Friday, December 31, 2010

2010...The Year In Review

2010 was quite a ride. As the horizon of a new year begins to sweep its way across the globe. I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at everything that happened this year. never seems like that much until you begin to put it all in one place. Then the enormity of this years happenings really shines through.

 Paul the Psychic Octopus passed away before he could predict Jullian Assange and Bradly Manning who Wikileaked into infamy, while the BP oil spill just leaked...for three months. Haiti and Chili weathered intense earthquakes...while in the U.S Economy was ruled officially "out of recession" yet most Americans lost jobs and homes and generally sank deeper in debt. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations can be considered as "individuals" and paved the way for unparalleled political corruption. Nuclear proliferation continued in North Korea and Iran and  all the while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ground on.

Had enough? .....Thats not even the gay rights stuff yet. In the back and forth between success and failure that was the DADT repeal and the tragedies of gay suicide or the utter farce of the Rekers "Rentboy" scandal...2010 was an intense year for us all...lets take a look back...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Stories Matter

"History is written by the victors" -Winston Churchill

A very effective piece of anti-gay talking points is that "radical homosexual activists" want to teach homosexuality in schools in order to recruit a new generation of of gays.....(as if gay men and women would just die out if this was prevented). We saw this talking point used to good effect here in California during the Prop 8 elections when the National organization used the children's book "King and King" to threaten that homosexuality will be taught in schools. The homo hostile hysteria this induced in the public was significant to the outcome of the election.

Why am I discussing this now?....well...What if the history of real gay men and women was taught in schools as an effort to eliminate bullying? It might happen here in California and the Fundies are crying foul...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Miracles

who needs "Its a Wonderful Life" when you have stories like this one about Jim and Dillon of New York, who recieved some 450 letters addressed to Santa...and answered them. It breaks and warms my heart all at once and shows us that good really does exist in the human spirit. If these guys were angels they would have earned their wings this year. Take a look...

The only thing I could hope for is some way to fullfill more of those letters cause you know this is gonna happen again next year. I just wish they didn't blur out the facebook page because more people could have helped. Anyhow...this video just made my heart grow ten sizes larger. I hope it will do the same for you.

Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays...Until next time every one..

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"My Princess Boy"

2010 has seen some very deep lows with the highlighting of gay suicide. It brought to light that we live in a culture that sends us a clear message that we must hide who we are or suffer grave we do and often suffer grave consequences anyway.

But 2010 also offered us a ray of hope in the form of awesome parents who stood by their children and helped them understand that they were loved and "all right" just as they are. We had Nerdy Applebottom, the mother of the little boy who wore a Daphne costume for Halloween...and Katie the Star Wars Girl. Both of these kids had awesome parents who only wanted their kids to grow up healthy happy and strong. Fortunately we have one more to add to the List....Cheryl Kilodavis and her son Dyson, about whom she has written the children's book "My Princess Boy".

So What if it isn't just a Halloween costume, or a star wars thermos...a boy who wears dresses?! This one has caused the Internet to come unglued and the fundies to howl. But the real question is again, "why is a boy in a dress so scary?"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yahoo! DADT= Dead As a Doornail Today!

Merry Christmas Everyone! Santa Dropped a present off early. Today is a historic day!..Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone!

In a vote of 65-31, the senate has voted to adopt the DADT compromise repeal measure. My jaw dropped when I heard because I honestly didn't expect it to happen, but score one for justice. It went down a little something like this...Darth McCains forces of discrimination and injustice were closing in on the plucky rebels. There seemed no way out as time became the enemy...would there be enough votes?...It all came down to one fateful moment as a handfull of equality minded Senators staged a last ditch assault against a horrific monolith of evil... know I was gonna relate it to Star Wars some how. But in all seriousness todays vote truly was one in a million. Much as this victory didn't end the war for the rebels it certainly was a massive victory(and saved their bacon). So also is todays's not an end to the struggle but it is an incredible victory that will change the course of things to come.

But, for now...DADT still has some hoops to jump before it is truly only a memory in the public consciousness. For instance, it must still be signed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense...and the President. Assuming that happens without incident then implementation will occur...and no one knows exactly what the military has in mind for that which leaves us with a some what indeterminate timeline for when a soldier might safely admit to being gay without suffering consequences. That's a lot of room for foot dragging in my opinion In addition, this repeal made no accommodations for Transgendered soldiers, thoughI feel that is just a matter of time with this repeal.

However...lets be thankful for the victory we have. Me being a "glass half empty kinda guy just means I need to go fill it up and raise a toast in thanks.../cheers!

And I have to say...if Gay rights continues to parallel events in Star Wars, than its time to brace yourself for "The Empire Strikes Back"...I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the scene when McCain Captures Ted Olsen and  David boys and attempts to freeze one of them in might make that love scene a little awkward...

Congratulations to everyone and Happy Holidays! well as a super congrats to all the gay and lesbian soldiers out there who have just received and incredible vindication for their service.

A tally of how the vote went down can be found below the fold:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The A-List New York..Stereotypes And Self Hate

Oh stereotypes...they never end. It seems that we can't get enough of stuffing our fellow human beings into little boxes in order to make our world seem under control.

This week, Jay uploaded a video to YouTube in which he gives his view on the LOGO channels "The A-List". In it he also takes LOGO to task for reinforcing a host of negative gay stereotypes...full stop...let the flame war commence....

It's difficult to address the nature of a stereotype without stepping on the realities of someones Else's life and thus inciting a host of angry reactions. What may be gay cliche for one person...loving dance music for instance, may be part and parcel of another persons life. Like me! I love a good house track and yet the second I admit that the person I'm talking too will usually roll their eyes and mentally add a few points to my "gayometer" score....see my point? Heaven forbid I cry at a movie...If I even get red around the eyeballs I feel like I have to sneak out the back door or be instantly outed. Now, did I stereotype myself in these situations by just being me...or is it in the judgement of others that a stereotype resides? And where exactly does self acceptance fit in to all of this?

The topic strikes a nerve in us all and usually ends up with someone feeling as if they have been judges and excluded for something integral to themselves. There are insults thrown and blame handed down by homophobes to "straight acting" gays to feminine "non-assimilationist" gays to marriage minded gays. The list of the slighted goes on and on...I got my fire/cat claw proof vest on, so that means...oh yes..lets go there.

Video below the fold:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Plague House

I apologize to my readers for a lack of posting lately. Our house has played host to just about every cold and flu germ in the state lately. Right now, my daughter is yo-yoing between 102 and 105 degrees...with sore throat and stomach aches. She is all tears right now and it just sucks. Not even color books can make her happy. :(

No matter how many times you go through fevers with your kids, when they get really high, they get scary. You ask yourself how high is too high? When do we go straight to the emergency room? How long is this going to go on? Having been feverish to the point of delirium, I know how uncomfortable it is and I hurt for her. This has been going on since Friday and only abated for a few hours this morning to come back again this afternoon...*sigh*...She's been to the doctor and we've all had our flu shots as well as just completing a battery of antibiotics for whooping cough. She's in bed all weekend...getting fluids, cool wash clothes, children's Tylenol, and lukewarm baths but we are still fighting it.

In addition to the whooping cough scare my son was sick...the baby just got over being feverish and sick...even my husband has been under the weather. When will this end? Having five kids..three in three separate classrooms means the germs they bring home are multiplied as they bring home their classmates illnesses. Its too the point now where I'm gonna scrub everyone down Silkwood style as soon as they come in the door. If we can get Selena past this then hopefully we will be sick free for a while.

My apologies to my readers I hope to be back in the saddle again soon (hopefully tomorrow). Until then I'm back on cool wash cloth duty...stay healthy everyone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The DADT Repeal and Other Farces

Yesterday Pams House Blend ran a breaking news post that DADT could possibly have been voted on that very day...after languishing in committees and being studied to death, Harry Reid was going to grab everyone by the short and curlies and make them come in for a vote....."Dam" I thought, "That's big news". So I held off blogging to see if I would have big news to share with all of you...and I waited....twitter campaigns were launched...senators were called...and I waited some more. By evening, nothing had manifested. To say I was underwhelmed by the lack of action would be putting it mildly..completely unsurprised would be closer to the truth.

This morning brought an avalanche of blog updates about what went on behind the scenes and most of it is laughable if not downright obscene. A vote is again scheduled for today, 12:00 eastern time. Which means that it could be happening literally as I am writing this blog post...or it could be yet another pause in what I have come to think of as the Don't Ask Don't Tell Comedy hour...if only it wasn't so close to tragedy. You'll, laugh till you cry!...or mostly just cry...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Perry vs. Schwarzenegger..Ninth Circuit Appeal...Day one

Today is the day...In just a few short minutes C-SPAN will begin live coverage of the Ninth circuit appeal of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenging the constitution of California's Prop 8 state constiturional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

I haven't found any embeddable live feeds yet but C-SPAN does offer livestreaming on their website

The Courage Campaign is also running a live thread and chat on their Trial Tracker that can be found at

Good luck everyone.

*(update)* livestream via thanks to them for the feed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Warrior...Show Me The Way..

How would you feel if everyone was talking about whether or not you should be allowed to exist?

You already exist, it's a plain fact..and everyday you do a dam good job of being you. However one day you decide to speak up and say, "Hey, I'm here and my life matters." To which everyone else then feels the need to discuss every aspect of your life, from who you love to the specifics of your moral character and how they relate to going to the bathroom and showering as if your being was contagious. Talking about you as if you just are not there and literally debating whether or not they will allow you to be who you already are. Would you be outraged? embarrassed? mortified to have you life subjected to a microscope to determine whether what you are is acceptable to everyone else?

Isn't this exactly what we are subjecting gay and lesbian soldiers to by purporting to study the effect that allowing them to serve openly would have on the military?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hatred...Whats In A Name?

The American Family Association....The Family Research Council...Dove Outreach...Illinois Family Institute..American Family Association...All of these names would lead the reader to believe that these are benign, altruistic organizations who's only intent is to help families. Indeed, the image of a dove is synonymous with peace for most of us. Add in the word "American" and it would seem to indicate patriotism and national pride...what could be bad about that? And the word "Family" leaves little intent as to whom the actions of these groups are directed toward.....right?

Except you would be wrong.

What all of these groups have in common is not just their naming conventions but a designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC) as hate groups. They spend all their  time and resources lobbying against The GLBT community in Washington, spreading  false and damaging information about the gay community, work to block basic legal protections for LGBT people  and foment discrimination at every opportunity. These are the people who publicly call for us to be criminalized, Blame us for HIV/AIDS, call for us to be placed on deserted islands, and liken us to the greatest danger this country has ever known. These are organizations that, despite their names, work to make an enviroment in which its o.k. to practice violence, discrimination, and utter hatred in the name of the name of family...and in the name of truth.

And boy are these guys angry now. After years of making gays and lesbians a target...they certainly don't like being treated the same way. Their protests sound like the keening like dying animals....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Breaking News and Developing Situations

Too much is going on in  the world today that I has made it very difficult to pick a single issue to blog about. We've seen North Korea launch a missile attack against South Korea in what could potentially become a very messy situation not utterly complicated by the huge Wikileaks debacle that has done incalculable damage to diplomatic efforts around the world. I truly feels as if that old Chinese adage, "May you live in interesting times", applies directly to us.

so without further ado...lets get to the news...(updated 1:00 pm pst)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The kids Are Going Home...A Look Back At The Last Nine Months

Well...the Thanksgiving turkey has been cooked and devoured, the dishes cleaned, and the house put in order. The general hubbub  of the holiday has briefly subsided. It was a fantastic Thanksgiving with great food and a rare occasion when family put aside their differences and enjoyed a nice holiday. No one got their feelings hurt and stomped out in a huff...not even was a Thanksgiving miracle that made for a wonderful day.

It was also a day that we sent our 5 year old nephew Marcelo...who we have fostered for nine+ months...back to be with his mom to stay. He was so excited he could barely contain himself all day. When the time came to go, he leapt into his mothers arms and seemed like the happiest boy in the universe. I can't help but be happy for him too . I guess this is what Thanksgiving is all about in the long run.

Now that our time with the kids is coming to a close, perhaps it's time to settle back..loosen the belt on my stuffed tummy...and think back over the last nine months...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello fellow revelers...Just a note to say Happy Thanksgiving! Being that I live in one of the last timezones to see the holiday in, I assume that you have already stuffed you gluttonous selves into a tryptophane induced coma...I'll be right following along in those footsteps soon. Jay has been hard at work in the kitchen all day and the entire house smells like food I can't yet eat...arggg! Maybe it's time to crack out to wine ; D

And for those of you who do not celebrate this holiday or who may have already had their Thanksgiving long ago...May you have good food, a warm home, and wonderful company to share them with!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Attack of The Gender Norms..or...A New Hope?

What is it about gender expression that frightens us so? Just this October we had the story of the little boy who wore a Daphne(from Scooby Doo) costume to school and all the furor that invoked. He was just a little boy in a Halloween costume yet,  it was treated as if it were an indicator of the boys gender identity and sexual orientation. We had so much to say about a simple costume choice by a preschooler. And here we are again discussing whats appropriate for boys and whats appropriate for girls as if those lines must never be crossed. Are we really in a new millennium? Because this conversation feels like 30 years ago.

This time a young girl by the name of Katie Goldman, a first grader and avid Star Wars fan in the Chicago area was being teased at school by the boys in her class because she loves Star Wars and carries a Star Wars backpack and water bottle to school about it. Her mother, heartbroken to see her daughters spirit broken by the need to fit in, encouraged her daughter to stick with what she loves and tried to help her deal with the realities of being different. Then, like nerdyapplebottom, the mother of the boy in the Daphne costume, and all great stay at home blogger/parents...*cough*...Carrie Goldman took it to the net in her blog, Portrait of an Adoption.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010 Transgendered Day of Remembrance

Well here we are again. Today is the day we have set aside to remember the lives of all our brothers. sisters, parents, and loved ones who have died because of transphobia. Sadly, this year I have a friend of my own to remember this year.....My friend Carina who was my best friend from middle school on took her own life this year due to what she felt were irreconcilable differences between the needs of her family and her need to transition. It is difficult to boil the situation down to just that simple sentence because the reality is so much more complicated...but talking about it..thinking about it has become difficult and neccesary all at once.

Tonight I have been asked by the Sacramento PFLAG group that Carina attended to give a ten minute speech about Who Carina was. I have to hand it to PFLAG, they are the red cross of the gay community. They are almost always there when other services may not be.

 I have to admit. I've known for about two months that this day was coming and had plenty of time to get my thoughts and my words together...but somehow I just could not bring myself to do it until this week. I did not want to venture into those feelings again....and wondering how things might have worked out differently.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Altering The Deal

There is a time when you hear someone spout complete bullsh*t and you know you have to let it go because they will more than likely get caught up in the web of their own lies and the rest of the world will know it....and there are times when you have to call bullsh*t for what it is. John McCain has crossed that line for me to stand besides the likes of Maggie Gallagher in a pantheon of willful truth benders and outright liars.

Recently on one of his many appearances on "Meet The Press", Senator McCain decided to change the rules and conditions for a Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal...again. This time instead of deferring to military leadership or congress...his third attempt at game changing was the independent study he helped initiate to determine the possible effects of a repeal on combat readiness and troop moral. Well guess what?....Since the results of that study have been leaked, with the majority of responding soldiers stating they couldn't care less if gays serve openly in the military. Senator McCain's response?....I want another study. I think not Senator McCain.

Video of the Senators appearance on "Meet The Press" and my response after the fold

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When Is it Enough?

Yesterday My husband and I got a letter in the mail that reminded us that we live in a country that holds our relationship in contempt. It was a letter notifying us that as a same-sex couple, our health benefits were considered taxable income...

"Whats the big deal?", you might ask. "This has been going on forever." Well, the big deal is that in the same notice comes the bald admission that this tax does not apply to opposite sex couples. The explanatory pamphlet from health Service System of San Francisco puts it like this....if you can sift through the legalese: (emphasis mine)

Health coverage for you domestic partner, same sex spouse, and any children of that partner or spouse through a Health Service System (HSS) plan is typically a taxable benefit. Because the federal government does not recognize domestic partnership or same sex marriage for tax purposes, employer contributions to health premiums for an employee or retiree's domestic partner, and children of a domestic partner or same sex spouse, are treated as taxable(imputed) income. Moreover, employee premium contributions are taken post-tax. By comparison,  if an employee or retiree is married to a member of the opposite sex, no taxable imputed income results from and employer's contributions to an opposite sex spouse's health premium costs. Also, employee premium contributions for an opposite sex spouse are paid pre-tax.

There you have it in black and white...or in this case, full color glossy....If we were a heterosexual couple we would not be taxed on our health care benefits. Now, the point of this pamphlet was to make us aware of a tax break the federal government makes available to "qualifying relatives"...which includes domestic partners and same sex spouses, as a way to offset this gays only tax. That said...

let the my rant begin...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working The Steps

Not the twelve steps mind you but the steps of the Judicial system. That appears to be the only way we are likely to see progress on gay rights for the next two years. While we currently have two court challenges to DOMA already in process...Gill v. The Office of Personel Management and Massachussetts v. The United States Department of Health and Human Services. Also working the steps California's challenge to Prop 8(Perry v. Schwarzenegger)  now in the Ninth Circuit. And finally we have the Log Cabin Republican's challenge to DADT also making its way to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals. All of which are being opposed by President Obama's Department of Justice.

Yesterday two new challengers entered the fray...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Letting Kids be Kids

"My Son Is Gay...or he's not...I don't care. He's still my son."

So begins the title and first line of a blog post of "Nerdy Apple Bottom", The made unintentionally famous for blogging about the reactions her son received for wearing a Daphne(from Scooby Doo) costume to school for Halloween.There's been much ado on the web concerning this relatively simple event as it went absolutely viral and sparked a great deal of controversy. Just scrolling through her posts, most rate a comment count in the 30's...this one has provoked 36, 048 people to actually take time out of their lives to offer their opinion in writing...and the number grows every time you refresh the page. Hell...I'd be jealous of just the 30

My thoughts on this event are many as it seems to have touched a nerve in the public consciousness. I'd like to touch on those issues and what I feel are some unfair judgements made against this mom for supporting her son. Also I would like to ask...what if it had been a gay dad that had sent his son to school in a Daphne costume?  But first...I will let Sarah tell the story in her own words about how this whole thing began with a simple Halloween costume request...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Last Nights Election Fallout

Well, all our votes are cast and  the election is over. Now its just a matter of where the pieces will fall. California seemed to have faired better than much of the nation....not that it went that badly. I was going to to a point by point rundown of the gains and losses of last nights election...but lets be frank...that information is readily available on every news outlet with an IP address. I think what most of us want to know is, "What now"? None of us can help speculating on how this shake up could affect the passage of important legislation and the balance of power....if any balance there is.

Predicting anything at this point in time is impossible...some races aren't even fully decided yet. What we "know" is that the Democratic party just got a major smackdown. Or, as the President refers to it...a "shellacking". Sounds nice...kind of like they were just refinishing furniture and not losing a national election. However, first reactions to last nights results have been fairly panic stricken. Losing a majority in the House to a large number of Tea Party candidates and Iowa losing three of of its Supreme Court justices to the fear mongering of NOM and the Family Research Council, makes us wonder whats likely to come down the pike in the next few months.

But is it all bad? Even though so many Democrats lost their house seats, could their possible be a silver lining to yesterdays election hi jinx?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Georgia Megachurch Pastor Comes Out With Integrity

Religion and Christianity in specific seem to be undergoing an upheaval the likes of which I have never seen before...and much of it seems due to national debate over gay issues. The evolving Eddie Long situation and George Allen Rekkers scandals just being two of recent memory. But in both cases, these men were outed against their will. It has been the pattern of influential politicians and religious leaders to come out only after having been caught with their pants down...literally. After the denials...after the tears, we find the admissions that they had been gay all along.

On the positive flip side and on the heals of the "It Gets Better" testimony of Randy Roberts Potts...grandson to Iconic Evangelical, Oral Roberts...comes a Mega church leader coming out of the closet. Claiming the rash of LGBT teen suicides and prompting by his ex wife, Jim Swilley of "Church In The Now" in Conyers, Georgia has blown the doors off his own closet...and he did so with grace and panache.

Having watched the televised outing nearly in its entirety(nearly two hours worth), I can honestly say that its is in incredible and moving admission on his part that came from a very real part of himself. It is an act of integrity that I could not help admire because the video I post here is his first public acknowledgment to his it you see congregants get up and leave the service. He also acknowledges losing the backing of many friends, colleagues, and affiliate ministries....He is giving up a lot to make an admission that he claims was brought about by the news of so many gay teen suicides.

It amazed and inspired me...I hope it will you too. Like many, I had not intended to watch the entire thing, but ended up doing exactly that. His coming out begins at about the 9:30 mark...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite "It Gets Better" Video

Dan Savages's "It Gets Better" project has exploded. There are now literally hundreds of videos made by everyday people the likes of you and the President of The United States and many major celebrities. But of all the videos that I have seen from the project...this one just blew me away:...The gay grandson of Oral Roberts writing an "It Gets Better" letter to his gay uncle who committed suicide in 1982.

Its no doubt that religion plays a large roll in the shame that LGBT teens go through...hell all of us have to go through. It did for me in a major way. So many of us take the risk to come out to our families as an act of love and honesty only to be met with disapproval....threats of hell...and sometimes outright rejection. So when I man like Randy Roberts Potts tells his has an amazing ability to help...not only gay teens, but grown men like me. His heartfelt words to his uncle moved me to tears. Please watch the video after the jump...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Laying Blame

"Gay activists are going Green, going Republican, and in some cases not planning on going to the polls this year at all."

So begins an article at The Advocate discussing an Associated Press article on how LGBT's are likely to vote in the upcoming elections, given our anger and disappointment at the Democratic party for their lack of follow through on their bold election promises to be "fierce advocates" for the gay community. Big promises were made...but little was actually delivered, prompting many of us to consider withdrawing support from the Democratic party in order to send a wake up call...."If you don't support us, we wont support you".

Strangely, for a minority group so easy to ignore outside of election season, we are being credited with the ability to tank this election for the Democrats singlehandedly. How is that possible? Also, aren't we painting with a rather large brush here? LGBT people come from a great many political persuasions and have a variety of reasons for their voting habits....And furthermore has not the White House earned that ire?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Star Wars Geek Breaking News!...More Movies?!!

alright...I'm hijacking the blog today to diverge from my usual policy of writing on gay related topics to veer sharply into my favorite place...a galaxy far far away. On my usual blog trolling this morning I stopped by as they are my go to guys for all news star wars related. This morning they put up a post that really should have included a class one hot beverage alert as I almost sprayed hot coffee all over the screen when I read it. So please put down your beverage and read on..., a movie rumor sight reports that a trustworthy source that George Lucas may be planning another trilogy of Star Wars films....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Powder Blue...The Power of Words

By now most of us have seen the video or at least heard about the incident that took place at a Cleveland area high school football game when rival teams shouted anti-gay chants at each other in an attempt to out due each others attempts at humiliation. The Video was posted to YouTube by a student of the school who attended the game and was appalled by what she heard. Given the spate of gay suicides due to bullying and homophobia, the video served to highlight the culture and attitudes that can lead to the hopelessness and despair in LGBT teens that can contribute to suicide.  But...oh my, has the conversation been heated about this video. There's been so much anger and backlash that the student who originally posted it has had make her video private.

Its this heated conversation and wildly divergent viewpoints that I would like to address today. When is a word more than just a word and what is our responsibility for the words we use? Is it fair to equate the words used against gays to words used against other minorities?...Is this just innocent ribbing between rival teams or something much larger that even the users of these words cant grasp? And finally...sticks and stones may break my bones but do words really hurt us?

*warning* up to now I have kept the language clean, and I hope...professional. From here on out it will get raw and I will not censor myself. If this language bothers you, then you may  want to move on. The video is below the fold along with a possible change in rating from "PG" to "Pg-13" after the jump...

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Internet Killed The Small Town Gay Bar

Hello everyone,....I was not sure how to title this post...being that it will be part movie review and part remembrance of a place that really aided in my coming out. However...

 Recently, my husband and I watched Small Town Gay Bar, a documentary film about two gay bars in rural Mississippi..Rumors, in Shannon...and Different-Seasons in Meridian. Even though the movie centers around these two bars, its wider story is about the roll of these bars in creating a sense of community in a place where there would otherwise be nothing but naked hostility and homophobia. The bars serve as dating hub, safe zone, and community center all in one. The patrons of the bar, who often have to live their everyday lives under cover, find a place to be themselves and to connect to a gay self that can find expression no where else. That small piece of freedom comes at a price though, as they are only safe within the doors of the bar. If its not "family values" people writing down their license plates numbers and sending them threatening letters to their homes...its people harassing them in the parking lots, or law enforcement looking for any excuse to shut them down. Its a story told less about the bars themselves and more about the people that give them life...and like life, its sometimes sad, sometimes triumphant...but always changing.

It made me remember a place that was both refuge and coming out catalyst for me so many years ago...The Santa Rosa Inn. Today, I have no pictures to share of what it looked like, but they could never do justice to my memories..nor to the roll this place played in my life...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Milestones...."The Talk"

Well its become time for another one of those big moments in one of our children's lives....Daniel received the "Birds and Bees" talk...

This is usually one of those moments that most parents have a tough time with. Its not that we dread it, because we all want our kids to grow up with the right information so they can make the best choices possible when it comes to sex and love....but most of us didn't have parents who were o.k. enough with sexuality to tell us anything more than "don't do it till your married"....if we got anything at all. For many of us, sex education meant sixth grade sex ed class, whatever we heard on the playground, or whatever we saw in stolen moments in porn magazines. Understandably that left big gaps in our knowledge of what sex was and was not. Most of us have had to come to our understanding of this subject through our own trial and error...and made many a mistake along the way.

Jay and I determined long ago that we never wanted our children to find out about sex that way. That we would do our best to be as forthright and honest about the subject as possible within the limits of age appropriate information. We wanted them to grow up without shame and dirty feelings...but also to know sex in terms of love and with a sense of personal responsibility for their actions. We thought we were ready to tackle whatever they could throw at us...

Then it happened...The note came home from school that Daniels class would be conducting sex ed this year....Our real reaction?.....Aw crap! Can't he stay a boy just a little while longer? This is all happening too fast.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

DADT...Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead?

Well Dorothy. its true...In the Log Cabin Republican suit against Don't Ask Don't Tell, Federal Judge Virginia Phillips not only ruled that the policy was discriminatory and unconstitutional...she went and dropped the house on it by ordering the federal government to cease all investigations and discharges effective immediately. ....*shock*....*awe*....cue Glenda the good witch...

Wow...its like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the witches legs curl up leaving behind empty stockings and a gently worn pair of ruby slippers. I stand here dumbfounded and waiting for munchkins to start dancing and singing while a little girl steals an old ladies shoes and flees the scene of an accident. But whats next?...and what of the announcement that the Department of Justice intends to defend DoMA?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cosmic Ironies

Happy National Coming Out Day! In honor of the day comes a story which makes you wonder at lifes sense of humor. Specifically, why some of the worst homophobes end up having gay children. Case in point...Jonathan Katz, a Washington University physics professor, came under fire in May for writing a paper in defense of homophobia in which he described himself as a "proud homophobe".

Jonathan Katz and his son, Isaac:

 As you can guess, it was a hoot to read. What landed him in the news however, was the fact that he had been appointed  by President Obama to head up the BP oil spill clean up. Public outcry over this appointment ended with his eventual dismissal. Which I'm sure did nothing to curb his pride in his homophobic attitude. But here's something that did...Professor Katz's son, Isaac Katz, just came out of the closet as gay...and not in a private family way...but in an  article in the Saint Louis Post's online edition. stltoday.

In response to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project", here are some excerpts from Isaac's story...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Christian Nation

Sometimes I think that we've really lost touch with American history. Whether its the tea Partiers brand of "patriotism" or conservative "family values" politicians, there is a pervading Idea that America was founded on their particular religious ideals. Take for example these comments made by Senator Jim DeMint at a church rally in South Carolina:
“Hopefully in 2012, we'll make headway to repeal some of the things we've done, because politics only works when we're realigned with our Savior.”...

....DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom."
As homophobic and discriminatory as these comments are, they are not unique to Senator DeMint....Its not even the most troubling part of his quote. Whats more alarming is the idea behind his statement and the sharp uprise of religion in American politics. Were it not for Christine O'Donnells pronouncements of faith would she have won the Republican nomination being that the rest of her background is so littered with inconsistencies?...Or Sara Palin, who also makes no bones that she would bring her religious beliefs into the oval office, were she ever to be elected.

Ever growing is the number of politicians who find traction with the voters by ignoring the foundational Idea of the separation of church and state. The idea has been repeatedly put forth that America is a "Christian nation" and that Christians need to hold the reigns of government  and to enforce morality legislatively. This is has been created and Fueled by evangelical Preachers  like Lou Engle, Janet porter, and many others who view polotics as fair game for the pulpit. It is been echoed again by main stream Republican candidates and tea partiers alike. You can also commonly here it fall off the lips of average Americans who believe that America was founded with a musket in one hand...and a bible in the other.

Yet my problem with all this is not one of religion...but more a question....Where were all these people in elementary school when American history was taught?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It Gets Better...My Love Letter To Anyone Coming out

Hello Everyone.

September has been a month of tragedies. It seems that each passing day brought another report of a young man who had taken his own life because of bullying and the homophobic actions of others. To me, this month has felt like one long funeral. Among those we lost were:

Justin Aaberg- 15 years old...Anoka, Minnesota
Billy Lucas- 15 years old...Greensburg, Indiana
Asher Brown- 13 years old...Harris, Texas
Seth Walsh- 13 years old...Tehachapi, California
Tyler Clementi- 18 years old...Ridgewood, New Jersey
Raymond Chase- 19 years old...Providence, Rhode Island

Even though this may seem like alot to some, what I can't help but think when I see this list is how many more gay teens committed suicide who we may never hear about...perhaps because they didn't want anyone to know or because their families hid the information. There's always a reason. Only one thing is for sure...the young men above are the short list of those who fell to Loneliness and the intimidation of others.

In response to the wave of deaths and hoping to foster the survival of gay teens, Dan Savage and his partner began the awesome "It Gets Better Project", a Youtube page in which those of us who made it past those years of loneliness and isolation share how our lives have changed....that it does get better in just a couple of short years. To date, the project has collected nearly 120 testimonies...including Jays and mine.

I left the experience of making that video feeling like I had so much more to say. So, I'm writing today's post as a letter to gay teens who are feeling that suicide is the only way to end that sense of shame and isolation....also to those of us coming out later in life...and also to my 18 year old self. Please read on...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

UK Gay Studies Published

There have been a couple of studies of gay people published this week and I wanted to go over them here on the blog. One was a study by the office of national statistics which for the first time asked a random sample of people their sexuality, the other was a consultation undertaken by the BBC to find out how it is doing on gay issues.

BBC told to be more realistic:


The BBC recently commissioned a wide ranging study into its own portrayal of gay people on the corporation's various media. The study followed a raft of controversies over its coverage of homosexuality. The best known of these was an online debate stupidly titled "Should homosexuals face execution?".

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Possible Repercussions Of The Bishop Eddie Long Scandal

Another anti-gay Mega-church pastor is caught up in a gay sex scandal. Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia has been accused by four young men...and possibly more...of enticing them into sexual relations when they were teenagers in Bishop Longs congregation. The allegations go on to say that Long used his position in the church and its funds to shower these young men with expensive gifts, trips abroad alone with Long, and coercing the young men into sexual acts with Long..sometimes through with the help of drugs. Bishop Long denies everything quite stridently, even as the allegations have grown from two men a third and now a fourth man coming forward...all sharing similar backgrounds and telling eerily similar accounts of how they were enticed into sex by Bishop Long. In his most recent sermon Long addressed the allegations claiming, "I am not that man". He also vowed to fight the charges, likening himself to David fighting Goliath.

Every time this kind of thing happens, we take it as reinforcement for the hope that America is seeing the disconnect between the message these men espouse (that gays and lesbians are evil).....and their actions. In them, we hope that people see the inner hatred that these men feel for themselves that they have directed outwards at the gay community. However... sometimes my brain kicks me in the butt...this week it challenged that assumption that these scandals always have positive effects for the gay community. It asked me to consider the story as it might be seen from one of Bishop Longs congregants....when a man of his position and history of anti-gay rhetoric gets found out, does that always help us?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who needs enemies....Gay Inc. In The U.K.

By: Craig Rigby
There has been a festering sore at the centre of gay politics in the UK for a while. This week was the party conference for the smaller of the two parties in the governing coalition and it seems to have brought the puss filled ulcer to a greasy, leaking head. Only time will tell if the boil can be lanced or if it will cause blood poisoning and death for the patient.

The patient in this case is the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Stonewall was founded in the 1980s to lobby the government for civil rights for lesbian and gay people. It has had a lot of success in its time. It successfully lobbied for gays in the military, employment protections, and the right of equal access to goods and services. Stonewall was also instrumental in gaining the very strong UK civil partnerships laws, laws which are different to marriage only by name.

But this is where the trouble began, while most gay people are happy with civil partnerships as they stand, most are also irritated by the lack of the word itself. Many people blame Stonewall for the situation. At the time of the consultation on gay partnership rights, Stonewall decided that pushing for every right associated with marriage was good enough. As long as gay people had equal legal entitlements, they were willing to let the word go. I for one think this was a mistake, it would have been far better to push for everything and be turned down than to roll over meekly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DADT..Are We Done Yet?

By "done" I don't mean "done" I mean finished letting our lives be in the hands of people who don't care about us or civil rights in any sense of the word. Are we done allowing our lives to be used as bargaining chips in the power game they play in Congress?

I don't even know where to begin...The botched "deal" made by Democrats where they allow soldiers to continue being discharged so they can "secure votes" a joke. How about the fact that prior to the vote, Joe Biden only called ONE republican senator to lobby for his vote...Obama called NO ONE and issued ZERO statements encouraging the repeal. Wheres the fierce advocacy here? Or...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The View From Under The Bus

Of the goals the gay community has as signposts on the way to full legal equality, three of the biggest are:

1) ENDA the Employment Non-Discrimination Act whose passage would make it illegal to fire someone from their job on the basis of sexual identity. This one sees most of its resistance because it includes a provision for transgendered peoples.
2) DOMA....repealing the Defense Of Marriage Act which currently protects states from having to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states stands as a barrier to the recognition of same-sex marriage on a federal level. this dovetails with the individual state fights for same-sex marriage recognition.
3)DADT....also a repeal action, giving Don't Ask, Don't Tell the ax would end the discharge of LGBT people from the United States armed forces on the basis of their sexual identity.

They are also specific items that the White House has promised to specifically in the case of Don't Ask, Don't Tell...or promised to work toward as part of their advocacy and "change you can believe in".

Boiling them down to their essence... employment protection, military service, and marriage equality...all have the common denominator of seeking equal treatment under the law for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered U.S. citizens. No special treatments or provisions...just the ability to reap the same legal benefits from our society that our straight fellows enjoy...seeing as how we are expected pay our taxs and fulfill all other obligations of U.S. citizenship....expecting equal legal treatment is not too much to ask....but then, why is it so easy for lawmakers to throw us under the bus? Since, despite promises, it's likely that we will see NONE of these things accomplished this

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Has The Negative Stigma Shifted To Being IN The Closet?

By: Craig Rigby
This week at work an interesting thing happened, one of the girls I work with fell out of the closet. The interesting thing was the reaction… most people in the office were angry with her, including me. We were angry because she had worked with us for two years and never said anything. In my department there are three other gay people and two bisexuals, there are countless in the business. As far as I am aware, there has never been a homophobic incident in my workplace. She told us she never said anything because she was embarrassed....but this just doesn’t wash.  I for one, feel that she has a problem with gay people. It's as if she is saying we should have something to be ashamed about.

The situation was more or less resolved. People talked it through with her, pointed out that her attitude and some of the things she was saying were homophobic and moved on. I think it will take a while for her friendships to recover, but she is fine for now. However, I should point out that she is in her mid thirties and in my opinion, has had plenty of time to work through her homophobic feelings. I know for a fact that her friends and family would have no problem with her homosexuality. The only person with a problem with gay people seems to be her.

Looking back, this all seemed like quite an extreme reaction. Had she been a teenager I am sure the reaction would have been different...the feelings of deception and homophobic judgement would not have been there. It made me think of several recent press outings and how they had been handled in the press. There seems to be a big divide between the incidents of people being honest and people being found or suspected of being in the closet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gay Youth...Too Many Lights Gone Out

To be Young and know that you are gay is to live in an emotional pressure cooker....Everywhere around you, your friends are pairing off into couples and making their first discoveries about love..and yes, sometimes sex. But, for gay teens life is so much more complicated. You may know the truth about yourself and want to fight it with every fiber of your being. Alternatively, But, if you can accept that you're gay doesn't mean that your friends or family will....leaving you alone with the feeling that their is something about you that sets you irrevocably apart from everyone you love.

Moving beyond issues of self identity, their is the longing to experience the first steps into love and relationship that you see taking place all around you in your peers. If you don't date the opposite sex to divert suspicion, then you face the invasive questions and bullying of other teens. Even if you could date someone you wanted to, how do you find someone when everyone is living in stealth too?  Especially if you live outside of an urban area. Its a tremendous emotional load to bare...especially for those who don't have the support of their families and friends.

Some kids do push back. The news occasionally brings us stories of teen taking their dates to prom and exceptional examples of courage like Constance McMillan banned from her high school prom for wanting to bring a same sex date, Ceara Sturgis banned from her high school year book for appearing in a tuxedo , or Derrick Martin who fought to be able to bring a same-sex date to his prom. These are kids who fought back and won...though most also paid a heavy price in losing the support of their family or friends.

But sometimes the pressures can be too great and a large number of gay teens simply don't make it to see a day when they can build the life of their choosing. Today brought us two more...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dinner At The Leffew House

Dinner at our our house has always had  its ups and downs. Sure we had two kids who by and large were still learning table manners, but it was managable.  But not we have had our two nephews and their baby sister for almost half a year now and dinner time has taken a horrible turn. What in the heck happens to ordinary children when you increase their numbers? Its like they become an angry mob wielding sippy cups and half eaten dinner scraps.  Something has happened that has turned our once normal dinner routine into a horrific splatterfest of epic proportions.

The carnage scenario goes something like this:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Under The Cloud Of Fear

Fear is one of the most primal of human emotions. The biological mechanisms that produce fear are buried deep within a portion of our brain called the amygdala...a portion which has been dubbed "the reptilian brain" since it has been present since the age of dinosaurs and predates other brain structures responsible for emotion and logical thought. Indeed, all the brain structures responsible for "higher" thought are built around the structures responsible for survival instinct. Fear is an integral part of being human and neccesary to our survival...except when it seeks to dehumanize...

Fear is often the source of...and most common tool used in, discrimination. Many people throughout history have been the target of fear based discrimination which can seize on almost any detail of your being(gender,ethnicity, religion, etc.) and turn you into a shadowy threat working to destroy society.

In the national debate over homosexuality and its equal treatment under the law, fear is often evoked in an attempt to make us look like we are mindless monsters bent on destroying all life...dont believe me? Take a look..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Pink Guide to Adoption

By: Craig Rigby

When I got home from work this week on my hall table I found, wrapped in somewhat excessive amazon packaging, "The Pink Guide to Adoption". Jake and I have joined a group called New Family Social. They support gay people through the adoption process in the UK and give help and advice to potential adopters at all stages of the process. They recommended to me this little pink book and now I am going to recommend it to you.

The book is, as you probably expect, a guide to adoption focused at gay people. It is published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, who also publish other step by step guides to the legal process involved in adopting a child. The book sets expectations of the process and provides an outline of every hoop that needs to be jumped through. Its great strength is in how it points out the pitfalls peculiar to gay people, and provides advice and case studies from people who have already gone through the process.

 This isn't going to be a book review in the traditional sense; I find it impossible to read things about adoption objectively. Instead I am going to mix in a lot of what the book told me about the adoption process and how that affected my expectations of my own journey. Not always positively!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy 40th To My Husband

Yes is true! My husband Jay turns the big 4-0 today!

How to you show your love for someone who has given so much of himself to his family, who has put up with my crazy behind through thick and thin. He is my best friend, the person to whom I can tell everything(no matter how crazy) and even if he doesn't understand...he listens. He has done his best to put his family first, oftentimes in place of his own needs. I knew from the moment I met Jay that he was someone special....and then one day, a kiss cemented that forever.

Now, here we are almost fifteen years later. We've adopted two amazing children and taken on three more. Our lives are filled with things that have to be done yesterday. Some days we are running with the needle on empty...but running anyway. But its sometimes life puts your blessings in perspective for you...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Catholic Britain

By: Craig Rigby
It is almost here! The Pope is coming! On Saturday the 18th of September he will be here, in all his splendour. It will be the first time since the 80's since a Pope has been to the UK. It will be the first state visit and only the second visit overall for hundreds of years. I, and several thousand other people, fully intend to remind the catholic church why they stopped coming.

There are two reasons I, and many other people, intend to protest his visit. Firstly this is a state visit. That means we, the British taxpayers, have to pay for the whole silly affair. Now, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a large religion the Pope should, of course be free to tour our country. But why the hell should we pay for the privilege?

Secondly while the Pope should be free to come here, he needs to realise that this is a free country and that many people are unhappy with his views. To me, many of these are vile, repugnant and evil. I think he needs to be confronted with this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Separate Is Never Equal

Sean Chapin has done it again with a great video highlighting the unequal status of of civil unions...and virtually anything that is separate from fully recognized marriage. Check it out...

I know there are those who do not approve of this analogy, but I still think it holds true. My only question is, did he find a fountain that sprays backwards(probably not hard) or did he "modify" one? Either way, thanks Sean...

Visit Youtube to see more of Sean Chapin here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"What if's"...All Our legislation Passed.

Marriage equality....Don't Ask Don't Tell...the Employment Non-Discrimination Act....together they have often dominated the conversation about gay rights and equality. We poor tremendous amounts of energy into them. Indeed, they are important pieces in the greater movement toward full equality for GLBTQ Americans. But today, I asked myself what would happen if Christmas came early and I woke up tommorow with those goals had come to fruition?

First would be the encredible feeling of celebration....that the world had changed in incredible and wonderfull ways. Gays and lesbians would be protected in ways that we had never been previously. We could meet and marry someone we loved, perhaps make a family and hopefully never have to worry about losing out jobs or homes because of our sexual orientation. Being able to do those basic things paves the way for more positive change as we have more energy and support to turn to other areas of our lives.

However, sometimes I thing that we hang our hopes on passage or repeal of these issues and forget their status as waypoints along the journey...not the end. So what would happen if Christmas came early this year and we woke up to find that all our legal/legislative hopes had come true...then what?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All too Easy

This week the blogs are all alight with the coming out of Ken Mehlman, President Bush's former campaign manager and architect of his homophobic 2004 campaign. Melhman has been a vocal opponent to gay rights and strong supporter of George Bush Juniors efforts to write a ban on gay marriage into the U.S. constitution. He was Bush's Political Director during his first term and Head of the Republican National Committee from 2005-07. He has stumped the campagn trial in opposition to gay rights and marriage equality and actively worked against the gay community because he was getting paid very well to do so.

Well, now he is coming out claiming that he knew he was gay...despite public denials...but that he was, "not comfortable with that part of himself" which is his one sentence summation for why he worked for one of the most homophobic administrations in recent history. It's also the defacto excuse for why he went to such lengths to make sure that America stayed focused on the "gay menace" for the Bush administration....because he wasnt "comfortable with himself"....yeah...I'm sure the position of power and fat paycheck didn't hurt either.

But now he's out and its a big deal...well I have a song for Ken...find it after the jump..

Monday, August 23, 2010

Off Target?

Everyone is mad at Target right now. Not just mad...spitting...cussing...national boycott mad.

All of this has come about because of a political donation that Target and Bestbuy made to Minnesota Forward, a political action fund that supports business friendly candidates for political office. The problem? of the candidates supported by monies from MN Forward is anti-gay Minnesota gubenatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Emmer has gone on record supporting a state consitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This has caused a major controversy for Target who now faces massive public criticism and a national boycott from the gay community and allies.

 Targets response has been schizophrenic at best. While they did apologize for the lapse in judgement, they also went on to attempt to excuse themselves on the basis that MN Forward is paid into by a coalition of businesses, both large and small, whos primary interests are non partisan and seek only to advance their own "retail agenda". In a statement made to The Awl, this is Targets official response:(emphasis mine)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Marriage?

Why do we have marriage? What purpose does it serve to us as human beings both on a social and emotional level that we have invested so much of ourselves in this institution? Indeed, it has become a key piece of contested ground in the "culture war" being waged here in America. But what is Marriage? What does it do for us? What does it mean to us on an emotional level and why is it so important to fight for it? Why should gays and lesbians be excluded from it? Is it a civil right? These are questions that those of us on both sides of the issue have struggled to clearly define in order to establish our views on the issue. It is also a queestion posed in a posting on the National Organisation for Marriage's blog, in concert with the, offering  the opinion of average person...a waitress in Ohio...."Why do we have marriage?" Her answer?...