Monday, June 30, 2014

And the band played on

If you think it's business as usual, you really haven't been paying attention lately.  This month we saw a great example of justice rolling across the country with marriage rulings effecting several states.  President Barack Obama recently issued Executive Orders that will offer some lgbt protection.  With Pride Month in full gear there are celebrations of equality happening even in places where you might not expect them.  The battle against AIDS is at an all time high.

Oh and speaking of the battle against AIDS, last week I was at the kickoff reception for this year's AIDS Walk.  So many familiar faces were there.  It was terribly encouraging to hear about the work of so many and to hear about the progress that is being made.  It was so encouraging to see that it isn't just gay men in the battle these days or the gay women who have also been so very supportive.  Last night there was everybody - the whole lgbt spectrum and also the non-lgbt folks and people of all ages and races.  It's a far cry now than in 1987 when Randy Shilts wrote And the Band Played On.

Every year, as AIDS Walk approaches, I think of Randy Shilts.  Not only did he write this book (which was also made into a film with the same name), but he continued reporting on AIDS and it was because of him that AIDS become more mainstream and people changed the way they looked at it.  Randy made a difference and, even though there are no statues in his honor, and perhaps few people even remember his name, I would dare say he was one of the most important chroniclers of lgbt life in the 20th century.  In addition to his television, newspaper, and magazine work, he also wrote two other books:  The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.

At the AIDS Walk kickoff, Craig R. Miller the event founder was introduced, with someone saying that he had changed the world.  Mr Miller certainly has made a difference and we should indeed acknowledge his great contributions, but at the same time I always think of all those who got involved early on when so many were afraid or who were ignoring AIDS.  Randy Shilts was certainly one of those people who got involved.  Randy Shilts made a difference.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Some thoughts about our transgender sisters and brothers

As LGBT Pride weeks continues, there may be some who read this who are thinking that equality has been achieved and discrimination is no more.  Sadly my friends, I must disagree.  While there have been great advances, the LGBT community is still one of the most discriminated against groups and that is especially true for the Ts (transgender).
 
Today in San Francisco there is a number of special happenings for the transgender community with the Trans March as the main event. But while speeches are made and songs are sung, the sad truth remains that discrimination remains strong against transgender people and it even results in violence and murder.
 
Some of the negativity is a result of what I call unintentional stupidity.  Sometimes people say or do things without thinking or without really being aware.  This is the first group that really needs to be educated because a trans man is a man.  Period.  Nothing else needs to be said.  A trans woman is a woman.  Same thing.  End of discussion.  This is not rocket science folks.  Also, people are never referred to as it.  Use the names and pronouns that are appropriate to an individual's gender identity and if you are in doubt, ask.  Trans people are people - just like all people, and deserve to be treated as such.
 
What's between your legs?  You certainly would not someone asking you that question, yet transgender people are asked that so often it amazes me.  It's none of your business if
Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation or whether they have had hormonal or surgical treatment or anything else of that personal a nature.  Think about it.  You don't ask private personal questions of people.  Some things you learn over time because you care about each other, but personal things come after trust and respect.
 
There is no way I can do a full and complete guide to interacting with transgender people.  Oh wait!  It's already been said.  People are people.  Throw out the discrimination.  Embrace equality.  Treat people as people.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Heroes of Pride

All during Pride Week last year I wrote of local people who have made a difference. One of the people I wrote about then was Felicia Alvarado Elizondo, who is still a hero of Pride. While many helped make yesterday's Trans March successful and a number of people worked on the project to rename a block of the city after trans performer Vicki Marlane, it was Felicia who shined as the star. Her hard work and determination never decreased and last night when she unveiled the street sign at Vicki Mar Lane, I flashed my smile up at a hero.
 
I can easily go on and on about Felicia, but there are other heroes of Pride.  Many of them aren't visible because they aren't trying to make a name for themselves - they are out trying to make a difference!  I have a friend named Joan who is one of those heroes.  I won't show her picture or tell you her full name - she deserves her privacy, but I will tell you that she has saved lived.  She has also worked tirelessly to keep people safe.
 
There are a number of just pain folks who bend into the scenery and you might not even notice but who make a huge difference.  I'm sure you know some of them.  Do feel free to write something about them in the comments below.  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and I saw many of them last night and will see many more today and tomorrow.  Sadly there are also the Pride jerks - people who take away much more than they bring and who try to use LGBT Pride to promote something that does not reflect well for the community.  We won't talk about the negative though.
 
There is one more hero that I will mention by name.  I had only been writing this blog for a short time when I first met him five years ago and had the great pleasure of spending most of that year's Pride event near him.  He was somewhat famous for several years and I wrote a lot about him here over the years.  Dan Choi is someone who has made a huge difference and continues too although often you might not even know he is around.  It was nice spending time with someone last not who is not only a hero of Pride, but a friend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The case for marriage equality

The changes in marriage equality laws, just in the years since I began writing this blog, are so very encouraging.  Take a look at your calendar and you'll notice that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s landmark rulings in two historic marriage cases – United States vs. Windsor and Hollingsworth vs. Perry. Just this morning over coffee I was discussing same-sex marriage changes when news came of more legal decisions. Some day there may be equality throughout the world!
 
Announcements are just coming down as I write this, and so it is difficult to comment specifically, but there is indeed big news from mid-America.  What I am hearing is that federal courts have just ruled on cases in Indiana and Utah saying that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.  Be sure to check you local news stations for the most up-to-the-minute information.
 
Here in the United States, same-sex marriages are recognized on the federal level, but they can only be performed in nineteen of the fifty states and Washington, DC.  From what I am hearing this morning, it looks like that number might increasing to 21.  Certainly happy news this Pride Week.  It is always happy to report on equality!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

what does it all mean?

Yesterday I spoke here of the need for LGBT Pride celebrations.  The early ones used a different word:  freedom.  It was Gay Freedom Day and freedom and equality were at the center of these events.  I don't recall what city first used the word "pride" or even when that was.  I'm still not exactly sure of the meaning, as we use it.
 
I wrote a lot about LGBT Pride last year in this blog.  I spent time telling about some of our heroes, including a few allies.  I started Pride Week though by asking what it means.  Although this is Pride Month across the country, the special week or weekend celebrations vary.  This week right now though is when most of the celebrations occur.  I'd like to ask you the same question from last year.
 
I asked in my blog, "Are you proud?  What are you proud of?  I don't always understand the use of the word 'pride' in this place.  When we said freedom it made more sense to me, but pride, that one doesn't quite sound the same.  What do you think?"  I asked that last year, but I received no replies at all.
 
I'm not saying that these Pride celebrations are not important.  No, as I said here yesterday, I think they still have great importance.  It's the word though - is it the best one?  Would words like freedom or equality work better?
 
Oh and while I'm at it, what about the alphabet soup we now have?  Most say LGBT.  Some add a Q to that.  Sometimes other letters are added.  Is there a better way of saying it?  What does it all mean?
Why can't we just say "people"?

Monday, June 23, 2014

The need for LGBT Pride

In case you hadn't noticed, heterosexual life is pervasive and permeates just about everything in our culture.  While things may be changing, especially in big cities, the anti-gay and anti-trans climate is still very present in so many places that people have to hide their identities.  Once a year at LGBT Pride Celebrations all over the world, people travel from smaller communities to be in a place where they don't have to hide - where, even if only for a few days, they can be themselves.
 
LGBT Pride celebrations provide a sense of community to people who have so often been isolated and outcast, even from their own families and they bring attention to political or social causes that are important to LGBT people.
 
Earlier this month, CNN contributor LZ Granderson wrote, "Gay Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate not being straight but our right to exist without prosecution."  Indeed.  How many places can you think of where someone will go to jail because they are heterosexual?  Where is someone likely to lose their job for being straight?  Think about it.
 
Does San Francisco still need gay pride?  Possibly not.  There does seem to be more freedom and more equality here than in so many places.  That is also another reason to keep doing these celebrations.  We can hold them up as an example to others.  Holding these celebrations also gives those in small towns and those who live in a place that lacks tolerance, a place to which they can escape.
 
Some say there is a "straight Pride" celebration every day of the year.  Ideally, we wouldn't have to use any labels.  Every day could be a celebration of who we are, including people who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  We're sadly not at that day yet in most of the world.
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The skateboard adventure continues

In honor of Go Skateboarding Day, I'm going to update you today on the continuing adventure of Kevin Kreider whom we first told you about back on May 12 with an update on June 6.  I've been in touch with this actor/model/adventurer along the way and although it hasn't always been a smooth trip, Kevin assures me it has been amazing.

First of all tomorrow really is Go Skateboarding Day - I'm not making that up! Conceived by the International Association of Skateboard Companies to help make skateboarding more accessible to folks all over the world, the first year they did this was 2004, and so tomorrow is the tenth anniversary.  Kevin hasn't been skateboarding all that long, but since he is on this incredible coast to coast journey, it sure seems appropriate to tell you more about him today. 
 
Now some of you may be keeping up with Kevin through his facebook page.  The number who have liked his page keeps jumping every day.  There has also been a lot of media coverage.  Earlier this week Kevin sat on the set of a morning news program in Chicago to tell of his cross country trek and he showed his small penny board on camera.  Shortly after that appearance though he sprained his ankle and so he slowed down and spent a little more time in mid-America than he had planned.
 
Now though he is off once again.  Having almost crossed Indiana, there is only about a third of the way to go.  It's not a race though and Kevin has delighted in being able to explore small towns, big cities, national monuments, and all many of things along the way.  Oh and in case you didn't read my initial introduction, he is shooting video of all of this and a documentary will come out once the trip has been completed and all the footage has been edited together.  Watch for Kevin & His Skateboard, later this year! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Now they are making a movie

When I first wrote about Wong Fu Productions about a year ago, they were already doing great things, and I think they were changing the world. No there was no obvious heroics and they weren't collecting canned goods or providing beds for the homeless, but there are many ways to change the world, and they are keeping us entertained, and at times, making us think. Ted Fu, Wesley Chan, and Philip Wang have already provided a lot of joy, and now they are at work on their first feature film.

Wong Fu Productions has become an outlet for the under represented Asian American community. Their short subject videos though are ones that cross racial lines. Everyone can relate to them. If you didn't read what I previously wrote, and you just haven't heard of Wong Fu, I urge you to check out their youtube channel HERE. You will find yourself anxiously awaiting each new video. For those who already know them, I am sure you are already awaiting that full length movie!

I wish I could tell you about the movie, but unfortunately, I don't know much. It seems to have no title yet and they are guarding the plot. I can tell you that apparently some familiar faces will be in it (familiar from their videos that is). I have learned that the movie will follow two love stories and there will be elements of comedy and drama. Oh and fans have done the funding! As incredible as it may seem, they did an online fundraiser and came up raising nearly double their original goal. I think that is more proof that folks like their work, and that this picture will be well received.
 
Making people happy one video at a time.  What a great way to help change the world!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rescued

Last week I wrote here about animal abuse, and as a result I heard from a few folks who read this regularly who reminded me of a story I shared sometime last year.  This story wasn't mine, but one that had been circulating on the internet.  It really touched me and so I'd like to share it again.  I wish I knew who the author is so I could give proper credit.  Anyway, here's that very moving story once again - 

His eyes met mine as he walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt his need instantly and knew I had to help him.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so he wouldn't be afraid. As he stopped at my kennel I blocked his view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want him to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want him to think poorly of them.

As he read my kennel card I hoped that he wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

He got down on his knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort him. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; he was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down his cheek and I raised my paw to assure him that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and his smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into his arms. I would promise to keep him safe. I would promise to always be by his side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in his eyes.

I was so fortunate that he came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Honey moon, keep shining in June!

Is this what they were singing about all those years?  Last week we had a "honey moon" - it's yellowish look gives it that name. You may have seen it in the sky if you woke early.  It returned the next night, but not as full.  (I should have told you about it then, huh)?
 
There are those who swear that the weather, the moon, the date all effect how their day will be.  Of course their are also those who every single day of their lives, just get up and get out there and make sure it's a good one, not only for themselves, but for all those they come in contact with.
 
We can be one who has a great day, or you can make yourself (and others) miserable with worry about the moon or a number on the calendar or how much fog rolls in.  Guess which one I'm going to choose.

Monday, June 16, 2014

He taught us to count to 40, backwards!

“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”  With those words, Casey Kasem would end his weekly radio countdown program that so much of America turned to for the latest music and folksy tidbits.  Wholesome and clean but still a lot of fun would be a good description of Casey's American Top 40, as well as Casey himself and his body of work over the years.
 
As family-friendly as his career was, his last days alive were sadly a lot more in the other direction with his wife and kids arguing over his medical decisions and generating so much publicity that his death yesterday at the age of 82 came as no surprise.  To say though that I am saddened, would be an understatement.

Outside of radio you might have known Casey Kasem as the voice of Norville "Shaggy" Rogers on Scooby-Doo.  You might have caught an appearance in Hawaii Five-O, Ironside, or one of the low budget movies he had a bit part in.  You might also have heard his voice on tv.  He was a booth announcer at NBC for a number of years and was the voice of the title character in the animated Here Comes Peter Cottontail.  He even did a television version of the countdown show he made popular on the radio.  Way back before be started playing "the hits from coast to coast," Casey cut his radio teeth right here in the Bay Area.  He worked for a time at KYA here in San Francisco, and then at KEWB in Oakland.
 
It was that radio show though that Casey was best known for.  It was a fun program and I must confess that I listened for most of its very long run.  For a time I worked at a radio station that carried it, and sat in the booth during my shift as it played.  Back then, Casey would record the show and it would be put on old fashioned records and shipped overnight to the stations playing it.  The disc jockeys (me in the case of WVJS Owensboro) would put the disk on the turntable and wait for the commercial cues.  It was three hours long and I didn't have to pay attention to the whole thing, but I did.  I liked it.  America liked it!
 
Casey made a difference during his life by making people happy with feel-good values that he could always be proud of.  He was also a co-host of the annual Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years, active in political causes, and a big believer in positive cultural role models.  He was arrested at an anti-nuclear protest back in the 80s and also spent time sleeping on the street to draw attention to homelessness.
 
I'll admit that I haven't always had my "feet planted firmly on the ground," but Casey was one of the folks who convinced me to "keep reaching for the stars."

Friday, June 13, 2014

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend

The father-son relationship that was explored years ago on the old television program The Courtship of Eddie's Father, brought the theme song of that show to my mind just now.  "People let me tell you 'bout my best friend. He's a warm hearted person who'll love me till the end."  Then I got thinking of all the fathers who don't love their kids to the end.
 
I have been thinking for several days now about Fathers Day, which is this Sunday.  My own dad died a very long time ago and so I had come to terms with him not being around.  But then last year my mom died and suddenly I started missing him more than ever.  I'm an orphan.  Both of my parents are gone.  Hallmark and ever restaurant in town are saying to do something for dad.  If your father has passed away, today can be a difficult time.
 
Oh and then there is that wonderful situation where you have a loving father who lives close enough so you can hang out with him, even if only for a short time.  You can say "Happy Father's Day" and both have nice warm feelings.
 
Today is like A Tale of Two Cities in that it can easily be the best of times and the worst of times.  Yesterday I wrote about someone who is at peace with his late father.  Would it were so for all of us.
 
There are men who want so badly to become fathers but who never will.  There are fathers who have lost children.  There are men who are fortunate enough to have good healthy relationships with their kids.  What a spectrum.  If we hug our dads and show our love while we have the chance, we might steer clear of later regrets.  It's tough.  Those Hallmark cards might look nice, but how many of them reflect our true experience?
 
So on Sunday, let's all think of our fathers and those who are like fathers to us.  Let's think of the ones who want to be fathers and the kids that make us good fathers.  Let us think of those healthy parent-child relationships we all long for.  Let us do all we can to make those good thoughts real.  Share the great stories.  "Let me tell you 'bout my best friend."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The most beautiful city in the world

When I mention cities here in my blog, San Francisco if the one I write about most often.  The reason is quite simple.  This is where I live.  I think it's a beautiful place too.  Now except for the cable car, and perhaps the hills, the picture here might not make you think of San Francisco and you certainly might expect me to post a more "beautiful" view, but I write about seeing everyday beauty here a lot and beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.
 
You can walk through a very average part of any town and find beauty.  Think about trees and flowers or birds in the air.  Think about colorful or artistic signs.  How about the people moving about or the traffic or perhaps some animals?  Do you see beauty there?  All too often we grow accustomed to the everyday sights and begin taking them for granted.  Just because you see something every single day though doesn't mean it isn't beautiful.
 
Let's all slow down just a little and enjoy life more.  Smell the air.  Listen to the sounds. Touch the texture of the trees or the buildings.  Open your eyes to the beauty that is all around us - here in this most beautiful city in the world or in any city in the world!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Recognition

Some wonderful words from Harry S. Truman have great meaning for me. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” No don't get me wrong, the awards and plaques, and certificates of recognition that are sometimes given to people who are making a real difference in our world are quite wonderful!  People SHOULD be recognized.  If you aren't thinking about that though - if recognition is not the reason you are doing something, it seems that you will be so much more successful.
 
In all my years I have never received any awards or recognition.  I would most likely be embarrassed.  I know that when people have complimented me on this blog I have been a little embarrassed.  I am who I am and I want to change the world, and this is part of how I do it - or at least try to do it.  Recognition is really not a part of the picture.
 
I do love to recognize others for their accomplishments and I always urge organizations to salute those who do super things.  Formal recognition can serve as an encouragement for many.  So, my friends, when you see someone doing something great, let they know they are appreciated.  Encourage others to do the same!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Facebook Post About Changing The World

If you spend any time on facebook, you can find just about anything.  Some folks post nothing but pictures of their pets or the food they eat.  Some post pictures of their daily adventures.  The adventurer I wrote about yesterday, has a special page in which he updates his coast to coast trek.  People ask a lot of questions too.  Some are funny ones.  Some make you think.  The other day a friend of mine posted a question which I just had to comment on here.
 
A friend of mine posted this question:  "If you are given a chance to change the world, would you take it?"  A number of people liked the question without commenting.  There were a lot of comments though including some who said they were already doing it.  I responded that I always believe in changing the world - that's why I write this blog.  Someone posted that they didn't believe they could ever be influential enough to change the entire world.  Oops!  Wrong answer, as far as I'm concerned.  We ALL can change the world!  Every one of us!
 
Some people think that facebook is a waste of time, but I find some great information and some wonderful discussions every day.  This one wasn't huge.  There were only about 25 responses, but I like that several people were seriously looking at changing the world.  I guess I might have an issue with the question's wording "If you are given a chance .   .   ."  It is my belief that we all have that chance every day.
 
A lot of people post great quotes on facebook too.  Sometimes the quotes are in the form of posters that you could decorate your walls with.  One person posted a wonderful quote in response to this question: 



"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Ghandi

Monday, June 9, 2014

please give

You step out of the drugstore after picking up a bottle of water and some fresh batteries and notice a woman sitting on the sidewalk with two small children and a sign that reads "Help us.  Give whatever you can spare.  God bless."  You exit the BART station and a man with an outstretched hand asks if you can spare any change.  The cashier at the grocery store, before hitting the total key, asks if you would like to donate to a charity they are collecting for.  It seems like everywhere you go, someone is saying "Please give."

How many of us are just barely making ends meet ourselves?  How many of us wonder if we will someday have an outstretched hand asking for spare change?

Hardly a day goes by though that something amazing happens right in from of me.  I see people who don't even have two nickels to rub together, being more generous that those living in large houses with big bank accounts.  People, even poor people, find ways to give.  It isn't just money.  I have two apples and you have none, so I'll give you one of mine.  That kind of thing makes me smile.  The generosity of the human spirit is really quite remarkable.  I man with a paper cup who often is asking for spare change near where I work, has on several occasions bought food for a homeless woman in the neighborhood from the meager collection in his cup.  I had thought they knew each other the first time I saw it happen - then I saw her reaction and her tears.  That had apparently been their first meeting.  It was a moving experience for me.

Last night I ate in a restaurant.  I was dining alone and ordered more than I should have.  When it came time to pay I realized I had no cash at all and was happy that credit cards were welcome.  Outside with my leftovers minutes later, I was glad that I had ordered too much food.  I had something in my hands to give to that man whom I had witnessed bringing food to that woman.  Last night it was his turn to eat.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Halfway Across the Country

Last month I told you about Kevin Kreider, an Asian American actor/model who is traveling across the country via skateboard in the adventure of a lifetime.  Kevin lost his hair due to alopecia areata (stress-induced hair loss) and that can be a scary thing for someone who makes a living based on their appearance.  What's that old saying though about when life hands you a lemon?  Kevin's "lemonade" is this exciting trip that I told you about.  He is now at just about the halfway point.
 
Kevin is shooting video along the way and his friend Rocky Chow is following in a car where he is available for emergencies and to shoot the pictures that feature Kevin.  The results of all the camera work will be a cross-country documentary called Kevin And His Skateboard which chronicles this entire adventure which so far has included lots of small towns, all kinds of weather, and some of America's most famous sights.
 
Kevin checks in on facebook and twitter as often as he can and the media have been covering him all along the way too.  (That's where I am getting my updates, although I must admit I would love to be on the road with him).
 
This is all a kind of social experiment too with Kevin (and Rocky) relying on the kindness of strangers in their travel.  Donations can be made too via paypal to help fund the adventure and with contact information given, Kevin will reward you with a wristband!  To donate via paypal, use the email kevkreider@yahoo.com

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Watch what you say

When somebody mentions their doctor, do you automatically picture a man? How about secretaries, do we picture a woman automatically? If a man says he wants you to meet his spouse, do you immediately think he is referring to a woman? We need to change the way we think and they way we say things! If we really believe in equality, we should think about things like this.

I remember a television commercial for a deodorant, many years ago that talked about an airline pilot. Viewers were thinking of a man flying the aircraft, but in the last frame we see that it is actually a woman. Even those of us who fight every day for equality, can't get those images out of our head that we have been conditioned to see. When reading someone's biography, when we see that they are married, most of us still assume the opposite sex.

With Pride Month upon us, I was thinking about terminology and how we often speak with words that are outdated.  With that in mind, Pronouns that refer to gender are often misused out of ignorance.  Our transgender sisters and brothers should expect that they will be referred to with the gender they have transitioned to.  It is ignorant to call a man "she" and just plain mean to say "it."

I was thinking that we need to watch what we say.  Perhaps we also need to watch what we think.  Is it conditioning or prejudice? Can we open our minds to see a bigger picture?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rainbow City Hall

The use of rainbow colors and rainbow flags has a long tradition worldwide, usually seen as a sign of diversity and inclusiveness. Back in 1978, Gilbert Baker made special rainbow flags for gay Pride and ever since the rainbow has been best seen as a symbol of lgbt pride and equality.
San Francisco City Hall is currently lighted in rainbow colors and at night it is a sight to behold!  This of course is LGBT Pride month and it is heartwarming to see the support from our
local city and county government.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Remembering Father Jim

It's been a year.  Father Jim Swearingen passed away in the early hours of last June 3rd.  I still think about him often.  I'm certain I will remember him forever.  My blog entries last June 4th and again on the 10th were about him, but there is so much I didn't say.  Father Jim was a priest, and a friend, but there was more.  He was the kind of person that so many of us strive to be.  He was full of love and he gave that love freely.
 
I shared Thanksgiving dinner with him and his wife and other friends on a number of occasions.  Last Thanksgiving, his wife joined my sister and I for dinner.  Conversation kept heading toward favorite memories of Father Jim and both my sister and I remembered how he had come to our mother's funeral just two months before he died on a morning when he had little strength and really should not have left his bed.  That was not who he was though.  He wanted to be there in person to pray in the church during our mother's funeral.
 
He was such a giver.  He made a huge difference in my life and I know that he made a difference in the lives of many.  May we all strive to be a bit like Father Jim Swearingen.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Pride!

June is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month and there are exhibits and celebrations and events of all kinds, across the country and around the world.  I want to call a few of these to your attention.
 
First, check out the Library of Congress website at http://www.loc.gov/lgbt/ for a number of fine essays and listings of numerous exhibits and events.  Discover the Champions of Change on the White House website by clicking HERE.  There are some wonderful stories here, so check it out. 
 
The first letter in the LGBT is often overshadowed by the second letter.  Click HERE to check out some important information from the National Women's History Project.
 
There are of course Pride Parades and festivals this month (the one in San Francisco isn't until the last weekend of June) and that is what a lot people think about when you mention LGBT Pride.  What though does it mean to YOU?  Why is it necessary to have LGBT Pride, or is it necessary?  Share your thoughts.