The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pride - here and there

Two historic Pride events took place this weekend.

One was in Bessemer, Alabama, where the first Gay Pride in the city's history was celebrated. Word is, this will be covered in this week's Western Star, so I won't upstage them. But if they print a story, I will copy it here. If they don't, I will report.

The other was in New York. This is my favorite picture of that event.

Photo credit Vivieene Gucwa flckr

The Pride in New York was historic in that they were celebrating marriage equality!

The following are reactions from crazy folk about the victory (all are from JoeMyGod over the last few days)

Pat Robertson says that God will destroy America because of this.

The Catholic League's Bill Donahue says it will lead to multiple husbands.

But unless there is a constitutional amendment, we will continue to have an uneven playing field, one that is ripe for further exploitation. Once marriage is separated from procreation, and Tom and Dick are allowed to marry, there is no principled reason why Tom, Dick and Harry can't do so. After all, wouldn't it be discrimination to say no to Harry?

Bryan Fischer, American Family Radio host, said we have fangs.

'The gay-rights groups have shown their fangs. They want to silence, yes, destroy those who don't agree with their agenda.' Homosexuals are rapidly cementing their position as the number one perpetrators of hate crimes in American today."

Linda Harvey, World New Daily writer, says

"This 'freedom' will include much more than a perpetual pansexual pagan party. It will, and already does, include libel, slander, intimidation, corruption of youth, revolt in congregations, suppression of parental rights, revision of language, disease, loss of employment and loss of life. Oh, and did I mention public sex, the porn explosion and public nudity? Welcome to entitlement sex."

Jason Adkins, Minnesota Marriage Coalition spokesperson, lied,

Marriage between one man and one woman has served mankind for all of recorded history...

Peter LaBarbera tweeted

Every homosexual activist victory (eg, same-sex *marriage* in NY) is a rebuke to our biblical heritage. Why should 'God Bless America'?

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said

The so-called religious protections that were tacked on to the bill will ultimately do nothing to protect the religious rights of New York citizens.

On twitter, @almightygod tweeted

Gays will be getting married in NY, so I guess I'll need to send them some tornadoes. Hope I don't miss and hit Kansas

Maggie Gallagher, in the National Review said,
"The National Organization for Marriage has committed $2 million to persuading Republicans: Voting for gay marriage has consequences. Sad that the N.Y. GOP has caved. Consequences to be continued."

Matt Barber of Liberty Council tweeted

Gay "marriage" silliness: sad for NY. Sad for America. Yet not unexpected. We mock God & He obliges. Buckle in. Rough ride ahead.

But, here are the facts.

New York marriage more than doubles the number of Americans who live in states where marriage equality is. This chart comes from Box Turtle Bulletin.

In 50 years we have come from being a nation where homosexuality was criminal in every state, to where our relationships are recognized as equal in 6 states. But still only 11% of the country (by population) is treated with equality. We still have a ways to go. Maybe we can move faster now. More than half of Americans support marriage equality, and there is no good reason to believe otherwise. None.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bessemer Pride

On Saturday we will celebrate LGBT Pride in Bessemer for the first time!

The Western Star printed this announcement this week.

Bessemer Pride

Bessemer Pride will take place on Saturday, June 25, from 11:30 am to 2 pm, at Jonesboro Community Garden, corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington. Bessemer Pride is about highlighting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Bessemer and surrounding communities and uniting with the straight community to move Bessemer forward. This will be a pot-luck,community get together, so bring your favorite food and join us.

Among the displays at Bessemer Pride will be a suggestion box. Should we keep the June date? Or is fall a better time (October is Gay History month)? Have it on a Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday? Have live entertainment? Forget the food, or raise money and make it a cookout? Other suggestions?

Come and join us, be proud (gay or straight) if you are from Bessemer, or learn a little about our city if you are from elsewhere.

Jonesboro Community Garden is at the corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington in Bessemer, AL.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Won't you be my gaybor (part 2)?

Earlier I posted "Won't you be my gaybor?" where I highlighted historic properties for sale in Bessemer. I can report that most of those homes were sold.

Of course there are always homes for sale, and there are always homes that need restored, and there is always a need for progressives and gays to move to Bessemer to make our city a better place.

Here are four homes of different styles and with different needs that are for sale. But I'm not going to reveal the location of these homes. They will be, along with several others, featured in a display at Bessemer Pride on Saturday. You can learn more about the homes then.

Bessemer Pride will take place Saturday, June 25, from 11:30 until 2:00, at Jonesboro Community Garden (corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington). It's pot luck, bring something to eat (and drink) and enough to share. Even if you don't live in Bessemer, this will be a chance to meet nice people, learn about opportunities and homes for sale, be gay, have fun.

According to the census, there are 53 same sex couples in Bessemer. This gives no indication of the number of single gays, but it must be substantial. Ya'll come on out!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Obama and the Gays

So as the campaign season kicks off, and as some progressives are kicking the pres, not only do we need to think about what the alternative would have been had Obama not been elected, but also what the alternative is if he is not re-elected, and if we don't maintain at least one house of congress in 2012.

So, some of us were a little disenchanted when all things gay didn't happen soon after Obama's election in 2008. But when you look at the accomplishments in real time, they are monumental.

Not included in this list is the fact that I and several other LGBT leaders from Alabama will be involved in training at the White House in August, something that would never have happened under the past or future Republican president.

Hate Crimes

Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. This helps protect on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

President Obama and other administration officials recorded "It Gets Better" videos to address the issue of bullying and suicide.

President and Mrs. Obama hosted a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.

The Dept. of Education issued guidance in combating bullying.

LGBT Families

President Obama directed HHS to require all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights for LGBT patients

HHS creates the National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.

Department of Labor clarifies that Family Medical Leave Act ensures LGBT parents can care for children in event of an illness.

State Dept clarifies that transgender applicants can obtain, under certain conditions, passports that accurately reflect their gender.

Justice Dept clarifies that persons with HIV or AIDS are covered by the Americans with Disability Act and can be included in occupational training and state licensing.

Justice Department issues a memo stating that federal prosecutors should enforce criminal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act in cases involving gay and lesbian relationships.

HHS issues a memo to ensure that LGBT and questioning youth in foster care are protected and supported.

US Interagency Council on Homelessness releases strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, including LGBT homeless youth.

Obama administration works to ensure that the Census provides a fair and accurate count of all Americans, including LGBT couples.


HUD announces first ever study of discrimination in housing against LGBT persons.

HUD proposes new regulations to ensure that housing programs are open to all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

HUD requires grant applicants to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws.

LGBT Health

Obama releases first ever national HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Obama urges Americans to get tested for HIV.

Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act.

HHS issues recommendations to improve the health and well-being of LGBT communities.

2012 Budget maintains and increases domestic HIV funding.

Job Creation

Dept of Commerce sings Memo of Understanding with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to support federal contracting and exporting.

Hiring and Benefits

Office of Personnel Management announced that gender identity is a prohibited basis of discrimination in federal employment.

President Obama expands federal benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees.

Office of Personnel Management allows same-sex domestic partners to apply for long-term care insurance.

Obama sends executive branch official to testify in support of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) before Congress.

Obama continues to appoint LGBT Americans to positions at every level throughout his Administration.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

President Obama signed the DADT Repeal Act of 2010!!!!!!!!!!

Global Leadership

US lifts entry ban on HIV individuals.

Obama and his adminstration play active role in Uganda, Honduras, Malawi and other countries re LGBT issues.

US leads effort at UN resulting in 85 countries supporting resolution to end violence realted to sexual orientation and gender identity.

White House announced major three year investment in combatting global AIDS, TB and malaria

LGBT History

Obama honors 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King.

LGBT Progress

Obama has called for the repeal of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)

Obama supports ENDA and the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act

Obama supports learning environments free of bullying and harassment; adoption rights for all couples and individuals, in immigration reform that ensures Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Norfolk Southern OCS

Even in li'l ole Bessemer sometimes there are two (or more) important things going on at one time. And I guess it depends on your consideration of what is important.

Last week I had the option of going to the groundbreaking for the Dollar General distribution center, or witnessing something that is rarely seen in this town. Only because of luck did I hear that the Norfolk Southern OCS would be rolling through Bessemer on Thursday.

The OCS is Norfolk Southern's Office Car Special and it carries the executives around. About a dozen people were gathered in the heat near the Hall of History. At least one of the rail fans had a radio from which periodic dispatch messages came through.

Disclaimer: I am not a true rail fan, I don't know all the jargon and may mis-state a fact or two. All I know is that this is the cleanest and shiniest train I have ever seen, and my one day train buddies were very excited about getting to see the OCS.

Here is a picture of the OCS approaching the Hall of History.

Here is big locomotive number 4271.

Originally built in 1952, this diesel conversion was rebuilt in 2007, and is rated at 1,750 hp.

There are a number of cars in the OCS fleet, and I can't tell you if NS 9, the Alabama, was part of this train or not. The train went by fast. I did get a picture of NS 13, the Georgia.

The final car on the train is NS 23 the Buena Vista, a theater car, and is said to be the most photographed car in the OCS. It has a large window at the rear, and several people were in the car watching where they had been.

Here you can see pictures
of the entire fleet, from Altoona works.

While waiting we saw three freight trains and the Amtrak train come through. Maybe I'll post some of those pictures later this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hey, we are not invisible


Photo credit - Joe Openshaw

Central Alabama Pride just produced one of the most memorable Pride celebrations the city of Birmingham has ever seen. Did you see any coverage on the news or in the paper? No. Were they notified of the events? Yes. Did they cover the events in the past? Yes. Are they negligent in refusing to cover the events this year? Yes.

A comment on facebook: "Imagine the difference in the outcome of the civil rights era if MLK and Rosa Parks were swept under the rug and ignored...this is our time!"

Larry Kramer said it last night in his acceptance speech at the Tony Awards:
"Dearest loving mother, Daryl Roth and generous Paul Boskind, thank you, and everyone, for this magnificent production. To gay people everywhere, whom I love so, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many of us so needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come."

Here is a column I wrote for Noise Magazine about Pride. Interspersed are pictures of Equality Alabama in the parade this year.

Pride artwork by Benjamin Faucher

June is the month that LGBT Pride is celebrated in Birmingham and many other communities across the country. This commemorates the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village that occurred on June 28, 1969 that many designate as the start of the modern gay rights movement.

Photo credit - Joe Openshaw

Pride means different things to different people. For some in the LGBT community the Pride celebration is a way to let others know that “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” For others, it is a chance to blossom into a role that they don’t play every day. And for still others, it’s a chance to party. But for some, Pride celebrations are thought of as silly, unnecessary or even hurtful to our cause.

Photo credit - Chris Wilson

Definitions of pride include references to dignity and self esteem and self respect. None of these words; pride, dignity, self esteem, or self respect, mean the same thing to everyone.

We all come from a different place, physically and emotionally, in our journey. But most will agree that somewhere along the way, our pride suffered and our dignity, self respect and self esteem were low.

Photo Credit - Chris Wilson

Photo Credit- Joe Openshaw

Almost all injustices toward the LGBT community have a basis in religion. Whether one is a member of a particular church or denomination, we all still feel the effects of prejudices and misunderstandings that come from the pulpit. Even though many denominations and individual places of worship are becoming more friendly or affirming toward the gay community, the attitudes of the conservative religious sects continue to affect elections and laws and policies that affect us negatively.

Photo Credit - Joe Openshaw

Equality Alabama has compiled a list of “welcoming” places of worship in our state. The list is incomplete and is evolving. If you know of a place of worship that should be included but is not on the list, please let us know. What we have tried to do is create a database of places where an unsure person could go and seek comfort and be allowed to worship without fear that they would walk away feeling condemned. Because that is exactly what has happened to many of the LGBT people in our state.

Rejection by the church has led to feelings of not belonging, being un-loved and un-wanted, and the inability to accept one’s self. Dignity is lost. Self respect and self esteem are lost. Depression and its sometimes awful consequences are the result.

LGBT Pride is a chance to counter those feelings, whether one is experiencing them now, or has experienced them in the past. Show the world, and those who would seek to oppress you, that you are proud to be gay, proud to be lesbian, proud to be bisexual, proud to be transgender, or proud to be a straight ally.

It is not a coincidence that Equality Alabama has compiled their list at this particular time. The list should be posted on Equality Alabama's site by the time Pride takes place in Birmingham. It is Equality Alabama’s offering in the spirit of Pride, that the LGBT community is not going to let religion inspired prejudice take away the opportunity for us to worship in peace, should we choose to do so.

Celebrate Pride in June, but have pride all year long. Because you are who you are; you were created, or made this way; and it does get better. We have made tremendous strides toward equality in this country over the last few years; in part because of the visibility and message that we send by showing we are proud of ourselves. And by continuing to show our Pride, we will push the arc of justice a little further along.

Central Alabama Pride is celebrated in Birmingham June 3-June 12, and Bessemer Pride is on June 25.

Photo Credit Joe Openshaw

Photo Credit - Joe Openshaw

Monday, June 6, 2011

Norfolk Southern, McCalla's new neighbor

This morning McCalla's new neighbor moved in. Norfolk Southern held a groundbreaking for the $97 million (of which $52 million is federal stimulus money*), CO2 decreasing (193,000 fewer tons annually), fuel saving (17.4 million fewer gallons consumed annually), job creating (8,600 over the next decade, 13,000 by 2030), congestion relieving (saving $59.1 million in savings annually), first reported here (July 2009), Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility.

Here is the rail line, looking west from McAshan Drive, that will be part of the facility.

Here are dignitary pictures.

Governor Robert Bentley flanked by Senators Priscilla Dunn and Cam Ward.

Bessemer leaders Council members Cleo King and Sherrina Rice-Franklin and
Mayor Kenneth Gulley

Representative Allen Farley, Senator Priscilla Dunn, Eloise Rosser and
Governor Robert Bentley

Eloise Rosser is the former owner of the property on which the groundbreaking occurred. She and her husband ran a farm here for decades.

Mayor Kenneth Gulley, Senator Priscilla Dunn and Governor Robert Bentley

Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and Governor Robert Bentley

Here is a picture of the proposed facility.

The general consensus among the elected officials and others who spoke is that Norfolk Southern will be a good neighbor, as they have been at other locations where they have completed projects.

NS CEO Wick Moorman said "We will be a positive addition to the community."

Governor Bentley said, "This is a perfect example of cooperation between local, state and federal governments."

The project is expected to be completed during the 4th quarter of 2012.

*I include this because the McCalla residents (the overly vocal ones, not all of them) said they didn't want the federal money and didn't want the hub. Of course, they are mostly tea party types that don't want any federal money. Unless its their Medicare. Or their VA benefits. Or their farm subsidies. Or their Social Security. Or anything else that directly benefits them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hey Sarah this

Listen my friends and you'll hear a review
Of the politician who has not a clue...

I'm sure they have quality education in Alaska, but Sarah Palin has made it this far without a good understanding of our nation's history. This week she said that Paul Revere rang bells and fired warning shots to warn the British that Americans would not give up their arms.

In elementary school we read many poems and memorized some or parts of some.

Ever heard this? We learned this poem. I couldn't recite it now, but I did then.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

I realize this is a poem, and not out of a history text, but Longfellow was probably pretty accurate in his telling of the story. No bell ringing by Revere, no warning shots by Revere.

And no accurate portrayal of history by Sarah Palin.