June Fast Approaching

As we roll into National Pride Month, we face new challenges and opportunities. For the PFLAG chapters in both Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, our calendars are chock-full of community events, pride outreach and team-building. Be sure to check out the Google calendar on this website to update your own agenda– I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

In national news, we lost a star yesterday. Dr. Maya Angelou was a tireless champion for all human rights and her voice, so often the only voice of reason and compassion, will never be forgotten.

maya angelou

In happier news, today, Houston, TX (a very conservative state) passed a city-wide non-discrimination ordinance, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

hrc houston

June is going to be a BIG month for PFLAG! Hope to see you OUT and about!!

Advertisements

Support PFLAG National Programs

A couple of exciting (and easy!) ways to support our parent organization are set for the fundraising extravaganza that will be May 2014.

giveOut-logoIn addition to our own rummage sale, for which we are still taking donations, and whatever support we can lend Spokane PFLAG on National Give OUT Day (our status is not ready this year for it), everyone can chip in to help the national nonprofit.

care with prideFirst, for the third year running, the Johnson and Johnson Company is partnering with PFLAG’s Safe Schools Program to raise money to go toward anti-bullying strategies. Johnson and Johnson understands the unique struggles faced by LGBT students, and with their Care With Pride initiative, they can help to make a difference. Watch an informative and heartwarming video about the way the world could be here and then be sure to text “HERO” to 41010 to send $5 to Care With Pride. Johnson and Johnson will match every dollar for up to $150,000 to PFLAG’s LGBT youth programs. That’s $300,000 to help make schools a safe place for all students. Just send the text and $5 will be added to you cell phone bill– easy peasy.

 

this day in juneSecond, there is an amazing new book that is available now for preorder on Amazon. It’s called “This Day in June”. Here is the Amazon.com description:

This Day in June is an uplifting and upbeat book that shares the experience of attending an LGBT Pride festival and a day when everyone is united. It includes back matter that informs the reader of various aspects of LGBT history and culture.

Inspired by founder, Jeanne Manford’s, bravery and hoping to instill in the next generation feelings of love and solidarity, this book is written for parents and children to enjoy and learn together. A copy of the book costs $8-11, depending on whether you want hard or soft copy and a portion of the proceeds will benefit PFLAG National when you order through Smile, Amazon’s charity giving program (as soon as we have the necessary documentation, we’ll have one of these too, so every time you order though Amazon, you    can support your local PFLAG chapter). Simply select PFLAG National as your chosen organization when you order.

amazon smile

So, that’s it! $15 later and you helped raise nearly half-a-million dollars for safe schools as well as provided your family with a valuable tool for educating our youngest allies.

Unitarian Universalists of North Idaho

Q: What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Unitarian Universalist?
A: Someone who knocks on your door and asks you what YOU believe.

Have you heard of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations? For short, and because meetings are generally on Sunday, we call it “church”. But it’s not like any church you’ve ever been to.

uua logoThe Unitarians promote and live their lives by seven pretty basic principles:

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person

2. Justice, equality and compassion in all human relations

3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to grow spiritually

4. A free (as in uninhibited) and responsible search for truth and meaning

5. The right of conscious and the democratic process, both in the congregations and society at large

6. The goal of the world community with peace, liberty and justice for all

7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Sounds great, right? No dogma or doctrine. Just guidelines for living life well and respecting the lives you encounter along the way. A church that encourages the concept of “life before death”. Learn as much as you want by visiting their website.

coexist2The local chapter of the Unitarian Universalists has been serving the Coeur d’Alene area with meetings most Sundays, book discussions, dances and socials. I’ve attended a handful of times over the last year because, personally, I love the community feeling of a church without Jesus Christ being shoved down my (and my kids’) throat. Just one woman’s opinion.

If you are interested in learning more about the North Idaho Unitarian Universalists, please consider attending a mixer being hosted by one of the congregations members or sitting in on a service. The meetings are held at the Harding Family Center at 411 N. 15th St in Coeur d’Alene from 10:30 to 11:30AM. Childcare is provided for free most Sundays, and this is one of the most welcoming bunches of people I have ever met!  uuni bbq invite 2 jpeg

Laramie and CDA – Not So Different by Josh Swan

Josh Swan is a soon-to-be graduated student at North Idaho College, having completed his general course of study and planning to move on to systems and design thinking and sociolinguistics. In addition to his most recent project of joining the board of directors for the renewed PFLAG CDA, Josh has served on the Associated Students of North Idaho College (the student senate) for two years, as the treasurer for NIC Signers Club and was the president of the NIC Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) for the 2012-13 school year.  He volunteered to be on a talk-back panel for the play. Go ask him a question tonight!

If you want to see the play, there is still a chance! Tonight (followed by guest speaker and actor panel) and Saturday; 7:30PM at the Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center.

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later was a phenomenal production by the North Idaho College Theatre Department. If you are unfamiliar with the original Laramie Project, it is a play based on the events following the murder Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old gay student of the University of Wyoming.

As this murder attracted national attention, one crew that went in to interview was the Tectonic Theatre Project. Tectonic differed from other media sources as it decided to take the interviews, court transcripts and create a play out of them. A cast of around 8 then presented the play, each with the possibly of playing up to ten different characters. The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later is a follow up to that play.

Following the murder, there was a 20/20 episode that worked to discredit the court cases that this was a hate crime. They tried to make the implication that the assault was not about discrimination, but rather a drug deal or robbery gone way too far. The Tectonic Theatre Project re-entered the scene and did some follow up interviews. They spoke with anyone involved or just members of the community whether they were for or against. They even went as far as interviewing Matthew’s mother Judy Shepard, and his murderers Aaron McKinney, and Russel Henderson. This play discusses the changes in climate of Laramie, work done in the state of Wyoming, and even work Judy has done to create federal hate crime laws.

As a native of the Coeur d’Alene area, it was interesting to see. Coeur d’Alene and Laramie have a lot more in common than one might think. In both cities, the college is the “liberal hub”  and while the town of Laramie faced the hate crime that led to Matthew Shepard’s death, Coeur d’Alene has been known for it’s struggle with the Aryan Nations. Both cities resent that past and wish to fully put it behind them. They wish to “forget about the past” in order to move forward. This comes up whenever a law to make a change is suggested or someone digs up a past wound. There even is similarity in arguments in board meetings and senate meetings regarding how the marriage needs to remain an institute between one man and one woman. Hearing the same arguments over again in play format allowed me to realize that every testimony against it was like a stab in the chest, another invalidation of my existence or ability to love. By the end of the play though, there has been some progress forward for change very similarly to Coeur d’Alene. There is still a ways to go, but overall it is stepping in the right direction.

The Laramie Project- 10 Years Later

In October of 2008, a young man named Matthew Shepard was lured from a bar, beaten and left tied to a fence in rural Laramie, Wyoming in the middle of the night. He died in the hospital a few days later from his injuries and hypothermia. He was brutalized because of his sexuality– Matthew was gay.

Following the news of this egregious hate crime, the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and conducted over 200 interviews with the citizens regarding the causes and effects of the horrible event. It bred the most performed play in the United States and an HBO film that went to Sundance and was nominated for 4 Emmys.

Laramie_Book_cover For more information on the Tectonic Theater Project, go here.

North Idaho College and the Theater Department are bringing “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” to Boswell Hall in April 2014. The original creators of the play did a follow-up investigation in Laramie, a full decade after the murder of Matthew Shepard. What they discovered was more that just a epilogue they were expecting.

Read the original article in the Press about the upcoming performances here. (Once again, if you read the comments, you will fume… North Idahoans sure are fun…)

Show dates are April 17-19 and 24-26 at 7:30PM.

laramie303

The Secret Gay Agenda – Letter to the Editor

Locally, we are dealing with a fraught situation. Several months ago, the city council of Coeur d’Alene voted in favor of an ordinance that protects citizens from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Did you know that ‘no state entity acting as an employer (including the CDA school district) needs to comply with the ordinance’? Well, they don’t, and that’s why Susan Moss is spearheading the campaign to extend these securities to both employees and students of the school district.

city ordinance

photo credit: Jerome Pollo/ CDA Press The community room in the CDA Library was packed with people on both sides of the argument last June. Even with two-minute time limits and calls to avoid repetition, the meeting lasted over 5 hours and culminated in a passage of the policy by overwhelming majority.

There have been some rough letters to the editor to the local newspapers, including those which accuse those in support of the policy change of promoting a “hidden gay agenda”.. Here is Rebecca McNeill’s response:

I can’t believe you found us out. The LGBT community is only pretending to want equal rights and nondiscrimination in public arenas. That’s the front, of course. But really, it’s all about the bathrooms. The secret agenda is: Gaining access to all bathrooms, all the time.

As the bisexual mother of two children in the Coeur d’Alene School District, I only pretend to care about the possible negative side effects of declaring that I’m bisexual in this letter. I don’t really worry about my children, or their future freedom from the discrimination I faced as a student at Coeur d’Alene High School and North Idaho College. Don’t be silly. I’m not worried about whether this statement will affect my ability to be hired as a teacher in the district, or if the next parent-teacher conference I attend is painfully awkward. No, Mr. Finney — you have nailed it on the head. I want to use the boys’ bathroom. I want my kids to attend public school and willy-nilly use any bathroom or locker room they please. I can’t believe you saw through our cover story of wanting “equal rights under the law” or “to not be bullied to the point of attempting suicide.” I just want to watch you pee.

 I suppose, now that the truth has been discovered, I shall carry on with my personal LGBT agenda of making dinner for my kids and watching some TV.

Here is the original link. If you read the comments, be prepared to fume. If you can be at the school board meeting tonight, either in solidarity or to speak out about the need for “adding the words”, please join up!

 

Straight 4 Equality

Straight 4 Equality is an organization established in 2007 by PFLAG National in order to have a place specifically for straight allies (who may not necessarily have a family connection) of the LGBT community to go for education and outreach opportunities.

If you’re one of the roughly 8 in 10 people who can say “I have a gay friend (or coworker, or acquaintance)” this is the place for you.

Straight 4 Equality was conceived to address a growing need for people who are supportive of equal rights for all but who don’t directly benefit from policy changes or new legislation. It’s an outsider, standing up for a marginalized group.

I-am-an-AllySeveral campaigns have been launched recently to engage “straight, but not narrow” advocates, including signing an online pledge to stand up to bullies, support individual members of the LGBT community and encourage others to watch their mouths! They also have a campaign intended for both straight allies and those who are in need of straight allies.

Simply download and print out one of these signs (according to your personal affirmation), fill out the form and take a photo of yourself holding it up. Put it someplace visible and get a conversation started! Submit it to all of your social media followers with the tags #straight4equality and #iamastraightally or #ineedastraightally. Share it on Straight 4 Equality’s Facebook page or email it to info@straightforequality.org!

i need a straight ally because  i'm a straight ally because

For those of you who will be attending the next meeting for PFLAG Coeur d’Alene, I will have signs for you to fill out and have your picture taken. Your photos will be shared on the blog, on our local facebook page and with PFLAG National and Straight 4 Equality.

“They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried”

Recently, a group of friends and I produced and directed a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Originally performed as a one-women off-off-Broadway show in the 90’s, this play has evolved into a worldwide, billion-participant movement to end violence against women and girls. It was a humbling and extremely rewarding experience.

There are half a dozen plays that can be used as fundraising vehicles for local violence prevention and education programs, but, as a rule, The Vagina Monologues is to be performed only by women. The idea is that only those who possess a vagina can understand the unique sexual and physical struggle that women face in today’s society. In 2004, a monologue was introduced to include those who were not born with the physical female anatomy, but who have come to realize their true gender identity. I wanted to share this with you:

They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried

by Eve Ensler

Introduction

As part of Eve’s work to include the voices of all women who face violence, she

interviewed a diverse group of transwomen in preparation for creating this piece. This

piece was performed for the first time by an all transgendered cast in LA in 2004.

They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried

At five years old

I was putting my baby sister’s

diapers on.

I saw her vagina.

I wanted one.

I wanted one.

I thought it would grow

I thought I would open

I ached to belong

I ached to smell

like my mother

her sweet aroma lived in my hair

on my hands, in my skin

I ached to be pretty

Pretty

I wondered why I was missing my

Bathing suit top at the beach

Why I wasn’t dressed like the other girls

I ached to be completed

I ached to belong

To twirl the baton

They assigned me a sex

The day I was born.

It’s as random as being adopted

or a being assigned a hotel room on the 30th floor.

It has nothing to do with who you are

Or your fear of heights.

But in spite of the apparatus

I was forced to carry around

I always knew I was a girl.

They beat me for it.

They beat me for crying.

They pummeled me for wanting

To touch

To pet

To hug

To help

To hold

Their hands

For trying to fly in church

like Sister Batrell

For doing cartwheels.

Crocheting socks

For carrying purses to kindergarten

They kicked the shit out of me every day

On my way to school.

In the park

They smashed my

Magic marker painted nails

They punched my lipsticked mouth

They beat the girl

out of my boy.

Or they tried.

So I went underground.

I stopped playing the flute

“Be a man, stand up for yourself

Go punch him back.”

I grew a full beard.

It was good I was big.

I joined the Marines

“Suck it up and drive on.”

I became duller.

Jaded.

Sometimes cruel.

Butch it

Butch it

Butch it up.

Always clenched, inaccurate,

Incomplete.

I ran away from home

From school

From boot camp.

Ran to Miami

Greenwich village

Aleutian islands

New Orleans.

I found gay people

Wilderness lesbians

Got my first hormone shot

Got permission to be myself

To transition

To travel

To immigrate

350 hours of hot needles

I would count the male particles as they died

16 man hairs gone.

The feminine is in your face

I lift my eyebrows more

I’m curious

I ask questions.

And my voice

Practice practice

It’s all about resonance

Sing song sing song

Men are monotone and flat

Southern accents are really excellent

Jewish accents really help.

“Hello my friend”

And my vagina is so much friendlier

I cherish it

It brings me joy

The orgasms come in waves

Before they were jerky

I’m your girl next door

My Lt. Colonel father ending

Up paying for it.

My vagina

My mother was worried

what people would think

of her

That she made this happen

Until I came to church

And everyone said you have a beautiful

Daughter.

I got to be soft

I am allowed to listen

I am allowed to touch

I am able to

To receive.

To be in the present tense

People are so much nicer to me now

I can wake up in the morning

Put my hair in a pony tail

A wrong was righted.

I am right with God.

It’s like when you’re trying to sleep

And there is a loud car alarm–

When I got my vagina, it was like someone

Finally turned it off.

I live now in the female zone

but you know how people feel about

immigrants.

They don’t like it when you come from someplace else.

They don’t like it when you mix.

They killed my boyfriend

They beat him insanely as he slept

With a baseball bat

They beat this girl

Out of his head.

They didn’t want him

Dating a foreigner

Even though she was pretty

And she listened and was kind.

They didn’t want him falling in love

With ambiguity.

They were scared he’d get lost.

They were that terrified of love.