Jeanne Manford PFLAG Way – A New Street in Queens

(First of all, does anyone else see the irony that the founder of an LGBT rights group lived in Queens? I’m sorry if that’s not PC, but it is a cute coincidence.)

What was formerly know as 171st St in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. is being officially renamed in honor of the founder of PFLAG. We’ve been learning about Jeanne Manford, the spirited mother who was unfailingly proud and supportive of her gay son and unwitting founder of one of the largest LGBT and ally support group organizations.

Jeanne died last year at the age of 92.

Read the full article here.

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Idaho – Same Sex Marriage Update

In 2006, the people of Idaho voted to have a constitutional amendment ratified which defined “marriage” as between one man and one woman. (Absurd.) It’s been eight years since this vote. Do we think the tides may have changed in this, the third most conservative state in the American union? We can only hope.

In November of last year, a case was brought before the Idaho federal court on behalf of four lesbian couples petitioning for marriage licenses.

Latta v. Otter is a 2013-2014 Idaho federal court case challenging the constitutional marriage ban and corresponding statutes, as well as state recognition of out-of-state marriages. The case was filed on November 8, 2013 under case number 1:13-cv-482, and was assigned to Judge Candy Dale.

A hearing is scheduled for May 5, 2014. Hopefully, we get some good news then.

Read the case notes here.

(It’s good to know Idahoans are not giving up.)

 

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.

“Out With Dad” – video

Out With Dad is a web-series written and directed by Jason Leaver. In three (and counting) series and 34+ episodes, a story unfolds about Rose, a closeted teen lesbian, and her relationship with her single-parent father, Nathan. The 10-20 minute episodes deal with themes such as the challenges that face LGBT youth in coming out as well as the struggles of the parents of said young adults. PFLAG Canada officially endorses the series.

View the entire series, as well as more information on Out With Dad, here.

This episode show a meeting with a local PFLAG chapter, attended by both seasoned members of the LGBT community, parents and people who are just making the first step. According to the video, the stories told are truthful and only minimal changes have been made for dramatic purposes.

Part I:

Part 2:

Jamie Sebby – Why I’m An Ally

I shared this on my personal blog last month after being asked by Juli to join up with the new local chapter of PFLAG.

I get asked this question kind of a lot. Why do you care so much? You’re not even gay.

Well, the long answer goes something like this: The saga of my husband and I began eight years ago. We were only together for six months before we got engaged, and although we planned to wait a few years to finish college before tying the knot, we were married the following June. And, you know why? Health insurance. He had great health insurance and a deal on course credits since he worked for the university. We were already living together, so we got married sooner rather than later, without a second thought. It wasn’t a religious act– it had nothing to do with “living in sin”; it was just cheaper.

I am an ally because there are people who don’t have the luxury of making that decision. And the time to change that is long overdue.

My husband and I have two children together, and the laws are such that if something were to happen to me, I know, without anything written down, that my children would be taken care of by him, their second parent. If my husband were to be hospitalized, I could visit him outside of regular hours—I could sleep by his side if I wanted to without worrying if someone is going to call the legitimacy of our relationship into question. When we file our taxes, we both get credits for our children and joint household expenses. There are couples, families, who are denied these basic human rights simply by being disallowed a piece of paper which would consider them deserving.

I am an ally because, even though I try not to, I can take these rights for granted. The only reason marriage is a religious institution anymore is for the sake of tradition. My husband and I were married in a backyard, by a friend who had become ordained over the internet.

why i'm an ally || motherhoodhonestly.comIt’s about human rights. Everyone has the right to work and live and love without fear of discrimination. Unfortunately, being gay is something a person can hide. But at great personal cost. Those who oppose the fundamental human rights of the LGBT community say “don’t ask, don’t tell”, placing blame on the victims for wanting to live freely and true to themselves. People go nearly their whole lives suppressing a central part of their individual identity to avoid victimization and hate. Teenagers grapple so violently with inner demons or are bullied mercilessly by peers and take their own lives as a means of escape. It is unacceptable to judge people by their sexuality.

I joke with my husband that I’m excited for one of my children to come out if and when they know, so that I can show how good a parent I am by being okay with it. He says, “You know it’s not about you, right?”

Well, the truth of the matter is: it’s not about me, but it is. I am a part of the human race, and I am an ally because standing up and being an activist for the equal rights of all people, and teaching my children the same views of tolerance and love, is what I have to offer. And I am proud to say that when the tides finally change, my family and I will be on the right side of history—not the people who stood by and said nothing. We were part of the solution.

“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.

“Othering”

I’ve fallen in love with this concept (as a descriptive term, not because I agree with it in any way). I’ve read several articles from blogger, Micah J. Murray

I and even though since I am not religious, I cannot think from his perspective (that of a progressive Christian) I find my inner monologue shouting “Yes, yes you’ve got something here, Mike!”

I wanted to share with you all one article in particular about a term he coins as the “othering”. How we, as a heteronormative society, isolate and alienate the LGBT community. “They” are something else. “They” are somehow “other” from us. I am in love with this terminology. It brings to the stark front what people do when they say love the sinner, hate the sin. The dichotomy of the statement creates such a cognitive dissonance. It is, as Murray puts it, the most condescending type of love. By othering the LGBT community, we are saying that we are safe if “they” are kept separate from us. But we are all a part of the big picture, the human race. Gay rights, women’s rights, civil rights– it is all HUMAN RIGHTS.

Read the full article on why he won’t say “love the sinner, hate the sin” anymore here.

Go here to read a guest post that goes a little deeper into Micah’s understanding of “othering” and how he came to change.

"my god loves everyone"

“my god loves everyone”

 

Inaugural Meeting of PFLAG CDA

First and foremost:

Thanks to everyone for coming out! It was an amazingly informative meeting and we packed that 15-by-15-foot room with the most incredible energy!

Thank you to our brave leader, Juli Stratton for bringing us all together to discuss these important issues faced by our community. I have always been an ally, but it has not always been easy to break in to a normally close-knit and protective group and help. Thank you, Juli, for this outlet!

juli

Thanks, Juli!

It was amazing to be surrounded by people who come from all walks of life and embody every possible connection to the LGBT community, hearing the motivations behind their activism.

“I was raised in North Idaho, and I was taught and I believe that ‘you leave your campsite better than when you found it’…”

-Josh Swan

Bev Moss, who was integral to the original PFLAG Chapter in Coeur d’Alene, spoke to the history of the struggles of the LGBT community in this conservative location. In her view, our organization promising a safe place is even more critical now. Today’s climate is even more harsh than a few decades ago. The advent of “mega-churches” who blatantly spew hate and the connection of social media is a detriment to spreading the message of love and support.

1972 jeanne manford

PFLAG Founder, Jeanne Manford; Pride 1972

We hope to grow together and become a true community of humans. Not just LGBT, not just parents and family members. Everyone.

“LGBTQ+. I’m using the “plus” now because I want this to be for everyone. I want this to be because we are all part of the human race.”

-Juli Stratton

Subsequent meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of every month, from 6-7:30PM. The first hour will be discussion panels, guest speakers, videos, et cetera focusing on a predetermined theme. The following thirty minutes will be a support group for those who wish to stay.

Hope to see you there!