Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jason Hungerford's aunt is missing.

My dear friend Jason Hungerford's aunt is missing.

Joey Lynn Offutt, a 33-year-old single mother, has been missing since July 12, 2007, after a fire destroyed her home in Sykesville, Pennsylvania.

See my aunt has been missing
and
Jason's blog Perks of Being Me

Please help if you can, and spread the word.

Jason is the founder of Youth Guardian Services, and his server is host to Bill's story and my resource pages, as well as Alec's website, Safe Schools Coalition and PFLAG-Olympia's site.

Thank you.

Blame the gays ...



Thank you to Greg Varnum and Colette Beighley at Triangle Foundation for leading me to this! Bloggin.OUT is the official blog of Triangle Foundation's Generation.OUT program. Greg Varnum is Triangle Foundation's Director of Youth Initiatives and Information Technology.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I've made another friend across the miles

I received an email today that led me to this article:
When he was in eighth grade, Ari Beighley told his closest friends at school he was gay.

But he kept his silence at home for two more years, his homosexuality hidden in the midst of his conservative evangelical Christian family.

"Then I just didn't want to hide anymore," he said.

In 2005, while his parents were getting ready for a Super Bowl party at their home in Spring Lake Township, Ari Beighley asked if his mother had a couple of minutes to talk.

Two hours later, mother and son emerged from conversation, their lives irrevocably changed.

"Even when we were talking that day, I remember thinking: Things are never going to be the same again in this family," said Ari's mother, Colette Beighley.
and
For emotional support, the Beighleys turned to a group called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- PFLAG, for short -- that has chapters in Holland and Grand Rapids.

"We are not a family with a gay son, no, we are a gay family," David Beighley said.

They are a gay family with three other children and a daughter-in-law who are an integral part of the story: Nate Beighley and his wife, Sarah Beighley, both 32; Collin Beighley, 28; and Chloé Beighley, 15. Nate and Collin are from David Beighley's first marriage.

"Sarah had the most classic response of anyone in the family to Ari. She said, "OK, so you're gay. You're still a butthead.' "
Read this whole wonderful article:
Parents choose to accept son over church, friends

by Susan Harrison Wolffis, Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle staff writer ~ July 15, 2007

And don't miss Colette Beighley's great blog:
Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Gay
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area in the 60s, I have experienced that social change is not only possible but imperative. As the mother of four children -- one of whom is gay, I take my participation in that change very seriously.
Colette was a marriage and family therapist for over 20 years. Now she is the West Michigan Field Organizer for Triangle Foundation.

I have a feeling we have more in common than we know so far ~ therapist
backgrounds and activist passions, and we both came out of the 60's in San Francisco & the bay area.

Colette, I look forward to getting to know you and your family much better.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More on Stonewall Youth at Washington Middle School, including my letter to the editor.

Stonewall Youth's speaker's panel spoke about bullying at Washington Middle School in Olympia on Wednesday, June 6, 2007.

Alec and I attended a school board meeting on Monday, July 11, 2007, along with youth from Stonewall, members of PFLAG and other folks in the community.

This letter to the editor was published as a Letters to the Editor in The Olympian on July 5, 2007:
Parents were not told the whole truth

A recent letter declared bemusement at the objecting parents' outrage over a school assembly. I am outraged and angered not because I fear my children's sexual orientation will be changed. I am angry because we were ill informed about what the assembly was about.

The same author says that if the parents were so concerned we should have read the newsletter. Well, I did read the newsletter and was not concerned at all. The newsletter says "We will have a panel with youth speakers from the Safe Schools Coalition sharing their experience with anti-gay discrimination, and we will have a speaker sharing information about autism and other special needs." It does not say we will have a panel with youth speakers from Stonewall Youth and they will share their coming out stories with your children.

I challenge the author of that and the other letters to go the Web site of Safe Schools Coalition and the Web and MySpace.com pages of Stonewall Youth. It is like comparing a G rated film to a PG-13 film. When the school district exposes my children to things other than basic curriculum, I expect to be notified and I was not.

The issue is not an intolerance for diversity. I am protective of my children and want the authority figures presenting information to our children to have the credentials to speak in front of children. It is as simple as that.

Elizabeth Hughes, Olympia
So I wrote a letter in response, which was published yesterday, July 28, 2007 in the Olympian:
Stonewall youth know ignorance, intolerance

I am writing in response to Elizabeth Hughes’ letter, “Parents were not told the whole truth.”

She said that it was a presentation by the Safe Schools Coalition. I work for the Safe Schools Coalition, and I didn’t hear about the panel at Washington Middle School until after it happened. I checked with Stonewall Youth, and they said no Safe Schools Coalition folks presented at the event.

Hughes wrote that she wants “the authority figures presenting information to our children to have the credentials to speak in front of children.”

My husband and I attended the school board meeting afterward, and we were very proud of the youth from Stonewall. They spoke eloquently about why they saw the event as important.

As the mother of a young man who committed suicide after he was assaulted in a hate crime based on his affectional orientation on the grounds of Olympia High School 12 years ago, I can assure you that those young people do have the credentials to speak about bullying, harassment and hate. No one understands more than they do how important it is to be able to break through the ignorance, intolerance and bigotry they live with every day. It’s as simple as that.

Gabi Clayton, Olympia
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Links to these letters:

Parents were not told the whole truth by Elizabeth Hughes, published on July 5, 2007.

Stonewall youth know ignorance, intolerance by Gabi Clayton, published on July 28, 2007.

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Background information, in chronological order:

News: School talk about gays, lesbians riles some parents by Heather Woodward ~ June 8, 2007

Olympian Editorial: Our view: More thought needed for bullying lesson published on June 14, 2007.

Other views: We cannot ignore sexual orientation discrimination, bullying by Marc Brenman, executive director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission ~ June 15, 2007 ~ The Olympian.

In my blog posted on June 15, 2007: Stonewall Youth at a Washington Middle School Assembly, including a June 8, 2007 letter to the editor (not published by the Olympian) by Chris Madsen; and an email from Jeff Loyer, PFLAG-Olympia President on June 12, 2007.

Letter to the Editor: Tolerance for diversity never hurt anyone by Janet Blanding ~ June 21, 2007 ~ The Olympian.

Letter to the Editor: Ours is a diverse culture by Terri Charles ~ June 22, 2007 ~ The Olympian.

Letter to the Editor: Article response shows need for anti-bully help by Reiko Callner ~ June 22, 2007 ~ The Olympian.

Letter of the month: Some words are hurtful and unacceptable by Ashley Berglund ~ June 29, 2007 ~ The Olympian.

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And here is an earlier excellent editorial in The Olympian: Youth can embrace diversity or travel path of bigotry by Jerome Johnson, a social worker, lifelong Olympia resident and member of The Olympian's Diversity Panel ~ March 30, 2007.

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Stonewall Youth in Olympia, Washington: a non-profit community organization that supports, informs, and advocates for youth up to 21 years old who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or who have questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. The organization was founded in 1991 and today provides a wide spectrum of services, including Youth Outreach, Peer Support Groups, and Community Education.

Safe Schools Coalition: an international public-private partnership in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth working to help schools - at home and all over the world - become safe places where every family can belong, where every educator can teach, and where every child can learn, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Articles about THE BIG VOICE: God or Merman? ~ Coming to San Francisco ~ Three articles in San Francisco & Baltimore newspapers & websites

Check out these great articles about my friends Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu and their musical coming to one of my favorite cities this August.

In yesterday's San Francisco Sentinel:

THE BIG VOICE: God or Merman? Direct From Off-Broadway -- A Special Event at the New Conservatory Theatre Center
by Seán Martinfield, Sentinel Fine Arts Critic ~ July 27, 2007

And then in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

'Big Voice' began as a one-time show. It's grown into an inspiration - both for couples and gay marriage.
by Pam Grady, Special to The Chronicle ~ July 28, 2007

And also, in today's baltimore.broadwayworld

'The Big Voice' Bursts into SF Engagement, Begins 8/1
by Eugene Lovendusky ~ July 28, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One of those odd stories from the beltway ...

The click of heels against the marble floors echoes through the halls as staffers hurry to happy hour, yoga or home. It’s 6:30 p.m., and the entire Dirksen Senate Office Building is rushing.

Everyone except Hans Scheltema, who leans against the wall in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee room.0726 07

Scheltema, a hulking man in a blue Hawaiian shirt, isn't going anywhere fast. In T-shirts and sweat pants, Scheltema and about 20 others flip through newspapers and talk about nothing. Mostly, though, they are just waiting, as they will be for another 16 hours.

They are the patient, the uncomfortable, the poorly paid. They are line-standers.

Like the Capitol Police or Bullfeathers bartenders, line-standers make their living off Congress and those who lobby it.
Read Waiting for Good Dough
by Lina Lerer ~

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A warning from Paul Craig Roberts, an old-line Republican

Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."
Read Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state
by Muriel Kane ~ July 19, 2007 ~ The Raw Story

vertigo with nystagmus - not fun

For those readers following my medical follies, vertigo with nystagmus is what sent me to the doctor and then the emergency room yesterday afternoon for a few hours. That was after sleeping almost all day and an evening of being dizzy and throwing up. Yuck.

http://www.med.nyu.edu/patientcare/library/article.html?ChunkIID=11471
Most cases of vertigo occur with nystagmus, an abnormal, rhythmic, jerking eye movement. Other symptoms depend on the condition causing the vertigo.
also see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertigo_(medical)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nystagmus

They did a cat scan at the hospital and ruled out a brain tumor ... that's good! Oh and they asked if there was any possibility I'm pregnant before putting me under radiation. I said no chance and didn't go into the sillyness of when I was given a pregnancy test when I was there for a seizure the last time.

Today I'm still d
izzy and have an earache. Fuzzy visual focus makes it slower to do anything on this machine, but I'm bored if I just sit here, and I can't sleep all the time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Political Attention Deficit Disorder - New Psychiatric Condition

According to a report not yet released, the Council on Science and Public Health of the American Medical Association has recommended that a chronic and widespread affliction of Americans be officially declared a psychiatric disorder. It has been named the Political Attention Deficit Disorder (PADD). It is recommended that the disorder be included in a widely used mental illness manual created and published by the American Psychiatric Association. The current manual was published in 1994; the next edition is to be completed in 2012. The benefit to people of an official classification is coverage by health insurance.
and
The chief cause of PADD is the desire to avoid the very real pain of cognitive dissonance, the difference between what Americans want to believe about the greatness of their country and the disturbing reality that their government and country are in terrible shape, which is a constant reminder when there is normal, healthy political attention.
and
Another consequence of PADD is that people devote more of their time, energy and money to pleasure-seeking distractions. PADD is correlated with profound statistical significance to clinical symptoms such as obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, video game addiction, Internet addiction, sexual promiscuity, excessive shopping, gambling addiction, and other harmful behaviors.
and
The report profiles a person severely afflicted by PADD. The psychiatrists unanimously concluded that George W. Bush is a PADD victim. Symptoms include no desire to pursue major and contentious policy issues through in-depth reading, discussion and analysis; a clear dependence on others for policy decisions, particularly Vice President Cheney; an inability to maintain sustained focus on diverse policy issues simultaneously; and an inability to articulate policy. The widespread public perception that Bush is unintelligent, uninformed and dogmatic stems from his PADD, concluded the Council. "He needs immediate, emergency therapy for his PADD; that might help get us out of Iraq," said Dr. Wank.
and
“I saw a college-educated man last month who was so depressed about the Bush Administration – yet he could no longer read newspapers, watch cable news shows or visit news and commentary websites. He was spending virtually all of his non-work time visiting pornography websites and eating at Chinese buffets,” Gestaltstein said. “He is a terrible mess and swears he will never vote again.”
Read Political Attention Deficit Disorder - New Psychiatric Condition
by Joel S. Hirschhorn ~ Jun 25, 2007

Last July when the Nazis came to Olympia

A year ago we had Nazi's in Olympia.

Not In Our Town is a grassroots media campaign that helps communities battling hate to talk and learn from each other.

Not In Our Town: Olympia, Washington



Not In Our Town: Olympia, Washington 2



More about these stories at http://www.pbs.org/niot

More info at http://www.theworkinggroup.org

Unity in the Community is a group formed as a local response to hate in our community. It was people from Unity who organized the anti-hate rally when Bill was assaulted.

More about Unity in the Community in Olympia at http://www.olympiaunityinthecommunity.org/

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Night the Lights Went Out

Thirty years ago yesterday the lights went out in New York City. Alec and I were living in the storefront of Everything for Everybody (EFE) on 13th Street in the West Village in the meat packing warehouse district near the s&m bars down by the Hudson River. Noel was a year old and I was pregnant with Bill.

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The Night the Lights Went Out

Thirty years ago tonight, the lights went out: building by building, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. Officially, the 1977 blackout lasted only 25 hours. But it left devastated neighborhoods and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. It quickly became a symbol of New York’s malaise, arriving as it did when the city was just starting to climb out of near-bankruptcy.
Our commemoration of this anniversary includes:
  • A video, slideshow and podcast on the blackout;
  • A forum for readers’ memories;
  • Reminiscences by Times reporters Robert D. McFadden, Joyce Purnick, Ralph Blumenthal, James Barron and photographer Chester Higgins Jr.;
  • Answers by the authors James Goodman and Jonathan Mahler to questions from readers.
On Monday, we asked City Room readers for their reminiscences of the 1977 blackout. You responded with richly detailed stories, an urban tapestry of those two hot and hectic days.

Everyone seemed to remember where they were when the blackout started.
Read The Night the Lights Went Out
by Sewell Chan ~ New York Times ~ July 13, 2007

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So what I remember most is that everyone was out in the street and friendly. We were all sitting in chairs and on stoops in the heat, trying to stay cool.

Its not about the blackout, but you can read more about Everything for Everybody by Alec. Among other things it includes the story of how we met.

See the old EFE building at 406 W 13th St, New York, NY 10014.
(Click on "Street View" and move the yellow figure's x over the arrow's point. Spin around in the street to see where we lived and worked.)

Girl/Boy Interrupted

A new treatment for transgender kids puts puberty on hold so that they won't develop into their biological sex
Read Girl/Boy Interrupted
by Lauren Smiley ~ SF Weekly ~ July 11, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mark Morford: Bush Pardons Entire GOP

Prez "pre-emptively" saves all Repubs from becoming "prison bitches." Dems: "Can he do that?"

Allegedly reacting to some sort of hallucinogenic fever dream following an overlong bubble bath during which he reportedly sputtered lots of motorboat noises and ate one too many purple crayons, President Bush today made the stunning yet somehow entirely understandable announcement that all Republicans in his administration are hereby officially excused from any and all crimes they have committed, are in the process of committing, are planning to commit, or even merely fantasize about committing while encased in sweaty latex bodysuits in any one of a number of GOP-friendly D.C. fetish dungeons.

"People! My people!" Bush shouted suddenly during an otherwise completely useless press conference, raising his arms over his head and tilting his head back and convulsing slightly, just as a nameless reporter finished asking a question about... oh like it even matters because we all know the answer would've been complete bulls--- anyway so let's just say, immigration policy reform.
Read Mark Morford's Notes & Errata
Bush Pardons Entire GOP
by Mark Morford ~ SFGate.com ~ July 11, 2007

Photos of the Imagine Piano in Olympia

Photos are posted now on the ClaytonWorks flicker site of when the Imagine Piano was in Olympia on May 8th.

See http://www.flickr.com/photos/claytonworks/

To see more about the Imagine Piano Peace Project in Olympia, on this page scroll down to Labels in the green column on the right and click on Lennon Piano. Then read from the bottom up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

THE BIG VOICE: THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN? in San Francisco August 1-19

THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN?
A Musical Comedy in two lives.
Written by Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu.


It will be at the New Conservatory Theatre's
Decker Theatre
in San Francisco
AUGUST 1-19, 2007
Performed by Jim Brochu & Steve Schalchlin!

New York Times:

"Side-splitting! A hilarious and utterly enthralling evening of musical theater."
Village Voice:
"Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin have made fantastic theater out of the drama of their lives. High on the LOL-meter. Laughs and heart to spare."
Big Voice: God or Merman?
Theatre Previews: August 1- August 3, 2007
Opens: August 4, 2007 / Runs thru: August 19, 2007
Wed– Sat @ 8:00pm / Sun and 2:00pm

BOX OFFICE: (415) 861-8972
http://www.nctcsf.org/

Also check out:

THE BIG VOICE WEBSITE: http://www.thebigvoice.com
and
Steve Schalchlin's blog: http://bonusroundblog.blogspot.com/
and
Jim Brochu's website: http://jimbrochu.com/

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

several things of interest on independence day

Call Out The Instigator
I’m not backing off. I tried to remove myself from the political realm of the US, what BushCo is turning into an Evil Empire, but the blatant audacity of George commuting Scooter’s sentence (he’s not ruling out a full pardon —and you know he will) has dragged me kicking and screaming back in. I can’t sit back and let this BushCo drag our country further down into the murky quagmire of Fascism and violence, taking the rest of the world with them!
Read Call Out The Instigator
by Cindy Sheehan
July 3, 2007 ~ CommonDreams.org

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Keith Olbermann says Bush & Cheney Should Resign
Keith Olbermann's impassioned plea to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney Tuesday evening, during the "special comment" segment of his news show "Countdown," was succinct: "resign."
and
Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.
and
I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.
Watch the video: Olbermann: Bush, Cheney Should Resign
by Keith Olbermann ~ July 3, 2007 ~ MSNBC Countdown on Truthout

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Once Upon America
John Cory provides a sobering reality check on how the Fourth of July "with its parades and "what America means to me" essays, and picnics and fireworks, and all those pretty speeches about freedom and democracy and the true meaning of Independence Day" is "all a facade. A lie." Modern America now spies on its citizens, conducts warrantless wiretaps, suspends habeas corpus, creates "free speech zones" to corral protestors out of sight of sensitive royal eyes, and politicizes the very justice system meant to protect people's rights by turning it into a fraternity of God-fearing Republican conservatism.
Read Once Upon America
by John Cory ~ t r u t h o u t ~ July 4, 2007

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On July 4, Put Away the Flags
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time?
and

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.
Read On July 4, Put Away the Flags
by Howard Zinn ~ Progressive Media Project ~ July 4, 2007

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Don't Look Gay: Why American Men Are Afraid of Intimacy with Each Other

Why do adolescent boys often leave empty seats between each other when they go to the movies? It's a product of the culture of male homophobia in America which pushes men to avoid intimacy and gay stereotypes.
and
My students and I often consider whether various kinds of fuss over sexual orientation actually are indirect ways of addressing more basic issues of gender, the ways that a particular society defines the appropriate behavior of males and of females. We examine the ways that negative stereotypes of gay men, for example, not only stigmatize those males considered gay, but also coerce all men to stay within the boundaries of culturally prescribed “male behavior,” lest they be thought queer. It’s common in our culture for a gay male to be thought “unmanly,” but it’s not inevitable that this equation be in force, or even that sexuality be viewed as a simple question of one or the other, gay or straight, with bisexuality in the middle ground.

Such, however, has been our society’s obsession with sexual orientation -- and with “appropriate” manliness -- that an association with gayness came to include certain occupations, words, gestures, and items of apparel, as well as one male’s willingness to express intimacy with another. The greater the scorn heaped upon gay males, the more that all males have been discouraged from displaying behavior associated with gayness -- with anything resembling intimacy heading the list of taboos.
Don't Look Gay: Why American Men Are Afraid of Intimacy with Each Other
by John Ibson ~ American Sexuality / Alternet ~ July 4, 2007