Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Illusion Of Success

Saturday October 21, 2006

Yesterday I had intended to write about the inpact we have in our communities by "telling our stories". That will have to wait until tomorrow...

Today I need to write about the illusory nature of success, or how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I had received my therapist's letter this past week indicating that I was in the "process of procedure" regarding my transition and that I was entitled to have the "M" on my driver's license amended to an "F". The same regulation was cited to me, as had been done the first time I requested an approproate gender marker, with the exception that I now had an examiner dictate the precise language of said regulation:

"If the customer desires to change sex on the driver's license or identification card, a court order or a physician's statement verifying procedure must be presented."

This is somewhat different from the assurance we received from the DMV in Raleigh, NC, in which we had been told that a state certified professional needed to assert that the patient was in the process of procedure. Of course, with the revelation that this is NOT what the regulation states, it is apparent that the word "procedure" is being interpreted to signify "surgical procedure".

What is most infuriating is the fact that we had been assured by the DMV in Raleigh that this issue had been resolved. Well...I am continually being educated, or reeducated, as the case may be, and I made the cardinal errors of ASSUMING that the department was being truthful and of not having received any assurance in writing. When it comes to official state or federal departments, or governments, we much be wary at all times. Out alleged success had been too easy and the flags should have gone up immediately. In our desire to believe that progress had been made, we were duped into accepting a temporary placation as a substitute for real, bona fide success.

I remain undaunted. There was a part of me who had wondered at the ease of this concession and who had thought that seeing would be believing. I will continue to pursue this issue with the state department of mental health, as well as with the NC affilate to the APA BEFORE I return to the DMV. As long as gender identity disorder is a diagnosable mental condition, according to the DSM4, agencies need to (read that MUST BE) amenable to the recommended course of treatment which has been acknowledged to be the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care.

By the HBSOC, we are advised that we need life experience before we may have gender reassignment surgery. We must live and work, for 12 months, in the apporpriate gender. This clearly creates a "catch 22". If we are unemployed, we cannot find work because of the disparity between our appearance and the letter on our DL. Without a job, we are consigned to poverty wherein we will NEVER be able to afford our surgeries. And, of course, without surgery we can never have our driver's license amended with the appropriate gender marker so we can find work.

Of course, this is the government which delights in perpetuating "catch 22's". This is not only a bureaucratic snafu, it becomes the perfect vehicle for those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of the GLBT community to hide their bigotry behind rules and regulations. We would be deceiving ourselves if we perceived this any differently. Lawmakers, bureauocrats and their lackies, with their disapproving eyes, and their self righteous judgments, will find a way to perpetuate their exclusionary agendas. They have made the incorrect assumption that we can be pressured and legislated into obscurity. Their hope is that the more they marginalize or exclude us, the greater is the chance that we will just go away.



Friday, October 20, 2006

Thomasville City Council

Friday, Ocotober 20, 2006

Before I write today's BLOG...just a follow up to my entry of two day's prior...signs in hand, fully motivated, I attempted to protest the President in Greensboro, NC. I have not seen this many cops since the Washington D.C. protests in the very early '70's. There were literally one or two deputies every 20 feet for over 5 MILES. Each and every place I attempted to park...commercial, residential...I was told to "keep moving". I did hear that some protests HAD occurred but, for the life of me, I could not locate them nor make my voice heard. Total bummer!!!

Now for today's BLOG...the details of the City of Thomasville, NC City Council Meeting of Monday, Oct. 16, 2006.

I was the first person to show up and was handed a random number because the fire chief expected the attendance to overreach the council capacity and I was to give my number to someone else were I to leave. Sadly, the attendance never reached that proportion. In my estimation, there were not even 100 persons there, if there were even half that number. I signed the "public forum" which would enable me to take advantage of my allotted 2 minutes' speaking time. The format, unfortunately, was to hold the public forum BEFORE the proposal to sign , on behalf of the city, onto a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as "only between a man and a woman".

I had wondered to myself if I would be the only citizen in Thomasville who would speak out against this measure. Well...I was the only member of Thomasville's small and, for the most part, quiet and acquiescent, GLBT community. I was however, not alone. I was joined my three courageous and generally active and outspoken members of our community from Greensboro. I will add that one Thomasville citizen who self identified as heterosexual also stood up against this bigoted resolution. My two minutes were devoted to an appeal to the Consitution...the Establishment Clause, church/state separation, the fact that marriage belongs to the province of churches, not governments; the historical custom of amendments broadening civil rights; the existence of DOMA which federally stipulates marriage as a man/woman convention; and, furthermore, that this debate was a waste of taxpayer time and money. My three compatriots focused their two minutes on revelations of a more personal nature.

A local pastor spoke in favor of the resolution, availing himself of the usual fundamentalist and distorted rhetoric. He cited the Bible as a source condemning same sex marriages and asserted that old saw that such actions were blasphemous in the eyes of Jesus and GOD. He received a resounding applause from the citizenry gathered in the council chambers.

Shortly thereafter, the resolution itself was proposed by Raleigh York and Dwight Cornelison, but the specific language of the resolution was not articulated. It had been previously distributed to council members and was supposed that the citizens were not entitled to know the details nor entitled to express their sentiments subsequesnt to the introduction of the proposal. The resolution carried 5 to 1, with Marie Culbreth the lone dissenting vote. Upon chatting with Maire the following day, I learned that this resolution had no merely suggested that council members, singularly or as a group, MAY sign on to an endorsement of an amendment to the NC consitutional, but that it would not be required of any single council member. As such, it was nothing but a political ploy to energize the base.

Given the fact that this IS Thomasville...a rather conservative and small town which has a mindset that one might have expected to encounter some 30 years is not surpising that this resolution passed nor that the one voice speaking in its favor was greeted with a resounding applause. However, in my humble estimation, it is a sad statement on rural America in the 21st century and is indicative of prevailing winds that dominate in such sections of the country. Furthermore, it seems to be a statement of bigotry that is endorsed by both the citizenry and the elected officials.

I am ashamed and embarrassed for the community in which I live. I am dismayed by the lack of support by local members of the GLBT community. I would again be living in denial if I did not state that such a state of affairs gives me this the kind of community where I want to reside? Conversely, I certainly understand that small communities like this are the places where the work is most needed. We can never expect things to change unless we are willing to work with these communities towards a revamping of those prevailing attitudes and misperceptions of what it means to be gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.

More on this line of thinking tomorrow...


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dubya Comes To Town

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 apologies for the sparsity of BLOGS lately...between a heavy school load and the flu, I have been somewhat disabled.

As I prepared last night for Pres. Dubya's trip to Greensboro, I was conflicted as to which sign I should bring with me to greet the "Decider". I suppose the first consideration should have been...WILL I get to see him...or...will the press get to see me and my sign. Of course...for one's stand to make a difference, one must be seen either by the offending party or by the media.

My first thought was to take the "STOP THE GENOCIDE IN DARFUR" Sign which I had already created. My intent was to post it at school. No doubt...Darfur is an important issue and many lives, not to mention this country's standing in the global community, are at stake. The sign was all ready to go, but is this the most important message I have to send? I wondered, perhaps, if a sign decrying our stance on global warming and this country's political refusal to acknowledge the implications of changing weather patterns, shrinking glaciers and warmer temperatures, would be more appropriate. Al Gore has been adamant in his contention that green issues are paramount, that these weather patterns may soon become irreversible if they are not already, and that world citizens cannot stand idly by and refrain from speaking up.

Again, I was unsure if this is the core message I want to send to the president and to the media. It is undoubtedly crucial and necessary. Nonetheless, I believe that there are other issues which are, perhaps, nearer and dearer to me (not that I do not feel a kinship to those who preach green), and that should demand my attetnion. As a transgender citizen and a member of the GLBT community, do I not feel that GLBT issues...ENDA, discrimination and hate crimmes...are the special issues which demand my most immediate attention? Have I not returned to school in pursuit of a paralegal degree and perhaps a law degree with the specific intent to devote my life to these goals? Yes, I could certainly make the case that my sign should reflect the disenfranchisement, marginalization and exclusionary tactics practiced against the transgender community, the new "untouchable" class in these United States. It was, as they say, a no brainer!

However, all my ideas for the perfect and most appropriate sign changed dramatically in light of the MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT signed into law yesterday. warming may presage the end of the world as we know it, and yes, the disgrace and genocide in Darfur are pressing and inescapable. Indeed, GLBT issues are within the purview of my life's intended work and generally would take priority. Still, the signing of the aformentioned act may make any of the other issues moot. Without liberty, without the right to protest, without the constitutional guarantees framed within that most important of documents, the rest seem to pale in comparison.

This act essentially opens the door to a repeal of habeus corpus. It places in the hands of the executive branch unsupervised and limitless authority in its evaluation of "noncombatant militants" and could, conceivably, include any who are deemed to have given material comfort to the alleged enemy. We have already heard vitriolic rhetoric from this administration that protests against its policies were tantamount to aiding and abetting the enemy. It is not a stretch of the imagination to suppose that all protest, some day, will be foreclosed with the assertion that it is not in this country's best interests and therefore must be curtailed. Those who assert their constitutional right to protest will be summarily rounded up and arrested, no charges nor evidence necessary.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution, with hardly an exception, were most concerned about an executive department unreigned. It is, without a doubt, a concern that surfaces over and over in the Fedralist Papers. Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Franklin, et al, had all offered opinions that confronted such fears, particularly after the colonists' experiences with that OTHER King George. They vehemently were opposed to a monarchy as a viable gobvernment structure and specifically created a government wherein separation of powers was the effective control measure to ensure that the United States would never sufer from a despotic executive branch.

Oh, how those framers would react today. It cannot me imagined any other way than that they would be livid and outspoken in their efforts to warn the citizens of this country that they were embarking on a path beset with danger. Benjamin Franklin went so far as to assert that a strong press was, by far, more important than a strong executive. He undoubtedly valued the limits of executive authority as did his compatriots.

With that in mind, this is how my sign reads:

OCTOBER 17, 2006

Will I be the only protestor out there? Will my right to protest be either denied or marginalized by a less than effective visual placement? Will I be arrested?

Updates to follow...


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Values By Which I Conduct My Life

Thursday, Ocotber 12, 2006

The abundance of rhetoric with respect to values grows wearisome as we approach the midterm elections. The war in Iraq, the erosion of Constitutional authority, the continuous litany of prevarication and obfuscation we hear from our elected officials...the Foley scandal, the Abramhof scandal, various and sundry additional scandals...I begin to wonder what values people hold to and how they validate their actions. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have decided to examine the values that I, personally, try to live by.

Personal responsibility. I am accountable for my own actions. When we borrow Harry Truman's phrase "The buck stops here", that does not imply any ifs ands or buts. "The buck stops here", period. This is the only way for that phrase to have any kind of sensible meaning.

There are no substitutes for honesty and integrity. The concept of a sacred trust is irreplaceable and the ability to be truthful can never be underestimated.

We are all human beings and we make mistakes...own up to them. I find it nearly impossible to believe that any amongst us can truly state that they have never erred, nor that they are incapable of error. In fact, it is my contention that any person who makes such a claim is not to be trusted...with money, with government, nor with anybody's personal safety.

The Golden Rule. I try to treat others the way I would like to be treated. This is not always possible in societies comprised of large populations, but that does not mean we should not continue to try and live our lives by this standard. When we adopt this way of thinking, we are generally amicable to compromise, we tend towards tolerance and we are less rigid in our manner of thinking. We are less prone to insist that our way is either the right way or the only way. The case is that usually neither of these statements is true.

Life is too short to________. I have learned that to live one's life with regret is NOT a laudable path to pursue. It tends towards bitterness and a sour disposition and does not lend itself to a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. We can prioritize the things in life that are most important and try to incorporate them into our lives. Granted, there will always remain things we were unable to do, but we have a general and intuitive grasp of what we really want to do and what we can let pass us by.

We must care about more than just ourselves. This does not imply that "I am my brother's keeper"; rather, the point is that we do not live our lives in isolation and there are times that each and every one of us finds her or himself in a situation of need. When those times arise, we would be lost without the assistance and care of families and communities. The expression "There but for the grace of God" is certainly applicable and relevant and none of us should be so haughty as to believe that she or he will never need anyone's help. Karma has a way of stepping in given such recalcitrant mindsets.

Ralph Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer"..."God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." These are extremely sage words and I try to always remember them when I am confronted with a dilemna. They need no further explication as I feel the intent is self evident.

Do the best I can. That is the highest standard I can set for myself and I need never be discouraged if I keep true to this goal. I may fall short but I can always persist.

Utilize the power of visualiztions. We all have the power to effectively make the lives we want for ourselves. I try not to sell myself short of the possibilities that reside within my dreams.

The value of the people in our lives far exceeds the value of money or stuff. A sense of perspective is necessary to achieve such a sensibility. When we are ready to take the next step in our journey, we are remembered most for the kind of person we were, not for how much moeny we made nor how much stuff we accumulated.

Respect for all sentient lives and for Mother Nature. Again, I try to keep a sense of perspective and not take for granted the beauty and grandeur we have been blessed with on Planet Earth by the Great Spirit.

These few values keep me humble, keep me ever striving, and keep me in harmony.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gay/Straight Alliances in Public Schools

Saturday, October 7, 2006

In 1984, the Federal Equal Access Act was passed by Congress with the intent to protect first amendment rights as they pertain to students in secondary schools. Ostensibly, the original motivation for the passage of this act came from conservative religious organizations that wanted to guarantee a student's right to the unimpeded formation of clubs that had decidedly religious content. Examples of said content included Bible study groups and prayer groups.

Briefly, the substance of the act states that any secondary school that receives federal financial aid (which would include most, if not all, public school systems) is acting unlawfully if it prevents the formation of groups, by students, "on the basis of religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings". Additionally, the intent of the act specifically states that, so long as other groups are allowed to form, the school may not deny this right to other prospective groups that students may wish to form. There are a number of other provisions...supervision, the debarring of outsiders, ensuring that the group does not interfere with education of the students, for example. The act does, in no uncertain terms, maintain the existence a student's constitutional rights.

The citation for this act is 52 U.S.C. § 4071 and below is a link from the Cornell Law School website:

The reemergence of the focus on this act comes as a result of two recent rulings by school boards in the State of North Carolina. The first is in the Rowan County School System, the second in the Currituck County School System. The two high schools are, respectively, Salisbury High School and Currituck County High School. Students from both schools had wanted to start so called "clubs" that would address GLBT issues with respect to gay/straight alliances. The premise, in each case, was to form a group that would be open to both gay and straight students and that would emphasize education and cooperation.

In an AP article, Danielle Smiley, one of the students in Currituck County High School, has said that "it wouldn't be a gay club for recruiting homosexuals and promoting sexual activity, but instead would focus on raising awareness about homosexuality among all students." She goes on to say that "it would provide an opportunity for gay students to talk with their peers instead of their parents or adults". These quotes show Ms. Smiley to be an intelligent and thoughtful young lady.

According to the same AP article, "local pastors and parents have denounced the proposal. They've said the club could help spread AIDS, encourage children to engage in sex and persuade others to become homosexual". One could not imagine a more accurate portrayal of homophobia than this statement. It is an attempt to promulgate untruthful myths that have always separated the straight community form the GLBT coummunity. The fact that these students are desirous of establishing communication, of breaching gaps in understanding and of reaching out in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance, lends the air of ignorance and intolerance to the views of their parents and religious guides.

In the case of Salisbury High School, there was no debate nor honest consideration of this issue. The school board made a carte blanche decision, en banc (the vote was unanimous)and it was their expectation that this decision would go unchallenged. Executive director of the Raleigh ALCU office, Jennifer Rudinger, has stated "When a school allows extracurricular clubs, it's all or nothing. They can't discriminate ... They can't pick and choose." She cited the Federal Equal Access Act. Keith Jennings, who is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network founder and Executive Director, asserted "It is disheartening and painfully obvious that the Rowan-Salisbury School Board does not have the best intentions of its schools and students at heart". My thanks to © 2006 for the above quotes.

It is particularly interesting that the views of many religious leaders show their hypocrisy, now that the so called shoe is on the other foot. The grounds for their struggle regarding the passage of the Federal Equal Access Act are now modified, or blatantly denied. There can be no other interpretation given these new, and in their eyes, "unacceptable" groups, which want the same access to first amendment rights as those seeking to start a bible study or prayer group. These institutions receive federal funds. They are certainly subject to all of the provisions called for by the law. Their refusal to comply with federal regulations can be seen as nothing but illegal.

There is precedent, in other states, for overturning such school board decisions. One such case comes to us from Washington State. Prince v. Jacoby had been dismissed at a lower court level but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that "the club should be given parity with other student associations and permitted access to school space and supplies." My thanks to for the above quote. Although the U.S. 9th Circuits holdings are not enforceable in our district, the 4th District, the above cited case may act as precedent with regard to persuasive authority. It seems likely that these North Carolina cases will be pursued. It also seems likely that the lower courts in this state will not hold for the plaintiffs. It will have to remain to be seen what happens at the NC appellate level or, conceivably, at the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Will these decisions be allowed to stand? Will the efforts of students who want to bridge the gap of ignorance be stymied? Perhaps more to the point, will school boards allow institutionalized hatred and homophobia to be the rule by which they make decisions regarding a student's rights? Of course, parents, civic leaders and persons of a religious bent must speak out against these inequities. School boards need to learn that they are bound by legality if they receive federal funding and all clear thinking and open minded members of the communities involved must fight for their children's right to the unfettered expression of free speech.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Effects One CAN Have While In Stealth

Thursday, Ocotber 5, 2006

On the heels of my BLOG regarding stealth, I'd like to mention some of the responses it has elicited. The first idea which came to the forefront was a rehash of the language..."nomenclature" situation. What one person views as stealth is not necessarily the same as the next person's. Some thought it was full time, 100%...some thought it was just a majority of one's life. Others maintained that, in this day and age, to speak of stealth is a misnomer, what with social security numbers, driver's licenses and the profusion of tracking methods available to the authorities. It seems that as is often the case, language can be an awfully slippery tool. Even when its use is precise, just how it will be interpreted is an unknown quantity.

The next thing I learned was that there truly WAS an answer to my question..."Can one affect the world while in stealth mode?". The answer was a deafening YES!!!

Here are some of these ideas proposed:

1) When one votes, one effects change.

2) If one is on a jury, in stealth mode, one can still make a difference by how one deliberates.

3) Just by interacting with one's kids, it is possible to educate them to the idea that people may be different. but that does not make them bad other words...teaching tolerance and acceptance at home.

4) Contributions of $$ to organizations which support GLBT and minority rights and issues make a difference.

5) Writing letters to elected hate crimes, ENDA, etc., can make a difference.

6) Supporting and working for candidates who have healthy and productive ideas concerning GLBT and minority issues is another avenue by which one may effect change.

7) Being a big brother or big sister and doing the same things as in #3 creates good role models.

8) One can speak out, generally, against discrimination.

9) Reading and other words...learning about issues that matter to GLBT and minority communities helps to educate oneself and others.

10) Generally educating oneself about the history and depth of diversity in the TG, GLBT and minority communities also goes to #9.

It is evident that there ARE a lot of choices one can make without opening one's life to scrutiny or exposing oneself to danger or employer discrimination. The idea that there are as many roads to our perceived end as there are people is, once again, reaffirmed. This lends creedence to the omni-present diversity and variegation of human experience and inclination. There are no "right" or "wrong" ways to exist in the world as long as we refrain from intentionally hurting or maligning others.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Activism and Stealth

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

An open letter:

My dear brothers and sisters,

I have debated with myself whether to pursue further or abandon this discussion regarding stealth and activism. Please rehashing this issue I am not trying to challenge, demean or belittle anyone's position or feelings. I am just really confused and am asking for your help so I can have a better understanding. I am not elitist, nor separatist. Those of you who have read much of what I wrote over the past months will recognize that my criticism of elites...particularly minorities which eventually take on elite status, has been constant and unwavering. So...please bear with me, help me out and know that my love for all of you and my dedication to our community both continue unflagged.

Here is the source of my confusion:

How is it possible for those in total stealth mode to effect any kind of changes in the world?

My understanding of stealth is: covert, undercover, cloaked, not out in the open.

Webster's defines stealth as: secret or furtive behavior

My thesaurus uses the following synonyms: secrecy, surreptitiousness, covertness, furtiveness, undercover and clandestine

Please remember...I am talking about a life that is lived TOTALLY in stealth mode. There are, of course, many exceptions; those who live only part of their life in stealth, those who adopt stealth because they must keep their employment or because they have families; or those who live stealthy lives because of safety concerns. These are all fully rational and understandable reasons for not being "out" 24/7. To be sure, there are undoubtedly other reasons of which I am unaware and I humbly ask for your assistance in helping me to understand other reasons why one would choose a life of stealth. I guess I can partially answer my own question by citing the element, generally, of fear...for whatever reasons. This also makes sense to me. I am also not implying that everyone need be an activist. Each and every person is free to make their own choices and decisions regarding their lives. Far be it from me to impose my choices upon others.

I do want to make it clear that many of us know MANY who spend only part of their time in stealth...for a variety of reasons, many for those cited above. The efforts made by these wonderful individuals when not in stealth are equally amazing and laudatory. Again...I really want to be clear about question and confusion are regarding those who are ALWAYS in stealth mode

When I cited other minority struggles...civil rights and sufferage, for example, my thoughts were that, had activism NOT been pursued, the changes (which are most certainly not fully implemented nor pervasive) probably would have not brought a sense of equality to those minorities to the degree that it has. Again...we have SO MUCH further to go!! I would assert that the same is true for the G and L much more left to do, but the strides that HAVE been made might not have happened without activists.

Yes...there is always the risk of bad press...the Rep. Foley debacle, for example. Nonetheless, we must assure the public that not all fact most if not virtually all...are pedophiles. It's another of those issues that requires education, education, education.

But, retuning to our specific issue...the difference for us is that our being TG, unlike apparent gender or race, is not discernible at first examination. It is not only possible but likely that most transgender persons live their lives NOT out, exposed to the light of day. I expressed in the above paragraph...I understand why that is the case and I embrace those members of our community that must, or feel they must, or just desire to live in stealth. My confusion, again arises with the assertion,by some, that those in stealth also may effect change. By this...I understand their reference to be to someone who lives a completely and totally stealthy life. No exeptions. question: How is it possible that someone living COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY in stealth can affect change in our community, society, or the world. I am wholly unable to understand this. In that email I sent that so upset ( I am SO SORRY and never intended to hurt anyone's feeling nor challenge them) some members of this and my other group, I made the statement that, for me, activism was a "no brainer" and that many of the solutions I had seen were just"band-aids that never addressed real problems but just tried to cover them up and make them go away". By making those statements, I was not trying to be hostile or contentious. I was not intentionally being disrespectful. Again, I was stating MY opinion of how one must make one's feelings known if one wants to see change. Again, I was referring to the fact that people whose lives remain unexposed are rarely able, if ever , to change prevailing attitudes.How could it ever be possible if we do not let others know who we are and how we feel? Do they gain an understanding by just being around us? Are we to assume that they will get the drift if we live amongst them, undetected? By what mechanism or method will they be changed if we do not engage them in discourse?

I am not challenging...I am not being hostile. the honest truth is that I have marked "fear of conflict" issues, I have changed my mind about writing this letter at leaset 30 times cuz I didn't want anyone to think I was contentious, or a trouble maker, an elitist or a separatist. I basically have a "live and let live" philosphy of life and NEVER try to pass judgment on others. I try to live my life by the Golden Rule and treat others the way I would like to be treated.

But...this question, or issue, has really been bugging me and I will never reach an understanding, nor be able to help others reach an understanding if I take the "say nothing...don't rock the boat" path.

So...once more...I beg your indulgence and respectfully ask for your help in clarifying this for me...

I did want to include a little about me. I am not, in any way, seeking aggrandizment in the course of being active. For those of you who don't know me...and...probly a surprise for those who do...I am basically shy and introspective. I eschew the public eye. I have an uncontrollable fear of public speaking. did I find myself involved in the pursuit of activism? In college, during the Viet Nam antiwar effort, I was an interested but uninvolved spectator at a rally. Before I knew it, I had been clubbed across the bridge of my nose by a member of the National Guard and I instantaneously became radicalized. I joined SDS. I worked for student rights, women's rights, African American rights. After the war had ended...I faded back into the woodwork...worked a number of meaningless jobs...went on Grateful Dead tour...just lived life. But, as a touring Deadhead, one finds that every day was a life of activism because of the judgment society levied upon us. Nevertheless, I was not actvely outspoken. I have found that the current social and political climate has, again, called me to become active. I have not asked for it...I feel that activism ghas been thrust upon me by said state of affairs. Honestly...I would prefer to live a quiet in my garden, read all those books I never had time for previously, work on my art or just hang out withmy kitty cat. But...I have a hard time standing by when I see our rights being eroded, when I see intolerance and discrimination, narginalization and disenfranchisement as the rules rather than as the exceptions. I will reiterate that I do not feel that everyone need answer this is up to each and every individual to decide for themselves.

As always...I have nothing but love and respect for all of you, for the GLBT community and for all sentient beings. As always...I believe in the axiom that as long as one of us is not free, then none of us can be free...and...the Bohdisattva vow that until all sentient beings are enlightened, none may be enlightened.

Please grace me with your feelings, opinions and me to rise above this confusion!!

Peace thru Music,




Monday, October 02, 2006

Yom Kippur

Monday, October 2, 2006

Yom Kippur commenced last night at sundown and goes until sundown today. Traditionally, it is a day set aside for atonement and introspection. Many fast for the full 24 hours...some for even longer. This is meant as an act of submission and expiation. On this day, we ask forgiveness from our Creator, from those whom we have wronged and from ourselves. Following this day of atonement, we are intended to look forward and not dwell on the guilt. Rosh Hoshanah is the day that those who have led sin free lives, or have expiated their sins, will have their names inscribed in the Book of Life. We are given the 10 day period and, specifically Yom Kippur, to atone and have our names inscribed, if they have not already been. Yom Kippur is also the day to say prayers for those who have passed on to the next plane and pray for their welfare.

This is my first Yom Kippur BLOG. It will also be the first time that I have publicly asked for forgiveness. I will start with my Creator and ask the Great Spirit to forgive me my ignorance, my recalcitrance and anything that may fall in between. I know I can be a stubborn being at times and I beg the indulgence of the Great Spirit. I ask for guidance, for wisdom and for the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. I ask for the gifts of compassion and empathy and humility.

I also ask for forgiveness from those whom I have wronged. It is certainly near impossible to live sin free as long as we live in the world. Unwittingly and unbeknownst to us, we always live in jeopardy of offending someone unintentionally. As people's lives and circles overlap, and because we are all built differently, we are continuously put into potential conflict. Additionally, because of the condition of eternal change, our interests and desires often diverge. Accordingly, I ask for forgiveness for the unintentional pain I may have brought to others. There have been times that I have knowingly sinned, as well, and I ask those people to also forgive me my ignorance and my vices which may have motivated my errors.

Murray C
Danny C
Randy C
Patricia M
Tim FP
Robin P
Pat D
Tom W
Don K
Don M
Jamie W
Jack W

I know this is certainly not a complete list and I will amend it as I recall, on this Day of Atonement, the people who are deserving of my expiation.

Lastly...I forgive myself for those errors I have made...both the ones that I committed knowingly and the ones I committed unknowingly. I believe the important thing is to learn, to change and to grow. We can put the errors behind us only if we learn the lessons they are meant to teach. Otherwise, history repeats itself and we are not deserving of forgiveness. I pray, again, for wisdom, strength, compassion, optimism, faith and the power to express and feel the love that permeates the universe.