Sunday, June 26, 2016

A more secure Pride

On Grove Street in San Francisco yesterday, people entering the LGBT Pride Celebration area, had to pass through metal detectors, also be wand inspected, and have anything they might be carrying visually inspected. There is also a much more visible police presence. It's a shame that our world has come to this! The idea of course is the safety and security of everyone, and I am told that today is going to be even more secure. Pride celebrations in several cities today will have new elements of security. The attack on the lgbt community is all too fresh in our memory.

Barbara Poma, the owner of Orlando's Pulse nightclub, where the massacre occurred, will be leading the New York City parade atop a Stonewall Inn float. I'm hearing reports that onlookers have already started lining up along Fifth Avenue there, to get the best vantage point for the annual lgbt celebration parade. I'm certain the same thing is true in San Francisco. Last year it was an extra happy event, with the US Supreme Court having just ruled favorably on same-sex marriage. This year, just two weeks after the murder of 49 people at a gay club, the mood is expected to be quite different.

At all of the Pride events this weekend in any city, I expect there will be stepped up security. (I've already seen pictures on television this morning of police in New York City carrying long guns). I expect that some of the speakers will talk about hate and the need to put an end to it, and some will talk about gun violence and the need for that to end too. Heightened security along with heightened concerns, but a celebration nonetheless.

Remember, the future is up to ALL of us. We can all make the world more safe and secure. We can work to end the hate. We can bring back the joyful celebrations that we all enjoy. Let's do it!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remember Their Names

During what is LGBT Pride Weekend in many cities, let us celebrate the freedoms that exist for some, but keep on working for the freedoms of all and let us remember the victims of gun violence, and firmly resolve to do something about it. Let us also remember our sisters and brothers who have been taken from us, simply because of who they are.

We know that 49 people were brutally killed in a gay club earlier this month, but this was not the beginning of violence against the lgbt community. Sadly these hate crimes go back through history.  Please be safe at the various celebrations today and tomorrow.  (I know that San Francisco Pride will have increased police presence all weekend, and metal detector have been added to all the entrances of the Celebration site).

These are some of the others who were murdered because of their gender identity or sexual orientation: Howard Efland, beaten to death by Los Angeles Police; Upstairs Lounge (32 victims), New Orleans gay bar torched by arsonist; Robert Hillsborough, stabbed to death in San Francisco by a man shouting "faggot;” Harvey Milk, murdered by political rival Dan White at San Francisco City Hall; Terry Knudsen, beaten to death by three men in Loring Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Steven Charles, beaten to death in New York City; Charlie Howard, drowned in Bangor, Maine for being "flamboyantly gay;" Rebecca Wight, shot along the Appalachian Trail; James Zappalorti, a gay Vietnam veteran, was stabbed to death; Julio Rivera, beaten with a hammer and stabbed with a knife because he was gay; Brandon Teena, a trans man, raped and later killed; and Matthew Shepard, tortured, beaten, tied to a fence, and abandoned in Laramie, Wyoming.

Other vicitms include Billy Jack Gaither, brutally beaten to death in Rockford, Alabama; Gwen Araujo, murdered by at least three men when they discovered she was trans; Sakia Gunn, murdered by stabbing in Newark, New Jersey; Richie Phillips, killed because he was gay in Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Glenn Kopitske, shot and stabbed in the back in Winnebago County, Wisconsin; Emonie Spaulding, shot to death in Washington, DC; Jason Gage, bludgeoned to death in Waterloo, Iowa; Ryan Keith Skipper, stabbed to death in Wahneta, Florida; and Ruby OrdeƱana, strangled to death in San Francisco, CA. The list also includes Roberto Duncanson, stabbed to death in Brooklyn, NY; Ebony Whitaker, shot and killed in Memphis, TN; Sanesha Stewart, stabbed to death in The Bronx, New York; Lawrence King, shot twice by a classmate in Oxnard, California; Nahkia Williams, shot to death in Louisville, Kentucky; Lateisha Green, shot and killed in Syracuse, NY; August Provost, shot to death Camp Pendleton; Mariah Malina Qualls, murdered in San Francisco; and Toni Alston, shot in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There are more - a LOT more. Their murders were in small towns and in big cities and in all parts of this country. They were killed because of hate. They were killed in many cases because people in positions of trust had convinced them that lgbt people are not worthy of living.  Look up additional names (they are pretty easy to find).  Think of these people.  Remember - they were PEOPLE.  All people should be able to live without fear.  Let us move forward to a world with no hate and let is make certain that there are no more deaths like these.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Raising awareness

Ever since the shooting at a gay club in Orlando, I have been writing here about the anti-lgbt feelings that still exist in so many places and the ease with which people can access guns, and all of the killings that have happened as a result. I'm trying to keep some focus and to raise awareness. Yesterday the US House of Representatives did the ultimate act of raising awareness.

They were trying to do more of course, but the votes just weren't there. (It looks like a lot of people still need to be convinced). In Washington yesterday morning, House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor. Yup, a good old fashioned sit-it! Attempting to pass two gun-control measures, the Democrats were frustrated and angered by Republican's lack of action on the legislation, and so they got very visible. When was the last time you saw Congresspeople sitting on the House floor? Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was even wearing a rainbow wristband.

No, this isn't the end of it. We still need to actually do something about the guns, and about the hate. This though did get some attention, and that can be a good thing. It's interesting to me too that all of this is coming during LGBT Pride month. This week ahead is when many cities hold celebrations and parades. Seeing less anti-lgbt hate and seeing an end to all gun violence, would make for a great celebration!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bad and Good

With every horrible event in history, there is both bad and good. It may be hard to think of anything good on that fateful night in Orlando, when a shooter took the lives of 49 people in a popular gay club, but take a moment and think about how it has brought people together and how so many people are determined now to win a fight that we have been fighting for a very ling time.

Gun violence is never a good thing and the taking of lives earlier this month was a sad day for their families and friends, and I think should have been sad for everyone. Unfortunately there were some how actually rejoiced! I have mentioned the clergy who preach hate, but I am amazed that there have been so many. In a sermon on the day of the massacre, the preacher at Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said to his congregation: "Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um – no – I think that's great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight." Even more outrageous statements followed. From this bad though is coming some good. This past Sunday at least 1,000 people came to the church's location to protest the hateful preacher, chanting "shame on you" and "love conquers hate" during their rally. In addition, the church's landlord is trying to evict them.

Even if the church is gone and even if the pastor is no longer preaching, there is still the matter of hate. How do you get rid of that? How do you turn hate into love?

I'm hearing all kinds of positive stories too about first responders who saved lives that night in Orlando. There's the bittersweet story of the mother who shielded her son in the club, giving her own life for his. There are stories of tears shed around the world because the violent event touched people in so many ways. I heard yesterday of a young gay man, who decided to come out after the incident in Orlando. He said he needed to become visible.

The number of people who have stepped up efforts regarding gun safety is huge. Bills have already made it to Congressional votes. The bad news is that every one of them has been voted down. There are many people who will not be giving up though, and that is a very good thing.

As I predicted, the Orlando story is already disappearing slowly from the news, and from people's minds, but as I said, I am not going to stop. There is too much at stake. The anti-lgbt hate needs to become a thing of the past, just like gun violence. We need to work for a loving and caring future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Writing this blog every morning, I have always tried to remain fairly neutral. I want to tell the stories of people who are making our world a better place, and offer suggestions on how we all can do that. I frequently ask for you the reader to make suggestions too. Numerous times when mass murders happened, I have commented on the loss or life and often when I see violence and discrimination directed toward any specific group of people, I have commented. I made a decision a week ago to keep harping on this too until I see some sort of progress.

Let me be clear, because I am talking about two things. The massacre in Orlando was another example of gun violence, but it was also another example of hatred toward the lgbt community. BOTH need to stop. Gun safety is an important issue and it needs to be seriously address, but so is anti-lgbt discrimination and hate. Two. Two very necessary things to do something about. Are you with me?

Think of some positive ways we can make the world safer. Think of some realistic goals we can have. Please. This is important. Lives are at stake. We simply cannot allow anymore hate crimes to happen. We simply cannot turn our back on part of humanity. If you agree with me, begin by directing people here to this blog for updates and share you views openly and completely with family and friends. Let the world know that you are not a supporter of hate and that you want to see and end to gun violence.

I'm not giving up. (You may know that I NEVER give up when it comes to anything, but again, we are talking about peoples' lives). Two important things. Let's stop the hate and let's stop the gun violence.

Monday, June 20, 2016

In cities in towns all over the world

Kingman, AZ played host to a memorial for the Orlando shooting victims last night will a wide variety of people in attendance and a stirring address by Father Leonard Walker, an openly gay local priest. The faces of the 49 people who were murdered, were projected on a screen, giving the mourners an opportunity to see the men and women who had been gunned down, simply because they were in a gay club. The large bell here was rung once for each person, as two people read the names that I listed here yesterday.

Last Sunday night, memorial vigils began.  Seeing pictures of a very large one in San Francisco (and seeing friends of mine participate), helped to ease the paing of the madness that had occurred at the start of the day.  Moring candlelight services have happened since.  In addition to last night's gathering here in Arizona, an estimated 50,000 people gathered in downtown Orlando for what was probably the largest remembrance anywhere.

I don't want to generalize about any location because good and bad can be found anywhere, but I was surprised to see folks come out in this small Arizona town. Another nearby community, Bullhead City, is also having a memorial this week. Actually they are happening in places you just might not expect, and all around the globe.

It is heartwarming to see people stand up against hate, and more of that is becoming visible, now over a week after the horrible massacre. Yes, there has been a lot of hate speech, but others are coming forward and saying they will not tolerate hate anymore. It was lovely to see news of a coffee shop in Europe that put a sign up saying "If the sight of two men holding hands disturbs you, we don't want your business." We need more and more people standing up for love. That, truly will make this a better world. In little towns and big cities, we all need to say "Enough! I am not going to be part of the hate."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Names

One week ago, we were awakening to the horrible news from Orlando, that a man had walked into a gay club and began shooting, killing 49 people and wounding another 53. Here on this blog,  I have been writing about this hate crime all week, and will continue to do so. We should never forget. (The media, by the way, keeps referring to 50 dead, but that last person was the shooter, whom I am not writing about by name). In addition to the 49, another 53 were injured and taken to hospitals.

Funeral services began for these men and women a few days ago. Today, let's all take a moment to think of these lives that were cut short. These are their names:

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

May they all rest in peace.