This is your Captain speaking…

October 23rd, 2017

This is your Captain speaking . . .

“Please fasten your seat belts and remain in your seats.  We seem to be experiencing a little turbulence.”  A little turbulence? I would say we are in the middle of a tempête de merde.

The flood gates have opened up both literally and figuratively.  What is daunting is that both mother nature and America are bursting at the seams simultaneously.

In November, we were punched in the stomach.  In the past few months, mother nature got herself into a hissy fit cursing us with floods, hurricanes and fires!   And now, finally, the Casting Couch of Hollywood has been exposed for what it is.

Yes, this is all quite daunting but not surprising.  If we take a good look at this chaotic cluster, we see that these patterns have been played out in history time and time again.  And in each case, this marks the decline of current societies and the rising of new ideals.

Over the last few decades, the movement to break out of the status quo has gained extraordinary momentum.  More than ever before, people of all walks of life, color, origins and lifestyle orientations have stood up and demanded the right to live their lives in celebration without hiding.

A steady migration away from ignorance to education has resulted in a powerful new group of leaders championing for our rights. Pushing forward, challenging “just the way it is” to “not anymore.”  The stronger we got, the louder we got.

Sounds great right?

Yes, except that the roaring nouveau wave of freedom meant completely drowning out the cries of the white working class. They don’t give a damn about rebuilding our inter-cities, don’t really care how you grab a woman, sure as hell don’t want homosexual marriages and believe that all Mexicans should be on the other side of the wall.  That American is out to make it clear, white lives matter and they are done with all this ethnic crap.  What we have in the Gray House is the frustration and anger of the ignored American.

The push to make “Make America Great Again” is to restore the values and morals of the puritanical elitist that controlled our communities and the definition of a great  America.  The irony in all of this is that those behind this movement were considered outcast and beneath the very values of the high society that they are now pushing to reinstate.

So, while those Americans are racing towards defeat fighting for the good old days, we must stand firm through the turbulence to keep what we have from unraveling.  Our leaders and heroes who have worked so hard to get us here know that this is just the beginning of our rise.  Now it is our responsibility to join them in unity, to protect their accomplishments.

How? Never let go of the truth.  You are of great value.  No one can take that away from you.  Your rights are greater than the laws that were put in place to deny them.  We challenged those laws and now the stone pillars of discrimination are crumbling. It is just that simple, stay true.  But make no mistake, it is going to be a hell of a ride.

Fasten your seat belts, we seem to be experiencing a little turbulence.

Fastened in and Proud.

 

About Heidi:
As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self-appointed documentarian life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.
When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a
professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

 

Closet Doors by Heidi Hirsch

September 27th, 2017

Closet Doors by Heidi Hirsch

 

Some of us open the door quietly.
Some start with unlocking the door and hoping a sudden burst of exhaled breath will swing the door open. Some bulldoze the door open, break the hinges off the frame, taking the closet door with them! Others use the closet to hang the gowns. No matter how you do it, the closet door has opened.

Now what?

Now that the fanfare has died down and hopefully most of the family members are still speaking to you, it’s time to venture out.

Trusting that there are a few people in your life that all ready knew (even before you did) and are willing to join you on this new path, it’s time to gather the crew and define your new self.

Sure would be nice to have a guide, something to get the ball rolling. Maybe a check list to follow. Well, it just so happens that I recently stumbled on my old scrapbook titled, It’s About Time and discovered a few solid leads to help you get started on your way.

I have outlined the five basic identities with a few characteristics that will help set your course. For those of you that have already flung that door open years ago, I hope you find this amusing and somewhat accurate. As always, I welcome comments and additions to my observations.

Fluctuating
Maybe I am, maybe I’m not! Yes, you came out of the closet but maybe it was a bit too soon. For you, the closet door is more like a revolving door. I’m out..I’m in…I’m out— you get the idea. Not gay with the family but very gay with friends. Gay when there is a festive protest, the yearly parade, a new restaurant opened by a questionable celebrity, or a new movie with gay sex scenes you’ve got to see but your steady beard has a previous engagement and you have no excuse as to why you are desperate to go. Oh sure, then you’re gay!

Artistic License
I am an artist, therefore I am what I am…when I am not what you think, I am what I really am when I am not as I am. Oh good God! You figure it out. I got exhausted after the first I am.

Social Diva
There is a private party in West Hollywood next Saturday that is “Gay Only.” You are sooo gay then. How else are you going to get into the hottest bash of the decade?! If you are out, you’re “in.” You are a Saturday night Belle of the Bars and a Sunday Brunch choir boy at Hamburger Mary’s. Monday mornings, you straighten up and get your butch on.

Politically Correct
Yikes! This is the most challenging and intense state of gay. Every aspect of your life is defined by being gay. You are GAY!!!!! It is not for the weak and timid. You walk, you talk, you eat, you sleep, you dress and glee gay! You are a 24/7 update on the ever evolving world of gay. A watchdog. We need you!

Somewhere On The List
There are many elements that define you. Your sexuality is one of them along with a gazillion others. As exciting as the Social Diva sounds, most of us are the typical guy or gal on the street. We stand in line at Starbucks, complain about the rising cost of gas, honk the horn at the driver in front of us because they won’t get off the phone, clip coupons, dream of tropical vacations or fancy sports cars and later on wonder how our 401K is doing and how soon can we retire!

And that is me!
Standing in line at Starbucks, still dreaming of that fancy sports car, dreaming of my tropical vacation and wishing my 401K would pick up the pace!

How you come out really doesn’t matter as long as you are proud of who you are and stand tall.

Let’s celebrate October 11th – National Coming Out Day!

Aloha and Proud!

 

 

About Heidi:
As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self-appointed documentarian life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a
professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

 

Sticks and Stones by Heidi Hirsch

September 5th, 2017

Sticks and Stones by Heidi Hirsch

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Like hell they won’t.

Many of you will be returning to school in the next few weeks. While on summer vacation, the epidemic of bullying has risen to an all time high and taken residency in the highest office in the United States. While the First Lady has vowed to take on the battle against bullying, she has yet to issue a statement concerning her approach or demonstrated her solution starting with home base.

Unfortunately the educational system is a breeding ground for this type of behavior and, in the past, has had a weak backbone when dealing with this ever-increasing sport. There are experts that have offered many solutions to combating Bullies. The problem is that there isn’t a standard format to “Bullying.” According to www.stopbullying.gov , it is important to properly label the children involved in the bullying situation. Instead of calling a child a “bully,” refer to them as “the child who bullied.” Instead of calling a child a “victim,” refer to them as “the child who was bullied.”

You have got to be kidding me. I have my own definition of a bully and sadly it’s inappropriate to define it here.

We all have to deal with these creatures. Not just in school but in our everyday lives

Most of us have had years of experience and practice in dealing with the insecurity of others that appears to be the root of most bullying. We have developed the appearance of a thick skin yet continue to feel the sting every time.

While most of the attention is focused on the bullied, the issue is very much two sided.

At some point in time, we have all been a bully. Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. You might not realize it nor was it intentional, but it probably happened. You see, as aggressive as the bully is to you, you can be just as aggressive in your response.

Quite frankly, when I have been bullied, I don’t give a damn whether my response is unwanted aggressive behavior. I will attack back.

I recently experienced a bully situation and when I fired back, the recipient of my wrath was stunned at my response. Her face looked like a re-make of Gloria Swanson coming in for a close up.

Like any of the self-help books, everybody has an answer that seemed to work for them. There is no single answer on how to overcome bullying. Therefore, each one of us must find our own way to stand up to the bullies.

What we do know is that bullies are only as active as their support base is encouraging. Meaning the less we encourage and support them, the less fuel they have to continue. Bullies are only as powerful as their audience. The good news is there is an increased popularity of anti-bully campaigns and the participation in bullying has finally shifted from cool to uncool.

There are organizations that address this epidemic. Schools have stepped up and have taken a hard fast rule against bullying. You do not have to suffer alone. Report this behavior. No, it isn’t easy, but there is support out there. I have listed a few organizations below.

Bullying is NOT EVER ok.
EVER.

Bullied and Proud

 

Sources:
www.thetrevorproject.org
www.thebullyproject.com
www.stopbullying.gov
www.stopbullyingnow.com
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

 

About Heidi:
As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self-appointed documentarian life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a
professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

 

Step One, We Heal by Heidi Hirsch

August 12th, 2017

 

Step One, We Heal.

The Gray House (the White House) is at it again!

As the chaotic storm continues to gain momentum, we, the LBQT community, have recently been the center of the rage, again.

The rationale is simple.  Go for the easiest target, divert the attention away from the real issue at hand, fire with the support of the fearful, and there you have it!

I am angry.  But my anger isn’t very productive.  Actually, the only thing it does is raise my blood pressure and increase my vulgarity vocabulary.  Great strides in our history have changed many lives including our own, through uproar and regretful violence.

The question is, what are you willing to do and what are you willing to lose?  Your life? Be assured, there are those that are willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of their beliefs.

I am equally determined to protect our rights to have fulfilling equal opportunity lives but, I will not perpetrate violence and commit acts of destruction.  What I will do is join my voice with those who are outraged and disgusted by this recent attempt to disguise blatant discrimination, with bogus conservative fiscal responsibility,  only intended to rally and churn up the masses.

As deep as this assault is on our family, we will heal.  And, as we heal, we regain our strength.  And as we regain our strength, we stand up.  And when we stand up, we inspire.  And when we inspire, we empower. And when empowerment is ignited, look out!

Empowerment is the best weapon against complacency and complacency is the culprit here.  To look the other way is the fuel that feeds those who attack others. It is our responsibility to stand up and inspire. We are a community with passionate empowerment to drown out the quick flares of manipulated outrage.  Inspiring others with our actions will always speak louder than words framed to incite.  It is the greatest gift we have to offer.

By the way, according to The Washington Post, the military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care.  Apparently, men are better at fighting and defending our country when their apparatus is functioning at full capacity.

We rise, all of us.
Empowered and proud.

 

 

About Heidi:
As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self -appointed documentarian life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

“Starting from Scratch” by Heidi Hirsch

July 22nd, 2017

Starting from Scratch by Heidi Hirsch

 

Stone Soup is an old folk story in which a hungry stranger convinces the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food to make a kettle of soup.

The stranger takes a stone and places it in a pot filled with water. Soon everybody in the town has contributed to the soup. Depending how you see it, the soup is either wonderful or a complete disaster.

If you look at the human experience, it’s a bit like stone soup.

As we go about the business of living, we accumulate.

A little wisdom, a few cuts and bruises, memories of fun times, of sad times, falling in love for the first time, roller coasters (the same thing as love), scary movies, hot buttered popcorn, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies, chocolate anything, out of control hormones, odd un-defined sensations, “As Seen On TV” products that NEVER work, an open account with QVC and maybe the best and worse of them all, other people’s opinions.

And, when you realize that your life maybe different from anybody you know, the first impact of that realization might be defined by or swayed by those opinions.

Being gay is not a choice.

Chances are you won’t wake up one bright and cheery morning and say, “Good Morning World, I think I’ll be gay today.” There are a few people out there that do that but it has something to do with their publicist and their twitter account.

Regardless, the choice you do have, is how you shape your world and the influences you embrace and the ones you push aside.

Growing up is a bitch.

Growing up gay takes a commitment to self for what you feel is your greater good. As you learn to embrace who you are, the challenge is to create your own Stone Soup recipe for your life. This is something only you can do. Only you know what is best for you.

If this is sounding like a public service announcement, it is. We, who have made it past the obstacles along the way, have a responsibility to reach out to our younger self and walk the path again only this time, with our gay youth.

We must sound louder and stronger drowning out those who choose to attack others while hiding behind a book or a belief that condemns.

To influence those around us with encouragement, our collective voices are making amazing music. The melody is strong, clear and is sustained by those who have been there before and are here today, making changes. There is a quiet thread that runs through all of us, it is a weave of acceptance, welcome, support and family.

LGBT Daily Spotlight is one of those vital influences. A site of celebration and pride. Each day, the names and influences of gay citizens and friends, are honored for their achievements and commitments to our community and the world.

I am both astonished and proud of those folks and it is for this reason that I am honored to have the opportunity to, I hope, influence others in a positive direction.

Proud.

 

About Heidi:

As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self -appointed documentarian of life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

“Gaydar” by Heidi Hirsch

July 6th, 2017

“Gaydar” by Heidi Hirsch

 

Gaydar, according to Merriam Webster, is defined as slang: the ability to recognize homosexuals through observation or intuition.

Wikipedia defines it as a colloquialism referring to the intuitive ability to assess others’ sexual orientation as gay, bi-sexual or straight.

I define it as something I don’t have. I would like to say that it needs a tune up, but you should have it in order to tune it up!

I’m always intrigued when I find myself in a conversation and the subject of Gaydar comes up. Apparently, this ability to Gay-Spot is a feeling similar to the exaltation that one gets after combing the beaches for hours with a metal detector that goes off like a four-alarm fire alert. Never-mind that it turns out to be a bottle cap from the 70s, It’s the high you get from hitting pay dirt.

“Reeeaaally,” I say with great interest. “How do you know?” As I set the tone for intrigue and suspense.

“Oh, well my son’s best friend is gay. I knew it before he did.”
Hum, thinking I best not go down that path.

Tell me, what are the signs? I’m not sure I have that, what did you call it, Gay Radar? Do you see a gay person here? “Oh sure, I can spot them fast! See over there, that one, he’s soooooo gay!”

“Seriously,” I say, “How can you tell?”
“Well for one, look at what he is wearing, a straight man would NEVER wear those colors.”

Oh, crap, here we go again with the fashion police.

As a victim of my own insatiable need to poke the bear, I dig deeper. “Do you see any lesbians?” After a quick sweep of the room, “No, not yet. I’ll let you know when I see one.” Far be it from me to suggest that somebody’s Gaydar needs a tune-up.

Starting to feel a bit left out, I went to the all great and powerful source, Amazon Prime.

There it was, Gaydar: The Ultimate Insider Guide to the Gay Sixth Sense. According to the author, Gaydar is the telepathic sixth sense that only gay men—and the occasional ultra-savvy straight person—seem to possess.

Well, that leaves most of us wandering the vast waste land of “I don’t know, what do you think?”

I might not have conventional Gaydar, but I have Heidi Gaydar. As far as I’m concerned, it works every time.

Two women shopping at Home Depot together on Sunday morning with a cart full of tools, they are.

Two men shopping at Ikea together on a Sunday morning, with color swatches, they are.

Instagram photos of homemade pies, he is.

Instagram photos of step by step DIY projects, she is.

First to spot a new lipstick, he is.

Thinks that lipstick is a new girl in town, she is.

Dresses you down before saying “Hello”, he is.

Avoids eye contact at all cost when you say “Hello”, she is.

He still has his Barbie collection, he is.

Going to see Wonder Woman for the sixth time, because of the special effects, she is.

Profound use of the word “they”, they are!

And finally, the one single, most accurate, indicator that someone is gay. . .

One word, six letters. . . causing a ripple, a flitter and a breathy whisper.

Barbra.

Boom!
Mic Drop!

Me, satisfying smirk!

 

About Heidi:

As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self -appointed documentarian of life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

 

Gaydar: the Ultimate Insider Guide to the Gay Sixth Sense (2002) by Donald F. Reuter

 

Gay? Was it something I didn’t wear? by Heidi Hirsch

June 20th, 2017

Gay? Was it something I didn’t wear? by Heidi Hirsch

I would venture to say that at some point in a gay person’s life they are confronted with the annoying question, “Are you gay?”

That one, I can handle. I usually come back with an inquisitive, “ARE YOU?”

I was recently completely thrown off by a co-worker who exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were gay, you don’t dress like it.”

“Sorry, not enough flannel?”

Not enough flannel??? Was that the best that I could do? I know that it was weak but, honestly, I hadn’t developed a snappy comeback for that kind of comment.

Back before the turn of the century, before I knew that I was gay (didn’t everybody think that Stephanie Powers was hot as April Dancer in the Girl from U.N.C.L.E.?), I was in the throngs of puberty, acne and pursuit of comfortable clothes.

I slowly developed a keen sense of fashion – one size fits all colors. Hey, if it worked in blue, why would it not work in yellow, orange and basic black? My favorite color was jeans. Jeans worked with everything! I thought I was hot and ready for action walking out the door wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and a flannel jacket. Lucky for me, that was perfect attire for a bewildered D.I.T. (Dyke in Training).

There was that brief period of time in my life that I considered the conventional style of dress – meaning a dress! Fortunately, my head cleared and I was able to skirt that near disastrous attempt at femininity with only minor traumatic repercussions.

California is conveniently laid back so I took full advantage of the casual style. I work in an industry that the most brilliant of our creative wear hoodies and cut off shorts. No, I don’t work at Facebook but darn close!

Through the years, I honed my style of dress to reflect California Comfortable. Comfortable jeans, comfortable shirts and, yes, comfortable shoes. If the heels on my shoes is more than one inch, I get a nose bleed and feel slightly dizzy. I consider dressing up by pouring myself into Spanx for a client meeting.

So, here I am confronted with the very real possibility that my membership might be revoked and a representative from the gay community will come knocking on my door and demand my gifted toaster back just because I don’t dress gay!

This called for quick-witted action! Heading back towards the closet, not an easy thing to do,
I looked for my last hope of reversing this gay faux pas and there they were, my hiking boots!

The next day at work, my colleague approached me again with the same confused look on her face.
“Oh. My. God. I have the same pair of boots!!!? Does this mean I’m gay?”

With a click of my one inch heels, I turned like a queen on a disco dance floor and

said, “I don’t know, ARE YOU?”

 

About Heidi:

As an amateur observer of the human race, Heidi is a self -appointed documentarian of life’s little quirks and how to stumble through them with humor.

Maintaining that belief has brought her to that golden age of early-bird specials, senior discounts, and the VIP-AARP card.

When she isn’t acting as the arbiter of lesbian fashion, Heidi is a professional in the themed entertainment industry. As a Project Manager, her projects include the recently opened Motiongate & Bollywood theme parks in Dubai. Currently she is working on a new theme park in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Heidi enjoys building Free Libraries and is currently co-developing an on-line directory for the themed entertainment industry.

LGBT Rights Around the World – From the L.A. Times by Ann M. Simmons

May 15th, 2017

Seven striking statistics on the status of gay rights and homophobia across the globe

At the same time, persecution and stigmatization remain rampant in most countries, and equal rights for LGBTQ people are “still very far from reach,” said the report released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Assn.

To produce the report, “State-Sponsored Homophobia: A World Survey of Sexual Orientation Laws: Criminalization, Protection and Recognition,” researchers compiled data from a variety of sources on laws dealing with sexual orientation.

“We’re definitely seeing some really valuable progress to the lives of LGBTI people, but there are many threats emerging,” said Aengus Carroll, an Ireland-based human rights consultant and researcher who co-authored the report with Argentine human rights lawyer Lucas Ramon Mendos.

The threats include morality laws and other discriminatory legislation, as well as crackdowns on free expression about sexual orientation, Carroll said.

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community participate in a Pride March in Bangalore, India.
Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community participate in a Pride March in Bangalore, India. (Aijaz Rahi / Associated Press)

Here we present seven of the most telling numbers in the report.

122

The number of countries that allow homosexual acts between consenting adults. Taiwan and Kosovo, which are not internationally recognized as independent states, bring the number to 124. Last year, Belize and the Seychelles became the latest nations to repeal laws criminalizing such activity.

72

The number of countries that outlaw it. The figure is down from 75 nations since May 2016. In 27 of the countries, the laws apply only to men. In the rest, they apply to men and women. A third of the countries — or 24 — with such laws are in Africa.

In Uganda, men suspected of being gay are sometimes subjected to forced anal exams to “prove” their homosexuality, according to a report last year by Human Rights Watch.

In some Muslim nations, moral interpretations of sharia law make homosexual acts illegal, “and individuals are then prosecuted under the regular penal code for debauchery, scandalous acts or the like,” Carroll said.

Egypt is included in the categories of countries that both allow and outlaw same-sex sexual activities. That’s because, although the Middle Eastern nation does not officially have such laws on the books (such activity is generally classified as debauchery, indecency, scandalous acts or propagation), the state is “one of the most hostile places on Earth for sexual diversity,” Carroll said. “Public expression regarding sexual diversity is also criminalized, and online activity is heavily policed.”

Hundreds of gay people have been jailed in Egypt, according to Erasing 76 Crimes, a blog that focuses on the human toll of laws hostile to LGBTQ people and the struggle to repeal them.

A man at the third annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, in 2014.
A man at the third annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, in 2014. (Rebecca Vassie / Associated Press)

26

The number of countries that allow same-sex couples to adopt children that are not biological offspring of one of the partners. In the last year, Austria, Finland and part of Australia have passed such laws.

The United States allows adoption by gay couples. But this month, the Texas House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to place children with families that go against their religious beliefs, including gay couples.

The bill would need approval from the state Senate and the governor’s signature to become law.

“The energy of the Trump era is very much opening the gateways for this kind of very regressive discourse,” Carroll said.

Greg Roling, center, and Larry Sandal take a stroll with their 9-month-old adopted daughter, Emmersyn Julia Roling, in Sioux Falls, S.D., in April 2017.
Greg Roling, center, and Larry Sandal take a stroll with their 9-month-old adopted daughter, Emmersyn Julia Roling, in Sioux Falls, S.D., in April 2017. (Jay Pickthorn / Associated Press)

25

The number of countries where it is forbidden to form, establish or register a nongovernmental organization that focus on issues related to sexual orientation or LGBTQ rights. Almost two dozen other countries have laws aimed at curtailing public expression and promotion of being LGBTQ through social media or other means.

Russia, for example, outlaws what it calls “the promotion of nontraditional values to minors,” Carroll said.

A recent increase in arrests and killings of gay men in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya has reportedly prompted many people to delete their online social media accounts for fear of persecution.

Last month, Amnesty International called for “urgent action” after reports of mass abductions and torture of gay men there.

Russian gay rights activists take part in a rally in central Moscow on May 6, 2017.
Russian gay rights activists take part in a rally in central Moscow on May 6, 2017. (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images)

23

The number of countries that allow same-sex marriage. It includes the United States, where in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that it was a right. Laws permitting such unions were enacted in Slovenia and Finland this year. An additional 28 nations, as well as Taiwan, recognize some sort of civil partnership.

People march in the Rainbow Pride parade in Tokyo on May 7, 2017.
People march in the Rainbow Pride parade in Tokyo on May 7, 2017. (Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP/Getty Images)

9

The number of countries, including Kosovo, that specifically mention sexual orientation in their constitution as grounds for protection against discrimination. Meanwhile, 72 countries have laws that forbid discrimination in the workplace due to a person’s sexual orientation, and 86 have national human rights institutions that include sexual orientation in the issues they handle.

8

The number of United Nations member states where a person can be put to death for participating in consensual sexual activity with someone of the same sex. They are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan, where the punishment is implemented statewide nation; Somalia and Nigeria, where the penalty exists only in certain provinces; and regions of Iraq and Syria that are held by the militant group Islamic State.

An additional five countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Mauritania and the United Arab Emirates — have this punishment on their books but don’t appear to impose it, according to the report. And in 14 other countries, people engaging in such activity could face a jail sentence of 14 years to life.

ann.simmons@latimes.com

April 30th 2017

April 30th, 2017

Bullying Is Driving LGBTQ People Out of Tech, Study Finds 

by John Paul Brammer (NBC OUT – April 29, 2017)

There has been no shortage of news coverage surrounding high-profile reports of harassment and discrimination in the tech industry. Most notably, perhaps, was the recent coverage of a former Uber engineer who detailed in a blog post the sexual harassment she said she experienced while working for the company. And just this week, secretive Silicon Valley company Palantir settled a lawsuit to resolve charges that it discriminated against Asian applicants.

While there are anecdotes aplenty of alleged discrimination and harassment in the tech industry, a recently released study by the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll seeks to provide analysis into how “toxic work environments” are contributing to women, people of color and LGBTQ employees leaving the sector. Among its key findings: Bullying is driving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees out of tech.

Image: Office
Westend61 / Getty Images

The Tech Leavers Study surveyed more than 2,000 professionals who voluntarily left a position in a tech-related industry within the last three years. It found LGBTQ employees were the most likely to be bullied (20 percent) and experience public humiliation or embarrassment (24 percent), both at significantly higher rates than non-LGBTQ employees (13 percent). Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ people surveyed (64 percent) said bullying contributed to their decision to leave their company.

“I was grossly underpaid, and my experiences of marginalization as a minority was dismissed by my manager, whose general disrespect and maltreatment of me caused high levels of stress and job dissatisfaction,” said a white, transgender engineer, who was quoted anonymously in the study.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates CEO Selisse Berry said bullying and harassing LGBTQ people at work “isn’t just wrong — it’s bad for business.”

“If LGBT people are being bullied at work, they aren’t able to be as productive, creative, or connected to their role and their workplace. How can our country be on the leading edge of technology if we’re still functioning with a 1950s view of who is welcome in the workplace?,” Berry said in a statement emailed to NBC Out.

So, what can companies do to address unfairness-based turnover in tech, which, according to the study, is a $16 billion a year problem? The report’s three main recommendations are: 1) Develop and implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies that start with “unequivocal leadership” from the executive team” 2) Create an inclusive culture, which includes identifying a set of core values and developing a code of conduct and 3) Develop effective and fair management processes, which include auditing compensation practices for potential biases.

It is important, however, to note that LGBTQ employment discrimination is not an issue unique to the tech industry. For example, research has shown LGBTQ people are generally less likely to be called back for job interviews, and currently only 20 states and Washington D.C. prohibit employer discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

March 13th – LGBTQ Art – 50 Years

March 13th, 2017

The article below is from NBC News – How One Romance Saved 50 Years of LGBTQ Art by Julie Compton

 

When New York City art collectors Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman were introduced at a brunch in the early 1960s, they were instantly attracted to each other.

“As the French say, it was a coup de foudre — lightning struck,” Leslie told NBC Out.

The attraction was purely physical at first, according to Leslie, then a 29-year-old performing artist from South Dakota. Lohman, an interior designer 11 years Leslie’s senior, had all the qualities he longed for in a lover: handsome, sophisticated, erudite and urbane.
Portrait of Charles W. Leslie (left) and J. Frederic “Fritz” Lohman (1922-2009), 2006, Digital Photograph. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum. Stanley Stellar
The men quickly fell in love over their mutual passion for homoerotic art. Together they would co-found the Leslie-Lohman Gay and Lesbian Art Museum, the world’s first museum dedicated to gay and lesbian art, according to its website.

“One of our great bonds was wherever we traveled — we traveled a great deal — was collecting work and hunting for work,” said Leslie, now 84 years old. “It’s amazing the amount we found stashed away in the back of stores and galleries and whatnot.”

Related: This Year’s 10 Must-See LGBTQ Art Shows

The men spent 50 years traveling the world in search of gay art. Much of what they found had been denied a presence in mainstream art venues — some of it homoerotic, some of it romantic, and some of it political, according to Leslie. He said gay artists typically created art for each other.

“It was kind of a friendly thing to do — draw an erotic piece or paint an erotic piece and give it to a friend,” Leslie explained. Artwork that was explicitly homoerotic was typically kept secret, he explained.

“Gay people have historically been denied the experience of seeing themselves in popular culture, so it’s always hidden,” he said. “And we felt that the time for that was over.”
Male Nude I, by Horst P. Horst (aka Horst), 1952 Gift of Ricky Horst / Collection of Leslie- Lohman Museum
In June 1969 — coincidentally, the same month of the New York City Stonewall Riots — the pair opened a small art studio in Manhattan dedicated to gay artists. A one-weekend art show attracted more than 300 people to its opening, Leslie said. But it would be decades before the collection would find acceptance within mainstream society. From federal officials who scoffed at their early attempts to apply for nonprofit status, to a knife-wielding vandal who slashed several paintings, the gallery had its setbacks, according to Leslie.

“Someone suggested we drop the word ‘gay’ out of [our name]. Instead of the ‘Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation,’ just call it the Leslie-Lohman Art Foundation. And I said, ‘That would be burying the whole point. I don’t want people to think it’s just another art foundation — I want them to know what it’s about,'” he explained.

With the help of a tenacious lawyer, the gallery was granted non-profit status in 1987. It was the height of the AIDS crisis, when many gay artists were dying. Family members would often destroy their artwork, Leslie said.

“We had a young architect from California who we knew and had a really excellent collection with several pieces of sculpture in it. Fritz and I stopped to see the collection on our way to Japan once,” Leslie said. A year later, a friend of the architect called them in desperation. The architect had passed away from AIDS complications, the friend said, and his mother and a priest were outside his apartment throwing his collection into a dumpster.

“There was nothing we could do,” Leslie said, exasperated. “The collection was destroyed.”
Untitled, by Jayson Keeling, 2007 Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum
Leslie and Lohman did save many works from artists and collectors who died during the epidemic, however, including paintings from Robert Bliss, an artist who drew “tender and beautiful paintings of late [male] adolescence,” according to Leslie. They also saved works from lesser-known artists.

“We had one young artist from Alabama or some such place. Beautiful artist and his work was beautiful — almost Japanese it was so gorgeous, and it involved some male nudity,” Leslie said. After the artist died, Leslie called his mother to tell her he had her son’s drawings left over from an art show.

“Her answer was, ‘Well, I don’t know why he wanted to draw them terrible pictures.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, we are responsible for them now, and if we can sell any, the money goes to you.’ Pause. Silence. And she said ‘How much?’ And I thought, ‘This tells us who they really are,'” Leslie said.

He said many artists and collectors who died during the AIDS epidemic were their close friends.

“We were constantly at bedsides and memorials,” Leslie said. “It felt like it was just never going to end.” One of their closest friends who died was artist George Dudley.

“He said, ‘Just promise me one thing, you’ll take care of my art.’ And of course, we have it. It’s part of the permanent collection,” Leslie said.
Trans-sissi, by Oree Holban, 2015 Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum
Leslie said the couple’s collection includes works from gay artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe and George Platt Lynes. He said they also collected works from lesbian and transgender artists, including Marion Pinto and Cupid Ojala.

One of Leslie’s most favorite pieces is Marion Pinto’s “Sleeping Church Nude.” “It’s a beautiful picture of a glowing interior of a cathedral, and in the foreground is a beautiful nude woman stretched out before the alter,” he said.

A nude dual portrait of the couple lying side by side — also by Marion Pinto — hangs above Leslie’s couch in his apartment. It was Lohman’s favorite piece, according to Leslie. Lohman died from cardiac arrest in 2009.

“I was absolutely adrift for a year,” Leslie said about Lohman’s death. “I could barely function for a while. But you know, life goes on.”
Installation view, Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting, at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 2017. Riya Lerner
The foundation officially became a museum in 2011, according to its website. It reopened in March after a major expansion, and contains a collection of over 30,000 objects. It’s become increasingly popular with the public, Leslie said.

“More and more straight people are visiting the museum, which I find wonderful,” he added.

The museum’s latest exhibit, “Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting,” includes 250 works from the Leslie-Lohman collection. It explores the evolution of the museum amid decades of shifting social conditions, according to its website.

“Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting” will be on display at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City until May 21.

The Right to Free Speech

February 16th, 2017

Considering out current political climate, I wanted to post the article below posted by the Authors Guild on February 16, 2017.

In this era of misinformation and threats to free expression the ability to speak openly and truthfully is more essential than ever. Concerned for what we view as a recent erosion of respect for First Amendment rights, we’ve commissioned a new series of short essays that will serve as a platform for authors to share their own stories. The following piece is a part of that series. We asked authors to respond to the prompt, “What does the First Amendment mean to you?” and, in the spirit of the First Amendment, we’ve encouraged the authors of these essays to give imaginative voice to what they believe these freedoms mean today. (The views expressed are of course solely those of the author and are not intended to reflect the Guild’s position on any issue.)

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Dissent Shall Set You Free
by T.J. Stiles

I am free to write these words, and you to read them, because of freed slaves. Without them, there would be no First Amendment as we know it.

Yes, the Founders had something to do with freedom of speech, and of press, religion, assembly, and petitioning the government. But not as directly as you probably think. The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law.” In 1833, Chief Justice John Marshall took “Congress” literally in Barron v. Baltimore, a case involving the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause. Referring to the Bill of Rights as a whole, he wrote, “These amendments contain no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments.” States could do as they liked.

And so many did. In New England, state support for churches persisted into the nineteenth century. Until after the Civil War, North Carolina required voters to profess faith in Christ. Southern states banned abolitionist literature and speeches. White Southern sensitivities about antislavery writings even led the postmaster general to ban them from the mail, and the U.S. House of Representatives to bar abolitionist petitions.

What breathed life into the First Amendment was a cycle of resistance, repression, and federal response, driven from the bottom up. It is a story of unintended consequences, beginning in the Civil War.

“All knew,” said Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address, that slavery “was somehow the cause of the war.” But neither side knew that the enslaved would take the initiative once fighting began. They conducted what historian Steven Hahn calls the greatest slave rebellion in history, to the astonishment of Southern whites. African Americans fled to Union lines, aided federal forces, and fought as soldiers. They progressively destroyed slavery in actual practice. Lincoln was a great man, but his Emancipation Proclamation followed where black people led.

After the Confederate defeat, many whites assumed that Southern society would be restored, minus only the legal technicality of slavery. Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson, declared, “White men alone must manage the South.” He did not consider it a controversial opinion.

But African Americans asserted themselves, personally and publicly. Black veterans returned home and refused to act like slaves. Freed people defied old masters. They left plantations to look for work and family, and organized schools for themselves as well as their children. They received support from Northerners such as Carrie Highgate, a black woman from Syracuse, New York. She lost a brother in battle during the war; afterward, she, her mother, and three siblings went to Mississippi to teach in the face of white hostility. Still other African Americans organized local political clubs, held mass meetings, and petitioned Congress.

Startled, white Southerners responded with repression. State governments authorized by President Johnson passed “black codes,” continuing many aspects of slavery. The Ku Klux Klan and similar groups killed or terrorized black leaders. In 1866, the police in Memphis clashed with black veterans and stormed black neighborhoods; in New Orleans, police assaulted a black political procession. Both incidents produced enormous casualties. From Kentucky to Louisiana, African Americans pleaded for federal protection.

Most Yankees were not racial egalitarians, but it infuriated them that former rebels could crush loyal blacks with impunity. President Johnson vetoed every bill that was intended to shield former slaves. But his intransigence, and Southern violence, united Republicans and pushed them further than they had ever imagined. They enacted Radical Reconstruction, a revolutionary program of political racial equality.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Freedmen’s Bureau Reauthorization, the Reconstruction Acts, the Enforcement Acts: This was the invention of civil rights, civil-rights enforcement, and the principle of race-neutral citizenship. African Americans became voters, jurors, state legislators, even congressmen and senators. The federal government enforced individual rights for the first time, prosecuting civil-rights and voter-suppression offenses.

It would not last, of course. In 1877, wartime belligerence had cooled, and Northern voters and politicians gave up on Reconstruction. It would take the civil rights movement of the twentieth century to revive it. But Congressional Republicans of the 1860s wrote their new principles into the Constitution. In the Fourteenth Amendment, they established a universal definition of citizenship, and guaranteed individual rights and equal protection of the law. This was more than a matter of racial equality, important as that was. It also turned the Constitution into an effective charter of civil liberties. John A. Bingham, perhaps the primary author of the amendment, told the House of Representatives that it “was simply a proposition to arm the Congress of the United States, by the consent of the people, with power to enforce the Bill of Rights.”

This was a clear statement that the drafters intended this amendment to apply the Bill of Rights to state as well as federal law. But the courts declined to recognize this doctrine of “incorporation,” as it’s called, for decades. Then, in 1920, New York state convicted a radical socialist named Benjamin Gitlow of publishing a tract that called for the overthrow of the government. The American Civil Liberties Union appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed his freedom of speech. In 1925, the court upheld his conviction, earning a dissent from Union army veteran Oliver Wendell Holmes—but it agreed with the ACLU’s argument about the Fourteenth Amendment and freedom of speech, and adopted the incorporation doctrine.

I think of this history when I write, when I challenge orthodoxy, when I challenge my own assumptions in my work. I am free because the poorest, the most oppressed, the most discontented in American society resisted. We are all free because the enslaved refused to be slaves, because the freed insisted on freedom, because uneducated, landless, and derided African Americans forced the nation to react to their struggle. Then, after that victory fell dormant, a left-wing revolutionary and his ACLU lawyers demanded that it be reawakened. The comfortable do not feel the limits of their freedom, and the conventional do not test them. It falls to slaves and radicals to free us all.

T.J. Stiles is a member of the Authors Guild Council. He has received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History, the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, a 2011 Guggenheim fellowship, and a 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

 

Date of Birth Unknown

February 4th, 2017

Check out my page – DOB Unknown  It is still a work in progress. I am listing individuals alphabetically.

Read about:

Andrew Ahn – a Korean-American independent film maker

Margarita Alcantara – a Filipino LGBT activist

The history and mythology of the Amazons

Dr. Robert H. Eichberg – co-founder of National Coming Out Day

Emperor Ai of Han – Chinese emperor famous for “the passion of the cut sleeve

Ifti Nasum – an openly gay Muslim Pakistani poet

Pine Leaf – Chief and warrior of the Crow Tribe

Clara Smith – African American blues singer

We’wha – a Zuni Native American of mixed-gender or Two Spirit

There are many more listed and more to come.

IBM’s New Symbol Supporting Diversity

January 11th, 2017

By Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer, IBM
IBM is proud of our long-standing commitment to fostering diversity, acceptance and inclusion. We strongly oppose discrimination of any kind toward anyone. IBM firmly stands by all of our employees and strives to attract, retain and grow the very best and brightest diverse talent to fulfill our company’s purpose — to be essential.

The new symbol of IBM’s commitment to diversity, acceptance and inclusion.
IBM established an equal pay policy for men and women in the 1930’s, and an equal opportunity policy 11 years before the Civil Rights Act became law. We were among the first companies to include sexual orientation as part of our Equal Opportunity policy, and we extended domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees in the U.S. almost 20 years ago. And our progress has not stopped. We now offer a variety of benefits in 53 countries to same-gender domestic partners or spouses. This year alone we announced the launch of same-gender partner benefits in 11 countries.
Today, I am proud to introduce a new symbol that will represent IBM’s ongoing push for diversity, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunity – a rainbow version of our iconic 8-bar logo. The rainbow is recognized worldwide as the symbol of LGBT equality, and we are proud to fuse it with the emblem that has represented our company for more than four decades. This is a demonstration of IBM’s continuing efforts to advance and influence nondiscrimination workplace policies consistent with basic human rights. The logo will be used in conjunction with diversity focused IBM programs and initiatives, and also in our pro-diversity advocacy.
The colors of the IBM rainbow logo design were adopted from the original rainbow colors designed by artist Gilbert Baker and commissioned by civic and cultural icon, Harvey Milk, shortly before his assassination. Baker’s design was created to be a symbol for the gay rights movement. Inspired by the Flag of the Races, Baker’s design consisted of 8 stripes of color, each representing a different aspect of humanity. The design was used for the first rainbow flags that were hand-dyed and debuted at the Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day march held on June 25, 1978.
For nearly its entire history, IBM has been a progressive leader in diversity, advocacy and innovation. We proudly pay tribute to Baker’s original vision in the adaptation of our corporate logo as a way to demonstrate our solidarity, support and continued commitment to the rights of the LGBT community.
(Editor’s Note: the IBM 8-bar logo, developed by graphic design pioneer Paul Rand, was introduced more than 40 years ago.

Cherokee Nation & Same-Sex Marriage

December 9th, 2016

On Decemer 9th, 2016, the Cherokee Nation recognizes same-sex marriage.

Todd Hembree, the tribe’s attorney general wrote, “The right to marry without the freendom to marry the person of one’s choice is no right at all. The history of perpetual partnerships and marriage among Cherokees supports the conclusion that Cherokee citizens have a fundamental right not only to choose a spouse but alos, with mutual consent, to join together and form a household irrespective of sexual orientation. Our oral history teaches us also that the Cherokee and Euro-American worldviews differed dramatically regarding appropriate gender roles, marriage, sexuality, and spiritual beliefs. Indeed, while the majority of Cherokees subscribe to the tranditional gender roles, evidence suggest a tradition of homosexuality or alternative sexuality among a minority of Cherokees.”

The decision took place immediately.

Post Election Blues

November 9th, 2016

Posting the letter from Equality California. It sums up my feelings and I’m sure many others. We will get through this. Stay strong.

equality-california
Equality California

We are deeply saddened and disappointed at the outcome of the presidential election — in which Donald Trump was apparently elected as the 45th president of the United States.

Given Mr. Trump’s choice of a running mate and prior statements about his intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act, round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants – many of whom are LGBT — and to appoint Supreme Court justices who would reverse marriage equality and thwart LGBT civil rights protections, we must brace ourselves for the challenges we will face with a Donald Trump presidency.

We must remember that our community has overcome serious obstacles and challenges in the past through education, organizing, building partnerships and appealing to the best in the American people.

Equality California will remain vigilant and continue to advocate for full equality and social justice for our community both inside and outside California.

After a campaign that played on racism, sexism, religious intolerance and division, our focus will be to advance the values of respect, tolerance and inclusion for LGBT people and all the communities that we are a part of.

In solidarity,

Rick Zbur
Executive Director
Equality California

VOTE!

November 7th, 2016

V O T E!

If you want to keep the LGBT rights we’ve gained, it’s important that you vote up and down ticket Democrat.

A New Shelter for LGBT Homeless Youth

August 31st, 2016

Thank you, Bea Arthur

LGBT Homeless 5 - Bea Arthur

The Bea Arthur Residence, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth named for the Golden Girls star, will officially open in 2017. The shelter was made possible because of the generous donation from her estate, which gave $300,000 to the Ali Forney LGBT homeless 1Center after the actress died in 2009.

The Ali Forney Center is located in New York City and is dedicated to serving homeless LGBT youth in New York City. The new 18 bed shelter is slated to be finished in February 2017.

Most of us have been fortunate to have a family and a home. Unfortunately, that is not true for a lot of LGBT youth. Forty-two percent of homeless youth are LGBT. 

The number one reason they are homeless is family rejection or abuse, largely because of their family’s religious beliefs. Their parents throw them out. We think LGBT homeless 3that most of the homeless are in the big cities, like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, but this problem also exists in small to mid-sized cities and towns across the country. The South is especially troubling, since much of the funding and grants available to assist the homeless is earmarked for faith-based initiative charities, many who are unwilling to help the LGBT community. 

The major reasons homeless youth cite for remaining homeless, include lack of affordable housing options, incomplete education, inaccessible job market and on-LGBT Homeless 5going drug use. 

If you or someone you know needs assistance, I found the following websites: True Colors Fund (started by Cyndi Lauper) look under Resources – there’s a True Inclusion Directory; Lambda Legal has Resources for LGBTQ Youth by State: and GLBTNearMe.org The GLBT National Resource Database.

Alice Austen House

August 22nd, 2016

An LGBT Place to Visit

The Alice Austen House, also known as Clear Comfort is located at 2 Hylan Blvd., Alice Austen HouseStaten Island, New York City, New York. It was the home of Alice Austen born March 17, 1866. For over 40 years she photographed the daily life of the people of New York producing about 8,000 photographs.

In 1899 Alice met Gertrude Amelia Tate (1871-1962). Gertrude was a kindergarten teacher and dancing instructor in Brooklyn, New York. She became Alice’s lifelong companion. The couple spent holidays together in Europe and in 1917, Alice Asten 2Gertrude moved in with Alice at Clear Comfort, overriding her family’s objection over her “wrong devotion” to Alice.

The house Alice lived in was originally built in the 1690s or early 1700s as a one-room Dutch Colonial House. The house was remodeled and expanded several times in the 1800s. John Taggerty Austen, Alice’s grandfather, purchased the house and remodeled it in 1844. He also renamed the house and called it Clear Comfort.

In 1970, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places and Alice Austen 3became a New York City Landmark in 1971. New York City purchased the house in 1975 and opened it to the public. In 1993 it became a National Historic Landmark, and in 2002, it became a Historic Home and Studio. About 300 photographs by Alice are on display.

The Alice Austen House hosts school programs, including photography summer camps and day trips for classes of all age groups.

I hope to visit this landmark myself someday. Love the history.Alice Austen 4

 

August 2nd, 2016

Thank You Rodney Wilson

LGBT History Month would not exist without Missouri history high school teacher Rodney Wilson. In 1994, at the age of 29, he Rodney Wilsoncame out to his class. He had been teaching about the Holocaust and told his class he could have been killed for being gay had he lived during that time.

Wilson is the founder of what is now known as LGBT History Month. He and a close friend wrote proposals to advocacy groups, including the Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Education Association. October was chosen because it already LGBT History Month 2

Wilson stated in an interview with The Advocate, “I looked to LGBT history for precisely the same anchors I had searched for my entire life — meaning, purpose and support. And LGBT history gave me self-confidence as a gay person and strengthened my resolve to live, as best I could, an honest, open and integrated life. It gave me a deeper sense of place and potential.”

October 1994 was recognized as the first annual LGBT History LGBT History Month 3Month and has been celebrated every year since.

July 15th, 2016

Buried in History

Clara Smith was an African-American blues singer. Born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina in 1894. By the late 1910s she was appearing as a Clara Smith 3headliner at the Lyric Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana and on the T.O.B.A (Theatre Owners Booking Association for African American performers) circuit. Often referred to as ” Tough on Black Artists” by the black performers. In 1923 she moved to Harlem where she worked in cabarets and theaters. Smith also began recording exclusively for Columbia records. She was billed as Queen of the Moaners. Taking a fancy to Josephine Baker, she insisted that the manager, Bob Russell, of the Booker T. Washington Theatre hire her. According to an associate of Russell’s, Baker became Smith’s “lady Clara Smith 1lover.” Smith also played a significant role in Baker’s career by introducing her to “black glamour.” Smith worked with first rate jazz musicians like, Fletcher Henderson, James P. Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman. She also recorded three duets with Bessie Smith. Though they were not related, they were close personal friends until Bessie got drunk one evening in 1925 and beat up Clara. In 1933 Clara moved to Detroit, Michigan, and worked at theaters in revues until she was hospitalized in early 1935 for heart disease. She died of heart failure at the age of 40. 

Pride

June 9th, 2016

Pride 2For me, it’s not about being proud, it’s about being myself. I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s when gay people were considered sick, deviant and something to fear. To be out was to be cast out. There was something else going on during those turbulent times, there was an exciting underground swell of rebellion and awareness happening across the country, and it all led to Stonewall.

 

Like most gay people, I was raised by straight parents. We went to a standard brand church where Pride 3homosexuals were doomed to hell and damnation. Looking back, I realize that all the people that were afraid of me didn’t know any better, after all, we were considered mentally ill by the APA up until Dec. 4th 1973 then on Dec. 5th 1973 we were magically “cured.”

 

 

LGBT people demanded and stood up for their civil rights and that’s something to celebrate. As we came out to our parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, they began to see us not as Pride 1monsters that preyed on children, but as “normal” people. Of course—and speaking for myself—this took some time. The closet is for coat hangers. Kick the hinges off the doors, storm out, and bring with you your own authenticity and make the world better by being you.

My sexual orientation is gay, but now, it’s like being left handed. One day we will move beyond labels, when we realize we’re all the same but different.

Dorothy Buhrman
Guest Blogger

Version 2

Asif Kapadia’s Amy Winehouse Documentary

May 9th, 2016

Amy WinehouseA person’s sexuality plays a big part on how you perceive the world and how others perceive you. I recently watched the documentary on Amy Winehouse directed by Asif Kapadia, released in July 2015. I was disappointed that the director didn’t think her bisexuality was an important part of Amy’s life.

Since when is a person’s sexual orientation not an important aspect of yourself? When a documentary or biography leaves out the person’s sexuality it distorts the real story. Can you imagine reading about Gertrude Stein and not know about Alice B. Toklas. Or, read about Rock Hudson, who was once married to a woman and not know that he was gay?

Amy Winehouse 3Amy spoke openly about her bisexuality to the press. Her song Addicted was about being with a girl and sharing a joint — not wanting the girl’s boyfriend to be around. She also said she found women very satisfying. Winehouse put sexy girl tattoos on her body, saying, “ I like pin-up girls. I’m more boy than a girl.” She also said, “I don’t care what people think about me being bi — I do what feels good.”

That’s the complete picture of a fantastic singer that unfortunately was addicted to drugs and alcohol, as well as being bulimic. Including in the documentary that Amy Winehouse was bisexual makes it easier for other LGBT people to accept themselves and to be acknowledged by others. It was shortsighted that the director didn’t see how important it was to show all of Amy.

Amy Winehouse 4Equality and acceptance here in the US and worldwide for the LGBT community is still an ongoing conflict. Since we have achieved marriage equality, over one-hundred anti-gay bills have been introduced or passed in twenty-two states.
When people know that we are part of their families, friends and co-workers, it changes their stereotypes about us and gives them a fresh insight to who we really are. It’s important that biographers and documentarians open the closet doors and offer a genuine perspective on their subject.

 

 

 

LGBT Homelessness

March 6th, 2016

fxapqhbliqtvpr7w19ycyeov9cj1yz9lsqh85fdygg01ld3z5amsdgeyaqveeunj-fLGBT people have the right to marry, many of us, straight and gay, think we are now thought of as equal. That is not true.

Most of us have been fortunate to have a family and a home. Unfortunately, that is not true for a lot of LGBT youth. Forty-two percent of homeless youth are LGBT.

The number one reason they are homeless is family rejection or abuse, largely because of their family’s religious beliefs. Their parents throw them out. We think that most of the homeless are in the big cities, like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, but this problem also exists in small to mid-sized cities and towns across the country. The South is especially troubling, since much of the funding and grants available to assist the homeless is earmarked for faith-based initiative charities, many who are unwilling to help the LGBT community.

The major reasons homeless youth cite for remaining homeless, include lack of affordable housing options, incomplete education, inaccessible job market and on-going drug use.

Statistically thirty-three percent of all teen suicides are LGBT.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, I found the following websites: True Colors Fund (started by Cyndi Lauper) look under Resources – there’s a True Inclusion Directory; Lambda Legal has Resources for LGBTQ Youth by State: and GLBTNearMe.org The GLBT National Resource Database.