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Love, loss, and
lots of walking

Love, loss, and
lots of walking


Within sight of her goal of walking up the California coastline to San Francisco, our stalwart lesbian mom scares a pothead, loses her beloved dog, and finds old friends and new.

Soccer mom Jennifer Schumaker's plan to walk the 569 miles from San Diego to San Francisco "evolved from a very simple thought," she tells The Advocate. "Three years ago I let a man reenter a line for coffee, and I thought, He has no idea that a lesbian was nice to him today."

Thereafter, Jennifer began coming out to everyone she had even passing contact with in her life.

The Escondido, Calif., carpool mom is now raising her visibility campaign to another level: walking most of the way up the California coastline and coming out to everyone she meets along the way. She left San Diego on April 8 and plans to reach San Francisco on June 3, where she'll meet out state assemblyman Mark Leno and city supervisor Bevan Dufty.

Along the way, she's calling in to The Advocate each week to tell her story.

Although technically west of Eden as I pass by Eden, Calif.--the town full of secrets that inspired John Steinbeck's classic novel--I wonder how many of its current residents are hiding their own secrets.

I have six days to cover the remaining 55 miles. I'm getting very weary. Walking every day is wearing me down, and meeting so many new people and not seeing any familiar faces is tiring in its own way. But I always get a second wind when I connect with someone, and I don't regret having come on this journey.

And waiting for me at the end of my walk will be my four children and my closest friends and supporters. One of the San Francisco County Supervisors, Bevan Dufty, will be hosting a press reception to welcome me to the city, so I have more than enough incentive to carry on. I will then be joining a group crossing the Golden Gate Bridge as part of Marriage Equality USA's walk, which will take place at the same time other marriage activists cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Eden-like roads of California.

I guess part of what has been weighing me down is the loss of not only my cell phone--which had been my life-support system, but was easily replaced in a few days--but the loss of my 15-year-old dog, who, of course, can never be replaced. I had her even before I had my children, so knowing she won't be waiting for me at home is sad.

I also found out this week that I'm part of a vast left-wing conspiracy. Some group that is trying to exclude immigrants picked up on the story about me discussing the mutual problems of LGBT people and immigrants a few weeks ago and decided that Javier and I were part of a government and corporate conspiracy. Clearly, minorities like lesbians and immigrants would be too stupid to recognize our common humanity without governmental assistance.

If our opposition is this ignorant, we should be winning the hearts and minds of Americans. I haven't been in touch with Javier since that one day in his taco shop, and I hope I'm not letting down the conspiracy by not staying in closer contact.

In Castroville I met Dave, who offered to let me smoke weed in his car until he found out I was a lesbian, at which time he ran off as though being pursued by narcs. He suggested I was setting a bad example for my kids by being a lesbian, as though smoking marijuana would make me a better role model. A sign proclaimed Castroville to be the artichoke capital of the world, but I trust that it doesn't grow as many bigoted potheads as artichokes.

Left: With my old friend Alan and his friends in San Jose, right: in Castroville with Elaine and Cheryl.

A few miles down the road in Castroville, Elaine and Cheryl proved this was not the case and welcomed me to their market by paying for my water and saltwater taffy, even after learning I was a lesbian.

Yet another old chorus friend, Alan Ziegler, found me on and insisted I stay with him and his partner, Leroy Fitzwater, as I passed through San Jose. He had been following my story online but hadn't made the connection at first because when he last saw me I was straight and pregnant.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Jennifer Schumaker