Monday, April 30, 2007

Riding Alligator Alley in More Ways Than One

I just took a business with pleasure trip to Florida to meet with churches, talk about the documentary and the conference (that opens up tomorrow!) plus I have family there and had never been to Florida in person....I've been there only through web cam which was helpful to not have to deal with humidity like I did in person.

The trip was quite a learning experience. I attended a baptist megachurch and heard a message of how we must claim Christianity in the other 50% of the world that hasn't gotten into wars over it yet. Well, that was the connection I made when hearing war statistics and lands not yet converted. The music was really great though, loved the music. I can see myself going for the contemporary music and then leaving before the message if I lived there.

This was the same church I was told from several local sources that had proactively sent out letters to all the other churches in the region urging them to promote the signing of the anti-gay marriage petition in their churches and areas of reach. The church doesn't have a great reputation when it comes to demonstrating God's unconditional love...and not to mention the whole separation of church and state thing.

Nevertheless, I met great people and know straight allies within the church and throughout the conservative region. They are there and they do care. I met with open and affirming churches including a Lutheran church who is very committed to demonstrating God's unconditional love. I was really impressed by them and how they handle criticism. They know what they are standing for is urgent, right and necessary and their strength is contagious.

I was on my way to my first meeting and found a way to get on a road the locals call alligator alley which doesn't have a turnaround exit for over 20 miles. Great. I hate being late to meetings and here I was heading to Miami amongst alligators. But, I felt more comfortable and welcomed in that scary, unknown place with wild animals than in the baptist church. At least I know where I really stand with the alligators.

Laura talks about the spectrum in our movie. The spectrum where it's Fred Phelps on one end and the other is where the atmosphere is, "come, be here...and you're flawed and need to be fixed....and you can't lead any groups or have any responsibility". I just don't get the inconsistencies between persons who call themselves Christian. I call myself a Christian and I don't get why others deem it necessary to judge me because I love. It's really not that hard to not judge others, once you get out of the habit. Well, I'm writing articles about that so I'll save that tangent for later.

For now, my favorite part of the trip was hangin' with my rock star sister, who's the love of my life (next to Luane of course). I'm so proud of her. She's one of the Christian allies that just by her being her and only speaking from love, is changing the church from within. She's a beautiful person, a wonderful mother, a great running mate, a gifted writer, a stellar photographer and I'm lucky to call myself her sister. For those of you coming to the Conference, you'll get to meet her as she and my mom both are flying in to give of their time and service in making the event smooth and safe for all of us.

My sister says she has a friend that gets really fired up over the idea of allowing gay people to be married (well, we are married anyway, it's not like it's not already happening folks have partnered for um, decades and centuries) and couldn't get a reaction out of my sister. My sister said she wouldn't argue about it as it's not an issue to her, it's a relationship. I'm a relationship to my sister, not an issue, not something to be argued and fought over, not something to be protested, stripped of rights and degraded. I'm a relationship to her and that's all that matters.

I kept in mind no matter where I went and heard or saw things that weren't so supportive of equality in Florida, I just remembered that there's people like my sister and mom there. There's more support and acceptance than is propagated. I just keep holding the vision. Holding the vision. I invite you to also, hold the vision.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Golden Corral of Tulsa, Oklahoma

We just returned from two screenings in Tulsa and although we didn't get threatened by tornado or eat fried okra, we did get to meet some amazing Okies doing amazing reconciliation work AND we buffetted at the local Golden Corral.

My family has roots in Tulsa. Portions of my family survived the Trail of Tears where the Native Americans were moved from the Carolinas and Georgia to Oklahoma and put into reservations. Most died of disease, exhaustion, etc., some made it the whole trip, some of those were the Postoaks. My great grandmother, Gracie Lynn Postoak was on the roll and was given 160 acres from the government as a "sorry" offering. She and her siblings built their houses and did all they could to survive on farming milk and corn. Then, oil was found on the family land. It was arranged that my family would see a small percentage of those profits until the well dried up. My family built their house in 1918 and we have family still living in that house. We have most of the land still and it's been quite crowded in by others building houses and commercial buildings. I just learned this weekend that the community has a legend of our family house being haunted, which I think is really cool. I get to stay in that house whenever we visit and I do feel a spirit there, most likely it's great-grandma Gracie.

I feel a connection with her. She was tough, a survivor, got divorced when it was unheardof, protected her kids as best she could, she was smart and learned skills along the way. She provided enough to get through the Depression as a single Native American mother of four. She would face off with the government when they were messing around with her oil wells, when women and especially minority women, had little to no clout or rights.

I come from a long line of strong women, I feel very fortunate to have amazing role models of entrepreneurial spirit and kick. Such is the Tulsa way where there's a great surge of churches, church leaders, Oklahomans for Equality and PFLAG coming together and coming to terms with being a part of the reconciliation movement at a local and regional level. Nestled in the Bible belt where Baptist churches hit 9000 members, they came to Circle Cinemas on Sunday afternoon for our screenings, talked with us after the Q&A and shared exciting stories of the tremendous progress happening there. There's a lot of love in Tulsa and many who aren't afraid to show it and share it.

Tulsa's community is lucky to have Circle Cinemas too...a local boy owns it who states on his business card that Circle Cinema is "Community Consciousness Through Film". He brings in diversity, global cultures and perspectives that some in Tulsa wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. He really believes in the power of film to educate and empower and wants to offer his community ways to understand the planet as a whole, so they can live out the oneness locally.

The day wouldn't have been complete without sweet tea at the Golden Corral. My great uncle and second cousin's family took us there for dinner. Apparently it was dinner time and lots of Sunday evening services had just let out. The chaos, the amount of kids, stacked dishes, food on the tables and floor was simply amazing. Buffet restaurants are the kiss of death anyway since we're encouraged to eat everything in sight and none of it is good for us. But as we sat in the back corner protecting ourselves from flying dinner rolls and belts reaching across the table slapping toddlers eating yet another cookie, I remember the phrase, "how we do anything, is how we do everything".

Where do I gorge? In what areas do I overdo it, and even if I did it a little bit, it's still not good for me? When do I lash out, throw things, leave a room trashed and not care? It doesn't have to be physical, more than likely for me it's something more emotional and verbal. So, that's what Tulsa taught me. Going from a loving, accepting, inspiring environment like Circle Cinema and moving to the Golden Corral on Sunday evening...can I be the same - grounded, loving, accepting, etc. - regardless of my circumstances and environment. I do believe I passed the test when I helped a little girl get a square of cake while she dumped two ice cream cones to the floor. It was that moment right before the explosion...her face starting to scrunch up and let it all out..and then I said, "it's all good, we'll get this cleaned up, you'll get another shot at the ice cream and we'll be back on track." She took the offer immediately and ran off with a smile. Getting another chance, reacting in gratitude, she took the opportunity and the restaurant had one less meltdown that night. That's good for all of us.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Straight Ally's Testimony During Day of Silence

Yesterday was Day of Silence. We got this story sent to us from a teenage woman in Illinois who is a straight ally, part of her school's GSA and wants to become a Christian pastor in the future. She participated in Day of Silence and had this real experience to share (there are swear words in it, we're keeping it real as this is how teenager's are talking, like it or not, effective or not):

"My friend and I were passing notes and she wrote "the girl behind you is being a bitch and trying to write on your shirt, she is also messing with your hair". I didn't move -- I hate confrontation. really. hate it. Then she started mumbling, and the things I heard were "gay mother-fucker" "bitch" "nasty" "She can't do nothin') and many other obsene and hurtful
comments. All of this while I was part of the day of silence. So I sat there and took it. It got so bad that I finally turned around and looked at her (still couldn't really say anything) which she followed with "turn around bitch you can't do shit to me. this bitch can't do nothin" I turned
around and my friends around me asked if I wanted them to say something. Even people I didn't know were asking if I was ok. This went on for the entire hour. The substitute not hearing anything over the sound of the movie. As we were leaving she kept talking about me. right next to me as if I was not there. I broke my silence right there when I said "are you serious??" she said "no bitch I'm kidding"....anyways our GSA sponsor went with me and I reported her... and I might have to file a sexual harassment claim. aaaaah. the whole day was very reflective until that hour. Please wish me luck tomorrow. Her parents were called and
her dean called her into the office. She knows it is me, and I get to sit in the same class with her tomorrow. Good things come from bad. Some students I didn't know were asking if I was ok. They knew it was wrong, and I guess that is a first step for a lot of people. Realizing that discrimination is not ok."

She has the courage and strength to stand for her peers in equality and someone else feeling threatened by it acted out like crabs boiling in water...when one tries to climb out, the others pull him down and as a result they ALL die (I'm vegetarian so the analogy grosses me out, but you get the point). In a culture where we often say, "Who do you think you are? Who are you?" instead of "Why not you. Why not me?" and allow each other to fly, this ally got first-hand experience of externalized fear and lack of understanding. We've been in contact with her and "coached" her some other tools to help open communication with the other woman rather than drive division and prepare her for other such instances. The altercation is a learning and growing opportunity and it's up to each of us what perception we have when we are in those situations...are we going to use it as a growing moment as it is presented to us or will we cower and recline to ineffective patterns keeping us stuck? I'll pose the same question as yesterday...are you in?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Does Don Imus Have to Do With Me?

Prior to doing the movie thing, I worked as a promotions and marketing director as well as on-air talent for radio stations starting in college. Eight years later, I left, just after the 1996 Telecommunications Act kicked in and media owners started the feeding frenzy. In the three years I was at my last station, we had 5 owners and often were orphans stuck in "LMAs" which is an ownership limbo.

While at the last station, our sister station had Don Imus in the Morning for a while. The calls my sister station colleagues would get about the program weren't not the "funnest" ways to start the day. Our sister station didn't keep his show on very long, even though it was a huge revenue stream and cheaper than a live morning show duo...the station actually saw through the money and went to a live morning show, and has thrived since.

But that's not really the Don Imus tie I wanted to bring up. The tie is something we eluded to in our monthly e-newsletter we blasted out today. The fact that America has two hugely avoided and uncomfortable topics in American conversation brought up in discouraging and desperate ways in just eight days is just cause for reflection and action. First, Don Imus makes yet another prejudiced and racist comment about african-american women. This brings up how normalized this speech seems as it is a core topic in rap videos and music and several other venues. Then with Virginia Tech and the student shooter, gun violence enacted by an alleged depressed, lonely, separated kid. Racism and gun violence. Perhaps at the surface, they look like separate isolated issues....and I beg to differ.

They are one in the same. Both are violent. Both are coming from a place of negative intention. Both are to harm and control. Both came from souls that didn't have tools to handle their fear differently and more beneficially. Both felt they had the right and were justified. We have to take responsibility for allowing our culture to raise such consciousness and such results. This behavior isn't outside of us, it's not separate from us. It takes a village and we as individuals make up that village, make up this culture and we have to take responsibility for our role in allowing the denigration of genders, races, cultures, orientations and religions through the vernacular, the everyday language. We have to take responsibility for the lone student allowed to be distanced from society, keeping the kid's imagination and life wrapped up in a head that can and will play tricks. No connection to the outside world, no connection to people equals no reason to live. Like wounded animals in the wild, he lashed out and had others feel the pain he was feeling internally. At least that way, he was no longer alone. He died with the others.

Here I am in the media and am I questioning Imus' free speech right? Ah, no. Free speech is an opinion, it is an expression of differing viewpoints and ideas. Free speech is not to slander, raise superiority, verbally assault, abuse and oppress. Free speech has a beneficial intention for society, it helps it question, learn and grow...not tear down, fight for lowest common denominator and break people's spirits.

The other tie is that these example incidents we are living with right now as a nation is no different than the equality GLBT persons seek in society. If it's one place in society, it's going to show up in another. All of this fear, all of this protection is carried down from generations. Just like domestic abuse or molestation, we have to break the cycle and let the harm end with us. Let us not carry on the fear, carry on the ignorance, carry on beating others down with our words, judgments and certainly our weapons...guns or tongues.

The time is ripe to be the change we seek. The time is ripe to improve our own worlds which will ripple to improving other's worlds and before we know it, we've improved our society and the rest of the world. I'll end the way we ended our e-newsletter blurb, lyrics from a popular song, "what kind of world do you want?" It's really up to you. How do you talk about others? What's your intent in your comments? What's your body language saying to your kids, colleagues and friends. What are you saying to yourself? How do you treat yourself? It really does start with you. And me. I'm in. You in?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fresno Faces...A Reconciling Weekend

Last weekend, myself, Luane, Laura Engleken, her partner Rachael and Darlene Bogle all trucked over to Fresno to hang with Wesley UMC. We were welcomed by a large group where we ate quesadillas and talked about LGBT life in Fresno. Then, after fun at the hotel with about two thousands kids from Future Farmers of America and their decorated minivans declaring they are number one, we headed over to the screening at the church.

Enticed by Marie Callendar's pies and free admission, the room packed up. We went around introducing ourselves, thanking people for coming and the movie started. Afterwards, we had another long Q&A with a wide array of questions for all of us, getting the chance to really get the discussion going. We met local GSA folks, PFLAG folks, members of the Reconciling committee, regional directors for Reconciling Ministries, it was fantastic.

Sunday morning started with wrestling over the toaster oven for my waffles with another 2000 Future Farmers folks before heading off to church services. Laura, the seminary student in our film, preached both services and we had a classroom discussion inbetween. Laura did an amazing job and reached people who came just to hear her talk. One gay man said he hadn't been to church for 23 years and shook her hand in gratitude for her healing words.

Most conversation was brought up by straight allies who wanted to know what to do when they are judged for standing up for LGBT people, when they are told they are sinners, when they are dealing with folks who insist there's separation and superiority (versus equality).

It was a great reminder of all the ways the movie can be and is used. It's a teaching tool, communication tool, dialogue starter, empowerment tool, compassion resource and shows that we can handle taboo and emotionally-charged topics and be mature about it. We saw tears, we saw reflection, we saw smiles, we saw laughter, we saw relief this weekend. We'll always remember the faces of Fresno and as one of the lyrics in the Sunday service songs says, "I will hold your people in my heart." This is why God & Gays is more than a movie. It's real life.

This weekend, we'll be in Tulsa, Oklahoma showing the movie twice at Circle Cinemas, 2pm and 5pm with a Q&A with Luane and I inbetween at 3.30pm. It's the first time it'll be shown in Oklahoma and we hope you'll spread the word to anyone you know who would benefit from coming and seeing the movie and being part of the discussion. The screening is co-presented by Oklahomans for Equality and we're so grateful for the partnership of local open and affirming churches.

We live in a much more accepting society than the media and others may have you believe. Don't believe the negative hype....there's a ton of support and more is growing every day.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day of Silence, A Day to Speak Out

Wednesday, April 18th is National Day of Silence, supported by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Here's what the event is about:

Hundreds of thousands of secondary and college students are expected to participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence on April 18 to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bullying, harassment, name-calling and discrimination in schools.

A project of GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, in collaboration with the United States Student Association, the 11th annual National Day of Silence will be one of the largest student-run days of action in the country. Students at more than 3,000 schools already have registered at to participate, many of whom will take a vow of silence, wear stickers and/or pass out cards explaining why they are not speaking.

"Seeing so many students – gay and straight – bring attention to the pervasive problem of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment is an inspiration to all of us who believe that every student has a right to feel safe in school," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "In choosing not to speak, students will say so much about the will of our youth to bring about positive change in schools."

Bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and how masculine or feminine a student is are two of the top three reasons students said their peers are harassed in school, behind physical appearance, according to a 2005 Harris Interactive study, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (64%) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation in GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey.

The Day of Silence was created by University of Virginia students in 1996 and went national in 1997. GLSEN became the sponsor in 2001.

There are a number of bills in a variety of states including sexual orientation as protectable against bullying, discrimination and being fired from a job, as well as having safe schools. Take a listen to the silence on Wed. There's no reason why it couldn't be extended to people's work places, to younger students and other venues to help spread education. There's a recently written blog by David Shelton that gives more perspectives on the event, see Silencing the Silent from April 8th. Check it out, see what you think.

Regardless on if you think this is a great way to make a statement, look beyond just the expression and see the intention. The intention and the message is something we must live out on a daily basis, no matter our age or where we are. Love is a universal principle. See what each of us can do little by little....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Smile, You Smile, We All Smile for Smiling's Sake!

Okay, I was forwarded this story and even though you may be rolling your eyes and wanting to click to something else, give this a try. No one's died of laughter, joy or too much love and I hope that this story adds to at least one of those categories for you today. We also recommend honestly answering the question at the end either in journal, blog, internal or external form. Oprah had a show about happiness yesterday and how it's all about perception....more on that idea later, for now, enjoy the story:

The House of 1000 Mirrors

Long ago in a small, far away village, there was a place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the house, he thought to himself, "This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often."

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, "That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again."

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?

Japanese Folktale

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

PFLAG and a Catholic Family on Oprah

Yesterday was national siblings day, apparently. I learned this from seeing Oprah's show yesterday. On it, she rolled video with an old film look showing photos from the '60s and '70s of a Catholic family of 8 from a small town who had tablefuls of cupcakes, two parents who loved each other and as Oprah said, June Cleaver must have lived in that house. An excellent approach to drop the bomb that 4 of the 8 siblings had come out in adulthood as gay. One of them is now the Executive Director of PFLAG, Jody Huckaby.

They talked about how the first brother came out in a letter while attending seminary to go into the priesthood. He was telling his family he was gay and that he was leaving seminary. The family did not take it well at all, especially the parents. For holidays, it was the elephant in the room that nobody talked about. Then, one by one, three more brothers came out. Two of the straight siblings were on the show to tell their story of how at first they rejected the gay brothers. One sister kept her kids from her brothers...the fear of the "gay influence" or the misinformation that being gay is somehow contagious like a cold. Side Story: This reminds me of someone I know who has been married to a man for over a decade and 98% of that marriage she's had a female love on the side. She mentioned once that with all her time with straight people, raised by straight family members, it definitely wasn't making her straight.

Anyway, so that was the sister's freak out. She eventually began praying (aka surrendering by releasing the outcome) and realized she needed to "stop judging and start loving". The audience applauded her. During her confession, she admitted it was her issue...she was worried about what others would think as she was a big player in her Church.

An older brother believed that they were choosing the lifestyle...and finally after brother #4 came out, he finally released that lie and recognized it is who they are. Now, they sit on the couch next to Oprah together on an episode called "Super Siblings".

We were thrilled to see Jody up there and having the story of religion and homosexuality told in a human being form. We partner with PFLAG and are thrilled they got a plug on the show and showed their recognition of the close tie of homophobia and religion.

Referring to the Cameron posting last week, the sister and older brother believed these lies and misinformation that others told them rather than believing their brothers at first. It set the family back. The sister even said she wouldn't accept in her brother what she couldn't accept in her own children. OUCH!!

Each brother didn't know for years that the others were gay. They never talked about it even though they each knew from an early age. They faked their way through dating in high school and prom night. Then one day they had to be honest and even though it didn't go easily at first, the family is together and it's a perfect story to come from when you're the head of PFLAG. Those are the roots of understanding what other families go through.

Inch by inch, the demystifying continues in mainstream media. GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) is even starting a Communities of Faith and Religion focus. More organizations and churches are finally getting the guts to acknowledge the elephant and get involved. This relates to one of the questions Rev. Deborah talked about in her interview with us last week on how all religions need an image makeover and regrouping of what the universal spiritual principles are. Catholicism traditionally focuses on the family and the Huckaby's found their way to the underlying spiritual intention: love. As a result, thousands and thousands of families have been touched by PFLAG and Jody's work. Who says what can one person do?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Turn Up the Light, Turn Up the Love

Luane and I are finding ourselves needing to renew and prep before every screening and appearance. We don't know what we're walking into...a room of friends or foes. The cool thing is the majority of people who do sit through the movie and get what the ideas and stories are about, tend to become friends even if their agenda in coming was to be the foe. We've had really wonderful audiences and not just because most agree with the message of the movie, but people do relate to the movie in one way or another.

We recently received a letter from a woman who came to a screening:

"I enjoyed seeing the film for the first time and really learned a lot. Listening to some of the people interviewed made me realize again how important it is to support my
transgender child (19 yr old female-to-male) and try to educate others about GLBT [people] and how they struggle unnecessarily to gain rights that we all should have."

This is an excellent example of renewal, of constant renewal. She had a choice to renew her beliefs, expectations and whatever else challenging her when she learned of her child's situation. She's lucky the child told her, most parents aren't seemed as safe enough to be honest with and therefore friction and distance in more than one area of the relationship is instantly introduced.

This woman chose wisely in renewing her mind. Paul talks about it in Romans 12:2:
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)

What's the patter of this world? Fear. What's God's Will? Love. Fear is the absence of love, therefore love is all there is. We're meant to be on a journey and we only get anywhere by renewing our mind and using the standard, "is this of love? or is this of fear?" moment by moment, choice by choice, thought by thought.

Our movie, the stories told in the movie, our upcoming conference (online registration begins Tues. May 1st!!), our monthly free teleconference interviews...all of it comes from love.

Fear is like darkness, it doesn't really exist, it's just an end to the continuum of love. So, for example, darkness is not in itself made, it's just the low volume of light. Ride the continuum of light like a dimmer switch, and the light erases the dark.

Fear in itself does not exist. It's an illusion just as darkness is. Fear is just the low volume of love. Turn up the volume of love on anything you think you fear and the fear is erased.

Check out our movie and get on our eblast list, see the metanarrative message of turning up the light and turning up the love in all areas of your life. Thank God for constant renewal. Whew.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter is About Constant Renewal

Luane and I had the great fortune to attend Easter service at Rev. Deborah Johnson's church. Rev. D. is featured in our movie and was our special guest last Thursday for this month's God, Gays & You Live Interview Series. If you couldn't make the call, we have a streamed recording of it at Next month our guests are ex-Exodus leader and author Darlene Bogle and social justice activist Dottie Berry.

Rev. D., who heads an omnifaith church, came from all kinds of angles when describing the history of Easter: why it jumps around in the calendar year, the roots of the name Easter (fertility: use of the bunny and egg as symbols), how the Catholic church created the was fascinating. She broke out a concordance and talked about how Jesus wasn't a Christian, the roots of Easter based in the Hebrew word Shalom. She also mentioned Shalom is the root word to the Arabic term Muslim. Her messages are recorded on CD every week, you can order a copy of the message from Inner Light Ministries, they have a mail out program so it doesn't matter where you live. We encourage you to check out her Easter message. You'll hear Valerie Joi Fiddmont who is her partner and in our movie, sing and lead her choir as the musical inspiration.

Rev. D. is all about peace. Peace between us, between countries, and within ourselves. She looks at all the different approaches to God, expressions of worship and doesn't get caught up in the differences and judge which is "better" or "more right" than others. She looks at the intentions behind them. What is the universal spiritual principle behind Easter? Constant Renewal.

Last week I wrote about how quick we are to get ticked off in traffic if someone cuts us off, going from good to bad, and yet we consider ourselves incapable of changing something bad to good for ourselves quickly. We have trouble working out, eating well, getting sleep, alleviating stress healthily, erasing smoking and other coping mechanisms from our routine...and then we just deal with the egregious consequences when they do eminently show up.

What I got from Rev. D.'s message was this idea of constant renewal. That it's never too late. Jesus was killed. He resurrected. Many Christians stop at Good Friday and forget there was a Sunday. He was renewed. Our cells in our body renew all the time, we don't have the same body we had a month ago. Our thoughts are renewed by our choosing. They don't happen TO us, we choose them and can renew our mind anytime, at any point and the only time that exists is NOW. It's always now.

I look at my surroundings, my little pouch on my stomach that I can't seem to get rid of, the leaves that stubbornly won't rake themselves on our deck and I now recognize them as past decisions, past choices. And I can renew my thoughts NOW and change the circumstance now.

Well, there's a part 2 to this stream of consciousness that I'll continue later. For now, and I mean now, ride the wave of constant renewal. Feel it. Think about it. We're constantly coming to forks in the road, so renew in the moment and see how just changing a variable here and there will already send you off to a different and more beneficial result.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"This Cubicle Supports Gay Marriage"

At our appearance last night, some friends came who I've known since my pre-movie days when I worked on-air and in promotions for radio stations around the Bay Area. These guys knew me before, during and after my struggle and have stuck by me. We've stayed in touch, sharing news of other friends who have moved around the country, and I got an update of one DJ that spun my head.

I shared an office with a woman named Phyllis West, that was her on-air name actually when I was the Promotions Director for a rock station. She was the Promotions Director for our sister station, a classic rock format. This was a time in my life that I thought I had everything in control. I had the handsome boyfriend, the degree, the church, the Bible study groups, the job...and was a rather quiet person. Little did I know that I was quite shut down from my emotions.

When Phyllis was hired and I had to split my big office in half to make room for her, I was in for the ride of my life. Phyllis was Jewish, a big partier, crass, loud, opinionated, had sexual encounters I couldn't believe...and I loved her like a big sister. She adopted me quickly as she saw this quiet, mousey Christian girl getting run over by male rock radio types.

We stayed close after I left radio and she changed stations. She broke the rules to run an interview with Luane when Intentions premiered, she broke the rules when she believed the rules were stupid. She was such a strong, full of life personality, I can't believe she's gone.

My friends told me last night she passed away from a rare form of muscular cancer in Connecticut (she had been DJing in Tennessee most recently).

Phyllis was only 44. She owned ferrets. She was bluntly honest about everything. She had strong principles and ALWAYS stood up for what was right. She new people in the S&M community and told me all about it: the culture, the safe words, the rules. Who is unabashedly honest like that? She smoked, she had beautiful eyes, she kept the same hair cut for ever, she once did a body wrap to impress a guy and lose a pound before she saw him and gave me all the gory details of being mummified with ziploc bags on her feet and hands to catch the released toxins liquifying out of her body. She said she looked like a giant ace bandage with glasses.

Phyllis West loved me without judgment. She showed me when I was going through my struggle that straight folks can be trusted and they can and will stand up for gay folks. They will do the right thing. Fortunately, I told her often how much I appreciated her in my life and how much richer it was because of her. She told me often how much I meant to her in teaching her that not all Christians are weird. We loved each other because of our differences, she showed me it is all a matter of maturity and reciprocated appreciation.

Oh, how I miss her. I was planning to see her in May when we will be in Tennessee for a visit. I was in Illinois when her funeral arrangements were being made in Chicago, I didn't even know it. Recently, I've had a number of friends lose someone close to them but I haven't lost anyone close to me in several years, I never would have thought it'd be Phyllis I'd be mourning next.

Thank God we told each other every time we talked how much we appreciated each other. Thank God. The loss still hurts, but I tell ya, every time I meet a new challenge, I'll think of her. She never backed down. She was never afraid and good for her...because of that, she lived fully in her very short life. Go big or go home. Live out loud. Always do the right thing. Thanks Phyllis.

Here's an excerpt of her last email to me. May we all have these people in our lives:

Love you both and wish you all the goodness in the WORLD!

I have your invite on the outside of my cube along with a big sign that says 'THIS CUBICLE SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE." I will tell you that I get many, many eyebrow raises as people in this conservative forsaken state pass by. I can't believe I live here.

Love you honey...always your friend.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Early Mornin', April 4, A Shot Rings Out...

On this day, 39 years ago, Martin Luther King was shot and killed. We're doing an appearance and screening tonight in the same area where we premiered to celebrate one year of God & Gays, and it'll be a great homecoming. We're holding it at a high school theatre in a town that has had more than its share of controversy around the high school starting a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). The community from nearby areas including the regional PFLAG chapter stepped up big and marched and paraded in pride and solidarity.

This particular area is demographically biased to Catholic, Caucasian, nuclear family. There's a lot of money, excellent educational (only a few minutes from Stanford) opportunities and the streets are quaint and clean. It's quite an ideal area. It's beautiful.

Which usually makes me more nervous. What's hidden behind the painted doors? What's NOT being addressed? What's in denial, being ignored, repressed and oppressed? Sometimes I'm more comfortable and safe in areas that have their hearts and opinions on their sleeves, at least I know who I'm with and where I'm at and where the nearest exit is located.

We know that equality for gay folks in being open in the schools is a place of contention. It's a wound that local heroins like Ruth Gibbs seek to heal. She and many others know that a wound doesn't heal by being ignored. It needs attention and nurturing so it can heal itself.

We hope that having our anniversary screening in their town brings more of that healing, the same healing MLK sought decades ago. We are still dealing with the same hurt and pain he devoted his life into healing. We're still here so many years later making another mistake with another segment of society.

I do have a dream. One where gay and straight students can live in harmony in their schools, that homophobia and folks calling others sinners is as intolerable as the KKK has become. They were once socially acceptable and paraded down streets openly. It was individuals expanding their hearts both in and out of the KKK that changed their ideals' social acceptance. As a bunch of individuals, we make up the society and therefore make up the rules. As quick as it is to get ticked at someone who cuts you off in traffic is as quickly we can change our minds about fear and misunderstanding. Just choose love and live it through in action. Especially on a day like today. Help break the cycle and let this be the last generation to deal with discrimination.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This is the crap we have to deal with daily...

Hi everyone. I was forwarded this excerpt from talking about no matter how defrocked Paul Cameron is, he's still spilling out the most absurd "research" and passing it off as truth. We've mentioned him before and for more of his background, read Rev. Dr. Mel White's new book, Religion Gone Bad.

Some people wonder why we come out to people, why we mention our sexuality at all. If we didn't, who knows how many people would be running around actually believing outright lies like those that come from Focus on the Family, Exodus International and Cameron. Since we've been deep into research for doing the movie and basically living in this country, finding out that more info is released of greater and greater absurdity just makes me laugh now. It's become such a joke. I'd be laughing longer and harder if this kind of info wasn't believed and therefore used against other people.

This kind of stuff makes us question what is real, what is truth and who can we trust? Here's the filter we use: God is love. If any info, belief, behavior, etc. is intentioned with love, then okay. If in anyway it's coming from fear which is the absence of love, then it's gone, it has no value or purpose. Poof.

I only have so much energy in a day, it's like a bank account and where I spend it shows what I care about and what will feed me and others. I support what supports me. Cameron's findings don't support me or anyone but those who choose to live in perpetual fear. So, why do I post this? Because it took me a while to get to this place of understanding and I know I would have liked knowing what was being said out there about me and my "peeps". While reading these findings, think of the info in context of being in a parody skit, or in the Onion or the Daily Show. Then you'll see just how ridiculous it is. You'll see it for what it is and not let the fear set in.

The one thing that is accurate is that some gays would live a lot longer, but not for his stated reasons. There'd be a higher percentage of gay people in society if there wasn't hate crime, gay bashing and suicide as common practices. Think about it. The genocide has been occurring for decades and decades.



Unfortunately, the fraudulent use of counterfeit science is not illegal in the United States. If it were, Dr. Paul Cameron, the head of the Family Research Council would have been imprisoned many years ago. And despite the fact that he was officially expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 and officially condemned by both the American Sociological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association, Dr. Cameron is still allowed by law to present himself as a credentialed and published psychologist. (He received his PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1966.)

So why should you care? Because Dr. Paul Cameron is the leading scientific expert on homosexuality in the eyes of many Republican judges and lawmakers, Christian fundamentalists, "family values" organizations and conservative media.
. . . . .
Cameron has now documented Early Gay Death Syndrome (EGDS). According to this new research, which Cameron claims is the largest random sex survey ever conducted, the oldest male that could be found who engaged in homosexuality was 54 years old and the oldest female was 49. According to Dr. Cameron the reason for this is because the average life span of a homosexual is 20 plus years shorter than for a heterosexual.

Read the whole article at
http://www.queersig 2007/03/23/ early-gay- death-syndrome/

Monday, April 02, 2007

Beyond Ex Gay Conference Coming in June

Howdy. So much going on these days...this is the time of the year where plans are announced for big events and conferences. Soulforce and have teamed up to hold a conference at UC Irvine in California on June 29-July 1.

If you're familiar with Darlene Bogle's story from our movie, you'll understand what the ex gay thing does to people and, in Darlene's words, "doesn't ever take." People instead spend years denying their homosexuality and repressing affection and love under the belief they are sinners and must instead surround themselves in a more cultish atmosphere and continue to pray their gay away. Never mind that there are no "success" statistics, that Ted Haggard was apparently "cured" in three weeks by a group of ministers not trained in the area and the original founders of Exodus came out and lived quite happily together in love, relationship and communion.

The Beyond Ex Gay Conference is timed and located to match the ironically titled Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine. The Conference is put on by two people who got sucked into the ex gay brain melt and have suffered a great deal from the emotional trauma. They have courage and a great story to tell.

They consider themselves survivors of the ex gay movement. They are lucky. They are lucky they got out, they are lucky they are alive. We're lucky they are alive and got out as well, that's how more people won't make the same harmful mistakes. So check out the conference, share your stories if you got involved in the ex gay groups around the country, network, come together.

If you can't make their conference, stay tuned to hear our announcement for our conference as we'll have Darlene Bogle present and she'll have a special break out group just for those who have indeed survived ex gay programming damage or are currently involved and seek options.