Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Pictograms: a fun look

Olympic Pictograms: A fun look

Change we thought we could believe in...

Mitch McConnell is on with Candy Crowley this morning talking about health care. "The American People do not want this... The American People do not want us to use [reconcilliation] to force this down their throats... this is arrogant. They have followed this closely..."

Pardon me. The senator does not seem to know that I am an American and it seems to me that he is the arrogant not to say the majority of the American People if he is using poll information. And of course he is cherry picking his poll because the majority of the American People want health care reform... and without those who are opposed because the proposal offer no public option, the senator would be wrong.

Have most Americans followed this closely. On a personal level I think that is just not true. The majority of the American People rely on their particular cable "news" network to spin it. That's why we don't have a democracy, we have a representative democracy (a republic) which relies on their elected leaders to be "fair and balanced" not any particular network.

Didn't we elect a President and give him a majority party for Change we can be In? But there is nothing behind the republicans opposition to removing pre-existing condition restrictions and the few other good things that remain in the gutted versions of the bill other than politics as usual.

Obama has bent over .... backwards. Enough.

Cool time to be in DC

Being in DC and watching pop-up ads on Facebook to plan your same-gender wedding here. That's pretty cool. Wonder when the first legal wedding will be held in the the National Cathedral?
Send invites to

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I miss my baby...

The Prop 8 Challenge Explained

Prop 8 is being challenged. The challenge will probably make it to the Supreme Court. Its clear unconstitutionality brought together an unlikely pair, the lawyers that opposed one another in Bush v. Gore. Questions are answered such as, "Why did you pursue this when many activist say a loss could set us back?" "How did a conservative and a liberal find common ground on this issue?"

This is a must see. The 50 minutes will fly. Click here.

Water Free Urinal

Wow! I have seen and used these before but had never trusted them. I'm an Episcopalian. Change is hard. But now that I know how it works I feel much more comfortable. Maybe you want to know as well...

Click here.


Yesterday we reviewed NEA's external partnerships with LGBT organizations. Many organizations were vetted for their effectiveness and more specifically for the parallel nature of their goals with that of NEA. The first MOU was signed with GLSEN. They are clearly focused on the same issues of safe schools for LGBT teachers and students. Kevin Jennings, their former ED is now working with the OBAMA Administration as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

We have also signed an MOU with HRC. I reported on my very positive experience at "Creating Change." This NGLTF conference focus heavily on youth. I would guess that the majority of attendees are under 30.

Betty Simpson talked to us about applying for grants. She assured me that writing a grant proposal to get GSA directors and students support for attendance at Creating Change. I would hope we might consider proposing a worskshop or other presentation at this conference.

When then spent our remaining time reviewing progress on the charges we have been given and the recommendations that we have made regarding each.

#1 Review Status of NEA's work to secure federal, state and local workplace (legal, policy, contractual) rights, benefits and protections for GLBT members and make recommendations.

#2 Review the factors that impact GLBT school truancy and dropout rates in the U.S. and make recommendations.

#3 Review testimonies from SOGI hearings and develop recommendations on addressing the issues raised where appropriate.

We had a very nice dinner at Logan Tavern on P Street. Their ginger calamari was wonderful.

Friday, February 26, 2010

At the NEA SOGI meeting

Some pictures:

Around the table...

Joplin, who survived white wine a rum drink at dinner and three white Russians... but just barely.

Neil who is paying rapt attention...


I am in DC for the semi-annual meeting of the National Education Association meeting of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification. Luckily I made it, meanwhile Kyle is holding down the fort as the blizzard traps him in Mendon.

Our opener was the "Square Wheels" analogy.

"Don't just DO something, Stand There"

Issue "Is leadership pushing or pulling?" Many analogies in this picture... The square wheel will work, but hardly well and hardly efficiently. Who misses the solutions right in front of them? Who just keeps on pulling? And when we find the solution, the round wheels of today will be the square wheels of tomorrow.

"Don't just Stand There, DO something."

And then we went around the table. Boy am I glad I am retired. It was just one horror story after another... Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada... on and on. Budget and leadership struggles that wanted to make me open a vein. All of this seems to make even taking on the issues of LGBT equality are few and far between. I introduced myself as a free lance activist, invloved in NYSUT, AFT and NEA as well as Marriage Equality New York and especially Integrity in the Episcopal Church where we have made great strides.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Original We are the World...

Great that "We are The World" has been re-recorded to benefit Haiti. Unfortunately it does not stand up to the original. Please go to Episcopal Relief and Development and donate for Haiti Relief.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UK Anti-Homophobia Football Ad Pulled

The video below is a news report about an ad that was pulled at the last minute. It has been a year in the making. Developed with the UK Football Assoc. (Think NFL) it confronts the homophobic jeers in the stadium of soccer fans. The ad features a man walking through the office, shouting out epithets to his co-workers. "Stupid homo," "F-ing queer.." As the elevator door closes, "If this is not acceptable behavior here..." Fade to the same man in the crowd at a soccer stadium, yelling the same things... "Why should it be here?"

Great idea! How about the Episcopal Church picking this up?

Google Superbowl Ad Redux

A Gay take on Google's Super Bowl Ad:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Creating Change: Day 3 Being a better Board and Board Member

Being a Better Board Member

Martha Vail, PhD and independent non-profit leadership consultant, lead this session. It was helpful to me as member of the Board of Integirty, The Vestry of St. John's and the chair of the Committee for Lesbian and Gay Ministry in our Church

Our first job was to recount or mission statement and our values. We then compare a typical board meeting. Martha's Point was fairly well demonstrated in this exercise: We become members of a Board because of our passions in the particular area that the organization encompasses and then spend 90% of our time together with minutia. The board meeting is run the way that it is because it always has been. How very Anglican.

There are 4 important roles for any board she contended:


The first two are based on the legal requirements of a 501-3(c) corporation. The last two have to do the the ongoing strength of the organization and feeding the passions of board members.

I learned much about what I did not know, or have forgotten. This also re-energized me to WAN T to be a member of the Board of Integirty.

The Following day, I attended church with Fred Ellis at St. Thomas in Dallas, a P3 (Proud Parish Partner) of Integrity. Fred introduced me and talked about "Believe Out Loud" during the announcements. The congregation greeted me warmly with applause. I returned their applause with thanks for their mission and ministry in the Diocese of Dallas and the Episcoopal Church and thanked them for their support of Integirty.

This is the type of Ambassadorship that can only be done fully affectively in Person. By building am action network of human beings Parochial, Diocesan, Provincial, National and International to support our communications with people that are available to meet and listen we can live out our mission and values in Integirty. We must model that which exsists in healthy church congregations at every level of the Episcopal Church in order to thrive.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Creating Change: Day 3 TransACTION

Yesterday morning Barbara Satin from IWR conducted a workshop around “Transaction,” the Institute for Welcoming Resources curriculum for a trans education for parishes. The document is available online here. Scroll down the page and you will see links to the various curricula list on the left.

Barbara is a wonderful leader who’s graceful, grace-filled presence is a blessing.
She has been a blessing to people of faith in the queer world as trans woman for 15 years.

The curriculum stands on its own, but a chance to hear it gone through with an audience of trans men and women, was an enriching experience.

The curriculum focuses on 3 areas, Understanding, Acceptance and Welcoming, and is intended for a 3 session presentation.

We modeled an opening exercise from the curriculum around understanding. On one piece of paper we were asked to list adjectives that are associated with girl/woman. On a second, adjectives associated with boy/man were listed. We were then asked to individually write along a line from 0 to 10 where we thought these words applied to us, first the feminine, then the masculine.

My personal reaction was that the masculine descriptors seemed much more negative than the feminine adjectives. Man: aggressive, cold, non-emotional. Woman: nurturing, emotional, soft. A lesbian pastor pointed out that though I may see emotional as positive, it is often used as negative… Duh!

A few points that were raised, some familiar, others brand new to me:

"When trans people in the door, we are generally recognizable. But often not recognized even if we want to be. People don't know what to do with us..."

"Most LGBT Groups and progressive churhes, want to be welcoming, but are caught in, 'how do we do that?'"

"It can be frustrating to do all this work on welcoming and then no one shows up."

"Many of have not though about our funeral. If there is an open casket, how would you be dressed. A good reminder that prearranging for a funeral is a good thing for everyone."

"Besides a gender identity we all have a sexual orientation."

The end result of the conversation is that there it is a deeply complicated issue. Until we start having the conversation, we won't even begin to understand.

The work of Peterson Toscano was highly recommended. He is a performance artist and has produced the DVDs "Homo No Mo" and a new one, "Trans-figuration."

On My Way Back to Rochester...

Thank you Wendy's for having free WiFi at the Detroit Airport!

Creating Change: promises...

Very busy day which ended in dinner with Episcopalians at he conference and from the local Dioceses: Dallas and Fort Worth.

I promise to report when I am back in Rochester and the Super Bowl and two dentist appointments are done...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Creating Change: day 2 - Dallas: Empowering People of Faith - part 2

Outside the box...

Beth Zemsky LGBT activist since the 80's led us through some of the brutal realities of movement building, more specifically, Movement analysis. She made it clear that Organizing is not movement building, rather it rides the wave of movements.

Social movement, since WWII is under the master frame of "rights." This is the wave that we are riding. Unfortunately we jumped on a little late.

Picture this wave as a bell curve appropriately colored blue. It grew out of WWII, where "Colored" people served in segregated units and after help to free the survivors of the holocaust returned thinking what about us, This bell curve peaked from 1964 to 1968 with the assassinations of the MLK and JFK and legilation that brought the end of segregation. It then began to wane just as Stonewall occured.

The next master frame of the wave, colored red in the diagram, is "individualism, values and security." It started its rise in counterpoint to the peak of "rights." In the intersection of decline of one and rise of the next is marked by AIDS and the Reagan era. It was at this time, as the "rights" curve was passed by the "individualism" curve that LGBT pleas were successfully labeled as "special rights" and 9/11/2001 it reached a peak. The "individualism" curve has since been dominate. The good news is that it appears to have started it's decline. The bad news is that period of thes curves is about 80 years. This mean the curves will be in balance in 20 years and "rights" will dominate again in 40 years.

Specific movements within a given time period have ripples that grow from these waaves. We must continue to win the small victories that will keep the wave moving forward.

But who defines us? Who defines our love and how do they define it. Analysis of this cycle of movements should also inform us that in the down times, doing the same old thing will not only get us the same old results, it will get us less

If I accept this theory, and it does seem to be supported by events, this is the time to do new things, create new strategies and prepare for the climb ahead.

Beth Zemsky used a far side cartoon to support this idea. A dinosaur approaches a simply bait, box and stick with string trap. "Shhhhh, Zog, here comes one now..." is the caption. But the mighty hunters, about to pull the string are standing inside the box. It is the time to think outside the box.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creating Change: day 2 - Dallas: Empowering People of Faith

The Rev. Rebecca Voelker, head of IWR, was the organizer of this workshop presenting discussion of the relationship of faith, people of color and LGBT issues.

Vanessa Torres and Lex opened the session with: "Ain’t No Grave…. can hold my body down and Lex read his poem: “Intentional”

Rebbecca described the workshop as investigating the "intersection of race, faith and queerness." Indeed, next year's Creating Change will feature a full workshop within the conference on issues of faith. This has been in the planning for 6 months.

A panel of queer activists introduced themselves:

Richard Juang an Asian-American, person of color and trans man described the debate about sexuality as reminding him of “Two dogs fighting over a bone in a yard full of chickens” He pointed out that while there is a well established body of juris prudence giving gay and lesbians the rights to parent, there is virtually nothing establishing such rights for trans people.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is an out lesbian helped is to redefine the idea of "center" and "margin" She asked us to imagine a wheel the center is the hub, the rim the margin. Which part really moves? Those who are working on the margins provide the vision to influence the center. She shared some history of the first and second LGBT synagogues, in San Francisco and NYC respectively, in 1973. A group of Jews were attending MCC and Troy Perry said they were welcome, but asked them why they were not celebrating in their own rich tradition. They founded the first synagogue, naming it BCC in honor of Perry's influence and later created a Hebrew name to fit the acronym meaning "House of New Life" "Christians often thank Jews for Jesus," she said. These Jews want to thank us for Troy." In NYC and Episcopal Church welcomed the second gay synagogue in Chelsea. It was only 3 months later.

Reformed, and Conservative Jews, both allow for "L" and "G," but even Reformed Jews struggle with "Bi." If it is a choice, you should choose heterosexuality is their argument.

Rabbi Kleinbaum pointed out the being a Jew is as much a culture as a religious or spiritual experience. More than half of those identifying as Jews are not connected with a synagogue.

Jon Hoadley described himself as Person of Faith who loves politics, and who likes winning. He says "It's important to know how we got here and more important to know how what we are doing today is moving us politically forward."

From South Dakota, he went to Michigan State and most recently found himself active in Kalamazoo, fighting the challenge to the city's non-discrimination ordinance that recognized same-gender couples. " The right-wing started their their very first statement with fears for the protection of Christianity and in paricular supporting the Black Church. Right out of the gate," he says, "in the first sentence." He believes that religion needs to speak to politics because we speak to an emotional core, we speak authentically.

Sharon Lettman, described her journey from one faith tradition to another as making her a "Christian mutt." She has a Latino/Black heritage and grew up in Jewish household. "The Right Wing co-opting black church, in an exploitation of religion and politics." The issue, she believes in not just that LGBT issues are difficult in the black tradition. "Black people don’t talk about sex. Teenage Pregnancy, STDs and AIDS have just gained attention after years of being ignored. "In the hierarchy where do you think LGBT concerns fit in?" she asks, and answers, "At the bottom." It has little to do with Gay… "you said the 'S' word." In the Black Church the reality is still male domination and everything defined by the messenge. "Understanding the culture is key," she says, "it has to be about the individual, personal expreience amd revolve respect for someone in the community." Change can happen she points out, A generation ago the single mother was shamed and condemned, now she is revered. PFAW started talking with friendly black churches.

"To get to homophobia in the Black Church we must get to the conversation on a local level in the language of the Black Church. We must also recognize that young people have their own church within the black church. They probably have changed and there is an underground acceptance of LGBT people developing there."

The group was then introduced to some stark realities of the life cycle of movements and asked to address some ideas in small groups. The introduction and the task will be the topic of a later blog entry... long day. But Lady Ha Ha, AKA Kate Clinton brought it to a fitting close...


Creating Change: day 2 - Dallas: People of Faith

I will blog later about a great workshop, filled with practical ideas for extending our messages within and outside the faith community.

The Sheraton want $8.95 for 45 mins. of my online time because I am not staying here... I want to get the word out! But I will wait to share when I get back to Fred's house.

Suffice it to say, a very worthwhile day!

Creating Change: day 2 - Dallas: American Prayer Hour 8 AM

The American Hour of Prayer was my first experience at Creating Change. This nationally organized event was the progressive community’s answer to the National Prayer Breakfast.

The Family, which funds the Ugandan leadership which supports legislation that extends the already draconian treatment of LGBT Ugandans.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum spoke of the Torah lectionary "We start with creation, move through the story of being freed from slavery and then wandering the desert but never reaching the promised land. When we get close, we return to creation and start all over again. Many LGBT people are still in slavery, but even those of us that have broken free continue to wander in the desert. We must keep moving," she exhorted.

The Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, Senior Pastor at the UCC Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, spoke. Jesus called for the leaven to be added. "We are the leaven," she said. We are that which adds depth to God's Creation. The People at the margins... we are essential.

Bishop Yvette Flunder closed the service with prayer. She told the story of a son who complained that someone else was invited to a party that his mother was hosting. "'Son, remember two things,' his mother said, '1) You are coming because I invited you and 2) I do the inviting.' Only God does the inviting to this party that we call life and God has invited you and me."

I understand that the President heard our concern...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Creating Change: day 1 - Dallas

Today is getting registered and oriented. There's a big ole book of hundreds of workshop to pick from.

The Program Book can be downloaded as a PDF here.


The official Creating Change 2010 Blog

Tomorrow is an all day session with Rebecca Voelkel of IWR on Faith Community issues. I am guessing that much will be things that I have heard before but I am sure there will be new perspectives and it will help me focus on some new prioritied for both the Diocese of Rochester and Integrity.

In both organizations we are looking for new ways to engage local energy in a reality that is quite different from our roots of Faith Community Activism in the 1970's.

Much has been accomplished since then... and in many areas that is the enemy of vigilance and continued progress. There are many places where there is a safe community for LGBT people. There are churches, especially in metropolitan areas, where the LGBT group accounts for a large sized parish in other areas. These people don't see the need for Integrity, a diocesan coordinator or local committee or Integrity organization.

Meanwhile in rural areas, and some not so rural areas, parishes continue to be unwelcoming and even hostile, to LGBT inclusion. We must ALL continue to work for a church and a world where all are welcome.

Pockets of acceptance are, well, not acceptable. Look at the surprise that has greeted us in the public sector as our parochial acceptance meets the broader world in political rejections of our access to equal civil and human rights.

Some thinking outside the box seems long overdue.

Fred Ellis, former President of Integrity, is my host. We are spending some quality time reminiscing and brainstorming.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Off to Creating Change

One of, if not THE best national conference on LGBT issues is "Creating Change." Held annually by the The Task Force (NGLTF) it draws a very broad participation of energetic activists. Alone among these experiences it has a predominately young crowd.

For the next few days, I'll be posting from Dallas TX. Former President of Integrity, an all around good guy, Fred Ellis, is putting me up. The Dioceses of Rochester's Committee for Gay and Lesbian Ministry is picking up the flight and registration. Food is on my own... so Starbucks and sandwich shops will be my diet for 5 days.

I know I will return with new ideas and a lot of energy!