PRIDE 2017: WHAT IT MEANS TO ALL

To All Happy Pride:

Will you be celebrating the gains made this weekend? I hope so. However, in celebrating do not forget the battle is not over. There are diseases running through the LGBT community. They are, even in this climate of uncertainty, racism and sexism. Our community has suffered and yet some now are inflicting pain upon brothers and sisters. I find it unconscionable that any group who has been marginalized can now exclude others. Exclusion is not new. It has been the work of patriarchal forces forever but now we need to come together and fight any and all isms that are more prevalent now than ever.

“Historically being known as LGBTQ was a career-ending. Many have been ousted from sensitive jobs as a security risk. Well, maybe if they hadn’t been forced to hide their sexuality then the ouster wouldn’t have happened” (Cooper, LBGTQ.docx). Alan Turing comes to mind. He broke the Enigma code of the Germans but ended up being accused of “gross indecency” by the British; underwent chemical castration and supposedly committed suicide. We won’t let this happen again however, will the challenge be accepted by all in the community or just some? Will LGBTQ youth have the freedom to grow and be a dynamic force within our community and the world or will they hide, die and conceal their identity to survive?

Invisibility is death. It means one does not exist. It signifies one is not important. Is this what we want for our young people of all colors? If not then “white” people must know the value of every one of us. Black and invisible in a culture or group already marginalized is unacceptable.

Recently, I had the pleasure to be on a panel discussing isms. Of course, I spoke about the LGBTQ community. Here are some of my remarks. “The challenge of all oppressed groups in this era of repression is to keep our voices strong; become allies; and remove politicians who want to take us back to the dark ages. In this I’m not just referring to those who are anti-gay but all those who want to strip any group of their inalienable rights. We must keep the pressure on by writing, marching, protesting and being visible. Invisibility equals denial and non-existence.” Many have been denied justice because of color, sex or sexual orientation. We cannot allow a trip back to slavery. I am not talking just about the enslavement of black people but more the enslavement of mind. There is a quote attributed to Harriet Tubman that sheds a spotlight on mental enslavement. She supposedly said, “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Although according to Kate Clifford Larson in her book Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero there is no record of Tubman saying this, however, it still has truth. One cannot free him or herself unless he knows he’s enslaved.

July is a month that represents freedom and liberty (July 4th and Bastille Day). In the spirit of these ideals let’s make it our job to free our minds of any prejudices we have. We must become visible to the world. As the song goes, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” Turn the light on yourself and realize if we don’t come together we’ll all hang separately (to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin). Are we going to let this administration destroy groups one by one or will we present a unified front? The attacks are scattered and yet coordinated” Planned Parenthood, the NEA, affordable housing and of course The Affordable Care Act. Each one of these has women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. And within each group has “white” males who feel they are entitled. Patriarchy and “whiteness” still reign. Tom Clayton in “Gay Will Never Be the New Black: What James Baldwin Taught Me About My White Privilege” quotes Baldwin on this. “white LGBTQ men and women feel slighted precisely because they know that had they been straight, they would have been heirs to incomparable privilege.” People of color and women feel variations of this. They are neglected in the “white” patriarchy and in our LGBTQ community invisible. Here’s what Audre Lorde said about that. “[W]hen I, a Black woman, saw no reflection in any of the faces [in the lesbian clubs of New York] week after week, I knew perfectly well that being an outsider in the Bagatelle had everything to do with being Black.” Now, this was the 70’s but it’s still a problem here in 2017. We are like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. People without substance. This can no longer be the case with the dismantling of rights by the current administration. A coalition of justice fighters will destroy the administration’s coalition of fear. However, to do that we must be vocal. We must protest in the way that suits us best. We must never allow hate and separation to be our drug of choice. There are as many ways to protest as there are people. We can write, paint, sing, march, walk and demonstrate in all ways to eliminate the isms. However, before we can reach out and be allies to each other we must be as Michael Jackson said, The Man in the Mirror. Now it’s the man and woman in the mirror. Look at yourself and decide do I really want to change what is happening or will I bury my head in the sand?

As Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you.”

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

NEWS DENIES NEED TO COVER LGBTQ REMOVAL FROM SURVEY

Are LGBTQ seniors a segment of society to be dismissed? It seems the Trump administration thinks so and so does the news. The administration has decided to remove questions of sexual orientation from two national surveys while a news organization cancelled a chance to see seniors at work writing letters to challenge this exclusion. The news organization’s cancelling of coverage of SAGE’s write-in regarding this travesty of justice was a heart-rendering.

It seems the news media that had planned to cover this and speak to SAGE’s senior population deemed coverage wasn’t important. How could the mistreatment of seniors of any stripe be ignored? Was this decision because the administration’s actions only affected LGBTQ seniors? Why should they be ignored? LGBTQ people for generations have been denied rights, denigrated, assaulted and ignored. I gather this news outlet didn’t understand the cumulative effect removal of sexual orientation might have on the senior population. Since 2014 sexual orientation has been included so that LBGTQ seniors’ needs were met. Now they are to be eliminated. These surveys give an idea of the care needed.

The two surveys where the administration proposed to remove the question of sexual orientation are: The National Survey of Older Americans Act (NSOAAP) and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living. Removal of this question affects funding for places LGBTQ seniors feel safe. Safety, housing, food, transportation and healthcare are important to all seniors but even more so in the LGBTQ sector. Since it affects all these areas why isn’t it newsworthy? Why wouldn’t a news organization cover something that holds the lives of these seniors in the balance?

Kelly Mack speaking for the administration claims: “a pilot test, but that the sample size was insufficient to be reliable.” The size might be small because people were still afraid to declare their sexuality. Was this the end of a pilot program? Kathy Greenlee former HHS assistant secretary for aging under Obama disputes that. She said, “I view this as a policy change, not the end of a pilot.” She adds, “the LGBTQ question was never envisioned as temporary.”

I’m bothered by the news agency’s refusal to cover this challenge because I wonder who will be eliminated next. Will it be gender, disability or “race” or some other identifying criteria for helping the underserved? I see this as once again ignoring a major shift in the political arena. Trump lied about protecting LGBTQ people and now the news refuses bring this light to light.

 

 

Standard

INVISIBLE IF NOT COUNTED

America has never been homogeneous. It is a diversified society. The belief in the constitution that all “men” are created equal has never been true. First think about “all men.” It excluded women and they had to wait until the 1920 for their so-called equality. While black men supposedly got this right in 1870. Why you ask do I bring up these inequalities? Because in this time of uncertainty the Trump administration is trying to systematically make LGBTQ seniors invisible. Hard fought rights will be erased if it has its way. The first step in turning back the gains made is the removal from two surveys questions about sexual orientation. The reasons given are bogus. Kelly Mack spokeswoman for the Administration for Community Living a division of HHS oversees the two surveys. Mack states, “the sample size was insufficient to be reliable.” With over three million LGBTQ seniors, one would think that even a quarter of that number would present a sizable enough population to continue questioning the health of our aging population. If the size argument is true, which I doubt, then why is it so small? The major reason is fear. Some people won’t identify as LGBTQ because they don’t trust the government. Past discrimination has made some people wary of giving too much information to the power structure. However, I wonder if there is another agenda here? Cut the count and more money can be used in other areas not helpful to our seniors.

According to David Stacey, head of policy for Human Rights Campaign, “If you deny the problem exists by not having the data, it certainly makes it easier to pursue the policy you prefer without regards to reality.” This translates into no numbers you don’t exist. Numerical data is needed to fund programs for seniors. Eliminate the LGBTQ segment and more dollars go to other senior organizations that may or may not be attuned to the needs of this segment. Isolation is a problem for non-heterosexual people. Families have deserted them; they’re single and may have no children to take care of them. Also, their orientation may make them reluctant to seek medical care. It also can be a detriment to finding affordable housing (which seniors and the homeless face daily); and work if they so choose.

Former assistant HHS secretary under President Obama’s administration never thought of this question as a “temporary entity.” Kathy Greenlee further said, “I view this as a policy change, not the end of a pilot,” as Mack has claimed. Michael Adams CEO of SAGE states, “This stealth effort to erase an entire population of elders from the survey strongly suggests (emphasis mine) that the Trump administration simply doesn’t care whether LGBT seniors in need are served. That is outrageous and unacceptable.” LGBT seniors are the backbone of their own civil rights movement. They know the history and the fight it took to live their lives openly and without shame. This change pushes them into hiding. It tells them they are worthless and their lives don’t matter. Maybe we need to have an LGBTQ LIVES MATTER to show Trump and his minions ALL LIVES MATTER. Yes, I know people get annoyed when one group screams about their lives matter however, if all lives mattered then no group would be complaining. People would be treated with dignity no matter who they were. This disregard for counting LGBTQ seniors worry me.

With this attempt to erase LGBTQ people from the scene, I wonder which group is next. I question this with all seriousness. Who’s to say that future surveys won’t eliminate women, people of color, people with disabilities or any other identifying characteristic? We don’t know but this exclusionary tactic creates fear which is the one thing common to a lot of folks right now. Trump lied when he said he’d protect our rights and yet quietly the White House removed all mention of LGBTQ rights from its website. Then followed up that traitorous act with deleting the Office of National AIDS policy page. Two places where sizable data could be accumulated to better serve older LGBTQ older adults have now been destroyed. Why?

Seniors and future seniors must fight this travesty. Each year more people reach the age of sixty. This means the population of older LGBTQ adults is growing. As more turn older, more data can be found to assist a population that may because of past discrimination be more apt to live at or below the poverty level. The accumulated data would help the government know where to direct funds. It would allow seniors more access to human services as they age. So why the deletion? My guess is to make us invisible. If we’re not counted then we don’t exist. We as seniors, fighters of the revolution, cannot let ourselves be erased by an unfeeling Trump administration. Find out what you can do to fight this whether senior or not and whether LGBTQ or not. One oppressed group in society means we’re all oppressed.

 

 

 

Standard

IMMIGRANT SLAVES?

This post is in response to Ben Carson saying slaves were immigrants.

Yes, slaves were immigrants, however not in the sense we usually think. They came here because they were captured, chained and transported here. True immigrants come because they want a better life. They may come shoe-less, coat-less and homeless but it’s their choice. They may come with only the clothes on their backs but once again I say it’s their choice. Mr. Carson, no slave ever came to these shores willingly. Think about that. as you continue to tell the world something it knows to be untrue. It’s time for truth and I don’t see it from you or any other republican at this time. Hope you all wake up before it’s too late.

We, meaning Americans, are all immigrants. Remember civilization began in Africa. How we got here is a matter of discussion however, we’re here. The Statue of Liberty has a quote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Operative words are yearning to breathe free. Slaves may have yearned to be free but weren’t allowed to be so. I ask that we learn history before we speak. Once again, a person who should know better has bowed to the pressures of an administration that is duty bound to destroy this country. Oh well, I’d still rather be a dead martyr than a sleep led to slaughter.

Standard

Diversity vs Inclusivity

Diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. An organization can be diverse without being inclusive. When this happens the old feeling of “the fly in a cup of buttermilk” comes forth.

To be inclusive organizations, groups and schools have to accept cultural differences. These differences must be embraced rather than thwarted. Countries like the United States are not homogeneous. They hav taken in people from different cultures, religions and beliefs. As such it behooves the hosting country to learn about those newly arrived and even those who have lived within their borders without recognition.

The United States has been seen as a melting pot and yet it has also in the past (recent and long-standing) neglected and negated those who do not conform to what is seen as desirable. The United States has decimated the Native People; engaged in slavery; expelled the Chinese; and interred the Japanese and yet it claims to live up to the idea of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” My question is who’s life, liberty and happiness?

People have been marginazlized because of race, ethnicity,If gender, disability and sexual orientation. If we live in a country where it’s claimed “all men are created equal” then why hasn’t this played out in our history? If religuous freedom is guaranteed to all why are some people trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone.

Inclusion means to me Do NO Harm. How people live; where people live and who they live with should not have to mandated by the government. What we seem to forget is that all of us are immigrants. Some came because they wanted to live free and others were shackled, chained and dragged here to be slaves. However, all now should be able to live freely.

Inclusion means accepting cultural differences and learning about and embracing them. It means finding out the true history of the United States and being appalled at some of its practices.

Inclusion means all are allowed to live without threats, lynchings, or feeling embarrassed because they’re culture is different.

So make a plan to learn about others; celebrate their achievements and know we all can be better if allowed to be so.

 

 

 

Standard

THE CURIOUS CASE OF PRINCE CHARMING by Charlene Mattson

No Cinderella or Snow White in this tale of kidnapping, investigating and sorcery. The first line begins the journey. In a kingdom known as Altria princess Leticia has been kidnapped again. How could this happen with all the safeguards put in place?

King Silas the wise and his wife, Queen Thalia hire Wiliam Tenys, a private investigator to answer that question and to end the kidnappings. Tenys learns Kalen, a sorcerer has taken the princess hostage. Since, Kalen asks for no ransom then why?

Tenys’ appearance agitates Prince Erik, the third son of a distant king. Once more, he vows to rescue the beautiful princess to whom he’s betrothed. Erik plans to storm Kalen’s castle to effect a rescue. He needs no help, so he says, to defeat the magician.  Prince Erik should be called Erik the Arrogant.

While trying to find a way to rescue the Princess Leticia Tenys discovers two ritual murders: the death of one of Leticia’s maids, and a prostitute. Why are these two women killed? Are these crimes related? The ritual killing leads Tenys to believe so. He needs to track down the killer to ascertain their significance.

The arrogant prince and Tenys set out for the sorcerer’s castle. How to get in since Erik has done so in the past? Teny’s devises a scheme and sets out to gain entrance. Arriving, he is shocked at the lack of visual security.

In the style of Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher darkness THE CURIOUS CASE OF PRINCE CHARMING is a dark fantasy with a cornucopia of surprising twist, turns and setbacks. Can the prince be trusted? Who is Kalen really? Who is Princess Leticia? Why do these kidnappings happen so regularly and how are they being effected with all the Silas’ wizard’s blocking tricks?

Is Prince Erik arrogant, frightened or just a boor?

The heaviness of description created my only distraction. Looking at the world in which the royal family lived the author placed too much attention on describing rooms; scenes and people. And yet despite this I loved the story and would recommend it highly to those who like mystery, kidnappings, murder and sorcerer mayhem.

Mattson created a magical world where most things are not as they seem. Will this turn out to be the prince riding in on a white horse to save Princess Leticia? Is Kalen the monster portrayed to be?

Not your ordinary fairy tale, however the road to the end titillates, teases and keeps one questioning who the real villain is. If you like fantasy with a touch of darkness then The Curious Case of Prince Charming is for you. Read and enjoy.

Standard