Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !!




2008 has been the worst year of my life. I thought 1982, the year I came out and separated from my wife, was a bad year ... but it does not hold a candle to 2008. But I survived 1982 and I guess I will survive 2008 whether I want to or not.

It is fitting that I am hurting with migraine episodes today. Concentrating on the computer seems to help somewhat ... but nothing is like a nap in a quiet, dark room ... especially when someone is there to look over me and love me. I miss that. A lot. I miss Steve's taking care of me, worrying about me, thinking of me first ... the way I thought of him first. Yes, I miss that. I grieve for my loss. A lot.

Here's to hoping that 2009 brings peace and calm to us all. Goddbye 2008, goodbye Steve. Happy New Year's for us all.

Richard

Back To The Sixties

I usually hate these remebrance things that only remember the good and conveniently forget the bad. But this Back To The Sixties flash presentation is extremely well done ... and does capture the feel of the 1960's for white, heterosexual Americans. It is not too long and you may enjoy it.

Thanks Gregg for tipping this.

How To Spend The Holidays In Style!



While I sit at home with Molly and Madison and Yule, my darling daughter is off on another adventure in Asia. Here's her "New Year's" email (with her permission.)

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Dear All,

Dave and I are staying at the Chaweng Chalet in Koh Samui, Thailand. Koh Samui is a beautiful little island with white sand beaches, crystal water and lots of Thai food.

We are having a great time and it is very safe and comfortable. We paid about $40 dollars a night to get an "upper end" hotel bungalow which is clean, no bugs or pests, and they staff is very nice. It is right on the beach and breakfast is free (made to order eggs and bacon, ham, etc.)

We an rode elephant, swam in a waterfall, and rode a motorbike to a night market where a pop singer had a show.

Today we are going to the south end so I can have a surfing lesson.

We go back to Korea on Wednesday night (New Years Eve). We'll be in the Bangkok airport for New Years, but it was all worth it.

Okay, Love you all.

Sa Wah Dee Ka (Thai Goodbye)

-C

Rev. Rick Warren, President Elect Barack Obama, and My Doctor in Paradise


Last summer, Rev. Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church held a nationally televised "debate" between Barack Obama and John McCain. Actually he interviewed each candidate separately - but it was the first occasion to see the two of them side by side.


Candidate Obama did not agree with Rev. Warren on LGBT Rights or the right of women to control their own bodies or other issues. Still he came and had a conversation with Rev. Warren - a civilized, calm conversation that did nothing to change either man's mind on cultural issues.


Rev. Warren, on his website and in public announcements, has declared self-affirming gays and lesbians as unfit for membership in his church. He has compared marriage equality for gay and lesbian families with polygamy and incest. Gays and lesbians find this deeply insulting.


President elect Obama has invited Rev. Warren to give the invocation at his ignaugeration. Progressive people across the USA were outraged by this invitation. Why?


IF President elect Obama actually believes that gays and lesbians are just as good as straight citizens, then it is an insult to give a place of honor to one who publicly says that gays and lesbians are sinners and not as good as straight people. It would be like President Lyndon B. Johnson (president for the 1964 Civil Rights Act) inviting a racist minister to his ignaugeration. It would be like President Lincoln inviting a Southern State's Right To Secede minister to his ignaugeration.


President elect Obama's invitation appears to point to a bigoted President where LGBT rights are concerned. And that makes folks mad.


On the other hand ... President elect Obama will be president for the MANY Americans who believe as Rev. Warren believes. He cannot simply ignore their existence ... he must engage them in conversation if we are ever to have a united country that supports the civil rights of ALL its citizens. Perhaps he is wise to have invited Rev. Warren even though the two men do not share common positions on many issues.


It is like my heart doctor in Paradise CA. I have been under his care for a couple of years and am fully satisfied with his treatment. BUT the database hit a bull's eye on his name ... he did indeed contribute $1,000 to the "Yes On Proposition 8" campaign. What am I to do?


A wise brother told me to fire that doctor and go elsewhere for treatment. That is the approach many men and women of conscience are taking with "Yes On 8" supporters. And I agree with their actions in the cities. But this is not "the cities," this is a rural area with many small towns. MOST of our neighbors in Paradise voted "Yes" on Proposition 8. That is scary but true.


I have decided NOT to fire my doctor. Instead, when I see him in January, I will engage him in a conversation. A conversation about my family. A personal conversation about Steve and Carey and me. If we are able to have a calm and civil conversation, then he will continue as my doctor. If we cannot have that conversation, I will look elsewhere for care.


But in thinking and feeling my way through my relationship with my heart doctor, I better understand Barack Obama's invitation to Rev. Rick Warren. I do not agree with that invitation; I do not support that invitation; but I do understand it better now.

This Holiday Season

Here is a picture that is very unusual. Why?
First off, it is 2008 and I am actually happy in this photograph. The moments of happiness since Steve died have been few and far between. For me to be happy when my brother is holding my camera is quite unusual.
Second, my Mom is the photograph. This is VERY unusual. She hates having her picture taken and is going to be really mad at me for putting this photograph online. I don't care (much). I have always believed that my Mother is beautiful and she IS beautiful ... even early in the morning on Christmas Eve. She will never acknowledge that fact, but it is true! I got this photograph by giving my camera to my brother and then sneaking behind my Mom. She caught on and grinned. I treasure this photograph!
This second photo is of me while I was walking the dogs after returning to Ravenhurst in Cherokee. I include it on this last day of the year because it will record that indeed I did have hair in 2008. I grew it out as a Christmas present for my parents. On January 1st it all comes off! I kind of like this photo of me - I am not smiling for a change ... in fact I look somber. I was thinking about the camera and the length of my arm at the time - no earth shattering thoughts.
Well, that's it ... I just wanted to show you what I looked like these days. Oh yes, for more about my amazing and talented Mom, go here. These are but a few of the lovely icons she has created for the computer. I am certain that if you spend any time surfing the web, you have seen her icons here and there. I certainly have.

Uniting American Families Act

The UAFA is a vitally needed law before the US Congress. Until passage of this law, thousands of American families are being torn apart. Here's what the good folks at Change.org have to say:

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The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 2221, S. 1328) is a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.

Every year, thousands of same-sex couples are separated or live in constant fear of being stopped by officials who demand to see documentation and threaten detention. In some cases, same-sex partners face prosecution by the Immigration and Naturalization Service - including hefty fines and deportations. U.S. citizens are sometimes left with no other choice but to immigrate with their partners to a country with more fair-minded immigration laws.

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Change.org has an excellent website and a place for you to "sign on" as a supporter of this bill. Please go there and sign on to this this Net action.

LGBT News Round Up For Wednesday December 31, 2008

Here you go ... last day of the year!

Three Men Gunnede Down In New Orleans: New Orleans police are searching for the killers of three black gay men after they were found dead at their home on December 18th.
Felix Pearson, 19, Kenneth Monroe, 27, and Darriel Wilson, 20, lived together in New Orleans, all from Mississippi. They were found by the building manager who saw one of the victim's bodies through the window and alerted the authorities. At least two of the men are known to have been gay and one was possibly transgender, as one of the victims was found by police "wearing women's clothes." PinkNews

Gays Threaten Disruption Of Italian Music Festival: December 23 - Italian gay rights group Arcigay on Tuesday threatened to disrupt Italy's biggest musical event of the year, the Sanremo song festival, if a song apparently about 'converting' gays to heterosexuality is not pulled.The song by 36-year-old Milan singer-songwriter Povia, entitled Luca Was Gay, was announced on Monday as one of 16 numbers that will compete for the title of best song at next year's festival in February. ANSA

Good Prop 8 Activism Essay by James Hipp: (in part) After California voters passed Proposition 8 on November 4, which took away the rights of gays, lesbians to marry, the LGBT community and their straight allies took to the streets of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, in protest after protest, demanding the repeal of the ballot measure. The fallout from the amendment has also sparked numerous boycotts that forced many “Yes on 8” contributors like L.A. Film Festival director Richard Raddon into the unemployment line. GayAgenda

Vatican Breaks With Italian Law Over UN Declaration Of Human Rights: A new statute coming into effect on January 1st will allow the Vatican to bypass Italian law. This comes in the wake of a row at the UN, where the Vatican refused to sign up to a universal declaration of human rights regardless of gender or sexuality. Under current laws, the Holy See must accept Italian laws automatically apart from in the case of "radical incompatibility" with canon law. The new statute signed by Pope Benedict XVI will put an end to this system. PinkNews

"White Knot" New Symbol For Marriage Equality: The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. It takes two traditional symbols of marriage—white and tying the knot—and combines them in a simple way to show support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry. All loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows.
Visibility is the goal. Whether you are gay or straight, please show your support by wearing the Knot and telling people why you are wearing it. It may seem like a small thing, but imagine the White Knot gaining the pervasiveness and instant recognition of the AIDS Ribbon. WhiteKnot.Org

More Transgender Violence In Memphis Tennessee: Another transgender woman has been shot in Memphis, becoming the third transgender shooting victim in the city in just six months. Campaigners have blamed the murders on a lack of job opportunities for transgender people, saying that some have no option other than working on the streets where they are at risk from attacks. Leeneshia Edwards was shot in the face, side and back in the 'box town' area of the city last week and is recovering in hospital. Her family have said she worked as a prostitute. Pink News

GLBT Historical Society Opens Castro Museum: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society held a festive ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 18 at its new museum and exhibit, “Passionate Struggle: Dynamics of San Francisco’s GLBT History.” The museum is located on the corner of Castro and 18th Streets. Invited guests were staff, donors, and volunteers. “We are in a magical moment, where a few months ago we were offered this space by Washington Mutual Bank to be able to create an exhibit in time for the release of the MILK film,” explained GLBTHS Executive Director Paul Boneberg. The curators of the museum are Amy Sueyoshi and Don Romesburg. “We wanted to create an exhibit that tells the tale of both our sorrows and our happinesses,” said Sueyoshi. “We wanted to create a story that was as heroic as it was true,” said Romesburg. San Francisco Bay Times

Gay And Bisexual Black Men Least Likely To Seek Testing For Prostate: A new study published in the December issue of Medical Care claims that African-American gay and bisexual men are the least likely to be tested for prostate cancer than any other men. The study, by assistant professor Kevin C. Heslin of Charles Drew University, Los Angeles, explored rates of prostate cancer in relation to sexual orientation and ethnicity. Interviews with 19,410 men, all aged over 50 years, showed that the proportion of black gay or bisexual men who had been tested was 12-14%. This figure is significantly lower than the proportion of straight black men, and 15-28% lower than gay or bisexual white men. Pink News

"Traditional Family"

Penn and Teller of Showtime do a terrific and well researched show on Traditional Families. I learned a few things and found it both entertaining and educational. I hope you will too. The YouTube videos are in three parts.






Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting story out of Madison WI today. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the government to prevent prayers and the Bible at the ignaugeration. They make some interesting arguments and give a real insight into history. The full story is here, but here are some of the more intriguing paragraphs:

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to stop prayer from being part of the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration. The Madison-based foundation, its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor and several of its members are among the 29 co-plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, Newdow vs. Roberts, filed Monday by attorney Michael Newdow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks to stop the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration.

The 34-page legal complaint said for most of the country's history, clergy has not led prayers at inaugurations.

Similarly, the lawsuit seeks to stop U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from using the religious phrase, "so help me God," in the presidential oath of office.

"Interlarding those ceremonies with clergy who espouse sectarian religious dogma does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry," Newdow's complaint reads. "Similarly, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built."

This is Newdow's third lawsuit over the issue, so Gaylor said she is not holding her breath about getting the court to agree in time for the inauguration.

"But even if we don't get the injunction, it is also asking to have a judge declare this practice unconstitutional," Gaylor said. "The lawsuit could continue after the inauguration. We think we should win. Whether we will win in today's current climate, I don't know."

Of the nation's 57 public presidential inaugurations, Newdow pointed out, 39 were devoid of clergy-led prayers and only 18, spanning the last 72 years, have included them.

The notion that "so help me God" was added to the presidential oath by George Washington is a myth, Newdow said. Not until 1881 can the first use of "so help me God" as an addition to the presidential oath be traced. The phrase was apparently used only intermittently until 1933, according to the complaint. That unauthorized alteration has been used by the Chief Justice since then.

The complaint points out that the Bible that is traditionally used in the inauguration, not only calls atheists fools, but says atheists as blasphemers should be put to death, Gaylor said.

"There is good reason for those of us who are nonreligious to be offended by the Bible, by God being brought up at an official inauguration," she said.

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This reminds me that our country's motto, "In God We Trust", was not added until the Civil War years. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Monroe would have been appalled at this motto - they FIRMLY believed in the separation of church and state. Wish we did too.

LGBT News Round Up For Tuesday Dec 30, 2008

Here's a few things that caught my eye today. I provide my headline, a few paragraphs and the citation. Click on the citation for the full story.

ACLU Sues Over Arkansas Ban on Unmarried Couples Adopting: "More than a dozen families filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new Arkansas law banning unmarried couples living together from becoming foster or adoptive parents. The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the families in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to overturn Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month's general election. "Act 1 violates the state's legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else," said Marie-Bernarde Miller, a Little Rock attorney in the lawsuit." Fox News

Another Look At NJ Discrimination Case: "A church group that owns beachfront property discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony, a New Jersey department ruled Monday in a case that has become a flash point in the nation's gay rights battle. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their ceremony in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's Law Against Discrimination." Washington Times

Australian equality act inquiry could be delayed until 2011: "An Australian Senate committee has recommended an inquiry into the need for an equality act banning homophobic or transphobic discrimination, following complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC is currently unable to protect the LGBT community fully as federal protections do not cover homophobia in the media or commercial services as other forms of discrimination are. This inquiry, however, would not report its findings until after the next federal election in 2011, if it takes place at all." Pink News

Fighting Marriage Equality By Banning Marriage: "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association regularly made the pavilion available for public use, including weddings, so Vespa-Papaleo stated it was bound by the state law against discrimination from barring civil unions.
The pavilion was not dedicated for use solely for the practice of religion, so applying the anti-discrimination statute would not impair the association’s “free exercise of religion,” Vespa-Papaleo added. The division did however reject a similar discrimination claim by a second gay couple due to the fact they applied for a permit to use the pavilion two days after the association banned all weddings there. It looks like they took a great measure of blocking all weddings to show their homophobia!" GayAgenda.Com

Mother Fighting Discriminatory Paramour Clause of Divorce: "Divorcee and mother of two Angel Chandler has approached the Tennessee Court of Appeals to allow her to have her female partner stay overnight. Ms Chandler, who has been with her partner for almost a decade, is appealing against a child custody restriction known as a paramour clause, in which she is not permitted to have her lover stay overnight if her children are present." Pink News

Playstation Game, PS Home, Restricts Gay Words: "A 3D social gaming community on Playstation 3, Home allows users to meet online in a virtual world, where they can watch trailers of new games, play virtual pool and bowling together, and chat to each other via instant messaging. Just weeks after the launch of the new product, however, Home has received complaints about its instant messaging feature; the text filter does not allow users to type the words "gay", "lesbian" or "bisexual" when communicating with other players. Gaming enthusiast Michael Marsh came across the restrictive filter when trying to create a "gay/straight alliance club" on Home. He said: "By blocking a word like 'gay,' which is a preferred term by the gay community, you're encouraging it as a bad word. I can understand if they're filtering out profanity, but if feel like it's discrimination." Pink News

Hochner opens doors for gay cinema in Israel: "As he looked around the Tel Aviv theater and asked questions of the audience, Israeli filmmaker Yair Hochner could see a smattering of Orthodox Jewish men distinguished by their religious dress - and the way they avoided his attention. "They were trying to hide - like putting their hands on their faces and stuff like that," Hochner says. "It was very touching to see." Touching because Hochner was screening "Antarctica," his dramedy about gay and lesbian Israelis, and the Orthodox Jews were wrestling with their consciences to be there. Orthodox Judaism prohibits same-sex relations, which "Antarctica" spotlights in an explicit way. " San Francsico Chronicle

Spanish judge suspended for discrimination against lesbian parents: "A Spanish judge has suspended from work after attempting to stop a lesbian adopting her wife's child. Same-sex couples are permitted to adopt children in Spain, and gay marriage was legalised there in 2005. South east Murcia's Superior Justice Court suspended Judge Fernando Ferrin Calamita for two years, and ordered that he pay the woman £5,778 in compensation." Pink News

Prop 8 Supporters Violated Election Reporting Laws In Fund Raising: "Those who ran the successful ballot proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage in California (Prop 8) did not report all of the donor information as required by state law. The group failed to get the occupations of the most of those who contributed to the campaign. In a statement Monday however, Joe Kanefield, the state’s top election official said that the poor wording of the law allows them to get away without obtaining that information. He added they are not required to give back the donations or pay a fine for not providing complete information." GayAgenda.Com

Obama advisor supports choice of anti-gay preacher for inauguration: "President-elect Barack Obama's senior advisor David Axelrod has spoken in support of the decision invite evangelical preacher Rick Warren to his inauguration.
Mr Axelrod is a chief advisor to President-elect Obama. Speaking on NBC, Mr Axelrod defended the controversial decision to include Warren in the ceremony. "The important point here is you have a conservative evangelical pastor coming to take part in the inauguration of a progressive president," he said according to the Associated Press. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his January 20th inauguration in Washington DC. The decision sparked outrage, particularly amongst the gay community.

Gay congressman Barney Frank said: "Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair. If he was inviting Rev Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing. But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honour. It has traditionally given as a mark of great respect. I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect." " Pink News

Religious Reich Up In Arms Over Anti-Gay Blacklist: This is a different entry - in several stories on Religious Reich and conservative websites, I read that the Religious Reich is upset that supporters of marriage equality have the audacity to hold people responsible for funding the negation of their civil rights. They really, really hate the anti-gay blacklist. Here is the website for the "Blacklist." http://www.antigayblacklist.com/

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Jersey Methodist Case

During the Proposition H8 Campaign, lots of lies were spread about the case of two lesbians in New Jersey who disputed the Methodist Church. The basic lie was that churches lost their tax exemption for refusing to marry gays. That is a BIG lie!

The truth is that the Methodist Church owns a square mile of ocean front property at Ocean Grove in New Jersey. Part of this property is a boardwalk. On this board walk is a pavilion. The Church organization allowed folks to use the ocean side pavilion for weddings - all faiths. But they denied two lesbians the right to use the pavilion.

Today, an administrative judge found that the Methodists discriminated against the lesbians in violation of state law.

Previously the Methodists lost their tax exempt status ONLY for the pavilion - not for the boardwalk or the other dwellings and buildings on the square mile of ocean front property. They lost their tax exemption because of PUBLIC USE of the pavilion, not for religious beliefs. The ruling was that if the Methodists did not allow ALL members of the public to use the pavilion, then it was not a public facility and should be taxed.

No "Church" or sanctuary lost its tax exemption, only one small pavilion in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

Tony Grew on Pope Benedict


I have long admired Tony Grew's writing at Pink News in the United Kingdom. His commentary on Pope Benedict's most recent homophobic teachings hit the spot:


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by Tony Grew, December 23, 2008


Imagine if a world leader said that Jews were a threat to humanity.


Imagine the outrage such a statement would provoke, especially if that leader was German.

Just days before the celebration of the birth of Christ, the saviour of the world, a man who claims to he his representative on earth has chosen to vilify and attack the very existence of a vulnerable and persecuted minority group.

It is an instructive exercise to take Pope Benedict's latest homophobic outburst and substitute the word "Jew" for "homosexual."

The Pope's detractors are always quick to point to his service in the Hitler Youth as a teenager.
His supporters are equally quick to insist his membership was compulsory and that the young Joseph Ratzinger was never a Nazi, just an innocent German boy who was forced into a form of national service while his country was at war.

That is probably true.

But today, as the world reels from another outburst of pure hatred and abuse directed at gays and lesbians, and an ever more vicious attack on trans people, it is hard not to wonder how much his early years affected his attitudes.

Gay people are a serious threat to the existence of humanity, as serious as global warming. Does any of that rhetoric sound familiar?

Even the most casual observer of history cannot help but be struck by the chilling parallel.
Since he took control of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005, Benedict has displayed an obsession with gay people.

Again and again he has demeaned, demonised and targeted sexual minorities.

We can only hope the hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics across the world do not take their leader at his word.

History is littered with the consequences of statements like Pope Benedict's.

Perhaps he would feel better if gay people wore a special badge, so that Catholics can identify these destroyers of humanity.

If gays are as dangerous as Pope Benedict claims, the only logical conclusion is that they should be prevented from teaching children, running businesses, owning property - surely if these people threaten our very civilisation, they should be stopped.

Any person who claims to be a Christian should be ashamed of thinking, never mind saying, that any group of people, of God's creations, are a "threat" to humanity.

But to hear this poison fall from the lips of a German who lived through the Holocaust, lived through the horrors of war, would make Jesus himself weep.
Photograph from PinkNews.co.uk

LGBT News Round Up For 12-29-08

Here's a few stories I found interesting today. I quote the first paragraph or so. Click on the source for the full story.

New Jersey Lesbians Win Part Of Case Against Methodists: "A lesbian couple that was barred from holding a civil union ceremony at a beachfront pavilion owned by a church group has won a legal victory. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said in a ruling Monday that there is probable cause that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns a square-mile of beachfront property near Asbury Park, discriminated against Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster by not renting the oceanfront spot to the couple for a civil union ceremony in March 2007. While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, it does not end the case, which has become a major symbol in the gay rights battle in New Jersey and beyond. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties." New York Blade

Study Shows "Virginity Pledges" Put Teens At Risk: "Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today." Huffington Post

Pope Takes Another Swing At Marriage Equality: "That’s right, the Pope is at it yet again, with his third strike against gays in just weeks. This time it was at a
pro-family rally in Madrid, Spain this past Sunday. Spain is one of the few countries which has legalized same-sex marriage.
The pope spoke in front of hundreds of thousands of people who were attending a Mass aimed at reversing the country’s three-year-old gay marriage law. He insisted that Christian families need to “remain strong”." GayAgenda.com

Transgender Bangladeshis to vote 12-29-08: "Today's general elections in Bangladesh will be the first ever to allow transgender people to cast ballots. A Bangladeshi court ruled that transgender people are fully-fledged citizens and must have the right to vote. 100,000 transgender people are expected to be amongst the 81 million voters predicted to turn out to vote. Pink News

Homophobic Families Harm Gay Teenagers, Study Claims: "For the first time ever, researchers have claimed that there is a direct link between homophobic rejection of LGB adolescents by their families and mental health problems. A peer-reviewed article entitled "Family Rejection as a Predator of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults" summarising the research will appear in a January edition of Pediatrics. Pink News

Facebook Censors Homophobic Sites: "Social networking site Facebook has responded to calls for two Serbian homophobic groups to be removed from the web. Users of the groups posted death threats to gay and lesbian Serbians, and called for attacks on gay people and their properly. The members of the group also sent hate mail to LGBT activist leaders, and publicised their names, addresses and telephone numbers, raising serious concerns about security and proper use. These two groups have since been removed from the site." Pink News

Ugandan Judge Rules In Favor Of LGBT Activists: "Ugandan Justice Stella Arach yesterday (12-22-08) issued a ruling in favour of LGBT activists in their suit against the Attorney General of Uganda. The Uganda Hight Court ruling cited constitutional violations of the rights to privacy, property and the fundamental rights of women. It was the first time a gay or lesbian person has brought the authorities to court." Pink News

Straight Man Wins Case On Homophobic Harassment in United Kingdom: "A 56-year-old married man who was repeatedly taunted at work about being gay because he lives in Brighton has won his case at the Court of Appeal. An employment tribunal and an appeal tribunal had both rejected his claims of discrimination. Stephen English suffered years of abuse and insinuation from colleagues at Thomas Sanderson Blinds, based near Portsmouth, where he had worked in sales." Pink News

Religious Reich Lawyers in Arizona Seek Right To Discriminate Against Gays and Lesbians: "A conservative legal group is calling on lawyers to oppose a proposed revision to the Arizona Bar Association oath of office that pledges equal representation to LGBT clients. Alliance Defense Fund calls the proposal “unconstitutional.” The proposed revision to the oath states: “I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.” 365 Gay News

Four Sought In Gang Rape Of Lesbian: "Police in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco, are hunting four men accused of the brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a lesbian. Investigators have appealed to the public for help and have posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and conviction of the men. Police said that the 28 year old victim was confronted by the four as she got out of her car on December 12. She was beaten, raped and robbed. When the attackers heard someone approaching they forced the women into her car and made her drive to a desolate area where the attack and rape continued." 365 Gay News

Episcopal Religious Reich Win Property In Virginia Court: "Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality. The final rulings came from a Fairfax County judge who said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their church buildings and other property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa." 365 Gay News

Tennessee Judge Discriminates Against Lesbian Mother: "A divorced Tennessee mom of two was recently told by the court that her lesbian partner of nine years can no longer “sleep over” when her kids are in the home. The reason? A “paramour restriction” imposed by a judge, despite the fact that a psychological evaluation found the woman to be a positive influence on her partner’s children. Meanwhile, the woman’s ex-husband shares his home with his wife of five years, who gets to “sleep over” whenever she wants." Gay Agenda

Religious Reich In Ethiopia Want Constitution To Criminalize Gays And Lesbians: "Religious leaders, representing various denominations in Ethiopia gathered Monday in the country’s capital of Addis Ababa to urge the country’s lawmakers to constitutionally ban being gay. Almost a dozen clerics said outlawing being gay simply wasn’t enough. Current Ethiopian law forbids gay sex and prescribes a six month jail sentence as punishment, but the constitution never mentions the issue. Gay Agenda

Another Anniversary

One year ago today I was deliriously happy. Steve and I renewed our vows in front of our friends and neighbors at Ravenhurst. All our other weddings and registrations had been private affairs ... just the two of us or a couple of friends. To celebrate our Tenth Wedding Anniversary, we decided to renew our vows and do it in a big way.
We bought ourselves a beautiful wedding cake. We both searched every bakery in Chico, Paradise, and Oroville until we found the cake we liked. Steve searched the Internet and bought the two grooms top in the summer of 2007 ... we worked all year on this party.
For our first wedding in 2007, we bought pants and shirts - his blue and mine purple or vice versa. This go around we decided to get tuxes. It was a joyous occasion to go to Chico and lo0ok at all the available tuxes to rent. Steve decided on a theme of yellow and white ... so we got yellow ties over white shirts. I think we looked rather sharp - Steve more so than me. Our daughter Carey surprised us with boutonnieres made of satin. We proudly wore then. Carey had dropped in on December 26th - our real anniversary. She thought our party was then - but we had scheduled it for Saturday the 29th for the convenience of our guests. Wearing her flowers was having her there in a very real sense.
We bought engraved napkins, an antique punch bowl - we bought a sterling ladle in our silver pattern too. Our guests could choose from a variety of favors on their way out - a new yellow table cloth - we went all out.
On the actual day of the party, I arranged lots of yellow and white daisy mums and lilies throughout the house. Our buffet included a shrimp tree and a variety of hot and cold appetizers. Steve and I had purchased various fruit juices and sodas and experimented for hours. We finally found a simple punch recipe we liked. Ice rings kept the punch cold.
Our dear friends Bruce Barton and Sue Handley officiated at the renewal of vows. Jim and Michael stood up as our best men and read a poem and a passage from First Corinthians. Sue handfasted us and Bruce led us us through the traditional vows.
We had even purchased rings. At Crystal Way on Market in the Castro of San Francisco we found stainless steel rings holding tiny diamonds in a pressure mounting. They were on sale at 75% off! We got two diamond rings for about $200 and thought we had a bargain! I still love both rings.
Steve and I decided beforehand NOT to be foolish about feeding each other cake. Our guests were disappointed that we did not cram cake into each other's face - but we were happy.
This photograph of Steve's happiness that day is one I treasure. His smile, his expression is so very "Steve." Looking at this photograph I expect Steve to speak to me.
Many happy memories of that day one year ago today. But also much grief. Much grief. I cried a lot in my shower and on my walk this morning. But Steve understands. He misses me too.
We had a lovely day at our renewal of vows. One lovely day full of memories - good memories. How I wish we could celebrate our 20th anniversary too. How I wish that.
But I was so lucky to have my Steve as long as I did. Few experience the intensity of love and passion that held us together. We were lucky and oh so fortunate to have found each other, loved each other, married each other. Very fortunate indeed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Religious Reich At It Again

The Religious Reich is at it again. My Mom asked me who the Religious Reich were that I was always talking about. The "Religious Reich" is any person or group of people who use religion to oppress or hate a group of people.

In this instance the Religious Reich is the American Family Association (AFA) headed by Donald Wildmon. The AFA calls itself "Christian" but is really out to oppress gays and lesbians and others. This time they are mad at Campbell Soup Company. Campbell Soup had the audacity to run ads in The Advocate about Swanson broth. In one ad they show two women and a child. This outrages the Religious Reich. In a quote from their website they say:

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their
agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell's a chunk of money, but they also
sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of
support.

I assume that to the AFA, two women and their child is not a "family." I wonder what they would call this human grouping?


A "pack of perverts?"

A "herd of homosexuals?"

A litter of lesbians?"

If two women deeply in love with one another and their child is not a "family," then what is it?

Of course this photograph in the ad pictures an American Family. Of course Steve and I and Carey were a family. Of course I am a family now - a family of one, but part of a greater family. (A very nice family, thank you!)

Wildmon, the AFA, and the Religious Reich show their hatred in this website. By denying these women the dignity of "family" the AFA is teaching hate. Hitler denied the humanity of Jews. Wildmon is denying the humanity of lesbians. I see no difference in their attitude.

The full ads can be seen here - I note the AFA does not have any problem with the chefs photographed. These guys look gay to me, but what do I know?

Hat Tip to Box Turtle Bulletin.

Funeral and Grief as a Business

I love the ability of Americans to turn ANYTHING into a business opportunity. Did you know you can buy caskets and urns at Overstock.com - at a very good price? Surprised the heck out of me. I will have to see what Amazon has to offer.
In the comments section of one of my posts, an AMAZING woman left her website information. I have spent several pleasant hours at "Need Ideas For A Funeral?" I learned all about embalming and cremation and new forms of dealing with dead bodies. You probably did not know that some people are worried about the environmental impact of both cremation smoke and the amount of embalming fluid, steel, and concrete put in the ground with burials. Odd that someone would worry about such things, but they have. So we can now be frozen forever or have our bodies frozen in liquid nitrogen then shattered into "ashes", or we can have our bodies broken down into their elemental varieties with water. Amazing. Read all about it at that web site.

But many other Americans have asked themselves, "How can I make a buck out of grief?" They have come up with some really amazing and great answers.
Mourning Lights Company will take a photograph of the dearly departed and engrave it on a votive candle holder. For a few more dollars, a couple lines of verse will be added. This is a kind of nice idea, but I am not interested. I don't think it would help me grieve.
On the other hand, a couple of companies have come with a process that fascinates me. They take the cremains (the ashes after cremation are really called the "cremains") and remove the carbon from the cremains. Using this carbon, these companies create diamonds. Real diamonds that are indistinguishable for Mother Nature's diamonds. The Life Gem Company and Memorial Gems Inc will both use the cremains of your loved one to create a diamond for you. Memorial Gems Inc will also allow you to choose the color of your diamond - green, blue, or yellow in addition to the more common white diamonds. A bit pricey, but personally, I would LOVE for my cremains to turn into a diamond. I think that is remarkable.
But I have to decide a less pricey option for my Steve. He really loved jewelry and gem stones. He REALLY loved them. He collected quite a few gem stones and some rather nice jewelry in his lifetime. So I have to decide if his cremains that are not yet scattered should become a piece of jewelry that holds a bit of Steve of if his cremains should become a gem stone. I know he would love both options.
The Madelyn Company creates lovely pendants. Many incorporate a bit of the cremains and many others hold a bit of the cremains. The stainless steel pieces are VERY nice. I am most impressed with the sense of design and the whole concept of this company - read how they got started.
But it is hard to beat the prices and the concept of My Crystal Companion. This company does not use cremains to make diamonds, but rather a new gemstone. They will create natural colored gems (sort of a pale green or blue) or they will create a gem of any color you choose. The will create a pendant or ring for you - using the cremains gem ... or they will send you the gem stone for your own design of jewelry. Large "gems" can be made into memorial paperweights or just nice objects. I am really impressed with this company.
Other American businesses are in the grief business - with prayer cards and lapel ribbons and other "objets de" grief. I am not including them here - they just don't impress me. But look at the Funeral Ideas website link and shop pages for other ideas. Death is a huge industry - I had no idea.
I am usually sobbing when I write about Steve and his death. This post amuses me somewhat. I just love American know-how and the grit it takes to make a business out of anything. More power to them.
Now what color gem would Steve have wanted to be? A nice question to ponder in the New Year.
Photographs from the various company websites.

Amazing Talent in Britain

This video of a British 12 year old singing will blow you away ... it is also most enjoyable to listen to.

I give full credit to my brother Dave for discovering this video. This and more items of interest can be found at his blog, Delete Me First.

The United Nations With the Bush Administration

The President of France, as President of the European Union, proposed a simple NON-BINDING resolution to the United Nations. He proposed that homosexuality be decriminalized throughout the world. He did NOT propose anti-discrimination laws or marriage equality. He only proposed that gays and lesbians not be fined, imprisoned, or executed simply for being gay or lesbian. Sixty six countries of the United Nation, including all the nations of Europe, agreed with the proposed resolution.

The United States of America was the ONLY Western Nation NOT to support the resolution. The only advanced country NOT to agree with the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. Even knowing that in SEVEN nations, gay and lesbians are subject to death, the USA failed to support the EU resolution.

I cannot wait until President Bush and his cronies are out of office. I have high hopes for the Obama Administration. I hope I will not be too disappointed.

But the Bush Administration refusal to support decriminalization of homosexuality is a slap in the face of all Americans who value freedom. In the closing days of a horrible administration, President Bush manages to get in one more outrage against his gay and lesbian citizens. I am embarrassed to have George W Bush as my president. Embarrassed.

GLBT News Round Up - December 28, 2008

I have been out of touch for a bit. Here's a few items I found that interested me:

Catholics Need To Confess Voting For Obama: "Parishioners of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto have been told they should consider going to confession if they voted for Barack Obama, because of the president-elect's position condoning abortion.
"If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously," the Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph's, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 21." Modesto Bee

Federal Court Rules 2 Dads Belong On Birth Certificate: "NEW ORLEANS -- A same-sex couple in California has won a federal court ruling that their adopted son's Louisiana birth certificate must bear the names of both adoptive fathers.
The facts are so clear that no trial is needed, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey wrote.
"What a great Christmas present for these guys!" said Kenneth D. Upton Jr. who represented Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith of San Diego. " AP via Sacramento Bee

USA Refuses To Support UN Resolution Decriminalizing Homosexuality: "France fired the opening salvo last week in a battle at the United Nations over making homosexuality a “human right.” The European nation tried but failed to get the U.N. to approve a non-binding resolution decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide. The United States refused to sign onto the measure, the only Western power to do so. "It's disappointing," said Rama Yade, France's human rights minister, of the U.S. position. But former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer told CNSNews.com that he is very glad the U.S. held firm." CNS News

Warren Tries To Clean Up Act: "'Tis the season of empty gestures! Inaugural pastor Rick Warren rewrote his website so it no longer says gays are poison to his congregation. In fact a whole long lecture about gays was deleted." The Gawker

Rep. Barney Frank Thinks Obama Overestimates His Ability To Unify: ""I think Rick Warren's comments, comparing same-sex relationships to incest, is deeply offensive, wildly inaccurate, and very socially disruptive," Frank said. "And I'm glad he is talking to the Muslims. I'm glad everybody's talking to everybody. We're not here talking about not having conversations. We're talking about singling somebody out for a great honor. And I think the president-elect made a serious mistake in doing that." The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

Pope Says Saving Humanity From Homosexuality Is As Important As Saving Rain Forests: "Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound." Yahoo News

New York Times Publishes Wedding Announcement For Two Men: (Lovely Article): "Except, of course on Dec. 6, when they celebrated 32 years as a couple by getting married at the Carpe Diem Guesthouse and Spa in Provincetown, Mass.

Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Perreault wept while reading Walt Whitman poems to each other. Then, standing before Rachel Peters, a Massachusetts justice of the peace, they vowed their love as they removed the friendship rings from their right hands and placed them on each other’s left ring finger.

“The whole ceremony was more emotional than I expected,” Mr. Perreault said. He even teared up when applying for the marriage certificate. “I thought it would be just like getting a driver’s license, but it wasn’t.”

Equally moved, Mr. Weinstein was looking forward to what lies ahead. “John continues to surprise me,” he said. “I still don’t know what’s deep inside him. And I still want to know.” New York Times

What Rick Warren Really Preaches At Saddleback Church: Here is a website in Googles's Cache I found from links at several other websites and blogs. Here, Rick Warren says that gays and lesbians cannot join his church:

"Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church."

Here is the whole link - Question 48 is the one I quoted from. The Answers to his questions are at the bottom of this same web page.

The Holidays Without Steve

No doubt about it, Christmas was our favorite holiday. Bar none! Steve and I kept Christmas in a grand style. This is a photograph we took for a Christmas card one year. We felt a bit silly pulling out all our warm clothes from Alaska for this photo - but I believe we were poking fun at our friends and family in snow country. The palm tree says it all.

Every year since 1999, we had our photograph taken with Santa. In San Francisco we always sat on the lap of Macy's Santa - is there any Santa more genuine than Macy's? Over the years in San Francisco and then at the mall in Chico, we got to know the two Santa's. We shared "what happened this year" with them and then got a picture taken. It was a lovely tradition for us. One or two years we pulled Carey into the act!
I thought about getting my picture taken with Santa this year at the mall. I did not do it. It was too ... well, it was just too sad and pitiful. I knew I would cry and that is not the photograph I need.
But at a party I attended on the 20th, a lovely lady was dressed as Santa. I did get my photograph taken with this jolly old elf ... and took lots of pictures of friends! It was fun - because it was not the mall or the Macy's Santa. It was not a tradition for Steve and I.

Putting up the Christmas trees was a tradition for us. We have two trees - one with only animal ornaments and one with the family ornaments. I have always put them up on the day after Thanksgiving. That Friday each year was our decorating day.
This year, Friday came and went. So did many other days. I just did not have the energy or really the desire to put up trees this year. Finally I broke down. I put up one tree in the TV room - and put the family ornaments on it. I was doing fine until I came to the photograph ornaments. There was my Steve looking at me through the years. I had to stop and cry then.
There have been many tears this holiday season. The day after Christmas is our wedding anniversary. I bought Steve a card this year and read it to him on our anniversary. My Mom and Dad gave me a card explaining that a tree had been planted in a national forest in Steve's memory - with a note that they will never forget him. Then I broke down. I cried a lot at my parent's house.
The holidays without Steve were sad - so sad. There were moments of joy and happiness. Giving gifts to Jim and Dan and their crew after taking two kids to the Nutcracker - that was a joyful day for me. Teasing my brother, shopping with my sister, and especially talking with Mom and Dad - these were happy times. But in between there was much sadness, much grief, much darkness.
It is a rainy Sunday now. I am home. The holiday is behind me. And I am sobbing today. Missing my Steve. Oh how I miss him ... words cannot contain my grief.


Christmas

No posts since the 18th! Shame on me. I was busy though getting the house a bit cleaner for my house sitter and getting packages wrapped and mailed. Yes I was a busy Santa this season. But all the nieces and nephews and family and friends got their gifts on time.

A few disasters - gave a beautiful tie tack to a brother who never wears a tie. Gave lovely earrings to a sister who does not have her ears pierced. Other than that, the gifts went over over well.

Santa brought me some tea from San Francisco, a keyring for digital photographs, a very large check, a light for the grill, a great knife, much candy and a membership in Netflix. AND a plastic spoon-rest from Florida - it says so right on the spoon-rest. I will have to take a picture. It is one of those presents destined for re-gifting to another brother next year. I also received an absolutely exquisite card from Korea - might have to photograph that also.

Mom and Dad made me cry when they gave me a card telling they had a tree planted in a national forest in Steve's name this holiday season - they will never forget him. Neither will I.

But it was a lovely Christmas for me in Magalia, Paradise, Chico, Cherokee, and especially in Newark, Delaware.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homophobe or Thoughtful Citizen?

Gov. Huckabee was on The Daily Show talking with Jon Stewart about same sex marriage equality. Gov. Huckabee spoke out clearly for "traditional marriage" and against same sex marriage licenses. Jon Stewart was brilliant in arguing for marriage equality ... really brilliant.

At the end of their discussion, Mr. Huckabee wanted to make clear that his favoring "traditional marriage" did NOT make him a "hater" or a "homophobe." Stewart said HE had not called Gov. Huckabee any pejorative names on air.

Many bloggers like this one and the good folks at Free Republic are making the same claim as Gov. Huckabee. "Being in favor of "traditional marriage" does not make one a homophobe. The gays are the ones being intolerant these days. They should tolerate our views in favor of "traditional marriage."

I have been pondering this viewpoint for many days. I sincerely believe Gov. Huckabee and others opposed to marriage equality ARE homophobes and haters. I do believe it. But why?

Gov. Huckabee et al believe that voting for Proposition 8 was simply a vote to protect "traditional marriage." I put "traditional marriage" in quotes because every person has a very different idea of what constitutes "traditional marriage." Is the woman to obey the man? Are finances to be equal? Is the woman to work outside the home? Are children a necessary ingredient?

Gov. Huckabee et al also make the argument that "traditional marriage" includes one man and one woman because a mother and a father in the home are the best way to raise children. They seem to argue that children are a necessary ingredient to marriage - yet they will never say so because they also allow couples to decided not to have children and they allow infertile folks and the elderly to marry. So Gov. Huckabee et al want it both ways - marriage includes children but married people are not required to have children. Both ways.

Gov. Huckabee et al also argue that if society gives First Class citizen rights of marriage equality to gays and lesbians, then that same society will have to legalize polygamy and incest and bestiality. They appear to argue that if a society leaves the Biblical tradition of marriage, then anything goes!

But they do not see these positions as hateful ...merely thoughtful. Not homophobic, only traditional. AND they demand tolerance for their positions - no protests, no boycotts, no consequences.

What Gov. Huckabee et al refuse to own is the hate behind their thoughtful position.

If it is better for a child to be raised by a man and woman than by two men or two women, then it is logical to assume that two men or two women are worse choices as parents than a man and woman. "Traditional families" are better than gay or lesbian families.

If the respect and dignity of marriage is reserved for heterosexuals then it is logical to assume that gay or lesbian families are not to respected or dignified as much as straight couples.

So in "defending traditional marriage" what they are actually saying is that my marriage was not as valuable to society as a straight marriage. That my family is not as good as their families. Second class, unworthy, not as good as.

And THAT is a statement of hate and homophobia.

My undocumented marriage to Steve was as intimate, as close, as committed as ANY straight marriage. We went through poverty and wealth, sickness and health ... and stayed together in mutual support and love. I sincerely wonder how many straight couples would have stayed together facing the challenges we faced. I wonder.

My parenting of Carey was as good as any straight person's parenting. I raised a bright, thoughtful, talented woman unafraid to seek her goals in the world. She is loved and loving, kind and giving, and a wonderful woman. I am largely responsible for that. MY PARENTING!

Yes, I AM as good as heterosexuals. Just as good. No better, but just as good and valuable to society.

To vote Yes on Proposition 8 is analogous to voting to keep schools segregated - to keep traditional societal values and traditions and institutions.

Sometimes, tradition itself is hateful to people.

The time honored tradition of slavery was hateful.
The time honored tradition of denying women the vote was hateful.
The time honored tradition of keeping in the home and out of the workforce was hateful.
The time honored tradition of never voting for Roman Catholics was hateful.

The time honored tradition of straight-only marriage is hateful, too.

You may not FEEL hate, but Gov. Huckabee et al, your words and actions spew forth hate and homophobia.

Gays and lesbians do NOT need to tolerate hatred and homophobia, any more than women need to tolerate sexism or Asians need to tolerate racism. Hatred is never to be tolerated in the USA ... never!

So Gov Huckabee et al, you are clearly mistaken. You ARE homophobes. You ARE haters. If you do not like being that way, then change your hearts and stop hating gay men and lesbians.

Morning At Ravenhurst

What a lovely day to STAY IN BED !!!

I woke up and thought the house was a bit chilly. The thermostat read 61 degrees ... that is a bit chilly. I go to the dreaded furnace to see what is what ... I cannot get it to start with the thermostat. Peering through the peephole on the monster, I can see no light at all. The pilot light is out and the gas furnace cannot work. Easy enough to fix.

20 minutes latter, after numerous tries, I realize the pilot is NOT going to be lit by me. Oh well. In the meantime, I realize that I am just awake, I have an appointment at 10 AM and have to leave at 9:30 AM and the very nice cleaning lady is coming at 9 .... AND I have not had breakfast or walked the dogs. Bah humbug.

Triaging the situation, I realize that I have to use the bathroom for business and shower before the cleaning lady arrives in 15 minutes. I release the dogs outside and head for the bathroom.

The toilet gets clogged and overflows. Another mess to clean up and fix ... thank goodness the plunger worked! Then into the shower.

The cold water faucet in the tub is broken .... you can turn it forever but no water. Bah humbug. Off to the alternative shower ... racing the clock.

Saved and showered, I dress in time to greet Christine. As she is setting up shop to work I begin making VERY expensive phone calls. Yes, my gas company can fix my furnace but not until Friday. The plumber can come on Friday morning too. But the plumber is charging me $85 just to come to my house because I do not live in the city ... what a rip off! But darned if I can fix the faucet. I have tried that before - struggled for a day or so and THEN call the plumber. No, I will pay whatever it takes.

As I hang up, I realize I better find a working toilet in a hurry ... I am VERY nauseous. What a pain in the neck to be vomiting while getting ready to leave. Most unnecessary. However I do feel a little better after.

I finally get out of the house and on the road.

Heck of a way to wake up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Movies and Despair

Sunday and Monday were overcast with precipitation. We had rainy drizzle and snow and frozen rain. It reminded me so much of the afternoon Steve died. So much. I drifted deep into despair and stayed there. Unable to do anything. Just miserable.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. So yesterday afternoon, I decided to do something different. I usually read books. This afternoon I decided to watch DVD's. Things I have but have not had time to watch yet.

First up was "Another Gay Movie." This is a laugh out loud romp. Along the lines of a gay "American Pie" four young men graduate high school and want to have sex before they head off to college. It is like a moving comic strip - colorful, over the top funny, and a laugh out loud comedy. I enjoyed it.

Next up was "East Side Story" about a Latino man who lives and works in the East Side of Los Angeles. Gay couples are moving into the neighborhood - fixing up houses - and driving up the cost of housing and property taxes. The Latino residents who grew up there are having some difficulty sharing with white gay guys. But sort of like "West Side Story" without the music, the plot leads to ... well ... a lovely open ending. Again, highly recommended.

The evening ended with a dose of heterosexuality at its finest - "Henry VIII and His Six Wives." This movie is much like the BBC series of yesteryear. I recommend it for those of us who are die hard fans of the Tudor family. Otherwise I would save my money.

The end result was a break in my despair and a snooze on the couch until midnight. Up to feed the cat, stoke the fire, and take the dogs to bed. It was another two dog night - cold!

See you at the movies!

A Little Detective Work - Canadian Scam Artists

Today I received this letter in the mail. I was selected to be a Secret Shopper for Northern California. I have always wanted to be a Secret Shopper - to get paid for shopping - what a dream come true!
If you click twice on this picture of the letter, you will see that it certainly appears to be legitimate. Plus this check was in the same envelope ... a very hefty check that looks and feels legitimate.
I have deleted my last name and my address from both the letter and the check ... but they had my name and my address 100% correct. I really LIKED seeing MY name on a check for $1,810.00 - yes, I liked that a lot.
The letter instructed me to call Paul Filla for instructions and to get started. I called and spoke with a man who said he was Paul Filla. He told me how to evaluate the stores and told me to call him after I had completed the assignment. I also had to get copies of my receipts and fax them to the company to verify that I had shopped there.
$15.00 for McDonalds or Burger King
$25.00 for shopping at Radio Shack (AND I get to keep whatever I buy)
$1,200 for a Money Gram transfer (to the Human Resources Director - Greg Harrison)
$110 for fees for the Money Gram
$30.00 for Shell Gas Station
This left $430.00 for me! What a great deal. It sounded too good to be true.
My Mom and Dad taught that if anything sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Not true, that is.
I got to wondering. Paul Filla had a definite French accent. I got online and did am Area Code look up ... 514 is for Montreal, Quebec, Canada. That explained Paul's French accent - but did not necessarily mean anything was fishy.
Then I called "Standard Financial Services" and could not get anyone to pick up. I then noticed that the Dallas Texas company had an area code in Canada. Hmmmm
The check itself is from "Old World Industries Inc" of Northbrook IL. A quick online search showed that this was a legitimate and rather good company. They make anti-freeze, and have developed an anti-freeze that will NOT kill your dog if he accidentally eats it. Unlike normal, sweet anti-freeze that is irresistible to animals - and poisons them.
A look in the Internet White Pages gave me their phone number. I asked to speak with accounting.
Wonder of wonders, the check in my hand is bogus - they assure me it will NOT be honored and will bounce in my account.
Before I know it bounces, I will have wired $1,200 to these guys. The endgame? I am out $1,200 with no way to get it back. What a scam!
Do not be taken in if you receive anything from these guys. Feel free to call Paul Filla his number is 1-514-578-8156) and tell him he is a jerk. I am going to.
And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is NOT true.

Wonderful Friends - Video

My buddy, Evalyn sent me this amazing video. It is 7.5 minutes the time flies. Really, take a look.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Have Been Out Of It

Howdy Faithful Readers,

After Thanksgiving, I entered a period of despair that was truly horrible. I have posted some about those dark days. I was grieving and emotionally hurting and was a real mess. Those dark days finally ended last Monday.

On Wednesday December 3rd, I had a root canal - well a partial root canal - the dentist was not able to get the filling gunk into all the roots. He completed the root canal this Wednesday past - December 10th.

The root canal dealt with roots that went way up into my cheek. It hurt - even after all the nerves were taken out. Apparently, whenever the dentist messes with a tooth - dead or alive - one can have pain for several days. In my case, the root canal pain triggered migraine episodes.

For the last ten days, I have been migraining fairly steadily. That means pain, confusion, anxiety, loss of clear speech and loss of motor control. I have been able to pull myself together for an hour or two at a time ... but I have been in pain and in episodes fairly steadily for the last ten days.

So? No posts on this blog. When I am in great pain or in emotional despair, I just don't feel like blogging. It is as simple as that.

I am better now ... still migraining more than I like, but I am better as the toothache decreases in intensity. So I hope to be blogging more starting Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who missed me!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Suicide and Grieving



Several loved ones have told me how difficult it is to read that I am contemplating suicide. A wise man has suggested that I stop blogging about such as it upsets they who love me dearly. I told him I would not make that promise.

Let me be clear before I start ... I have made a firm decision not to commit suicide. It would be counterproductive. taking my own life would not get me closer to Steve and would cause unnecessary anguish to people I love. So no suicide.

But yet, I may discuss suicide more if the feelings return. I know it may upset people who love me, but I will be honest about my grief. I will say things like I cried hard, I really sobbed, this morning walking the dogs. I did not want to, but I did anyway. I usually cry in the mornings, usually while alone on my walk in the woods.

Why am I sharing my vulnerability, my grief with the world? I decided to be honest and share my grieving experience with my family, my friends, and the world back in February.

At the time of Steve's death, I had attended one memorial service at the Palace Saloon in Fairbanks Alaska and one funeral at the Mormon Church in Oroville CA. I did attend the funerals of any of my grandparents, aunts, or uncles for various reasons. As a young man, I was the designated family member to sit home with my Great Aunt when her husband died. I was designated as too young to attend her funeral a year later. I was too far away and too poor to attend the other funerals in my family.

At the time of Steve's death, I had never seen a dead body. I had never witnessed a widow or widower grieving. Death was a physical mystery to me and so was grief. I had read about the stages of grief and I Had experienced them to some extant at various losses in my life. But nothing prepared me for walking in and seeing my beloved Steve dead in our marriage bed. Nothing prepared me for this grief journey.

I have learned a few things along the way.

Widowers, big strong men, all cry. I cry and I read about other men. But we cry in private, usually alone. And we do not just sniffle or leak a little water. No, widowers sob into the night; we wail and bemoan our loss with great hot tears that hit our chests like raindrops before a downpour. Big, heavy tears. And lots of them. Over and over.

I was told at the beginning that my heavy grief would last a year or so. That is NOT true. I am into the 11th month of grief and I feel in my heart that I will still be in heavy grief beyond January ... way beyond January. Actual widowers tell me in books that two, three, four, five years is a more realistic estimate. After a period time, one still hurts - but can find joy and happiness in the world.

I know know that this loss, this ache, this hurt will NEVER leave me. My heart will always ache for Steve - but as time passes the hurt will be easier to bear. That is what widowers I read about say and widowers tell me the same. It feels true.

Dead bodies, Steve's body, is just that - his beloved body. His dead body was not spooky or icky at all. It was my beloved's body. He relaxed into death - it showed on his face. I am so fortunate to have spent time with Steve's body after death. Nothing can teach us about death and dying more than a dead body.

So soon, Steve's body was whisked away - never to be seen again. With the wave of a VISA card, death was neatly packaged and presented by the funeral home. I cannot complain, it is the American way. Very tidy, very neat. Unless you ask questions as I did.

I know that Dr. Resk performed an autopsy on Steve's body. The chest was cut open and all the organs taken out and weighed and examined. I know that the organs were not put back in their proper place. After the autopsy, the parts were stuffed into the cavity and the skin quickly sutured to hold it all in. Then Steve's body was cremated.

I learned that if you desire to have your wedding ring on at cremation, the funeral home takes it off the body and drops it into the bag of cremains. The furnace is not hot enough to melt metal.

I know now that the amount of cremains is dependent on the size of the person - it is so logical, but I never thought about it. Large people like Steve create more cremains than small people.

I now know that cremains look like fine kitty litter. Gray and like a very fine litter. I know now that after the body is cremated in the furnace, the cremains are crushed into these fine particles. Yes, you can see white bone bits but they are so finely crushed that it all looks like ... well it does look like a very fine kitty litter.

I now know that the funeral home must give the cremains to the family. If the family refuses to receive them, the funeral home gives them to the county coroner. He is supposed to have the cremains buried but this costs money. He just stores them on a metal shelving unit in a county storeroom.

I now know that cremains come in a plastic bag tied up with a twist tie and a brass identifier. This plastic bag is then placed in a plastic box (or expensive urn) and the box is in a velvet bag. Many layers, much mystery, much respect - as it should be.

I now know that for weeks after the death of beloved spouse - through the Memorial Service and the visits of relatives - the widower is in a state of shock. He is numb and going through the motions of life.

I do not remember most of what happened from the day after Steve died on January 27, 2008 until May. It is all hazy in my mind. I hardly recall who was with me except for Carey. I was n a welcome state of shock.

Why was shock welcome? When I came out of shock I started feeling. The waves of loss hit me for all sides, all the time, for weeks and months. I felt like I was stuck in a whirlpool of emotions. They came at me and hit me and made me feel. It was horrible.

But those wild emotions passed. In their stead is a deep depression and feeling of loss. Remembering the past makes me weep in pain at my loss. Thinking of the future without Steve increases my anxiety level to frightening proportions. I can only live in the moment. I live best in the "right now."

But often the "right now" is a time of great sadness. In that sadness, thoughts of suicide come. The pain is so deep, it hurts so much, and I want SO MUCH to be with my Steve that thoughts of suicide are natural, expected, and utterly normal. I know that now.

I am also convinced that suicide is not a good option at all.

I know now that grief is not only emotional pain but also physical pain. There is an ache in my gut that has become so familiar that I often do not notice it. A constant ache in my solar plexus region as though I had been hit hard - hard enough to take my breath away and leave a purple bruise. But there is no mark - just the broken heart trying to heal.

I am told by the books I read and by my grief counselor that I am doing everything right. I talk about my feelings, I feel my feelings, I am not stuffing any feeling or holding anything back. I am told there is no way out but through. I believe it.

I have pictures of Steve all over the house. Nothing new since his death - we always had lots of pictures around. Seeing Steve all over saddens me. I cannot remove his photographs, yet they sadden me. Until late summer, I had Steve's picture as computer wallpaper - I saw him a lot. Then as time passed and I healed some, I was able to put other pictures up as screen-savers. It helps me to see Carey and Dave or the dogs there. It helps.

Tuesday of this week I finally took Steve's gold earrings out of my ears. I replaced them with earrings I like. I could not do this for many many months ... I needed the reassurance of Steve's gold in my ears ... like a memorial idol to him.

I wear Steve's wedding ring still. It is not close to time to take it off. It is no where near time for me to remove my wedding ring ... if I ever will.

I is so very hard, so terribly difficult, to begin to use "I, me, mine" instead of the normal "We, us, ours." It hurts to try to use the correct terms ... it is one of the things that makes men cry in private.

Grief hurts. The depth of pain is in direct proportion to the depth of love. Or so I am told ... I do not know - this is a "first" for me.

Widowers (and I suspect widows) need hugs - lots of hugs. I miss the touch of my beloved. I am not talking about sex, I am talking about the normal human contact between spouses. The little touches, the hugs, the casual affection. I miss that - my skin sometimes crawls in need to be touched.

I will stop now ... understand that as I share these things with you - my family, friends, and strangers - I am usually weeping (or sobbing) as I type. The sadness of grief is an old friend now.

Richard

Monday, December 1, 2008

Zimbabwe Goes From Horrible to Even Worse

Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, is driving that poor country into the pits of destruction. His government is not able to afford the necessary supplies to provide clean water to the people. Cholera has broken out - 11,700 are ill so far and the fatalities are rising.

Unemployment in Zimbabwe is about 90 percent, and the official inflation rate is 231 million percent, though unofficial estimates suggest it's higher. The opposition party, the MDC, blames the President - so does Jimmy Carter. Mugabe refused permission for President Cartr to visit Zimbabwe recently on a humanitarian visit.

The entire country seems likely to become a humanitarian crisis - thanks to President Mugabe.

For a full report on this nightmare of a country read this good article at CNN.

International Hero - Raphael Lemkin


Jennifer Hyde at CNN write a beautiful article about this remarkable man - Raphael Lemkin. He was a Polish Jew who dedicated his life to the proposition that genocide is an international crime.

(CNN) -- Paris, 1948. In the shadow of the Holocaust, the fledgling United Nations meets to adopt one of its first human rights treaties.

Applause shakes the room, cameras flash -- and at the center, a single, tired, unassuming man: Raphael Lemkin.

It was, at last, a victory for a tireless crusader who had fought for his entire life against genocide -- and coined the term that describes the world's most heinous crime.

"This new official world made a solemn pledge to preserve the life of the peoples and races of mankind," Lemkin later wrote.

Sixty years ago this month, the U.N. voted unanimously to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was ambitious, serious, far-reaching -- and largely the result of Lemkin's lifetime of effort.
This is an excellent article about a remarkable man - a true international hero!