Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Regeneration - Time of the Doctor

"We all change, when you think about it... we're all different people all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good.  You've got to keep moving... So long as you remember all the people that you used be."

- The Doctor


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays from Me to You...

Where ever you are, what ever traditions you embrace, or holidays you are celebrating this time of year, I want to take a moment and say Thank You.  

The incredible support you have shown to this modest little blogging effort over the past year has been the most amazing gift,  for which I am very very grateful.

I wish you and yours a joyous holiday season, and the very best for the new year.

For those of you who are celebrating the arrival of the Child in Bethlehem, we give the last word on this Christmas Eve as always, to one of the great Theologians of the 20th Century, Linus Van Pelt.

Lights please...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Asking for some holiday help...

    Hey there friends and readers-o-mine!

    Your help is desperately needed! If you have  a few moments to spare, Please follow the link and vote for my good friend Rudy Guerrero for the 2013 Broadway World San Francisco Awards

Rudy is nominated for best featured actor in a musical (local) featured actor in play and leading actor in a play!

    You can vote at this link, Or simply cut and paste the URL below into your web broswer



Sunday, December 15, 2013

As the Holiday Season Gets Under Way...

As  the Christmas Tree is now up and decorated in the living room,  I  will kick off the start of the Holiday season   the same way I always have  on this blog, with the best version of  "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas",  EVER recorded.  

With all due respect  to  Judy Garland and even  Nat King Cole,  it doesn't get any better than this.

Take it away Guys...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Catch Up Blogging...

Star Harbor in Kowloon
Well I survived a week in Hong Kong,  I was there for  a business trip,  this time  Eric  wasn't able to go with because of  Jury Duty back in London.    The weather  was very nice,  averaging  about  24 degrees Celsius  the entire week.   I even managed to get over the Kowloon side  and snap a "selfie".  The trip went well, but  it  was a long week,  and  I am  quite happy to be home again, thank you very much.

Dinner with Wade & Julian
Upon my return from Hong Kong, Eric and I both took this past week off from work, and had a "staycation". We stayed at home and were wonderfully unproductive. We did manage to get out and about to meet up with our incredible dear friends Julian Chang and Wade Estey. Wade was in town for business meetings, and Julian came along.

Flat Stanley visits Tower Bridge!
Julian also brought along a "friend". He is helping out the students
from the Riley Avenue School, Room 23, in Calverton, NY. The Students in this particular class have a "classmate" named Flat Stanley. Even though Flat Stanley is made of cardboard, he really likes to travel and visit people all over the world. He sends back postcards from all these  places, which the students then learn all about. So this past week, Flat Stanley was able to send back pictures from his adventures in London.    If you are interested in helping out, and would like Flat Stanley to come visit your part of the world, just drop me an email or a comment here, and I will help arrange Flat Stanley to come visit you!

On a sad note,   of course the big news this week has been the passing of former South African President, and Human Rights Icon,   Nelson Mandela.

 I can only echo what others have said far more eloquently, We shall never see his like again. He was true giant on the stage of Human History and his passing is not just a loss to South Africa; (My South African friends, Peter and Hester you are in my thoughts) it is truly a loss to the entire world.

I had  hoped that  the  wingnuts on the  American Right Wing  would  have had  the  common decency  and  basic humanity  to  behave, and  contain  their  innate  racism and irrational  hatred of  well...  everything,  and  refrain from  making complete and utter  fools of themselves.   Alas, as it turns out,   that would be far too much to hope for.   Over on Fox News,  blowhard and serial  sexual  harasser Bill O'Reilly was chatting it up with  perennial GOP Presidential Hopeful  Rick Santorum when he  just  couldn't  help himself.

 (from alternet)

As the world grieves the loss of Nelson Mandela and an outpouring of praise and gratitude roll in, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly seemingly felt the urge to brand Mandela a communist. The republican made the remarks while speaking to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on The O’Reilly Factor about the future of the Republican party,Meditate reported.

“He was a communist, this man. He was a communist, all right? But he was a great man! What he did for his people was stunning!...He was a great man! But he was a communist!”

O’Reilly's decision to invoke Mandela into the discussion about GOP politics can only be described as stupid, yet Santorum didn’t do much better in comparing the struggle against apartheid to fighting against big government here in the United States.

“He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives – and Obamacare is front and center in that,” Santorum said.

Did you get that?   So  according to Santorum,  the struggle  against  Apartheid is just like Obamacare... Wow.   If your faith in the craziness of  the American Right wing is faltering,  don't worry,  it's Rush Limbaugh to the rescue!  The  right-wing Talk Radio host, and  drug addict  also jumped right into the right wing media hate-fest  using the news  of  Mandela's  passing to  (what else?)  claim  President Obama is  an egomaniac who apparently hates the U.S Constitution.

If you really want to  wade into the cesspool  of racism, irrationality  and  rampant stupidity  that is frothing up on the American political right,  you can find a comprehensive  recap over on the  Media Matters website.

I'd like to say  I am shocked or even  surprised by stuff like this,  but the sad truth is I am not.   It is clear  that  the American Conservative Movement  is no longer  even remotely sane. It has been co-opted by a neo-confederate movement of race-based hatred of President Obama, and race-based fear of the trends in American Population demographics.

  Lawrence O'Donnell examined  this in recent segment on MSNBC.

The fear  that the  American Far Right  feels  and  is being stoked  by  Conservative media and Republican politicians  the United States  is an  affront to  everything  Nelson Mandela  stood for.   On February 3, 2005, Nelson Mandela addressed over 20,000 people in London's Trafalgar Square to tell word leaders to end extreme global poverty.

Mandela said, "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom."

Amen indeed...

Friday, November 22, 2013

We Pause, Fifty Years Later...

To remember what was... and  what could have been.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Aloha Hawaii!

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. "Aloha" is also included in the state nickname of Hawaii, the "Aloha State".

HONOLULU, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Hawaii's House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage in the overwhelmingly Democratic state popular as a wedding and honeymoon destination, paving the way for anticipated final passage in the Senate next week.  The measure cleared the House in a late-night vote of 30-19.  Governor Neil Abercrombie has indicated he would swiftly sign the measure into law, making Hawaii the 15th or 16th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. --As currently drafted, the Hawaii bill would take effect on Dec. 2.

This past week, Eric and I watched via the web,   the testimony on the proposed bill on Marriage Equality, before the State Senate and Assembly in the U.S. State of Hawaii. To be honest, most of it was pretty painful to sit though. Opponents of equal rights flooded the hearings with speakers in an attempt to “run out the clock” on the legislation and prevent it from getting to a vote.

Speaker after speaker got up to parrot the same list of ridiculous and completely false talking points, designed to stoke homophobia in state lawmakers. Claiming gay sex would be a mandated subject in Hawaii schools, claiming children raised by same sex couples are abused and grow up damaged. Claims, that granting equal rights is a “slippery slope” that would lead to polygamy, legalized incest and bestiality.

It was very hard to sit and listen to seemingly normal people stand up and spew such bigoted, vile and utterly discredited lies about not just their fellow Hawaiians, but about all LGBT people. People who seem to honestly believe that they are victims of discrimination because they can’t put the civil rights of people they don’t like up for a public vote.

I was pretty much set to write Hawaii off as a bastion of bigotry,  where “Aloha” had clearly been reduced to nothing more than a tourist slogan, when this happened…

Hawaii State Representative, Mark Kaniela Ing  at age 24, is the youngest member of the State Legislature. In a debate saturated with a sea of hateful testimony, his comments were a brilliant moment of clarity and heartfelt honesty, eloquently spoken by a straight ally. 

Ing described how learning of   Matthew Shepard's murder changed his own  perceptions of gay people, and how the reality of the lives  of his own constituents completely discredited  the "gay lifestyle" argument that anti-equality policymakers had tried to make the central issue in the debate.

 Someone who like many people, grew up thinking one thing, and though his own life experience of seeing the truth of the lives of LGBT people, came to understand what was really at stake here. Representative Ing stood up for equality, he stood up for justice and yes, he stood up for the true meaning of   "Aloha".

One of the reason opponents of equal civil rights for all, are in such a panic, is because they know they are losing. In 2013 it's much harder in the light of facts and common sense, to make people believe that their friends, their family members, are some kind of "threat". It's much harder to convince people who know LGBT people, that those same friends, those same families, deserve to be treated as something less than everyone else.

The hate groups that have made their fortunes selling bigotry and fear, are now themselves, very scared because the snake oil they have been peddling for over a generation isn't selling any more, and lawmakers like Kaniela Ing, are not afraid to stand up and say so.

Aloha indeed...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Year Ago...

Sitting in the dark  at the Club Quarters Hotel, Wall Street, which had neither power, or running water, watching trash cans fly by like tumbleweeds.    Work in Learning and Development kids!  It's a real adventure! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Remembering a Different Life...

The following is a updated repost of  one of the first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.   

I was bouncing around the web a couple of weeks back and stumbled on It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then the other day I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding. At the time I really envied him. He was marrying a wonderful gal and starting to build a life. They now have a five year old son with a daughter on the way due in December. He said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, I have mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I have not kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.

Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public. So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back.

I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, traveled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least not for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.

( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances" and alternative proms. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and honestly I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.

I know what you are wondering. Will I tell my old friend (s) that I am gay? Will I open up my life now to those people from my life "then"? Does it even matter?

Honestly? I don't know. I'll keep you posted...
FLASH FORWARD  Seven years...  October 11, 2013

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  have shown me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected,  my friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As  I mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  

From the friend who answered that  letter in 2006,  and reminded me  why were friends in the first place, and  still today  reminds me to laugh at life  more than  30 years on.   To other amazing  friends  who challenged my own  stereotypes of how I thought they would react to my coming out,  and instead ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about  acceptance and true friendship.   And as always, my incredible family who just by being themselves  encouraged me to be myself.

And yes,  to those who,  for reasons political,  social,  and religious  felt they could not  continue our friendship,  I thank you as well.  Not because  I don't miss you,  for believe, me,  I  do miss you , every day. Yet  I owe you my thanks for  showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted.  

Lastly,  to my amazing husband  Eric.   Who without even trying,  provides me with  living proof every day  that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Travels and Shutdown thoughts...

Well , I made it back to London yesterday  after  two weeks in the U.S.   I spent a week in New York City,  then managed to get back to San Francisco and see family and friends  for a couple days, before heading down to  Los Angeles  for  a week of meetings there.  It was nice  to get back to the U.S but it was a long two weeks, and I am glad to be home.

It is always  interesting to get back to the States these days.   Even more so  the past two weeks, because of  the current  political standoff  between President Obama along with Congressional Democrats, and the  House Republicans along with  the Junior Teapublican Senator from Texas,  Ted Cruz.

For my friends on this side of the Atlantic  who  are wondering what all the drama is about,  it boils down to this:   The  United States Government is required to have a budget by a certain date each year.   The Congress and the President rarely, if ever manage to agree on one in time to make that deadline.  So  the Congress has to pass a series of  "continuing resolutions".  These are mini-funding bills that  allow the Government to keep operating  while a budget is  worked out.     The use of CR's  to keep the Government up and running is not new,  but the frequency of the need to pass them is what has sharply increased over the last  decade.

In the past a Government Shutdown resulted when the President and the Congress  couldn't reach agreement on either an overall budget or a continuing resolution to keep the Federal Government up and running.    The last time  this happened was in 1995 when President Clinton and the Republican controlled Congress, led by  then-Speaker Newt Gingrich  failed to reach agreement on a budget or passing a CR to keep the Government running.

So what  brought us to this point  this time around?   Well that is where  things get interesting.   The issue at the center of  contention in 2013  was not  proposed spending  but rather a Republican obsession  with an existing law.    The  Affordable Care Act,  aka - "ObamaCare".     The far right wing of the  Republican Party (the "Tea Party" wing), led by  Senator Ted Cruz of Texas,  is obsessed  with destroying  what is seen as President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, and have shown they will stop at nothing, even shutting down the entire Federal Government  to undo it.

This obsession with repealing  the ACA is not because these Conservatives  have philosophical differences on Heath Reform,  but simply because  the  far right wing of the GOP cannot accept  that  they lost  the last two  Presidential Elections.

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What we are seeing play out in the United States this week,  is the political and legislative equivalent of a temper tantrum thrown by a childish cabal of sore losers.

The sad fact is, this is a tantrum that is not even driven by political ideology, but rather by a nonsensical hatred of this President.  The core tenants of the  Affordable Care Act are in fact,  Republican ideas.  Ideas that were enacted by their recent Presidential  nominee Mitt Romney,  when he was Governor of Massachusetts.    The obsession by the Tea Party Republicans with  repealing  the ACA is not Political,  it is not even Philosophical,  it is Pathological.  It is  driven by a deep seeded  hatred of  President Obama that has no basis in facts or reality.

What we are witnessing  is nothing short of the death knell of the  Republican Party, as it  self destructs from within, and tries desperately to drag  the rest of America down with it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Greetings from NYC

Back in the US  for a 2 week business trip.  New York this week  then  L.A. next week..  Updates  to follow

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Thank You Rachel Maddow...

I have not weighed in as of yet on the crisis on Syria  or the potential American military intervention in that country.   Yet  the brilliant Rachel Maddow  reminds us all of exactly who should NOT be weighing in on this issue and why...

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Hey WingNuts! We're Still Waiting for the Apocalypse! What Gives?

Well, It's been over a  month.   So I have been diligently scanning all the major news outlets, government websites, and emergency services.  As of today,  I  have discovered something really odd... I was shocked to learn that in the United States, this past month, apparently none of the following things have happened.

·         A mad rush of people marrying their pets...
·         Pandemic Polygamy 
·         All across America,  Kindergarten students taught classes on Gay sex
·         Scores of Clergy rounded up and put in prison for preaching
·         Marriage as a civil institution collapsing and millions of Heterosexual couples getting divorced
·         America as a Nation overrun by godless hordes bent on enslaving our people and destroying our very way of life.
·         A complete stop to opposite Sex couples in America having Children

Which is quite odd when you think about it. Because  recently, I got married. (That in and of itself is not the odd part.) But rather it is the lack of anything odd happing as a result of it, that is strange.   After all, I can't even count the number of times I have heard the cadre of self-proclaimed "Family Values” culture warriors,  spew dire warnings of doom, gloom, apocalypse and general hubbub and brouhaha should Eric and I ever get married.

Well, guess what?  Last month,  on July 9th  at  1:30 pm  at San Francisco City hall,  Eric and I  got .married.    So.... Where are all the promised apocalyptic consequences? Where are the mass divorces of all the marriages we supposedly "attacked" one month ago, by tying the knot ? Where is all the promised damage to millions of children who are now, (according to social conservatives), so confused as to what a marriage is?    Where are the plagues of frogs, locusts and boils? Where is the collapse of Western civilization as we know it, due to its very foundation being rent asunder by the HORROR of Eric and I getting married one month ago? 

 Nothing? .... Anyone? ... Anybody? ... Really?    How terribly disappointing.  After all,  groups like the National Organization for (some people's) Marriage  went to so much trouble making spooky television ads warning everybody about what would happen...

For years now , whenever the subject of marriage equality comes up as part of our national discourse,  those opposed to equal rights for all Americans have liked to say  it is an "attack" on marriage and the family. So I decided to look up the word `attack' in the dictionary.   The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as:

Pronunciation: &-'tak
Function: verb
1 : to set upon or work against forcefully
2 : to assail with unfriendly or bitter words
3 : to begin to affect or to act on injuriously
4 : to set to work on
5 : to threaten (a piece in chess) with immediate capture

Hmmm… to set upon or work against forcefully huh? Ok, so if we take the James Dobsons, Pat Robertsons  and Bryan Fischers  of the world  seriously,  it would mean that for Eric and I to have the same rights as any other couple;   Not more rights, not any new rights that other couples do not currently have, but only the exact same rights,  it would injure, damage and potentially even destroy heterosexual marriages and families.

Wow….Uh.. ok.. How exactly?

Does the fact of my marriage now mean that other married couples  have lost ANY of the 1,100 federal benefits and protections that they had one month ago? Does the fact that I am now married mean other married couples can no longer file  joint tax returns, have, adopt or raise children, pass on social security survivor benefits, or make medical decisions for each other?Does my being married now mean that people will no longer want to even get married. and if they are married, will now want to get divorced? 

 In short,  has ANYONE's marriage or family changed in any way as result of what happened at San Francisco City Hall last month?

The answer of course, is no. None of the Right Wing talking points on same sex marriage stand up to even basic common sense. But it's pretty clear that common sense isn't something  that the Right Wing likes to deal in very much.      The “National Organisation for Marriage” (NOM)  likes to say  that gay marriage cheapens or lessens the value of the institution of marriage in the eyes of society. But since none of the rights or benefits that a married couple enjoys have changed in any way as result of my marriage; What social conservatives are  really saying is that for THEM , Eric and I getting married has cheapened  THEIR own marriages in THEIR  own eyes.

My getting married means I now have something that, according to  NOM only heterosexuals are supposed to have . And that makes  them mad. It's not just that they wanted to prevent Eric and I from having equal rights,   It was about making sure  that we didn't have any rights at all..  Tony Perkins  and his ilk,  see equal rights for us, as an attack on them. That's interesting...

Let's be honest, for the anti-gay industry,  ( and yes,  it is  an industry)  this was never about  "protecting marriage". It's about  people they  don’t like  having  the same rights as they  do, and that makes them mad.   Even though their lives  clearly have  not changed in ANY way,  these  conservative crybabies  howl about “activist judges” and  firmly believe  that marriage now has less value, lower status, and the institution itself, could come to an end. All because Eric and I were able to get married last Month.

It suddenly occurs to me there is a word for someone who is irrationally fixated on the preservation of inequality, that they feel is in their favor. It turns out, Merriam-Webster's dictionary has the same word for it.

Pronunciation: 'bi-g&t
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, hypocrite, bigot
1: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own
opinions and prejudices

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Stephen Fry's Brilliant Letter to the IOC

Just read it.. please.

Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,
I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations afflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they "polluted" the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich. He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful F├╝hrer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.
Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don't connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for "politics" is simply the Greek for "to do with the people".
An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.
He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, "the banality of evil." A stupid man, but like so many tyrants, one with an instinct of how to exploit a disaffected people by finding scapegoats. Putin may not be quite as oafish and stupid as Deputy Milanov but his instincts are the same. He may claim that the "values" of Russia are not the "values" of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great's philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).
I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler's anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian "correctively" raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.
"All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing," so wrote Edmund Burke. Are you, the men and women of the IOC going to be those "good" who allow evil to triumph?
The Summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country. For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory. The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world.
I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do. Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement, which I remind you of verbatim below.
Rule four: Cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace.
Rule six: Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement.
Rule 15: Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education.
I especially appeal to you, Prime Minister, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. As the leader of a party I have for almost all of my life opposed and instinctively disliked, you showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT rights and helped push gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side. For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now.
Yours in desperate hope for humanity
Stephen Fry

Saturday, August 03, 2013

When our Heroes Amaze us...

In these early days of the 21rst Century, the concept of "celebrity" has evolved into a very odd thing indeed. In our culture of "reality television" and internet memes , we have the phenomenon of being famous for being famous. Be it the Paris Hiltons, the assorted hoards of Kardashians, or housewives of whatever locale is being filmed this week. People who have done little or nothing of note, being celebrated for nothing more than the fact of their notoriety.

In a way, I suppose you could see it as good thing, if those who become famous for well... nothing, then use that fame for some noble or worthwhile purpose, but alas, that seems to rarely happen.

 So it is always a wonderful thing, when someone who truly is famous for all the right reasons, someone who is so accomplished to the point of being called a "national treasure" in his country of origin, uses fame to give voice to people who otherwise would be shouting at the wind.

As long time readers of this blog  may have noticed,   the past few days have  seen the number of  hits  this modest  little  effort  receives,   fly off the charts.    It  went from  an average  of  65  hits  over a three day period to over  160,000 page views .

There is no way on Earth  I could ever hope to reach that  sort of audience on my own.   So clearly something else had happened..

That "something else",  turned out to be  a long time  hero of mine.  Writer, actor,  journalist and  British "National Treasure",  Stephen Fry.     I have no idea how it happened,  yet  somehow  he found my blog posting on the need to boycott the 2014 winter games  in Sochi, Russia.   Now just knowing that  Stephen Fry  had read something I wrote  is enough for me to die happy,  but he did something more.   He  tweeted it out into the world, and his 6,000,000 plus followers.

For the (I hope very few) people out there who may  not be familiar with Mr. Fry,  here is what Wikipedia has to say:
Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television and radio presenter, film director, activist, and board member of Norwich City Football Club.[4]
After a troubled childhood  he secured a place at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied English Literature. While at university, Fry became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster.
Fry's acting roles include the lead in the film WildeMelchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the titular character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his mental illness. He is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI.
As well as his work in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines, and has written four novels and two volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4, starring in the comedy series Absolute Power, being a frequent guest on panel games such as Just a Minute, and acting as chairman for I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, where he was one of a trio of hosts who succeeded the late Humphrey Lyttelton. Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of theHarry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, and as the narrator in the LittleBigPlanet series of video games.
To say I am amazed by this would be  an epic understatement.   Stephen Fry  was a close friend with another hero of mine,  the late great Douglas Adams (in whose honor this blog is named...)   He is a man with a truly  global voice, who this past week  briefly  lent one small part of  that voice to me,   and  for these incredible  past few days,  he enabled my thoughts to  travel across the world  on his virtual coat tails. Something for which , I will be forever grateful.

Thank you Mr Fry.   

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Danger of Watching from the Side Lines...

I don’t have one of those horrific, tragic and ultimately triumphant coming out stories.  My story is actually pretty boring...

Yes like many LGBT people, growing up was not easy, and the  element of living in the closet added stress and pains that many of you reading this know only too well. But the fact is, after graduating from University, life pretty much got better and stayed that way.  I had the luxury of coming out on my terms and in my own time. I have an incredibly patient and  understanding family that reacted with love, acceptance and even relief.  Relief that I had found my way to self-acceptance. For the most part my friends also, proved to be far more interested in my happiness than in labels and stigmas.

Not long after leaving University I took a posting to South Korea. There for the first time I had a circle of gay friends, and found myself part of a LGBT Community made up of American Military Personal, Civilians, other assorted Expatriates, and Koreans. It was an experience that gave me  the time and space to become comfortable with who I am. It is where I had my first serious relationship. Which despite the pressures of having to navigate the minefield of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was an incredibly positive period in my life. (By the way JD, in case I have never said so before… thank you for that…)   

When I moved back to the United States I found myself living in Chicago. I had my first real apartment on the edge of the Lakeview neighborhood. This area is also known as “Boystown” as it is the center of Chicago’s LGBT community. Here I would make wonderful friends and find my own place in the “Gay World”. Not being much of clubber or even a bar-goer I became involved in groups like Equality Illinois, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and the Stonewall Democrats. Over the next six years I would stop thinking of myself as coming out, and instead identify myself as being out. I would date, fall in love, get my heart broken and recover all in a pretty safe gay “bubble”.   

After Chicago I would move to San Francisco. Living South of Market, just a few blocks from what is to many people, the gayest place in America , SF’s Castro district. I would live there for 8 years volunteering at seven LGBT pride celebrations, serving on the board of Lutherans Concerned a group working for broader LGBT inclusion in communities of faith, and champion diversity and equality in my job as learning and development consultant.   

Ironically, It was while living in SF, that for the first time I faced discrimination for being Gay. I fell in love  with a man in London, and as has been well documented on this blog, the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) made it impossible for me to sponsor Eric to move to the US. But, as many of you know, Eric was able to sponsor me to move to the UK. While a difficult process, it all ultimately worked out. So much so that now with the change in laws in America, we could move back the U.S. if we wanted to.

So why am I telling you all this…?

This past week as I  read the horrible details of the entrapment and torture of Gays and Lesbians by gangs of thugs in Russia I can’t help but think of how ridiculously lucky I have been. Sitting here in London, a married man with all the same rights and protections as everyone else, I think back on where I have lived. Very safe gay or at least gay-friendly “bubbles” in the world. Unlike people in Russia, many places in Africa, Asia and Middle East, I have never faced the threat of death for simply being who I am.   

I remember Wednesday October 7th, 1998.  I was puttering around my apartment in Chicago, making dinner when I turned on the TV to CNN. The lead story was a brutal attack of a young gay man in Laramie Wyoming named Matthew Shepard. Shepard, age 21, had been lured into going for a drive with two young men, who then beat him into a coma and left him tied to fence along a rural highway outside the city. The news report noted that the victim was not expected to survive.   

I remember walking down into “boystown” There were lots of people standing around outside the bars, and restaurants along Halsted Street, talking about what had happened in Wyoming. A makeshift memorial had been set up on a street corner. I walked into a convenience store and bought a small votive candle, lit it and placed it with the growing number of candles, handwritten notes and flowers that were being placed around a picture of Matthew that someone had printed off the internet. I stayed for a little while talking to people who were gathered there. Some people were angry that people were still sitting inside the bars, seemingly indifferent to what had happened, 1,009 miles away in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming.

As my husband and I walked through London’s West End last night, enjoying a beautiful Summer evening. I found myself feeling some of those same emotions. Are we in our safe London “bubble” indifferent to what is happening in in Russia 1,815 miles away? On an intellectual level you always knew that there were “gay bashers” out there. People who were so conflicted about their own sexuality that they felt the way to “cure” themselves was to attack others for what they feared most about themselves. Yet today we are seeing this behaviour not just from some conflicted , violent closet case,  but from the Government of the one of the world’s most powerful nations.

One of my favorite television moments is from an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, where the crew is subjected to a McCarthy-esqe witch hunt for traitors to Star fleet. There is powerful scene where Captain Picard, played by Sir Patrick Stewart, articulates exactly what is wrong with what is happening.

The issue of whether or not the International Community allows Russia to scapegoat an entire minority for nothing more than political expedience is one that truly does affect us all.   If Vladimir Putin’s Russia is allowed to stand upon the world stage, basking in the glow of the Olympic Flame, unchallenged for the horrific acts of state-sanctioned hatred it is inflicting on its own people;  Then we truly do not deserve the safety and freedoms that those of us lucky to live in the Boystowns, Castros and Sohos of the world enjoy and so often take for granted.  

If we cannot  stand up and defend those who are under attack for no reason other than who they are, then frankly we deserve no better than what they are living with now.

Vladimir Putin's Russia must be held to account.. The ice and snow of Sochi is stained with the blood of the Russian LGBT community. If allowed to stand unbroken, the chains of bigotry being forged in Russia will eventually bind us all.