Hi everyone! I hope your weekend is going well! Today’s interview is with fellow blogger and friend, Rob Goldstein from Art by Rob Goldstein. Since meeting Rob here, I’ve always been interested in his art, photography, writing and creativity. Rob’s lived an interesting life. His interview intrigued me. It also made me shed a few tears. Since June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month in the U.S., I’ll be featuring interviews and guest posts by bloggers from the LGBTQ community. Rob spoke with me about his blog, art, life, etc. You can check out his blog here. Please help me welcome Rob to Life of an El Paso Woman!
ME: How long have you been blogging? I began to blog consistently in October of 2014, so a little less than two years.
ME: How about writing and creating art? I started to write seriously when I was 30. Prior to that, I wrote poetry but thought of it as a hobby. I started photography in 2012 when I got my first camera as a gift.
ME: What do your works of art signify to you? It depends on what I’m doing. My alternates have different interests and skills, one is adept at making abstracts and another prefers flower photos. Much of what I create depends on which aspect of my personality is dominant.
ME: You say you are afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder in your blog. How would you explain it in your own words? I was physically and sexually abused as a child. The only way I had to cope with the physical and emotional pain was to go away, to become someone else. I suspect that DID is a spectrum disorder like autism. The severity of the DID reflects the severity of the abuse.
ME: Would you say your art and words help you cope with the DID? If so, how? The art and the writing allow me to do two things: the first is to advocate for myself. People say that DID doesn’t exist but their disbelief doesn’t change my life or the abuse that caused the DID. It doesn’t change my subjective experience of myself. DID is painful, it disrupts my ability to work, and it disrupts my relationships. For me, the question is not whether DID exists, the question is why my brain thinks it needs to divide my personality into fragments. I don’t understand how psychiatry reached this point of placing the needs and the subjective experience of the patient last. I write because it gives me a sense of purpose and that helps me to cope with and transcend the stigma of having a mental illness that most people prefer to deny. The other benefit of writing and making art is that they give my life meaning. I think a sense of meaning is important.
ME: I’ve wanted to interview you for awhile because I’ve always thought you are an interesting and kind person. One of the main reasons I wanted to feature you in my blog in June is because it’s LGBTQ Pride Month. How do you celebrate the month-long festivities? Thank you for those words. I’ve always liked your blog and El Paso in one of my favorite cities. I kicked off Pride Month by making a video of the pictures I took at Pride 2014 and 2015. I used “We are Family” by Sister Sledge because the song is happy and it conveys the hope that gave birth to the gay liberation movement. https://robertmgoldstein.com/2016/05/31/wearefamily/ I don’t actively participate in the politics of the Gay Community because I give my energy to advocating for people with mental illnesses. The mentally are the new queers. We are the people it’s OK to spit on and discard and criminalize and that to me is unacceptable. If you are not free I am not free. My right to get married means nothing in a culture that systematically brutalizes people for having a mental illness or for being poor. The struggle for human rights continues. That said, I’m very proud of the accomplishments of the Gay Liberation/Rights movement.
ME: The Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969 in New York City were a huge turning point for the gay liberation movement. Have you ever taken part in any protests/marches for gay rights? My first gay march was in September of 1969 when I was 16. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina. I was out before Stonewall and joined up with other young gay teens. My best friend and I grabbed a sheet and wrote Gay Power on it. Then the two of us marched the length of King Street chanting 2 4 6 8 Gay is just as good as straight.
ME: Have you ever faced discrimination because of your disorder and/or sexual orientation? If so, what was one of the event/events you clearly remember? I’ve had two partners. The first was a relationship that that lasted nine years. We lived as an openly gay couple in New England in 1973 and we were accepted but we could not marry. Marriage is more than a declaration of love. It is also a rite of passage into adulthood. I’ve lived with my second partner for over 23 years. Now we can marry. It enrages me that conservatives continue to discuss my rights as a gay man and as a person with a mental illness as if I am less than human. As far as I’m concerned my rights as a citizen are not open to debate. I will never forgive the so-called religious right for using the AIDS epidemic as a political weapon. I will never forgive Ronald Reagan for choosing to ignore AIDS. I will never accept the premise that anyone has the right to censor or limit me because of my sexuality or my mental illness. I am a human being and a man of faith. The God that I worship values compassion. The discrimination against me as a person with a mental illness is far worse. Can you imagine cancer patients discharged to the gutters of El Paso? This happens to people with chronic schizophrenia everyday.
ME: Where would you like to see more improvement in the daily lives of same-sex couples? The quality of the lives of children is more of a priority to me. Our children will be gay or straight regardless of the law. What is important is that kids have food, education and housing. In 2014, 15.3 million children went hungry in the United States. That’s immoral. 2.5 million Children are homeless each year in the United States. That’s immoral. I’m concerned about the loss of the sense of our nation as a community of people with a commitment to a better life for our children. That’s why I opened my Pride video with “We are Family.” I consider the United States a large family of people from all over the world.
ME: Which word would you use to describe yourself and why? I say I’m human because that’s what bigots always try to take away. Bigots dehumanize their targets, they reduce our lives to pejoratives. We become takers, or perverts, or lazy or anything that justifies depriving us of the right to live full lives. So I say I am a human being and as such I demand respect for the sanctity of my life and the lives of the people I love.
ME: What’s there to do in your hometown for fun? I go for long walks around my City with my camera. I love San Francisco and I love to walk. It’s when I do my best thinking.
ME: If you aren’t blogging or creating art, what would you be doing? Probably watching “Sherlock”…LOL—and before that “The Midsomer Murders.”
ME: What’s one of your favorite songs and why? My favorite songs? There are so many. If I had to pick one favorite then it would be Side 2 of “Abbey Road.” It’s a long song and a brilliant work of art.
ME: What’s one of your favorite quotes in life and why? I am a liberal and proud of it. My favorite quote Is from John F. Kennedy: “If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberty, someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” The Democratic Party has a long way to go on delivering his vision of liberalism.
ME: Is there anything else you would like to add? I’m grateful to the people I’ve met on Flickr and WordPress who have been kind to me and supportive. I’ve had some bad experiences with social media. I’m glad I didn’t let those experiences stop me from finding the good. Thank you for taking the time to interview me.