Thursday, March 29, 2007

John Patrick Day ~ 1950 to 2007

On Tuesday I recieved an email from Gary Simpson of Stop Hate 2000. He wrote me:
John respected you, so I wanted to contact you personally to let you know John Day passed away last week. His death was a shock to us. A very simple memorial page is on the net . . .
on that page Gary wrote:
John loved to discuss history, political events, religion, and human rights. Social activism and helping create a more caring society were important to him. He lived out his deeply held Catholic faith both inside and outside of his parish. Outside of the church, John's faith was seen in his acts of kindness, and in his social and political activism.

One day one of our Stop Hate volunteers saw John walking along the street close to a very busy city intersection. John was directing the music he was hearing through his headphones, as he walked along. In the midst of city noise and confusion, John could hear beautiful music and was directing that music. In the midst of the confusion of hate, prejudice, discrimination, inequity, and violence, John was able to hear the music of a better society, and John's actions helped direct the music he heard.
John Day was an inspiration. Although I hadn't heard from him often recently he will be missed. Read more of Gary's memorial John Patrick Day ~ 1950 to 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rich Bastards Suffer, Too ~ and ~ Scaring The Pants Off Men

Immigration: The Human Cost

The Onion Network News unpacks the claim that immigrants are taking jobs from American executives.


Scaring The Pants Off Men
Last week saw Al Gore's triumphant return to Capitol Hill—the once-ridiculed candidate now acknowledged as a visionary and treated with long-overdue respect. But the most remarkable moment of Gore’s hours of testimony in both houses may have been one in which he wasn’t even involved. It shined a light on both the changed atmosphere in Washington today, and the fear and loathing that that change is bringing on.

The most confrontational part of the day came when Gore was being questioned by Oklahoma senator, famed global warming skeptic and former chairman of the environment committee James Inhofe, in a battle of wits that was not exactly an equal match. Inhofe had trouble getting Gore to answer questions the way he wanted to, and kept interrupting him and complaining about the limited time he was given.

After some back and forth between Inhofe and Gore, the new chair of the committee, Barbara Boxer of California, put a hand on Inhofe’s arm and said, “I want to talk to you a minute, please.” After Boxer suggested that Inhofe give Gore the time to answer his questions, Inhofe replied, “Why don’t we do this: at the end, you [Gore] can have as much time as you want to answer all the questions...” Boxer then interrupted: “No, that isn’t the rule. You’re not making the rules. You used to when you did this,” she said, holding up the chair’s gavel. “Elections have consequences. So I make the rules.”

Boxer spoke with a particular kind of authority: not angry, not loud, but unmistakably firm. There was no doubt who was in charge in that room. You could almost see the steam coming out of Inhofe’s ears, not only because he had been deprived of his power, but because he was deprived of it by a woman. She even held up the gavel, the symbol of that power, and practically taunted him with it. Freud couldn’t have scripted it much better.
Read all of Scaring The Pants Off Men
by Paul Waldman ~ March 28, 2007 ~ in sense

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

'52 Pickup with Penguins ~ by Gloria Payne

My friend Gloria took these cool photos
on a trip to Nisqually.

They are shared here with her permission.

Thanks Gloria!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Obama to form gay advisory panel.

Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama was running a little behind schedule. He had just delivered a speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters at the Hyatt Hotel on Capitol Hill.

Obama's news hit, if there was to be one, was supposed to be his speech at the union's presidential forum. But it was his dodging a question tossed at him on his way out of the hotel last week about whether homosexuality was immoral that left his team scrambling to repair relations with an important Democratic constituency, the gay and lesbian community.

Now comes word that the Obama campaign is forming a gay advisory panel, though a spokesman said a plan had been in the works before the dust-up.
Read How Obama, Clinton tripped on gay rights.Obama to form gay advisory panel. by Lynn Sweet ~ The scoop from Washington / Chicago Sun Times ~ March 22, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Generation on Fire" sounds like a fabulous book!

The political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s has become a subject blighted by misconceptions and stereotypes. To many, it is synonymous with widespread drug abuse, failed social experiments, and general irresponsibility. Few people remember that many of the freedoms and rights Americans enjoy today are the direct result of those who defied the established order during this tumultuous period. It was a period that challenged both mainstream and elite Americans notions of how politics and society should function. In Generation on Fire, the third volume of Jeff Kisseloff’s trilogy of oral histories, witnesses speak about their motives and actions during the 1960s through the present.
Read more about Generation on Fire ~ Voices of Protest from the 1980's: An Oral History by Jeff Kisseloff

Evolution of a feminist daughter ~ and ~ Favorite Daughter Peels Off Virgin Label

Evolution of a feminist daughter
Rebecca Walker – the daughter of Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple,” and Mel Leventhal, a civil rights lawyer – was a nascent feminist when she laid bare the details of her freewheeling, lonely adolescence in 2001’s, “Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self.”

The memoir, like the 20-something Walker, was impassioned, poetic and occasionally messy. But it hit a nerve with many critics who considered it a poignant meditation on race and sex.
Evolution of a feminist daughter by Stephanie Rosenbloom ~ The New York Times ~ March 25th, 2007


Favorite Daughter Peels Off Virgin Label
My college-loving book and culture nut daughter blogs, too. Writes rings around me already, to be honest, and certainly around the unhoned writer and thinker I was at her age!

She gave me permission to crosspost her latest work here. It's true I thought Liza, Lorraine, moiv and CaLiberal (who I keep wanting to call Callie!) would especially like it, but also I want her POV accessible here at Culture Kitchen, because I hope it will speak to a larger progressive audience in the too-often-unheard voice of young feminism, from the direct line of fire in the culture wars.


Standing in line at a fancy grocery store, I spotted a display among many :

Excuse me? I thought. Extra extra? Isn’t that a little unnecessary?
Favorite Daughter Peels Off Virgin Label by JJ Ross ~ culturekitchen ~ 24 March 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Alan Shore (from the television series Boston Legal) speaks on Homosexuality

The plaintiff is an elderly judge suing to recover $40,000 he paid to a religious rehab clinic which promised to cure him of being gay - it didn't work.

Alan Shore is a character on the ABC Network television series Boston Legal, portrayed by James Spader.

More of Alan Shore on youtube here
Alan Shore on livejournal.
James Spader [dot] org

article: For the Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just the Start

On the morning of March 8 in Sioux Center, Iowa, two buses parked outside a hotel were found covered with anti-gay slurs, along with a hate-filled message on a piece of cardboard reading: "God does not love feary fags."

The buses were transporting some 50 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, along with supporters, on the start of a two-month trip to 32 Christian colleges with policies that discriminate against those who are not heterosexuals. The Equality Ride, as it is known, organized by Soulforce, had first traveled to Sioux Center to visit Dordt College, a school that counts "sexual activity with someone of the same gender" as possible grounds for "an employee's discharge or a student's dismissal."

The harassment is not new. ...
Gays and lesbians still within the church, seeking desperately to deny their sexuality and remain in the Christian collective, often suffer severe depression and blows to their self-esteem. The U.S. surgeon general's office has published data indicating that those who are young and gay are two to three times more likely to commit suicide. Those who conform, no matter what the personal cost, will find acceptance. Those who remain militant, who stand up for another way of being, must be silenced. The methods that will finally sever them and their supporters from a Christian America are often left unmentioned, but the rhetoric makes clear that there will not be a place for them. Gays and lesbians, like other enemies of Christ, are not fully human. They are "unnatural." And preachers in the movement argue that if America does not act soon to eradicate homosexual behavior, God will punish the nation.

These attacks mask a sinister agenda that has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with power. The radical Christian right -- the most dangerous mass movement in American history -- has built a binary worldview of command and submission wherein male leaders, who cannot be questioned and claim to speak for God, are in control and all others must follow. Any lifestyle outside the traditional model of male and female is a threat to this hierarchical male power structure. Women who do not depend on men for their identity and their sexuality, who live outside a male power relationship, challenge this pervasive cult of masculinity, as do men who find tenderness and love with other men as equals. The lifestyle of gays and lesbians is intolerable to the Christian right because its existence is a threat to the movement's chain of command, one they insist was ordained by God.

This hypermasculinity, which crushes the independence and self-expression of women, is a way for men in the movement to compensate for the curtailing of their own independence, their blind obedience to church authorities and the calls for sexual restraint. The images of Jesus often show him with thick muscles, clutching a sword. Christian men are portrayed as powerful warriors. Jesus' stoic endurance of the brutal whippings in Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" presages the brutal, masculine world of this ideology, a world that knows little of tenderness, personal freedom, nurturing and even pleasure. Jerry Falwell, in a New Yorker interview, said Christ was not a gentle-looking, willowy man: "Christ was a man with muscles," he insisted. Falwell and Gibson see real men, godly men, as powerful, able to endure physical pain and suffering without complaint. Jesus, like God, has to be a real man, a man who dominates through force. The language of the movement is filled with metaphors about the use of excessive force and violence against God's enemies.

The unspoken truth is that Christian men are required to have a personal, loving relationship with a male deity and surrender their will to a male-dominated authoritarian church. The submission to church authority is a potent form of emasculation. It entails a surrendering of conscience and personal control and deadens emotions and feelings. Glorified acts of force and violence against outsiders, against nonbelievers, compensate for this unquestioning submission. The domination that men are encouraged to practice in the home over women and children becomes a reflection of the domination they are taught to endure outside the home.
Read the article:
For the Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just the Start
by Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 19, 2007

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Alec's art exhibit on his blog

Check out Alec's art exhibit on his Sunday, March 18, 2007 blog post.
See Photos from my latest exhibition

We Are Seeing "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" in Seattle Next Sunday

While the play has inspired protest and controversy, "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" is, essentially, the story of one woman.
A Seattle Repertory Theatre production of the play, adapted from the writings of Corrie, The Evergreen State College student who was killed while standing in the way of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, opens Thursday. It already has played in London and New York amid controversy centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the play itself is a personal story.

"This is a play about a young woman growing up and discovering who she is and discovering her voice as a writer," said Craig Corrie of Olympia, Rachel's father. "It's disconcerting to see all this political storm around simply what somebody saw. It's her experience, and in a sense, that's undeniable."
The program for the Seattle Rep production, printed by an outside contractor, includes ads that question the play.

"The Anti-Defamation League and several other groups have sponsored some ads in the program that call into question the validity of the play," said director Braden Abraham of Seattle. "It's unprecedented for a group to take out ads in our program condemning our material. That is unique.

"We encourage people who have questions about the play to come see the play," he said. "As a theater, we speak from the stage."

Many protests against the play have come from people who haven't seen it, said Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother.

"I don't think there's another play that had so much written about it before it even got here," she said. "People have expectations for it that are impossible for it to meet."

Those who think of the play as being a political piece about Rachel's activism and death in Gaza might be surprised to learn that the action begins right here in Olympia, Cindy Corrie said.

"It's really an Olympia story and a Northwest story," she said. "I'm glad that people here will have an opportunity to go see the play for themselves. There's sadness associated with it, and there may be some conflicting views about it, but I hope people will also draw inspiration from it."

"Almost half of the action is not about Rafa," the town where Rachel died, Craig Corrie said. "The play was taken from Rachel's writings beginning when she was about 10 years old. It's taking place in Olympia and back to Lincoln School. Rachel writes about how salmon are swimming in a storm sewer under Plum Street and up to Watershed Park.

"It's intimately and uniquely Olympia because Rachel was an Olympia girl."
In London, the Corries met a politically conservative Israeli couple who had seen "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" while on holiday.

"They said to Cindy, 'This play is not anti-Israel - it's anti-violence,' " Craig Corrie said. "They loved the play. They came with an open mind and left with ..."

"An open heart," Cindy Corrie added.
Read Play lets Rachel Corrie speak
by Molly Gilmore For The Olympian ~ March 14, 2007

Also read actor Marya Sea Kaminski's entries in the Rep's
Backstage @ Seattle Rep blog. She is playing Rachel in My Name is Rachel Corrie.


Monday March 26th, 2007

We saw the play last night. Thank you so much Cindy and Craig for sharing this with us. It was very powerful and I came away feeling like I knew Rachel better and understood much more how much we have lost.

Alec posted something on his blog about it this morning.
See My Name is Rachel Corrie by Alec Clayton.

Objecting to This War

In an editorial Johnson failed constituents in The Olympian on March 16, 2007 the writer called our city councilman TJ Johnson a scofflaw which means “a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices ... One who habitually violates the law”

I was glad to see that a letter to the editor from Alec and me was one of the ones published (pro and con) in The Olympian also on March 16th.

We wrote:

To the Olympia City Council

We are writing in support of TJ Johnson. The actions he took on Sunday night got him arrested while participating in non-violent civil disobedience to prevent equipment from the 4th Stryker Brigade from being loaded at the Port of Tacoma on a ship bound for Iraq.

My husband Alec and I will not be able to be at tomorrow's city council meeting because of illness. But we want it known that we are very proud of TJ and the other citizens who participated for being willing to put himself at risk and taking this stand.

TJ is an inspiring leader for our community and we thank him for that.

Gabi Clayton and Alec Clayton, Olympia

Was TJ flouting rules and conventions?
From what he has said, his action was an intentional act based on consciousness objection to an immoral and illegal war.

I believe that arresting him and the other people who were protesting there was not even bad law. It was not law at all. The police put up barriers for no good reason.

These were peaceful protesters who were arrested for things like crossing that barrier, or for carrying backpacks – with dangerous things inside such as a copy of the Constitution!

Being a conscientious objector is not an irresponsible act. It is the opposite.

Here are some quotes from others who also believe that:
If we agree that war is only justified when the people and participants know exactly why they are killing, then we must also agree that there is no such thing as a just war. A thorough look at history proves that governments never tell their people exactly why they must kill; the rhetoric never matches the record. I believe, and I think most people do as well, that forcing one man to take another's life without telling him the whole story is unjust.
~ Andrew Young The Case for Conscientious Objection

“Do you support the troops?”

There it was – that question again.

“I think it’s the wrong question,” Daniel Driver told reporter Lynn Jackson. “I think it’s the wrong question asked of the wrong person. And I wonder what you mean by it. I wonder what people mean by it in general. So when you say, ‘Do you support the troops?’ I wonder what you mean by ‘support’? And why do you say ‘troops’? Two in Iraq. One in Korea. Those are my sons and daughter, and I don’t think of them as troops. I don’t think of them as soldiers, warriors, killers. And I do not support them in that capacity, no. As people, yes. As family, yes. As troops, no.
~ Tony Christini in Homefront

Dissent is the purest form of patriotism. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Opting for peace does not mean a passive acquiescence to evil or compromise of principle. It demands an active struggle against hatred, oppression and disunity, but not by using methods of violence. Building peace requires creative and courageous action. ~ Pope John Paul II

Saturday, March 17, 2007

ACT UP Founder Comes Home

Returning to the community center where he gave a 1987 speech that is associated with the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, playwright Larry Kramer marked the 20th anniversary of that activist group by calling for the creation of a gay army with gay leaders fighting for gay people under a gay flag, in gay battle formations against our common enemies.
Read ACT UP Founder Comes Home
by Duncan Osborne ~ 03/15/2007 ~ GayCityNews

given by Larry Kramer on March 13, 2007
at New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center.

Doug Ireland: Ann Coulter and H.R.C.-- A Question of Censorship

You’d have to be living under a rock in Fiji without electricity to not have heard by now how the odious ultra-conservative pitbull Ann Coulter (left) called Sen. John Edwards (right) a “faggot” during her remarks last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But what you may not have heard is what an organization calling itself the HumanJohn_edwards Rights Campaign (HRC) did in response to Coulter’s bigoted slur.

Not content with simply denouncing this latest evidence that Coulter is infected with a particularly virulent form of intellectual rabies, HRC decided to reach deep into the Christian right’s grab-bag of intimidation tricks and organize a national letter-writing campaign demanding of Universal Press Syndicate that it simply stop distributing her column to the 100-odd newspapers around the country that publish Coulter’s syndicated lacerations.

And now it’s HRC that is taking incoming from gay writers and editors who still hold to the increasingly quaint notion that freedom of speech applies even to those whose speech we don’t like -- that it is, in fact, a human right.
It’s dangerous for a gay group like HRC to issue a demand for suppression of a writer, even of someone as repulsive as Coulter. In doing so, those who claim to speak for all lesbians and gays surrender the moral high ground to the theocratic censorship drives of the Christian right. Not only does HRC’s action allow Coulter to pose as a martyr and a victim of the Homintern, it’s also a very slippery slope on which to embark, because the Christers are bigger and better-funded than we are -- we’ll be on the losing end.
Read all of: Ann Coulter and H.R.C.-- A Question of Censorship by Doug Ireland ~ March 14, 2007 ~ Direland

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Our 100th Show with Pictures

Steve wrote:
Going into our last weekend of performing Big Voice in New York, we were curious to see if anyone would notice.

The reaction to the show was explosive from the very first word. In fact, all three shows over the weekend were like this. But, probably because it was such a special occasion, Sunday's audience was over the top. Most in the audience were seeing the show for the first time. Many had come based upon word of mouth from friends. But there were also a lot of people who were seeing the show for the second, third, fourth and fifth times.

For us, it was pure fun.
Read all of Our 100th Show with Pictures on Steve Schalchlin's Living in the Bonus Round blog ~ March 14, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

We Have a New Handout on the Families United Against Hate Website

A new handout is posted on the FUAH website:
Reasons Someone May Be a Victim of Bias-Based Incidents ~ A Model for Coalition Building (PDF format, 43kb)
Feedback is welcome. Let me know if I left something out.

article: Damn Right, We're Angry

We can’t deny it any longer. There’s no point in hiding it, no point in trying to explain it away. Yes, it’s true: We progressives are angry. And we no longer care if the centrist, moderate guardians of the establishment scold us for it.

Our anger is not just some vague feeling whose source we can’t put our finger on. It isn’t based on absurd conspiracy theories and it isn’t illogical.

We’re angry because of what has happened to our country, because of how we’ve been treated, and because of the innumerable crimes the conservatives have committed. We’re angry at the president, we’re angry at the Congress, we’re angry at the news media. And we have every right to be.
We’re angry because ... (read the list in his article ~ linked below)
Those are a few of the things we’re angry about, and yes, that’s a lot of anger. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with being angry. Anger is the appropriate reaction to moral outrages, to crimes against our common humanity, to the actions of those who would turn our country into something twisted and ugly.
Read Damn Right, We're Angry ~ March 14, 2007 ~ by Paul Waldman, senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of the new book, Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn From Conservative Success.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mike Farrell ~ from Actor to Activist

Actor Mike Farrell, best known for his role as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt in the popular TV-series M.A.S.H., reflects on his path from fame to progressive activism.

The following is an excerpt from Mike Farrell's memoir, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey from Actor to Activist (Akashic: 2007).
Where do I fit in? becomes the question, and, What is my responsibility here? What does it mean to be alive in the world today? What part do I play as an American?

Like it or not, we Americans play a big part in the world, not all of it positive, as you'll note if -- unlike our current president -- you read the papers. So knowing who you are and what being a citizen of the United States means is important. I've certainly found it to be.

It's more than "Don't worry, be happy," or "Shop till you drop" and spend your way into debt. It's more than "Go for the gold" and drink hearty and cheer the team -- singing the national anthem first, if you can remember the words.

It's much larger than that. It's what we aspire to and yearn for and what we owe to each other. It's about making the invisible visible, about salvaging those thought disposable, about recognizing and reassuring those who think they don't count, or perhaps fear they don't actually exist.

But there are some who don't really want us to know all this, or take it too seriously. These are the folks who want to make your decisions for you; who want to put you to sleep. Today it's friends of Karl Rove, tomorrow it will be someone else. They want power and money, and money and power, and they don't want-regardless of what they say-you to think too much. They want you out of the way, kicking back and relaxing, dreaming about winning the lottery.

They don't want you to think about life and love and responsibility: what I've come to think of as the spirit of America. They'd rather take charge, make the decisions and relieve you of all that. Because as the spirit of America awakens, as it struggles to find its way out from under the authoritarian cloud that's now attempting to smother it, as it reasserts itself as a beacon of hope for the world, we take back the power granted us so many years ago by those who invented the American dream. And those who would deny us that right have to go back into their caves.
All fundamentalism is dangerous: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or any other. The need to believe in something that gives meaning to life is understandable, and, per the learned Rabbi Leonard Beerman, fundamentalism provides "the comfort of being so much neater than the subtleties and nuances of everything that is human ... [It] brings the illusion of certainty."

Struggling with the subtleties and nuances of life is the road to humility; the goal is becoming fully human. Religious certitude brings moral arrogance, and with it the fundamentalist Jews' expulsion of Arabs from their land; the fundamentalist Hindu's slaughter of Muslims; the Islamic Jihadists' suicide attacks; the fundamentalist Christians' bombing of clinics and assassination of family health providers. The belief that one speaks for God and can force his beliefs on another is a soul-destroying lie.
Read the whole article/exerpt: Just Call Me Mike: A Journey from Actor to Activist by Mike Farrell ~ AlterNet ~ March 13, 2007.

Mike Farrell is the co-founder of the
Artists United to Win Without War campaign, brought to you by Civic Action. Please join major actors, writers, and public figures in telling the Bush Administration that we can win without war.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

An Article About a Real Hero: Harry Belafonte, The Lion At 80

Harry Belafonte, the first African-American to win an Emmy, is a living library of the civil-rights movement and liberation struggles worldwide. He enters his ninth decade as fearless as ever.
President Bill Clinton crashed Belafonte's birthday party, which was taking place as the Democratic presidential contenders battled for the African-American vote. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were in Selma, Ala., for the 42nd anniversary of the famous voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

In his remarks, Clinton toasted Harry: "I was inspired by your politics more than you can ever know. Every time I ever saw you after I became president, I thought that my conscience was being graded, and I was getting less than an A. And every president should feel that way about somebody as good as you."

I asked Harry how he felt about Clinton showing up: "I'm very flattered, OK, but I'm mindful of all the things that need to be done." In his succinct reply, a lifetime of struggle remembered, a keen-edged skepticism. "He knows what I think. He said I didn't give him an A." I then asked him about both the Clintons and Obama going to Selma.

"We are hearing platitudes, not platforms. What do they plan to do for people of color, Mexicans, for people who are imprisoned, black youth? What are their plans for the Katrinas of America?"
Like the two stone lions that guard the New York Public Library, Harry Belafonte -- fierce, fearless and focused -- protects the soul of struggle. Even as he enters his ninth decade, this lion does not sleep tonight.
Read Harry Belafonte, The Lion At 80
by Amy Goodman, King Features Syndicate. Posted March 7, 2007.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Olympia, Washington in the Urban Dictionary

Olympia in the Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary allows its users to create definitions for slang words and phrases and submit them for publication.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Life Without Health Insurance

It is well known that the ranks of the uninsured have been swelling; federal figures show an increase of 6.8 million since 2000.

But the surprise is that the uninsured are not necessarily the poor, the unemployed and the undocumented.

Solidly middle-class people like Ms. Readling are one of the fastest growing subgroups. And that is one reason, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, that the problems of the uninsured have jumped to the top of the domestic political agenda in Washington and on the campaign trail.

Today, more than one-third of the uninsured - 17 million of the nearly 47 million - have family incomes of $40,000 or more, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan organization. More than two-thirds of the uninsured are in households with at least one full-time worker.

Read the article: Without Health Benefits, a Good Life Turns Fragile
by Robert Pear ~ The New York Times ~ 03-05-07

A medical update

On Tuesday February 20th I posted that I was home and recovering from a seizure.

After that I started having tight chest pain and at first thought it might be heartburn, which I hadn't had in years. But taking antacid didn't do a thing. Then I thought I had injured myself during the seizure or had been hurt being moved to or in the hospital. But I wasn't sure and I waited.

Then it started feeling like chest pain that could be coronary. That really scared me, and I took it especially seriously since my dad died of his 3rd or 4th (I think) heart attack at age 44 when I was 12 years old. I went to see my family doctor and he gave me a treadmill stress test in his office but wasn't satisfied with the results so he sent Alec and I to the hospital to see a cardiologist. We spent a couple of hours in the emergency room with tests, an x-ray and even taking a nitroglycerin tablet to see if that alleviated the pain (which it really didn't.) So they ruled out something going on with my heart. THAT's A RELIEF!!

Back at the doctors office - he figured out that I had the flu. Ugh. He didn't want to put me on antibiotics and said to take tylenol for fever, drink something like Gatoraid to rehydrate and keep electrolytes in balance. Also to take Oxycodone with acetaminophen if the pain was really bad. I cut the tabs in half and took them a very few times, but they scare me to take too often as they are quite addictive and I don't want to wind up like Rush Limbaugh! I know I have the potential to be an addict ~ proven from my first cigarette at age 16 (provided by my mother) to FINALLY quitting in early 2003 after Alec had open heart surgery in 2002. For anyone curious about that medical adventure in our lives, I kept a journal for family and friends called Alec's Heart and its still on my site.

By the way, mom was a "social smoker" who could smoke one or two cigarettes when out with smoking friends and then go days or weeks or even months before smoking again. She said she didn't inhale. Really she said that! She 'puffed'. But she did buy them by the carton and kept them on the living room mantle where I was welcome to help myself. Yikes! But that was when so many people smoked - in homes, cars, airplanes - even in hospitals! When my dad died he was smoking 3-4 packs of cigarettes a day.

Back to now ~ the chest pain didn't get better. And the dry cough I have had made it worse. It felt like I had pulled a muscle in my chest but I also was hearing a weird gurgling sound when I took deep breaths. So I called the doc back yesterday as they asked for an update and they told me to come right in. When he listened to my breath he said he heard it to. And so it turns out that I have pneumonia. He put me on an antibiotic and told me to call back if I am not feeling better by Friday.

By the way, we got the bill from the first hospital from the stay for that seizure. $8,888.05 (we have applied for charity at the hospital or at the very least a payment plan) and my dear friend Beth from the Safe Schools Coalition sent out an ask for donations to help us out as we have no insurance and even if the hospital writes off the main bill there is still the fee for the ambulance ride, emergency room doctor bills, meds after discharge etc. ~ I'll post Beth's sweet letter below.

The bill I recieved includes some interesting items. Okay, $1342.00 is a lot for a CT Head/Brain Scan (W/O Contrast) and $2,342.00 for an MRI Brain W/O/Contrast is more. Those seem like a lot to me but they are not something I have ever shopped for. But the bill also included $9.95 for Asperin 81mg Chew (thats for one tablet, folks!) and $19.70 each for two Acetominophen 325 mg tablets.

That doesn't take the cake though ... that goes to charging me $29.00 for a urine pregnancy test. A WHAT!?!? A pregnancy test ~ when I was there for a grand mal seizure. And while I know women my age can still get pregnant,
I'm 54 years old and haven't had a period for years. And they didn't tell me the results either. So let's just assume I'm not having a baby, right?

Okay here is the letter Beth sent on 3/1/2007:

Subject: Donations for Gabi Clayton

Dear friends and colleagues,

Apologies for cross-postings

Gabi Clayton, whom I know many of you know and love (and whom others appreciate as the Safe Schools Coalition's web spinner and longtime speakers' bureau volunteer) has been hospitalized twice in the past two weeks. She had another big seizure weekend before last and then chest pain a couple of days ago. She has missed a bunch of work -- she has a very part-time private counseling practice in addition to her contracts with SSC and others for web services. And she doesn't have health insurance, no less a full-time job. Neither does her wonderful partner, Alec. Alec's health has been up and down for a few years, as well.

Gabi and Alec lost their son Bill to suicide after a brutal gay bashing on school property in 1995 (see Since that time, both have become very involved in PFLAG. And Gabi's also volunteered for the Safe Schools Coalition, Youth Guardian Services, Families United Against Hate, and Stonewall Youth. She created the Safe Schools Coalition web site out of love, long before we were able to pay her to work on it. And even now, she only has a very part-time contract with us. She's personally responded to scores of suicidal youth who are moved by Bill's story and email her for support. She's given so much of the last 12 years to the queer community.

It's time for everyone who cares about Gabi to step up. As much as you can. I just opened an account in her name at Bank of America. You can make a donation at any branch to the "Gabi Clayton Funds" account or mail your donation to Bank of America, 9019 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 ... made out to "Gabi Clayton Funds". For those preferring to make an electronic transfer, it is account number 30657357 and the routing number is 125000024.

To send messages of support to Gabi, click here:
Gabi Clayton.

Please forward this to anyone you know who knows Gabi or Alec … or to anyone who appreciates allies who give much of their lives to The Movement for LGBT equality and justice.


Beth Reis
Co-Chair, Safe Schools Coalition
Ph: 206-296-4970
Mail: 10501 Meridian Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98133

I was almost speechless. Thank you Beth. And thank you to all who have written me since she sent that out.

Afterthought: As I explained just now to my friend Bud I'm not in a lot of pain this morning unless I cough or laugh or breathe hard. When he replied "All that's left is normal breathing !" I answered: I'm trying to do normal breathing. It maybe the first time I have tried to do 'normal' anything!