Thursday, July 30, 2009

Presidential Medal of Honor Recipients for 2009

The White House announced today the names of the 16 individuals being awarded the highest honor that can be bestowed by a U.S. President upon a civilian, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first time President Obama has bestowed the award.

Some of the names included in the list of 2009 recipients are the Lion of the U.S. Senate, Edward Kennedy (who was elected the year I was born!); tennis star & equality icon, Billie Jean King; SCLC President & civil rights legend, Rev. Joseph Lowery; international human rights (including GLBTQI rights) activist, Bishop Desmond Tutu; and openly-gay former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk!

I know that there will be plenty of people who see this as simply “throwing the gays a bone” (no pun intended whatsoever), but, in my humble opinion, I think it says a lot that, in his first chance to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he has chosen so many gay (or gay-friendly) public figures. I also think that these folks are long, long overdue for such a prestigious honor!

The awards will be distributed at the White House on August 12.

Discrimination Just Doesn't Pay Like It Used To, I Guess!

According to the Human Rights Campaign:

Exxon Mobil is the only U.S. employer that has ever rescinded both a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation and domestic partner benefits, and is the only Fortune 10 company that does not have a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation.

I, for one, would rather run out of gas completely than spend one red cent at Exxon Mobil!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A "...radical welcome..." for heterosexuals, too!

I read this on USA Today's website. It's an article titled, Straight believers find a home in gay churches, synagogues, which--I must admit--is news to me, especially considering that I've wondered for so long just exactly where or if someone like me will ever find a physical place in this world where I can feel welcome again alongside my brothers & sisters in Christ. It never crossed my mind that some heterosexual people of faith might feel more comfortable worshiping with a mostly GLBTQI congregation.

Funny the stuff you never think about when you're busy with own issues. Sometimes we get a bad case of tunnel vision, but this article today helped me to see the bigger picture: that most of us--regardless of our respective situations--just want to feel like we belong, especially where matters of faith are concerned.

While reading the article, I happened upon the quote below from the heterosexual female rabbi of a mostly GLBTQI congregation. As soon as I read it, I instinctively said out loud, "Amen, Sister!":

Everyone who comes here, no matter their sexual or gender identity, religious affiliation or knowledge, everyone is welcomed with open arms. You'd hope that would happen in all religious communities, but the truth is it's not an easy thing to put into practice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands...

The video below is not new. I've seen it before a few times, and I'm sure so have many others. I just happened upon it today, and it started me thinking (I know. I know. You may want to sit down for this.).

I'll bet you that there are probably as many people out there who have a great dislike of Reverend Al Sharpton (or, at least a dislike of what he stands for) as there are who dislike Reverend Pat Robertson &/or what he stands for. Now, if any of you have ever ready anything I've ever written here, or elsewhere in the worldwide web, you can probably guess where I stand on the Rev. Al vs. Rev. Pat question. This post, however, is not about which of these men courageously & publicly supports GLBTQI people & our human & civil rights & which of them delights in whipping up unfounded fears & manufacturing outright lies to fight tooth-and-nail against people who seek only to love whom their hearts direct.

Truth is that--their respective personalities, faults & manifold detractors notwithstanding--these two men (combined) have a pretty significant following, and most of those people will follow these men where they think God is leading them, and--on global warming, at least--both Al & Pat feel that God is calling on them to fight this good fight together as true brothers-in-arms.

Of course, this glaringly obvious fact was the reason that Repower America created this Public Service Announcement in the first place.

Seeing the ad again just reminds me of the actual good that can be done when we decide we love the world more than we hate each other.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear God: Thanks For Nothing!

Dear God,

As you know, when I was growing up, my family was probably the prototype of American poverty. My mother & father, my 2 brothers & 2 sisters and I had very little in the way “worldly possessions”. Throughout my childhood, we lived in quite a few houses, but we never had a home.

I know it’s become a trite phrase, Lord, but our family literally sometimes had no idea where our next meal was coming from. The Food Stamps that kept our family (mostly) fed rarely lasted the entire month (5 kids can eat a lot of food), and during the summer months--when school was out—the free school lunches we could count on for minimal nutrition simply dried up til the Fall.

For a lot of reasons, my father had a wandering spirit & he got easily bored, or ticked off at his boss or the landlord or the neighbor, etc., etc., and he picked up the 7 members of our family, put us in the rickety old car we had & we moved on to the next town. We never got to know the meaning of “roots” or “neighborhood”, and we never really had the chance to make friends. Looking back it seems like we were always on the move…always searching for a better life…and always failing to find it.

Now that I’m grown, I can look back & see how much we didn’t have, and I can see how frustrated & angry my father must have been in working so hard for the very little he had, and how much he must have hurt knowing that, without government assistance, he couldn’t properly take care of his family. I was angry at my father for so long—not because of the THINGS he couldn’t give us—but because of the time & attention he couldn’t seem to find for his kids. Working from dawn til dusk (sometimes 7 days a week) at a back-breaking job that he hated, he couldn’t find time to be an unskilled laborer AND a dad. I see that now. I understand how little he had left for the world—and for his family.

But, Lord, the pain I feel when I think about those days comes not from all the “stuff” we never had, or from the (many) meals we may have missed; it comes from the memories of a father who lived with his family, but whom none of us kids ever got to see much because he was too busy earning his minimum wage “living”; it comes from imagining how much he must have hurt knowing that, where his future was concerned, the die had already been cast, and that his lot in life would never improve because his hands had already become too calloused, his back too bent & painful & his spirit too broken. When he passed away a few years ago from the too-long-untreated effects of hypertension (of course, because he had no health insurance), I couldn’t help but feel grateful to You for ending his pain & for finally bringing him the peace he never had while he was here.

I am thankful to You still, Lord, for every minute of my life—even the darkest hours of my “life” in the closet—because it has all gone into making me the person I am still becoming. In Your plan, God, I know nothing happens without a reason & nothing goes to waste.

I truly believe that it is making me a better person, and it’s helping me to understand—TRULY understand—what really matters in life. I know that, if I had to, I could do without so much that I now have in my life.

As the life I’ve known these past 13 years is changing so drastically & so quickly, and, even as out of control as my life feels these days, I am reminded again that it’s not the material possessions that I hold dear & which I treasure; it’s the sublime, ethereal things like love & friendship & fellowship that put real life into my life, and that makes everything I must endure in it more-than-worth it.

I anticipate that a new life on my own will not always be easy—at least not in the beginning—and it will take some getting used to, but I know that, as always, You will provide what I need (even if not what I THINK I want! ;) ).

So, I honestly want to thank you, Heavenly Father, for all I never had, and for all I never had the chance to take for granted. In exchange for the dearth of physical things I cannot hold in my hands, You have given me a life-long appreciation for those things & those people I can always, always hold in my heart.

Even in the midst of the river of tears I have shed as I leave behind a life I had come to love, and as I cautiously head on to the next chapter in my life, I remain most thankful, dear God…and I know I am blessed.

I pray You will continue to lead me & protect me & always remind me what is REALLY important in this life.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 233rd, America!

As a nation, we are still engaged in that most noble of pursuits: to truly make "self-evident" the fact that "all men [and women] are created equal" and that, as Americans & as children of God, we are all equally entitled to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".

I--for one--feel blessed to live in a country where so many of my fellow citizens understand that, for too many of us still working to claim our full birthright as citizens of the greatest country in history, these most noble of words are still just words. In spite of that fact, I take heart knowing that more & more of us are beginning to really understand the words of the American poet, Emma Lazarus, when she wrote, Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

From Schoolhouse Rock...

Friday, July 3, 2009

A or B???


Confession time.

There are some things I enjoy that I am not proud of. Guilty pleasures of a sort, I guess you might call them. I don't usually discuss these little secrets because they may be seen by lots (and lots) of people as "low-brow", and, really, they're probably right. I have no defense, and (obviously, where these are concerned) no shame.

So, on with the confessions:

God please forgive me, but I actually enjoyed the old MTV show Jackass (and even the Jackass movies). While I'm spilling my guts, I might as well admit that I think Johnny Knoxville is kinda cute, which I am sure had at least a little do with why I always tuned in.

I was actually enthralled with The Anna Nicole Show...well, at least the first season when she was actually being herself (or whatever "herself" had become after her wild ride of a life). The second season was OBVIOUSLY at least partly staged & it seemed to me that Anna Nicole was working from a script. My guilty love affair with her show quickly ended when season 2 began, but I still love the show's theme song. Still can't get that stupid tune out of my head...Anna, Anna, Fabulous Anna, Anna Nicole. You're so outrageous...

One more piece of ugliness before I get to the point of this post: I laughed out loud MANY times at South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (I still don't know how the movie's producers got that past the MPAA censors). I didn't see it in the theater, but I rented the DVD so I could--to paraphrase Mother Bates from the movie Psycho--appease my ugly appetite for celluloid silliness in the privacy of my own home...afterwards, though, I did feel the need to shower...a couple of times! :-)

Anyway, I hope this rather long-winded preface will help you to understand (as much as possible) why I think this commercial for a new item on Hardee's menu too hilarious not to share.

I ask your forgiveness in advance for feeling the need to involve you in the inanity to follow: