Friday, June 23, 2017

Can I interest you in a donut?

June is the month for LGBTQ Pride, largely because that was the month of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in New York.  Most know about The Stonewall Inn and the history behind it, but can I interest you in a donut?  What many claim was the first lgbtq uprising in the United States occurred ten years before Stonewall at Cooper Donuts in Los Angeles.

How about the Dewey’s Lunch Counter sit-in back in Philadelphia in 1965? That too was before Stonewall. The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred the following year in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.  Again before Stonewall, yet that is the one most folks know about.  There have been other incidents where the lgbtq community stood up and fought back - some famous and some not as well known.

The parades and marches and celebrations during Pride Month every year (and in some places at other times) remember our history and bring us together to see that we continue down the path of equality, fairness, and justice.  This is the weekend of some of the largest celebrations and many of you may be attending a parade.  One of my favorite events every year is the TransMarch in San Francisco and today is the day.  All the details are at http://www.transmarch.org/ including pictures from past events.  The two day celebration in San Francisco is Saturday and Sunday with the annual parade taking place on Sunday morning.  Go to http://www.sfpride.org/ for details of that.  It's a huge event in New York City of course and https://www.nycpride.org/ tell you all you need to know.  Big things have been going on all month in Toronto and this weekend wraps it all up with their parade on Sunday.  All you need to know about them is at http://www.pridetoronto.com/

Of course there is still more of Pride Month, and we'll continue telling you about it here.  Do feel free to share some information about your neck-of-the-woods in the comments section below!  If you aren't able to attend any of them, at least at a donut in remembrance of the LA uprising at Cooper Donuts.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Adam's pictures

The Pride Celebrations each June, the rainbow flag, and The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt are all things that make a visible difference.  Who doesn't recognize panels of The Quilt when you see them, or the rainbow flag?  Well, the NoH8 Campaign is another example.  Photographer Adam Bouska created this visual program along with partner Jeff Parshley, back in 2009 in response to California's Proposition 8, the ballot proposition opposing same-sex marriage.

Openly gay Bouska has really made a difference taking pictures of thousands in the past eight years.  I remember seeing a friend at work with the NoH8 on his cheek.  It made an immediate impact on me.  There is something very empowering seeing your favorite celebrities, including many non-gay people, in these poses with the duct tape and the NoH8 lettering. 

Our lgbtq community is fortunate to have so many great leaders.  There just aren't enough days in the month to mention everyone, but I encourage you to mention some others for me, using the comments section below.

If you want to keep up with Adam Bouska's NoH8 pictures, check out their website at http://www.noh8campaign.com/ - you can donate money to this great campaign through their website too.  (I love looking through all the pictures).  Adam makes a difference in many other ways as well.  I really appreciate all of his positive and encouraging tweets.  You can keep up with him at his website http://www.adambouska.com/


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lance makes a difference every day

Who hasn't heard of Lance Bass?  He's a pop singer, a dancer, actor, producer, radio and tv personality, author, and activist. He might not have started out to be all those things, but over time, they have developed.  He is also making a huge difference for the lgbtq community.

By being openly gay, Lance is another person showing the world that gay people want the same things as everyone else:  respect, equality, and freedom from hate.  Every time he says "my husband and I," he is making a difference.  The wedding of Lance and his spouse Michael Turchin (pictured above), back in 2014 was recorded and shown on cable tv.  Sometimes just being yourself is all it takes.

Now I have spoken many times about the importance of being open and honest, and it is my hope that one day closets will again be only for clothing, but let me be very clear.  I do not wish to see anyone in danger.  There are still times when some need to remain in the closet for their own safety, and that should be respected.

So much talent in this guy!  Seriously.  I love his talk show appearances.  He always speaks his mind.  Glad he has several regular gigs and was happy to just see him with best friend Joey Fatone on

$100,000 Pyramid.

I've seen Lance at a couple of different lgbtq events, but he is also making a difference in other areas as well.  He's done telethons for various causes, been an active supporter for animal rights, and is also involved with the Environmental Media Association.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We need to know our history

Hearing a story this week about someone who wasn't quite sure who Marsha P. Johnson was, I knew I had to write something here.  (A random person on the street had described her to a friend of mine saying "Oh! Is she the one who threw the first bottle at Stonehenge?"  Um.  No).

Marsha P. Johnson was an activist in New York City from the 60s to the 90s. Co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, Marsha was also a visible presence at protests and marches and at the same time was a mother figure to young trans women. Facing ridicule, bullying, and harassment, Marsha did not yield from being her true self, and in doing so made a huge difference. (The middle initial P, according to her was Pay it No Mind). 

Many of us are aware of those who make a difference in the town where we live, but folks in other places do things that lead to a better life for us all.  Whether you are from New Jersey where Marsha was born, New York where she became known, or the other side of the earth, it's important to know that things she did, made a difference. 

Although the police report her death as suicide, there is much evidence to suggest that her death was as a result of a hate crime.  As part of her legacy, we should all pledge to do everything possible to end the plague of hate crimes against our trans sisters and brothers.


Monday, June 19, 2017

The man behind the Quilt

If you know about The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the man you can thank for it is Cleve Jones.  Along with Marcus Conant, Frank Jacobson and Richard Keller, Jones also created the Kaposi's Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation, which later became the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The tv program you enjoyed showing lgbtq history (When We Rise), was based on a book by Jones "When We Rise: My Life in the Movement."

Close friends over the years with the late rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, Cleve Jones might not be a name you recognize and his face might not be familiar, but he has been an lgbtq and HIV activist most of his life.  The stories he has are a powerful picture of how far we have come.  Cleve Jones knew Harvey Milk, and the seeds of activism were probably planted back then.  He has been a giant in the lgbtq community ever since.  In addition, Cleve has been a Community and Political Coordinator with a major hospitality workers’ labor union for the past twelve years.


With over 48,000 3’ x 6’ panels, the story of The Quilt, is a fascinating one.  You can learn more about it, and even donate in support, at http://www.aidsquilt.org/

Cleve Jones is not someone I know well - I used to see him at events or walking around the neighborhood, but I certainly respect and admire all he has done, and so am pleased to mention him here during Pride Month.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Even small towns have gay people

Making a difference doesn't mean you have to be highly visible or become famous.  After living most of my life in large cities, I know live in a relatively small town where two woman have done something really important.  As many of you know, I don't write here about private citizens, except in cases where there has already been publicity, so I won't mention these ladies by name, but they have done a tremendous service to the lgbt community here in this part of Arizona.

In large cities, it's easier to meet other lgbt folks than in small towns.  Networking is important though, so this lesbian couple began an internet presence which they administer and where dozens have now connected to share common interests and talk about lgbt issues.  That is a huge thing for folks who may feel isolated.  Growing up gay and thinking you are all alone can be difficult, but feeling alone can be just as hard when you are an adult.
(This by the way is something folks can do pretty much anywhere using facebook or yahoo or various other platforms.  Once you start a group, invite those you know, and suggest that each of them send out invitations as well.  You'd be surprised how easy this can be).

Now the couple who began this group, didn't leave it just as an online resource.  They have arranged potluck summers, a holiday party, and even a picnic in the park.  They also share lgbt news with the group and urge the others to do the same.

The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender residents of the area may have felt all alone in the past, but now there is a connection thanks to two women who cared - two women who made a difference.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Randy was first

Back in the late 70s, when I lived in San Francisco, I met a television reporter named Randy Shilts.  A major magazine in a brief mention, said he was the first openly gay television news reporter.  I remember saying to him, "I've always been openly gay, so what made you the first?"  Regardless of who was actually first, Randy was covering things that nobody else was. 

After leaving the public tv station where he had been working, Randy went on to the major local newspaper, where he again paid more attention to lgbt issues, than any other reporter.  Books followed.  He gave us only three, but three important ones:  Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, and The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk.

He wanted to write more.  Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church was to have been examined in his next book, but AIDS claimed his life at the young age of 42, before he was able to get to that.

I've written here about Randy Shilts before, and you may think it odd that I bring him up so much.  We knew each other, but never became close.  Randy made a difference though.  He brought us news we needed to hear.  He talked about HIV/AIDS when nobody else was.  Although there is some controversy, especially when he called for the closure of gay bathhouses, Randy continued to dig up the facts and report them to us.  He might not be recognized by everyone, but I am thrilled that he was one of the first to receive a plaque on San Francisco's Rainbow Honor Walk.

Thanks for the reports and the books Randy.  Thanks for making a difference!