Thursday, June 30, 2016

Positive news

Gun violence is out of control. Anti-lgbt feelings are high with hare crimes all too common. During this LGBT Pride month, it might be easy to throw your hands up in the air, and say "Is it ever going to be good?"

I just heard that ChristianMingle has opened its doors to gay singles! Seriously. Of course it took a lawsuit and a judge-approved settlement to make it happen, but still this is good news. Christian rocker Trey Pearson has come out to his fans as gay. Oh and the other day, Pope Francis said that gays deserve an apology from the Church. Of course many mainstream Christian denominations already welcome our lgbt sisters and brothers, but as you know, much of the hate speech has been wrapped in religion. I can only look on these few developments as positive change.

There has been a lot more talk in the past few weeks about guns too and the lgbt community seems to be credited with leading a charge. That too is positive. I don't know where this will end up, but if we are heading away from hate and away from violence, that certainly is a good thing.
 
There was tons of positive news from many different Pride celebrations this month too.  The Orlando victims were memorialized as were other victims of hate.  Those vigils and moments of silence didn't just come from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.  There have been more and more heterosexual allies standing and making themselves be heard. 
 
We need to keep this up though.  The media has already drifted away from the Orlando massacre and the issue of gun safety, just as I predicted.  Don't let them.  Call your local radio and tv stations.  Write letters to the editor.  Let your voice be heard.  Hate must end and gun violence must end as well.  Together we can make it happen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Remember and Act

Whatever you think about gay people (I might not be able to change your mind in just a few short blog entries), and whatever you think about guns (the same thing is true about me changing your mind), I ask that you do two things: work together with others to make sure this doesn't keep happening, and also remember those who were murdered in Orlando.

They were in a gay club, which to some people is a horrible sin, but they were human beings. They were brothers and sisters and mothers and sons. They were people with jobs and with productive lives. We know a lot about a few of them and very little about others, but NONE of them deserved this. Nobody deserves to be shot to death. NOBODY.

So please, remember Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Antonio Davon Brown, Darryl Roman Burt II, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Luis Daniel Conde, Cory James Connell, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Paul Terrell Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Kimberly Morris, Akyra Monet Murray, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Enrique L. Rios, Jr., Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Shane Evan Tomlinson, Martin Benitez Torres, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis S. Vielma, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Jerald Arthur Wright.

Remember and act. It is important to keep in our minds the 49 people who had their lives cut short by hate, and it is also important that we get together to stop the hate and stop the violence. All lives matter, whether you believe that or not. No person should have to live in fear and no person should be executed in cold blood.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shout From The Roof Tops

Yes, I am still talking about gun safety and anti-lgbt violence. Yes, I still am writing here about love instead of hate. If I could, I would shout it from the rooftops! I don't understand meanness and I don't understand harming others. It makes no sense. I'd really like to hear some of you chime in too. Please feel free to add comments below.

Gun violence is terrible, regardless of who is being attacked. Please know that it is just as disgusting for an unarmed African American teenage boy to be gunned down by a police officer, as it is for a transgender woman to be shot to death by a transphobic man. All murder is wrong. All hate is wrong. You won't hear me saying otherwise. The reason I have been focusing on guns and the lgbt community, is that there seems to be an increase, and many people, including political leaders and clergy, are saying that violence against lgbt people is not only and good thing, but a necessary thing. They are WRONG.

Let me be quite clear about something else. We need to stop when we hear any hate speech and to examine what is being said. No matter what you hear, protecting the rights of transgender women and men, even those rights as basic as going to the bathroom, does NOT put others at risk. Allowing all adults to choose what other adults they wish to marry, does not effect the lives of others. If your narrow mind can not welcome all people, then stay home! As for everyone else, let's go out there and spread the love! Let us show how great this world is. Let us share only good and kind things and truly turn our backs on hate.

It may seem simple to you, but it really isn't. The difficulty is in that there are so many haters already. Don't let them ruin the world though. Join me and shout it from the rooftops! Love is the answer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

WeAreOrlando

Marching up Market Street in San Francisco yesterday was a wonderful group that honored those killed in Orlando. This contingent happens to also be a marvelous example of people working together, and I am told that there are already plans to duplicate this group in other cities for their upcoming Pride parades.

It seems a man named Richard Palmer Sizemore decided to create 49 signs with the faces of those killed in the Orlando massacre, at his own expense, and he was hoping to find 49 San Franciscans to carry them in the Pride Parade there. Marsha Levine, the coordinator of the annual event had been working on a large banner and a plan for a moment of silence. They were actually going to stop the entire parade in its tracks, and pause for a moment. Well Marsha's ideas and Richard's signs came together to form a memorial contingent.

I wasn't there, but saw video of it, and it was very moving. With onlookers lining Market Street and with the We Are Orlando contingent leading the marchers, lined up right behind the infamous Dykes on Bikes and other two-wheeled contingents, the Parade came to a complete stop at 7th Street, and for about 30 seconds, stood in complete silence. With a shout of "We Are Orlando" to end the moment, met with respectful clapping, the Parade started up once again.
 
Guns have killed, and they continue to even after that horrible Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida.  Gay men and women continue to be attacked too, simply for being who they are.  Yesterday though, there was nothing but respect in downtown San Francisco.  If only we could spread that everywhere!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A more secure Pride

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remember Their Names

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

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

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

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

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



Friday, June 24, 2016

Bad and Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Raising awareness

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Never forget and never repeat

Those of you who have been following the stories of the men and women murdered last Sunday morning at Pulse in Orlando, may have already heard about the 33 year old talented man, Shane Evan Tomlinson, pictured here. (Photo is from his facebook page). By all accounts, he was hugely talented. He had sung in his church choir and he, for a number of years, was the lead singer for the cover band Frequency, which performed at weddings and various clubs, and which had earlier in the evening done a show at Blue Martini nightclub in Orlando.

I mention Shane here this morning though not only because he was one of the 49 people shot to death inside that gay club, but because of a concern of his mother this week. CNN's Don Lemon interviewed Corliss and Steve Tomlinson, Shane's parents, and Lemon asked if they were concerned that a church might refuse to do a funeral service. Earlier in the week, I wrote here some of the vile comments that have come from ordained clergy. Yesterday, I mention that in the past, there have been churches that have refused to do services for gay people and that some parents have even refused to claim their bodies. Mrs Tomlinson said to Lemon that she did have concern about a church. (Since that interview, she has announced that she and her husband are taking Shane back to his home state, North Carolina).

When someone dies, however the circumstances, there is much sorrow for the friends and family. They shouldn't have additional worries like whether or not a church will bury their loved one.

Shane was one of the 49. He was loved by his family and friends. The same seems to be true for all of the victims. Lives cut short by hate. We still don't have all the details, and perhaps never will, but one thing is certain: I man walk into an Orlando club frequented mostly by gay men, and he opened fire causing death and injury.

It is my intention to see that this is NEVER forgotten and that this is never repeated in our history. To do that though, we need to end the hate. Politicians and pastors and folks in the coffee shops need to stop inciting others to kill and to otherwise harm people who may be different than they are. Shane Tomlinson was not just a fine performer, he was a human being, and he deserved the dignity and respect that ALL humans deserve. Let's make it so.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Two

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

In cities in towns all over the world

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Names

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

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

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

May they all rest in peace.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I will not shut up

I've always wanted to contribute to the good of the world - to give back, and to make a difference. That is why I began this blog. I thought that by making simple suggestions and by reporting on the marvelous deeds of others, I just might inspire a few folks into action. Since comments are very seldom made here (although they are always welcome), I really have no idea if anyone is ever moved by these words. From the counter, I do know that many people visit this page, so I can only hope they are reading and sharing. From day to day, what I write here usually changes a bit by specific subject. This week it looks like I will be making an exception. I will not shut up about the horror in Orlando. Although this blog is not supposed to be about me, I must share with you that I am angry and sad and frustrated and so many other emotions. Expect me to keep on talking.

Any loss of life is bad. Let me make this perfectly clear. I would be saddened at a mass killing like what happened on Sunday, regardless of where it took place and who the victims were. At a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are being verbally attacked every single day and when politicians and clergy are dismissing the lgbt community as folks who don't matter, this becomes even more sad. Human beings died on Sunday morning. They were targeted. We still don't know all the details of this incident, but we know that lgbt people have been individually targeted and targeted as a group on so many occasions before. I said this yesterday, and I will say it again, it's truly a sad day when the places in a community where individuals go to feel safe are made to be unsafe. It's not only sad, but I find it frustrating. Where can you go to be safe?

Imagine for a moment that people were attacking you because you had brown eyes or because you are left-handed. Attacks on the lgbt community are because of difference. How can you attack someone because of who they are? Oh and don't think for one moment that this was an isolated incident by a lone gunman in Florida. In the past 72 hours, I have heard so many people rejoicing in these murders. I have heard clergy in their churches, saying this was a good thing. How many of your friends have ignored this and said nothing, because to them, there was nothing wrong. It reminds me of Harvey Fierstein's speech from Torch Song Trilogy:

"They killed him on the street. 30 years old laying dead. Killed by kids with baseball bats! That's right Ma, killed by children. Children taught by people like you. Queers don't matter! Queers don't love! And those that do deserve what they get!"

Nobody deserves to be murdered. I woman resisting her rapist does not deserve to die. A Black man stopped by a police officer does not deserve to be shot. 49 people enjoying their weekend in a gay club do not deserve to be executed. We need to get rid of the "they deserve what they get" mentality because again, NOBODY deserves that. NOBODY!

Last night I learned that many in Orlando are afraid to leave their house. This is lgbt Pride Month and celebrations are happening at various times all over the country. Yesterday I learned of a gay woman who usually attends where she lives, faced with a dilemma. Now more than ever, she wants to be present at this year's event (later this month), but out of fear for her safety, he mother is begging her to stay home. Nobody deserves to live in fear either.

We really need to heal this world and spread some love around. I KNOW it is possible. Who's with me?

Friday, June 17, 2016

May they rest in peace

This past Sunday, as I have been discussing here all week, 49 lives were taken at a gay club in Orlando. Funerals have begun, with more scheduled for today and over the weekend. Families and friends are sharing memories of the deceased. In the midst of all the sadness, happy stories are being told. It isn't always that way though when gay people are murdered.

Back in 1973, The UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans was the scene of an arson fire that claimed 33 lives. Never heard of it? Well that is largely because gay people didn't get much press back then. A lot of what was written, was pretty disgusting (“I hope the fire burned their dresses off,” someone said. “What will they bury the ashes of queers in? Fruit jars.” This is only some of the bad taste remarks). Back then some churches refused to hold services. Back then, some families even refused to claim bodies.

Have things gotten better? It depends on how you look at it. I have heard numerous disgusting "jokes" and I have heard people, even clergy and people in positions of power, say it was good that gays were targeted. Some families are more loving these days, and so are some churches, but many are worse. Do mass murders of gay people still happen? Sadly, the answer is yes. LGBT people are the targets of violence more than any other group, especially transgender women. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said last year that the average life expectancy of trans people in the Western Hemisphere is between 30-35 years. Violence against the lgbt community last year was the highest since 2012, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and in fact it was up 20% from 2014.

We can blame Sunday's violence on guns or on religion or on an anti-American sentiment, and perhaps all of those play into it, but that doesn't erase that gay people were the target. This week gays continue to be targeted, both in hate speech relating to the Orlando attack, and in constant preaching that gays have no right to exist. While some of the shooting victims still fight for their lives, and thankfully many are recovering nicely, there are people planning the next attack. A tip to police, resulting in an arrest, saved violence from happening at Gay Pride in West Hollywood last weekend, just hours after the Florida massacre.

As a reporter, I saw the results of violent attacks against both gay men and women in the past. I have had personal friends who were attacked too. All of this because of who someone is, not because of anything they have done. As the dead from Orlando are remembered at their funerals and at memorial services all across the country, I keep hoping that the hate will someday be gone. I keep hoping these men and women can rest in peace.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Never Give Up

For all of the moments of pessimism and hopelessness that so many have felt this week, there is something bigger to remember. Yesterday I spoke of feeling the love, and while it may seem at times like there is none, open your eyes and see. Perhaps we would like more, but let's take what we have, and build on it. With all the struggles, remember that often the road is a rough one. Don't quit though. There is so much to gain by sticking with it.

It may look like the lgbt community is under attack, but while this week has shown a lot of hate and negativity, it has also shown a lot of love and support. We have seen good people standing up and making a difference. Watching Anderson Cooper on CNN last night, I was moved to tears several times. He has done such an excellent job in covering the horror in Orlando, and he has shown us hope. This crisis is shining a light on many areas of discrimination, and hopefully some real change will come out of this. There is still a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, and that was something that many learned for the first time this week. Hopefully the attention will bring about change.

Guns. Do we need them? Should here be some kind of reform? Do we solve the problem of mass-murders some other way? This is something else that is getting a lot of attention. We need to stay focused and dedicated to reaching a solution.

When a terrible tragedy happens, there is nearly wall to wall coverage for the first several hours. The media keeps looking at the situation for a few days after that. Slowly everyone forgets. This time, let's not forget! Let us be determined to keep with it until the solutions come and the hate is removed and we have truly made progress. We cannot give up.  We should never give up!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Feel the love

The horror of Sunday morning's mass murder in Florida is made worse by the hate that seems to have exploded since then. At the same time, there has been a generous outpouring of good. Incredible things have been said and done by people all around the world, and you can actually feel the love!

I don't want to go into all the negativity, some of which has included claims that this was all a hoax, and then some of the most vile statements I have ever heard from clergy. The Reverend Roger Jimenez preached early Sunday morning In Sacramento saying "Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? No ... I think that's great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida's a little safer tonight." I watched a youtube video of this "sermon," at Verity Baptist Church, where Jimenez went on to say "It is unnatural for a man to be attracted to another man." If this isn't inciting, in don't know what is. He also said "The tragedy is that more of them didn't die." Oh and yesterday, an even more famous man of the cloth, Pat Robertson, preached additional hate saying "let Muslims and gays kill themselves."
 
As I said though, there has been good, and while there have been tears these past few days, and moments when I have even wanted to throw up, I can indeed feel the love.  Sunday morning there were many clergypersons preaching love and condemning the massacre.  There were also numerous memorials and vigils, and those continue.  People from all over the world have been generous too.  Money has been donated in huge amounts to help the families of those who were killed and to also help all of the hospitalized injured people.  Gifts have come from individuals as well as from major corporations.  American Airlines for example, donated airline miles to help fly bodies to their final resting places.  I have also read so many encouraging tweets and posts on social media.  There are people who care.  There are people who love!

Seeing San Francisco City Hall, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and other famous landmarks lit up in rainbow colors has warmed my heart. Hearing the positive and supporting statements from celebrities and elected officials all around the world has had a nice calming effect too. Support and love make a big difference, especially in times of great sorrow.

Sadly, as I said, it hasn't all been love, and if the hate wasn't there, these things wouldn't even happen, but I am encouraged by the positive energy and look for an increase.  I invite you to join me.  Let's drive away the hate and only do things that are kind and caring.  Love is a much better option.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Shoes of the Doctor

The horror in Orlando was reflected upon early today by one of the hospital doctors who attended to the dozens of victims.  This morning, I want to share here the thought of the man who wore these shoes early Sunday morning, Dr Joshua Corsa:
 
"These are my work shoes from Saturday night. They are brand new, not even a week old. I came to work this morning and saw these in the corner my call room, next to the pile of dirty scrubs.

I had forgotten about them until now. On these shoes, soaked between its fibers, is the blood of 54 innocent human beings. I don't know which were straight, which were gay, which were black, or which were hispanic. What I do know is that they came to us in wave upon wave of suffering, screaming, and death. And somehow, in that chaos, doctors, nurses, technicians, police, paramedics, and others, performed super human feats of compassion and care.
 
This blood, which poured out of those patients and soaked through my scrubs and shoes, will stain me forever. In these Rorschach patterns of red I will forever see their faces and the faces of those that gave everything they had in those dark hours.

There is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Some of that work will never end. And while I work I will continue to wear these shoes. And when the last patient leaves our hospital, I will take them off, and I will keep them in my office. I want to see them in front of me every time I go to work. For on June 12, after the worst of humanity reared its evil head, I saw the best of humanity of come fighting right back. I never want to forget that night."

Dr. Joshua Corsa M.D, EMT-P
Orlando Regional Medical Center
Senior Resident, Department of Surgery

Thank you Dr Joshua for your service, and in the midst of the horror that began this week, thank you for reminding us of the good. May we all out away our guns and our hate and learn from your wisdom.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Stand Against Hate

He killed 49 people. More than 50 others were wounded. Why? First let me say that we may not ever know all of the reasons, unless the shooter left some kind of record, but it was Latino night at a gay club, and so the targets were gay Latinos. This happening in a year when we see an increase in anti-gay and anti-Latino remarks from a variety of people, including Presidential candidates.

Yesterday I wrote that we woke up to news of what is now the worst mass shooting in our country's history. I spoke of the gun violence that has taken so many lives in so many different places. Yesterday I heard some other people echo my thoughts, but at the same time I heard people saying "It's not the guns" and "Guns don't kill, people do." I heard a lot of finger pointing and name calling too. What a shame. Right now we should be honoring the dead and wounded. We should mourn the lives cut short. Our next step is, as I said here yesterday, to do something. We can't let this keep happening!

The lgbt community sees so many violent acts directed toward them that in some communities they are still closeted out of fear for their own safety. Gay bars, over the years, have become a haven for people wanting to opening be themselves. It's truly a sad day when the places in a community where individuals go to feel safe are made to be unsafe. This is not the first time too. There have been attacks on gay clubs before. Thirty two people were killed in an arson caused fire at The UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans back in the 70s. Smaller attacks have happened too. These attacks on our lgbt sisters and brothers cannot be allowed to continue.

On top of all of the loss of life in Orlando yesterday and will so many injured and so many worried about friends or family who might have been there, I was hearing more anti-gay talk. I heard politicians and clergy and others attempting to gain publicity for themselves out of this tragedy. I heard "I'm glad the perverts are finally getting attacked, instead of the normal people." The hate continues.

My hope is that some eyes were opened yesterday. My hope is that more and more people will stand up for what is right and will say no to violence and no to hate. Can this be the way?  It can is we ALL take a stand against hate!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

More gun violence

Once again this morning I am waking up to the sad news of gun violence. Reports are that a lone gunman opened fire inside an Orlando, Florida nightclub, killing at least fifty people and leaving 53 others hospitalized. I believe this is the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. I am certain that it is horrible. Claiming human lives is the worst thing anyone can do, and yet it happens over and over. Friday night a young singer was shot after giving a concert, in that same city.

It isn't just in Orlando of course. So many American towns and cities have become famous because of shootings - Littleton, Red Lake, Nickel Mines, DeKalb, Blacksburg, Newton, Santa Monica, Marysville, Roseburg, San Bernardino, and dozens and dozens more. The wounded have ranged in age and in number, as have the fatalities. The more dead, the bigger the outcry. "Something must be done," say some of our leaders, but few actually follow up on that. The gun violence continues.

Late last year, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a sweeping gun-control ballot measure for his state. He has campaigned hard for that since then, but the measure would only effect California. Some there say that this measure would still not be enough. What about the rest of the country? I don't want to be insensitive, but I can safely predict that as today goes on, there were be calls for gun control and cries of "I have a right to my guns."

As I have said here many times before, I do NOT have all the answers. Sometimes I don't even have any answers. I do no that killing is senseless and such a huge loss. Hundreds are no mourning the horrific loss from last night in Florida. We need to comfort them in their grief and we need to do something meaningful to see that this never happens again. Perhaps since Gavin Newsom has some marvelous ideas, he could go before a joint session of Congress and issue a wake-up call to our US legislators. Something must be done!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Big step forward

Probably most people would say that they want to go forward and increase their income, their knowledge, their circle of friends, and so on. Heading forward is looked at as something positive. Standing still can become boring, no matter how comfortable it might be, and going backward is like giving up. How fast should we move though and should we work with others along the way, or do it all by ourselves?

I'm sure you can already guess what I am going to say. Together is always better.  There is strength in numbers and teamwork gets things done quicker.  Also, imagine how much help you can offer to those with less experience, and think of the help too, that can be offered to you.
 
So fast, or slow?  Baby steps or big ones?  Well sometimes you just have to take a risk.  A big step forward can have wonderful results, but it might be a little scary too.  Think about how much you believe in what you are doing and what is at stake.  Don't be afraid to ask friends and loved ones for their take on it too.  Asking for advice does not make you weak - it make you smart. 
 
Let's all head forward, at a pace that is comfortable for us, and let's plan on winning.  Along the way, let's reach out to others and help them in their steps forward as well. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Don't beat yourself up

So the candidates you supported yesterday didn't get elected. That's okay. The world will keep spinning. Perhaps you were one of those candidates and you feel terrible. Don't. There are hills and valleys in life. We don't always get things when we want them. The same thing is true if you set a goal in a fundraiser for charity and fell short of that number. Again, it's okay. Don't beat yourself up.

There are all kinds of things in our day to day life that might be disappointing. Personally I would like to have seen some different outcomes yesterday. Think of the good though. Focus on that. Concentrate on the things you learned and on the advances you made. If you didn't achieve what you hoped for, try again. One of the earliest sayings I ever learned was that very simple one - and it's true: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Too many people go into depression when things don't turn out the way they hoped. Sometimes it is overwhelming. If it is really bad for you, please get support from others. A good therapist might even be in order. For most of us though, we simply need to brush ourselves off and move again. The important thing though is to not blame yourself or put yourself down. You are just as wonderful now as you have always been!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

You brighten up my day

The glow of the sun, up in the sky, seems to spread joy to most of us. It can even make you sing! I was thinking back to that wonderful hit by the Bee Gees:

Good morning mister sunshine,
you brighten up my day.
Come sit beside me in your way.

Of course that isn't the only mention of the sun in song. John Denver had a hit too, which really describes that feeling:

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

Can you think of others? Perhaps the joy of a beautiful sunny day might inspire you to write your own song! It might be hard to top George Harrison’s wonderfully contemplative and also very comforting "Here Comes the Sun." Another favorite of mine is another Beatles tune, "Good Day Sunshine." I feel like writing a song, or at least singing along with someone else's. It's going to you a sunny day!

Monday, June 6, 2016

What's in a name?

Your mom and dad, and possibly others, may have spent hours coming up with something to call you. Part of you name may come from one side of the family, and part from the other. What might have seemed like a perfectly good name, may later on not work so well. I know people who strongly dislike their name for a variety of reasons (sounds like a commercial product or the name of a porn star or too similar to a famous person). Some people go through life with what they were given. Some folks change their name. It's a personal choice, a personal decision.

When you hear the name of someone you know, you immediately picture them in your mind. A name is a special label that sets us apart. I know many people who have changed their name. In some cases I have no idea what their name was before. It's not important. It is their wish and their desire to be known by a certain name, and disrespecting that is just plain rude. Now someone may question how I got to be the name police, and let me assure you that I am not. I'm not trying to suggest that what I say is always right and you had better listen to me, but stop and think for a moment. How would you like it if you are a woman, and people were often calling you he? Make it personal like that and I think you will agree. What would it feel like if folks called you another name or purposely mispronounced your name?

As an example, I keep hearing some people call Caitlyn Marie Jenner by a different name. You are disrespecting her when you do this! It makes no difference what you think about gender identity. It doesn't matter at all if you think that gender reassignment is not a good thing. That isn't the issue. Everyone deserves the respect of being addressed by their name. What made me think about this now is the crude comments I have heard in the past two days about The Champ, intentionally using the wrong name. Using Muhammad Ali's birth name when discussing his passing is akin to dead naming ‎trans‬ people.
 
When I was born, my parents gave me only a first and last name - I have no middle name.  Over the years on radio and tv, I used a couple of different names, but they were only for professional purposes.  I actually like my name, and I don't like people calling me other things.  I'm one of the lucky ones though.  I never legally changed my name, and have rarely been called other things.  Many of my friends though have not had it as easy.  Disrespecting them is disrespecting me.  My name is Michael Fullam.  What is yours?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Help me up the stairs

If you enter San Francisco City Hall and walk toward the center, you find yourself under the dome and in the glorious rotunda. You also find yourself at the bottom of a huge staircase (only part of which is pictured here). Imagine for a moment that due to age or injury, even two or three steps up can be a challenge. Now think about what it would be like to climb this grand staircase.

Now I do want to point out that in this particular building there are numerous ramps and a number of elevators as well. Folks with ability challenges can still get around. What if you wanted to go up and only via this staircase? How about when you are in a building where there are no ramps or elevators? The issue doesn't have to be a real set of stairs either - there are numerous figurative challenges that can slow us down. Imagine wanting very much to do a certain task, but have all sorts of blocks in your way. Oh my!

Almost every one of us has come upon a situation where we need a hand. As much as I enjoy being independent, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. What I want to express this morning is that nobody should ever have to ask. Think if you will about how wonderful it is when someone aids you without you having to request that aid. Think about how caring that is. How wonderful it would be if we ALL cared about each other, that we would help them up the stairs, they minute we realized that they would benefit from our assistance. The world is so much better when we all willingly help each other out!

A footnote too (even though this blog is NOT about me) - I so look forward to being make inside San Francisco City Hall coming up next month.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

He really was The Greatest

How can someone be so much larger than life? How can a person be both arrogant and humble? How is it even possible to be inspiring and also polarizing? Some of those answers may come to us in the days ahead as we are reminded more and more about the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali, who passed away yesterday after enduring Parkinson's syndrome for thirty two years.

It was as a young boxer that Ali first became known to us, winning six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles and two national Golden Gloves titles. There were a LOT more wins to come of course.  I recall some of those early fights. I can especially remember The Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila, although I don't think I actually saw them. I can remember the controversies too: his name change and religious conversion, his boasting and often conflicting opinions, his draft evasion and the stripping of his boxing title. I remember too his televised conversations with Howard Cosell, David Frost, and Dick Cavett. He was a champ in the ring, and he was certainly a master showman, and that is what most people are talking about today. Ali though was also a hero in every sense of the word, and it is seeing him visit soup kitchens and making public appearances for charities that I will remember most.
 
He once said "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." Yes we all remember his "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," but Ali said many more powerful things. "Don’t count the days; make the days count" is another example. I find those words of his very inspiring. He also said "A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

Last night I went to bed after watching clips of Ali in the ring and a few public appearance clips from later in life (like when he lit the Olympic cauldron in 1996). This morning there is much more. His titles and his statistics are all being mentioned and there is some mention of the Parkinson's. What seems to be missing though is what this man meant to so many people. He gave encouragement. In an interview with Bryant Gumbel he does talk about the disease he is living with, but points out that it isn't going to keep him down. Some people would have said it is impossible to achieve such greatness and it is certainly impossible to stay great given the health obstacles he encountered. Impossible though was not an option for him.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it," Ali once said. “Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
 
Thank you for the inspiration Muhammad Ali.  Thank you for your philanthropy (he supported the Special Olympics, Michael J. Fox Foundation, UNICEF, and numerous other charities).  Thank you for great memories in and out of the ring.  Thank you for truly making a difference.