a WHOLE LOT different than thinking about it.

Believe me; I realize how insane this is now. I can’t believe that I would ever tolerate this. I was 17, though. And, I hadn’t come out yet. I felt awkward and weird. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When someone told me it was because I needed God… I believed them. The confession was epic. Like marathon sessions of sharing with cult members what horrible things I was thinking. After the revelatory night in the Honda, the subject of my confessions was always those “homosexual thoughts.” As my struggle increased – because I had figured out I was a lesbian – cult leaders were called in to help me. When I continued to struggle, cult elders were called in. And to each of them I had to confess. Every single sinful thought, desire and wish. They must have gotten off on the things I shared. I wonder if they confessed that.

I spent hours upon hours in prayer. Literally on my knees or prostrate on the ground. Begging God to change me. Begging God to allow me to shine in his light as I was meant to – as a good Christian woman without being tarnished by the unclean thoughts of other women in my head. I used to go to the ocean and pray on the sand. I fasted and prayed, thinking that the fast (being told that the fast) would allow God to work better. One particular evening, when I had been fasting for days and was weak from hunger, I sat in the car with one of my roommates pouring out my heart and confessing my struggles. I cried for over an hour as I shared. As we walked inside, I tripped on the cement stairway leading to our condo and cracked my head against the edge of a step. I remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub while blood dripped from my eyebrow onto the floor of the tub. It was a sign from God that I was doing the right thing, they said. I didn’t go to the hospital. Several days later, when it hadn’t closed up right Student Health told me I needed stitches but it was too late. I still have the scar.

I would have given anything at that point to be straight. To not struggle with “homosexual thoughts.” As sad as that is, I know I almost did give up everything to try and be straight. My family. My friends. My freedom. My possessions. Myself. All gone. In the name of the cult. And still I struggled.

When even the elders couldn’t help guide me back to God’s path, I was sent to a cult psychologist. It was his job to cure me. When the regular old pray-the-gay-away didn’t work, the cult turned to therapy. But the most damaging kind – the kind draped in authority and science. There is no way that I can explain the years of suffering that this man caused me. The violation of my emotions and psyche by this doctor. In retrospect, it is shocking that he was allowed to practice. Conversion therapy only hurts the people who are subjected to it. Sure, I was technically a “willing” participant. But only because I thought I was going to hell because I was gay. Only because every single person in my life believed that I was going to hell; I had no outside friends or my family to turn to. That is a pretty high barrier to overcome. As a college freshman, I was nearly suicidal because I had let God down.

And then, I fell in love with a woman. Thank God.

Falling in love meant sheer torture. Conflict. Denial. Desperation. You name it. But it also meant that I questioned vociferously the elders of the cult. It meant that I started to really read the bible and find other stories, passages, and whole sections that they neglected to focus on. Like Ruth and Naomi. David and Jonathan. Jesus and Paul. I dove deeper. There are lots of sins in the bible. Why is homosexuality the worst one? Why should I feel worse than a murderer (all before taking any gay action, by the way)?

Well, I actually am a lesbian, and there was no amount of praying or cruel therapy that was going to change that. Falling in love meant that I had some strength to fight what they were all telling me. We ran away together. And, then we came back. Sigh. And then I ran away alone. And then I came back. The self-hatred that they had instilled in me was really deep and perverse. I had to be dis-fellowshipped 2 or maybe 3 times. Each time, I was re-baptized in a dramatic ceremony filled with tears and pain under the guise of washing away the pain. Like an abusive relationship. It was very hard to leave. Excruciating. I still have a near panic attack when anyone from the cult comes up or is mentioned. Even tonight when I Googled the therapist to see if he was still in practice. My chest started to seize up. And to what end?

Almost 30 years later, I am a proud lesbian. Trying to change the world with humor and honesty. I am a wife and a mother. I tell anyone who will listen to be themselves. I question every authority mercilessly (sometimes silently, but still I question). And, this is the first time in all that time that I have been able to write about the pain I suffered in the name of God. This is the first time that I can write the truth. My truth. Even here I feel the control, the pull to protect the cult. Notice no names, no organization listed. I can’t help it.

What else has been the consequence? I am an atheist. A certain one. Not an agnostic. Why? Because I cannot believe in a God that would allow such mistreatment. Such abuse. I cannot abide those stories that are misogynistic and racist at their core, and even worse in the way they are applied and carried out. And being real, because if there was a God, that God would have granted my desperate pleas to be straight. And if God didn’t answer those prayers, then there either is no God, or being gay is simply not a sin – not something that needs to be fixed.

People who know me today simply cannot believe that I would ever follow someone blindly. But you are so strong! So quick to question authority! Yes, but I wasn’t always that way. Maybe by being real, I can help someone else to avoid the pain I suffered. It is Butch to be real. Be Butch.


Why Today Matters

 By now, you have heard that the US Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is a fundamental right and that gay and lesbian people are as deserving of that right as their straight neighbors and friends. As such, no state may restrict a gay or lesbian person’s right to get married. Well, despite the obvious Snoopy dance that I have been literally and figuratively dancing all day, I realize that maybe not everyone gets it.

I have seen a lot of celebration today from both my community and from allies. I have also seen a fair number of what I like to call now-can-we-focus-on-what-really-matters? comments. I agree that there is much work to be done. We need protection from being fired. We need protection from being kicked out of our homes, including the big home of the United States. We need protection in the adoption process, health care, and basically every government service you can think of. We still don’t have those national protections. There is much to be done. But today is a day for celebrating. Here’s why – from my perspective.

In 1993, I had a commitment ceremony with my partner at the time. It was a big deal and looked a lot like a wedding. I had friends back then who did not understand why we would want to do anything that looked like a wedding. That is for straights, they said. You aren’t straight, so why do you want to pretend to be a part of a system that rejects you? We did our best to explain it – over and over. In 2000, we registered officially in California as domestic partners. This was a huge step for many gays and lesbians because it was some sort of official recognition, albeit separate and unequal. Many people took advantage of this registration. In 2004, we rushed off to San Francisco to be legally wed. It was an incredibly exciting time because there was a feeling that all of the people involved were making history. We did make history, but not as legitimately married couples. All of the weddings performed were declared void (which held its own kind of pain), and the whole Proposition 8 nightmare began. Several years later, we separated and experienced the tremendous unfairness of not being married, but still having to go through a divorce, and all of the inequities dealt to both of us by the system.

In 2013, I met my wife. We fell madly in love. We knew that our relationship would be a challenge since she was not a US citizen. But, then that summer, the Supreme Court invalidated DOMA and Prop 8. That meant all Californians were free to marry.  The striking down of DOMA meant once married, we would be able to apply for immigration status. We got legally married late that year, and this time none of my friends asked why we would want to marry. Everyone understood. People fall in love, and some of those people want to get married. In early 2014, she became a legal green card holder. All thanks to the changes in the law – largely brought on by the marriage debate.

The tide has shifted so completely in the last 20+ years people of all walks of life now know how important marriage is. Not because it is the end-all and be-all of civil rights, but because it is an indication of normalcy, acceptance and finality. “They are married, just like we are, so that’s that.” “Of course they are a family, they are married with kids.” No longer can the question, “Is she a lesbian?” be answered with, “No, she’s married.”

If people are married, then of course they can visit each other in the hospital. If two parents are married, then of course they can both come to the parent-teacher conference. Married couples rent apartments and buy cars. They open savings accounts, and go to the doctor. Marriage was never an end, it was a means to an end. And that end is equality. Lesbians and gays who are married get to be treated the same way as straights who are married. Of course she gets to inherit that house, they were married! Do you see what I mean?

To those of you in the LGBT community who don’t want to get married, great! No need for you to do so. Be excited, though, that you can. You are no longer excluded from an institution and the multitude of rights that are automatically bestowed on people who are part of that institution.

To those of you who are offended that my wife and I are now legally married in every state in the union, I feel sorry for you. You are on the wrong side of history. And if you cannot see that, take comfort in the fact that no one will ever force you to marry someone of the same-sex. Nor will anyone force your church to perform such marriages. Don’t worry; the same constitution that grants me the fundamental right to marry, also protects your fundamental right to hate me for it. I hope that you won’t, but I will defend your right to think and speak how you wish.

It’s Butch to support equality. Be Butch.


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