Saturday, July 23, 2016

Clinton and Kaine Nail It!



Can't believe the vitriol on YouTube. My 2 cents:
Clinton and Kaine nailed it. They are, despite their mistakes, leaders who work for everyone's rights and best interests. Exposing Trump as an eminently UNQUALIFIED narcissist and charlatan who thinks ONLY HE "can fix it" when he's "fixed" absolutely NOTHING in his life - he's a taker, a manipulator, a crooked businessman, does anything for his own self-agrandizement and bank account who disposes of people like yesterday's trash when they no longer serve his whims, who is above the law and uses the law to sue those he calls his enemies into submission. I can't believe those who have drunk his Kool-aid can slough off his daily childish insults, lies and gaffs and ridiculous ideas. Too many to list. No political party is perfect, not is any candidate, but the bottom line is that the Democrats are the party of civil rights, work to better the lives of all through education and economic opportunities. So all you zombies, can stuff it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Still Relevant Afterword

Having mentioned my Memoir on Facebook a day or so ago, I am reminded that some thoughts I wrote in the AFTERWORD of the book are more than relevant today in view of recent developments in the conservative fringe movement that has hijacked the Republican Party. I am sharing that final chapter of my memoir here (forgive me -- I may have shared this some time back) in hope that 1) you will find it worthy of your time to read it; 2) that some of you might want to read the entire book which is not at all like the AFTERWORD - it is much more entertaining and I think even the serious chapters will hold your interest. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Did-Ever-Horse-Coming-…/…/1619335573…
So here goes:
Peter M, the friend to whom I addressed the Preface, died from complications of AIDS, like too many other people I have known. I never finished composing that letter to him in 1987 and so it was never sent. Here, many years later, I include an Afterword, addressed to him.
* * * * *
May 2014
Dear Peter,

I’ve somehow survived to 2014. I am old—or pretty nearly old as life journeys go. In the grand scheme of things, I am nobody and my life is irrelevant. So why should my story, my experiences beginning more than half a century ago, matter to anyone? Why should I bother to write down these snippets of my life?

The answer to that last question: I had to write this account, even if no one ever reads it, because I was compelled to do so in the same way as I was compelled to come out; it was a matter of survival. And if I am to live any semblance of an authentic life, I must come out unreservedly and often; because coming out is never only an event: it is a continuous process and one that challenges me daily.

  • The woman who cuts my hair when I’m visiting in South Carolina insists on making small talk and asks about my wife. She has scissors. How do I respond?
  • At the auto repair shop, I tell the service tech, who I’ve just overheard making a homophobic comment, “If there’s a problem, call Lee, my, uh, friend? roommate? partner? significant other? husband?”
  • Leon and I are holding hands on a deserted beach at sunset as some college kids approach in the distance. Do I let go of his hand?
Ann Bancroft as Ma Beckoff scolded Harvey Fierstein’s Arnold in Torch Song Trilogy: “You haven’t spoken one sentence since I got here,” she says indignantly, “without the word gay in it.” How often do I check myself so as not to offend the likes of all the Ma Beckoffs in the world with constant gay references?

I am challenged daily to come out, again and again and again, because, even as things appear to be changing, there still exist subtle and pervasive societal and cultural norms that are intended to usher us back into our closets: the veiled but insidious beliefs, behaviors, words, and hatred that are still widely tolerated.

I am challenged to come out, again and again and again, because of the hate and vitriol and rage that seem to escalate in response to every equal rights victory and with every courageous individual who comes out and who refuses to remain silent and invisible.

I am challenged to come out, again and again and again, because too many gay kids still choose suicide as their only option to escape bullying and familial rejection; because some lawmakers still introduce bills that would take back our hard won rights and liberties; because some religions still wave signs declaring that “God hates fags” while others, less blatant, use more refined and educated language to condemn and vilify us.

My coming out was not only a matter
 of self-preservation; it was and continues to be a uniquely liberating, transformational, spiritual, and healing life experience. I do believe that coming out is the only antidote to the poison of societal oppression that tries to deceive us into believing that the closet is the safest place to be, that the closet will ultimately protect us from the world, from ourselves, and from eternal damnation.

The closet’s false security is ultimately suffocating and fatal to one’s emotional and psychological integrity, if not to one’s physical existence. The closet is built on fear and guilt, but more so on societal and religious disapprobation and condemnation — a formula for what is called internalized homophobia. The closet derives power from this internalized homophobia, from our internal conflicts and fears, the artificial conflict between some bogus good and fake evil: the fear of rejection, reprisals, and violence, and the terror of a mythologized Last Judgment and ungodly wrath.

Despite all of that, we persist in our coming out as if our lives depended on it — because they do.

Coming out is so vital to our integrity that the impulse to acknowledge and be true to ourselves is, in many respects, not unlike our innate survival instinct.

The fact that the event that we call coming out is virtually universal to the contemporary homosexual experience suggests that it is not an inconsequential phenomenon.

Think about that. Coming out has a reality beyond our individual experience.

It is both a unique and a shared experience—one that unites us in some fundamental way.

Our sexuality, our gayness, is mostly invisible to others. Coming out and being out involves being visible—both when we look in the mirror and when others see us.

Sometimes, in order to be visible to others, we have to be “in their face.” Sometimes we need to tell our stories, each of us, story after story, after story, until they “get it.”

Because “they” are still trying to define “us,” tell us who they think we are, tell us that we are objectively disordered or immoral or sinful or worse.
Who are “they” and who do they think they are?

Unfortunately “they” are not only the ignorant and bigoted, but often otherwise intelligent and sometimes even well-meaning individuals.

Why do “they” think they know more about our sexuality, or us, than we do?

More to the point, why do they care?

Certainly “they” outnumber “us” and we’ve always been an easy target. Does their inability to save our souls or change us, or to limit our freedom somehow make them inadequate or fearful?

What is in it for “them” that they so persist?

It amazes and frustrates me that our stories—the actual lived experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals—are so summarily ignored, discounted, and dismissed.


It baffles me that many vocal and influential individuals persist in holding to and disseminating absurd, erroneous, and irrelevant opinions about us.

This is unacceptable and can no longer be tolerated.

“They” can only make their own positions tenable by repeating questionable scriptures, fabricated “studies,” pseudo-science, and outright lies—and repeating them over and over as they wholly disregard us and our voices.


I can only pose a few questions for others to try to answer:

What is it about homosexuality and sexual and gender non-conformity that makes it such a lightning rod?

What is so unique about it that religious factions condemn it, regressive governments ban it, entire cultures punish it, and ordinary people are moved to hatred and violence by it?

Why are millions of dollars spent to fight us and to deny us equal protections under the law?


These questions underlie the need to tell my story. As for the first question—whether my story or experiences will matter to the readers or not—is for each of them to decide. But I do know that this is my voice and my truth, for what it’s worth.

For me the value in telling my story here, beyond the healing, is to preserve a tiny slice of collective history—to document what it was to be gay and to come out in a particular time and place. I want to remember all the others who were there along with me, creating our lives together and defining our sexuality as we went along.

My hope is that others find some value in that as well.

With Fondness and Love,
Frank


Friday, July 15, 2016

Terror in France

Horrible tragic terrorist attack in Nice, France.

Will flags ever fly at full mast?

The world needs a solution to the scourge of violence and I'm certain that no one political leader, no one political party, or sovereign country, or any one religion or religious leader has the solution or the power to end the violence.

It is time for people of peace to come together and not just re-act to violence with prayers, moments of silence and vigils; nor to re-act with more violence and hard-line tactics that further incite terrorists.

There needs to be rational, intelligent, carefully parsed responses at every level of the problem: political, economic, racial, ideological, mental health, sociological, cultural, educational and police/military.

And meanwhile, here in the US, we seem more hung up over bathroom laws and denying loving couples their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Monday, July 11, 2016

My Political Rant for July

 FOR ANYONE WHO THINKS Republicans are friends of the LGBT Community, think again.

The Republican Party is no longer a viable option for anyone committed to LGBT rights, human rights, or any legitimate social issue. 

Never my party of choice, but until the Reagan era, I considered the GOP as able to debate and compromise and work toward the common good. NO LONGER! 

The party has been hijacked by religious extremists, ideologues and outright wackos. How anyone of reason would want to be associated with this NEW, UNRECOGNIZABLE GOP is beyond me. 

It no longer has to do primarily with conservative values or conservative economics - its values are way beyond conservative. 

Rather it now fosters repression, divisiveness, obstructionism, and theocracy as preached by illegitimate christianists and white supremacists; it fosters fear of anything different from white, male-dominated cultural "norms" like shopping at Walmart in sweatpants, drinking beer by the 12 pack and watching football while supporting the rhetoric of lowering taxes on the wealthy and privatizing social security, letting the poor and the sick die off, refusing to bake cakes for the gays, making laws about who can use what restroom and who can refuse to issue a marriage license because of Jesus. 

SO DON'T TRY TO TELL ME THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OR ANY REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE HAS ANY IOTA OF RESPECT FOR LGBT PERSONS OR WILL EVER LOOK OUT FOR OUR INTERESTS!

UPDATE: Here’s the apparent final draft version of the section on marriage of the GOP Platform 2016 via the New York Times:

“The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: that every child deserves a married mom and dad. The reality remains that millions of American families do not have the advantages that come with that structure. We honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the burdens of parenting alone and embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with dignity and respect. But respect is not enough. Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in the platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to states.”

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Post for Russ

OK, Russ, this is for you!

The trouble with Facebook is that it sucks you in…and it is so easy to post photos and tidbits without much thought or time or effort.Which is why you don't get to see my posts. If you like you can go to Facebook HERE. But if you don't have an account, you may not see anything.

Yes, Leon is a Park Ranger at Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. He is employed by the Pueblo de Cochiti under auspices of Bureau of Land Management, US Department of the Interior.

(We don't do dress-up! It's for real! and that makes it so much sexier, don't you think?)

It is a temporary position but he is well liked and his supervisor has practically guaranteed him a permanent position with BLM provided he can pass the grade. 

He loves it. He has to hike the trail 3-4 times per week. 70 stories up and 4 miles round trip . You can see a fairly good video of the park, the rock formations and hiking trail here: Tent Rocks
Leon fixing the pulley on the flag pole at
Veteran's Memorial Overlook, Tent Rocks
OL of Guadalupe in Santa Fe
Benni waiting for Rattlesnake Training
Wild Horses in Cochiti
Dogs Running on the Dome Road
View From Our Front Yard
My Tiny Garden
Wild Flowers of Unknown 
Century Plant

Cholla Flower
Sugarite Canyon Lake, Raton, NM
"Green, Like Vermont!"
Benni Looking at Cochiti Lake
from the Ridge off Koorani Street 
Our New Sweat-equity Walkway
From the Courtyard

Bonanza Creek Ranch Movie Set
Our Dining Room with
Three of Dad's Paintings
Gate to the Courtyard
My First In-the-Wild Rattlesanke
Hopefully my Last

Saturday, July 2, 2016

One Take on New Mexico

Occasionally people ask if I like New Mexico and I usually answer "Yes, pretty much."

Then they might ask what I like about New Mexico. The first thing that comes to mind is not the scenery or the weather, I usually reply, "The people are so friendly."


Now, New Mexicans, and I mean New Mexican Native Americans, New Mexicans of Spanish descent, New Mexicans of mixed ethnicity, New Mexicans who are newbies from other parts of the country and the world, they all pretty much seem to be friendly - but in a most sincere sort of way. And it is contagious.

They are not friendly like "polite" friendly. Like those people who act all friendly but who reserve the right to hate you if they find out you do not believe what they believe or if you don't share their prejudices or their religion or are too poor or from a different part of the country or are gay.

No, most New Mexicans seem to be not only "live and let live" but beyond that have a sincerity that is both uplifting and contagious. They have no reservations about saying good morning or hello; they don't "size you up" before offering a greeting; they seem always ready to engage in light conversation and give you their full attention...not in a hurry to cut it short because there are so many things to do and places to go.

You're a man with a husband? Cool. You're from Connecticut? Cool. You like it here? Cool.

At the dog park a gentleman who looks native American, (though they do often say Indian here with no disrespect) engages in some talk about the weather and where you're from and you mention that you saw your first rattlesnake the other day and he laughs and says not to worry about snakes in the dog park but over by the culvert, they've been spotted now and then and he says his name is Charlie and his dog's name is Stormy and you introduce yourself and your dog...

Even at the grocery store, the produce clerk will walk you to where the horseradish is because "that's so hard to find, let me show you where..."

And when your carriage almost collides with someone going around the corner you find yourself apologizing, "Sorry, I know I was speeding!" and the person whose carriage you almost hit just smiles back and says, pointing at the little girl pushing the carriage, "My little one here drives too fast too!"

And when the lady bagging your groceries in the recycle bags you provided says, "I put all the frozen things in the cooler bag for you." and she stacks your bags neatly in the mini-carriage so you just can't help saying, "You did a great job." and she is proud of her work and says "Thank you, have a nice day!"

...and you feel something like endorphins in your brain because something just has happened like ten time this morning that used to happen only rarely in your previous life...but in New Mexico it is just seems to be
the way people treat one another...



Speaking of endorphins...my honey in his new shorts Boy Scout...uh...Ranger uniform.



Sunday, June 19, 2016

49 Names

IN MEMORIAM

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Our Lives Matter - People Just Don't Get It

Russ's comment inspired a poster which I posted on Facebook:


Of course people had to remind me that ALL LIVES MATTER. I was even reminded that ANIMAL LIVES MATTER. Which inspired this response:

PEOPLE WHO JUST DON'T GET IT!
Lets not lose sight of the fact that there exists a deep seated abhorrence of homosexuals in our society and in most religions, including Western and Eastern Christianity, Orthadox Judaism, Islam and others. 

This has spilled over even to non-believers in our society. Civil Laws have been based on this abhorrence for years. For years! 

The fact that I and other LGBT persons have to be vigilant in certain crowds and in certain parts of this country even today, attests to the degree to which we have been hated, despised and discounted and dismissed, not to mention done violence to. 

Yes, all lives matter, but on Sunday, June 12 in Orlando, Florida, LGBT LIVES MATTERED as did LGBT dead and wounded. 

STOP MINIMIZING THIS FACT. 

Not everyone has had to live in a society where their love was called "the love that dare not speak its name", where men and women were arrested for "fraternizing" or dancing in pubs and bars, where people were fired from their jobs if they were discovered to be gay or lesbian, where LGBT partners were denied the right to visit a loved one in the hospital, where the likes of Matthew Shepherd was strung up on fence to die, where families could legally confiscate the estates of sons and daughters they once disowned and leave their dead child's partner penniless, where LGBT individuals could have their heads bashed in just for being seen leaving a gay bar, where 49 of us could be slaughtered in Orlando. I could go on... 

What this tragedy is about is not guns or automatic weapons, though those issues have been rightly highlighted. It is about the deep-seated, visceral hatred of homosexuality and any other sexuality that is not hetero-normative. 

No other minority is, by virtue of their existence, considered EVIL and sinful. LGBT's have been labeled evil, sinful, disgusting, and worse by religious leaders. We were called heretics and burned at the stake - the likely origin of the word "faggot" as in "throw another faggot (wood bundle) on the fire." THEY PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH BIBLE OR TORAH OR QURAN PASSAGES TO THROW AT US WHILE IGNORING "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR" OR ADMONITIONS AGAINST WEALTH. 

This is what gives bigots and sexually conflicted individuals PERMISSION to KILL. 

Permission to kill those who threaten their strict, myopic, black-and-white world-view. 

YES, PERMISSION TO KILL. 

People who call themselves "pastors" or "preachers" and heads of religion-based organizations, many of them so-called-christians are, at this moment, calling for executing gays and lesbians. They are rampant on the internet. Nut-jobs? Maybe. But there are people who take them seriously. 

And even the "nice" Catholics and Lutherans and Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, and AMEZionists, and Evangelicals, and Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons and Greek Orthodox so many other "nice" christian denominations that are not calling for outright execution have contributed to this culture of name-calling and judgement and moral condemnation.

This is the background in a nutshell of the world that has engendered and fostered and reveled in hatred and discrimination toward LGBT/sexual minorities. 

Yes, people. You who cannot stand the fact that we are asserting our rights to live and to love and to exist in dignity along side everyone else. People WHO JUST DON'T GET IT!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Anger, Anguish, Grief and Sadness

Summary from my Facebook page:
MOURNING THE DEAD IN ORLANDO FLORIDA. AND OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH THE WOUNDED. OUR HEARTS ACHE FOR LOVED ONES AND THE FAMILIES OF THE DEAD AND WOUNDED.

ENOUGH VIOLENCE, ENOUGH HATRED, ENOUGH INTOLERANCE. ENOUGH!And I would add so much gratitude for the brave men and women, both civilians and professionals who assisted the wounded without regard for their own lives and safety. Truly heroes.It is time for ALL religious leaders to condemn hatred and violence toward Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Persons WITHOUT RESERVATION AND WITH CREDIBLE ACTION.


IT IS TIME TO LEAVE BEHIND LEVITICUS and CORINTHIANS and HEBREWS, and the rest of the biblical poetry, AND STOP PERSECUTING US. ENOUGH!

This heinous act may have been inspired by a distorted version of Muslim teaching, but there are distorted versions of Christianity and other religions that inspire hate and violence toward us as well.

Religions MUST figure out theologies or philosophies that are compatible with our inherent dignity as human beings, with our civil rights and with civil respect or THEY SHOULD HOLD THEIR PEACE (i.e. shut up).

We cannot allow religious extremists or even religious conservaives to define the dialogue or the laws or the culture of this diverse nation. ENOUGH!

It is not ENOUGH to PREACH "LOVE"

If religious leaders and other people of faith who have not yet realized that their teachings are dangerous and hurtful, then

THEY ARE JUST AS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE TRAGIC DEATHS as the gunman. AND THE NRA and all the Republican legislators who they've bought.

BLOOD IS ON THEIR HANDS AS WELL.

Watching news coverage almost non-stop, I am just so outraged that this could happen, especially in view of all of the bullshit that we've been going through since we got marriage equality. And yes the availability of guns is a big issue, but people must realize that people shooting a gun, nay an assault weapon, generally have a target and the belief that LGBT people are evil makes us an easy, convenient and expendable target. I am outraged and angry. I know I will probably cry a river when the reality hits over the next week, with funerals and outpouring of grief. But right now, ENOUGH!

I dread the upcoming week, not for the 50 funerals, not for the tears and sadness that will pour out as we are faced daily with the reality of the tragedy in Orlando, but for what is sure to be the twisted rhetoric from politicians and pundits who will try minimize the fact that this massacre was an act of hate aimed specifically at the LGBT Community. Some are already trying to hijack the conversation to make it about anything but violence toward the LGBT Community. We will not let the fact that a significant culture of outright hatred and bigotry toward LGBT persons, most often nourished by religious fundamentalism of various stripes, gives permission for people who share those sentiments to express their hatred more and more vehemently and to perpetrate violence to us. We must NOT let them get away with hatred in the guise of "religious freedom" nor should we ever, ever, let hateful rhetoric overshadow our love. Because the LOVE THAT DARED NOT SPEAK ITS NAME HAS DARED TO DO SO and WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED.

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/06/13/easy-weapon-access-lgbt-hate-made-orlando-masacre-possible/85813508/

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mourning The Dead

MOURNING THE DEAD IN ORLANDO FLORIDA. 
AND OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH THE WOUNDED. 
OUR HEARTS ACHE FOR LOVED ONES AND THE FAMILIES OF THE DEAD AND WOUNDED. 
And I would add so much gratitude for the brave men and women, both civilians and professionals who assisted the wounded without regard for their own lives and safety. 
Truly heroes.


ENOUGH VIOLENCE, ENOUGH HATRED, ENOUGH INTOLERANCE. ENOUGH!






It is time for ALL religious leaders to condemn hatred and violence toward Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Persons WITHOUT RESERVATION 
AND WITH CREDIBLE ACTION. 
IT IS TIME TO LEAVE BEHIND LEVITICUS AND and CORINTHIANS and HEBREWS, and the rest of the biblical poetry,
AND STOP PERSECUTING US.
ENOUGH!

This heinous act may have been inspired by a distorted version of Muslim teaching, but there are distorted versions of Christianity and other religions that inspire hate and violence toward us as well. 
Religions MUST figure out theologies or philosophies that are compatible
 with our inherent dignity as human beings, with our civil rights and with civil respect or 
THEY SHOULD HOLD THEIR PEACE (i.e. shut up). 
ENOUGH! 

We cannot allow religious extremists or even religious conservaives to define the dialogue or the laws or the culture of this diverse nation. 
ENOUGH! 

It is not ENOUGH to PREACH "LOVE"
If religious leaders and other people of faith who have not yet realized that their teachings are dangerous and hurtful, then 
THEY ARE JUST AS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE TRAGIC DEATHS as the gunman. 
AND THE NRA and all the Republican legislators who they've bought.
BLOOD IS ON THEIR HANDS AS WELL.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Am What I Am

A little classic something for Gay/LGBT Pride Month...
...from back when our Present was a Celebration and our Future was full of Promise.

 



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

President Obama's Proclamation for June 2016 Pride

President Obama Proclaims June 2016 LGBT Pride Month
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2016 --- BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Since our founding, America has advanced on an unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union. This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth. The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society. They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics. This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.
Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across State lines. For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.
LGBT individuals deserve to know their country stands beside them. That is why my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans. It is also why we oppose subjecting minors to the harmful practice of conversion therapy, and why we are continuing to promote equality and foster safe and supportive learning environments for all students. We remain committed to addressing health disparities in the LGBT community — gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color are at a particularly high risk for HIV, and we have worked to strengthen our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.
Despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are. I signed an Executive Order in 2014 that prohibits discrimination against Federal employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation that builds upon the progress we have made, because no one should live in fear of losing their job simply because of who they are or who they love. And our commitment to combatting discrimination against the LGBT community does not stop at our borders: Advancing the fair treatment of all people has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and we have made defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT individuals a priority in our engagement across the globe. In line with America’s commitment to the notion that all people should be treated fairly and with respect, champions of this cause at home and abroad are upholding the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.
There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA

More Facebook Commentary: I Want Those In Charge To Have My Back If At All Possible

Expressing one's views on social media is always putting yourself out there and one has to be prepared for differing points of view.

I know, I have had a blog for years and have occasionally gotten ripped to shreds. 

Yes, most gays are Democrats and I think for good reason. Our survival depends on it now more than ever. In the past, I could vote for a person, republican or democrat, based on their stand on a variety of issues - and neither party was so entrenched in an ideology that they could not compromise. Not so now. 

The republican party openly endorses policies that directly threaten my/our freedom, my marriage, my ability to live my life free from religious tyranny and possibly my/our very existence. 

Everything they seem to stand for is antithetical to everything I have fought for and live for and believe. 

And as far as everything takes time, that is no excuse. As far as I am concerned, the time is now. I don't have time to wait for crumbs to fall from the table of the white, male, heterosexual, privileged, corporate, elite, oligarchy. 

 If the republican congress had not obstructed EVERYTHING for the past eight years you would be amazed at what might have been accomplished through an age-old political process called negotiation and compromise. 

I suppose if you are living a comfortable life the status quo works for you. As a member of an oppressed minority who will never go back into a closet and who can be scapegoated at the drop of a hat, I am not at all comfortable. There is no republican I know of who would make me feel comfortable. I want those in charge to have my back if at all possible.

Recent comments in response to Facebook rants

I just get so fed up.

In reply to a rant against Transgender Rights:

You totally don't get it. Transgendered people don't "just wake up one day and state" that they feel like they're the opposite sex. And surgery has nothing to do with being transgendered - it is, for those who can afford it, a way to more fully become physically who they are psychologically and emotionally and spiritually. There are genetic and chromosomal differences that contribute to gender dysphoria. The problem is that the religious far right has confounded the issue and is perpetrating out and out lies to engender fear - unfounded fears - in people who don't have the desire or intelligence to inform themselves of the facts. You may be sick of the "transgendered stuff and all of their rights" but thank god or your stars that you don't have to live as a transgendered individual. I've met and known transgendered individuals and believe me, it is absolutely ludicrous for any of them to be using the bathroom corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. If Theo or Samuel walked into the men's room right behind you, you wouldn't bat an eye. They have been doing so for years. Now some bathroom nazi is going to ask for their birth certificates (and yours) before allowing them (and you) into the men's room? And they, beards and all, would have to go to the ladies' room and potentially "scare little girls" a whole lot more than a trans woman ever would. Ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous.


In reply to a rant against Obama:

You bet I'd vote for Obama again. He is intelligent, dignified, understands international relations and foreign policy, and had done an excellent job DESPITE Republican obstructionism and outright hatred and disrespect. Your poster is simplistic nonsense. I'd hate to see the current republican candidate making critical decisions. He has made the US a laughing stock around the world. The international community is certainly already planning a strategy to deal with a loose cannon in the Oval Office.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Report: "Call Me By Your Name" by André Aciman


I finally finished Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. 

I can’t say it was a real page-turner for me, which is probably why I read it over several weeks. I had read several excellent reviews and hoped that this book would live up to the expectations they engendered.

The narrator, Elio, a precocious seventeen year-old becomes infatuated with Oliver, who is a few years older and a summer guest of Elio’s Jewish family living on the Italian Rivera. Oliver is a summer intern for Elio’s father, a professor. So Elio and Oliver have very intellectual and esoteric conversations, that is, when they are not having coded, innuendo-laden, ambiguous exchanges. This works for a while but by the half-way point of the book has become tedious because Elio is constantly analyzing and second-guessing what it all means. 

The reader is left guessing as well: will they or won’t they? Enough mental masturbation and teasing. I became quite impatient with Elio’s self-reflective monologues and endless rumination as well as with the prolonged cat-and-mouse game between Elio and Oliver; though I wasn’t sure who was the cat and who was the mouse or if most of it was just in Elio’s imagination until Oliver confessed to having feelings for Elio even though they both seemed to go to great lengths to avoid, not only their own feelings, but each other.

I am being much too critical here because on some level I can relate to being in Rome as a twenty year-old student and being confused about expressing my sexuality and having been infatuated with a guy that I’d said good-by to in the States - a person I’ve ruminated on and written about in my own memoir and whom I often wondered whether there was anything between us. So the story is, perhaps, at its core, believable -- but more believable in 1968.

I did occasionally like the author’s style (presenting dialogue as part of Elio’s reflection or at times, as entirely hypothetical, I think) and I found many of the author's passages beautifully worded, though sometimes to a fault.

I really wanted to read a gay love story but was left somewhat disappointed with the characters’ supposed bi-sexual proclivities. I found Elio to be presented as perhaps “gayer” than Oliver, so his sexual exploits with Marzia seemed out of character. That, and the insinuation that Oliver was also having heterosexual encounters was a real turn-off for me. I like my men Kinsey-sixes. I guess I wasn’t surprised that Oliver eventually gets married to a woman and has a family. This is a familiar story.

Back to when Elio and Oliver finally had sex: it was anti-climactic and only minimally romantic. It was once again Elio’s thoughts, feelings and self-doubts that took the excitement out of it - it was not so much sex as thinking about having or having had sex that was most real for Elio. We never really know much about what Oliver thinks or feels.

I am fascinated with endings. Too often authors seem at a loss when it comes to tying up loose ends and ending a novel. I liked the ending of this book. 

Except for the fact that, even when they meet twenty years later, both Oliver and Elio are much too young for the wisdom they’ve acquired, their final two encounters seem somewhat more real and believable. 

But Elio hasn't changed: he still wishes for Oliver to be, to say the words that would mean, everything to him. We never know what Oliver says when he says good-bye for the last time. Hopefully it wasn’t “Later!”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Something for Mothers and.....Too Weird and Too Sad

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Grandma, Maria Concetta [Carlino] DeFrancesco
Grandma, Rosa [Nesta] Daversa
Mom, Theresa [Daversa] DeFrancesco
My paternal grandmother, my gramma, Maria Concetta Carlino DeFrancesco was born in Polistena, near Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. The territory was part of Magna Graecia, in centuries BC, and the name derives from the Greek, Polyxene or Polysthene. But I can’t trace my family much further back than my great-grandparents.

My gramma used to tell stories. Stories of the old country. Apocryphal stories about the saints. Stories with lessons about life and family. But she rarely if ever talked about her childhood or her upbringing or her own family.

I can only piece together a sketch of her life in Calabria from things she hinted at when telling her lessons. She often mentioned the fountain, La Fontana, where the villagers got their drinking water, and maybe only once mentioned the olive groves where they shook ripe olives from the trees onto blankets or burlap tarps and gathered them up for the harvest.

She told about how she used to skin rabbits. After making a slit in the rabbit’s skin and inserting a tube of rigatoni she would blow into the pasta tube to make the air separate the rabbit’s skin from the flesh. And she would peel the skin and fur off the rabbit “like-a you’ pajamas” she would say.

The image of grandma as a young girl peeling the furry pajamas off a rabbit still makes me smile just a bit.

Grandma never talked about her parents. I was never sure why that was.

I remember when she came to our house one Sunday and we were listening to a record album of Italian and Neapolitan songs. One of the songs “Mamma,” seemed to cause her to become a bit emotional - a side of her I’d rarely seen.

It was years before I understood that not only did she leave behind her family in Italy, but that her own mother had died when she was young. Her father had remarried and he and his new wife had more children - two that I know of, Maria Antonietta grandma’s half sister, and Salvatore, a half brother.

Maria Antonietta who we called aunt Zi’Mar’Antone also came to the US. I remember grandma having a kind of rivalry with Zi’Mar’Antone and it was clear she didn’t like or respect her half-sister very much.

I think grandma held some resentment toward the woman who took her mother’s place and bore her half-siblings. But I never really knew that for certain. I did come to realize that the pain of losing her mother was something she bore for her entire lifetime.


For my mother and my grammas:





While working on this post for mother's day and deciding to post a rare photo of my mother with both of my grandmothers, I found myself easily diverted to google maps to find the town of Polistena, Calabria, Italy, the town where my paternal grandmother was born.

There I spotted a street named Via Agrati and immediately thought of Don Agrati (Don Grady) of the TV shows,  Mouseketeers and My Three Sons. He of course was one of the first celebrities I had a teenage crush on while growing up.

As one thing leads to another, I Googled: "What ever happened to Don Grady?" only to learn that he died in 2012.


Why I felt such a profound sense of sadness, I'm not entirely certain. He was only four years older than me, and he died at the age of 68, the age I am now. Yet he is, and always will be, a teenager in my mind and in my libido.

I was reminded about the time, a few years ago, that I looked up a buddy, I hadn't seen in many years, Dennis Silva, for whom I had quite the hots back in my sophomore year of college and about whom I wrote in my memoir - where I called him Silvio DaVilla.

I knew that he was on the faculty of a small college in upstate New York, so, using that information, I  Googled him - only to find, at the top of the page, his obituary. He died in 2012 also.

There again I experienced such a profound sadness that seemed out of all proportion. After all, we never kept in touch, so it wasn't like losing a close friend.

Perhaps it was a different kind of loss. Dennis Silva, Don Agrati, both were men I had had crushes on, been infatuated with or maybe even loved in some way. I don't want these men to be dead; I don't want my fantasy to die along with them.

Perhaps it was realizing that death is unfair, that it comes too soon, that it robs the living when it takes a friend, a love, a fantasy. When it rips a secret out of one's heart.

And though I started with a tribute to two generations of mothers, my mother and my grandmothers, I was brought to a totally different place where I reflect on the ephemeral nature of life and my own mortality.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Much Needed Kick-In-The-Pants From One Of My Readers

I have of late thought about discontinuing this blog...as I often feel I have little to say or no energy or enthusiasm to say it. 

But I received a comment today from Kathy, one of my loyal readers after posting about my meager royalties from my published memoir.  She said:

I don't know much about this sort of thing. Maybe you need to build up your online presence. Post more often on your blog and when someone leaves a comment it might help if you acknowledge that comment. Also, comment more often on the blogs you visit. I have seen some very popular blogs that receive numerous hits. One example is a blog written by a man who writes about nothing in particular. But yet he's open and honest in his telling of everyday, mundane matters. He shares his thoughts on the funny and the absurd and yes, even those things that piss him off. His blog is no different than yours in terms of content. The big difference is that he posts something almost every single day. His readership is through the roof and many people have asked him to write a book. If you can build a relationship with your audience they will think of you as a friend. It takes time and effort to build up a readership. You have to be dedicated and disciplined. I am interested in your life and when I first found your blog I went back to the very beginning and read every post. Something has changed and you have lost the desire to write. It's a shame because you have so much to offer.
"I could be telling you about the wind storms in New Mexico or the Sunday brunch at San Marcos Cafe. Or about the Community Garden in Cochiti Lake or about Leon's job at the Mini-Mart".
Why not write about this stuff? I would like to know how things are going because I am invested in you and think you and Leon have a story worth telling.


My reply:

Wow!

Thank you Kathy, for your very thoughtful and engaging comments. You are right, I have lost some of my enthusiasm for writing. Other things have become priorities, and maybe not for the better. Our move to New Mexico, while providing great topics for writing, has taken up a great deal of time and energy...

I am lousy at self-promotion and I become easily discouraged. After so many years of having a blog with less and less feedback from readers and "demands" from family and friends to keep them informed via Facebook, a format that I deeply despise, I find that I have little time or energy for the more creative stuff that I was aiming for with Reluctant Rebel.

You have given me much to think about and maybe a little incentive to get back to basics. Facebook sucks the life out of me! One feels obligated to check on "friends" from time to time, read their posts and re-posted cute sayings and trite platitudes, watch funny videos and view every comment that people make on everyone else's post. Little energy is left for thought or writing. I don't know how some writers and bloggers continue while also keeping up with FB, Twitter, and a slew of other social media.

Perhaps I will try reviving RR and only post links to it on FB.

Thank you for being such a loyal reader. I really appreciate your comments, your encouragement and the kick in the pants that maybe I need to get me back on track. People tell me that writing takes discipline - something I apparently have little of. I'm not sure I can change that character flaw, but I will have to try re-prioritizing some things. I'm not sure our dog Benni will appreciate not being priority #1, so maybe writing will have to come in at #2 or #3....

Thank you again, Kathy, whoever you are and wherever you are...and I will use this as the post for the day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Royalties (no not Royalty)


Got my $20.98 author royalty check the other day - from the publisher. (That's not a typo). I'm not sure what that represents as there were other outlets on line besides Amazon where my account has me down for a total of 9 sales!

If that is the total of my on-line sales, it comes to approximately $2.33 per book.

I wonder how that will effect next year's taxes.

I figured I'd have sold a few hundred thousand copies by now and that Hollywood would be contacting me for the screenplay and movie rights. Well, I'll give them another year.

The thing is, it's a pretty good read if I do say so myself. One problem is that the cover price is too high - something I had nothing to do with. I know I would hesitate before spending $25 for a memoir by an unknown author. I might not even pay $25 for a great book. 

I'd give rebates if I could, but at $20.98 profit, that ain't going to happen. That's less than the price of a single copy...now that I think of it.

Hey, but if you have 25 bucks buy the book. 

But only if you will ACTUALLY READ IT. I wrote it for a reason...




Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WARNING! DANGER AHEAD!

This keeps happening in Republican controlled State Legislatures. They will try anything to turn back LGBT equality and LGBT rights. Now Mississippi!

See JMG here

Yes, I'm also on an "expose North Carolina bigotry" binge. I could be telling you about the wind storms in New Mexico or the Sunday brunch at San Marcos Cafe. Or about the Community Garden in Cochiti Lake or about Leon's job at the Mini-Mart.

But NO, I'm really pissed at the NC legislature and governor. They are backwards thinking bigots in the guise of "Protector of Women in Bathrooms"

A Sign I Can Imagine Being Posted In Pro-LGBT North Carolina Businesses: "We Do Not Serve Bigots Based On Deeply Held Religious Beliefs and You Can't use Our Rest Rooms Either"

The Keep NC Safe group is utterly ludicrous:

See JMG here

From the Huffington Post: A transgender man in Georgia summed up his thoughts on North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which blocks cities from allowing trans people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.


James Parker Sheffield, 36, sent a clear and direct message to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory with a snapshot and a simply-worded tweet on March 23.



And there's this:


Saturday, March 26, 2016

North Carolina - I Can't Believe I'm Posting About This State Again!

From the editorial board of the New York Times:

 "By promoting the ludicrous idea that transgender women are inherently dangerous, the law endangers citizens who are already disproportionately vulnerable to violence and stigmatization. Transgender men go largely unmentioned in bathroom bill debates, but that could change. James Parker Sheffield, a transgender man with a beard, exposed the foolishness of the law in a tweet to the governor. “It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife,” he wrote, attaching a photo of himself. North Carolina could face serious economic repercussions from the law. It can expect a backlash from leading employers, a potential cut in federal education funding and lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law."

 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

North Carolina - Shame

THE BACKLASH CONTINUES

North Carolina just took the LGBT rights movement in that state 10 years backwards. Backwards being the operative word. Backwards in time, backwards in thinking, backwards in civility, backwards in history.

The backwards North Carolina legislature passed a bill that would ban and/or nullify any local city ordinance protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender persons from discrimination.

North Carolina - SHAME!  We thought you were a little more enlightened.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Donald Trump (HBO)

This is well worth a watch even if it is over 20 minutes long. John Oliver demolishes DT and it is not only true but funny.

Monday, February 15, 2016

THE HATE AND LIES CONTINUE



As one of my Facebook readers said, a rare sign for those who are
prone to express such sentiments:
All of the words are spelled correctly


As I say in the epilogue of my memoir:
"Our sexuality, our gayness, is mostly invisible to others. Coming out and being out involves being visible—both when we look in the mirror and when others see us. Sometimes, in order to be visible to others, we have to be “in their face.”

Sometimes we need to tell our stories, each of us, story after story, after story, until they “get it.”
Because “they” are still trying to define “us,” tell us who they think we are, tell us that we are objectively disordered or immoral or sinful or worse.
Who are “they” and who do they think they are?

Unfortunately “they” are not only the ignorant and bigoted, but often otherwise intelligent and sometimes even well-meaning individuals. Why do “they” think they know more about our sexuality, or us, than we do? More to the point, why do they care?

Certainly “they” outnumber “us” and we’ve always been an easy target. Does their inability to save our souls or change us, or to limit our freedom somehow make them inadequate or fearful? What is in it for “them” that they so persist?

It amazes and frustrates me that our stories—the actual lived experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals—are so summarily ignored, discounted, and dismissed.

It baffles me that many vocal and influential individuals persist in holding to and disseminating absurd, erroneous, and irrelevant opinions about us.

This is unacceptable and can no longer be tolerated.

“They” can only make their own positions tenable by repeating questionable scriptures, fabricated “studies,” pseudo-science, and OUTRIGHT LIES —and repeating them over and over as they wholly disregard us and our voices.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Provincetown For Sale

The Provincetown we have known and loved has been changing for years, and some might say, not for the better.

I have complained before how the town, the accommodations, the restaurants, the bars, the retail stores, even the coffee and ice cream have all been moving toward the outer reaches of affordability.

And now this.

McMillan Wharf has been sold  to a super wealthy marina developer who wants to bring in lots of yachts and even more wealthy people who will demand more and more expensive amenities.

McMillan Wharf Sold to Developer

So this is progress?

Provincetown is being SOLD piece by piece to the UltraWealthy. The yachts will dock and they will stay at the "boutique" hotel. 

They will demand taxis and uber drivers, the restaurant prices will increase further, LGBT folk will slowly retreat to Truro or the lower Cape, Neiman Marcus will open a summer retail outlet called Neiman Lite, and the only grocery store in town will be Whole (paycheck) Foods.
I swear if Donald Trump moves into town I will never set foot in Provincetown again.
Oh, but the sewer system will fail eventually.



The old fishermen's wives are turning in their graves, I'm sure.


Yachts will replace fishing boats

But the shark ain't in the water.

The little boats will be welcome, but can they afford a boat slip in the new upscale marina?



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