The Bulldog Pride Fund at Fresno State Presents

AND THEN CAME TANGO

Feb. 27 and 28, 2015

The Painted Table • Tower District • Fresno

And Then Came Tango
The play tells the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The couple is given a discarded egg, hatch it, and raise the baby chick, Tango, as their own. Suitable for 1st graders and up. Two performance only. Limited seating. Free parking.

Proceeds benefit the BULLDOG PRIDE CLUB + BULLDOG PRIDE FUND at Fresno State.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS REQUIRED: 559.278.2586 • www.bulldogpride.org

Today only!  Watch Transparent on Amazon for FREE, no membership required.

Also today only, save nearly 30% on an Amazon Prime membership!  Use the link below to help support Gay Fresno:

Join for only $72, regularly $99.  If you have an existing Amazon prime membership, you can send yourself a gift membership code at this space price and enter it when your current membership expires. Win - Win!

 

Bryan-OliverA teenager charged with shooting a classmate in the chest at his central California high school two years ago accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors Friday for a 27-year sentence in state prison.

Bryan Oliver, 18, pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted murder in wounding the student, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

Under the agreement, Oliver will be eligible for release on parole after 13 years.

In January 2013, Oliver, then 16, entered Taft Union High School in Kern County armed with a shotgun, shot a classmate and fired at a second before dropping the weapon, authorities said.

Continue reading...

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outside-the-box

Cancer . . . just hearing the word makes us squirm—especially when we hear this: "You have a very fast-growing prostate cancer."

Six weeks ago, I was sitting in my doctor’s office with my partner Ernie, hearing those exact words. Beginning that day, my world became a whirlwind of various tests, then surgery, followed bv weeks of being trapped in a bed or chair with drain tubes and bags needing to be changed every few hours.

The good news is that the surgery to remove my prostate was successful, and follow-up radiation and hormone therapy promise to ensure no traces of cancer remain. I'm at home now recovering well, lavished with love and concern (and more food than I know what to do with), thanks to a wonderful network of family and friends.

When I shared what I was going through with editor and life-long friend Ted Fleischaker, he suggested I skip last month's column then make my next feature a memoir recounting my experiences. So, here goes . . .

Lots of us may wonder at times what we would do if we were ever confronted with a diagnosis of cancer. As for me, I've imagined myself bravely doing "whatever it took" to vanquish the disease, even trying experimental drugs that hadn’t been approved yet for use on humans. I've fantasized melodramatic scenarios where I refused debilitating treatments in favor of cherishing what little quality time I had left with loved ones.

When the time actually came, of course, none of these things happened. Instead I found myself taking a deep breath, reaching for Ernie’s hand, then calmly exploring treatment options with my physician. Admittedly my cool exterior disguised the fact that my heart was pounding wildly. However I managed to keep my act together until the consultation was over and we had a clear treatment plan — an immediate prostatectomy.

There were some tears on the ride home as Ernie and I discussed how to tell the kids, and more tears when I actually did talk to them later that day. However both my kids are strong, optimistic people, so we were able to comfort each other with reminders that we had caught the cancer early and the prognosis was good.

The Religion News Service has reported the formation of a new organization called — And I am not making this up — Evangelicals for Marriage Equality. It was launched on Tuesday and immediately began collecting signatures from evangelicals who support same-sex marriage. Its advisory board includes several evangelical luminaries: author and speaker Brian McLaren, former National Association of Evangelicals vice president Richard Cizik and former USAID faith adviser Chris LaTondresse.

Some of you may recall news articles awhile back, when Cizik resigned from his position with the National Association of Evangelicals, citing his support for same-sex civil unions.

It is immensely heartening to see significant evangelicals come to a realization that if the institution of marriage is good for society, and good for opposite-sex couples, it should be equally good for same-sex couples. This new organization is yet another expression of the growing recognition that fidelity and stability require social acceptance — that when you demonize people, when you deny them respect and equal civil rights, you are encouraging destructive behaviors.

So — you may be late to the party, Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, but we certainly welcome you.

That said, there may also be an element of self-preservation in this sudden turnaround. Over the past few years, membership in these conservative churches has been declining. Young Christians, especially, have rejected a theology that seemed to place homophobia at the very center of its belief structure.

Polling has confirmed that the demographic split that characterizes the broader American society is equally pronounced among adherents of conservative and evangelical Christianity. Not that young evangelicals are leading the charge to embrace equal rights for their lesbian, gay, bi & trans peel's, but they are demonstrably less homophobic than their elders and changing (for the better) with dizzying rapidity.

rainbow-pcWill that be wheat or white? Sweet tea or unsweetened? Cash or charge? Debit or credit? Whole milk or 2%?

Every day in life we are faced with choices and often subconsciously make them, but few are going to be as long-lasting or as costly (or money-saving) as all the ones which seem to be bombarding us now with the advent of the new iPhone 6 and the Droids which are on the market. What I refer to is not only the choice of changing phones and upgrading (now or later) but the wide and ever-widening choice of calling plans and packages which almost all of the major providers are just going nuts to sell us.

Do you want to just wait for the two-year “old standard” time frame and then upgrade? There's a plan for that.

Rather have that iPhone 6 now, but have months left on the “old" 5C or Droid you bought last year? Plans for that.

Wanna pay nothing now, but willing to get a few extra bucks a month added to the cell bill in trade for upgrading to the latest, greatest now? They got that.

And what about upgrading now to an iPhone 6, then getting to upgrade again next year or anytime something new arrives? Yep, there’s a plan for that out there, too.

But as Don Pardo used to say on The Price Is Right: “That's not all, Bill!"

There are now a myriad of plans based around not what most folks think of a cell phone for at all — calling — but based on data (browsing, texts, etc.) as the major firms have started a data price war. While there are no bullets flying, there are offers in every newspaper, mailbox and on every TV and radio station promising everything from free calls from Europe and Canada to unlimited data and even cash being dangled to buy you out of that old plan you might have elsewhere.

So what to do? What option to take?

Prop 8 attorney David Boies sat down with Bloomberg's John Heilemann yesterday to go over the Supreme Court's decision to review the four gay marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit.

 

 

finances-in-focus

As an investor, you may find that the elements of your portfolio that seem to draw most of your attention are stocks and bonds. After all, these investment vehicles, and others derived from them, provide you with potential growth and income opportunities — which is why you invest in the first place. Yet, you also may find significant value in a more humble financial asset: cash. In fact, you might be surprised at the various ways in which the cash, and cash equivalents, in your portfolio can help you complete your financial picture.

One way to understand the uses of cash is to look at the “USES" of cash. In other words, consider the acronym USES:

—         U for Unexpected expenses and emergencies — You’ll need sufficient cash for situations such as a job loss, a home repair or an unplanned medical expense. During your working years, you should keep three to six months' worth of living expenses in a cash account specifically designed to meet unexpected expenses. Once you're retired, you may be able to get by on a smaller emergency fund — up to three months' worth of living expenses, although you will need more for everyday spending.

—         S for Specific short-term savings goal — Are you anticipating a big expense —a wedding (once they become legal), a week in Palm Springs, a down payment on a new home, etc. — sometime within the next few years? If so, you'll want to set aside sufficient cash, with the exact amount depending on your specific short-term goal.

—         E is for Everyday spending — It goes without saying that you'll need adequate cash for your everyday spending needs — groceries, utilities, entertainment, mortgage/ debt payments, and so on. Of course, while you're working, you will probably handle most of these costs with your pay checks, but you may still need to set aside one or two months' worth of living expenses.

Once you're retired, though, it's a somewhat different story. While your expenses may go down in some areas (such as costs associated with employment such as uniforms, dress clothes or commuting to and from the job), they are likely to go up in others (such as health care). So your overall cost of living may not drop much, if at all. Consequently, it may be a good idea to set aside 12 months' worth of living expenses, after incorporating other sources of income, such as Social Security and outside employment.

The Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the national debate over same-sex marriage once and for all.

The justices will consider four cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, consolidated and heard together. They will hear 2 1/2 hours of oral arguments in April and issue a ruling before the current term ends in late June.

The new challenges to gay marriage bans are destined to become even more of a landmark than those decided by the court in 2013 — United States v. Windsor, which forced the federal government to recognize gay marriages, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which made California the 13th state to allow them.  Join the Marriage Equality USA Community Call tonight to hear more:

 SCOTUS WILL

PecsnCity

When you step into a boxing ring, you know what’s coming. Trust me. The wet slap of a glove in your eye socket, the jaw-rattling right cross that shakes your teeth inside your mouth guard, the blows that rain across your ribs and abs and the bum of the ropes on your back when you are corralled by your opponent. The pain is real and bright and you knew it was waiting for you. It's kind of like the feeling right before you get a shot or have a cavity filled. You know what’s coming, you see the needle and the pain follows, just like it is supposed to.

No one wants to see pain coming, and as you live your life day-to-day, you spend most of it avoiding any unnecessary discomfort. When the time comes that you meet someone who ignites your heart, you automatically follow suit and do what you have to do to avoid any pain.

Everyone has something to hide. Whether it's a secret crush or a hidden rage or a crippling emotional problem, it can lay buried beneath layers of money and designer clothes, well-honed muscle and sexual prowess or a frozen smile that masks the real feeling inside.

Sometimes our true nature bubbles to the surface — usually when we least expect it. The crush is revealed after a couple of drinks, the rage is ignited over a tiny slight or the emotional barrier stays steadfast even though you are in the warm, safe confines of a relationship.

So why do we hide the things that make us human? Why do we hide the beat of our heart and the truth in our soul? Because we are all afraid of getting hurt.

So how do we avoid the pain? Some people become someone else, leaving their true nature behind to make someone happy. They deny who they really are to become someone else; someone they believe is the one their partner wants. That's not to say that some people can't keep an open mind and try new things with a new partner, but some people completely transform themselves into a false representation of who they are and what they want in order to keep the relationship alive.

Some people say things they don't mean because they believe it's what the other person wants to hear.

They say: “I love you” when they are not sure if that’s what they are feeling.

They say: “That sounds fun", even though it's something they hate.

They say: “Everything's fine” even though it isn't.

Saying everything is fine is something we do every day. People say: “How are you?" and we say: “Fine, thanks”, even when we are the furthest thing from it. Can you imagine if everyone answered honestly when they were asked how they were doing? No one would get anything done, and we would end up sharing our personal lives with complete strangers. Maybe that is why we do it.

When someone you don't know asks you how you are doing, what do you think they would say if you said: “My dog just died” or "My boyfriend just broke up with me” or even if you went the other direction and said: “I'm awesome — I just got a blowjob in the parking lot of the gym”. The reason is that “fine" is what people want to hear. So that’s our programmed response. To hide how we truly feel.

We hide things in other ways, too. A crush on someone you see every day in the gym or behind the counter at a bookstore or a coffee shop or even walking past your window. Do we say anything? Not likely. And why is that? To avoid the pain of being rejected or finding out they are already connected or even the fact that they don’t share your sexuality. So we say nothing and daydream of what it would be like to talk to them, to hold their hand or to kiss them as rain pours down around you.

The problem with this situation is simple: what if none of that is true? What if they are just like you, timing their workouts to coincide with yours, drinking coffee they don't even want just to see you or taking the route past your window in hopes that one day you will say something? Hiding from pain means losing the opportunity to find something spectacular in another human being.

fifth-circuit-new-orleans-250x250There are several great summaries out there about what happened at the Fifth Circuit, which heard marriage equality appeals from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Among others, I recommend the summaries from Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade and Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed. I would like to go one step deeper. I have listened to the audio from the oral argument (as you can too, here). As with other oral arguments, I find the most insightful indication of how a judge is leaning is not the number of questions asked or to which lawyer he asks more, but the language and tone of those questions. I found that especially true with Judge Higginbotham (pictured, right) on Friday.

When analyzing oral arguments, I always caution that any connection between a judge’s questions and his or her ultimate decision is purely speculative. There are court-watchers who do studies about these things. But my reports on marriage equality hearings at the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, not to mention at the Supreme Court, suggest that we can draw conclusions. On all the metrics, it looks like marriage equality will win the day at the Fifth Circuit.

First, I will discuss those metrics. Then I will discuss where we go from here.

Questions Asked To Lawyers. This metric is based on the notion that appellate court judges tend to ask more questions to the side of the argument they are inclined to oppose. That makes some sense: you ask questions because you are skeptical. As a related point, the side peppered with more questions presumably has the tougher case to make, which makes it more likely to lose. Sometimes, a judge will lob a helping hand at a beleaguered attorney, but you can bracket those and come up with a simple analysis.

See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

la-na-gay-marriage-1950s-books-composite-jpg-20150109The road to gay rights at the U.S. Supreme Court began not in San Francisco or New York, but in a small downtown Los Angeles office, where volunteer writers and editors in 1953 launched a new “magazine for homosexuals.”

ONE, as it was called, offered thoughtful articles, defiant editorials and none of the racy photos or sex ads often found in the gay press. “The first issue was sold in bars in the Los Angeles area for 25 cents, about the price of a draft beer,” said Michael C. Oliveira, an archivist at the magazine’s archives housed at the USC Library.

Yet in an era when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was routing out “sex deviates” from the government and homosexuality was a crime in every state, the journal quickly drew negative attention, culminating with a U.S. Post Office ban of the magazine as “obscene.” The cover story of the first issue censored by the postmaster proved decades ahead of its time, asking “Homosexual Marriage?”

To the rescue came a young, straight California attorney fresh out of law school.

See the Full Story at The Los Angeles Times

hysteriaI feel compelled to write this. I'm tired of seeing the oil lobby's propaganda (and influence over economy) spill onto people's timelines via shoddy reporting by journalists after sensationalist stories. Yes, prices for gas in California have recently gone up. However, slamming the state's climate change law (2004's AB 32 - which was also upheld by California voters in 2010) is not only ignorant and wrong - it's narrow-minded. For one, oil companies making a stir can cause prices to rise...which is exactly what they want to happen so there will be widespread public backlash. But not so fast.

A couple of years ago, Media Matters posted a brilliant smack-down of misinformation from the right-leaning Orange County Register. The paper's claim was common among the American right: Tackling climate change will kill the economy so we shouldn't do anything. Except that's not correct. At all.

In fact, as the post pointed out, climate change policies not only save consumers money, they boost the economies where they are implemented. I highly recommend a read-through of the post - it's informative and relevant now more than ever. Read it here.

If you aren't able to at this time, here's a quick overview some of the facts:

  • Cap-and-Trade policies are the best market-centered ways to decrease pollution and greenhouse gasses (via California Legislative Analyst's Office, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, International Emissions Trading Association, and the EPA)
  • Consumers will end up saving money (via the California Air Resources Board, a UCLA study, and a Stanford University study)
  • Existing Cap-and-Trade laws have resulted in economic booms (via the EPA, the California Air Resources Board, and economic consulting firm Analysis Group)
  • Cap-and-Trade (prior to the recent Frankenstein-esque rise of the Tea Party) has had bipartisan support across the country

Don't be swayed by Big Energy's misinformation. Cap-and-Trade is the most market-friendly, cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The planet is warming, feedback loops are being tripped and time is quickly running out to avoid the worst of climate change. Renewable energy is in the midst of a revolution, but this is still the time to rise above partisanship and pseudoscience - the planet depends on us to do so.

AFER’s Matt Baume reports on Florida’s marriage status, the Supreme Court’s upcoming meeting to decide whether or not to consider gay marriage cases, Arkansas officials continuing to drag their feet, new poll numbers in Pennsylvania and more.

We’re four days into the new year and Internet writers have found the latest thing to be faux outraged at: Madonna. Is this pre-Internet 1984? Or 1989? Or 1992?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what’s happened, let me fill you in. Last month, dozens of demos from Madonna’s upcoming album Rebel Heart leaked to the Internet. The Queen of Pop was obviously pretty pissed and as a response, she and her team released six tracks from Rebel as part of a pre-order (more music is coming next month and the full album release is scheduled for March, 10th).

Leelah-AlcornI will never forget the stunning image of Matthew Shepard’s hate crime. A young beautiful human was beaten, tortured and left for dead in an unthinkable violation. It shocked me when I saw the images, and I was not alone. Matthew’s fate left and indelible impression that has become part of our collective culture to this day.

This week, another tragedy, another life destroyed, left a similar impression — the death of Leelah Alcorn.

One of the publishers I work with sent me a quick message on New Years Eve. “You might want to write one of your ‘Gay Dad’ letters to the parents of this teen.” It was Leelah’s story. She was known to her family as “Joshua,” and she had killed herself.

A pre-published letter appeared online. In the letter she eloquently explained why she was going to end her life in more emotional detail. While certainly many other young people had ended their lives before her, Leelah’s account of what she had endured was unprecedented.

In doing so, Leelah transformed from the latest tragedy to one that emblazed into the consciousness of a mass audience. Her plead to “make her death matter” resonated.

By Rob Watson – See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

Costa-Rica-250x250A California caterer who refuse to serve a gay couple for their wedding might be small enough to avoid any consequences.

On Top Magazine reports:

A California catering business that refused to serve a gay couple might be small enough to avoid the state’s anti-discrimination laws… Zimmerman’s catering company, Janet Zimmerman Catering, operates mainly on Facebook, possibly making her outfit too small to be subject to California’s anti-discrimination laws. “The law does make a distinction” between a service and a business establishment, David Hakimfar, a West Hollywood attorney, told The Advocate.

Should size matter? Is discrimination not discrimination? OTM notes the couple is not currently suing.

 

Recognize-HPV-in-MenAuthor’s note: This article contains information on the human papilloma virus (HPV), its treatment, and its vaccine.  The author in no way intends the information to be used to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and should not be construed as an attempt to practice medicine.  All medical conditions should be evaluated on a case by case basis by a licensed medical practitioner.  The facts presented in the article were obtained from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Gay/Lesbian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Cancer Institute, and the Food and Drug Administration.  Any opinions made are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GayFresno, its owners, affiliates, and/or subsidiaries.  Again, you should ALWAYS consult a licensed medical practitioner before making decisions about your health.

 

                A few months back I saw a video of a woman giving this ridiculous speech about “homosexuals.”  After watching it, I remember thinking to myself that this woman must be insane.  She made several ludicrous points which included: gays convert children by touching them, the “sin” attracts natural disasters, and we spread colon cancer.  Now, make no mistake that I still think the woman is nuts, but I did find that she may have been close to an actual truth with the last of her comments.  First of all, let me make this very clear:  You cannot spread colon cancer with anal sex.   However, I did say she was close.  This article should help to clarify things.

                In recent years there have been a growing number of cases of anal cancers directly related to the human papilloma virus (HPV).  For decades HPV has been linked to female reproductive cancers, and it’s no secret that anal warts have been around for some time, but these latest findings are telling a new story.  Before we get into the details of the findings, let’s take a moment and define some terminology.

                There is some misconception about the anus and what it is.  Most people think it’s just the “exit” hole and sphincter.  The fact is the anus is actually a much larger area than just the external exit.  The anus starts at the bottom of the rectum, the last portion of the colon (large intestine.)  The anorectal line separates the anus from the rectum, making up the last 2 to 4 centimeters of the lower gastrointestinal tract.  For the purpose of this article, when I refer to anus, I am referring to the entire area.   A papilloma is generally a benign epithelial tumor, resembling a skin tag or “nipple.”  With that said, let’s move on to the condition.

                The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a DNA virus (meaning that it uses DNA to replicate) that typically infects the mucous membranes.  There are more than 150 known types of HPV though the majority does not cause symptoms in humans.  More than 30 of those cause benign papillomas, genital warts, and infections that can lead to precancerous lesions and invasive cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, oropharynx, and anus.  Fifteen of those have been classified as carcinogenic “high-risk” sexually transmitted HPVs.  Additionally, HPV has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

                With those numbers in mind, I began asking myself who was at risk.  Can we do anything about it?  Are there treatments or preventative measures?  A little research turned up some even more disturbing information.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that “Anyone who is having (or has ever had) sex can get HPV.  HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women get it at some point in their lives. This is true even for people who only have sex with one person in their lifetime.”  (I have to admit that seems a little scary.)  It can be passed from person to person through oral sex, genital to genital contact, anal sex, or vaginal intercourse.  The virus can be spread with or without symptoms and affects both heterosexual and homosexual couples.  In rare cases, pregnant women may even pass the viruses on to an infant during delivery.  An individual can contract more than one type of HPV.  HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States.   The statistics for females having HPV and HPV-related cancers are staggering, but what is less commonly known is that more and more men are experiencing complications from these infections, including cancer.  Each year an average of 1900 men are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer of the penis or anus, and the numbers are growing exponentially.  Gay and bisexual men are 17 times more likely to develop HPV-related anal cancers than men who only have sex with women.   Additionally, individuals with compromised immune systems (those with HIV or those who take immune-suppressing medications) are at an even higher risk.  In 2010, there were 5300 new cases of anal cancer directly related to HPV and a little more than 700 deaths by the same.  Those numbers have increased by 73% in the last 3 years.  Of the men in those cases, more than half were gay and bisexual men.

                I’m blown away.  I remember hearing my parents talk about the “big VDs” when they were in school:  gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and chlamydia.   Then, when I was in elementary school and junior high, the terminology changed from venereal disease to sexually transmitted disease, and the focus had shifted to HIV/AIDS.  We’d have 10 or 15 sentences in a textbook about the ones from my dad’s generation, and then page after page about HIV.  Now, with the advances in medicine and better understanding of conditions, we’ve become almost as casual about AIDS as we have the clap.  Here we are in the 21st century, and I’m looking in my son’s health textbook, and the chapter on STDs is miniscule.  Looking at the numbers for HPV, I have to wonder if we did this to ourselves.  Our casual outlook on sex and the infections associated with it has without a doubt contributed to the rise of something more sinister: a disease that can lay dormant for decades while innocuously being transmitted by minor sexual contact; a disease that can lead to cancer.  Genital warts have been around for centuries, and people looked at them as…nothing, a simple blemish.  Misconceptions about their fungal counterparts and a primitive school of thought have allowed this virus to grow and evolve into a new monster.  We are engineering the icon of our destruction through complacency and foolishness. My readers might find that a bit extreme, but consider this:  a virus that nearly all of the human population is infected with can mutate and evolve over a very short span of time to establish a potentially lethal cancer in an otherwise healthy body.  I believe it is that serious.

                Apparently, there are those in the medical field who share my concern for the growing number of cases of HPV in this country.  New treatments are becoming more available and preventative measures are being established and debated.  The newest of these prevention tactics allies with the FDA’s green-light for a vaccine that not only helps protect women from reproductive cancers related to HPV, but also helps to prevent anal cancer.  Gardasil has been approved for children and young adults from ages 9 to 26.  The administration of the vaccine is proving to lower the number of cancer-related HPV infections in those age categories.  The vaccine, while still in its infancy, is essential to bringing an end to the spread of HPV.  As more and more individuals are vaccinated, we should see a gradual shift downward in the numbers.   Dr. Karen Midthun of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said, “Treatment for anal cancer is challenging; the use of Gardasil as a method of prevention is important as it may result in fewer diagnoses and the subsequent surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that individuals need to endure.”  Currently, 90% of anal cancers are related to HPV, but this vaccination is expected to reduce that percentage considerably over the next decade.  This is of course directly dependent on individuals being properly vaccinated within the appropriate time period.  We, the people, are responsible for ushering in an HPV-free era by being vaccinated and utilizing safer-sex practices. Gardasil’s ability to prevent anal cancer and the associated precancerous lesions [anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) grades 1, 2, and 3] caused by anal HPV-16/18 infection  was studied in a randomized, controlled trial of men who self-identified as having sex with men (MSM). This population was studied because it has the highest incidence of anal cancer. At the end of the study period, Gardasil was shown to be 78% effective in the prevention of HPV 16- and 18-related AIN.  Because anal cancer is the same disease in both males and females, the effectiveness data was used to support the indication in females as well.  The New York Times recently reported that the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has been engaged in debate involving the allowance of Ob/Gyn medical professionals to treat men.   The Board had previously disallowed its members from treating male patients, but a panel of experts in anal cancer petitioned the board to reconsider its position.  Patient advocacy groups also got involved, pointing out that the board’s initial decision could interfere with research and make it harder for men to find screening and treatment.  The board had stated that it wanted to preserve the profession’s female specialty and limit the non-gynecological work performed by its members.  Dr. Kenneth Noller, the board’s director of evaluation, said the reconsideration came from the long tradition of gynecologists treating sexually transmitted diseases in women and men, and that HPV and its associated problems fell into that category.

                Where does that leave us?  What steps do we take toward prevention?  A new type of screening has become available in some areas.  Similar to the Pap smear used by gynecologists for the last several years for the early detection of cervical cancer in women, the Anal PAP is now being recommended for gay and bisexual men.  The test is simple and involves collecting cells from the anus and rectum which are then studied under the microscope to identify certain structural changes in the cells. The procedure is painless and quick.  The preparation time is 24 hours and basically requires that the individual not put anything into the anus for that period (no sex, no toys, no lubricants, no enemas, etc.)  The Harvard Board of Public Health that sponsored the initial studies in Anal Paps recommends testing once every three years.  I believe a few hours (appointment and procedure time) out of every three years are worth it; it could save your life.  The testing process should begin when an individual becomes sexually active.  In addition to the Anal PAP, the vaccine, Gardasil, is available for those in the appropriate age category.  Gardasil is safe for both males and females, and it is recommended that vaccination begin between ages 9 and 11.  The vaccine is given in 3 doses over the course of 6 months.  Individuals between the ages of 9 and 26 who have not been vaccinated should strongly consider the vaccine.  The vaccine and Anal PAP are covered by most insurance plans and eligible children may be able to receive the vaccine through Vaccines for Children.

                So, the crazy lady who said gay men were giving people rectum cancer wasn’t far off.  Even though it isn’t the rectum that is affected by HPV, the reality is anal cancer is undeniably connected with anal intercourse.  So what’s “the good, the bad, and the ugly”?  The good here is that we are making strides in the prevention and treatment of HPV.  The bad news is that unprotected sex isn’t just about STD/STIs anymore.  It can cause cancer!  And the ugly…squeezing an Anal PAP into my schedule.  You should too.

transgender-flag ong -250x250Although an initial count of signatures revealed the effort to repeal California’s new law that protects transgender kids in schools didn’t have enough signatures to qualify, it did eke out enough for full recount.

The Advocate reports:

Since the deadline for turning in signatures this past November, the office of California’s secretary of state has been performing a spot-check to determine the validity rate. With the number turned in, the average validity rate needed to qualify for the ballot stands at 81.5%. Were the spot-check to yield a rate higher than that figure, the law would be suspended until after the ballot initiative this coming November. Los Angeles County, the final county being put through the spot-check process, came in with a validity rate of 77.8%, bringing the overall state rate to 77.93%. While this wasn’t a high enough rate to suspend the law and put the measure on the ballot, this did meet the threshold needed to launch a new verification process, this time checking each of the 619,241 signatures received. In the meantime, the law will remain in effect.

Let’s hope that the recount confirms the low validity rate of the initial count – we need to protect transgender students, some of the most vulnerable students in the school population. If it does get to the ballot, we need to fight it tooth and nail.

Screen-Shot-2014-01-10-at-6 45 17-PM-162x250Editor’s note: My brother, Whit Honea, just had his first book published – a book on how to deal with parenting that is written for all kinds of families.  Although Whit is straight, he is one of the most open guys I know, and he wrote his book with parents of all stripes in mind.  Plus, bias aside, he’s a helluva writer.  Check it out if you are a parent of young kids, or if you know one.  Whit, we’re really proud of you. –Scott & Mark

What do you say when your child gets caught in a fib? Or asks you about the birds and the bees? With The Parents’ Phrase Book, you no longer have to worry about coming up with the right response on the spot.

Written by Whit Honea, a parenting expert1 whose advice has appeared on BabyCenter, Babble, and the Huffington Post, among others, this valuable guide provides you with the key language and tactics you will need to deal with a variety of parenting situations.

Inside, Honea explains why his approach quickly resolves issues and why so many of the parenting phrases you hear on the playground may actually encourage children to misbehave. From tackling sibling rivalry to handling bullies at school, The Parents’ Phrase Book will help you connect with your child and address even the toughest parenting dilemmas with love, humor, and empathy.

Author Bio

Whit Honea was born in Tucson, Arizona and received his degree in creative writing at the University of Arizona. He spent a number of years in and around Seattle before moving to the Los Angeles area with his wife and two sons. His fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and his take on parenting has appeared on popular sites like Babble, BabyCenter, GeekDad, DadCentric, and The Huffington Post. He is the editor of the Dads & Families section on The Good Men Project and looks rather handsome in a hat.

1 The term “expert” was insisted upon by the publisher in hopes of selling more books. Whit will deny the label with his dying breath. He prefers “antiexpert,” because it sounds so much cooler, even if he made it up.

rainbow-pcWe bet you have indirectly used an app called HotSchedules and never known it, but if you got a smiling server to bring you food or drink at restaurants like Rock Bottom, Palomino or a host of others, then you unknowingly used it.

Have you ever checked out at the Apple store? Then you might not have realized it, but the happy person who checked you out (and asked "Do you want that receipt e-mailed to you?") used another app you have likely never seen or heard of.

Welcome to the "hidden" world of the internet, where life is fine and dandy and where there exist hundreds, if not thousands, of apps and programs you probably never heard of and cannot access but which touch your and my daily lives. Some are more visible than others, and some are so well-hidden that they can only be accessed from computers, iPads or iPods on certain company or government networks. And all of them have their very own functions.

A few of them are in plain sight, but without the "tools" which go along they are useless to the average person. That first one I mentioned, HotSchedules, is one such.

Do a search on the app store and you will find it. It's there in plain sight and costs $2.99, but reading the fine print it says, "Requires a valid and current HotSchedules user account," meaning that if you do not work for a business (and they are mostly, but not entirely restaurants) which provides you with a user account, having the app will get you nothing. No access and no information.

Go to work at a restaurant using it, add in your user name, password and personal work info and you will get to see your schedule, available free shifts you might want to "pick up" for extra hours and income and you might even be allowed to swap shifts, request future days off and more, all while the app reports what you've requested and signed up for to the boss, plus keeping her or him informed who is due to do what when and whom to pay for it. It's something that pen and paper schedules from "back in the day" never allowed and it's all a part of the hidden internet.

Mz Pink,

I have always been career-orientated. I knew I would get a good job and excel. I never put any thought in having a relationship, family or other friendships because of my mindset. I was okay with the way things were going, too. I mean I did have friends, but a relationship was low on the list of things I needed.

Well, a few months back I met somebody unexpectedly. She is great, but a few days ago I was offered a promotion and a chance to relocate. It’s what I always wanted and the opportunity is here. I took the offer tight away, but now I have to tell my girlfriend and break it off with her. I also have to tell my family that I am moving faraway. I’m not sure how this will work out, but my job is my top priority right now and I have to do what’s right for me. How do I do this?

Moved

Chasing after a “hot" investment — By the time you hear about a supposedly “hot” investment, it may already be cooling off. But even more importantly, it might not have been appropriate for your diversification needs in the first place, especially if you already own similar investments.

Investing too aggressively — To achieve your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you will unquestionably need to own a reasonable percentage of growth- oriented investments in your portfolio. However, the greater the potential reward, the greater the risk, so you don't want to go overboard by investing too aggressively.

Investing too conservatively — Some types of investments can offer a high degree of preservation of principal. But they carry their own type of risk — the risk of not keeping up with inflation. Consequently, just as it's not a good idea to invest too aggressively and own only growth-oriented investments, it's also not wise to invest too conservatively by owning only those vehicles that sacrifice growth potential for principal protection.

Following the crowd — In many arenas of life, you'll find that it may make sense to go your own way rather than “follow the crowd.” And that's usually the case with investing, too. It’s quite common for the “crowd” to collectively make an unwise investment decision so make your choices based on your individual needs, goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

Taking a time out from investing — After sustaining big losses during the financial crisis of 2008, many investors decided to take a "time out” from investing which meant they may have missed out on the rally that began in 2009 and ultimately resulted in the financial markets achieving record highs. The best investors just keep on investing right through market downturns — and, quite often, their persistence is rewarded.

Overreacting to the headlines — Too often people will make long-term changes to their investment strategy in response to short-term news events, such as political turmoil, a bad economic report and even natural disasters. You'll likely help your cause tomorrow by not overreacting to the headlines today.

Underreacting to changes in your life — You will experience many changes in your life, such as a new job, new boy or girl friend, break-up with a longtime partner, a new home and so on. Many of these changes may require altering your investment strategy. You could jeopardize your progress toward your financial goals by not reviewing this strategy regularly (at least once a year) in consultation with your financial advisor, CPA or estate planner and making the necessary adjustments in response to your evolving life.

By staying away from “scary” investment moves, you may well find that investing can be a positive, productive experience. And that's not a frightening thought at all, regardless of whether Halloween is still ahead or in your rearview mirror.

Speaking of this time of year, at many places of work, it’s "open enrollment” season — the time where you get to make changes to the various benefits you receive from your employer. As you review your overall benefits package, what areas should you focus on?

Here are three possibilities:

Life insurance — If your employer offers life insurance as a benefit and you haven't already signed up for it, consider adding it during the open enrollment period because life insurance can be important to your and your partner's financial security. If you already have life insurance with your employer, you may want to take the time, during open enrollment, to review your beneficiary designations. If you've experienced a change in your situation, such as a boyfriend walking out on you or a new love or the death of a partner or brother or sister you’ll likely want to update your beneficiaries, as needed.

However, the amount of life insurance offered by your employer in a group policy may not be sufficient for your needs, so you may want to consult with a financial professional to determine if you should add private or individual coverage, too. You may find that individual coverage is comparable in terms of cost to your employer's offering. Also, individual coverage is "portable” — that is, you can take it with you if you change jobs, which not all employer-back schemes will permit. Be sure to ask if you are in doubt.

Disability insurance — Your employer may also offer disability insurance as a low- cost benefit. The coverage can be valuable. In fact, nearly one in three women and about one in four men can expect to suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for 90 days or longer at some point during their working years, according to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). Again, as was the case with life insurance, your employer’s disability policy may not be enough for your needs, so you may need to consider additional coverage, especially if you work in what is termed a "high risk” profession.

Retirement plan — Your employer may offer a 401 (k) or similar retirement plan, such as a 403(b) plan, if you work for an educational institution or a non-profit organization or a 457(b) plan, if you work for a governmental unit. All these plans offer the chance to contribute pre-tax dollars so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. Equally important, your earnings can grow tax deferred, which means your money can accumulate faster than if it were placed in an account on which you paid taxes every year.

Consequently, try to contribute as much as you can possibly afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. If you've had a raise recently, consider boosting your contributions during open enrollment. Also, take this opportunity to review the array of investments you've chosen. If you feel that they're underperforming and not providing you with the growth opportunities you need, you may want to consider making some changes. You might also think about making adjustments if your portfolio has shown more volatility than the level with which you are comfortable.

Open enrollment season gives you the perfect opportunity to maximize those benefits offered to you by your employer so think carefully about what you’ve got and what improvements you can make — it will be time well spent.

PecsnCity

A few weeks ago, I overheard two young boys talking in the hyperactive, rushed tones that could only come from the fourth grade. I missed the gist of the conversation, but I did overhear this gem: "You have a girlfriend? That is so gay!” I don’t condone using that word in a derogatory sense, of course, but I couldn't help being amused at how it was used in the context of the sentence. I couldn't help but wonder: what is gay these days?

Not so long ago, the gay culture that defines us was as rich and varied as the men and women who fought so hard to establish our foothold in history. Now the culture itself is fading as we deconstruct our subcultures into smaller and smaller pieces. Soon it will be impossible to distinguish between what is gay and what is straight.

Sure, that’s what we've all dreamed of — a world where we would be treated as equals and being gay would be a non-issue. A world where we could get married and have a family and lead lives of quiet normalcy. But once upon a time, being gay was what helped us define ourselves as individuals and with each new step forward we leave a little more of that behind.

Maybe it is this very notion that continues to fuel the homophobia which rears its ugly head in smaller towns and in other countries around the world. The fact that one day we will all be the same seems to scare the hell out of the religious fanatics who breathe fire and brimstone around their fundamentalism, and the extremists to be found in Iran, Nigeria, Mauritania, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and United Arab Emirates, where the punishment for homosexuality is death.

Not all countries respond to homosexuality with capital punishment, but where different cultures take root, so do different attitudes toward those who are different. I often wonder if I would have more in common with a gay man who grew up in Africa or Japan than his straight countrymen would have with straight men in America. Within the boundaries of heterosexuality, the only thing that separates people around the globe are the cultures of their country, but when two people are gay, they have a shared bond and experience that seems to transcend their nation’s heritage and its traditions.

We all have to face the same things such as the pain of coming out and the search for others like ourselves, not only for friendship but for companionship as well, all under the constant fear of society's repercussions. The gay culture binds us as one global fraternity.

So what exactly is gay culture? Like any other culture it is merely the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of our community and how they will be remembered in history. The culture itself is still pretty young — if you consider 40-something years to be young — and it all began with a defining event on the 28th of June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York. From these spontaneous, violent demonstrations against the police a new revolution was born as small communities grew in urban areas where sex was the glue that bound the people together in bathhouses and bars.

But with every revolution there are casualties. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to a substantial political office was assassinated on the 27th of November 1978, and a mere three years later, the first case of AIDS was reported, drawing a dark and poison curtain over our newfound liberation.

Fear and death held the community in their iron grip. An entire generation of pioneers was wiped out as the plague swept through us without mercy. You would think that something so devastating would destroy the fragile beginnings of our subculture, but instead it bound us together as we mobilized politically and made sure the world saw all of the victims’ names stitched into a massive quilt. It also showed the world that we could not and would not be stopped. Who knows how Harvey Milk would have guided us through this dark chapter in our history if his life had not been cut short, even though his death inspired many, including Cleve Jones, who later envisioned the AIDS quilt that served as a reminder to those we had lost along the way.

When the plague receded as treatments advanced in the mid-90s, it seemed that sexuality exploded again with the advent of the circuit, where sex and drugs coiled around a throbbing dance beat as it had just 20 years before.

Why worry about a disease that could be controlled when you are fucked up in a sweaty crowd of perfect bodies? And why think about a generation that paved the way when being gay in a big city is as accepted as every other supporting character on television?

Nowadays, instead of speaking about homosexuality in hushed whispers, it is met with shining examples of out-and-proud citizens of the world. On the one hand, it is a stellar accomplishment that today’s gay youth have so many role models and examples, but on the other hand, it lessens the pressure for them to become role models themselves.

A gay child born today will grow up knowing that in many parts of the United States and the world, gay couples can get married, which will result in a sense of normality and self-worth that previous generations could not even fathom.

And as the Internet expands, reaching further into our lives until the inevitable chip is implanted in our brains, it will reduce the need to be out in the community where socialization actually occurs.

When I was 17 and walked into my first gay bar (after acquiring my first fake ID) I was blown away by all of the gay people who I never knew existed. It was a world where I could be myself and be around others like me, drinking and dancing and hooking up, all with a soundtrack of 120 beats-per-minute. Will the gay bar scene dissipate as well? Will the gay community follow the lead of the Borg on Star Trek and assimilate?

Trading in your cockring for a wedding ring doesn’t make you any less gay. It just means we have realized that our culture is not defined by sex the way it used to be — or at least the way most of society perceived it.

Sex is a part of gay and straight society — who doesn’t like getting laid? — but at its core it is about love and happiness, regardless of who you are or who you choose to spend your life with. We will always be a minority no matter how far our strides take us.

Remembering how our history was created keeps our culture alive and there is still plenty of work to be done to redefine to the world what it means to be gay. Find your voice. Speak out. Take giant leaps forward but never forget who you are or who you were. There can be no revolution without evolution.

Dear Dr. Fred:

A life-long friend of mine (40+ years) retired a year ago when he was offered a buy-out by his company. He got a nice sum, a pension and has a well-off family so while he occasionally complains he "needs the money" he has not worked in a year and would never need to again financially. He does occupy some of his free time doing great volunteer work, writing some magazine pieces and tending his garden, etc. But there's a problem I am having.

My friend, I'll call him Jordan, has almost every waking hour free and he texts, calls and instant messages me incessantly, often getting disgusted when I am busy or otherwise occupied. I have not retired, own a small business and have the day-to-day things / always have had to attend to — especially during the business day.

I have tried explaining calmly and he always apologizes, but two days later he's back with 35 texts and asking why I am not replying when I am in a business lunch or at a meeting which I've told him about earlier and put on my online calendar for him to see.

I have yelled, screamed, texted "NOT NOW IAM WORKING!!!" in caps all to little avail. Jordan has bothered me at work, at the license branch and even during sex! Jordan always says he's sorry' after I remind him I work, and he always says he's my friend forever, but lately I wish I could tell him loudly he won't be if he doesn't get a grip on the fact I am still working and need to actually have some peace to make money and live with my partners since I do not get a pension and that I enjoy my job so have few plans to call it quits this year or next.

I have tried literally every tactic — from rude to sweet and in person, in texts and by phone — but he never "gets it'' for more than 48 hours. Short of changing my phone number, putting his texts and messages on ignore and leaving Facebook or really being a butt, do you have any suggestions?

I love him as a beastie and in some ways am envious and wish I could retire, but I like what I do, don't have his financial security and all my other friends seem to understand. I need help or else a 40+ year relationship is gonna be kaput!

Signed,

Hung up

Work from home, as little as 1 hour a week. No commute required. No long term commitments.

Love Volunteers 2018

LGBT Fresno is looking for volunteers to participate in such areas as...

Writers
Contribute your writings about politics, community news, movie reviews or choose your own topic... We can also assign local events for you to cover. Write as frequently as you wish, on your schedule.

Editor
Seek out and encourage writers and journalists to contribute to the site.  Proof read and approve submissions.  Seek out new and interesting articles of interest to the LGBT community.

Calendar Manager
Seek out events relevant to the LGBT community, organize the details and provide to our site administrator for addition to our community calendar.

Event Coordinator
Dream up events and activities our organization can lead or be a part of. Fundraisers, parties, social events, etc.

Information distribution
Seeking assistance with distributing business cards and brochures. Items will promote our organization. This will mainly occur in the tower district, but also other local book stores, etc. Literature to distribute can be picked up and the time frame is flexible.

Social Media Manager
Assistance needed with expanding our online outreach via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. 
Our goal is to continue to expend our reach outside of the Fresno/Clovis area to other communities in the Central Valley. This opportunity would include working on helping us more closely interact with our followers on social networks to become involved and to expand the existing networks.

Sponsorship Coordinator
Seeking assistance with making telephone calls, in person visits and sending emails to potential advertisers.volunteer collage

LGBT Friendly directory
Contacting companies from our visitors/readers and making phone calls to build an LGBT friendly community directory.

Website Assistance
Seeking a volunteer with Joomla experience to maintain and update our websites.

Click to View Volunteer Opportunities on SignUp.com


If one or more of these are of interest to you, please signup with any link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I’m straight, and I want to talk about NOH8.  And how it affects me.

When I first moved to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, and opened Weddings in Vieques, people cautioned me that I should not plan gay weddings.  Let me be clear – this is a gay-friendly island (lots of gay-owned businesses, gay residents, etc.) – so I was baffled.  At the time, gay marriage wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States yet (legislation was flying but nothing was settled), so I felt no reason to not offer gay wedding planning services in addition to everything else we do.  Fine, call them commitment ceremonies if you prefer.  Whatever.

There was a minister-in-a-can working the island at the time who cautioned me that IF anyone on this predominantly Catholic island found out we were performing commitment ceremonies, we would be harassed, threatened, and even – swear to God she said this – somebody would poison our dog. What???  Fortunately, she’s no longer a part of the wedding industry here because she obviously was clueless and biased about performing gay weddings.  We don’t need anybody like that on Vieques.

Now Weddings in Vieques has been executing flawless gay and straight weddings for almost seven years.  Our staff is mostly straight and we love our gay clients because, usually, they’re a lot of fun.  The Catholics on the island aren’t protesting and if anybody has a problem with it, I supposed they should have spoken up by now.  We featured a gay wedding on TLC’s “Wedding Island” performed here on Vieques and all I got from that was great feedback about the open attitudes on the island.  I did a wedding for gay active duty military police in uniform on one of our beaches.  The municipality of the island supports our business and television show, we pay our taxes, and I have never had an unkind word said to me by any Puerto Rican about whether or not we do gay weddings.

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC's  "Wedding Island" by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC’s
“Wedding Island” by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

I’ve had a blog here on Purple Unions for several years, and while I try to blog about mostly “gay” topics, I share anything that will be useful to brides and grooms regardless of sexual preference.  We’ve maintained excellent relationships with the vast majority of our gay clients and they give me half of my blog ideas.  I claimed the self-appointed title of “Queen of Gay Wediquette” a long time ago because no other reputable wedding planner was willing to step up to the plate and advise these lesbian brides and gay grooms about how to navigate the sometimes tricky waters of a gay wedding festivities.  So I volunteered because I have to do it on a regular basis.  That makes me an authority if there’s nobody else who has done it more and wants to weigh in.  I’m all up for learning something new.

End of day – gay couples often need more advice about how to handle the finer points of getting the ceremony to flow smoothly, etc. so that it doesn’t look like the hokey pokey up on the altar.  I’m happy to provide it – especially to my clients.  They have other questions about how to handle “traditions” in a way where they won’t offend anyone but don’t feel cheated.  I help navigate those waters too.  My job is to plan the perfect wedding for every client, and if that means helping you figure out what to do about being gay and still having all the bells and whistles the way you want them, I’m up for it.

So I’ve gotta admit I was blown away this week by a Twitter attack from a website the purports to be a LGBT wedding directory.  I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say we randomly tweeted my Pridezillas blog to them thinking their followers might be interested, and the owner responded with a long-winded, many message discourse that would have been far more appropriate sent by direct message, or hey, wait – maybe via email if you’re interested in doing business with us.  Somebody tweeting you a gay-relevant blog doesn’t mean we WANT anything from you.  We just thought you might be interested.  If you’re not, skip it.  That’s what I do with junk I don’t want.  But this person took the receipt of blog tweets as an indicator that I wanted to build a relationship.  Okay, no problemo.  But wouldn’t you send me a private message or an email? It’s not like my contact info is hard to find – I’m everywhere.

I had the misfortune of downloading the new iPhone update (against my will) the same day and instead of “replying” to this person’s tweets, I hit retweet instead on the first two messages.  I felt stupid, but I realized the conversation wouldn’t make sense to anybody unless I RTd the other three messages she sent – so I did.  Wow.  Huge mistake.  I received a public nasty-gram from her asking me why I was retweeting.  Rather than explain the error had been hers initially (who talks biz via Tweet – we’re not Real Housewives), I simply apologized – via tweet – and that started a huge nasty Twitter war where this woman who claims to be a NOH8 advocate spent literally hours attacking me, totally unprovoked.  She accused me of not doing my own tweeting. She attacked my weight, my professionalism, and my commitment to gay marriage equality.  Apparently my company isn’t gay enough and my views aren’t gay enough to satisfy her. Really?  REALLY?

Now we all know I won that argument the minute she attacked my weight – if you have to talk about appearance, you don’t have anything else bad to say about me.  But it didn’t save me trauma of reading through tons of horrifically mean tweets that I can only assume some of her followers were reading too.  Then to add icing to the cake, she proceeded to email websites on our island about me, mistakenly assuming that I own all the websites on Vieques Island.  I don’t – I own mine.  The webmasters kindly forwarded her messages to me. Thanks guys!

This person accused me of not supporting gay rights and marriage equality, she said I’m not a real writer (cited Huffington Post as example of something that isn’t considered “published” – I refrained from replying I’m a former Wall Street Journal columnist too because I was done with the war by then) and repeatedly bragged she has five degrees.  Felicidades.

The nastygrams really angered some of my dedicated former clients (the Weddings in Vieques gay mafia… not limited to alumni, just fyi if you want to join) and some very REAL wedding clients of mine started tweeting her back correcting her false statements and citing #NOH8. Her response was to literally start threatening me, repeatedly. I wasn’t participating, just sitting back and watching the war unfold… but she continued to threaten me in response to other people defending me as a NOH8 advocate… and I quote here:

@SandyMalone_ and if you FUCK with me I will CRUSH you. Maybe not tonight. Maybe not this year. But I don’t forget. So? Best to you. BYE!

When a long-time gay friend and client who I actually performed the marriage of on “Wedding Island” (see pic above – Twitter @Dwayne420) fought back and pointed out that I have a long history (well before wedding planning) of supporting gay rights, she got gross and accused him of having a “creepy” relationship with me.  Wow.  Somebody is off her rocker.  But the really sad thing is that she has a NOH8 picture up as her profile photo on Twitter.  She’s gotta be one of the biggest, nastiest, haters I’ve ever met.  I woke up to more crazy-ass tweets from her than you can even imagine… oh, and the emails she’d sent to all our local websites.  Sigh.

So who is this person?  I’ve never heard of her, and she doesn’t know me or she wouldn’t have said the untrue things she said (she made herself look stupid – my bios are available in a number of places).  The gay mafia started digging since I was in the middle of a bride’s arrival on the island.  Turns out, little Miss Nasty is a straight married woman who runs a mostly paid-advertising, gay wedding directory and her husband appears to be a wedding DJ.  No, seriously.  But because she’s got this website up that says she’s gay friendly, she’s got about 20,000 followers who read the stuff she writes.  And she doesn’t write much – she mostly reposts news. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But she decided to trash me because we tweeted a blog to her that we thought her followers (assuming they’re real) might have an interest in.  She took that to be an invitation to do business and build a relationship and because I didn’t respond quickly, she freaked. Big time.  Reality check, I’m in the middle of a stretch of three weddings… even if she’d emailed me, I’d have had to get back to her next week unless her hair is on fire and she’s standing on my front porch.  Priorities.  Clients first.  But I digress.

I love the NOH8 message.  I love the whole NOH8 campaign.  But I’m pretty sure that the architects of NOH8 meant for it to go both ways.  And they certainly didn’t mean for vendors who serve the gay community to start bashing each other and using NOH8 as a weapon.  I’m disgusted.  If you are somebody who plans gay and straight weddings, or purports to be a directory of those vendors, you should practice what you preach with the NOH8 message.  That means don’t be a mean, hateful person towards any sexual preference – gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans or whatever.  It would be hateful to tell a gay man who watches football he wasn’t “gay enough” or to call a straight man who wears pink he dresses like a “fag,” right?  So how can anybody who says she is a LGBT supporter and vendor directory decide to start publicly attacking somebody else for being… I don’t even know how to characterize what she called me – not gay friendly enough? Poorly gay educated? Fat and on TV – comments about my weight are true and yes, I have a television show.  But it was rude and completely irrelevant to her insane attack anyway.  There’s that NOH8 logo staring at me from these totally malicious, hateful tweets.  So nice to wake up to.

A word to the wise: Don’t believe that every vendor out there claiming to be LGBT is really a staunch supporter of gay rights, or even a real business directory or vendor.  Do your homework.  It didn’t take us long to figure out that “Sybil”, as one of my alum clients following the tweets nicknamed her when she was psycho-tweeting all night long, is nobody but a hater with a fake profile pic of NOH8. She’s not the only one out there.  I always warn clients to avoid anybody to claims to be all things to all people – do your homework, check with references and don’t believe everything (or most of) what you read on social media or even company websites til you verify the source.  I let my feelings get hurt, or my “knickers in a bunch,” for my British fans, for literally no reason at all.  Lesson learned.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Let this sink in: We're nearly 14 years into the 21st century. 2004 will soon be TEN years in the past. Hell, 2024 is *only* ten years away. Seriously, where has the time gone?

Twenty-thirteen flew by. It seems like yesterday House Republicans were throwing a bitch-fit about the Affordable Care Act and shutting down the government. It's hard to believe that Congress' most unproductive year - complete with sequestration and record-breaking obstructionism - is about to end. And how could anyone forget Miley's twerking and her gang of merry, drugged-out teddy bears (no, really, how can we forget? I'm willing to pay)?

This year was a roller coaster and all of us were forced to ride it. However, it wasn't all stupid political games and tawdry pop culture moments. This year also saw the continued, exponential rise of clean energy and transportation across the globe, a sign that governments and their citizens are beginning to take the threat of climate change seriously. Pope Francis, leader of the almost-always-conservative Roman Catholic Church, spoke out against runaway capitalism and inequality in the world, inspiring billions of Catholics and n0n-Catholics alike (myself included) and enraging perpetually-enraged wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh.

Gay rights surged...and by "surged" I mean "there's no stopping it now." The number of countries where same-sex couples are treated as equal citizens increased to 15. I expect that number to increase to at least 18 by this time next year; Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States have what can be thought of as checker-board equality - legal in some jurisdictions but not in others. After seeing how fast equality and acceptance of sexual diversity have increased in the Western world, it is inevitable that they will become non-issues. In the U.S., the number of states with marriage equality doubled, from nine in January to 18 as of December 31st.

The discriminatory and culturally irrelevant Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) essentially died in June after the Supreme Court struck down its key provision - that the federal government could not and would not recognize same-sex marriages as legally equal to heterosexual marriages. Proposition 8, originally struck down in 2010 and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, was finally pulled off life support and allowed to die. Equality and justice for all are alive and well in its place.

My personal life also saw some incredible changes. Not only did I graduate with a B.A. in Communication from California State University, Fresno, but I also got an internship in Washington, D.C. with The American Prospect. In one week, I will move across the country and begin the next chapter of my life, initially as an editorial intern for an excellent publication. I still have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming, that I am really about to take a big step toward my dream life.

I met some pretty incredible people (you know who you are) and strengthened relationships with others (you also know who you are). One of my main motivations in life is to create and cultivate intimacy. It drives me, both to sanity and insanity. Aside from my wellbeing and career aspirations, I live for the incredible people in my life and the one-of-a-kind connections we have. As funny as it may sound coming from a 24-year-old, the older I get, the more I realize how vitally important these relationships are and how petty and stupid all the "drama" is. When I'm old and grey (and still looking fabulous), I want to look back and have little regret. I want to be able cry tears of happiness and joy after thinking about the good life I led.

In all seriousness, I expect to live to see and experience January 1, 2100. As a sci-fi-loving geek and someone living in an age of incredible medical/genetic breakthroughs, living to be 111 and even beyond really isn't that far-fetched. However, even such a long human life doesn't register on the timeline of the universe (more of a mindf*** - there may be multiple universes).

As a member of an advanced primate species, living on a planet that orbits the habitable zone of an average star in an average galaxy, my existence is pretty insignificant. However, I have the privilege of being self-aware and social. I'm just "star stuff," as Carl Sagan famously said. The elements that make up my body were made in the hearts of ancient stars. This star stuff is able to reflect and ponder his own existence and place in the universe. That is absolutely incredible. I fully recognize that the meaning I draw from my minor existence comes, in large part, from the deep-rooted, interpersonal connections I have been fortunate enough to forge.

I've got one chance - ONE chance - to shine bright and enjoy my time in the sun. Life is full of meaning and I love interacting with it on a daily basis. It doesn't matter what I achieve or how successful I become - I can't make it without other people. So, bring on 2014. I'm ready to keep loving and caring, living (to the best of my ability) and experiencing every part of this life that I can.

We know, you are busy and couldn't possibly watch a 15 minute YouTube clip.  But, we promise, it is totally worth it! Children are our future.

 

 

 

jewish-star-of-david-250x250I am coming out of the closet. I am an Orthodox rabbi and an advocate for gay marriage.

The history of the theological issue is complicated, but the moral issue is increasingly clear. Faith leaders must stand as public allies; private support is no longer enough. Fifteen states and counting have formally approved marriage equality. It’s time that traditional faith leaders stand for gay rights, including the right to marriage.

As an Orthodox Jew, I believe the Bible was given by G-d, that Jewish law is binding, and that change in our religious practice cannot happen impetuously. It also means that I take the pervasive biblical call for justice very seriously. I am pro-gay-rights because I am an Orthodox rabbi, not in spite of it.

See the Full Story at The Huffington Post

 

prop8

It has been 1,515 days since November 4, 2008. That’s the day California voters approved Proposition 8, the ballot initiative designed to end the Golden State’s heralded experiment with same-sex marriage. During that time, Prop 8 has been forcefully challenged as a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution, has been the subject of a one-sided bench trial, has twice been declared unconstitutional, and has been accepted for review by the justices of the United States Supreme Court. And during all that time it has never really enjoyed a coherent defense. Until now.

On Tuesday, the first substantive brief was filed in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case now under review by the Supreme Court. The document was filed by lawyers representing a group of citizens who took over the case after California’s elected officials refused to continue to defend the measure. I’m still not convinced that their arguments are going to persuade Justice Anthony Kennedy to save Prop 8. And without his vote the measure is doomed. But these are about the best legal arguments that can be offered in support of this dubious measure, and they are laid out more impressively here than I have yet seen while covering this case.

Here is the link to the brief. For our purposes, the most important passage — an example of strong legal writing — comes at pages 20 through 26, and I suggest you take the time to read all seven pages. The gist of this text is likely to animate the Prop 8 case from here on in, through oral argument in late March to the decision in late June. And the rhetoric contained here surely poses a new challenge to the initiative’s famous foes, lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson, who until now have largely won the legal war in court over Prop 8 as well as the public relations war beyond it.

See the Full Story at The Atlantic

DOMAdough-240x250A couple great updates on the DOMA Case that’s coming before the Supreme Court in March.

First, there’s a new amicus brief from a law professor that contends that the Supremes don’t have the authority to rule on the validity of the Defense of Marriage Act. As reported on SDGLN:

In an amicus brief, Professor, Vicki C. Jackson contends that the Obama Administration’s agreement with a lower court rulings that DOMA is unconstitutional, strips the Justices’ authority to rule on DOMA, and that the House of Representatives’ GOP leadership does not have a right to appear in the case under Article III of the Constitution.

It’s an interesting legal theory, but somehow we don’t see the Supreme Court deciding they aren’t qualified to hear something they have already decided to hear.

Separately, we ran across this great infographic (thanks to Joe.my.God) that illustrates some of the things the US House could have done with that $3 Million they’ve so far wasted on defending this bigoted law.

We’ll keep you posted as the cases against DOMA and Prop 8 continue to develop.

equality-california

The reports of the death of Equality California (EQCA) are greatly exaggerated, the nonprofit’s new boss tells San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Like Mark Twain once did, John O’Connor, who became EQCA’s executive director about six weeks ago, is dispelling rumors about the health of the organization. O’Connor, whose wide smile acknowledges that he has heard about the premature obituary, said EQCA is still relevant today.

EQCA has been in a state of flux since October 2011 when Executive Director Roland Palencia abruptly resigned just months after replacing Geoff Kors.

See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

PecsnCity

“Music makes the people come together." At least that is what one of the 20th century's finest poets says. Perhaps you've heard of her? She has a knack for saying exactly what we are all afraid to say, and occasionally she hitchhikes naked. She also firmly believes that you can meet someone, fall in love and have an entire relationship on a dance floor. She says you might be lovers if the rhythms right — and why not?

A dance floor has everything you need to create the spark that will ignite desire: the bodies packed together, the gleaming sweaty limbs, the heat that rises as the lights spin in a kaleidoscope of colors and the beat — the throbbing, sexual beat that minors your pulse as you lock eves with someone through the crowd.

Sure, you can meet people anywhere, but when you meet on a dance floor it's a dif­ferent experience. You are packed into a crowd who are unified in their rhythm, you are close enough to see the sweat on their foreheads and smell the clean scent of the barely hidden desires on their skin. And when you meet someone's gaze and hold it with your own, the crowd melts away and all that's left is the two of you.

And the music. It’s as if DJs themselves are the modern version of Cupid; spinning the right beats to draw people to the dance floor and maybe, just maybe, create a moment that leads to something amazing. So if you are asking yourself: “what does this have to do with relationships?” sit back and let me explain.

After our sense of smell, our sense of hearing is the sense that most often leads us to the forgotten hallways where our memories are stored. Music is a huge pail of our everyday lives and it affects everything around us. Here's an example: can you imagine a Tom and Jerry cartoon without music? How about the shower scene in Psycho? Even the end of Cruel Intentions is different without Bittersweet Symphony. Now, think for a moment about a song that reminds you of your first love. Or your last one. Or any of the others in between. Am I right? Of course I am. I'm always light.

Sure, there's the sound of a person's voice — their inflections, their sighs, the way they call you “baby" — but there are also the haunting notes and spot-on lyrics of the music that embellishes our romantic lives. The songs that remind you of your first meeting, your first kiss and even your last words. These songs don't even have to be love songs either.

I have a particularly fond memory of someone from my past on a cold night in my cold car, and Green Day's unfortunately titled Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) was on the radio. It was our first kiss. And it was amazing.

Then there is the seminal — and I mean that in both senses of the word — album Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. Now that reminds me of an all-night sex-athon with another person who resides in the darkened recesses of my cluttered mind.

I can’t even listen to that album without getting hard. And if that's too much informa­tion, I'm sorry.

Then there are the songs about love. And there are thousands of them. Even though I'm not a big fan of the treacly John Mayer, his song Your Body Is A Wonderland reminds me of the perfect lips and the half-lidded eyes of someone that stole my now absent heart. And this same person will always hang suspended inside the lyrics of If You're Not The One, smiling his crooked smile.

Of course there are also the songs that ache and burn and slice you open when you hear them. Songs like Fix You or When You’re Gone or Goodbye To You — songs that are filled with lyrics of love lost, love broken and love bleeding and forgotten. These are the songs that sneak up on you on the radio or pop up on your iPod because you forgot they were on there in the first place. You pause, frozen, trying to decide whether to switch off the song or listen to it and feel every bit of heartache wash over you again.

Which do you do?

When we communicate, words make us think a thought, and music makes us feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought, no matter how good or how bad it is. You can see this in the songs that come along that remind us of someone even though the song didn't even exist when you knew that person. Even in the songs that don't neces­sarily mean anything but were popular at a certain time in your life when you were with a certain someone. Songs like Viva La Vida and American Boy are not love songs, but both of them remind me of the same person because they were in constant rota­tion during the time we were involved.

Whether it's Open Arms or Lollipop, we all have songs that connect us to the people in our hearts. Not all of us can kiss Jake Ryan while If You Were Here plays in the back­ground or hold up a boombox with In Your Eyes blasting from it, but just like finger­prints music leaves an indelible mark on who we are and who we were.

I have an experiment for you — if you think you can submerge yourself in the past, that is. Think of all the songs you can remember from the moment you stalled down your romantic path — but don't listen to them — and gather them into a playlist.

Call this playlist My Soundtrack or the Love Chronicles or something that makes it sound equally cohesive and every once in a while click it on and see where it takes you: your first kiss, your first love, a hot and sweaty tryst, a painful breakup, your new part­ner — it all lives and breathes in music because music is what feelings sound like.

Like the song says, it touches everything you’re in and it never goes away. And if you can't believe Madonna, who can you believe?

facebook-offensive-250x250

Facebook has apologized for removing a photo of a mixed-race gay couple’s wedding from Gay Marriage USA’s page then subsequently blocking the administrator from gaining access.

The marriage equality campaign’s Facebook page has over 295,000 followers, but its founder, Murray Lipp, was notified that the photo of a bishop getting married to his husband at a small Pentecostal church was deemed “offensive”.

Lipp was also banned for a week from posting content to Gay Marriage USA for violating Facebook’s “policies and community standards”.

See the Full Story at Queerty

president-barack-obama-square-250x250On Monday, President Obama made gay-rights history during his inaugural address.

“We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,” Obama said. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

And on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney dutifully repeated a well-worn line to reporters at the White House briefing. “The president believes that it’s an issue that should be addressed by the states,” Carney said.

Ah, yes. The states! If it was a letdown to hear the White House bungle its same-sex-marriage message just one day after President Obama made a historic statement at the inauguration, it was also oh-so predictable. Those of us who have followed every step of Obama’s dance with marriage equality are used to this herky-jerky, two-steps-forward-one-step-back tango by now.

See the Full Story at The Atlantic

 domaSome interesting news from the Los Angeles Times:

Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court. By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans.

This is a new spin on “only straight couples can have kids, and seems intended to sidestep the inevitable comeback – what about infertile couples? What about the elderly?

It’s noteworthy, too, that this strategy emphasizes carelessness, when we’re always being told about the sacred responsibilities of marriage and family.

 

 

 

Prop 8In other DOMA/Prop 8 News, NOM has announced a rally for the day of the Prop 8 hearing. From Joe.my.God:

Dear Joe, Thank you for your interest in the March for Marriage on March 26, 2013! When the Supreme Court convenes to hear oral arguments in what could be the Roe v. Wade of marriage, we’ll be there — and we hope you’ll be there with us! We are working hard to finalize all of the plans for this exciting event, and will let you know very soon all the details of the schedule. Again, we’re honored by your support and hope that you can show up in person to stand with us on March 26th for what we pray will be an unprecedented outpouring of support for society’s most fundamental and sacred institution: marriage between a man and a woman. Together, we’ll stand before the Supreme Court and make sure our voices are heard that we will not allow the dismantling of marriage by Judicial fiat to happen on our watch! Thank you for your willingness to stand with us. Gratefully, Brian S Brown.

 

 

Lovely. In response to President Obama’s inaugural speech that prominently mentioned gay rights and marriage equality, a former Navy chaplain goes there. From On Top Magazine:

“Sadly, Obama equates sin with holiness, confusing lust with love, thereby confusing the demonic with the Holy Spirit, when Satan can never be equal with God. There is one reason homosexual sodomy will never be ‘equal’ to traditional marriage: Satan will never be equal to God.”

The money quote:

“Allowing sin to rule our national policies is an open rejection of Almighty God, and an open invitation to the devil, to manifest in our hearts.”

How much you wanna bet he doesn’t even know a gay person or couple? If only he spend as much time helping the sick and poor as he does demonizing President Obama and the gays.

 

As has been widely reported, Justice Antonin Scalia made a controversial — albeit illuminating — remark during a speech at Princeton University. A student in the audi­ence asked him to justify previously published opinions in the course of which he had compared laws criminalizing homosexuality to those banning bestiality and murder. Scalia defended the comparison, saying that while he wasn’t equating homosexuality with murder it illustrated his belief that legislative bodies should be able to enact laws against “immoral" behaviors.

After all, he reasoned, if legislators can outlaw murder, they should be able to prohibit other forms of "immoral behavior."

No one who reads my columns will be surprised to find that I have a problem with this "logic.” Legislators can properly outlaw murder because they have an obligation to protect citizens from harm; Lock’s hypothesized social contract grants government an exclusive right to the use of coercive force in return for governments promise to keep some people from harming others.

Furthermore, to the extent that laws against murder, theft and/or rape are founded on morality, it is a virtually unanimous moral judgment. Political philosophers generally agree that legislation prohibiting consensual behavior is improper if there is signifi­cant disagreement about the moral status of that behavior. Laws restricting abor­tion or outlawing sodomy are improper because there is no social consensus on those issues.

Furthermore, I am deathly tired of legislators and judges who define "morality" ex­clusively by what happens below the waist and who confuse "tradition" with a moral compass.

Throughout his career, Justice Scalia has devoted his undeniable brilliance not to an exploration of the human condition, the nature of morality or even the role of law in society, but rather to the creation of an elaborate intellectual defense of his personal prejudices.

Anyone who would equate sexual orientation — an identity — with murder — a behavior — fails Classification 101. It can never be immoral simply to be something: gay, female, black, whatever. Morality by definition is right behavior. And most moral philosophers begin that examination by asking a fairly simple question: does this behavior harm another?

Now I know there are endless (legitimate) arguments about the nature of “harm," but — American Family Association and its ilk to the contrary — the mere fact that gay people exist and may be granted equal civil rights cannot be rationally considered harmful.

How moral we are depends upon how we treat each other. Sexual molestation is wrong whether the molester is gav or straight. Theft is wrong irrespective of the color, reli­gion or sexual orientation of the thief.

And — as many others have noted — tradition is hardly a reliable guide to moral behavior. Quite the opposite, really. War has been a human tradition. Slavery was traditional for generations. The submission of women lasted eons. The loss of these "traditions" is hardly a victory for immorality although for old, white guys like Scalia, I'm sure the loss of privileged status is cause for regret.

The job of legislatures is to pass measures needed by governing bodies — rules for civic order, taxation, service delivery and the myriad other matters that may properly be decided communally.

Giving legislators the right to decide whose lives are sufficiently "moral" to deserve equal treatment under the law is improper. It is an abuse of power.

It is immoral.

Applications for five Bulldog Pride Fund scholarships of $2,000 each ($10,000 total) for the 2013-14 academic year are currently being accepted. Deadline is February 28, 2013.

In 2006, the Bulldog Pride Fund was established under the auspices of the Fresno State Alumni Association with one simple mission: “To support student scholarships at Fresno State.” To-date, it has raised nearly $244,000 for its endowment which has provided 23 scholarships with an overall value of $39,000. Made possible by more than 450 donors and friends.


Bulldog Pride Fund Non-Discrimination Policy:

In compliance with federal and state legislation, all Bulldog Pride Fund at Fresno State applicants and awardees are considered without regard to: sex, race, age, color, creed, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, medical condition, disability or covered Veterans status. The Bulldog Pride Fund actively seeks and encourages applicants from all segments of our diverse society.

Give today. For tomorrow and beyond.
www.bulldogpride.org


RedDesp


Community Forum

February 28, 2013 - 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
LGBTQ Reducing Disparities Project
Visalia Convention Center

For the release of "First Do No Harm" the 1st report of it's kind of California's LGBTQ Communities, with Guest Speaker Robin McGehee, Founder of GetEqual.

The meeting follows a recent report by Equality California and Mental Health America of Northern California titled, "First Do No Harm, Reducing Disparities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Population in California.

Contact the below for more information:

Van at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

chuck-hagelDefense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel has committed to extending partners benefits “permissible under current law” to gay service members as part of attempts to allay concerns among Democratic senators about his potential performance as Pentagon chief.

In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Hagel responds to queries the California Democrat apparently expressed on issues like Iran, Israel and protection of female service members against sexual assault — in addition to asserting support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and a commitment to extending partner benefits for gay troops.

“I fully support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country,” Hagel writes. “I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”

Authored By Chris Johnson – See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

log-cabin-ad-184x250The Log Cabin Republicans took out a full-page ad in The Hill today urging the GOP to support same-sex marriage and oppose DOMA.

Reads the text of the ad:

Log Cabin Republicans applauds those Republican Members of Congress who have signed on to the Respect for Marriage Act and urges other Republicans to follow their lead. To be the party of limited government, individual liberty, and fiscal responsibility, the Republican Party must stop standing in the way of caring adults building a family and a life together. A full 53 percent of Americans now support the freedom to marry. It’s time for Republicans to stop spending taxpayer money defending DOMA and start defending the right of ALL Americans to pursue happiness with the person they love.

NOMlogoThe Human Rights Campaign today issued a press release roundly mocking NOM for their failures to make good on their threats. An excerpt:

Opponents’ financing is drying up. They were outspent almost three to one last year, $12 million to $34 million in the ballot campaigns. More broadly, tax documents obtained by HRC last fall show that NOM’s funding declined by one-third for 2011 – and that a whopping 75 percent of the anti-gay organization’s funding came from just two donors. It’s not surprising then that NOM is unable to follow through on the threats the group makes to Republicans supportive of marriage equality.

NOM promised, for instance, that it would spend $2 million to defeat the four Republican State Senators in New York who backed the legislature’s same-sex marriage bill in 2011. NOM then backpedalled, saying it would spend $250,000 in the primary fights. According to NOM PAC NY’s campaign finance reports, it only raised $45,000 and only spent $40,000 in 2012 – nowhere near what it claimed it would spend.

See the Full Story at Joe.My.God

WomensmixHER

Looking for an inviting setting to hang out with and meet local gay women? Excited to have a professional networking opportunity to connect, share ideas and possibly collaborate with local lesbians? Wanting to expand or add to your social circle? New to the area and wanting to meet new people? If the answer is yes to any of the above, join other professionals. Professional Out Women for the 1st Women's mixHER!! This event will serve as a monthly, rotating locations, event for the lesbian community. If you have any questions, or would like to be more involved, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please extend this invitation to women you know who may be interested and a good addition to the group, and who we may not otherwise know to contact.
The no-host mixHER will happen on the Elbow Room's Vineyard Patio, we invite you to stay for dinner. Please call to make dinner reservations... (559) 227-1234
The Elbow Room731 W San Jose Ave, Fresno, California 93704

How do we educate people about our way of life without alienating them or worse yet, mis­informing them? How we educate people about us is just as important as what we share with them because you cannot educate people about our way of life by throwing it in their face and saying, “accept me or hate me." This will NOT work, ever.

When I first began my current Master/slave relationship we went to visit with my slaves doctor for his yearly physical and overall health assessment. It was at that visit that we took some reading material to give to his doctor about our relationship and how it worked. I felt it was important for his doctor to understand that I TOOK personal responsibility for my slave's health and overseeing it to the best of my ability. By being up-front and honest with his doctor, now after almost a decade, his doctor is my doctor and we consider him a friend, too. We have an absolutely wonderful relationship with our doctor and so do many of our friends in the leather community.

So is there a way to approach people and interact with those outside of our way of life?

Yes, but I beg you to please not do it the wrong way. You can win over people if you give them time and allow folks to adjust to things that are often very foreign and different to what they have known. And a word of caution: Always remember that you will NOT win over everyone every time.

I do believe that you can work to relate to people by finding common ground. For instance, if you are trying to explain things to someone who is religious, you could use the Bible to reference why your relationship works for you and how it works for you. I can attest to this because I used this over 20 years ago when I talked to my parents about being a leather woman. I used this again almost 10 years ago when I talked to my parents about owning a slave. When you can use something that other people respect and value to compare to what you respect and value, I feel you have a better chance to come to at least a mutual under­standing. I can tell you that this may work but as you know, it will not work every time in every situation. Nothings guaranteed with human nature.

I received the following from a loyal reader, "I came out to my parents over 25 years ago about being gay and after years of hating my being gay, they finally accepted me, and we are able to get together at holidays and it not be awkward. Now I want to come out to my parents as a leather man. How do I do that? Or should I do that? I don't think my parents have many more years to be around and I’d like them to accept this important part of me.”

Parents many times have a hard time accepting our being gay. If on top of that you add being a leather person they might feel that it’s just way too much for them to cope with so I think you have to decide how important it is for you to tell them.

If your parents are at a spot in life where you believe you can work with them and let them know that you are happy and living life to its fullest because you are a leather man, then you have a good shot helping them to understand. Get some good reading material togeth­er and ask them to read or reference anything that you can't answer right away. I would suggest not giving them anything of a sexual nature and that you approach the whole scene from a happiness and honorable way of life viewpoint. If you are able to get your parents to see that being a leather person is someone of high integrity then you have a chance at getting them to accept this important part of you.

I also received an e-mail from a man in Evansville who is trying to work on his relationship with his entire family. He notes that they have told him that they can accept him being gay but not being a leather person. His family is under the false impression that being a leather person is like being in a cult or a gang and they are worried about him, not happy for him.

I am suggesting that he try and talk to them and to give them some educational informa­tion to read. Sharing with them about what it is to be a leather person instead of what type of kinkv play some of us engage in is a better strategy I feel.

With the upcoming holidays — a time when most people see their relatives more than at any other time of year — now is a good time to work on those relationships. I would also suggest that patience is key in this process. You are not going to win over everyone in your family no matter how hard you try so I would start with the person you think you have the best chance with. Show them how much better your life is because you are a leather person.

Once you are able to get one family member on your side, you can use their help with the others. I wish you all the best of luck and remember to be patient with this process. It is a hard road but worth it if you can get that good relationship you seek.

Wow! How about those referenda!??? Elections are always dicey propositions. People's votes are affected by so many imponderables — I'd love to think, as someone who teaches public policy, that voters make their decisions after considering contending positions and evaluating them, but we all know better. Especially when measures af­fecting the lives of gay, lesbian, bi & trans people are at issue, fear and homophobia and religious fanaticism have historically made for a noxious — and effective — brew.

But not this year. On November the 6th, measures on same-sex marriage were on the ballots in four states. In Washington, Maine and Maryland, voters endorsed marriage equality. In Minnesota, for the first time ever, they actually defeated an anti-marriage amendment.

Voters also re-elected the first President who ever publicly supported the freedom to marry, and elected and re-elected a number of gay and gav-friendlv legislators. In Wisconsin, they elected the first “out" United States Senator in American history. In a victory that particularly pleased me, Iowa voters rejected an effort to retire another of the Supreme Court justices who voted with the majority in that state's freedom to marry case.

Now let me be clear about one thing: fundamental rights should never be put to a vote of the electorate in the first place. No one got to vote on whether the government should recognize my marriage and it is constitutionally improper to give me the power to vote on anyone elses. But since, as usual, no one listens to me and my “ilk," those decisions were put to the electorate. They had to be dealt with.

Before November the 6th, I think it is fair to say that most gay, lesbian, bi & trans activists would have been happy to see a win of just one of these four ballot measures. They'd have been deliriously happy to win two. The advance of marriage rights has thus far depended primarily upon the courts and to a lesser extent, state legislatures — every time the issue has been put to a popular vote, the gay community has been defeated. Winning one or two of these measures would have been hailed as real pro­gress, a break in the drumbeat of constant popular defeat. I think it is accurate to say that not even the most optimistic observers expected to win all four.

So there was a lot to cheer about in this year's election. Bigotry lost across the board, and not just anti-gay bigotry. Despite a distressing amount of racism directed toward the President, he won handily. Latinos flexed their electoral muscles. Women refused to be sent barefoot and pregnant back to the kitchen. It was satisfying.

As elated as many of us are, however, it is well to remember that elections are just signals of change, not change agents. A lot of people who thought that Obama's 2008 election would usher in a new era were disappointed because they failed to under­stand the way the system (not to mention reality) works. We don't elect monarchs in the United States. Checks and balances mean that no matter what the intentions of the people we put in office, in order to implement the policies they champion, they must work through systems that were intended to force negotiation and compromise — and those systems aren't working very well right now. Voting is just the beginning. Chang­ing the world takes time — and more effort than most of us realize.

Right now, however, we're entitled to take some time to savor the results of this election. We’re entitled to entertain the possibility — indeed, the probability — that America has turned an important corner and that genuine equality for gay men and lesbians is closer than it has ever been. Right now, it's time for high fives.

PecsnCity

A few weeks ago I was picking up basketballs in the gym when I heard two young guys talking in the hyperactive, rushed tones that could only come from the fourth grade.

I missed the gist of the conversation, but I did overhear this gem: “You have a girl­friend? That is so gay!" As amusing as that sounded to me at the time, I couldn’t help but wonder: what is gay these days?

Not so long ago, the gay culture that defines us was as rich and varied as the men and women who fought so hard to establish our foothold in history. Now the culture itself is fading as we deconstruct our subcultures into smaller and smaller pieces. Soon it will be impossible to distinguish between what is gay and what is straight. Sure that's what we've all dreamed of; a world where we would be treated as equals and being gay would be a non-issue. A world where we could get married and have a family and lead lives of quiet normalcy.

But once upon a time, being gay was what helped us define ourselves as individuals and with each new step forward we leave a little more of that behind. Maybe it is this very notion that continues to fuel the homophobia which rears its ugly head in smaller towns and in other countries around the world. The fact that one day we will all be the same seems to scare the hell out of the religious fanatics who breathe fire and brim­stone around their fundamentalism and the extremists in Afghanistan, Iran, Maurita­nia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, where the punishment for homosexu­ality is death.

Not all countries respond to homosexuality with capital punishment, but where dif­ferent cultures take root, so do different attitudes toward those who are different. I often wonder if I would have more in common with a gay man who grew up in Africa or Japan than his straight countrymen would have with straight men in America. Within the boundaries of heterosexuality the only thing that separates people around the globe are the cultures of their countries, but when two people are gay, they have a shared bond and experience that seems to transcend their nations heritage and its traditions. We all have to face the same things — such as the pain of coming out and the search for others like ourselves, not only for friendship but for companionship as well, all under the constant fear of society’s repercussions. The gay culture binds us as one global fraternity.

So what exactly is gay culture? Like any other culture it is merely the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of our community and how they will be remem­bered in history. The culture itself is still pretty young — if you consider 43 years to be young — and it all began with a defining event on the 28th of June 1969 at the Stone­wall Inn in New York. From these spontaneous, violent demonstrations against the police a new revolution was born as small communities grew in urban areas where sex was the glue that bound the people together in bathhouses and bars. But with every revolution there are casualties.

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to a substantial political office was assassinated on 27th November 1978 and a mere three years later, the first case of AIDS was reported drawing a dark, poisonous curtain over our new-found libera­tion as fear and death held the community in their iron grip. An entire generation of pioneers was wiped out as the plague swept through us without mercy.

You would think that something so devastating would destroy the fragile beginnings of our subculture, but instead it bound us together as we mobilized politically and made sure the world saw all of the victims’ names stitched into a massive quilt. It also showed the world that we could not — would not — be stopped.

Who knows how Harvey Milk would have guided us through this dark chapter in our history if his life had not been cut short? Even though his death inspired many, includ­ing Cleve Jones who later envisioned the AIDS quilt that served as a reminder to those we had lost along the way, we can never really know.

When the plague receded as treatments advanced in the mid-90s it seemed that sexual­ity exploded again with the advent of the circuit, where sex and dings coiled around a throbbing dance beat as it had just 20 years before. Why worry about a disease that could be controlled when you are fucked up in a sweaty crowd of perfect bodies? And as we moved forward into the new millennium and the present day, why would anyone think about a generation that paved the way when being gay in a big city is now as ac­cepted as a high school romance between two boys singing show tunes on Fox?

Nowadays, instead of speaking about homosexuality in hushed whispers, it is met with shining examples of out and proud citizens of the world. On the one hand, it is a stellar accomplishment that today’s gay youth have so many role models and examples, but on the other hand, it lessens the pressure for them to become role models themselves.

A gay child born today will grow up knowing that in many parts of the United States and the world gay couples can get married which will result in a sense of normality and self-worth that previous generations could not even fathom. And as the internet expands, reaching further into our lives until the inevitable chip is implanted in our brains, it will reduce the need to be out in the community where socialization actually occurs.

When I was 17 and walked into my first gay bar (after acquiring my first fake ID) I was blown away by all of the gay people whom I never knew existed. It was a world where I could be myself and be around others like me drinking and dancing and hooking up, all with a soundtrack at 120 beats per minute. Will the gay bar scene dissipate as well? Will the gay community follow the lead of the Borg on Star Trek and assimilate?

Trading in your cock ring for a wedding ring doesn’t make you any less gay — it just means we have realized that our culture is not defined by sex the way it used to be, or at least the way most of society perceived it.

Sex is a part of gay and straight society. Who doesn’t like getting laid? But at its core it is about love and happiness regardless of who you are or who you choose to spend your life with. We will always be a minority no matter how far our strides take us. Remembering how our history was created keeps our culture alive and reminds us that there is still plenty of work to be done to redefine to the world what it means to be gay. Find your voice. Speak out. Take giant leaps forward, but never forget who you are or who you were. There can be no revolution without evolution.

vatican1-250x250Chicago Cardinal Francis George is leaving no stone unturned in his campaign to halt gay marriage as it sits on the runway awaiting clearance for takeoff by the Illinois legislature. This week, he devoted another lengthy, tortured column to the subject in the Catholic New World. I read this one very carefully, and though the cardinal deserves credit for perseverance, it seems to me he is clinging to both an outmoded concept of marriage that the church itself no longer holds and an understanding of homosexual relationships that is no longer valid.

For George, marriage is the permanent union of one man and one woman for the purpose of procreating and raising children; to call it anything else is a misuse of abuse of a definition enshrined in natural law. In fact, the current concept of marriage is the outcome of a long evolution. Over many eons, varieties of marriage (polygamy, for example) were practiced and were once considered normal, natural and acceptable.

At least since the late Middle Ages, the Catholic church has presented marriage as having two ends or purposes: a primary purpose, the procreation and education of children; and a secondary purpose, the mutual love, care and support of the spouses. In Catholic moral teaching, this secondary purpose tended to be taken lightly. It even got obscured by an overpowering obsession with the primary purpose. The most exacting details concerning the proper and improper uses of sex seized much of the attention of the people who wrote the manuals about such things, celibate priests with degrees in moral theology. The obsession was passed on to bishops and pastors.

See the Full Story at the National Catholic

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continues to stay mum on whether the Obama administration will participate before the Feb. 28 deadline in pending litigation before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.

Asked on Tuesday by NBC News’ Peter Alexander if the White House would “publicly advocate” against Proposition 8 — as well as the right for same-sex couples to have federal benefits precluded under the Defense of Marriage Act — Carney deferred comment to the Justice Department while reiterating the Obama’s previous action against DOMA.

“For comment on specific Supreme Court cases, I would point you to the Department of Justice,” Carney said. “On the issue of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, the administration’s position on this is well known, and has been. And that’s the President has determined that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and that his administration will no longer defend equal protection challenges against it in the courts, and the DOJ has participated in the DOMA cases consistent with that position and asked the Supreme Court to resolve the question. So that is the DOMA issue.”

See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

 

supreme-court-012-250x250Standing is like an admission rule at a bar. Before you can even get through the door, you have to fulfill certain basic requirements, like being over 21, appropriately attired, and not already drunk and disorderly. And, in determining whether you meet the requirements, the bouncer looks at evidence: your driver’s license, your general demeanor, and your clothes.

Courts have similar rules. In order to even have the chance to get your voice heard, you have to meet a host of requirements: your attorney has to be admitted to the bar (though there are times you can litigate by yourself), you had to have handed in your briefs or motions on time, and you have to be the right person to raise the legal issues. That’s what we call standing. Normally, standing isn’t such a big deal: if you hired me to fix your roof and I just decided not to, you’re clearly the aggrieved or damaged party, so you can sue me for breach of contract.

Standing requirements ensure that courts only spend time on cases where there are actual controversies or conflicts between the parties just like ID requirements at bars ensure that alcohol gets served only to those 21 and over. So, it should come as no surprise that the Supreme Court is interested in whether Windsor v. United States, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, have been brought by the right people.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

 

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Gay rights laws in America have evolved to allow — but in some cases ban — rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people on a range of issues, including marriage, hospital visitation, adoption, housing, employment and school bullying. The handling of gay rights issues vary by state and follow trends by region

See the Full Story at The Guardian

NOMlogo2012 was undoubtedly one of the toughest years the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has faced since its founding in 2007. Historic defeats at the ballot box, the release of embarrassing internal documents, and unsuccessful boycotts against major companies have all dealt serious blows to the organization’s credibility and electoral influence.

NOM, however, continues to insist that the past twelve months have gone pretty well. Let’s take a look back at the organization’s biggest gaffes, defeats, and PR disasters in 2012:

10. New Hampshire Repeal Effort

9. Another Failed Thanksgiving Video

See the Full Story at Equality Matters

 

domaArmy National Guard Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson was one of three soldiers killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on October 1, but she was the only one of the three whose spouse was not taken care of by the military after her death.

Johnson’s wife, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice, was not eligible to have her travel expenses to Dover Air Force Base covered, nor can she benefit from Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, the Survivor Benefit Plan, VA education benefits, or Tricare health coverage.

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allowed Johnson and Rice to be open about their marriage, but the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act still prevents the military from legally recognizing their relationship.

Authored By Zack Ford – See the Full Story at Think Progress

 

valentine-dinner

Hey Fresno, looking for something different to do for Valentine's Day? How about a weekend long celebration if you stay for breakfast? Make the short jaunt to Visalia and join us in the festivities. It will surely be a night to remember!

 

So, next month is Valentine’s Day, the day that can prove to be stressful for everyone. If you’re not in a relationship, it can be a sad reminder that you’re alone. If you’re in a relationship, it is figuring out what the heck to buy your partner that will prove how much you love and cherish them. (I digress: So silly, right? Does a box of chocolates really say you mean the world to me and I love you? Maybe it’s my old age or being in a relationship going on 17 years, but screw the chocolate… Buy me a babysitter or let me sleep in. And don’t you dare waste our money on flowers that will just die! LOL, I will not succumb to corporate America. And besides, shouldn’t you shower them with love and affection all of the year through? //end rant) Well, regardless of how you celebrate the “holiday”, I’ve got the perfect solution to both possible relationship situations. The Visalia Pride Lions Club is once again hosting their LGBT+ Valentine’s Dinner & Dance. If you’re single, what a great place to come and meet other single people. If you’re in a relationship, what a great night of fun for you both. There’s no better way of saying I love you then spending it with hundreds of other people! ;) But seriously, do something unique this year. Treat yourself to this night of friends, food and fun!

This is the third annual event for the Visalia Pride Lions. Every year it gets bigger and better. It’s a night about coming together as a community, having a really fun time and doing some good. The money this event raises goes to fund LGBT events, outreach and scholarships. The Pride Lions do a lot for our community and this night helps them be able to do so. Your attendance is supporting that. So, in theory, you are making a difference to your community simply by eating, drinking and dancing…how fabulous is that?!?

 

Here are the details:

  

Saturday, February 16th

Visalia Holiday Inn

900 W. Airport Drive, Visalia 93277

559-651-5000

 

4:00pm-  Meet & Greet in the hotel bar

6:00pm- Cocktails in the ballroom

7:00pm- Dinner

8:30pm- Dancing, drinking….more drinking

There will be games, prizes, raffles, a photo booth and more!

 

For those who really want to party or those who don’t want to worry about a sober driver, the hotel is offering special room rates. Just make reservations and mention the code “VPL” and you can get a standard room with a king or two queens for only $79.00. This is also a great option for our out-of-towners. The Lions and friends will be meeting the following morning at the hotel restaurant at 9:30 for the breakfast special of only $10.00. What a great weekend of fun, right?! Don’t spend your time doing the same ol’ thing, going to the same ol’ clubs, with the same ol’ people… Do something different with a great group who holds this great event only once a year. What are you waiting for, get your tickets now!

 

Ticket Pricing:

Dinner & Dance:           $42.00 per person (Dinner is a choice of: Chicken, Beef or Vegetarian and includes tea, coffee & dessert)

Dance Only:                 $16.00 per person

 

You can get your tickets from me (Brooke with Gay Visalia and a proud club member), any other VPLC member or online at their website: http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/visaliapride/index

 

See ya there!!

I know that all good things come to an end.  I am also okay with a gay bar living out its life and going off into the sunset.  But not the Express, not in Fresno, not now!  Shame on all of us for letting this happen!

The memories are endless, mine and from so many who have posted their feelings on Facebook.  That alone should be reason enough to fight to keep this bar alive.

But what is truly shameful is that we, as a community, bar owners, business leaders, civic leaders and homos at large are okay with being a big-O city with a small town mentality.

The_Express

As I have sifted through the many emotions which came up after hearing the news about the Express closing I realized that what I was feeling is disappointment.





The San Joaquin Valley (From south of Sacramento to Bakersfield) has about 3,900,000.  The hub of all this is Fresno.  Fresno metro has more than 1,000,000 residents.  And people still want to tell me that this area cannot support more than one big bar.   The numbers disagree.

Yes, many say… Well gay people have been integrated.  No need for gay bars.  I am here to tell you I agree.  But I am also here to say there is a need for gay bars – a gay scene.    As the hub surrounded by almost 4,000,000 people, Fresno should rise up to the challenge and make an effort to create a gay destination.  Yes we are integrated and for that I am grateful.  But I am also grateful to live in a society where our differences do not need to be integrated. Our differences, our gayness should be celebrated.

Although we have made many positive steps as community and even most of us, individually.  And these steps have inched us closer toward full inclusion let us not forget where we live.  We live in the bible belt of California, Republican Central.   Has Fresno ever elected a Democratic leaning Mayor?  And Fresno is the cultural, liberal hub of the valley.  So while great progress has  been made do not allow yourself to be lulled into thinking that all is good and that you can walk down Blackstone holding your boyfriends hand.  I dare say not even in the Towner district would it be safe to do so.


That we as gay members of this metropolis we call home are okay with our Gay District, with scantly one gay bar on the outskirts.  Where there are no gay restaurants, no gay galleries and no gay culture is shameful.  Gay pride should not be a once a year event. It should be a community.  Gay pride is not a parade and putting on a dress. Gay pride is not just the gay bars.  Gay pride is building a community.  And for too long we have allowed our gay pride to be shunned or exhibited in limited time and space.

Fresno you are not a small town.  Stop acting like you are.

This challenge goes out to each of us.  Yes, support gay business.  Not because they deserve our money every day, but because we deserve a gay scene.  Gay business owners do not act like we owe you our business simply because you “cater” to us.

To the business owners and organizations your attitude and how you work with each other is also to blame.  When was the last time gay business owners got together to discuss how they may better serve the gay community to better support one another.  When was the last time that organizations meant to serve the gay community did the same?

The longer these business and organizations play divisive games and want to be everything to every gay the longer we will be a big city with a farm town mentality.  And that is a shame on ALL of us for letting them treat us like a pawn in their attempt to reign supreme.

The Express closing matters.  Because it is our history, it is our pride.  And that it closed because we as a community could not come together to support those that support us is a shame.  That businesses could not rally together to help a fellow business survive is tragic.  The Fresno Express, thank you for these 10 years you have given us, and the years before that (via other owners)!!! You ARE Fresno!

Candles

 

Although it doesn’t seem possible that an entire year has passed since we lost EricJames, it undoubtedly has. Gay Visalia has the great honor of hosting a candlelight vigil in his honor. This is not a memorial, but rather, a celebration of his life. We will meet on Friday, January 11th, 5:30 pm at COS in front of the theater on Mooney Blvd. in Visalia.

Please join us and let your candles shine bright in his memory and to act as beacons for others who may be struggling. So they can know that they are not alone, that they have a community full of support. Thank you.

~Suicide prevention resources will be available~

So you know that the next six weeks are the BIGGEST time of the year for new engagements, right?  And if you’re a gay couple, let’s face it – you have so many more proposal options.  He can propose, or he can propose!  Same with the lesbians out there – she can pop the question, or she can surprise her with a ring?  There are no expectations, except within your own relationship.  There are no rules.  Whoever gets up the nerve (and the cash for a ring in some cases) can be the one to take that big step.  Forget the stereotypes.  Have fun with it.  Bill and I got engaged on December 20, 2003, and we celebrate that date together every year.

Dwayne Byrum proposed to Rodney Stroth on their one year anniversary, this Thanksgiving 2012.

So is there a chance this is the holiday season to begin making plans to formalize your relationship?  If so, I have a few tips that might come in handy – for the partner asking, and the partner being asked.1)    Go get a manicure (unisex demand here).  You cannot have ganked-looking nails if there is the slightest change that somebody is going to be slipping an engagement ring or promise band on your hot little hand over the next two weeks.  Start the basics now – gentlemen who don’t consider themselves “metro” ought to take a serious look at their paws.  Maybe it’s time to take a walk on the wild side and get somebody to tame those nasty cuticles.  Ladies who don’t lunch – your hands matter too.  Stop chewing the nails, invest in a file, and remember that everybody is going to be looking at the symbol of your love resting on the hands.  You’re just providing an attractive backdrop.  Or at least an inoffensive one.  I know it’s hard when you work with your hands – I have a hard time myself because wedding flowers tear me up – but this is the time that it’s really worth the extra effort (or hand cream).

vatican1-250x250The Pope has unveiled another weapon in his fight to stop same-sex marriage from happening in France, the USA, the UK and other countries across the world.

Pope Benedict XVI has said the ‘traditional family’ must be protected, and stressed all faiths, even non-Christian religions, must come together to stop marriage equality.

In his annual Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy, the German leader explained straight marriage needs to be protected because it is ‘the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence’.

Full Story at Gay Star News

express

 

It is with a sad heart that we learn the Express in Fresno is closing its doors. They have served our community well for 10 years and we all owe them a lot! I remember years ago it was the first "gay" bar I had ever been to. It was so nice being in a place and feeling comfortable being yourself... especially somewhere local. Lee (the owner) has always donated money towards LGBT events. He has always been a big supporter of Gay Fresno and Gay Central Valley. It saddens me that we are losing such a huge person to our community and dare I say historic part of our local LGBT culture. I'll never forget the great times had there when there really were no other options. Thank you Lee and everyone else who made a difference in people's lives and provided us with a great place to be us while having a great time as well. Cheers and the best of luck in future endeavors!

Press Release:

All Good Things Must Come To An End!
The Express Nightclub will be officially closing the first week of January. Stay tuned to Facebook for our final schedule.

As we complete our 10th year in business as the operators of the historic Express Nightclub, it is with great sadness that we must call it quits. Our decision is based on a combination of a bad economy and too many nightclubs catering to our targeted customer base. We have supported the club through this time with all of our personal financial resources, and there is just nothing left to give. We have resisted the temptation to broaden our customer base, instead focusing on traditional LGBT culture and activities. It unfortunately didn’t work. Although we have held many successful events since the remodeling, it just isn’t enough to allow us to continue the operation.

When we made the decision in November 2002 to form a new nightclub in this historic location, it wasn’t done with the idea that we would make a lot of money. We thought that something in our community’s entertainment was lacking, and wanted to take a shot at providing what we thought was needed. Our friendly bartenders have provided quality beverages at competitive prices, and our DJ’s have always been dedicated and skilled entertainers. The Xotica Show by DivaX is the longest running successful weekly event in our local nightlife. We brought Club Papi events to Fresno. Our Sunday barbecue and “Half Price” nights were popular social events for many years.

During our most successful years, we provided the LGBT community with funding for many of its annual events, and supported the community to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, heavy financial losses over the recent years have caused us to withdraw that support. We simply had no choice.

We are proud of our staff and the job they have done. We are extremely grateful to the group of loyal customers that have stayed with us during these last few years. You are true friends, and we feel terrible that we can’t go on.

We will be listing the Express Nightclub for sale immediately. This is a turnkey operation, complete with a liquor license, all bar equipment, sound equipment, light shows, and furniture.

Thank you again to the LGBT Community for allowing us to be a part of your entertainment nightlife!

Lee Morris

Steve McBride

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Tuesday, February 7th. I reached out to the Fresno County Department of Public Health with questions regarding the annual event, as well as the current state of HIV/AIDS. The Fresno County Dept. of Public Health is located at 1221 Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno. Phone 559-600-3200. Links can be found at the end of this article.

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From the Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Website…

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Daywas founded by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The initiative begin in 2000 with these five key organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University - Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Dayhas been and always will be a grass roots effort,that is shaped around the needs of those communities that work hard each and every year to make it a success. Each year, almost 20,000 Blacks in the United States test positive for HIV, that is an alarming amount if you multiply it times the last five years alone - that's 100,000 Blacks who are now living with HIV or may have died from AIDS related complications. It's time for us to do something different that inspires young and old, gay and straight, religious and non-religious, etc. to get on board with realizing the value and worth of Black life and acting accordingly.

black_hiv_day_logo

Black HIV / AIDS Awareness day is Tuesday, February 7th. How long has this day, specific to the black community, been around?

This year will mark the twelfth annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

There are other HIV Awareness days specific to various communities. Why do we need such specific days of awareness?

The issue of HIV / AIDS impacts every community and is important to all of us each and every day of the year. But the sheer volume of information on this critical topic can be overwhelming.

An “Awareness Day” which is geared toward a particular population provides an opportunity to focus on questions and answers that are especially relevant to those persons.

Are there roadblocks within certain communities in terms of reaching out? If so, which communities are most difficult to reach out to with education and prevention, and why?

Challenges exist in the attempt to reach various populations in our community. The Fresno

County Department of Public Health (The Department) engages with a variety of partners, including but not limited to: media (television, radio, print) community-based and faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, public and private health care facilities, and businesses to provide accurate and current information for consumers. The Department maintains an internet website at www.fcdph.org and social media venues are in development.

Collaboration with entities such as GayCentralValley is additionally valuable because of its existing and vibrant social media network (Facebook, Twitter). Among consumers in the community, “face-to-face” and “word-of-mouth” information obtained from reliable sources such as FC DPH and Gay Central Valley is also helpful.

One of the most difficult populations to reach, and one of the populations at highest risk, is that of Men Who Have Sex With Men, termed MSM. The Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) has identified young, Black MSM as the population most severely affected by HIV. The Department and Gay Central Valley welcome suggestions on ways to engage with this group to provide information.

Click on READ MORE below for the rest of this article...

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Is it me?

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m the farthest thing from a prude you might find. Still, I have a huge problem with this video of Christina Aguilera performing “At Last” at Etta James’ funeral. Now, I think Christina is one of the most brilliant voices we have today, and I think the recent criticism of her weight is amazingly hypocritical in this obese society.  But her breasts in this “funeral outfit”?

Really? Is she serious? This can’t be oversight. As a Hollywood superstar, she’s not only aware of her physical presence, but she has people around her to tell her how she looks. Is this due to a bunch of “yes men”? This is an outfit she wears to a funeral? When she KNOWS she’ll be performing and photographed?

You tell me.

My friends had finally brainwashed me into watching the contemporary Sherlock Holmes broadcasted on the BBC. Little did they know that it wasn’t them who brainwashed me. The actor who was playing Sherlock, who I later came to understand as Benedict Cumberbatch, swept me off my feet carrying me into the wind. My friend uttering, “His voice is like harps and leopards intertwined.” Perhaps something equally quimsical.

 

I was quite humored. Because of Sherlock’s estranged interests and paranormal intuition guided by his perplexing abilities with observation, he remained disinterested in dating. Of course, everyone hoping that Sherlock would someday seek love, assumes that his lack of a female counterpart automatically classifies him as gay. When Dr. John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, comes to Sherlock’s side, everyone treats him as a type of gay partner. The gay jokes persist throughout the entire series.

I guess, in this sense, the show is modestly progressive in that there is an underlying gay theme used as an occasional comic relief before the conflict again arises in climax. Though, I would never suggest them as a gay couple, I surely wouldn’t mind hanging with Benedict Cumberbatch in real life sometime.

 

And it wouldn’t kill anyone to cast a gay character for another purpose other than comic relief. Put it simply, not all gays are hilarious.

Kathryn Herr with KGPE Local CBS 47 covered a recent visit by ex-gay man who claims that, with God, gays can change their sexuality. Gay Central Valley stepped in to offer an opposing viewpoint...

Check out the VIDEO here...

47

Is your sexuality something you can choose?

A speaker in the valley says he used to live a gay lifestyle. But with the help of the church, he is now happily married to a woman.

It renews the debate of nature versus nurture. Is homosexuality a choice or are people born that way?

Jim Domen shared his journey from gay to straight with a group in North Fresno.

“I call myself an ex-gay man,” Domen said.

Domen says he is a changed man. He lived a gay lifestyle for five years, until he hit a turning point. “Literally overnight everything was taken from me. My partner switched bank accounts kicked me out of the house, one thing after the other,” Domen said.

Raised a Christian, he turned to the church. And says that turned his life around, from gay to straight and he is now happily married to his wife, Amanda.

“I'm not here to preach this message and tell people they have to change that's not my job. I just want to share truth so people have the opportunity to change. You can choose God or not God it's your choice,” Domen said.

His visit was sponsored by the Central Valley Strategic Forum. The group formed to support the ban on gay marriage.

“It's a message that's so needed for today there's confusion out there with gender identity and so forth,” said Fred Vanderhoof, director of the forum.

Members of Fresno’s gay community contend the message can even be dangerous. They point to the suicides of gay teenagers, including that of EricJames Borges in Visalia earlier this month.

“If we send these messages out, it kind of aids and abets this feeling that there's something wrong with them and we don't want more kids to commit suicide,” said Chris Jarvis, Vice President with Gay Central Valley.

“Love yourself, love your family, for whoever you and whatever you are because you can't change what you are. You can change how you behave, but you can't change what you are,” said James Hensley, Chris’s partner.

For more information on Jim Domen you can visit his website at: http://jimdomen.net/_home/Home.html

For more information gay rights issues in the valley visit: www.gaycentralvalley.org

Paula Poundstone is appearing at the Tower Theater tonight, Friday, January 27th at 8PM. Tickets are still available for this amazingly funny comedienne.

Appearing on stage with a stool, a microphone, and a can of Diet Pepsi, PAULA POUNDSTONE is famous for her razor-sharp wit and spontaneity. The Boston Globe said, “Poundstone improvises with a crowd like a Jazz musician…swinging in unexpected directions without a plan, without a net.” Paula is so quick and unassuming that audience members at her live shows often leave complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughter and debating whether the random people she talked to were “plants.”

Paula is supporting libraries on a local level by partnering with promoters and the local Friends organization in cities where she performs. The local Friends group receives tickets for use in fundraising or promotion as well as a portion of the book and CD sales after the performance where she makes herself available for signings. Says Poundstone: “It’s funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed. If you haven’t been to your library lately, your overdue.”

I did a recent interview with Paula for Gay Fresno that can be found here…

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - Paula Poundstone.

 

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Come gets all the ins and outs of how to legally change your name and / or gender.

Step by step instructions… all the necessary forms… advice and testimonials!

This FREE event is open to the public and is provided by Gay Central Valley in conjunction with Trans-E-Motion.

Saturday, January 28th at the Fresno LGBT Community Center from 1PM-2:30PM

The Community Center is located at

1055 N Van Ness Avenue Suite A, Fresno, CA 93728…559-325-4429

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

Courtesy The Bay Area Reporter

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The secretary of state’s office today (Thursday, January 26) cleared a proposal to repeal Senate Bill 48 for circulation.

SB 48, also known as the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act, requires that LGBTs’ historical contributions be taught to California’s school students.

The proposal, submitted by Lou Sheldon of the anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition, repeals SB 48′s requirement that instructional materials recognize those contributions.

Sheldon also wants to undo the law’s provision that prohibits instructional materials that reflect adversely on people based on their sexual orientation and other characteristics.

Backers of Sheldon’s initiative have until June 25 to collect the 504,760 valid signatures needed to get the proposal on the state ballot.

Sheldon couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute and its affiliated Capitol Resource Family Impact, is backing another SB 48 repeal initiative, which is expected to be cleared for circulation by mid-February.

Richard Rios, another anti-gay activist, had also proposed undoing SB 48, but he said this week he’s dropping his efforts.

Kathy Mahan of The Fresno Beehive covers our upcoming NOH8 Event…

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The NOH8 campaign is coming to Fresno in July. This will be your chance to take part in the NOH8 photo campaign that supports equality and builds awareness and unity against hate.

If you're not familiar with the campaign, this is the background:

The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with "NOH8" painted on one cheek in protest.

READ MORE HERE - SOURCE - FRESNO BEEHIVE

 

The story of the recent suicide of Eric James Borges, as well as the topic in general, was covered today by Dalton Runberg of the Collegian at Fresno State.

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When College of the Sequioias student Eric James Borges took his life Jan. 11, a month after making an “It Gets Better” video for The Trevor Project, it sent shockwaves through the surrounding community as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the Central Valley.

After a childhood plagued by bullying, abuse and religious parents — who had performed exorcism on him before kicking him out of the home in October — Borges was hired by COS psychology professor Debra Hansen and became an advocate against suicide for the Trevor Project.

The Collegian - Read the rest of this article here...

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Courtesy GLSEN - Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network

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THE HISTORY OF THE NO NAME-CALLING WEEK PROJECT

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled "The Misfits" by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the "Gang of Five" (as they are known) creates a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. The No-Name Party in the end, wins the support of the school's principal for their cause and their idea for a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.

Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's publishing, consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What is No Name-Calling Week?

No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

  • Who should participate?

Anyone who wants to work towards eliminating harmful name-calling, harassment and bullying in their school can be a part of No Name-Calling Week, whether you are a teacher, student, guidance counselor, coach, librarian or bus driver. The curricular materials on this web site and in the Resource Kit are primarily aimed at middle school students, specifically grades 5-8, but may be modified for older or younger students. Feel free to download materials off this web site, or order the Resource Kit and create your own No Name-Calling Week initiative in your community.

  • How do I order a kit, how much is it, and how long will it take to get it?

You can order your kit by clicking here and filling out the order form. The resource kit is $129.95, and will arrive at your door within 3-7 business days from the time you place your order. Expedited shipping service is available upon request.

  • What are some things I can do to promote No Name-Calling Week in my school right now?

Click here to plan your No Name-Calling Week.

Another teen, Phillip Parker, has committed suicide due to anti-gay bullying. This time it’s Tennessee, a state with some of the most aggressive anti-gay bills and laws in the country. They virtually don’t even want the word gay mentioned there.

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Sadly, Parker's case follows a spate of LGBT-related controversy in the state of Tennessee. In addition to Rogers, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would effectively prevent public elementary and middle schools from teaching or distributing material on human sexuality that deals with homosexuality in any way, gained traction once again, while the state's senate Republicans have also proposed a change to the state's anti-bullying law to exempt condemnations of homosexuality based on religion.

As WSMV is reporting, parents and grandparents found 14-year-old Phillip Parker's body last Friday, along with a handwritten note in his trash can reading, "Please help me mom." Family members say they had previously reported concerns about their son's treatment to Gordonsville High School but to no avail.

To any teens reading this who may be in a situation that seems hopeless please remember there are people that can help. The Fresno LGBT Community Center located at 1055 N Van Ness Avenue Suite A in Fresno, CA 93728 can help you find any help you may need. Our phone number is 559-325-4429. Below you’ll find numbers for suicide prevention where you can talk to someone 24 hours a day.

Need help? Visit The Trevor Project's website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.gov.

You can also visit Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) website for more resources.

Watch A Video Of the News Story HERE

Washington State, which has had domestic partnerships since 2007 and an “everything  but marriage” law since 2009 is now on the precipice of becoming the 7th U.S. state (New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa) to legalize same sex marriage. With the announcement of support by a Democratic Senator who would become the 25th vote, securing the issue in the legislature, it’s all starting to look like a “done deal”.

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The announcement by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, that she would cast the 25th and deciding vote in favor of the issue came has hundreds of people filled the Capitol to advocate for and against gay marriage.

"I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage," Haugen said in a statement. She said she took her time making up her mind to "to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy. This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor."

With a governor who has publically supported the passing of same sex marriage, the typical opponents are already rattling their cages…

"You are saying as a committee and a Legislature that you know better than God," said Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church.

"I want to re-emphasize that we fully expect that this issue is going to end up on the ballot," said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle and sponsor of the House bill, said at a news conference following Haugen's announcement. "People should not be complacent."

READ MORE HERE

 

My mom sent me this video in one of the many, many, many emails she sends me each week.  Mom is one of those sweet retired ladies who sees every “forward” (as I call them) as a potential source of new and great wisdom and actually reads them all.  She does.  Then she lovingly decides who would benefit from which and forwards them on.  I finally told her, “Please don’t be offended, but I honestly don’t have time to read them all and usually I just delete them.”  Mom then developed a code that tells me which ones have personal notes to me inside them so I don’t delete the ones where she is actually asking or telling me something.  (And my friends wonder where I get my analytical tendencies.) But sometimes the subject lines intrigue me and I admit to looking at a select few.  Today I got this one called "Farmers Tribute: So God Made A Farmer" from Farms.com:

I have to say I have enjoyed some of Paul Harvey’s monologues or diatribes over the years.  I’m sad that he’s gone; while I did not always agree with him, I did respect him as a news-person.  And frankly he was a comforting voice and reminder of what my mom would call the good old days (which my grandma always told me were not really so good.)  The narrative of this video piece is a bit too religious for my personal taste, but I get the sentiment for farmers and I’m sure many people will love its references to God and his/her love for the farmers.  Now that I am closer to farmland and farming than I ever dreamed I would be, I see a lot more of what goes into it, and I would not even pretend to think I truly have more than an inkling.  What I have witnessed while driving around country roads or overheard at the local coffee shop or listened to Wanda’s farming and farm-worker friends talk about is still impressive:  work that never ends but simply shifts from one crop or harvest to the next, dealing with Mother Nature’s inconsistencies and turmoil, or simply hard and often back-breaking work.  The sometimes poetic description in the video is probably a good representation of what the farming life involves.  I respect it.  It is humbling; not only for the amount of work that most modern workers would not willingly sign up for, but also for what it means to the rest of who just wake up and know there is going to be fresh food at the supermarket or farm stand with very little thought about what it takes to get it there.  What must it feel like to be a farmer and knowingly work to feed people?  Rewarding?  Unappreciated?  Where would we be without them?

What jumped out at me in watching it and maybe it did for you too, is…with one exception right in the beginning, all of these farmers are white.  What the hell?  This video certainly was not filmed around here.  The Central Valley has a lot more diversity in their farmers.  I’m sure there is still a preponderance of farm owners that are white, but there are plenty of farmers that are more diverse than this little “slice of Americana” would have you believe.  Also, if we step away from the idea of who actually owns the farm since in many cases even around here that could be a corporation, where are the actual farm workers in this video?  Can most farms be worked by just dad+mom+2 kids these days?  I don’t think so.  When I drive around here, the workers I see farming lettuce, almonds, cotton, corn, and more include a lot more brown faces than white ones.  Can you say Cesar Chavez?  Why don’t the brown people show up in the film?

I admit I’m going off half-cockadoodle-dooed here.   This is not a piece I spent a week researching for you; I’m just calling it like I see it and videos or commercials like this that want us to pretend all the farmers are white hetero-normative family units is ridiculous.  I tried to figure out how old the video piece is.  According to Farms.com YouTube channel it looks like they made the video and posted at in June 2011.  The Paul Harvey voice-over may be years older (it's credited in several places as being from an essay he delivered in 1978 to the National FFA), but the video's photographic images are what bugged me.  Where are the Latino/Portuguese/Black people in this picture?  The queers?  Yes…there are LGBT farmers out there. How about women farmers (that are not standing next to their Central-Casting-looking husbands)?  One of the toughest people I know around Chowchilla is an amazing woman farmer.    I did look up a couple statistics and found a graph from a report by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (2007) that showed tremendous growth in both women and Hispanic farmers. While White male farmers have been the traditional operator, growth by non-Whites and females have been outpacing for several years.

Farming_demographics

I guess before I drive my blog “tractor” over the edge here, I really just want to say that I’m tired of the misrepresentation.  It is easy to blame the media and the corporations and whomever else we like to blame for that kind of thing.  But it is up to us to question it.   I am one of those people who proudly wore a button around San Francisco for like 10 years that said “Question Authority.”  You’re probably not surprised by that; since then I’ve learned to expand that to “Question Everything.”  In these days of CGI usage in daily commercials and government cover-ups and hypocritical evangelist ministers with mistresses and/or tapping their feet for boy-sex in public restrooms, and magazines photo shopping cellulite off of everyone over 15 so we all think we are supposed to be something we’re not….yes.  Question Everything.  If something doesn't look or sound right to you, like a charming little video about farming that tries to sell you a load of bullshit and subliminally or brazenly shows you that perfect picture of farming is a white opposite-sex type of family where everyone’s hair blows in the breeze, don’t buy it.  Get mad.  Challenge things.  Do some research and find out the truth.  If you are reading this then you have the power at your fingertips.  Farming is not, nor has it ever been, just for white people.

You can find Pamela's blog here...Queer Femme In The Country

Superstar Etta James has passed away at the age of 73.  James was hospitalized in January 2010 to treat an infection caused by MRSA. She was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2011. The illness became terminal and she died on January 20, 2012, just five days before her 74th birthday, at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, California.


Saturday, January 28th
THE FRESNO EXPRESS

is proud to bring you
Manila Luzon
&
Sahara Davenport

GAG!

Join us for this special night with 2 fan favorites from the hit shows
RuPaul's Drag Race, Seasons 2 & 3 and Drag-U

Doors Open @ 9pm

Don't Forget to Watch RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4
Premiering Monday, January 30, 2012 
on Logo

The Fresno Express

The Fresno Express
708 N Blackstone Avenue
DragRace2

atjcz                              lisalingnoh8

Big News! Gay Central Valley has worked for months to bring the NOH8 Campaign and things have finally worked out so GCV and NOH8 can come together. Gay Central Valley will host the NOH8 Campaign in Fresno on Friday, July 13th for an open photo shoot. The event will take place at The Big Red Church, also known as the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (While the event is being held at the church, it is not a church or religious related event)

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We’d like to send out a special thank you to Justin Kamimoto and My LGBT Plus for collaborating with us and donating the cost of the hotel rooms.

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Click on the following link for the FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

The Event has now been posted on the NOH8 Campaign Website…www.NOH8Campaign.com


On FRIDAY, JULY 13TH the NOH8 Campaign will set up our mobile studio at THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF FRESNO (THE BIG RED CHURCH) in FRESNO, CALIFORNIA!

The photo shoot on FRIDAY at THE BIG RED CHURCH is scheduled to begin at 5:00PM and end at 8:00PM. The NOH8 Campaign would like to thank GAY CENTRAL VALLEY and THE BIG RED CHURCH for helping to coordinate our first photo shoot in FRESNO!

You do not need to make reservations; it's first come, first served - and we move quickly! When you arrive, you will receive a numbered model release to fill out, followed by receiving your NOH8 tattoo. We will call numbers throughout the day, and your corresponding release number will signal your time to line up to have your photo taken.

The costs of doing a NOH8 portrait break down as follows:

SOLO PORTRAITS .......... $40.00

COUPLE & GROUP PORTRAITS ........... $25.00 per person

The NOH8 Campaign accepts cash, most major credit cards, and checks made out to 'NOH8Campaign'. Fees cover services & processing for one retouched digital print only (made available through www.NOH8Campaign.com) and do not include physical prints.

The lines moves quickly, so don't let the RSVP's intimidate you! We always do our best to make sure that everyone in line by 8:00PM has a chance to pose for their photo - and up to this point, we haven't ever had to turn anyone away! Anyone that would like to join the NOH8 Campaign is asked to wear a plain white shirt to match the look of the signature NOH8 photos.

Celebrity Photographer & NOH8 Co-Founder Adam Bouska will be working around the clock to photograph 5-10 frames for each person that comes through. The final selection he chooses will be retouched and made available to you in about 8 weeks through the website:

www.NOH8Campaign.com

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?


ARRIVE BETWEEN 5:00PM AND 8:00PM @

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF FRESNO

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

(THE BIG RED CHURCH)

2131 N VAN NESS BLVD.

FRESNO, CA 93704

* COME CAMERA READY *

* WEAR WHITE *

* POSE & MAKE A STATEMENT! *

Once you arrive, the NOH8 Campaign will apply the NOH8 temporary tattoo to your face, and we will also supply you with the silver duct tape for the photo.

I Need Your Help!

interview

If you are between the ages of 18-27 and would like to help a college student achieve her Master’s and would like to have your story heard then please participate!

My name is Danielle Gonzalez and I am a Master’s student at Fresno State in the social work department. I am basing my thesis/project on people who identify as LGBTQ, and their experiences in high school. I would like to discuss your opinions and feelings of your high school experience and recommendations.

This would be a face to face interview and take no longer than an hour in a quiet, secluded room. Your identity will remain confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone related to the center or CSU Fresno, and will be helping a master’s student complete her thesis/project.

For completing the interview you will receive a $5 gift card to Starbucks.

Please call me at (559) 287-2177 if you are interested and we can set up a time to conduct the interview.

Thank you!!

Jennifer Crow has taken over as Librarian at the Arne Nixon Center in the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State, after Angelica Carpenter retired. I visited her to speak about the Student Empowerment Project. The Project, in its infant stages, hopes to get LGBT books, along with speakers and video presentations into all local high schools.

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Chris Jarvis: Can you give me an overview of what the Student Empowerment Project is all about?

Jennifer Crow: Let’s start from the beginning. We acquired about 500 LGBT themed books , which are now here in the library. Anyone can use them, but because we’re a special collection, they don’t get checked out. So they’re not very accessible to a lot of people who could best use them, primarily high school students.

CJ:So what prompted the idea of the Student Empowerment Project was to get LGBT books out of the closet, so to speak, and into the hands of students?

JC:Right. These will be here, they’re not censored, they’ll always be here. They’re an archive. But we would like to reach out and share these books with people in the 16 metropolitan high schools. Fresno Unified, Clovis Unified and Central Unified. What we’d like to do is to place the 20 best books that we choose in the schools.

CJ:And how will you choose the books?

JC:Experts in the field will help us choose them. People like Michael Cart and KT Horning, who were two of the original donors. So we, along with the experts will choose the books to place in the schools.

CJ:Will those books be coming from your collection?

JC:They won’t actually be coming from our collection. We plan to raise the money to purchase the books we want to place in the school libraries. We’re also going to be working with the schools to make sure we’re not just leaving books there. We want to involve their GSA’s if they have a GSA, and certainly librarians and counselors. Our plan is to let the GSA’s choose another 20 books, all titles that we own as well.

CJ:So you’ll provide a list and students can pick 20 from there as well.

JC:Or if they have a book they love and they’ve read and they say they’d like to have that in the library, we can do that as well. It’s really important to have the students have some say about what goes into their library.

Click on Read More below for the rest of this interview...

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The Daily Show talks about the deplorable conditions in China, where much of our technology is produced…Watch the video here…

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-16-2012/fear-factory

The weather around here has been pretty nice this week.  I’ve made multiple comments on the Facebook pages of my friends in Reno saying how much I do NOT miss the snow.  Except for looking out the window at while I curl up with my wife someplace warm with a Hot Apple Pie cocktail in my hand.  While I admit she and I had some pretty outrageous late night drunken snow angel-making adventures, for the most part I like it much better here in the Central Valley farm country for winter.

I inherited a lovely 40+ year old garden started by the woman who owned the home we rent.  I wish I could have met her and learned exactly how to take care of each and every plant she lovingly placed in my garden haven.  I guess I could call myself The Reluctant Gardener, but I’m really not all that reluctant about it, just uninformed.  I’ve never had the opportunity to grow a dozen rose bushes, lily’s and other bulbs or the other 897 plants (I might be exaggerating but perhaps not, it’s hard to count them all) I’ve become the caretaker of.  I’ve been told by the current owners not to worry about all those plants; that if I want to rip some out or if some happen to die, that it is okay.  Maybe for them, but of course I take it as a personal challenge to keep each of the original owner’s “babies” alive and well.  So far, I’m doing pretty good (pats self on back.)

Chancalas  yellowrose

One of the great things I’ve learned about on my gardening “path” is the beauty of a pair of chanclas.  First I must tell you that I only recently learned this term.  When I first saw a pair I thought they way too boyish for moi, and in fact, the people I knew that wore them were gay guy friends in LA.  When I would visit there, I admired how cute they looked with their socks and chanclas but didn’t really see myself wearing them.  And they always looked really convenient and comfortable; very LA.  I didn't know they had a name, I since I have a penchant for making up terminology, I called them “slippee-slidee shoes"; made sense to me.

 

Below is the full text of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech...

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

CLICK ON READ MORE BELOW FOR THE REST OF THE SPEECH...

 

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Boycotts, boycotts, boycotts.  I’m not a boycott person. I’ve lived long enough and worked for enough corporations that I understand the level of inequity that permeates virtually all of them, to one degree or another. Still, in the last couple of years I’ve had to hear many in the LGBT Community recommend and stand by protests and boycotts of such corps as Walmart and Target. Talk to them about it? Pointless. Those who jump on boycotts often do it with a handful of facts at their disposal, with a willing ignorance of what may be wrong at the places they shop.

Virtually everyone I know who urges and participates in boycotts all own Apple products, often many of them. They also replace them year after year, even though the reasons to do so are getting smaller and smaller so as to be almost non-existent. Still, you just have to replace your iPhone every year or two, don’t you?

Try this…try to talk to someone who will boycott Walmart without taking a breath, about the practices in place that support their Apple addictions. There are lots of interesting facts…

Courtesy Business Insider...

Last week, NPR's "This American Life" did a special on Apple's manufacturing. The show featured (among others) the reporting of Mike Daisey, the man who does the one-man stage show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," and The NYT's Nicholas Kristof, whose wife is from China.

You can read a transcript of the whole show here. Here are some details:

Foxconn, one of the companies that builds iPhones and iPads (and products for many other electronics companies), has a factory in Shenzhen that employs 430,000 people.

One Foxconn worker Mike Daisey interviewed, outside factory gates manned by guards with guns, was a 13-year old girl. She polished the glass of thousands of new iPhones a day.

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The 13-year old said Foxconn doesn't really check ages. There are on-site inspections, from time to time, but Foxconn always knows when they're happening. And before the inspectors arrive, Foxconn just replaces the young-looking workers with older ones.

In the first two hours outside the factory gates, Daisey meets workers who say they are 14, 13, and 12 years old (along with plenty of older ones). Daisey estimates that about 5% of the workers he talked to were underage.

The workers stay in dormitories. In a 12-by-12 cement cube of a room, Daisey counts 15 beds, stacked like drawers up to the ceiling. Normal-sized Americans would not fit in them.

Unions are illegal in China. Anyone found trying to unionize is sent to prison.

Daisey interviews dozens of (former) workers who are secretly supporting a union. One group talked about using "hexane," an iPhone screen cleaner. Hexane evaporates faster than other screen cleaners, which allows the production line to go faster. Hexane is also a neuro-toxin. The hands of the workers who tell him about it shake uncontrollably.


Some workers can no longer work because their hands have been destroyed by doing the same thing hundreds of thousands of times over many years (mega-carpal-tunnel). This could have been avoided if the workers had merely shifted jobs. Once the workers' hands no longer work, obviously, they're canned.

One former worker had asked her company to pay her overtime, and when her company refused, she went to the labor board. The labor board put her on a black list that was circulated to every company in the area. The workers on the black list are branded "troublemakers" and companies won't hire them.

One man got his hand crushed in a metal press at Foxconn. Foxconn did not give him medical attention. When the man's hand healed, it no longer worked. So they fired him. (Fortunately, the man was able to get a new job, at a wood-working plant. The hours are much better there, he says — only 70 hours a week).

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE...

In many factories in China, which is where most of our “stuff” comes from, large nets have had to be placed around high rise companies because of all the worker suicide jumps.

So a great number of the things we love in this country are produced in a country with these horrendous conditions. Still, most of us prefer to condemn a couple of mainstream department stores instead of looking at the big picture. Of course, you can still start a boycott of Target right now by texting your friends on your iPhone…

Our own Brooke Burk of GayVisalia.com discusses the recent suicide of Eric James Borges.

I don't really like Suze Orman. I don't think she ever offers any practical advice for those without the means to just "hang onto your savings". She really has no idea what people without loads of money go through in trying to make ends meet. That being said, this is the first logical thing she's said. And watch how Barbra Walters twists it afterwards, back to "social issues" rather than listening to Orman who explained that the social injustice results in a financial injustice. Those of us (same sex couples) who are legally married under state law understand how screwed we are under federal law. And those same sex couples who can't even get married in their own states? They're screwed all the way around...

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Visalia: 19-year old gay teen, Eric James Borges, succumbed to suicide yesterday.

Services Planned...Facebook Event Pages... 

Remembering Eric James Borges Jan 18th

As much of our community now knows, our student and friend, Eric James Borges, succumbed to suicide on Wednesday evening, January 11. The world has lost a beautiful, gentle, and nurturing soul from his passing, and the COS Theatre Department would like to provide an opportunity for his friends and admirers to gather together to discuss his life and his legacy. We will be showing some of his work, reading from some of his stories, and offering an outlet for folks to ask questions and receive guidance during this difficult time. If you would like to offer any assistance with this gathering, please contact Professor Chris Mangels at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Eric James Borges Memorial Service Jan 21st

Please join us for this day of remembrance. All are welcome. We are hoping to provide a time and space for love, acceptance and memories. Service to provide unconditional love and support for friends, family, and community members. For additional information, please contact me or Van.

From The Trevor Project...

If you or someone you know needs support, please don’t hesitate to call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386

 

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Courtesy Paula's Publicist...The Tower Theatre of the Performing Arts in Fresno, CA is proud to present comedian Paula Poundstone in concert Friday, January 27th.  It’s impossible to attend a Paula Poundstone performance without marveling at her ability to interact spontaneously with audience members in conversations bound to garner riotous laughter. Armed with nothing but a stool, a microphone and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula’s ability to create humor on the spot has become the stuff of legend. Little wonder people leave Paula’s shows debating whether the random people she talked to were “plants” – which, of course they never are, and complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughter.

SEE PAULA POUNDSTONE IN FRESNO ON FRIDAY JANUARY 27TH

Showtime:  8:00PM Tickets: $32.50 - $35.50

Visit:  www.towertheatrefresno.com or call:  559-485-9050

The Tower Theatre of the Performing Arts is located at 815 East Olive Ave. Fresno, CA 93728

Chris Jarvis: When I heard Paula Poundstone was coming to Fresno, I had one instinct...I want to talk to her. First, I want to help promote her show at the Tower Theater and second, I've been a fan for many, many years. She's always been one of my favorite comediennes. We arranged a phone interview and I gave her a call...You can find Paula Poundstone LINKS at the end of this article...

CHRIS JARVIS: Paula, how do you feel about playing conservative versus liberal cities?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Doesn't matter at all. Because you know what, there is no such thing as a conservative or liberal city. Every area is peopled by some mixture. So I find that a lot of times when I'm in a place that people consider a "red state" I actually find that the audiences are fantastic. I think the groups that come out tend to just be the group with a more liberal persuasion.

CJ: How much of your show is scripted and how much do you just play off the audience?

PP: You know, on a good night, and I like to think there are some, I go to the audience and kind of ask where they're from, and read things through that, and then it has that pinball kind of effect.

CJ: I see you've been Tweeting about the Presidential Campaign.

PP: Oh it's hard not to. It's pretty funny. I don't know if every year has always been this funny, although I used to get a chuckle out of Lamar Alexander years ago. I've said it before and I'll say it again, watching the Republican field this time is like watching a front loading dryer. I don't think anybody could have predicted how many times this sort of shifting interest would happen.

CJ: Right. It's like a game show where they pick somebody new every week.

PP: Honestly! It really has been. Michelle Bachman was on the cover of Newsweek as if we all needed to know about Michelle Bachman because she was such a possibility.

CJ: The crazy picture.

PP: Yes, the crazy picture. I always sort of felt bad for the photographer because it's sort of hard not to get a crazy picture.

Click on Read More below for the rest of this interview...

 

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SOURCE WITH MORE INFO...

Join us and help make our schools a safer place for LGBT students. Take two minutes of your day to call your Senators and urge them to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act:

  • Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121

  • Ask for your Senators and make your voice heard

  • Ask your friends to call too

  • Keep calling every week until this important bill passes

Reminder: Fresno Stonewall Democrats will meet THIS EVENING, Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at Carrow's Restaurant, 4280 N. Blackstone at Ashlan in Fresno.

Dinner/social hour: 6:00 P.M., meeting: 7:00 P.M.

This is membership renewal time. Dues are $20 per year. Please bring $20 cash or a check or you may renew online with a credit card via ActBlue or PayPal at our new website: http://fresnostonewalldemocrats.org/wordpress/

You may also mail a check to:

Fresno Stonewall Democrats

5965 E. Shields Ave. #170

Fresno, CA 93727-8061

Those who recently joined or renewed late in 2011 will not have to renew at this time. If you would like to know your renewal status please contact the Treasurer, Jay Hubbell at 292-4905  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We will be filling the vacancy for Fresno Stonewall Democrats Secretary to serve out the unexpired one year of a two-year term of office.

Our guest speaker will be Susan Good who has declared her candidacy for Fresno City Council District 4. This is the seat currently held by Council member Larry Westerlund who is termed out.

Here is the original video of the transgender child who was at first rejected by the Girl Scouts, but later granted admission...

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The attached video shows a 14 year old California girl issuing a call for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies because a Colorado chapter of the Girl Scouts proudly admitted to the acceptance of transgendered girls.

"I am asking you to take action with me and boycott Girl Scout Cookies." The video eventually concludes with a tagline for the Honest Girl Scouts site, which describes itself as a group "concerned with the alarming choices GSUSA has been making," and "advocating for a change back to simply building girls of good character."

It's a difficult video to watch because of the calculated delivery of this girl, who often seems like nothing more than a robot reciting lines.

Let this be said, the Girl Scouts as an organization is open minded and thoughtful, and much more liberal than the average American might be aware of. While this girl is following the principals she learned from the Girl Scouts in expressing her opinion, she is not in line with the general policies of the Girl Scouts as an organization.

Time to step up and buy MORE Cookies to support the Girl Scouts, who have in place many liberal policies the LGBT Community would be proud of, including allowing transgender kids to join.

Victoria Benavides is the Central Valley Program Coordinator forGSA Network . I sat down with her at the Fresno LGBT Community Center to talk about the state of GSA's in the Central Valley, the upcoming ENS Conference and how students facing harassment or discrimination at their schools can use available tools to report and control safety issues on their campuses.

A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club, typically in a high school or middle school, which provides a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and work to end homophobia and transphobia.

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CHRIS JARVIS: How many GSA's are there in the Central Valley?

VICTORIA BENAVIDES: We have over 60 in the Central Valley, in the region from Stockton down to, right before Bakersfield. I would like to encourage our Central Valley GSA's to not only become more active, but to also register their groups at GSA Network, on a yearly basis. Some signed up initially but haven't checked back in and we don't know and can't send out the appropriate resources if we don't know if they exist anymore. Some of our GSA's have never re-registered since they started some 10 years ago. So we ask that they update contact information in order to continue receiving resources.

CJ: And for schools without GSA's that want to start one, how do they do that?

VB: Yes, visit GSA Network - Start A GSA (www.gsanetwork.org) and there's a whole kit on how to start up a GSA. There's a ten step process to starting up a GSA.

CJ: Expression Not Suppression is coming up on March 24th. Tell us about that event.

VB: Expression Not Suppression is a conference that's happened here in the Valley for about 8 years. It's an opportunity for students who are LGBTQQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) to come to a place not only with people similar to them but also strong allies to learn about creating safe communities and safe schools.

CJ: How do the kids get there?

VB: We're hoping to get all the information out by the end of January so that accommodations can be made for transportation. Schools do have the opportunity to make this a field trip, and some schools do car pooling. We also want to do the groundwork with some local organizations to create car pooling for the students. In all of those instances the students will either need permission slips for a field trip or a simple permission slip from their parents to attend a community event.

ENS has evolved from a specifically GSA Networks to a partnership with organizations like Community Link. It was just too hard with the workload of GSA Central Valley Coordinators to get to the kind of attendance we want, which is around 200, without a major partnership. So Community Link became a strong partner around the time Robin McGeHee was a part of GSA. GSA is taking a little bit more of the forefront for the planning, while Community Link will be helping us with lot of things like donations for breakfast, etc.

Click on READ MORE below for the rest of this story...

 

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The porn industry in Los Angeles is getting a directive from the LA City Council...Condom Use Is No Longer an Option...It's a Requirement...

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In the years after AIDS became such a devastating disease, porn films generally "manned up" and instituted condom use, but with the decline of AIDS related deaths and a manageable routine to treat the disease, condom use not only waned, but a whole new market of films which deliberately and blatantly threw out condom use, proliferated. "Bareback" films were back in vogue.

Now, at least in LA, government is stepping in to change the system, in an effort to battle HIV & STD infections.

The controversy erupted in August, 2010...

After a performer in Miami had an initial positive test from a medical clinic for the virus that causes AIDS, a weeklong shutdown of porn production from coast to coast in early September ensued, affecting scores of major and minor productions. Luckily for the titans of this industry, it turned out to be a false positive.

Despite the false positive, the campaign for mandatory condoms kicked into high gear.

The measure does need a second approval, next week, before it can become law. If it does, there are already talks of the industry moving underground or out of state to avoid the restrictions.

READ MORE HERE...

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supreme-court-250x250“I was critical of the decision to take Prop 8 to court. I don’t the think the five-member Supreme Court majority that we have is ready to declare that there is a constitutional right to marry everywhere.

“To bring a lawsuit when you’re not likely to win it, prematurely, is a mistake. So I was very critical of those people in California who were doing that.

“When the Supreme Court decides the Prop 8 case, what I believe is likely to happen is that they will accept the decision of the circuit court in the west coast [ the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had narrowed the decision to apply only to California]. It’s people being rescued from themselves. Some of them are still trying to push the broader case, which I think is a mistake.”

Authored By Lester Brathwaite – See the Full Story at Queerty

This certainly isn't the Archie Comics I read as a kid...

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In the issue, Kevin decides to follow in his father's footsteps and join the military -- but becomes injured while serving in Iraq. While recovering at the hospital's rehabilitation unit, Kevin meets an African-American doctor -- and the two eventually fall in love. The couple's happy wedding day is featured on cover of Life With Archie #16.

SOURCE

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Note to reader:  This particular post turned out to be much more than I imagined when I started, so be prepared for a bit longer read than usual.  Go get your coffee first.  I am not affiliated with either side of this issue, nor do I claim to be any kind of expert.  Just a citizen of a small Central Valley town.

It has taken me all these months here in Chowchilla to get sort of “settled.”  For those who read this blog regularly, you’ve heard many of the challenges and differences my wife and I have faced in moving here.  It is only now starting to feel like we live here rather than just visiting.  It’s hard finding the right descriptor.  I wanted to say comfortable, but most of the time it’s really not comfortable here.  There are some very nice people to interact with in addition to our friends, but even though Angela grew up here, we are essentially outsiders and probably always will be.  Small towns are not always as welcoming as seen on cable TV movies.  In my opinion, it directly correlates to how insulated this community is and that they feel they have to protect their way of life.  Does just being a lesbian in your town mean I am trying to change your way of life?  Maybe it does to most of them…the circle feels pretty closed.

I don’t give up or give in easily, so we prevail by being an ongoing presence here whether we are liked or not, welcomed or not.  My friends will tell you that neither Angela nor I are good at just sitting around or kicking back and letting things roll.  I have been an activist of one type or another since 1988 in San Francisco.  I personally believe that part of the reason we are put on earth is to make ourselves into the best we can be and to make differences large or small whenever and however we can.  So even though I’m far away from my circle of long-time friends and the years of political and activist contacts I made where I used to live, you can’t take the activist out of the girl.

Men can be, and are sexually assaulted and gay men are targets for anti-gay violence. This change in wordage will help these men find justice. Clearly this is another step in the direction of equal rights along with the momentum of support for gays to legally marry and the repeal of DADT.  Every step moves us closer to equality and for that there must be justice for all.

Lorie Frye--

DOJ Changes Rape Definition to Include Men Posted 1/6/2012 11:37:00 AM

By Karen Ocamb
News Editor

 

 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of rape on Friday. The new definition enables the FBI to collect more comprehensive statistical reports from local law enforcement agencies, thus providing a better picture of the scope of rape nationwide. The new definition of rape is:

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

According to a DOJ press release:

The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with state statute. Physical resistance from the victim is not required to demonstrate lack of consent. The new definition does not change federal or state criminal codes or impact charging and prosecution on the local level.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” Vice President Joe Biden, author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, said in a press release. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”

occupy-the-courts

Courtesy Move To Amend

Inspired by our friends at Occupy Wall Street, and Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision!

Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday January 20, 2012.

Move to Amend volunteers across the USA will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.

Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, “Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!” And they are chanting those truths at the top of their lungs! The time has come to make these truths evident to the courts.

➤➤ Join us Friday, January 20, 2012 at a Federal Court building near you! Click here to sign up.

Fresno is on the list...for more details and a contact for Fresno click here... http://movetoamend.org/occupythecourts

Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) communities continue to face challenges getting services to fit their unique needs. This is why we invite you to participate in a groundbreaking study about the needs of LGBTQ people and their families.

We need your voice!

To take the survey, copy and paste this URL into your browser

: http://tinyurl.com/LGBTReducingDisparities 

This survey is for anyone whose sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression may not fit the expectations of society, their friends or families.  It is also for parents/guardians of LGBTQ individuals.

We know not everyone identifies as LGBTQ.  When we use this common acronym, we are also referring to the many diverse ways community members identify including, but not limited to:

Del Ambiente * Downe * Gender Queer * Intersex * Pansexual

Same Gender Loving * Stud * Transgenero * Two Spirit

No matter what label you may use to identify yourself, or if you’ve ever wondered if you’re LGBTQ, this survey is for you.

Please also forward the survey link to your friends and family in California.

Take the survey and forward it now!

Cut and paste the following into your browser:

http://tinyurl.com/LGBTReducingDisparities

The LGBTQ Reducing Disparities Project Survey will explore the discrimination, inequalities, and needs of Californians whose sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression may not fit the expectations of society.

If you would like more information about the project please contact

Poshi Mikalson, Project Manager at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 916-520-4528

This project is presented by the California LGBT Health and Human Services Network through a collaborative arrangement with Equality California Institute and Mental Health America Northern California funded by the Mental Health Services Act.

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Pamela Brooks is a new contributor to Gay Fresno, adding her unique voice, insight and wit.

"I'm a city girl by way of Phoenix, Reno, San Francisco, Reno, Portland, and Reno.  I have cowgirl and philharmonic in my blood but never thought I'd live in farm country.  My politics are libertarian to democratic; I believe in following your dreams and the power of mind over matter.  Let the games begin. 

You can find Pamela's blog here...Queer Femme In The Country

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An incident happened a couple weeks ago that should not have affected me the way it did.  I started to write about and got kind of stuck, so I let it sit a bit and decided to tackle it again.

As a queer femme I have had remarkably few negative incidents because of my queerness, especially compared to stories from my butch female or gay male friends.  Like many other femmes, I “pass”, meaning that just to look at me there is nothing distinctly “gay” about me that puts up people’s sensors or gaydars or other filters that alert them to something they don’t like.  Or maybe I should just say something that shows them what is different from them.

Because I don’t really “look” gay, I’ve had to fight my way out of the closet.  I’ve spent more time convincing people I am gay than most LGBT folks spend telling others they are not.  I’ve always joked about getting a rainbow “L” tattooed on my forehead.  I want people to know.  I love that I am queer.  It’s as much a part of me as being a woman, or being American.  I don’t “rub people’s noses in it” (an expression I find distasteful, but one that many straight people I’ve known over the years say when they are okay with my being gay up to a degree, but please don’t tell them more than they want to know or are comfortable with.)

So a few weeks ago, one of the Chow Chow Sisters (CCS) around here told me about an exercise class.  I miss going to the gym, but since I’m still looking for work, extras like gym membership are not an option right now.  I checked out a yoga class here in town, but you have to buy an $80 card up front so that’s out too.  So when the CCS told me that it was free, my ears perked up.  This life of caretaking involves a lot of shoving and lifting but not so much aerobic activity.   Have you ever walked with an elderly person?  Or pushed a wheelchair?  You just can’t go that fast.  So I thought a slow paced exercise class would be a great way to get back into it, and maybe get some good stretching like I was craving.  The CCS told me it was at the senior center but assured me anyone could go.  I didn’t want to seem like I was taking advantage of what few perks the seniors have these days, so I called the next business day to make sure it was cool.  The administrator said it was twice a week, you did not have to be a senior and they welcomed having newcomers.  Great.  I made a commitment to myself to start the next Thursday.

 

The Christian Examiner is the largest Christian newspaper in the states. According to their general information blurb, which functions as a mission statement, the newspaper aims to:

“. . .report newsworthy religious events and activities within the local Christian community, nationwide and around the world, to increase the awareness and activism of believers regarding the moral issues of today, to provide thought-provoking commentary, and to provide an effective advertising vehicle for Christian ministries and organizations, events, and businesses which want to reach the Christian marketplace.”

I pick up the monthly edition of the Minnesota Christian Examiner made available to me through my university campus. I read the stories that are pertinent to the “Queer” community and often become discomforted. It’s not because I am angry with Christianity raging with atheist fervor; it’s because the voices of the silent majority are often too shy to express one of two perspectives. Either that I am an LGBT Christian, or even more compelling, I am an LGBT ally and Christian.

It’s reasonable to suspect that the Christian Examiner editors are selective in choosing “true” Christian voices that perpetuate a message that is in line with the majority Christian moral stance on gay and lesbian issues. Nonetheless, there are limited LGBT news outlets giving voice to faithful gays and lesbians and their allies who also identify as Christian.

The Christian identity is often disguised as a radical Tea Party perspective. This viewpoint is highlighted by individuals like, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Bryan Fischer, and the likes. But on numerous occasions there are family members and friends who cling simultaneously to faith and support of “Queer” individuals. They continually send the message that God still loves us, cherishes us, and is there for us. Yet, media outlets like Christian Examiner and Christian Post have successfully created a false perception that Christians are strictly anti-gay.

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The Fresno LGBT Community Center now has forms available to the public for the purposes of legally changing a person’s name and/or gender. Simply visit the Center during open hours and we can make copies of the forms for you.

If you are unable to visit the Community Center please call us at 559-325-4429 at any time and leave us a message with the details of how we can mail the forms to you.

There will also be a workshop on this topic at the Fresno LGBT Community Center on

Saturday, January 28th from 1-2:30pm.

Come gets all the ins and outs of how to legally change your name and / or gender. Step by step instructions… all the necessary forms… advice and testimonials! This FREE event is open to the public and is provided by Gay Central Valley in conjunction with Trans-E- Motion.

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

The Fresno LGBT Community Center is located at 1055 N Van Ness Avenue Suite A, Fresno, CA 93728. You can reach us by phone at 559-325-4429.

Fresno Stonewall Democrats will meet on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at Carrow's Restaurant, 4280 N. Blackstone at Ashlan in Fresno. Dinner and social 6:00 P.M. meeting 7:00 P.M.

Our speaker will be Susan Good, candidate for Fresno City Council District 4. This is the seat currently held by Council member Larry Westerlund who is termed out.

Additionally, we will be filling a vacancy for secretary. We will be discussing various issues of interest as well.

Fresno Stonewall Democrats represents the interests of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community in Fresno and the surrounding area through the Democratic Party.

For more information visit www.fresnostonewalldemocrats.org, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 266-9237.

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The Fresno County Department of Public Health is offering FREE Rapid HIV Testing Tuesday - Thursday, January 3rd-5th, 2012 at their local offices between the hours of 8:30AM-11AM and from 1PM-3PM.

UPDATE: There will also be FREE Rapid HIV Testing available on the following dates in January...

Jan 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th and 31st

The Health Department is located at

1221 Fulton Mall

First Floor

Fresno, CA

For more info call 559-600-3434

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Yeardley Smith, the French-born actress best know for playing the voice of Lisa Simpson on Fox’s animated series The Simpsons, has pledged up to $25,000 to the group challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) announced the gift in an email to supporters on Thursday.

See the Full Story at On Top Magazine

A celebration of life hosted by the Golden State Bears honoring members Tom Hayhurst, Allan Gilbert, and Patric Hipp will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5th, beginning at 1pm. The celebration will be at the Spiritual Living Center, 723 West Clinton, between Fruit and West avenues.

We welcome food donations for the event.

70768_100000671735713_1296530_n     With the new out cry against bullying and violence sweeping the country, we are once again asked to revisit an age old argument: How do movies and video games affect our children? There are many people who will argue that violence and sexual themes in video games, movies, and television alter a child's perception of reality because they glorify violent behavior and sexual promiscuity, as well as the use of drugs and alcohol, There are just as many people who will argue the opposite, believing that a person isn't affected by the fictional worlds created by Hollywood and the gaming industry. Personally, I think there's truth in both sides, and as experience has taught me, life typically falls somewhere in the middle of what most believe to be true. I'd like to think there are positive lessons to be learned from the same games and movies that people claim are negative. I think we have a duty to make sure that everyone understands the difference between reality and fiction. I think its important that we teach our children to see the best and worst in every situation and to always learn and grow from the experience. This includes their day to day interaction with film, television, media, and video games.

 

I've seen the movies. I've played the games. To me, there's no difference in the situations they expose than we can find in books and the local news. Huckleberry Finn,Tom Sawyer, Native Son, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, A Brave New World, and Animal Farm can be found on almost every AP reading list in the country. They are considered classics by librarians the world over, and all of them contain some sort of violence, hatred, or sexual component. There are countless others that detail graphic arrays of perverse acts, murder, and disregard for human life, and yet they remain a part of the educational system. Why is it that we are comfortable with Mark Twain's use of the word 'nigger' and 'injin,' but when Tina Fey says it on the news we are outraged? (And please don't think for a second that I'm defending Tina Fey.) High school English teachers have no problem discussing the implications of "Bigger Thomas's" relationship to "Mary Dalton" and his subsequent sexual assault and murder of Mary, but they refuse to discuss the commonalities of "Kurt Hummel" of Glee to the torments of many gay and lesbian teenagers across the country? The argument is that video games and movies give life to these characters making them more real, but from the point of view of the human psyche, there is little in the universe more real to us than that created by our own imaginations. How many times have you awoken from a dream, terrified, out of breath, and scrambling for safety? How many times has your mind wandered over the images in a news article and its account of a local murder, leaving you panicked and frustrated? The human mind is a powerful thing. The difference, I believe, is not in the content or media type, but in the discussion. The fear created by a nightmare is placated by talking about it, sharing it, or "pinching" yourself. Knowing that it was only a dream makes it better. When your mind lingers on the news stories of the day, you can wrest it from your thoughts by simply moving on to another more positive activity. When a person becomes violent through video games and movies, it is because they get lost in the fantasy...and the same can be said for books.

 

I’ve done my fair share of watching the television show GLEE. I’m always suspicious, though, when the common voices heap so much praise on a television show. I enjoyed a few of the early episodes, mostly for Sue Sylvester, the barbed mouth with the best lines I’ve heard from the writer of a TV show in some time. Recently, though, it’s clear the show has become full of itself and it’s starting to show.

The rock band Kings of Leon were asked by the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, if their songs could be used on the show. They declined. According to what I heard, the band had never even seen the show, so it was a simple no thank you, nothing more. Well, Murphy sort of came unglued…

“F--- you, Kings of Leon,"…“They're self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture.”

Then the drummer for the band, Nathan Followill, responded with this…

"Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7yr olds how to say fuck."

Which many people claimed was homophobic. Followill later apologized.

All I can say is that GLEE should come down from their cloud and stop taking themselves so seriously.

 

READ MORE HERE

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, proposed Senate Bill 48, also known as the Fair Education Act, last month in hopes to acknowledge gay Americans in classroom textbooks and prevent gay bullying in California public schools; however, there are many opposing the bill.

“There isn’t social science that demonstrates that teaching children about the glories of the gay rights movement will reduce bullying,” Tucker Carlson said on the Dec. 17 episode of Fox News’ & Friends.

Growing up gay in the Central Valley isn’t easy. In fact, it’s tough for many young gay teens because exposure to people like themselves is a rare occurence. The high school I attended in Bakersfield did not carry books that showcased historical gay characters or gay public figures. Celebrities had yet to come-out and I had never heard the name Harvey Milk until the movie “Milk” released in theaters in 2008. And in many instances, I am the first gay person that many people in the Central Valley ever meet.

Continue reading here

100_2268I had TOTALLY forgotten how long it takes to get in drag; from padding, to corset, hoes, and then fussing with make up that just seemed to be working against me for time. and then my wig and outfit went through as Janet Jackson conveniently called it wardrobe "malfunction". Not even because I made my own jewelry, painted nails, sewn sequins and beads weeks in advance; I was more than fashionable late allows. Once there I was greeted and made to feel welcome by Reynaldo Polido AKA "Esmerelda" and Russell McCartyAKA "Margo Starr" (forgive me for not knowing titles and numbers ladies... mamma's been out of circuit too long). There was a dinner provided with ticket purchase, but drinks were separate charge, (hmm, can we say Hometown buffet?)

 

I sat with Ms. Lisa Marie Le Grande, his mother, and his wife, Carol. I had brought along Robert St.James, (who plans to have me sponsor him for next year Closet Ball). I had fun catching up with old friends and making new friends like "Silk".

A gay couple who were refused when trying to rent a room at a bed and breakfast in southern England have sued and won their case.

There was a media uproar after Martyn Hall and his partner Steven Preddy were turned away from Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, in southwestern England, in 2008. Husband and wife Peter and Hazelmary Bull - both devout Christians - had refused on religious grounds to let the two men share a room.

The owners of the hotel stated that since they live in the residence used as a bed and breakfast that their rights should be respected and protected. The judge disagreed, stating that the Christian couple’s rights were "inevitably circumscribed by their decision to use their home in part as a hotel."

The couple went on to say that they refused to rent to unmarried couples, period, including heterosexuals, but the judge didn’t see it that way, and awarded the couple about $2,900 each in the case.

READ MORE HERE

While authorities in Minnesota will not release the nature of the emergency call that took them to the Lundsten home over the weekend, the fact remains that 18 year old Lance Lundsten has died, and authorities have confirmed it is apparently a suicide.

 

His friends say he was bullied at school and they suspect that is what resulted in the suicide. Facebook pages have been started as memorials.

READ MORE HERE

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Gay Central Valley is thrilled to announce that we have opened an LGBT Community Center & Office in the Tower District. We are located at 1055 N Van Ness Avenue, Suite C, Fresno, CA 93728. Our 24 hour phone number is 559-325-4429 or 559-325-4GAY.

As we are just starting out we are unable to be open every day. Our current schedule is...

WEDNESDAYS            12PM-6PM

FRIDAYS                    12PM-5PM

SATURDAYS               12PM-6PM

SUNDAYS                   9AM-12PM

During open hours, we are open to the public, and offer access to information and LGBT resources both local and national, including local publications such as News Link and the CCA Newsletter. We have reference materials relating to the LGBT civil rights movement as well as print outs of recent court decisions effecting the LGBT community.

We offer free condoms and HIV/AIDS information, courtesy of the Fresno County Department of Health. We have a lounge area to relax in, socialize, read or work. We have also started a collection of books and magazines to stock our LGBT Community Library. We currently have several LGBT classic novels (Dancer From The Dance, Rubyfruit Jungle, etc.) some anthologies, nonfiction titles, and back issues of The Advocate, OUT Magazine and Instinct, as well as other titles.

While we will eventually have a community computer available, currently we have two computers available in our office, with one typically free during open office hours. We also have a conference table with 8 chairs available to local groups and organizations for meetings. Meetings must be pre-scheduled with our office and are open even on days when our office is not open, depending on availability.

The Gay In The Central Valley Art Project which we started last year is displayed and we have the materials necessary for anyone to create their own addition to this creative project. The Art Project  shines a light on what it's like to grow up in the Central Valley as a member of the LGBT Community, as well as those who support us.

On Sundays we provide coffee and donuts or other treats from 9AM-Noon. Also on Sundays Kate Henry of Gay Central Valley is happy to provide assistance to anyone regarding social justice advocacy and grant writing.

On Sunday, February 13th from 2PM-5PM we will be hosting an Open House at the Community Center with complimentary food and drink, as well as a rainbow ribbon cutting ceremony. You can find a promotional flier in this edition of News Link with all the details.

Any groups wishing to have business cards, fliers, pamphlets, etc, available at the Community Center are welcome to do so. Items can be mailed to us at the above address, or dropped off during open office hours. We also have a large mail slot in our office door through which items can be left 24 hours a day. If there is anything you would like us to pick up for you please leave a message and we'll do our best to do so.

We will also be regularly accepting donations. In another article in this edition of News Link you can read about our request for books, magazines, etc. We are also in need of LGBT art pieces, large stuffed pillows and/or bean bag furniture, shelving, brochure racks, office supplies including computer hardware and software, etc. If you would like to donate anything please let us know.

Gay Central Valley is an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We operate the websites www.gayfresno.com, www.gayvisalia.com, www.gayhanford.com, www.gaymerced.com and www.gaybakersfield.com . All those working for Gay Central Valley and its Divisions do so on a strictly volunteer basis. Everything raised through our nonprofit goes back into the community and toward operating expenses.

Did you know that Fresno State's Henry Madden Library has a collection of 500+ books with GLBTQ themes?


Stop by and take a look at this very special reception and open house!

$5/person, general
$1/person, high school and college students
includes refreshments

5:30 pm • Reception
6:30 pm • Program
7:00 pm • Tour

RSVP: 559/278-5790

FACEBOOK PAGE

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Anderson Cooper's CNN show, AC360 will air an hour long episode tonight, Friday, January 14th, regarding the current state of AIDS.

 Watch "Hope Survives: 30 Years of AIDS," an AC360° special, at 9 p.m. ET Friday. Phill Wilson is the president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, a national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on black people. Follow him on Twitter.

Greater Than AIDS – a new national movement to respond to AIDS in America– is asking Americans to share their “Deciding Moments," personal experiences that changed how they think about the disease and inspired them to get involved. For many it is someone close to them who was infected. For some it was their own diagnosis. For others it was a realization that we all have a role to play. Tell us about your “Deciding Moment” by visiting: www.greaterthan.org/moment.

Censorship continues to take hold...

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In Canada, the broadcast standards council has ruled that Dire Straits' 1985 hit "Money for Nothing" cannot be played on the radio unless it is played only as a censored version, leaving out the word "faggot". This decision was reached after a single caller to a radio station complained about the word they find offensive.

Does it matter that the word was used by Dire Straits in a sarcastic manner, not as a slur? Apparently not. It's another example of the line of sanity and insanity being crossed.

The council said it realized Dire Straits used the word sarcastically when the best-selling "Brothers in Arms" album was released in 1985, but said it was inappropriate.

The reasoning is that faggot is part of the latest surge in gay bashing and school bullying that has resulted in teen suicides. Of course, those instances were when actual people around the teens used the words as hate speech while in their presence, but I digress...

This comes after the ludicrous outrage displayed by GLAAD late last year after the pro-LGBT series GLEE used the word tranny in an episode featuring a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The article, by the way, never prints the word faggot, because, you know, that would be hate speech...

Read More Here 

First they declared Pluto wasn't a planet anymore. Now, your astrological sign, the one you've been glued to your entire life, the founding star chart that offers you guidance and gives you insight, is no more.

I've been waiting for something like this for decades.

 

It looks like we now have proof that this whole Zodiac, Astrological sign stuff is just a bunch of BS. Scientists (those damned scientists!) have determined that the Earth and Sun are in different positions than they were when the charts were created, some 3,000 years ago. So get ready to change your zodiac sign (most of us) to another one.

Which means those who've been subscribing to this stuff long after childhood, have been mistaken about those definitive personality traits based on the location of the stars in the sky. Maybe you're now not compatible with the person you're with since both your signs may have changed.

For those who still pay attention to horoscopes maybe this will allow us to see just how generic these descriptions are, and that human beings are complex enough to withstand definitions from any astrological sign. 

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the multi-billion dollar industry of astrologists and fortune tellers bilking people out of their money, but my guess is they'll find a way around it. If many of us are still silly enough to buy into this fantasy, then odds are we'll find a way to re-invent it.

Here is the New Zodiac Chart

Read More Here

Hey Community Engagement Team,

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Sorry this is so last minute. I just got the request Wednesday.  We have been asked by Hands On Central California to lead a team of volunteers at the Poverello House this Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  We will be serving dinner and the event is only an hour and half long from 4:30 pm to 6 pm. This is a chance for our team to participate in a national day of volunteering, do some good in the community, and get together this month.

Please let me know if you can make yourself available at this time for this event (I know some folks have the day off). We will meet at the new Gay Central Valley office at 1055 North Van Ness, Suite C. This is just south of Olive on Van Ness.  Remember that Van Ness is one way going north in this area so you have to approach from the south, going toward Olive.

So we will meet at the new office, at 4:00 pm, car pool to the Poverello House and finish up about 6 pm.  If you want to go directly to the Poverello House, you can and meet us there no later than 4:30 pm.  There is enclosed parking, just let them know that you are there to volunteer. The address of the Poverello is 412 F Street
Fresno, CA 93706-3409.

Please reply to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ASAP to let me know if you can participate. Thanks so much for your willingness to make our community better! Kate

My experience at Teen Challenge began in Aug of 2007. At the age of twenty-four, I found myself facing the county prosecutor on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after leaving a gay bar near Troy, Michigan. This was my first time getting a ticket for anything.

 

James Voss

I had spent most of the past three years dealing with the pressure of coming out to my friends and family while attending a private four-year bible college. North Central University is a self-proclaimed “Christ-centered Pentecostal school with a commitment to academic excellence that prepares students to fulfill biblical models of leadership and ministry throughout the world."

I left for North Central University right after high school to become a youth pastor. The one obstacle of graduation was my sexual orientation. According to the university, homosexuals suffer a life controlling disorder that can be overcome through self-discipline, prayer, and by living a life centered in Christ and obeying the N.C.U Way.  At a certain point I decided that I needed to love myself enough, and admit that I was gay and leave NCU.

SOURCE: Alternet.org

READ MORE HERE

"Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simple eat something sweet and the feeling will pass. Your life story would not make a good book. Do not even try."

 

Fran Lebowitz...The Fran Lebowitz Reader

California is following the lead of New Jersey in dealing with the current epidemic of bullying in US schools which had resulted in a high number of LGBT suicides. The New Jersey law is the strictest anti-bullying law to take effect in US schools, since it "mandates that schools have a specific point person to run anti bullying programs. The law requires, among other provisions, that educators undergo training on the issue."

 

Tom Ammiano, California State Assemblyman and longtime proponent of LGBT civil rights, plans to introduce a similar bill in California.

READ MORE HERE

In the new issue of The Advocate, Kerry Eleveld takes on Hillary Clinton and LGBT rights in America....

 

Men and women around the world were being “harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love,” she said.

“This is a human rights issue,” Clinton told the rapt audience. She ad-libbed, recalling an oft-quoted line from a landmark speech on women’s rights at a U.N. conference in China: “Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing—that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights—well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights, once and for all.”

READ MORE HERE

Although Gabrielle Giffords, a three time Democrat, remains in critical condition, the news coming out Tuesday night was optimistic...

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- One of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' doctors declared Tuesday she has "a 101 percent chance of surviving," as she made more progress, moving both arms and breathing on her own for the first time - just three days after a bullet shot through her brain.

Doctors emphasize she is in for a long recovery, and her neurosurgeon repeated his cautionary phrase of "she's holding her own."

 

The impact has been re-evaluated as well...

In their briefing Tuesday, doctors also reversed themselves in describing the path of the bullet. They now believe she was shot in the forehead, with the bullet traveling the length of the left side of the brain, exiting the back.

Doctors previously thought she had been shot in the back of the head. They came to the new conclusion after reviewing X-rays and brain scans and consulting with two outside physicians with experience treating combat victims.

READ MORE HERE

The following books have been donated to Gay Central Valley to help us start our LGBT Community Center Library...

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CITY OF NIGHT by JOHN RECHY

DANCER FROM THE DANCE by ANDREW HOLLERAN

GIOVANNI'S ROOM by JAMES BALDWIN

RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by RITA MAE BROWN

A BOY'S OWN STORY by EDMUND WHITE

THE BEAUTIFUL ROOM IS EMPTY by EDMUND WHITE

QUEER AND LOATHING by DAVID B FEINBERG

ANGELS IN AMERICA PART ONE by TONY KUSHNER

ANGELS IN AMERICA PART TWO by TONY KUSHNER

STONEWALL by MARTIN DUBERMAN

BOYS LIKE US (GAY WRITERS SHARE THEIR COMING OUT STORIES) by VARIOUS AUTHORS

If anyone would like to donate books or media, please see the ABOUT US page for Office location and hours.

CAMPUS PRIDE SERIES :: COMING OUT TO PLAY: Creating Change within Intercollegiate Athletics

REGISTER NOW

WHEN: Thursday, April 14:: 3 p.m. EST

WHO:  Special Guest: Andrew McIntosh, SUNY Oneonta Lacrosse Captain & OUT Magazine's Out 100 List 

Moderated by Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride

COST: $95 per site

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Andrew McIntosh played lacrosse for the State University of New York  College at Oneonta.  While he played lacrosse, he was also captain of his lacrosse team and a vibrant student leader on campus.  Andrew will share insight into the locker room environment, competing on the field in a team sport -- all the while being out publicly on campus.  His coming out story was first published on OutSports in Feb 2010 and has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Advocate.  Andrew was also named into the Out 100 by OUT Magazine for his major impact on mainstream culture and the LGBT community.  This webinar provides a story of resiliency that delves into topics such as sport sociology, sport psychology and humanities.  Participants will be given authentic insight on being openly gay while participating in intercollegiate athletics. The webinar will answer questions firsthand from Andrew on how to create change within intercollegiate athletics on their campus.

FACEBOOK PAGE

CAMPUSPEAKwas founded in 1999 as an agency representing college speakers. We have since expanded into areas including curriculum development, conferencing, and webinars.  It is our mission to be a partner with campuses and with higher education organizations to improve college and university communities and the lives of students. We aim to be an agenda-setting organization within higher education.

With affordable webinars, you can expose your students, staff or organization to some of the most critical issues training available today. Best of all, it’s interactive! You interact live from your desktop with the presenter, asking questions that address your specific challenges. A perfect solution for leadership training, staff and professional development or as an affordable offering for special interest groups on your campus.

Although our local, Gay Central Valley office is currently open and operating, we're throwing a Grand Opening Open House on Sunday, February 13th from 2pm-5pm. Please join us...

 

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The Visalia Pride Lions Club is hosting an LGBT+ Valentine's dinner and dance. There will be prizes, photo opportunities and more! Please visit their website HERE for more information. Get your tickets early so you don't miss out on this GREAT event for our community!

Gay Central Valley is seeking donations of LGBT themed books. We are working to establish a small library for our start up LGBT Community Center, which is located at our office at 1055 N VanNess Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728. Our phone number is 559-325-4GAY.

We are also seeking donations of annual magazine subscriptions to LGBT publications such as the Advocate magazine.

 

Items can be dropped off at our office, which is open Wed Noon-6PM, Fri Noon-5PM, Sat Noon-6PM and Sundays 9AM-Noon. There is also a large mail slot in our front office door, through which certain items can be dropped 24 hours a day. Please attach a note to any such items.

If any donations need to picked up we can do that as well. Simply call our phone number and leave a message.

Gay Central Valley is an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

GET YOUR TICKETS TO CCA’S ALMOST 10TH YEAR ANNUAL TALENT SHOW!

 

Tues. Jan 25th @ Roger Rocha’s Music Hall
Tickets include dinner and show. Get your tickets today!

• Directed by Fred Bologna with Master of Ceremonies Dennis Potts
• Joel Abels is slated to sing "I AM WHAT I AM" from La Cage Aux Folles.
• Nate Butler is performing "RAINBOW CONNECTION" from The Muppet Movie and "PURE IMAGINATION" from Willy Wonka.
• Matthew Mazzei and Keith Snell are playing "SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW" from The Wizard of Oz.
• And, Patrick Contreras is going perform "PURPLE HAZE" by Jimi Hendrix.

ONLINE @ www.CCAFRESNO.org

Bill Zeller, a Princeton Ph.D candidate and renowned internet programmer, died Wednesday from injuries sustained in a suicide attempt. He was 27.

 

Source - HuffingtonPost.com

This an amazing story. Bill left behind an extensive suicide note, over 4,000 words, describing the torture he lived with due to sexual molestation and religious persecution from his family.

Zeller was a programming whiz kid, responsible for creating applications such as Graph Your Inbox, which visualizes Gmail use over time, and myTunes, which enables users to download others' iTunes music. Zeller made the latter program while an undergraduate at Trinity College.

Let me just say something about the religious aspect of this. There's a reason that the number of atheists in America is rising. There's a reason people fight to keep church and state separate. There's a reason that we need to continue to keep religious freedom a right in this country, while at the same time allowing the discussion about the incredible danger associated with "faith".

Whether you believe in a higher being or not, it's still faith. Faith is "a belief in something for which there is no proof", and yet it has been used since the dawn of time to empower those who use it and to victimize those who choose truth over myth. Given the overwhelming evidence of prejudice, death, hatred and destruction at the hands of the faithful, it's only wise to accept that it's power be limited. There's a reason an adherence to a foundation of mythology as opposed to truth and reason, should not be the controlling voice of the land.

Bill's life story is just one example of what a foundation based on fantasy can do. Religion is, and always has been, a weapon used against those who don't agree. Faith is the reason LGBT Americans do not have equal rights in this nation.

Bill describes a period in his life when he thought he was gay, even dated and told friends about his sexuality. Inside, he knew he wasn't gay. He was straight. But he was trying to find an answer to his pain. This says a lot about how childhood trauma can affect your thoughts.

I urge you to read the entire suicide note, and then to visit the website devoted to Bill's life, taking care to examine the many, many photos which show an apparently happy, well adjusted person. According to Bill's letter, this is not even close to the truth. For someone to write such an eloquent explanation to the end of his own life is difficult to take in. It should remind everyone that you never really know someone else, and that pain is hiding all around us.

I believe that until Christians start to dialogue with others in a way which acknowledges and accepts the option that there is, in fact, no God of any kind, then we are doomed to see more cases like Bill's. Let me tell you, atheists, who have thankfully organized and ramped up very public, "in your face" campaigns recently, here and all over the world, would be less likely to do so, if Christians and those of other religions would stop pretending they know the truth, and choose to live just a little more on the side of reality than fantasy.

Click below to read Zeller's letter...

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The Rainbow Delegation is a local project started by Matt Mazzei in order to bring awareness to the hardships faced by LGBT people struggling to come out and connect. The wristbands that the Rainbow Delegation provide are a way to "be seen".

 

 

Want to access free internet radio with all kinds of channels and various types of music? This site is totally free and will run in the background continuously while you work. Super simple, just visit the site below, click on the channel and you’re done. No pop ups, no ads, just great music…

SHOUTCAST.COM

Two of Mark Twain’s classic books, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” are being rewritten, or should I say, censored.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books, said the N-word appears 219 times in "Huck Finn" and four times in "Tom Sawyer." He said the word puts the books in danger of joining the list of literary classics that Twain once humorously defined as those "which people praise and don't read."

Published in the U.S. in 1885, "Huck Finn" is the fourth most banned book in schools, according to "Banned in the U.S.A." by Herbert N. Foerstal, a retired college librarian who has written several books on First Amendment issues.

Where this leads, who knows? To edit and censor books is astounding in this day and age. Censorship, whether for supposedly “moral” or “good reasons” is still censorship. Professor Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia, called this “a terrible idea”, adding that it was part of our history and a good way to get into conversations about racism within the schools.

"If we can't do that in the classroom, we can't do that anywhere," he said.

READ MORE HERE

 

Just how friendly and supportive is the community on Facebook?

Simone Back, 42 years old, had over 1,000 friends on Facebook. On Christmas Day she committed suicide, after posting her intentions on her Facebook page, which resulted in no one rallying to her aid. Her last posting was…

"Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone."

17 hours after that posting, Simone was found dead at her home.

Some friends from out of town asked for Simone’s address or phone number to get help, but those close, some within walking distance, did nothing. Others even responded angrily, calling it a “choice” or calling Back a “liar”.

Mental Health support charities described the incident as extremely sad.

Graham Bell, from the Brighton and Hove Depression Alliance, said: "This is a very sad reflection on our community. People need to be friends in the real world as well as in the online world."

That statement is key, I believe. Regardless of how many “friends” you’ve built up in an online community, that doesn’t mean you have a personal relationship with them. How many times have I heard someone say “I met him online”, to which I respond, “Have you met him in person?“…”Well, no just online. I met him online.”

Then you didn’t meet him. To meet someone is to be in the same place physically with them, to be able to touch them, see their body language, etc. There is no “other way” to meet someone.

There is definitely an inability among people now to be able to communicate. By communicating I don’t mean posting words on a device that others respond to. I mean face to face communication. It’s rare that I can even get a phone call going with someone but a text is something virtually everyone I know now will immediately read and respond to, even in the midst of a face to face conversation.

I’ve been thrown recently by the attention of those who are reacting to others in the real world, rather than the digital world of online chat or texting. I’ve had a couple of people say something to me and then literally walk away from me as I was responding. Our brains are literally getting re-programmed (in a very short period of time) to not recognize human communication. A text, though, well a text gets answered every time.

All those spending so much of their daily lives texting would probably say they’re more connected to the world. Strange definition of connected. What they’re really saying is that they prefer relationships with people they don’t have to see. That’s a step down from a real relationship, not a step up.

It also naturally carries less weight, which is one reason Simone didn’t get help. Even as everyone exalts the integrity and profound connection of online chat and texting, deep down we all realize it’s not the real world. After all, it’s fairly easy to respond to someone when you can’t see them rolling their eyes or watch as their eyes lose interest in what you’re talking about. No one is really reaching out to those 1,000 friends like Simone was trying to do. Now it‘s all about people sharing pictures of the lunch burritos or having 17 very lonely people respond to a very simple statement…”I burned the toast“.

READ SIMONE'S STORY HERE

 

Barbara Streisand may shy away from the public eye, but she’s a performer who still has a vision.

She is now planning to direct and star in a new version of GYPSY, in which the star will play the classic role of Mama Rose.

Reidel reports Arthur Laurents, librettist for Gypsy, has given his approval to Streisand, whom he directed in her first Broadway musical in 1961, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, and for whom he wrote the beloved 1973 film romance The Way We Were. “Barbra and I have had long talks on this very subject," Laurents tells Reidel. "She had a mother who she always thought was Mama Rose. I don't want to get into the details, but the point is she knows. She's got it in her. She's going to be much more than people expect."

READ MORE HERE

Kathy Griffin is giving up her “Life On the D-List”. She’s ending her run with the show to move on to other things.

"It was a really tough decision because I think of the D-List as pretty much my baby for the last six seasons and I also think it was really time to stop doing it,"

Griffin told People magazinePeople . "Reality is great, but I really didn't set out to be a reality star. So now it's time to spread my wings and show that I'm a little different than Kate Gosselin.

"I'm not saying better, but maybe separate myself from the pack a little bit."

READ MORE HERE

 

Last month I went off on GLAAD for going nuts over the use of the word faggot on an episode of GLEE. Even in their written discussion of the matter the word faggot was never printed, but rather censored with asterisks, just as other words like dyke were.

This is clearly nuts. It’s one thing to restrict the use of the word in schools, where bullying is a very real issue, but to censor the language for adults is idiotic.

Now comes more proof of just how ridiculous GLAAD behaved as well as a whole group of LGBT Americans who quickly jumped on the bandwagon to support censorship rather than address the SPECIFIC problem apparent at schools. And let me add, that saying “the f word” instead of saying faggot is also ridiculous.

Courtesy The Advocate…

A cross-stitch reading “Faggot” emblazoned across the chest: not the subtlest of statements, but one Yoko Devereaux is proudly wearing.

The graphic T-shirt line, founded in 2000 by creative director Andy Sälzer, has included the homespun insignia in a new capsule collection of graphic T-shirts dubbed “the gentle of men,” with all proceeds to benefitThe Trevor Project.

Not only does this fashion designer proudly use the word, putting it out there to both make a declaration of power as well as one about prejudice, but the proceeds are donated to The Trevor Project, the very group working every day to help teens get past thought of suicide.

I’d love to see what GLAAD has to say about that…

READ MORE HERE

 The latest company to come under fire for supporting anti-gay groups is Chick-fil-A. The restaurant has one location at Fresno’s River Park.

The company was called out for supporting the Pennsylvania Family Institute, and anti-gay marriage group, and has in the past been affiliated with the anti-gay group Focus On The Family.

The Chick-fil-A name has been removed from banner ads promoting a marriage event sponsored by the antigay Pennsylvania Family Institute.

Read More Here

Actress Glenn Close has been caught up in the controversy over the recent revelation of Navy videos which resulted in the termination of Captain Owen Honors. Close appeared in one of the videos and has issued the following statement in response to the controversy...

"I am distraught that my image has been used to perpetuate something that I abhor. The cynical, unauthorized use of my image in this video is deeply offensive and insulting, and was the result of a seemingly innocent request of me during a visit to the aircraft carrier over four years ago."

 

Glenn unwittingly appears toward the end of the video below holding a stuffed parrot during a montage to Peter Cetera's 'Glory of Love,' just after a close shot of condoms and lube.

READ MORE HERE 

I won't bother with a review of why Dick Cheney is one of the most evil Americans that has ever lived...if you 're not sure why I'm saying that then it means only one thing...you aren't paying attention.

So I will gladly offer up this glorious story of Dick Cheney being near the end of his options as a "human" being. (If only his abhorrent daughter Mary was at the edge as well...) He needs to seek a heart transplant and hope that it works, or he'll simply, slowly, die. I hope he chooses the last option. That is, unless he agrees to be totally removed from the powers that govern American society. If he agrees to not have any further contact with any American on a political level, then even I hope he finds a way to survive.

But who am I kidding? Cheney has no conscious, no redeeming value, and certainly no self guilt. He barely qualifies as a human after the things he's done (far worse than GW Bush and the Republican party, and that's saying A LOT).

 

Here's the latest...

Mr. Cheney’s heart will never beat at full strength again, doctors say. His new mechanical pump, a partial artificial heart known as a ventricular assist device, leaves patients without a pulse because it pushes blood continuously instead of mimicking the heart’s own beat. Most pulse-less patients feel nothing unusual, but the devices do pose significant risks of infection. They are implanted as a last resort either for permanent use or as a bridge to transplant until a donor heart can be found. Mr. Cheney, who has participated in some of the nation’s toughest decisions for decades, now faces a crucial one of his own: whether to seek a full heart transplant.

Maybe, once in a while, there IS some justice in the world...

Read the full story HERE

BREAKING NEWS

The case for overturning Prop 8, which was recently heard in appeal by a federal appeals court, faces a new twist. The judges in that case say they can't make a decision until they're sure that those appealing the rule to overturn the proposition have the constitutional right to do so.

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court says it can't decide if California's gay marriage ban is constitutional until the state's highest court weighs in on whether Proposition 8's sponsors have the authority to defend the ban.

In a brief order filed Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to decide if the backers of ballot propositions can step in to defend voter-approved measures in court when state officials refuse to do so.

The question is central to the future of Proposition 8 because former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to appeal a San Francisco trial judge's August decision striking down the ban as a violation of gay Californians' civil rights.

READ THE RULING HERE

SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST

A hard copy of the ruling will be available at our local office...1055 N Van Ness Avenue, Suite C, Fresno

 

During a debate among candidates to become the next Chairman of the Republican National Committee, this is the question that was posed...

"The traditional definition of marriage unites over 80 percent of Republicans. While certain Republican elites try to portray this large majority as being on the wrong side of history. Regardless of how you see your role as Chairperson, you are almost certain to be put in a position to defend traditional marriage by a member of the media. What is your best 30 second case for the defense of marriage between one man and one woman?"

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NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, headed by the seedy Brian Brown and spoken for by the hideous Maggie Gallagher, has now come out to applaud all the candidates since every one of them stated their defense for marriage remaining in the hands of "one man and one woman".

Read More Here

I recently rented the DVD...The Kids Are Alright and watched it with my husband, James. Let me say that I highly recommend it.


The film follows two lesbian characters played brilliantly by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. They have two children who were fathered by an anonymous sperm donor. With the oldest child just turning 18, she is urged by her younger brother, 16, to get in contact with the donor so the kids can put a face on dear old dad, played by Mark Ruffalo.

This film is not about gay parenting as much as it is about parenting, and the complexities of marriage. What I loved about this film is that while it touched on the particular issues facing same sex parents, their children and the murky waters surrounding a sperm donor of a father, it's much more about the struggles built into any marriage, particularly long term ones. Add children in the mix and it's even more difficult.

The Kids Are Alright works from the foundation of reality, that these relationships are happening, and have been happening for some time now. It explores the minefield that every marriage, opposite or same sex, must walk every day in order to survive. It's a brilliant film.

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

UPDATE: THE CAPTAIN HAS NOW BEEN PERMANENTLY REMOVED FROM COMMAND...READ MORE HERE

 

Gay Central Valley's office will officially open this Wednesday, January 5th.

GAY CENTRAL VALLEY

1055 N VAN NESS AVE
FRESNO, CA 93728-3457

(559) 325-4GAY or 559-325-4429

Office Hours:

Wednesdays: 12pm-6pm

Fridays:  12pm-5pm

Saturdays:  12pm-6pm

Sundays: 9am-12pm

These hours are subject to change as we're just getting in and getting things organized. We will do our best to expand these hours in the near future.

We will also have a Grand Opening Party in early February and will keep you posted on the details as they become available.

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Gregory Maguire, author of "Wicked," will be coming to Fresno State in May, 2010, for "Oz - The Books Conference." Read more about it HERE. More details coming soon.

 

OZ: THE BOOKS CONFERENCE
May 14-16, 2010 California State University, Fresno

Guest speakers and book signings by authors including:
• Gregory Maguire –  author of “Wicked,” “Son of a Witch” and “Lion Among Men”
• Eric Shanower – author of “Adventures in Oz” and “The Age of Bronze”
• Dee Michel –  author of “Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Men and Boys Love Oz”
• David Maxine –  producer of Grammy-award nominated Best Historical Album: “Vintage Recordings of the 1903 Musical: The Wizard of Oz”

From the LA Times

Gregory Maguire, author of seven books for adults and five for young readers, is probably best known for "Wicked," his retelling of "The Wizard of Oz" from the witch's point of view.

But creating stories that explore the nature of evil, or what we perceive as evil, hasn't made him bad. In fact, he's done something very good with his new book, "The Next Queen of Heaven." A comic novel set in upstate New York in late 1999, the book features a teen girl as troublesome as they come; her devout mother, who, after a bump on the head from a religious statue, either begins speaking in her own profane code or in tongues; a local semi-out choirmaster; and a surprising nun. Maguire moves easily in and out of even minor characters, so the town comes alive in many dimensions, most of them funny and slightly bonkers.

Did I mention that "The Next Queen of Heaven" is free?

That's the good part. Maguire has chosen to publish the book with the Concord Free Press, which will distribute all 2,500 copies of the novel, for free, to anyone who asks. They ask two things in return:

  • That you make a donation to charity and tell them what it was.
  • That you pass on the book and ask the next reader to do the same.

So far, more than $97,000 has been donated through the distribution of its books -- Maguire's, which has been out for just a couple of weeks, is the publishing house's third.

"I admire that the books as well as the publishing model raise questions about art's inherent value and the commodification of content," Maguire says in the book's press materials. "I like knowing that this book is out in the world, helping generate donations for great causes."

It's not Maguire's first good deed -- he founded a children's literacy nonprofit in New England way back in 1987.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Gregory Maguire. Credit: Chitose Suzuki / Associated Press

SOURCE: LA Times

 

Is it déjà vu? Is it me? Seems like a repeat, but here we go again...

Rumors of a secret LGBT strategy meeting in the hills of Tennessee are confirmed. The group, which includes Kip Williams and Robin McGehee, has holed up for 4 days in Tennessee to "discuss ways to build a national network of activists to demand full equality now".

That sounds awfully familiar...I think we heard it at Meet In The Middle and during the National March promotion. In fact, according to what's left of the website that was behind the National March, Equality Across America, (the most recent posting on the site is dated November 20th 2009), the goal was... Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. We will accept no less and will work until it is achieved. Equality Across America exists to support grassroots organizing in all 435 Congressional Districts to achieve full equality.

The promise of the organization behind the National March was that the march was just the beginning of their efforts. Immediately following the DC March, the organizers would work to create independent grassroots teams in all congressional districts across the United States. In reality, the march was the end of the organization. The group fell apart a month later, with Williams, McGehee and many others choosing to leave the organization. Now, it appears to be defunct. The website, by the way, is still accepting donations, as it just processed my contribution, although I have no idea where my money went. (It was just a dollar, so no big loss.)

Williams and McGehee have joined forces again, inviting some 45 others to join them in Tennessee to discuss the "next project". After a few days of rumor, amid mysterious tweets, Williams and McGehee issued the following statement on his Facebook page...

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Oh, that's why he looked so miserable all the time...he beat himself with a belt. Wouldn't it have been easier just to head to a Bear Bar? I'm sure there are plenty of people who would have lined up to whack this mental patient...and their belts are often studded...oooohhhhh...hope he remembers his safe word...

(CNN) -- Pope John Paul II used to beat himself with a belt and sleep on a bare floor to bring himself closer to Christ, a book published Wednesday says. The late pope had a particular belt for self-flagellation and brought it with him to his summer residence, according to the book, "Why he is a Saint: The True story of John Paul II."

"In the closet, among the cloaks, a particular pant-belt hung from a hook, which he utilized as a whip and one which he always had brought to Castel Gandolfo," the book says.

Mother Teresa is among famous Catholics who self-flagellated in some way, said Michael Barrett, a priest of the Catholic Opus Dei sect.

Read the whole story here...

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MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they will try to overturn Mexico City's gay marriage law, which allows same-sex couples to adopt children, on the grounds it violates the constitution.

The Mexico City law, approved in December and due to take effect in March, is the first of its kind in Latin America.

The federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement that it believes the law "violates the principle of legality, because it strays from the constitutional principle of protecting the family."

Read the rest of this article here... 

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OBAMA: Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the president shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they've done so in the midst of war and depression, at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable - that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

ImageTAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass a law extending benefits to same-sex partners, a day after he renewed his support for repealing the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

Obama was responding to a question during a town hall meeting Thursday in Tampa, Fla.. He noted a bill is pending that would extend to domestic partners benefits such as granting Social Security survivor payments and allowing hospital visitation.

Obama said: "My hope is we can get it done."

Obama has acted administratively to extend some benefits to federal employees with same-sex partners. He has called for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of gay unions and the granting of benefits.

NEWS UPDATE ON DADT FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ImageWASHINGTON (AP) -- Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says the Defense Department next week will say for the first time how it would lift the ban on gays from serving openly in the military, as President Barack Obama wants.

Morrell says that after studying the issue for a year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, will discuss their "proposed way forward" before the Senate Armed Services Committee next Tuesday.

Gates and Mullen were already scheduled to testify on the Pentagon's 2011 budget request. A separate hourlong discussion will be devoted to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The first federal case to decide if the U.S. Constitution prevents states from stopping same-sex weddings came to an anti-climatic break Wednesday after a judge heard nearly 12 days of wide-ranging testimony on the meaning of marriage, the nature of sexual orientation, and the role of religion in shaping attitudes about both.

Attorneys for sponsors of California's Proposition 8 tentatively rested their case after introducing materials from the 2008 election campaign.

They called just two expert witnesses, including David Blankenhorn, president of the New York-based Institute for American Values, who capped the historic proceedings by saying the rights of same-sex couples should come second to preserving the cherished social institution of marriage.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker heard the case without a jury and said he will take time to review the evidence before allowing closing arguments, probably in March or April. He has no deadline for reaching a decision.

Read the rest of this article here...

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It appears that Wednesday, January 27th, will be the last day of evidence in the Prop 8 Trial in SF. The judge has indicated that he will take a few weeks off to review the evidence before scheduling the closing arguments. It's unsure if he will immediately return a ruling or if there will be another period of reflection before a final ruling is made.

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Only 5 days ago I wrote about the Supreme Court's decision to lift the restrictions on Corporations campaign spending. I labeled the court the "5-4 Court" and as far as I'm concerned, until they demonstrate some allegiance to the constitution rather than ideology or political affiliation, that's who they'll remain. It's the one stumbling block I fear will halt the current Prop 8 trial, which in its current incarnation, is proving powerful against the opposition, literally wiping the floor with supporters of Prop 8.

But if the Supreme Court truly has become the "5-4 Court", I find it hard to imagine any success for LGBT rights on a federal level. 5 of the "5-4 Court" are simply not ruling based on the constitution, they're now ruling according to party affiliation. Despite the fact that it's obvious and insidiously tramples on the foundation of this nation, they'll continue to get away with it, at least until we can stack the deck with rational, thoughtful justices, instead of pawns for the shameful conservative "movement" in this nation.

Mark Sherman of the Associated Press authored a piece on Jan 23rd, on the same subject.

Thursday's decision to strike down restrictions on corporate campaign spending more than 60 years old was the third time in nine days that the court divided 5-4, with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other. The other cases involved an appeal from a death row inmate in Georgia and the prospect of broadcasting a gay marriage trial in California.

The rulings demonstrate the extent to which ideology - not fidelity to precedent or a particular interpretation of the Constitution - is the driving force on the court.

Read the full article here...

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FYI:  It's been reported that once both sides have rested in the Prop 8 trial, the judge will take a "few weeks" off to consider the case, then return for closing arguments, then rule in the case. I've yet to find an answer to whether the ruling will be immediate or if there will be another prolonged consideration (as with the CA Supreme Court) before a ruling is issued...

I have to say that while I want to be excited about the ongoing events at the Prop 8 trial in San Francisco, I'm restraining myself. The unbelievable and irrational setbacks for LGBT rights in recent months forces me to not to be too optimistic. Still, given just the developments in court it seems our side is not only winning, but virtually obliterating the opposition.

Another expert witness for the defense in the Prop 8 trial was decimated today by attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case. The AP reports that when Blankenhorn took the stand, he stated that traditional marriage is so weak that allowing same sex marriage could be its "death blow".  He then threw out the absurd argument that legal same sex marriage would open the door to polygamy, in an attempt to convey the ultimate danger to children, caused by an even more unstable marriage paradigm.

Plaintiff attorney David Boies was on point when cross examining the witness, who, like all those who spread such fallacies about the dangers of same sex marriage, provided not only no proof to what he was asserting, but also that he's never bothered to do any research himself. Under further cross examination he even admitted that allowing same sex couples the right to legal marriage would, in fact, benefit children living in those households.

The AP reports...

David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a private think tank in New York, took the stand as the second and final expert witness for the defense in the federal trial challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage.

Blankenhorn acknowledged that heterosexuals were responsible for rising divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates, but said allowing gays to marry could accelerate the process and possibly lead to the legalization of polygamy.

"The man-woman customary basis for marriage in turn reinforces limiting marriage to two," he said. "If you knock out one of those pillars, the other becomes less comprehensible and therefore less defensible."

Boies tried to discredit Blankenhorn by getting him to acknowledge that he has conducted no independent research on same-sex marriage and his only advanced degree is in comparative labor history.

"I have not engaged in a scientific study were I find data and write up an article that would be published of that nature," Blankenhorn said. "I have read articles and had conversations with people and tried to be an informed person about it, and that really has been the extent of it."

Under cross-examination, Blankenhorn said he unaware of any studies showing that children raised by gay or lesbian couples since birth fared worse than children brought up by their biological mother and father.

"Do you believe that legalizing same-sex marriage would improve the well-being of children raised by those households?" Boies asked.

"Adopting same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children," Blankenhorn said.

Read the story here......

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Now they're pulling dictionaries out of schools because a kid might stumble across a sexual term. And not because of an uprising from parents, but a complaint from ONE PARENT. And the books were pulled without consulting the school board. Just for the record, folks, there's no such thing as a bad word. It doesn't exist. It's a myth created by fearful parents and ignorant people of faith. Words are not good or bad, they're simply words.

Also for the record, when my parents were raising me, the same words were around, and just as accessible to any kid. The difference at that time was that parents actually, you know, PARENTED! The "F" word was used by my older brothers and sister, right in front of me, but I wasn't allowed to use it. Seems strange, I know, to all you parents out there today who live in this fantasy land where children have the same rights as adults, but you can raise your children to understand that adults are allowed certain freedoms, which children are not. So it's not about shielding your children from information, it's about explaining the limitations children are bound by. Where the hell did all the parents go anyway??

The story starts...

The Menifee Union School District is forming a committee to review whether dictionaries containing the definitions for sexual terms should be permanently banned from the district's classrooms, a district official said Friday.

The 9,000-student K-8 district this week pulled all copies of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary after an Oak Meadows Elementary School parent complained about a child stumbling across definitions for "oral sex."

The decision was made without consultation with the district's school board and has raised concerns among First Amendment experts and some parents.

Read the rest of the story HERE...

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ImageCollege Professor Kenneth Miller was brought to the stand yesterday by the defense in the current Prop 8 trial. The point of his testimony yesterday was to say that gays had significant political power. Today, attorneys for the plaintiff's worked diligently to draw statements from Miller which support that theory that Prop 8 was motivated by religion and prejudice. They seem to have succeeded.

From ABC News...

Claremont McKenna College Professor Kenneth Miller said under cross-examination that he could not say what proportion of voters supported the 2008 measure because of either bias or theological beliefs.

But he acknowledged that at least some people voted for Proposition 8 on the basis of anti-gay stereotypes and prejudice and that in the election a critically important factor was the religious character of Democratic voters.

Miller went on to say, when asked when it would be appropriate for the courts to step in and overturn a voter supported initiative...

"My view is it is appropriate when an initiative, just like any other statute enacted by a legislature, violates, in this case, the federal Constitution," Miller answered.

Read the rest of this article here...

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ImageSTATE OF THE UNION SPEECH IS SCHEDULED FOR THIS WEDNESDAY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is expected to talk about the "Don't ask, don't tell" rule that bars openly gay Americans from serving in the military during his State of the Union address this week, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.

During his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Obama vowed to end the rule discriminating against gays and he renewed that pledge in a speech last year.

"We were told by the Pentagon that they expected the president to say something in the State of the Union on it," said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referring to the speech Obama will deliver on Wednesday evening to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

But Levin added: "I have no idea" what Obama will say.

Read the rest of this story here...

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On Monday, January 25th, the 10th day of the Prop 8 case being heard in San Francisco, Ted Olson and David Boies, attorneys for the plaintiffs, rested their case. Now, the defense team makes their case...

The Washington Post reports...

Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna College who teaches California politics and researches ballot initiatives, was the first defense witness in the trial over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban.

Miller said one indication of the gay rights movement's clout in California was that neither Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nor any other statewide office holders endorsed Proposition 8. But perhaps the best measure of the movement's strength was the $43 million amassed to defeat the gay marriage ban in 2008, he said. That was $3.4 million more than initiative backers raised.

Boies pushed back at Miller, asking if he thought Prop 8 was inherently discriminatory...

"It's differential treatment. Whether it's legally discriminatory, I don't know," Miller said.

Read the rest of this article here...

The New York Times reports on the cross examination of Kenneth Miller, at the hand of Attorney David Boies. Boies tried to illuminate Miller's lack of knowledge when it comes to LGBT discrimination, both currently and historically...

Mr. Boies pointed out that during his deposition, Dr. Miller did not know how many states had laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Mr. Boies continued to ask Dr. Miller to answer a range of difficult questions, ranging from political history to gay and lesbian politics and scholarship.

“What academic books and articles are you familiar with regarding the discrimination against minority groups?”

Dr. Miller demurred.

“You mean you can’t think of any titles?” Mr. Boies asked.

“No, I can’t,” Dr. Miller responded.

Mr. Boies, minutes later, asked, “Nationally, do you believe the African-American minority or the gay and lesbian minority has the greater political power?”

Dr. Miller responded, “I’d have to say I don’t know.”

Read the rest of this article here...

Shannon Minter, who was a lead attorney in the California Supreme Court case concerning legal same sex marriage, open up and provides his take on the current Prop 8 case, as reported by the Advocate...

Aside from the judge and litigants of the case, perhaps no one has been more present during Perry v. Schwarzeneggerover the past several weeks than Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (if you’re following the case but haven’t seen his commentary via Twitter, take note: He’s at @nclrights).

As lead attorney in the California state supreme court case that opened the door for gay couples to marry before Proposition 8 slammed it shut, Minter is no stranger to the arguments that the ballot measure’s defenders are using — ones that have ranged in this trial from dubious to utterly baffling. Minter recently put his tweeting aside for a few minutes to speak with Advocate.com about the landmark case as it heads into its third week.

The Advocate Interview touches on the matter of Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, handpicked and paid for by the defense, who then withdrew from the case. Video depositions later revealed they made statements indicating the plaintiffs were correct in this matter. Minter comments....

"I have never seen a situation like that before in any case. Keep in mind that these were experts handpicked and paid for by the defense. To have a party’s own experts make admissions in depositions that the other side is completely correct about issues that are central to their case is almost unheard of."

Read the interview here...

Minter has also been posting his updates of the trial on Twitter. You can follow those postings here: http://twitter.com/nclrights

Mercury News provides a time breakdown of the 10th day of the trial, including this entry...

4:52 p.m.: Plaintiffs' lawyer and prof spar over whether Prop 8 is discriminatory

Another day is done in the Proposition 8 trial. Kenneth Miller, a Claremont McKenna professor and the Proposition 8 team's first witness, remains on the stand, under cross-examination by plaintiffs attorney David Boies. As the afternoon progressed, Boies moved on to sparring with Miller about the professor's view of whether Proposition 8 and other same-sex marriage bans amount to discrimination. The lawyer and witness went around and around on the topic, with Miller only conceding that it just defines marriage as between a man and a woman and "excludes other forms of marriage." He also at one point said "it creates a distinction between the two groups."

Read the entire article here...

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The California Democrat -- who told the New York Times's Maureen Dowd that his political future was so fuzzy he could, in a couple years, end up "as the clerk of a wine store" -- called Obama's slow walking on support for gay marriage "fundamentally inexcusable."

"Oh, I can't get in trouble here," Newsom said with a playful wince. "I want him to succeed. But I am very upset by what he's not done in terms of rights of gays and lesbians. I understand it tactically in a campaign, but at this point I don't know. There is some belief that he actually doesn't believe in same-sex marriage. But it's fundamentally inexcusable for a member of the Democratic party to stand on the principle that separate is now equal, but only on the basis of sexual orientation. We've always fought for the rights of minorities and against the whims of majorities."

Read More HERE

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So how about us renaming the Supreme Court of the United States to call it THE 5-4 COURT OF THE UNITED STATES?? Virtually every ruling that comes out of this politically motivated court is 5-4. Even the ruling on whether the current Prop 8 trial could be televised or not was 5-4. Think about that. The question as to whether to televise that trial cannot be a conservative or liberal question. This is a judicial question, based on protections for ALL Americans and relies on a uniform justice and fairness for all. Still, the ruling was 5-4, which means only one thing, that even on issues which are NOT inherently conservative or liberal, we'll still get a 5-4 ruling if the issue concerns certain (LGBT, etc) American's rights.

For some time now, the Supreme Court, which is supposed to uniformly issue their rulings based on the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, are not doing so. 5 of them consistently rule politically, not constitutionally. This doesn't bode well for any of us should the current Prop 8 case see the doors of the Supreme Court. Clearly, the constitution is not the basis for the legal system anymore, political affiliation is.

As was evidenced once again as the Supreme Court ruled today 5-4 to abandon the restrictions on corporate contributions in the political arena.

From Huffington Post...

By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday rolled back restrictions on corporate spending on federal campaigns. The decision could unleash a torrent of corporate-funded attack ads in upcoming elections.

"Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy -- it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people -- political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens accused the majority of judicial activism and attacked the use of corporate personhood in the case: "The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case."

READ MORE HERE

One of the tactics attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 trial is to show that LGBT Americans lack political power. As such they are a disadvantaged group and therefore the ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional because it targets such a group. Attorneys for Prop 8 are attempting to use such things as economic boycotts, rallies and alleged threats of violence to claim these actions illustrated political power which resulted in more Californians voting in favor of Prop 8, due to animosity over LGBT tactics.

From the Washington Post...

Lawyers for two same-sex couples suing to overturn Proposition 8 are trying to demonstrate that gay Americans lack meaningful political power. The point is central to their contention that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional because they single out a disadvantaged group.

Segura scoffed at Thompson's suggestion that Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote in part because large numbers of voters were turned off by sporadic reports of campaign-related hostilities.

"That the number of individuals this would be true of would come close to the margin for the proposition is ridiculous in the extreme," he said.

Thompson also sought to undercut Segura's earlier testimony that gays faced an unprecedented opponent in a coalition of Mormon, Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian that joined forces to back the 2008 ballot measure.

He produced campaign fliers and other documents showing some churches opposed the ban.

Read the rest of this story HERE

Plaintiff attorneys are once again questioning Hack Sing William Tam, who was part of the trial defense, then dropped out, then was brought back in when it was revealed he was heavily involved in the Prop 8 campaign, as well as promoting his opinion that gay marriage would lead to laws allowing sex with children and that LGBT rights have satanic foundations.

He is being questioned today...the following courtesy of the Courage Campaign Trial Tracker

B: You were original proponent of 8. You worked with Shubert et al.

T: Yes and maybe some clerks who asked me to go to a press conference.

B: You supervised the language of Prop. 8?

T: Not sure what “supervise” means.

B: Look at declaration in which Tam says he supervised the appropriate language for Prop. 8.

T: I don’t quite remember what that particular document is.

B: Which document?

T: If it is about fourteen words of Prop. 8, I would go along with it.

B: This declaration that you have, did you prepare this declaration?

T: No.

B: Protect Marriage.com prepared this declaration for you and you signed it?

T: Yes.

Read more HERE

Today at the federal Prop 8 trial, attorneys worked to make the connection between the Prop 8 campaign and the Mormon Church, including manipulations by the church and it's associates...

From the Courage Campaign's Trial Tracker...

This is perhaps the most explosive bit of all, from a document between the LDS Church and the campaign:

With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show that church is directly involved.

Get that? The LDS Church intentionally worked to hide behind the scenes to disguise their involvement in the public realm. The LDS Church is well aware that the general public does not have the most favorable opinion of them. Attention on their involvement could have hurt their cause, namely passing Prop 8.

Read More HERE

The American Foundation For Equal Rights is now posting full, downloadable transcripts from each day of the Prop 8 trial. Click on the following link to access these transcripts...Prop 8 Trial Daily Transcripts

The first video is the full coverage of Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28th, 1963. Coretta Scott King confirmed before her death that Dr. King would have been fully supportive of LGBT equal rights today. Let's face it, despite the fact that much has been said decrying LGBT Americans for comparing our struggle for equal rights with the struggle of black Americans, equal rights is equal rights...The second video is the CBS Evening News report of King's assassination...

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It's frustrating for those following the current Prop 8 trial in San Francisco to have to wade through the blogs and tweets in order to piece the case together. The Supreme Court has barred the use of live or delayed video of the trial, and understandably, much of the information coming out via bloggers is incomplete, given the difficulty of transferring an ongoing trial immediately into words. But an answer seems to have arrived. It appears we'll now be able to watch daily re-enactments of the trial, starting on Tuesday, January 19th, thanks to John Ireland.

John Ireland, (pictured above) is a freelance journalist and filmmaker, based in Los Angeles, who has "focused on the gay rights movement, the electoral process and the effects of linguistics and semantics on everyday exchanges that connect us to one another." You can check out Ireland's previous works by clicking here.

Ireland made this statement over the weekend... “People want to see this drama unfold and there is a tremendous narrative that was propelled by that first day of testimony…. I don’t think you need to be gay or lesbian to see there is a tremendous human story being told but so few people are actually hearing it.” Read the full interview here... On Top Magazine Interview with John Ireland

The project's mission, according to their website...

In its January 13, 2010 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the public broadcasting of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a U.S. District Court case challenging the constitutional validity of California Proposition 8. Working from partial transcripts and first-hand accounts from bloggers who are present at the trial, we will re-create the trial proceedings and post them here, for public viewing.

Ireland posted this Craigslist Ad to get the people he needed for the project. All work on the project is volunteer only.

Apparently Day One of the trial has been filmed over the weekend and is in the bag, to be released Tuesday, January 19th. We'll post the ongoing video series here for you to see. For updates on the project follow this link... Prop 8 Trial Re-enactment

These are photos of some of the "characters" involved in the case...

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Pictured, left to right...VAUGHN WALKER (JUDGE) - DAVID BOIES (PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY) - TED OLSON (PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY) - DAVID KATAMI (PLAINTIFF) - JEFFREY ZARILLO (PLAINTIFF) - KRISTEN PERRY (PLAINTIFF) - SANDY STIER (PLAINTIFF)

HONOLULU - When Hawaii legislators reconvene on Wednesday, all eyes will be focused not on teacher furloughs that resulted in the nation’s shortest school year or the state’s $1 billion budget deficit, but legislation that would allow same-sex couples to form civil unions.

The measure would grant gay couples the rights and benefits the state provides to married couples and is among a handful of similar proposals that could pop up in several other states. At the same time, a federal judge in San Francisco is considering the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban.

"This bill has already been voted on, so there isn’t as much convincing to do anymore," said Alan Spector of Equality Hawaii, a leading supporter of the bill. "I think (legislators) get the substance of the bill and the need for the bill."

To Continue Reading, CLICK HERE

The Supreme Court on Friday got involved for the second time this week in a case in which opponents of gay rights fear they will be harassed if their views are made public.

The high court will consider whether Washington state officials can release more than 138,500 names on a petition seeking a vote on overturning the state’s domestic partnership rights.

Protect Marriage Washington, which unsuccessfully opposed the law giving gay couples expanded rights, wants to shield from disclosure the signers of the petition for a referendum on that law. The group says it fears harassment by gay rights supporters, some of whom have vowed to post signers’ names on the Internet.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has said before the Nov. 3 vote that the names could be made public, but the Supreme Court blocked their release until it decided whether to hear the case. Arguments will be heard later this year.

To Continue Reading CLICK HERE

BLANTYRE, MALAWI (AP) -- Malawi's government said Monday that it is unmoved by international criticism of the trial of a gay couple charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency, felonies for which they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

In a statement Monday, Malawi's Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto made no apology for the laws that criminalize homosexual acts. He said Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were "clearly breaking the laws of Malawi."

"As government we cannot interfere in the court process," Thoto said. "We depend on our Western friends, yes, but we are a sovereign country."

To Continue Reading, CLICK HERE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Getting married brought big changes to the lives of author Helen Zia and her partner Lia Shigemura.

At family reunions, funerals and other gatherings, the Oakland couple found their relationship much more accepted after their parents could start saying they had a daughter-in-law.

"My mother, an immigrant from China, she really doesn't get what 'partner' is," Zia, 57, testified Friday during the fifth day of a federal civil trial challenging California's same-sex marriage ban.

"Marriage made it very clear that I was family, that we were family, and I was where I belonged," she said.

To Continue Reading, CLICK HERE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Getting married brought big changes to the lives of author Helen Zia and her partner Lia Shigemura.

At family reunions, funerals and other gatherings, the Oakland couple found their relationship much more accepted after their parents could start saying they had a daughter-in-law.

"My mother, an immigrant from China, she really doesn't get what 'partner' is," Zia, 57, testified Friday during the fifth day of a federal civil trial challenging California's same-sex marriage ban.

"Marriage made it very clear that I was family, that we were family, and I was where I belonged," she said.

To Continue Reading, CLICK HERE


For information, visit www.equalrightsfoundation.org

Ten witnesses, including Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo and five eminent experts, clearly and convincingly demonstrated critical points in the federal trial on the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8 during its opening week:

• Marriage is vitally important in American society;

• By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 causes grievous harm to the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered;

• Proposition 8 perpetrates irreparable, immeasurable and discriminatory harm for no good reason.

DISCRIMINATORY MOTIVATIONS OF PROP. 8

The court also viewed video footage from the deposition of William Tam. Tam is one of the five Official Proponents of Prop. 8, and as such was personally responsible for putting it on the ballot and for intervening in this case to take over the defense of the initiative.

The video footage of his deposition included statements from Tam such as this one, from a pro-Prop. 8 email he wrote: “They lose no time in pushing the gay agenda — after legalizing same-sex marriage, they want to legalize prostitution. What will be next? On their agenda list is: legalize having sex with children.”

Please see http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/press-releases/discriminatory-motivations-of-prop-8-exposed-in-court-today/ for additional quotes and details.

To continue reading, CLICK HERE

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We've just received word that the Disney Give A Day - Get A Day Volunteer Program has already given out 300,000 tickets to their parks, and it's only been up and running since January 1st!! Disney is pledged to one million tickets before the program shuts down, so at the rate it's going this program will not anywhere near as long as the year of 2010, as was thought.

Gay Central Valley has already utilized local volunteers and verified their service so that they can receive free tickets. Visit the link above to learn all about the program and how you can be a part of it.

ImageOne of my favorite fish restaurants is in Chinatown at the Central Fish Market on G Street and Kern Street.  The menu includes both American and Japanese options.  This is one of those restaurants that you have to be careful what you order. Some stuff they do better than others. I find the rice and salad they serve with most meals utterly boring. The white rice is not bad or anything, but it is not like steamed white rice is ever going to be exciting, and the salad likely came out of a bag. I tried their Salmon Teriyaki one time and it was seriously overcooked. Fish should be barely done. 

Now that we have handled the bad, it is time to handle the exceptional, and why Central Fish deserves a review. Their fried fish is amazing whether you get the usual fish, shrimp, clams, squid, or oysters. Yes, they actually call it squid and not the more fashionable “calamari”. The fish is very fresh and fried to perfection. There is no other place in Fresno you can get cheap fried fish this good. The fries are decent and you can substitute them for the rice and salad which accompanies most of their meals, but often I just order the fish a la carte. Their popular soups have a great combination of noodles with beef, chicken, squid or a few other choices.

This place is very casual. You order at a counter, pick up your food and seat yourself. Soy sauce is on the table, along with Tapatio for those with hotter tastes. Remember to bring cash because the restaurant does not take cards, even though the store does. All in all, the Central Fish Restaurant is a treasure in a city where it is very hard to find good fish and chips. For more info visit their website. http://www.centralfish.com/

YOU could help The Trevor Project win $1 million.
 
The Trevor Project is one of 100 finalists in the Chase Community Giving Challenge, a contest through Facebook to award $5 million to charities.
 
Over 1,000,000 people voted during Round 1 to determine the top 100 charities. But that was just the beginning.
 
During Round 2, the top charity by votes will win $1 million, with $100,000 being awarded to the five runners-up. Votes can be cast Jan. 15 through Jan. 22 by visiting our charity page. On January 8, you can read about our BIG IDEA and how we would use this money within our organization.
 
There are two other organizations among the 100 finalists that work to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth: The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. In order to ensure that these organizations' life-saving work receives as much support as possible, we are pleased to announce that we will be pooling our resources to offer each other support in hopes of all reaching one of the top six places.
 
So what can you do to help? Besides casting your vote between Jan. 15 and Jan. 22, please spread word among your friends and contacts. Update your Facebook status, post a link on your profile/fan page wall, send private messages and tweet about the contest. Every person you reach out to is another vote and we can't win this without your help!
 
If you are willing to do any of these starting January 15, we will send you a follow-up email closer to the competition launch with specific language to use.
 
Thank you for your continued support.
 
 
About The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioningyouth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential helpline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources and public policy advocacy.

Reported by Nate Silver @ FiveThirtyEight.com

Over the past decade or so, divorce has gradually become more uncommon in the United States. Since 2003, however, the decline in divorce rates has been largely confined to states which have not passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. These states saw their divorce rates decrease by an average of 8 percent between 2003 and 2008. States which had passed a same-sex marriage ban as of January 1, 2008, however, saw their divorce rates rise by about 1 percent over the same period.

Click here for the story

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block the broadcast of a federal trial in California testing whether a voter initiative against gay marriage violates the Constitution.

The high court's five conservatives formed the majority. They said federal judge Vaughan Walker didn't follow court rules when he ordered proceedings broadcast by closed circuit to federal courthouses in several cities.

The Supreme Court's four liberals joined a dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

Click here for more

Part of the strategy of the legal team working in court in San Francisco is to show that the Prop 8 campaign and those behind it were motivated by an animosity and even hatred of gays. They made this perfectly clear today (Wednesday) when the confronted Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the case, regarding statements he's made about gays wanting to make it legal to have sex with children.

From Lisa Leff with the Associated Press...

SAN FRANCISCO -- A proponent of California's same-sex marriage ban warned voters during the 2008 campaign that gay rights activists would try to legalize sex with children if same-sex couples had the right to wed, according to evidence presented Wednesday in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure.

The taped statements were made by San Francisco resident Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the federal case.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here

This video explains a part of the back story of the current Prop 8 trial. Much more of the story can be read about in a compelling article from The New Yorker... The New Yorker - A Risky Proposal

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APPLY FOR 1 OF 4 $2,000 BPF SCHOLARSHIPS
The Bulldog Pride Fund at Fresno State expects to provide four $2,000 scholarships ($8,000 total) for the 2010-11 academic year. The BPF scholarship criteria is that a Fresno State incoming or returning student with good academic standing that has demonstrated pride in the community be selected as its recipient(s). The BPF also bestows the GSA Network Award. The deadline to apply for the Bulldog Pride Fund, as well as all scholarships at Fresno State, is Feb. 28, 2010. See www.bulldogpride.org for details.

TOTAL DONATIONS TO BPF SURPASS $170,000
Earlier this month, total donations to the Bulldog Pride Fund surpassed $170,000. One-hundred percent (100%) of each and every donation is directly deposited into a stand-alone endowment account that is invested in a diverse portfolio with the assistance and guidance of Merrill Lynch (Fresno), one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies. (No percentage of any donation is used for operating and/or related administrative expenses).

The Bulldog Pride Fund accepts cash, checks and credit card gifts, as well as donations in the form of securities, real property and corporate matching gifts. Also, gifts derived from beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement plan accounts, living wills and trusts are welcome. Include the Bulldog Pride Fund in your estate plans today and support student scholars at Fresno State in the future.

SPECIAL THANKS FROM INAUGURAL BPF SCHOLAR JARED LINDO ‘09
My time as a Fresno State student has been valuable. Every moment has been filled with learning and growing experiences inside and outside the classroom. Fresno State has given me much more than a first-class education; it has given me the opportunity to build character and grow as an individual. Three years ago, when I received my initial scholarship from the Bulldog Pride Fund, I realized there were others in the community who held the same values that I have found at Fresno State. The Bulldog Pride Fund is fueled by understanding individuals in the community who have entrusted their treasures to support students. This great generosity has made it possible for me to attend and graduate from Fresno State.

My future personal and professional success won’t be found in what I have achieved, but in what I continue to support. I pledge to contribute to the Bulldog Pride Fund and to donate my time as a mentor to future students for the rest of my life. I offer heartfelt and sincere thanks to the donors of the Bulldog Pride Fund who have helped make my educational dream come true.

— Jared Lindo, three-time BPF scholar, donor and graduate; B.S., Civil Engineering, Class of 2009

ABOUT THE BPF AT FRESNO STATE
Founded in 2005 and officially recognized in 2006 under the auspices of the Fresno State Alumni Association, the Bulldog Pride Fund is an endowment dedicated to providing an annuity to support student scholarships at Fresno State. Since its inception, the Bulldog Pride Fund has awarded $13,000 in scholarships to deserving students. All made possible by the generosity of donors that are transforming the lives of BPF scholars, which represent some of the best and brightest students attending Fresno State. Donations to the Bulldog Pride Fund are always welcome and tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Thank you for your support.

BPF Non-Discrimination Policy
In compliance with federal and state legislation, all Bulldog Pride Fund at Fresno State applicants and awardees are considered without regard to: sex, race, age, color, creed, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, disability or covered veterans status. The BPF actively seeks and encourages applicants from all segments of our diverse society.

GIVE TODAY. FOR TOMORROW AND BEYOND.
www.bulldogpride.org
 

• twitter: http://www.facebook.com/pages/bulldogprideorg/191443374086?ref=ts
• facebook: http://twitter.com/bulldogprideorg

At the moment, the internet is inundated with links and quotes and analysis of all the pieces involved with the Federal Court Case in San Francisco which is attempting to classify Proposition 8 as unconstitutional and therefore invalid. There is one article, however, which should not be missed. That article is by Margaret Talbot, writing for The New Yorker. This article details the ideas and inception of the Federal lawsuit, the people inspired with the fire of action on the issue of federally legalized, same sex marriage. It's told in an intimate manner which brings a dense reality to the case which so many others have missed.

The article contains the following passage, emotionally overwhelming in it's original incarnation as well as it's application to the current court case. It concerns the selection of plaintiffs for the federal case, and involves the couple who were plaintiffs in Loving V Virginia, the landmark case that overturned the ban on inter-racial marriage in the United States...

Though it doesn’t matter from a legal point of view what happens to plaintiffs after their case is resolved, their post-Supreme Court life can affect how people view their cause. The Lovings, who had three children, remained married until Richard Loving died, in a car accident, in 1975. They seldom gave interviews, though on the fortieth anniversary of the decision Mildred Loving issued a statement: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.”

Do yourself a favor and read this article...The New Yorker - A Risky Proposal

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Just as we're following the monumental Federal Court Case in San Francisco which may be turning the tide for Federal same sex marriage equality, we have to hear more insanity from the disgraceful Catholic Church and their foul and evil leader, Der Pope, who "called laws ignoring the difference between the sexes an "attack" on creation just days after Portugal moved to legalize gay marriage." Source   Read the rest here...

Will someone get this man out that ratty dress and right into a sleek white garment with arms that tie around the back? Or maybe we can provide that woman who attacked him recently with some assistance. How is this "man" so confident in his antiquated insanity?

Just compare his pious speeches with what REALLY goes on within the Catholic Church. Simply visit the website JoeMyGod, where religious crimes are charted on a regular basis in his column JoeMyGod - This Week In Holy Crimes. His winner this week?

Australia: Nine Catholics priests are about to go to separate trials on more than 200 counts of sexually abusing boys at the St. Stanislaus Boarding School. Father Brian Spillane faces 146 counts of sexual abuse over 22 years. Spillane's lawyer claims "mass contamination" of the case due to the website of one former St. Stanislaus student, who has been paid a settlement by the local diocese.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Virtually every week Joe compiles yet another countdown of the heinous crimes perpetuated by the "faithful". You think these acts are random? You think this is just a "small segment" of the religious? Then mosey on over to JoeMyGod - This Week In Holy Crimes, and gaze at the astronomical number of crimes he continues to cite. Then tell me religion doesn't need to be abandoned, or at the very least, TAXED

Yet another source for keeping track of the Federal Prop 8 case. This one is through the Courage Campaign with Rick Jacobs writing from the courtroom. Many lengthy dialogues which are occurring in the courtroom are written out here. Prop 8 Trial Tracker - Courage Campaign

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For the best up to minute information on the Federal Prop 8 case, visit The American Foundation for Equal Rights which is the group bringing the case against Prop 8. This site is the best resource for information about the trial, although we have provided various other links to keep track of the proceedings.

From their About Us page...

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American.

Through its groundbreaking federal court case against to California’s Proposition 8, The Foundation is leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law for every American.

The Foundation’s case, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, goes to trial on January 11, 2010. The Foundation has assembled a legal team led by Theodore Olson and David Boies to demonstrate that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution by denying millions of people equal protection under the law. More information on the case is available here.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Jennifer Vanasco of 365Gay.com is also providing live Tweet updates from the Federal Prop 8 Case. You can view her contributions HERE

From the American Foundation for Equal Rights...

The federal trial over the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 began today with an opening statement by attorney Theodore Olson, who with David Boies is leading the legal team assembled by the American Foundation for Equal Rights to litigate the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Opening statements will be followed by testimony from Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who comprise two couples who wish to be married but who were denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

After the opening statement David Boies gave the direct examination of Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami.

Read Olson's opening statement by clicking here

You can follow live Twitter updates from the trial by clicking on the following link...Live Updates From the Trial

Two hours before trial was scheduled to start, the high court blocked video of the proceedings from being posted on YouTube.com. It said justices need more time to review that issue and put the order in place at least until Wednesday.

Over the weekend, Proposition 8’s sponsors sought to block YouTube broadcasts. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is overseeing the trial, had approved the plan last week, saying the case was appropriate for wide dissemination because it dealt with an issue of wide interest and importance. Source: 365Gay.com

These are the people who, starting on Monday, January 11th, 2010, will be in court to try to convince the judge that the discrimination enforced due to California Proposition 8 is unconstitutional...Photos courtesy of The American Foundation for Equal Rights

Click on images to enlarge...

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Photo Information, in order of appearance... 

Left to right: Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo - Left to right: Kris Perry, Sandy Stier - Ted Olson - Chad Griffin - Left to right: David Boies, Ted Olson, Lady Booth Olson - Ted Olson - Left to right: Chad Griffin, Adam Umhoefer, Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Lisa McIntire - Ted Boies. Foreground: Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami - Left to right: Ted Olson, Kristina Schake, Chad Griffin - Left to right: Sandy Stier, Kris Perry, Jeff Zarrillo, Paul Katami, Chad Griffin.

 

The blog LGBT POV posted an excellent piece on January 8th concerning some behind the scenes actions in the Federal Prop 8 case, which begins on Monday, January 11th. The most interesting quote is from Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, who states in a recent fundraising letter...

"We do not expect to win at the trial level, but with God’s help, at least five members of the current Supreme Court will have the courage to defend our Constitution from this grave attack."

Blog Excerpt:

In his latest fundraising letter sent out Friday, Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, crows about the defeat of the marriage equality bill in the New Jersey Senate Thursday, talks about how Stand for Marriage D.C. has filed a referendum seeking to “overturn gay marriage as the peple [sic] in California did in 2008, and thye [sic] people of Maine did in 2009.”

But the “third big piece of news this week,” he writes, is the “federal trial over the constitutionality of Prop 8 begins.” Brown complains that Judge Vaughn Walker, “in another display of his eagerness to cater to the pro-gay-marriage side,” announced that he will “televise this trial” – discounting the objections of lawyers for Protect Marriage who are worried that their witnesses will face “threats and harassment.”

Well, the trial will not exactly be televised – it will be recorded for uploading on YouTube, which requires someone to have and know how to use the Internet to find and watch the considerably small and delayed trial.

The posting also delivers still more astounding (did I say astounding? I meant asinine) statements from Maggie Gallegher, of the National Organization for Marriage, such as the fact that the innocent victims in all this have been the supporters of Prop 8. These poor people, just because they're choosing to restrict the rights of a minority group of Americans for no reason whatsoever, have been subjected to "harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, at least one death threat, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry.”

LGBT Americans, of course, have no experience with any of that...

Read the entire posting here...LGBT POV

From the AP:

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey's state Senate has defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage, leaving it unlikely the state will have a gay marriage law in the very near future.

The bill needed 21 votes to pass; only 14 senators approved the measure Thursday.

Gay rights advocates had pushed hard to get the bill passed before Jan. 19, when Republican Chris Christie becomes governor. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine promised to sign the bill if approved by the Legislature but Christie has said he would veto it.

New Jersey offers civil unions that grant the legal rights of marriage to gay couples. Five states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont – allow gay marriage. Source 

UPDATE: Lambda Legal has announced, after the defeat in the New Jersey to head back to court to force the legislature to enact the equal marriage edict issued by the state Supreme Court in 2006. 

Read the story here

ImageWASHINGTON – Beginning in 2010, the Obama administration, through the Office of Personnel Management, has started to list gender identity among the classes protected by federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies. By including gender identity as a protected class, the federal government is stating its commitment to protecting transgender employees and has taken a significant step toward ending employment discrimination of LGBT people in the federal workforce.

Although a long-standing federal law prohibits any federal employment decisions that are not based on merit and another law prohibits sex discrimination, the new EEO policy marks the first time that gender identity discrimination has been explicitly banned from the federal workplace. The policy is now on the federal government’s jobs Web site as a link from more than 20,000 current federal job listings. The American Civil Liberties Union praised the Obama administration for initiating the change in EEO policy and urged Congress to continue to work for further protections for LGBT Americans. Read the rest of the story here.

From MercuryNews.com...

ImageA judge today approved a limited form of broadcasting the trial in the legal challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage, concluding it is the type of case that warrants breaking with traditions that generally ban cameras in federal courts.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker approved court-operated cameras in his courtroom for delayed release on YouTube, but rejected a bid by media organizations to televise the proceedings themselves for live broadcast.

Walker, by approving some broadcast of the Proposition 8 trial, became the first federal judge in the West to make use of an experimental program put in place recently by the 9th Circuit Judicial Council, which sets policy for federal courts in nine states, including California.

Walker rejected the arguments of Proposition 8's defenders, who opposed any broadcast of the proceedings outside the San Francisco federal building. It was not clear from Walker's remarks how long the delay would be for the video to be posted on the Internet.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in a challenge to Proposition 8, approved by voters last year to restore California's ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples sued in May 2009 to overturn the law. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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My family and I decided to go to Hunan Chinese Restaurant at Cedar and Herndon on New Year’s Day.   I have not been to Hunan in quite some time, since I do not find myself at Cedar and Herndon often, and had forgotten how good Hunan is. The name comes from the province in China where the cuisine originated.

Hunan serves their food a la carte family style.  We decided to order three of the dishes from the chef’s recommendations section of the menu. Actually I picked, because my parents trust my taste. No fried rice or chow mien, just the good stuff.

I ordered the BBQ Mongolian Beef, the Sweet and Sour Fish and the Hunan Chicken, which is their specialty. The Mongolian BBQ Beef was superb, the seasoning was perfect, and the vegetables were stir fried just right. The Sweet and Sour Fish was possibly one of the most amazing dishes I have ever had. The fish was very fresh and fried with a crunchy batter. The sauce was just the perfect combination of sweet and sour. Even my mother loved it. She does not usually like fish and was originally skeptical about the dish. The Hunan Chicken came last. It was good and the sauce was very tasty, however the meat was slightly dry.  It was also a little hard to eat since Hunan, like most Chinese restaurants, does not provide a knife.

The restaurant is tastefully decorated in the typical style of an upscale Chinese restaurant. The large tables in the middle had the usual sliding glass tray so large groups can easily access every dish. The staff was friendly and attentive. All in all, Hunan was an enjoyable experience. It is a gem in a city with a lot of lousy Chinese food. For more in go to their website. http://www.thehunanrestaurant.com/ 

ImageThe people behind the groundbreaking federal case to overturn California Prop 8 have set up an official website...Equal Rights Foundation. On their website you'll be able to learn more about the case as well as keep up on the ongoing news. They are also pushing to have the trial, which begins January 11th, to be televised. The website declares the following as its purpose...

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American.

Through its groundbreaking federal court case against to California’s Proposition 8, The Foundation is leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law for every American.

The Foundation’s case, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, goes to trial on January 11, 2010. The Foundation has assembled a legal team led by Theodore Olson and David Boies to demonstrate that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution by denying millions of people equal protection under the law. More information on the case is available here.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

New Year's Eve 2009 CNN broadcast...Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin and Lance Bass...Anderson has never been more cute or more GAY...watch Anderson let loose his inner gay (doing a Cher impersonation)...and Kathy reassuring Anderson that they're "going all the way with that ball drop"...Videos 1 & 2 are embedded, click on the links for the rest...

Cooper Griffin 3

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ImageGay Central Valley is pleased to announce that we have joined as a sponsor for the Proyecto Poderoso’s “Orgullo y Poder Latino” Leadership Conference, which will be held in Fresno on Saturday, January 23rd. Below you can find all the details of the event, courtesy their official website... http://www.crla.org/index.php?page=orgullo-y-poder-latino-conference

Proyecto Poderoso’s “Orgullo y Poder Latino” Leadership Conference - Your Voice is Your Power! A leadership conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people in rural California, and our allies.

Conference Overview: Our goal is to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and allies, in particular those who speak Spanish, to build understanding and support for LGBT people and their families in rural California. The central theme of the conference is “Your voice is your power.” The conference will inspire and train leaders to share their stories and build peer support networks in rural communities. The conference dovetails with California Rural Legal Assistance’s new speakers bureau — a bilingual (Spanish and English-speaking) pool of LGBT people and allies, who will share their personal stories with community groups, agencies, schools, churches, and media outlets in order to humanize LGBT people and their families. Personal story-telling and social networks of LGBT people and supportive friends and family members can dispel anti-LGBT myths and stereotypes to promote greater inclusion in otherwise socially conservative communities. Our day-long conference will train 75 leaders from the following California communities: Fresno, Salinas, Watsonville, El Centro, Bakersfield, Coachella, Delano, Visalia, Madera, Stockton and Modesto.

You can learn more about CRLA’s LGBT focused program, Proyecto Poderoso, by visiting our website at http://www.crla.org/index.php?page=orgullo-y-poder-latino-conference. This program is a joint project with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and has received widespread recognition for its success in improving LGBT-related legal services and advocacy in rural California.

Training Tracks:

1. How to share your story

2. How to create a peer support group

3. Developing positive self-identities as LGBT Latinos

Conference Date & Time: 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday, January 23th

Conference Location: First Congregational Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. Fresno, CA 93704

Contact Information: Angeles Jimenez, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lisa Cisneros, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (831) 757-5221

Conferencia de lideazgo: “Orgullo y Poder Latino” de Proyecto Poderoso

La Conferencia: Nuestra meta es empoderar a lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgéneros (LGBT) y aliados, en particular aquellos que hablan español, para crear entendimiento y apoyo por las personas LGBT y sus familias en California rural. El tema central de la conferencia es “Su voz es su poder”. La conferencia inspirará y entrenará líderes para compartir sus historias, además de crear networks de apoyo en las comunidades rurales. La conferencia se complementa con el nuevo foro de voceros LGBT de CRLA - un grupo bilingüe (español e ingles), de personas LBGT y aliados, que compartirán sus historias personales con grupos comunitarios, agencias, escuelas, templos, y medios de comunicación para así humanizar a las personas LGBT y sus familiares. Las historias personales y networks sociales de personas LGBT además de familiares y amigos que apoyen pueden disipar mitos anti-LGBT y estereotipos para promover su inclusión en comunidades que de otra manera fueran conservativas socialmente.

Nuestra conferencia que durará un día, entrenará a 75 lideres de las siguientes comunidades: Fresno, Salinas, Watsonville, El Centro, Bakersfield, Coachella, Delano, Visalia, Madera, Stockton and Modesto. Puedes enterarte más acerca de Proyecto Poderoso, el programa de CRLA enfocado en la comunidad LGBT, visitando nuestra pagina de internet http://www.crla.org/index.php?page=conferencia-orgullo-y-poder-latino. Este programa trabaja en colaboración con el Centro Nacional por Derechos Lésbicos (NCLR) y ha recibido una gran cantidad de reconocimiento por su éxito en mejorar los servicios legales relacionados a la comunidad LGBT, además de su apoyo en las zonas rurales de California.

Entrenamientos:

1. Como compartir tu historia.

2. Como crear un grupo de apoyo mutuo.

3. Desarrollando identidades positivas como latinos LGBT.

Fecha de la Conferencia: 9am a 5pm, sábado, enero 23 de 2010 Lugar: First Congressional Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. Fresno, Ca 93704 

Contacto: Angeles Jimenez, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lisa Cisneros, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (831) 757-5221

GAY CENTRAL VALLEY is a participating nonprofit in the "Give A Day - Get A Disney Day" program. Click HERE for all the details... 

...

Reported today by the San Francisco Chronicle...

Proposition 8 proponents' complaint that a California campaign-finance disclosure law has led to harassment of same-sex marriage opponents failed to sway a federal judge, who refused Thursday to throw out the law or shield donors' names.

"If there ever needs to be sunshine on a particular issue, it's a ballot measure," U.S. District Judge Morrison England said after a one-hour hearing in his Sacramento courtroom.

A lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign said it would ask an appeals court to modify or overturn the law, which requires disclosure of all contributors of $100 or more.

Read the rest of this story HERE 

ImageImageTed Haggard, he just keeps on giving...check out this story by Kirk Johnson at The New York Times...

DENVER — The New Life Church, a nationally known evangelical institution that fired its founding pastor, Ted Haggard, in 2006 over accusations that he had had sex with a male prostitute, made payments starting in 2007 to a young male church member who had a relationship with Mr. Haggard before the dismissal, the church’s pastor told worshipers on Sunday.

The payments — part of a confidential legal settlement in 2007 that included money for counseling and college expenses — came from insurance money, not donations from members, the senior pastor of New Life, Brady Boyd, said in his sermon at the church in Colorado Springs.

Read the rest of this story HERE

So, I was wondering, where was everyone on the 20th?  You know the DOMA protest on January 20th?  I get that some people had to work, but come on, everyone?  There were only about 25-30 people there and it was a very disheartening.  It’s hard to be united against inequality, when so few show up? 

So, in the interest of uniting and not dividing, let’s concentrate on the solution and not the blame, okay? 

What would make you show up, what would make you feel a need to stand up against those that would tear you down?  What would give you the drive to make your voice heard in this town, one that wants you to remain quiet?  What would make you feel the pride in knowing that you do deserve the rights they’ve taken away, and to demand them back?  Tell me what’s going to do it for you, what do when you are pushed?  

This is not an easy town to be gay in.  I get it.  But, when you don’t show up to claim what is yours, then they have an easier time pretending you don’t really want it.  And when you don’t fight back when they steal away your rights, you only help them leave the door open to take away more…and then even more…and so on.  Your inaction is all that is needed to complete this injustice, it is what they want.  However, your action, your voice, is what will stop it.

The next events where people are going to be needed are as listed.

Fogg, Maxwell & Lanier EyeCare of Fresno (1360 E. Herndon, Fresno), on January 30th from 1-4pm. The will be a protest of sorts, there will be a picket line, and information will be handed out. The last time we went out there they had heard that we were coming and shut down the whole building. Hired two security guards to walk around, and did not reschedule some of the appointments. So we are going back, we have a goal and it will be accomplished. If you would like more info email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
On January 31st there will be a Town Hall meeting, held at Wesley United Methodist Church (1343 E Barstow Ave, Fresno), from 12-3pm.  We will be discussing a plan of action to try and change things in the community and beyond.  It is not too late to get involved!  Bring your ideas, your voice, anything you want to discuss, but most of all bring yourselves. 
 
The next Nationwide event that will be taking place is happening on February 12, now this one is so majorly important because of the passing of prop 8 just 2 months ago, this will MAKE an impact. It will be held at 12 noon at Fresno County Clerk’s Office (2221 Kern Street, Fresno), we will be meeting outside at 12 on the dot to go inside and ask for marriage licenses. Now when they say “NO” we are not going to be leaving. For more information on this, contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We need to show that equality is worth something to us, we are willing to fight for it, and we want it.

So, will I see you there?

ImageAs awards season heats up, Sean Penn has emerged as an early front-runner to win an Oscar after taking home top honors at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.

"As actors, we don't play gay, straight. We don't play any of these kinds of people. We play human beings, and this movie is something that we're, all of us involved, are so proud of," he said. "This is a story about equal rights for all human beings."

Read the rest of this article HERE. Read about other winners at the SAG awards HERE

ImageI recently visited Hulu (www.hulu.com), which is a free website where you can watch movies and television shows, as well as clips, sports, political news, the Presidential Inauguration, etc. The list of videos available is expanding each day. Having recently seen the theatrical film, MILK, starring Sean Penn, (if you haven't, you should) about the life and times of Harvey Milk, I was pleased to see that Hulu is offering the documentary film, The Times Of Harvey Milk, free for viewing on their website.

Click Here To Watch Film

ImageImageDéjà vu is being forced to change the club’s name due to a United States Trademark that we were not aware of. We received notice from a company called Déjà vu Consulting, which owns a nationwide chain of adult strip clubs called Déjà vu Showgirls, and they are claiming exclusive rights to the name “Déjà vu”.

We are really disappointed that we are losing our name, but this is what can happen in the real world of business.

Our location at 708 N. Blackstone holds a significant historical value to the LGBT community in Fresno, and keeping that in mind Steve, myself and club management have decided to give the club the name it had throughout the 80’s and the 90’s and that is “The Express”. We ask your patience as we transition from Déjà vu to the Express and we will be quickly updating our Website and our My Space site. Even though we are changing our name, the community will continue to receive the same great service from the same great staff, actually nothing changes except our name.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Community again for their support all these years, we will be celebrating our sixth anniversary this coming March, watch for details.

Thank You - Lee, Steve, Malibu and the entire staff.

Image    This is a place that has just opened and anyone who has the heart of a child needs to stop for a little visit. This place is extremely well thought out place for indoor mini golf. The theme is Glow in the Dark, and all the holes are specific places on the several continents. I was surprised to see many individuals come out to join us in a fun filled night. People of all ages; it was great. Along with the clubs and balls we were given glow in the dark bracelets, colors varied and we had our choice.

    I will not give away all the details of the scenery, but I can tell you this. You will be astounded and the imagination of the person/s that put this place together. I will say this one thing, be careful where you step. Although they take precautions in the different levels where you may step wrong but in the height of having fun; you still may step wrong and twist your ankle like my daughter. Or like me; slip off the borders and look like an idiot as I stumbled.

    After we had our round of golf my daughter and I enjoyed a few of their arcade games, especially the air hockey, and the dance arcade. The next day I found sore muscles I never knew I had in places.

    There are several pictures taken by many individuals there; including Monique, Jason, Leah, and myself. I hope you enjoy them enough to pay, Maxximum Putt Putt, a little visit.

ImageSeveral weeks ago in her vlog What's Your Problem? Cathy DeBuono posed the question "Is Gay the New Black?" Her question, inspired by Prop. 8's passage and the media frenzy that surrounded it, spurred the most comments SheWired has ever received on a story / vlog.

Moved by all of your input and the thoughtful discussion, now that some time has passed, Cathy is back with her guests, Dee & Leslie for the conclusion of their controversial discussion on "IS GAY THE NEW BLACK"

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

ImageGayFresno is seeking information on Gay Owned & Gay Friendly businesses in the Central Valley. While we've made an effort to post the names of businesses and individuals who financially supported the passage of CA Prop 8, we now want to focus a section of our website on those businesses who support the LGBT community, places we can feel good about patronizing. 

We are looking for your help in compiling such a list. We will create listings for these businesses on our site for reference. So if you know of a great mechanic, or health food store, tax preparer, etc, please let us know. We will be posting a form in the near future, but for now feel free to contact us through our ABOUT US page. Thank you for your help...

...

ImageOn January 19th, the last night of George Bush's reign and just before the swearing in of our 44th President, Barack Obama, Comedian Kate Clinton held a ceremony at Dupont Circle in Washington DC, to "clear out the bad air" and "bring in the good air"... (the video is dark, but the audio is clear)

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, giving the opening Invocation at the Sunday, January 18th, Presidential Inauguration kick off, for our 44th President, Barack Obama...(this was not televised)

Finally, things have changed. Not only changed, but monumentally changed....President Barack Obama's Inauguration speech, parts 1 & 2...

...

For the first time, a gay marching band will play for the commander-in-chief at the Inaugural Parade. The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps joins the 177-member band from around the country.

Published 01/08/2009  by Matthew S. Bajko  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

San Francisco health officials have traced several cases of tuberculosis to patrons of Castro gay bars, with one of the people infected a bartender in the area. The discovery has prompted them to ask 140 employees of businesses in the gay neighborhood who may have been exposed to an active case of TB to get screened for the potentially deadly disease.

To handle the large number of people being asked to cooperate with the request, the health department has set up a special screening site at Magnet, the gay men's community health center in the Castro, that will be open over the first two weeks of January. Those screened will be given an advanced blood test for TB, and people who are HIV-positive, and particularly at risk for TB, will also be given a chest X-ray.

The screenings are meant to identify anyone who is at risk for developing TB and provide them with follow up treatment necessary to control the disease. More than 50 people have reportedly already been tested.

Image Saturday, January 10, 2009 was a great day for same-sex couples and their supporters all around Fresno and across the country.  Tens of thousands of people gathered across America to remind President-Elect Barack Obama of his promise in an open letter to the LGBT Community to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) and the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.  It was truly a great day in Fresno to have suck speakers as Robin McGehee and Patsy Montgomery as well as several others from around our community.  Fresno saw about 70 people sign the petition to stop DOMA that day and hundreds of others in Fresno signed as well.  These signatures will join the hundreds of thousands of others that will be presented to President-Elect Obama when he is sworn into office on January 20th to serve as a reminder of the seriousness of our community to repeal laws like this and others that have written discrimination into our law books for years.  Thank you to everyone that joined us that day and to everyone who helped put the protest together.  And thank you to all of our great speakers, your words are truly inspirational.

Gay-Straight Alliance Network partnered with Community Link present…
Expression Not Suppression

ENS is a FREE conference for LGBTQQI youth activists and their allies who are dedicated to defeating homophobia and transphobia and creating safe and supportive schools for everyone. The target audience is high school & middle school students. Teachers & GSA advisors are welcome.

This FREE event will be held on Saturday, February 7th  from 12pm-9:30pm

Workshops include:

  • Same-Sex Marriage – Why youth and STR8’s need to be involved
  • Feel Yourself:  Tips to creating a more Positive You
  • KickBUTT:  LGBT youth and the tobacco industry
  • Organizing 101:  Activism After High School
  • Your Role in Changing the Political Climate
  • Queer Literature:  an exercise in expression
  • Organizing a Powerful Day of Silence
  • Fight the Power:  Know Your Rights
  • Coming out: Tips and Strategies
  • Gender, Gender Everywhere
  • Queers and Spirituality
  • How to Do Drag

Cash Prize to the Best YOUTH DRAG performance before Dance

  • How to Have a Kick-Ass GSA – GSA Leaders meeting
  • Resources, Tools and Networks for Safe Schools Advocates – Adviser Training
  • Safer Sex

Get down & dance with everyone you've just met at a special, youth-only Freedom to Marry Valentine’s Dance

The location of the event is 2131 N Van Ness Blvd, Fresno, 93704
If you'd like more info or would like to help with planning, 559-268-2780 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
All interested youth should register at www.gsanetwork.org/ens - after 1/16/09

ImageThe Proposition 8 campaign has filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of California's campaign finance laws that compel disclosure of personal information by campaign donors who they said have been threatened and harassed.

Read the story HERE

If you were not at the December 13th, Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee event, you missed the powerful speech given by Beverly Senkowski, President of the Central California Alliance (CCA).  She spoke about Proposition 8, the next steps for the LGBT community and the civil rights movement in general.  But, you can read the speech in full by clicking "Read More".

ImageApply for a 2009-10 Bulldog Pride Fund Scholarship!

The Bulldog Pride Fund is accepting applications for three $2,000 scholarships ($6,000 total) to be awarded in 2009-10. One scholarship is the GSA NETWORK AWARD.

The Bulldog Pride Fund awards scholarships to incoming or returning, undergraduateor graduate students in good academic standing who have demonstrated pride in the community.

For 2009-10, the deadline to apply for all scholarships at Fresno State, including the Bulldog Pride Fund, is Feb. 28, 2009.

Details online @ www.bulldogpride.org.

ImageMarriage Equality has just released a report detailing the results of their post Prop 8 studies, forums and survey results. Visit the website here: Marriage Equality Media Center  Click HERE for a direct link to the report.

ImageBob Barr, the original author of DOMA, the Defense Of Marriage Act, now states he thinks it should be repealed. Don't be fooled that it's out of empathy for LGBT Americans, it's just more politics...Read the article by clicking on the following link: LA Times: No Defending The Defense Of Marriage Act

 

ImageR U Invited??

Beauty isn’t only skin deep / Non Rated / Written and Directed by: Israel Luna / Starring: Oscar Contreras-John De Los Santos-JR Ramírez Christopher Jones-David Matherly

Review By: Leon Velasco / Rating: Two Thumbs Up

This movie hopefully comes out on Logo Channel. It is amateur but oh so cute. In some places I found myself just laughing out loud. It was very well written and gives some insight to a group of friends and how there can be view points that clash and others that harmonize unexpectedly; but yet their bond of friendship doesn’t break. It also gives you the notion that a monogamous relationship can turn disastrous with the wrong choices couples may make, and that one can find comfort in a person you barely know.  It really made me reminisce about my past group of friends and although we are no longer in contact; I can feel the close bond we held for each other and still laugh at the ridiculous things we did. The actors did a great job at really capturing you to feel what each character is going through.


LGBTQ (and allies) Town Hall Meeting - January 31st 2009
12pm-3pm at 1343 East Barstow Avenue, Fresno (Wesley UMC in John Wesley Hall)

This is not a religiously affiliated event, the location is hosted by Wesley United Methodist Church, an open and affirming congregation for the inclusive participation of LGBT people since 1984 - so, please know ALL ARE WELCOME.

We will use this time to discuss recent events in the Marriage Equality movement in Fresno and beyond, local organizing efforts for the LGBT community, discuss future organizing efforts/needs - the major goal is to create a Fresno plan of action to help create a sustainable community that can change the social climate towards the LGBT community in the Central Valley and beyond.  The agenda for the day will be emailed  and this page updated, after the Jan 10th event.

If you are a local organization that works with, for, around, etc., the LGBT community in Fresno and would like to have space to offer information about the services you provide to our community - please, email or call.  The organizers of this event are Jason Scott, Robin McGehee, Sara Martinez and Anthony Dietrich. 

If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (559) 287-9670 or (559) 862-4559

ImageThe following is written by Seth Hemmelgarn, from the Bay Area Reporter...

Three bills that were signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger go into effect Thursday, January 1 and will give new legal protections to California's foster youth and the state's LGBTs.

"We begin the new year knowing that all LGBT people, including youth and seniors, have better protections and rights than ever before," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, a sponsor of the legislation. "The new laws provide important protections for members of our community and reinforce our state's commitment to treat all people with respect and dignity under the law, regardless of their differences."


 

    What is the job of a pastor?  Why do people turn to them for guidance, and why do so many pastors lie to the ones who come to them for truth and understanding of this crazy world we live in? Pastor Jim Franklin of Fresno's Cornerstone church (1455 Fulton St.—Downtown Fresno) has a duty to the people of his church to teach them the word of god and guide them on their journeys to becoming spiritually closer to the Lord. He is supposed to be doing this by interpreting the bible in such a way that the people of his congregation can understand it better, and to tell the truth at all times. Well, I’m going to show you that not only is he lying to the members of his congregation, and to the people of the community, but that is he is interpreting the bible in such a way as to push his own political agenda.

Image Hi Everyone!
Just wanted to invite you to check out Episode 3 of my vlog at http://www.afterellen.com.  It posted today. My vlog is called "What's Your Problem?" and Episode 3 is entitled "Embracing the Weirdness" My guest is actress Thea Gill, (Queer as Folk, Dante's Cove) In addition to chatting about Golden Compass animals, Cathy's seasonal affective symptoms and Thea's long journey to labeling her own sexuality, the two actors discuss freeing yourself from your own oppression, how to decipher if you are gay, straight or bisexual, and just who came on to whom on the couch...The closing song is "Hope & Faith" by last week's guest, musician Janet Robin. A new episode posts every Thursday on Afterell.com.  Next week, my guest is comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer.
Enjoy!Cathy www.cathydebuono.com  www.myspace.com/cathydebuono 

ImageThe estate of alumnus William N. Beck has conveyed a $100,000 bequest to the Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund, whose annual competitive awards are presented under the aegis of the Fresno State Alumni Association. The Beck bequest is the biggest to an alumni association scholarship endowment at any of the California State University ’s 23 campuses, said Peter Robertson, director of annual giving at California State University , Fresno.  

Image PHOTO GALLERY JUST ADDED...I’m happy to report that the Imperial Dove Court’s Closet Ball 2008 - “Hollywood Comes To Fresno - A Night On the Red Carpet”, was a huge success.  With nearly 100 people in attendance and outstanding performers a wonderful night was a sure thing.

Last night I had visitors that informed me that at the Wal-Mart on Herndon and Ingram (Not sure this is the correct spelling) there are people gathering signatures for an anti gay marriage ballot/initiative/constitutional amendment. I just received a phone call from another member of our community to voice his concern regarding this activity. I called to complain about this situation and the acting store manager informed me that even though Wal-Mart does want this happening on their property, the petitioners have a RIGHT to be there. I informed them that they did not considering they are on their private property and not on public property. I then called and lodged a formal compliant with their corporate offices at 1-800-WAL-MART. They informed me that my concerns would be passed up the chain of command and that I could expect a response back with in 5 days.
 
I informed them that not only am I a customer, but also a gay activist in the local area and that I would be call for an action alert of the community requesting them to flood their phone lines with our concerns until this activity is stopped. Can you help with this action????
 
The store # is 559-431-0107
Corporate # is 1-800-WAL-MART
 
Jeffery Robinson
 
Added by GayFresno 2/3/08:
I went over to Sams Club today (Feb 2nd) and they are conducting this action there as well.  I have sent an email to Sam's Club (part of wal mart) and I hope you will too.  They have an online contact form to contact them:
http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate.do?dest=61
Also, their phone number is: (559) 446-0106

Our last known contact for the district manager is:
Shane Dickerson
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have heard back from Wal Mart we'd be interested to hear what they had to say...
...

Image While none of the current Presidential candidates has the guts to speak the truth on the issue of gay marriage, Al Gore, who unfortunately is not running, has done just that. Even Hillary, who I think we all assumed would be behind us on this issue, is not, claiming her position is "personal". It's stunning to see any Presidential candidate in 2008 state that their "personal" beliefs should be allowed to restrict the civil rights of millions of Americans by upholding hundreds of years of prejudice and bigotry. Add to that the fact that denying gay people marriage rights is unconstitutional and it's easy to scoff at the phrase "greatest country in the world". So while we wait once again for Americans to put down their mythological bibles and support the United States Constitution, which they claim to be so proud of, we at least have these words from our recent Nobel Peace Prize winner... Al Gore Speaks Out On Gay Marriage (Video) 

Image Heath Ledger, who starred in Brokeback Mountain and who will be the Joker in the next Batman film, was found dead today, January 22, at his home, surrounded by pills. Read the developing story here

 

Image Music Video - "Imagination"
I created this music video out of my anger at the path America and Americans have taken over the past few years, particularly during the Bush administration.

Image Mike Huckabee, a viable Republican Presidential candidate, has invoked God in an extreme way in his campaign. He falls in line with George Bush as he suggests revising the United States Constitution to bring it in line with “God’s standards”. Watch the video here … If that's not enough, Huckabee Compares Gay Marriage to Bestiality


A new, drug-resistant strain of the “flesh-eating” MRSA bacteria is spreading quickly among gay men in Boston and San Francisco and soon could pose a wider threat, according to an article in The New York Times. Read the story here … or you can listen to an audio report at the following link...NPR Audio

By now, most of the gay community is familiar with the antics of the Rev. Fred Phelps and his family circus known as the Westboro Baptist Church.  Being a native of Topeka, Kansas, I got to watch from the front row as their picketing evolved from hand written signs for pickets at a local park to their nationwide crusade of insanity.  As such, I usually keep an eye on their antics out of sheer morbid curiosity.

 

I want you to ask yourself this question, when was the last time you’ve seen a HIV prevention commercial and for that matter, when have you seen an advertisement for any HIV medications on television?  As far as the HIV prevention commercial, I’m sure you would say a long time ago if not at all.  And in regards to the HIV medications advertisements, it hasn’t happened and probably will not!

Image KVPT, Valley Public Television, is hosting a special viewing and discussion of the PBS documentary Anyone and Everyone. A preview of the film can be viewed at www.anyoneandeveryone.com.

The event will be held at the new Unitarian Universalist Church on Chestnut and Alluvial on January 25th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. That evening KVPT would like to invite interested organizations to host an informational table to offer resources to the community. We would also like to hold a panel discussion with representatives from the community.

 

Image

There is no doubt that the rising cost for an education in the recent years has put a heavier burden on the average college student. According to the College Board Source by David Evans of USA Today the cost of tuition for a four-year public college has increased to nearly $13,000 a year. Within the last five years the cost of tuition has jumped 35%. Education has never been more expensive to achieve, nor has it been more essential. The trend in the workforce is such that even an entry-level position will require a four-year degree.

One of the things I do to exorcise my creative demons is to create a music video from time to time. I’m constantly listening to music and movies and video have fascinated me since I first picked up an 8MM camera. It’s therapeutic for me, especially given the current state of the nation.

BULLDOG PRIDE FUND RECEIVES $1,000 ANONYMOUS GIFT: ~ In Memory of Lt. Barbara Hammerman ~ (June 18, 1959 – Dec. 31, 2006) ~

Barbara Hammerman passed away peacefully on December 31, 2006 at age 47 in her Belmont home with her long-time partner Frances Grunder at her side. Barbara was born in Chicago , raised in Scottsdale , Ariz. , and lived in San Mateo County for the last 22 years where she served proudly with the San Mateo Police Department as a lieutenant until her medical retirement in 2005.

grad capThe Gay & Lesbian Armenian Society is now accepting applications for a $1,000 school scholarship. Anyone interested can click on the link below to access the application and information on this opportunity.

GALAS Scholarship

Ma Vie En RoseMa Vie En Rose” (My Life In Pink) will be shown at Fresno State on Friday, January 19th at 5:15PM in the McLane Hall 121.  Admission is free.

 

“Ma Vie En Rose” is the story of a little girl born in a little boy’s body. For him, nothing is more natural than to change his gender. As a hopeful and sensitive child, he truly believes that a miracle is going to happen. He will be a girl, no doubt about it, and he’s in love with Jerome, his school mate, and son of his father’s colleague.

gay couples scaleSTAND UP with us on February 14th!

On Wednesday, February 14th, Marriage Equality USA will host the 3rd Annual Marriage Equality Demonstration in downtown Fresno at the County Clerk’s Office. This action will involve same sex couples, along with allies and supporters, gathering at the County Clerk’s office to request marriage licenses.

 

Under current California law, all same sex couples will be refused that right, and will be turned away. This is, however, not a pointless mission. In fact, this political action draws vital media attention to the current discrimination same sex couples face in California, as well as across the country. It’s critically important that the GLBT community continues to make our presence known in all aspects of social structure. Without optimum visibility, our goals of equal civil rights in America will be much more difficult to attain.

January 20, 2007 will mark the one year anniversary of PROJECT: MALE being incorporated!  If you have ever started your own nonprofit business, you can relate to the hell and strain it has been to get this puppy started let alone keeping it going.  But the sad truth of the matter is that since my work involves HIV/AIDS, it has made my task that much harder.  Most of the men that I have asked to be on my board had refused to get involved in this issue because they felt it "doesn't concern them".

Central California Alliance (CCA) held it’s 6th Annual Talent Show on Tuesday night, January 24th, at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in the Tower District.
 
Gay Fresno staff was in attendance and had a wonderful time. The evening began with dinner and conversation, followed by a viewing of the items up for silent auction.
 
Once the show started, the full house responded enthusiastically to the roster of entertainers taking the stage. From musical standards to Broadway, the vocalists were emotional and strong. There were energetic dance performances alongside both broad and satirical comedy. Rounding things out was a beautiful and delicate selection performed with hand bells, and a stellar performance of cutting edge, humor infused hip-hop by The Argyle Pimps.  
 
The evening included performances by Thomas Fitzgerald, Three From The Heart, Icon, Tracy Jones, Anthonie Trujillo, Richard Gosvener,  Brian X, The Argyle Pimps, Lilly Murray, Beth Gonzales and The Fresno Gay Men’s Chorus.

Video: (modem) (dsl/cable)
Join EQCA & Gay Fresno on Valentines Day by requesting a marriage license from Fresno County as an LGBT couple or individual...see CALENDAR for details... 

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I sat down recently to talk with Molly McKay, Field Director for Equality California, www.eqca.org  during her visit to Fresno for a meeting with EQCA’s local chapter leaders. We discussed the issue of marriage equality in California and what we can expect in 2006. While the battle rages on, Molly is confident California is on the edge of the legalization of gay marriage.
 
Until that day comes, we can’t slow down in our efforts to do everything to educate and inform Californians about the consequences to LGBT individuals if we continue to be denied the right to marry. Molly shared with me a story of a senior gay couple who’d been together for 50 years. When one partner died, the other was left with nothing, literally no place to live. These are the kind of things that need to be made clear to those not supporting equal civil rights for gay people. It’s difficult to believe that in the United States Of America, the greatest country on Earth, many of our fellow citizens, while often risking everything to commit to an openly gay relationship, may be left with none of the protections afforded our heterosexual counterparts.
Our friend, colleague and fellow activist Nathan Christoffersen, a 28-year-old volunteer who ran EQCA’s Madera County chapter, passed away under tragic and disturbing circumstances. In honor of Nathan’s life and work, Equality California has established a fund to create a field organizer position in the Central Valley. EQCA hopes to generate $15,000 in donations to continue the work so desperately needed in the Central Valley.

Please Make a Donation to the Nathan Christoffersen Memorial Fund Today

Nathan’s life, his work as an activist, and his heartbreaking death, are crucial reminders of the importance of EQCA’s mission; to ensure and promote dignity, safety and equality for all LGBT Californians.  Please click here to read Nathan’s full story and ensure that his legacy continues to inspire our youth, friends and colleagues.
The following video has recently been released by the Fresno fire department.  They are looking for what is described as a white pickup truck (the vehicle appears to have a dark stripe or sign on the drivers side door).  If you have any information please contact Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.

Video: (modem) (dsl/cable)
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Domestic: 81 Million / Foreign: 67 Million

TOTAL 148 Million
Production Budget: 14 Million
Academy Awards
Original Score
Adapted Screenplay
Best Director

I attended a screening of Brokeback Mountain on Monday with a gathering of friends and others brought together by Gay Fresno. It was a great movie and a great experience. We had good laughs, good conversation and I felt a unity and appreciation in the group. We’re proud this film is out there, getting incredible reviews and making a lot of money. This groundbreaking movie is one of those things that comes around for us only once in a while, and I could feel it in myself and those around me.

Watching Brokeback at the IMAX theater on a big screen was mesmerizing. The film is truly remarkable. It’s a quiet movie, filled with subtlety and carefully orchestrated shots. The acting, especially by Heath Ledger, is superior. I believed every person and situation in this film and I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

Image  The Fresno Fire Department confirmed at a press conference on January 9th, that the September 2005 fire that heavily damaged the North Tower Circle nightclub was deliberately set.
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I knew Nathan for only a short time.  With Nathan, however, even a short time was packed with conversation.

It was September of last year and I was a DJ at the North Tower Circle. I met Nathan while spinning for a moderate Wednesday night crowd. After ending a track, I turned from the mixer to check for music when I saw Nathan bounding up the steep, wooden steps to greet me, full of energy and holding a stack of papers. He’d come to the club with Jason from GayFresno.com and was soliciting petition signatures to combat Governor Schwarzenegger, who was about to veto a state legislature decision to allow gay marriage in California.
Image   Our screening of Brokeback Mountain at the Imax of Edwards cinema was a great success.  There are about 15 of us in this photo and we had at least twice that number who came in from our site and mailings.  Thanks to all who came out.  We hope to see you again soon!
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GayFresno.com, Fresno Equality California / MECA, Fresno LGBTQ social group would like to welcome you to a screening of Brokeback Mountain on January 9th 2006.
The show starts at 7:20pm. Please try to wear red and we'll meet at the fountain outside of Edwards 21 at 7pm. This is a general admission screening, so tickets are first come first serve... So arrive early! We will be there if you haven't met us before, please checkout the about us, (our photos are there). Please check back in advance for any updates/changes.


Hope to see you there!

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I’m fascinated and bewildered by American discourse, specifically the difference between what we say as a nation and what we do. Never has that been more clear than now, when the line between fact and fiction is beyond blurry, it’s virtually vanished.

When I grew up in the late sixties and seventies, information was not as readily available as it is today. For me, that created both frustration and acceptance. Frustration because it seemed pretty obvious to me that many of the things we were fighting over in America had to do with the lack of access to the truth. Acceptance because I could see that this would eventually change. All it would take is time for the truth to come out, for us to become more connected to facts and not supposition.

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Oh, my God. It’s Phyllis Schlafly.

There’s a name I hadn’t heard, and a face I hadn’t seen, in a very long time. She was about to be interviewed by Bill Maher on REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER. www.hbo.com

Phyllis Schlafly is a famous anti-feminist, anti-abortionist who’s been doing her thing since the early 1940’s.www.eagleforum.org
          
I remembered her from the seventies and I know it’s hard to believe, but when I saw her I could swear she was wearing the same satin suit she wore the last time I saw her, somewhere in the vicinity of 1979. She had the same upswept, plastered hairdo and the same condescendingly mocking smile. And let me tell you, that’s something you miss, a good condescendingly mocking smile. There were more wrinkles, of course, and she’d lost some pigment. She wasn’t quite as quick, but there was no doubt about it, it was Phyllis Schlafly.

Could Anita Bryant be far behind?