Tuesday, December 31, 2013

preparing to write a new book

It's the seventh day of Christmas, but it's also the last day of the year. 2013 is coming to a close! A big thank you to all who read this regularly and I hope you find something here of value.

Now it's time to close this 2013 book though. I hope your life has had a lot of great moments during the year! Mine has certainly had more ups and downs than ever before and I am blessed to have such wonderful friends.  My sister is also such a wonderful blessing in my life!
 
Tomorrow we open a brand new book. It's pages are blank. We of course are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and it's first chapter is New Year's Day!  Let's make this new book a best-seller!

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Like sands through the hourglass

Father Time, also known as 2013, is soon going to be leaving us and making way for Baby New Year. Is there anything you wanted to do in 2013 but didn't? If you had more time, could you get to it?  Better hurry - just two days left!

I'm not one for making resolutions - so many of them are broken in the first frew days anyway. I'm not a big fan of regrets either. You cannot change what is - you can only try to do your best.

Like sands running through the hourglass, the moments of our life roll on by. I always try to do my best. Sometimes I do terribly well. Sometimes I fail. Doing our best though counts a lot. Just keep on trying!

Friday, December 27, 2013

thanks for your wonderful testimony Otis

One of the nicest and kindest men I have ever known, The Right Reverend Edgar Otis Charles, who for more than six decades served as a priest and then bishop in the Episcopal Church, died yesterday afternoon, just a few months after losing his husband Felipe Sanchez Paris-Charles. 
 
I first met Bishop Otis years ago, after he had retired as the Bishop of Utah and after he had come out as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church (or any denomination).  The gentle yet warm spirit that was his made me know immediately that we would always be friends.  It was so much fun running in to him unexpectedly sometimes at public events.
 
His place in the history of the Episcopal Church is solid.  For fourteen years he served as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission, which developed the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.  In the House of Bishops, he was chair of the Prayer Book Committee and a member of the Bishops' Committee on Racism.  After his years as Utah's bishop, he became dean of the  Episcopal Divinity School. He was also active in the peace movement and, after coming out, became active in lgbt matters.
 
It was mostly with his husband Felipe that I knew him.  It was always Otis AND Felipe!  When one of them sponsored me for AIDS Walk, I knew it was from them both. The two appear in the film "Love Free or Die," a portion of which you can see HERE and get a sense of the love between Otis and Felipe.  You could see the love in their eyes.
 
Services for Bishop Otis have not yet been arranged but I imagine that Saint Gregory's, the local parish of which he was a member, will hold some kind of liturgy and there will likely be a service in Utah as well.  Rest in peace dear friend.  Thanks for your wonderful testimony.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The ethic of reciprocity or prime directive

The ethic of reciprocity, more commonly referred to as the Golden Rule, is a wonderful life guide. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is the way most of us have heard it. Wonderful concept it is and it can be found in many different religions, although belief in any god, does not seem to be part of this principle.

Islam is one place where this concept shows up a lot. Look to The Quran and read “Woe to those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due” (Surah 83 vv. 1–4) There are numerous other references in The Quran that deal with the Golden Rule, without calling it that.

In Jewish custom we find it too. In the book Leviticus it says “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Taoism gives us the same principle. “Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.” (T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien)

Christians get it in many forms, but Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians probably says it best: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We hear Jesus preaching this principle in the gospels.

It would seem to me that this ethic is so very basic, that it should be our prime directive. (Yes, just like on Star Trek). How wonderful it would be if we all followed this rule!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas??

Merry Christmas?

There will be those - there always are, who will utter this greeting with a question mark in their voices. What's to be merry about? A slowed down economy?   Bullying, homophobia, racism, and prejudice still rearing their ugly heads? Pedestrian traffic fatalities?  Horrific weather conditions?  There certainly is a lot of bad news!  For me personally (yes, I know, this is NOT about me) it will be my first Christmas since Mom died this past spring and one might expect it would therefore be a little less merry.

Old Scrooge in the wonderful Dickens classic was one of those who used to question the joy of Christmas. "Humbug!" That's how he summed it all up. Scrooge found out though, and just in time, that there is always reason to be happy - there is always something to be joyful about!

I am reminded of the words preached by Saint Leo the Great way back in the fifth century:

"Today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness."

May we carry that message with us with no question mark at all. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

Finally!  The special night is here!  Tonight people all over the world will be welcoming Christmas (oh and by the way, tomorrow is the first day of Christmas, not the last).  You still have a few hours for those last minute preparations but don't delay!
 
Whether you gather with family and friends in a church at midnight and sing O Holy Night (or perhaps Silent Night) or stay at home in front of a fireplace (or the yule log on television), I hope that yours will be an enjoyable celebration.
 
In just a few hours I will be heading down to my sister's house to spend the night with her - our first Christmas since Mom died.  Tomorrow will obviously be quite different from last Christmas, but it will still be good.
 
Whoever you are and where ever you are, Christmas should be a wonderful time of celebration.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Is pink still for girls and blue for boys

At the very beginning of the movie Torch Song Trilogy, a young Arnold is caught by his mother dressed in some of her finest and putting on some of her makeup. Those of you who have seen the film know that Arnold grows up to become a drag queen. How about in real life though - what happens if little boys are into dresses, wigs, and makeup?

A year ago I asked the question "Is pink still for girls and blue for boys?"  Except for the post about my mother at her time of death, more people have read that blog entry than anything else I have written.  Not long after, the New York Times Magazine just happened to ask about the same subject. Every now and than I see a post on facebook or twitter. It seems to be a subject that everyone is interested in.

When a baby comes home from the hospital and through its first couple of years, the color choice is very clear: pink for a girl and blue for a boy. When folks don't check gender ahead of time, they might build a wardrobe of neutral yellow, but no other colors are used. When children become old enough to dress all by themselves, what is a mom to do (or a dad) if the child wants the other color?

The Times magazine article I mentioned was written by Ruth Padawer who teaches at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She does a pretty complete job of laying out facts, quoting experts, giving examples and getting folks talking. She does such a good job that, as I said, many are still discussing this. But what does it matter? Does a young boy's wardrobe choice directly influence who he becomes?

There are those who will condemn parents who allow a more fluid gender expression in their children. Are they wrong? Some of the things that really need to chance in this world of ours are negative attitudes. Is this an area where we need to do some re-thinking? Your thoughts are certainly welcome.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy birthday Mom

Today I expect will be a difficult day for me and my sister because this would have been Mom's 87th birthday and it of course is the first December now without her. 
 
I remember last year.  Mom and my sister had just moved to the Bay Area days before and so all three of us were going to spend the evening together - something we rarely had the chance to do in recent years.  I grabbed three roast beef sandwiches from Mom's favorite deli here in town (which has since closed down) and headed over to meet them.  It was a very quiet and simple birthday celebration and I remember telling Mom we would "do something bigger next year."
 
My sister and I have both taken the day off from work and will spend the day together.  At some point we plan to go to the churchyard where Mom is buried.  Happy birthday Mom.  This is something bigger indeed.  Today you are with Daddy, and Nana, and Grandpa in paradise.  Happy birthday Mom.  Rest in peace.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate?

Listening to a talk show the other day, I heard a well-meaning person several times speak of "lifestyle" and "sexual preference" when talking about lesbians and gays. Well, after the smoke came out of my ears, I realized it was time to do one of those "educational" posts.

First off, it is NOT a preference!  Let me give you an example of preference.  Some people eat vanilla ice cream.  Some like chocolate better.  My favorite happens to be strawberry.  Of course I will eat any of those flavors.  I love ice cream.  What we are talking about here though is a preference.  I prefer strawberry.  It is my personal preference.

Now when it comes to dating men or dating women, this is NOT a preference matter.  I do not simply like one better than the other.  Oh no!  I am ONLY attracted in a sexual and in a romantic way to men.  I am gay.  It is my orientation, NOT my preference.  It's also not a lifestyle choice.  You don't wake up one morning and say "I'm going to wear the gay outfit today."

Now I am sure that someone may disagree with all of this, so I ask as I always do for your comments below.  I'd love to know if anyone agrees.  From where I sit though there is a big difference and saying sexual preference suggests what we make a choice, when in fact our orientation was predetermined and was not out choice.  So, what do YOU think?  Any thoughts? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

adopt a shelter animal

Looking for an animal to add to your household?  Consider adopting a shelter animal.  I have written here a number of times about pet adoption, but you really cannot say enough.  It is one of those win-win situations - there are many advantages.  Click HERE for some general information from the Humane Society.

A word or two about shelters (which some refer to as the "pound," short for impoundment).  Animal shelters provide a safe and caring environment until the animal is either reclaimed by its owner or adopted by a new owner.  While we often hear about shelters euthanizing animals (and this does indeed happen in many public shelters when animals are not adopted with a certain time period), most private shelters are run as no-kill shelters.

Animals deserve love and affection though.  Just because they are not going to be euthanized, does not mean they should continue in a shelter.  Yes, they generally are well feed and provided for, but animals deserve more than that.  They deserve love and attention.  In return, they usually GIVE love and attention to their care-givers.

Ask your co-workers.  Talk to your friends.  Do a little reading.  I'm certain that everything you hear about adopting a shelter animal will say the same thing.  It will warm your heart and it will warm theirs too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The message of the season

It seems that every day there is something bad in the news. Some days are worse than others.  From schoolyard shootings to fatal pedestrian accidents, we see way too much of death in this season of our Savior's birth. How can we attend a party when we are thinking of the innocent lives lost?

I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that we have sorrow and joy even in our traditional Christmas observances. On the Church calendar for instance, the most holy night is December 24th and then the great day of our Lord's nativity comes next. Wonderful celebrating. What next though? The Church remembers the very first deacon, Saint Stephen - who was stoned to death! Just two days later we remember the horrific massacre of the Holy Innocents by Herod the Great. How can we not think this year of the twenty children killed in Newtown when we observe Holy Innocents Day, the biblical remembrance of that wicked infanticide which produced the first Christian martyrs?

Good and bad side by side. Nothing new. It has been that way for a long time. Should we just give up? Hardly! There is always a reason to keep on trying. There is always a reason to try and make a difference in the world!

Monday, December 16, 2013

we need to make true equality a reality

Read these words from The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It’s only February right now, so we cannot possibly be celebrating Independence Day yet, but there is never a bad time for this reminder. ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL. ALL. Every single person. There is not one who was created to stand above the rest. We all should have the same rights and nothing less is ever fair.

Hispanics are equal. Asians are equal. African-Americans are equal. Lesbians are equal. Gay men are equal. Transgender persons are equal. People of advanced years are equal. People who practice different religions are equal. People who practice no religion are equal.  All are equal.

Let’s get to work and make true equality a reality. We can begin with the workplace or with marriage or with any number of things where discrimination still exists.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Your own person of the year

We are getting closer and closer to the end of 2013 and I was thinking this morning about who I might choose as Person of the Year. Time Magazine of course does this annually and most of the time I have agreed with their choices, but what if instead of this big overall person they choose, we all came up with our own person of the year?

Is there someone who really made an impact on you this year? Think about it. Perhaps a famous person did something that you felt personally or perhaps someone you work with or a friend or a relative did something that was so significant that it really made your life better.

Some organizations choose an annual person of the year and some do it in various categories. Each one of us could do the same thing. The persons we choose wouldn't get an article about them or a magazine cover, but perhaps if someone really made a difference in your life this year, you could simply tell them!

Think about it. Who would YOU choose?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gay in America

The picture to the left, is the cover of a book that sits on my coffee table, Gay in America. What a wonderful book it is! New York photographer Scott Pasfield documented the stories of 140 gay men, and has done a truly remarkable job. I saw CNN reporter Nina Raja ask Scott “What inspired you to take on this project?” His reply: “First and foremost I started this project to make a difference.”

Wow! Making a difference - that’s what we talk about here every day. There are so many ways to do it, and here Scott Pasfield shows us another one. He made a book he says he “wished existed when (he) was a kid, one that (he) could learn about the realities of being gay.”

How did I happen to notice the book? Well the cover is a photo of Dan Choi, whom we have written about here so many times. When reporter Raja asked Scott about the cover, his answer was long and told of his first meeting with Dan Choi, after all the other photos had been taken. He closed though by saying “And it only seemed right to put the soldier that fights for us all on the cover.” I agree.

I should point out that this isn't a new book - it's a few years old, but I hope you will pick up a copy. (I might make a nice Christmas gift).   Perhaps it will inspire you to go out there and make a difference too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

toys for the kids

Recently I wrote here about the many toy drives happening and Ellen Degeneres has very kindly been promoting this on her popular television program.  I've also seen a number of businesses with collection bins that give shoppers a discount when they drop off a toy.  Churches and other faith communities have gotten in to it as well.  All this is great news. 

There is a bit of bad news though.  Toy collections are down from previous years in many locations.  On top of that, thieves posing as firefighters have gone to several collection sites with large garbage bags saying they are there for a toy pickup.  (Note to stores with collection bins:  Ask for ID!  Firefighters have badges and members of the Marine Corps have military ID cards).  Police are investigating, but meanwhile there are fewer toys.

And this is why I mention the toy drives once again.  If you are able to, help out.  It will mean a lot to a kid!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

favorite times of the year

When I was young, I always looked forward to this month. I loved the colder weather and the snow, and of course I loved Christmas. This is also the month when there is a break from school, and that is always nice. My mom's birthday came in December too, and then there were all the other holiday parties. Good times!

August though could also be a favorite time. We would be out of school then. There were so many fun summer activities. Oh yeah and my birthday! What about November? I liked that a lot too with Thanksgiving (I love the traditional dinner) and Veterans Day breaks from school or work. Fall leaves are always so pretty! Of course May can be fun, with summer right around the corner, and those wonderful Memorial Day picnics! Come to think of it, there is something to look forward to in every month.

You get the idea.   We don't have to reserve our fun to just one day or one week or one month.  Why not make the best of every single day?  Let's live life to the fullest.  I think I am going to have 365 favorite times this year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Toys for all

No, it is not Christmas yet - it is not even the Christmas season, despite what the stores may be telling you.  It is however a good time to think about kids who might not be fortunate enough to have toys and books and games to brighten their days.  Each year, starting around Thanksgiving, various organizations hold toy drives and then distribute those toys to needs children within a few days of Christmas.

You have all heard of the Marine Corps' Toys For Tots program.  That is probably the best know of them all since it has been around for a long time.  They not only accept donations of toys, but also will take money to purchase toys.  If you know a child in need and want to request a toy for them, click HERE to go to their site.

Similar toy drives take place all over the country.  Walgreens stores are collecting again this year.  There are collection barrels in all of their stores and they go to whatever agency they partner with locally (here in San Francisco for example, it is the Fire Department).

Brighten a child's day.  Donate a toy.  We aren't even talking about a lot of money here.  At Walgreens for example you can buy two toys for $6.99 each and get a third one for free.  Just about everyone can afford that!

Friday, December 6, 2013

By bread alone

Father Leo Patalinghug calls Grace Before Meals a "movement" that promotes the importance of families preparing and then eating meals together. (Wasn't there an old saying that "the family that eats together, stays together")? So much of what we do happens around a meal table.  It seems the good padre is on to something!

I wrote here about Father Leo several years ago.  He and I exchanged a few emails.  Father Leo really is an inspiration to me.  His faith is strong and his commitment to family is a joy!

When not busy teaching future priests at the seminary where he works, or speaking at a high school or college just about anywhere in the country, Father Leo hosts an internet and cable cooking show.  He also maintains a website for Grace Before Meals, and has written a book.  Also, he has lately been contributing a regular cooking show to the EWTN network.  Busy man, huh?

There are some wonderful food ideas at the Grace Before Meals website and there is also tons of additional information.  I invite you to check them out though for the grace you will receive and the lessons you can learn about sharing around a meal with friends and family.  Go to http://gracebeforemeals.com/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

can you spare some food?

Food drives are popular this time of year. There is often a big push for food around Thanksgiving and again around Christmas. In many communities there are numerous programs. Here in San Francisco there are several year-round programs, which is a good thing - the need is certainly there!
 
I don't know whether you think much about these things, but that extra can of tuna that cost you just a buck or the boxes of mac and cheese for about the same price can really help someone who has nothing. If your income is low and you don't have much, don't think you have to donate fifty or a hundred dollars worth of groceries to make a difference. Your can of tuna and your neighbor's box of mac and cheese and the chicken noodle soup that the retired school teacher put in, all add up. Yes, every single contribution helps!
 
I'm not saying just give one thing - give as much as you feel you are able to. The important thing, as always, is involvement. We all have the capacity to help!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The toughest job you'll ever love



With so many remembrances of John Kennedy's Presidency these days, it is certainly a good time to talk about The Peace Corps because it was Kennedy who, by Executive Order on March 1, 1961, created the government-run agency.  (I was, I should note, talked about before Kennedy, but it was he who actually made it happen and then Congress authorized it on September 21, 1961, with passage of the Peace Corps Act).  In its 52 years, over 210,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries.
 
The Slogan “The toughest job you will ever love” says volumes. President Jimmy Carter's mother Lillian served as a nurse Carter says she had "one of the most glorious experiences of her life" in the Peace Corps.  Political commentator Chris Matthews, This Old House host Bob Vila, author Paul Theroux, and film director Taylor Hackford also served.  The experience of a lifetime they all say.

The work they do all over the world continues and the need is always there.  There are three different types of volunteers and you can find out more on their website at http://www.peacecorps.gov/ - note that all volunteers must be US citizens and at least 18 year old.

Want to know more?  The website I mentioned is a very good source.  You can also subscribe to their newsfeed HERE.  Oh and age does not have to me a factor.  Mrs Carter applied when she was 68 years old!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

no more Moishe's

Joe Sattler, owner of Moishe’s Pippic deli here in San Francisco's Hayes Valley, has called it quits.  What a guy!  What a place!  Joe and his ever-faithful sandwich maker Able have been putting smiles on my face for years.  They brought many smiles to my mom too!
 
Saturday was officially the last day but yesterday the sign went up.  I was sworn to secrecy last week when I found out, but I didn't swear to sing the praises of Moishe's Pippic.  How can a couple of guys running a deli, make a difference in this world?  I don't have the answer, but they sure did!
 
They will indeed be missed!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sponsoring Jason makes a great holiday gift

A couple of months ago I told you about Jason Villalobos (that's him on the billboard) and how he has signed up again for AIDS LifeCycle and set his most ambitious fundraising goal ever. I've donated.  Many of you might have also given by now.  Yesterday was World AIDS Day.  Sponsoring Jason would be such a great way to make the day.  It would also make a great holiday gift. 
 
I've written here about Jason and his activism on a number of occasions - not just about LifeCycle, although I am particularly pleased to see him doing this again and again.  You see, Jason doesn't just participate, he has actually credited the Ride with giving him a new relationship to AIDS and to himself.
 
Jason used to live right above where this picture was taken and he was a fixture at rallies and gatherings there in the Castro.  You would see his face on posters like this and read his words in print and watch him speak at forums and on television.  Even though he has moved away to a small town, his contributions haven't become small.  Jason was just named one of this year’s POZ 100, a group of HIV-positive people who are unsung heroes in the fight against AIDS.
 
Click HERE if you can help by sponsoring Jason for any amount - all donations help!  He's riding again to raise awareness, funds, and to do his part to eliminate the stigma surrounding the disease. Won't you do your part too?

Friday, November 29, 2013

What will YOU do about AIDS?

Raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, government, health officials, AIDS service organizations, and people around the globe observe every December 1st as World AIDS Day, with speeches, films, candlelight vigils, and forums on the AIDS topics.  Sunday is the twenty-fifth such observance.

Long before anyone heard the term AIDS, people were already dying. It was "4 H disease," because the first cases were found among homosexuals, hemophiliacs, Haitians, and heroin users. Later the name was changed to GRID, for Gay related immune deficiency. The epidemic began officially on June 5, 1981, when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported unusual clusters of Pneumocystis pneumonia caused by a form of Pneumocystis carinii in five homosexual men in Los Angeles.  It didn't have an official name until the summer of 1982, when the CDC began referring to the  disease as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.
 
Over the years, research has been important, but so too has been patient service, education, and erasing the stigma.  Annual events like AIDS Walk and AIDS LifeCycle have been important and so are the many events that take place on World AIDS Day.  Click HERE to get details on today's National AIDS Memorial Grove Observance which begins in Golden Gate Park at 11:30am.  The World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil & Memorial begins at 5pm at Harvey Milk Plaza which is at Castro & Market Streets in San Francisco.  At 7pm there will be an Interfaith World AIDS Day Service at Saint Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco.  Also at 7pm the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street) screens "We Were Here,"  an AIDS documentary about the San Francisco response to the epidemic.  This is only a partial list of local events and of course there are things happening all over the world.

AIDS is still with us and the fight must continue!  Awareness is such an important part of that fight, so this World AIDS Day, do something and help spread the word.  We can all do something to help in the fight! What will YOU do?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's not about the food, it's about the thanks

Thanksgiving Day became an official Federal holiday in 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." Families and friends get together and share meals, watch parades and football on tv, begin their holiday shopping, and enjoy each other's company.  As part of all of this, we pause and are grateful for all we have.
 
On Thanksgiving, some attend church services and some says prayers within their family gathering.  The significant thing here though is the thanks.  In addition to giving thanks to God, it is certainly wonderful to so our appreciation to each other and to all who have been a blessing in our lives.  Giving thanks can take many forms, but it is the key here.  It's not about the turkey, the pumpkin pie, or the Harold Square parade in New York.  All those other things are just added pieces of the celebration.
 
Today, regardless of what you do or where you do it, and whether you eat a huge feast of a simple supper, take a moment to think about all you are grateful for.  Give thanks to God by whatever name you call him, and be thankful for your friends and your family and all those who make a difference in your life.  Today is about thanks-giving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thirty five years later

San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who were shot and killed in San Francisco City Hall by former Supervisor Dan White on this date thirty-five years ago. White was angry that the Mayor had refused to re-appoint him to his seat on the Board of Supervisors, from which White had just resigned, and that Milk had lobbied heavily against his re-appointment. San Francisco was already reeling from the mass suicides and murders in Johnstown just days before.
 
Moscone's name is not as well known today as Milk's, even though both have buildings named for them.  Harvey Milk has become much better known in death, than he was in life.  Like with John F Kennedy, whom we wrote about here a few days ago, there have been a lot of "what if he had lived?" questions asked.  Certainly nobody knows for sure, but there have been a lot of changes since.  Some might argue that there has not been a mayor as progressive as George Moscone.  There have been other gay Supervisors though, and not just representing the heavily gay Castro district.
 
It is certain that both Moscone and Milk made a difference in this world.  They started some things that have continued following their deaths.  One huge tribute to them is that there have been regularly remembrances of that dark day when they were murdered.  There will be one such remembrance tonight which will include a candlelight vigil.  Tonight's event like most over the years, has been organized.  On the night of the assassinations though it was an impromptu candlelight march started in the Castro and leading to the City Hall steps that was so terribly moving. Tens of thousands of people took part that night with Joan Baez leading "Amazing Grace" along them way.
 
Thirty-five years later we remember these two men.  How fitting too that this date fall on the eve of a day set aside to give thanks.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Philippines still needs help!

In the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan’s horrible devastation, 2.5 million people in the Philippines are in need of emergency assistance as they begin the process of rebuilding.  People all over the world have been very generous, but so much is needed.  This week as we prepare to give thanks here in the United States, let us also share with those is such great need.
 
As I have said before, the best way to donate is through organizations that are already set up and doing this work.  Setting up something new or donating to someone who just set up something takes many and wastes it.  It really needs to get to where it will do the most good.  Go to http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate - the website for The Philippine Red Cross.

The men, women and children in the Philippines are now homeless and who have no clean water or food in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan really need a hand. I think the most direct help can come through the Red Cross, but there are other good organizations set up already that are doing good work. UNICEF is another good way to give.  Click HERE to donate to their efforts.

Monday, November 25, 2013

José: An Underdog Story

If Houston Rockets Point guard Jeremy Lin suddenly showed up for a game of pickup basketball, what would you do?  José was already picking up his life when he met Jeremy, but that day he got an extra boost. 
 
This is the latest video from The Jubilee Project and like their other efforts it will move you.  Please click HERE to watch.  The story of José is also about a wonderful program here in San Francisco's Tenderloin.  More about them at http://www.sfcityimpact.com
 
We have written here often about The Jubilee Project because we really like their work.  Get to know more about them at http://jubileeproject.org/ - oh and by the way, Jeremy Lin has worked with them before.  Another very moving video called The Last Pick can be seen HERE.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Who is there

The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who is expected to simulcast in 94 countries tomorrow, setting a Guinness Book World Record  for the largest simulcast for a drama in television history.  Doctor Who has already set some impressive records over the years (fifty years in itself is pretty impressive) - it is the longest running science fiction series ever on broadcast tv.
 
Doctor Who first appeared on BBC1 on Saturday, 23 November, 1963.  It has a cult following in the United States with conventions popping up across the country.  Today there are even all-day Doctor Who parties planned!  The very first broadcast though was not seen here back on that November day.  Most Americans were focused then on mourning the death of President John F Kennedy.
 
I'm not a Doctor Who expert (although I do know there have been eleven doctors and the police call booth is the method of transportation), but I am certain that this one tv show has made a huge difference in many lives.  It has brought people together.  It has been the subject of numerous conversations.  It has made people happy.  Making a difference can come in so many forms!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Camelot? I think not

Camelot is how many have referred admiringly to the presidency of John F Kennedy, as his time in office was said to have potential and promise for the future, and so many were inspired by Kennedy's speeches, vision, and policies.  But Camelot?  Really? 

It took me a while, but I finally saw it.  Camelot, the once-popular show, is actually a mediocre musical about failed idealism and it really doesn't do Kennedy justice.  In the past few weeks there have been a lot of "What if Kennedy had not been killed?" stories.  We have examined his murder over and over and we have gazed into our crystal balls and guessed what he might have done.  Is this at all fair to his memory?  Weren't there some accomplishments that we can give credit for instead?

Every single person who has been a US president has had accomplishments.  Each one of them have done good things for the country and for others.  We remember the bad about some of them and we look at the hopes for the ones we lost early, but in the case of John Kennedy, we have spent an awful lot of time writing a fairy tale and Jacqueline Kennedy helped us do it.  Lerner and Loewe's musical opened on Broadway in 1960, but it was not until after the assassination that Mrs Kennedy, in a magazine interview gave us the connection.

The article reported that, according to the First Lady, the President liked listening to the cast recording of Camelot at bedtime, particularly the title song, where Arthur sings: "Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment, that was known as Camelot."  Jacqueline Kennedy also said "There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot."
 
It was fifty years ago that the Kennedy Presidency was cut short by a bullet in Dallas.  It was fifty years ago that the Camelot that has been suggested, came to a tragic close.  As we remember this great man's death though I'd like to suggest that we have had other presidents that have given us hope.  We have had other administrations that we might have been tempted to compare to Camelot, but let's not do that with any of them.  Let us instead remember his strong leadership during the Cuban missile crisis that ultimately diverted a nuclear war and led  to the nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets.  Let us remember his commitment to the arts, his commitment to landing a man on the moon, and his strong commitment to his faith (he was the first Roman Catholic in the White House).  Kennedy's most notable and long-standing accomplishment was probably the establishment of the Peace Corps, which is so important that I intend to write more about it later in the days ahead.
 
John Kennedy most certainly made a difference in this world and it is my hope that we remember him for that and forget about all the "what ifs?" which we can never no an answer to.  His call for Americans to serve their country has remained in my mind all these years and is perhaps one of the reasons I write this every day.  It's not about the fairy tales of Camelot but about the accomplishments of doing for your country, and the world.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Remembering our trans sisters and brothers

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  In recent years other members of the transgender community who have died from other causes have also been memorialized.  Tonight, candles will be lit in towns and cities all over the world to not only remember the dead, but also to bring attention to the lack of equality that we are still faced with.
 
I want to call to your attention an international memorial page that lists names (and cause of death) and invites you to add names of people you notice missing.  Click HERE to go to that site.
 
I also want to add a personal note.  This year a number of trans women and men died here in the San Francisco area.  Some were known by only a few and others by the entire community.  Jazzie Collins was a pioneer who was an activist in many arenas not just the trans community.  A program remembering those here locally, including Jazzie, will be held beginning at 6pm tonight at The LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street in San Francisco. 
 
If there is an event in your town, I urge your participation.  We need to see an end to the hate crimes and discrimination.  We need to honor those who have fought the good fight.  We should always remember our transgender sisters and brothers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

how much can you give?

Someone calls you on the phone and asks for a donation or you receive a letter in the mail or perhaps there is a posting on someone's blog that you regularly read. You want to make a donation but you don't think you can afford it or you think the small amount you might give is not really worth it.

Very few of us can donate money to every single cause that comes along, even if we want to. So, just how much can you give? When is it time to step back and donate no more?

In the few lines I write here every day, it would be impossible to give all of the answers on any subject and giving of money is one of the most difficult of all. The best advice I can give is to plan. Don't just reach into your pocket every single time someone asks. Very soon the well would be dry!

Another important thing to remember is that when giving money, EVERY SINGLE DONATION MATTERS. Sometimes we tend to forget that. We think that smaller donations don't matter, but it is those numerous small donations that add up to the big ones!

One thing I like to do is collect money at home for various causes. You can take a few envelopes or jars or even piggy banks and use them to grow donations. One might be for the money you want to give to your church (apart from what you usually give) for some special program or ministry. Another container might be to give money to fight AIDS or cancer or any number of other diseases. You get the idea. You can even have a collection for an unknown cause, just in case something comes up that you want to give to.

Do you usually buy yourself a desert every afternoon, or maybe a coffee? Skip a day (or two or three) and put the money you saved in the jar(s). If you earn a little extra at work (overtime maybe) or doing some special job, put all or at least a part of that in your charity collection jars. Every time you have a little extra money in your pocket, add it to that jar or envelope.

By planning to give something to various causes, you can do so comfortably without fearing that you will leave yourself broke. Saying no is okay too. Always be aware of your limits.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Be O.N.E. Project

For years I have been telling you about Go Inspire Go and for months I have been telling you about their 50/50 campaign - 50 heroes in 50 states.  Well today their website has a new look and what's more, today the first video is premiered!
 
Please watch.  It, like all of their previous videos, is very moving.  This one introduces us to Matthew Kaplan, 16, the founder of the The Be O.N.E. Project, which he created for middle school students in Arizona to stop bullying behavior before it even begins.  Matthew is indeed making a difference in this world and I am so delighted that GiG 50/50 is introducing him to us!  Click HERE to see the video.
 
As always you can find out more about Go Inspire Go at their website:  http://goinspirego.com/

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everyone smiles in the same language

I am convinced that there is just not enough happiness in the world. Why? No matter how bad anything is, there is always reason to go on. Things can always get better.

I know. Someone is going to say, "What if the doctor says you have only a few days to live"? Well, doctors can be wrong. I have heard many stories confirming that very fact. I even know a woman who was told just after her 60th birthday, that it would be her last. In fact, she was told she had only a few months to live. That woman is now 92!

We so often have trouble trusting these days. We have difficulty communicating too. Does he speak the same language as I do? Will we understand the meaning of our intentions? All of these things are valid of course, but one thing we seem to overlook. Happiness is easy to spot and easy to understand. Happiness is very easy to spread too. Happy people are more likely to make others happy.

Whatever part of the world you come from - whatever your race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or eye color, one thing is universal. We all smile in the same language!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Twenty

I've told this story before about how special we all are, but I really like it and some of you might not have read my blog the day I told this before, so here it is again.  A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."
 
He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special - Don't EVER forget it."

As I mentioned above, I am retelling this wonderful story, and the first time I posted it, it was a retelling too. I have no idea who first told it - it's been circulating on the internet for some time.  The significant thing is the messages it brings.  We are all special.  We should all count our blessings, and NOT our problems!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No mugging zone

A friend of mine was mugged the other day. He wasn't badly hurt, but it could have been worse. I keep hearing about more and more muggings. What can be done? How do we respond to this?

Of course you cannot just put up signs tell people not to mug others and the police cannot be everywhere. Much of the work in these cases is up to us.

There are a number of things we can all do to make us less likely targets. Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid distractions. You become an easier target when do things like listen to music on headphones, talk on the phone, or anything else that takes your attention away from your surroundings. If you believe you are being followed, head quickly toward a populated area. Make noise, blow a whistle, or call for help. Don't be afraid to draw attention to yourself. Consider defending yourself IF you have the skills. Also, Travel with others whenever you can. Muggers are much more likely to go after individuals than groups.

Another thing: witnesses need to react. We are all in this world together. If you see someone being attacked, render assistance! You don't have to put yourself in danger. Call 911. Scream! Get others involved. Call for medical aide if it is needed.

Of course we can all work for a better world too where people care enough about each other that they don't go around attacking each other. We can always hope.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

REAL relief

The Philippine government has already revised the official death toll from Typhoon Haiyan several times, and sadly the final death toll is expected to be even higher.  The injured and the missing also comprise huge numbers.  There is so much destruction.  People are trying to help, and that is a good thing.  People are also trying to make a buck off of the suffering of others, and that is not a good thing.
 
We see scams all the time, but when they come in times of disaster, it is especially bad.  The people of the Philippines have already endured more than most folks could stand.  Now, they could use a hand - now they could use some REAL relief, not a moneymaking scheme for an unscrupulous person.
 
Some people have tried to start organizations to deal with this tragedy - some have even tried this legitimately.  Here's  the thing though:  there are already tons of organizations up and running that can and will bring relief.  Let's use those that are tried a true.  As an example, there is doctors without borders, the Red Cross, Red Crescent, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and others.  Donate.  Volunteer.  Do it though through channels that are going to do actual good and bring real relief.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Give us this day our daily blog

It's almost like a prayer, as each morning I put my fingers to the keyboard and tell another story here about making a difference.  Some of my posts are about local heroes and sometimes they are about famous people.  I write with suggestions and ideas about what all of us can do to make the world better.  I don't write about me - I write about US.  We together really can do some pretty wonderful things.  We all can change things for the better and truly make a difference.  That's what I write about.
 
Day after day and year after year I write something here, and I am grateful to each of you who read this.  Tell your friends.  Post your comments.  Give us ideas.  You can really make a difference and if you take something from here and do something great with it, how wonderful!  Let us know about it.
 
I have no idea how many different people read this, but I am happy that you can here today.  You can become a regular follower and never miss a post.  I'll keep on blogging and I hope you keep on reading!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Protecting your identity

If you have ever had your identity stolen, you know what a hassle it can be. Actually it's more of a horror. If this is something you have never heard about, it is not literally possible to steal an identity of course, what we are talking about here is when anyone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, your driver's license number, Social Security, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit a fraud. Cases of identity theft are on the rise.

Why do I mention this now? Well, December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. It's a good time to become more aware of who might have access to your personal information and who might misuse it.

Being watchful is a big help. Always go over your bank statements for example. Also, did you know that you are entitled to one free credit report per year of each of the three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)? Just go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com

California is really leading the way in fighting a kinds of identity theft. Most states have followed California's lead and have enacted mandatory data breach notification laws. Under these laws, companies that report a data breach will typically report it to all their customers.

Stay safe. Protect your personal information and protect the information of your dependents. Share this information too. We all need to be aware. The earlier you catch any problems, the easier they are to resolve.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Promote what you love

What is there in your life that you love?  Does your job bring you joy?  Are you happy in your home life?  Is there romance?  Do you belong to any organizations that give meaning to you?  Did you hear about some incredible thing in the news that really made you happy?
 
There is so much good in this world of ours and I happily write about bits and pieces of that good here in this space each morning.  What I don't understand is those who promote negativity.  How can that bring them any kind of satisfaction?  Bashing something you hate just brings more hate.  We should never want more hate.
 
I remember when eleven women broke the barrier against the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church  back on July 29, 1974.  So many hateful things were said back then.  Someone went to a church where one of these new priests was serving and at communion dug is fingers into her arms and said "I hope you burn in hell."  When marriage equality began in a few limited places ten years ago, some of the comments I heard were so vile, I won't even repeat them here.
 
Okay, I get it.  Not everyone thinks the same way.  That's fine.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Instead of negative hateful messages though, perhaps we can look at some things we agree on.  Certainly there must be something!  Let's promote the things we love instead of bashing what we hate.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Always hunger somewhere

Too much to eat? Restaurant portions are often much larger than they need to be and as a result we sometimes leave a lot on our plates. Think about asking for a bag for those leftovers and giving them to the first homeless person you encounter. It’s a simple act. It didn’t cost you anything extra. It can really help ease the hunger being experienced by someone else.

This is just one of the many things we can do every single day to give back and help others. Another possibility is ordering two sandwiches when you place your lunch take-out order. One is for you of course, and the other you simply hand to someone in need that you come across on your way back to work. Yes, this one cost a little, but if you can afford it, it will surely be appreciated!

During November and December there are food donation barrels all over the place and organizations do special holiday lunches or dinners for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes Easter but the rest of the year (except for the weekly soup kitchens and meal programs that exist in major cities) we don’t see this outreach, yet the need still exists. People are hungry every single day of the year. Let’s keep that spirit alive that is so evident during the holidays and do what we can to ease hunger. Simple steps like those above are a place to start and we can also look for year-round food pantries and meal programs to donate to.

If the need is great where you live and it looks like nothing is happening, perhaps you could be the one to start a program!  If you are barely getting by and really cannot afford any extra expense, perhaps you can volunteer for a food program.  That is certainly helpful too!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Listening in the night

It's been a while since I wrote here about San Francisco Night Ministry and since their work never stops it seems like a good time to mention them once again. (Of course you can always click on the link to the right and visit their website too).

San Francisco is not a wild twenty-four hour city with all night discos, theatres, night clubs and restaurants going strong all night seven days a week. Some might even say we are one of those places where the sidewalks get rolled up early. An awful lot of folks have no place to go from those sidewalks though and that is only part of the problem. There is also the need that people sometimes have after hours - after the regular services close for the day. Sometime people just need a friendly ear. San Francisco Night Ministry is available every single night of the year and not just with ministers walking the streets, but also staffing a nightly crisis line which you may telephone.

To serve others and to do it when the need is there, not just when it's convenient, is something the Night Ministry has done for a long time. They can always use a hand of course and this includes donating money or supporting their various fundraising events or simply volunteering to lend a hand. Sometimes they could use help in the office in the daytime too.

Would you like to help them? Why not join them as a Crisis Line Counselor? Check out their website at http://www.sfnightministry.org/ or contact Brother Jude at 415-861-7951 or by email at judehillssf@aol.com

Night Ministry sponsors an "Open Cathedral" ministry in the daytime - weekly non-denominational outdoor worship services for anyone who wishes to attend. Singing, praying, preaching and the Eucharist are offered, followed by opportunities for private conversation, prayer, blessing or the same counseling that is offered at night. Everyone is welcome to attend. Open Cathedral gatherings happen rain or shine. The Civic Center plaza one has been around the longest. They gather every Sunday at 2pm at Leavenworth and McAllister, near United Nations Plaza. Lunch is offered following the service, and worship attendance is not required to participate in the lunch.

How wonderful that San Francisco Night Ministry is here offering hope and comfort in the darkness of the night.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Come Holy Ghost

Saturday marked an anniversary that I will long remember.  It was ten years ago that The Most Reverend Frank Tracy Griswold and six co-consecrating bishops, laid hands on the Reverend V Gene Robinson, making him a Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first one to be openly gay at the time of his consecration.  It was a great day.  It was a happy day.  It was a giant step for Christians.  It was also a day filled with controversy.
 
I wasn't there in New Hampshire that day, but I watched every single moment as it streamed live. It's interesting for me to revisit the consecration of  Bishop Gene Robinson because we really have come a long way since then.  The Episcopal Church has since elected and consecrated another gay bishop, a woman.  Other denominations are ordaining openly gay clergy.  Marriage equality has come to many part of the world including 14 US states.  Still there is a long way to go.
 
One thing that stands out in my mind is the danger that was feared.   Robinson had to wear a bullet proof!  They even had a contingency plan if shots were fired or a bomb went off. If Robinson was still alive there was another place he was to be taken to along with Presiding Bishop Griswold and two other bishops and the consecration would go forward with a photographer also present to prove it happened. I remember this because on such a joyful day there was also this dread.
 
Progress doesn't  just have happy moments. There are those fearful, dreadful times too.  We need to have our Gene Robinsons to help pave our ways.  The Holy Spirit was there in that place and continues to be with us ready to kindle the fire in our hearts.  We cannot give up.  We have to continue to look to the future and to more wonderful moments like the days hands were laid on the man who, as a child had perfect Sunday School attendance for thirteen years and who, as an adult became a symbol of hope for all who value equality.
 
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

I mean to be one too

A popular hymn begins with this line:  "I sing a song of the saints of God."  It was written by a young Englishwoman, Lesbia Scott and first published back in 1929.  I mention this today because the hymn will be sung in a lot of churches all across the country, as this is All Saints' Day, the origin of which cannot be traced with exact certainty, but which has been observed on various days in different places and now most Catholics and Anglicans observe it on November 1st.
 
Today we honor of all the saints, known and unknown.  In the belief that there is a prayerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and those still living, we honor not only the named saints (such as those pictured in the icon here), but all the faithful.  The word all is important  to me here because I firmly believe that it is not just about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed Paul the Apostle, Blessed Michael the Archangel, and the rest.  It is about every single person because we all have the ability to do good things and to make a difference.
 
Lesbia Scott's words seem to say the same thing.  She lists a doctor, a queen, and a shepherdess in her first verse and then continues the list adding a soldier and a priest and one who was slain, in verse number two.  It's really the third verse though that give me the greatest hope:

"They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still.

The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

trick or treat!

Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, telling scary stories, decorating, lighting bonfires, trick or treating, playing pranks, attending costume parties, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, and watching horror movies - just some of the ways people observe Halloween.  What will you be doing?

I've lately heard people say "make sure it's a safe and sane celebration."  Well yeah!  Of course!  That should be the case in ALL we do!  Does it make safe to even consider the opposite?  Let's make this holiday unsafe?  Nope.  It just does not make sense.  Sadly though there are those who have made this an unsafe day and so well all need to keep our eyes and ears open.

Dressing up as you go about your business today can brighten the observance for you and for those you come in contact with.  A simple "Happy Halloween!" greeting is also a nice gesture.
 
Want to help others this day? Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF! Yes, it is normally a planned out program, but you can spend some time explaining what UNICEF is and why it's important and then "seed" the collection with a donation of your own.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives.  You can find out more about this program at http://www.unicef.org/support/14884.html

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Goodbye to The Hat Lady

San Francisco lost another bit of its magic on Monday when The Hat Lady, Ruth Dewson, was born to eternal life.  The longtime proprietor of Mrs Dewson's Hats had been in declining health for several years forcing her to close her beloved store last spring after nearly four decades. 
 
Former San Francisco Mayor  Willie Brown, Bruce Springsteen, and Samuel L. Jackson are among the famous who wore her hats, but the local ladies who still wear hats to church would shop there too.  Some customers thought she was cranky or even rude (in fact you can still read numerous bad yelp reviews), but Mrs Dewson was always sweet to me.  She would even have a twinkle in her eye.
 
There are good reviews of her old shop and of her, on yelp too.  There are other good things one can say.  Even though I was never a customer, I met her long ago and always enjoyed our chats.  That brilliant smile and the twinkle in her eyes always made my day.  She got things done too.  It was Ruth Dewson who organized the Western Addition Foundation for Girls.  She is credited with starting the Fillmore Jazz Festival.  She always spoke her mind.  At one point she considered a run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors but concluded it just wasn't for her.
 
It was just a week ago that I saw her near one of my favorite Hayes Valley haunts and near the facility where she had been living.  With an attendant pushing her wheelchair she insisted on stopping after I shouted "Hey Hat Lady."  Her smile was a big as ever and she told me that she was doing better and might be able to leave the facility and live on her own again.  Alas, she got that one wrong.

Goodbye Hat Lady.  Thanks for making a difference!
 
Visitation will be on November 13th from 5-7pm at The Bryant Mortuary, 635 Fulton Street, San Francisco, 
Funeral services will be the following day, November 14th at 11am at
the Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, 1975 Post Street, San Francisco. 
Burial will be in San Joaquin National Cemetery, 32053 W. McCabe Road, Gustine, CA. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

hope

Hope is something that we ALL need. I was thinking about that this morning after hearing on the news that someone had "run out of hope." Saint Paul wrote “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I like that these three are linked together. We need to have faith that there is enough love in our world that we will always have hope.

In An Essay on Man, Alexander Pope wrote "Hope springs eternal in the human breast." Indeed.

In the lgbt community, there is often a lack of hope.  That was what the news story this morning was about.  That too was what Harvey Milk was talking about in his famous "hope" speech from 1978. Here is a portion of that speech:

"The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pablum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be -for the good of all of us - independent, unbought. The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood, and friends can't feel the anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can't feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as coming out. I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward. I remember the lack of hope - and our friends can't fulfill it.

"I can't forget the looks on faces of people who've lost hope. Be they gay, be they seniors, be they blacks looking for an almost-impossible job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that's foreign to them. I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings. I use the word 'I' because I'm proud. I stand here tonight in front of my gay sisters, brothers and friends because I'm proud of you. I think it's time that we have many legislators who are gay and proud of that fact and do not have to remain in the closet. I think that a gay person, up-front, will not walk away from a responsibility and be afraid of being tossed out of office. After Dade County, I walked among the angry and the frustrated night after night and I looked at their faces. And in San Francisco, three days before Gay Pride Day, a person was killed just because he was gay. And that night, I walked among the sad and the frustrated at City Hall in San Francisco and later that night as they lit candles on Castro Street and stood in silence, reaching out for some symbolic thing that would give them hope. These were strong people, whose faces I knew from the shop, the streets, meetings and people who I never saw before but I knew. They were strong, but even they needed hope.

"And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.

"So if there is a message I have to give, it is that I've found one overriding thing about my personal election, it's the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it's a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope."

Milk was right of course.  You have to give people hope.  It is my dream that someday that will be a reality, and I truly believe that we CAN make it happen.  John Lennon believed the same thing - “You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.”