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Jamie’s Lessons from 2013

1 Jan
Every year, I like to recap what happened by thinking about the things I’ve learned. Maybe you learned some of the same. Share your lessons in the comments below!
– Always ring in the new year with people you love.

– Living walking distance from the Capitol is awesome – especially during an inauguration.

– If you have the opportunity to attend a historic event, do it. Even if it’s just to say you were there.

– If you have the chance to swear in your dog at the Capitol, do it.

– Seneca, Selma, Stonewall. Having your history recognized by the President is pretty cool – especially considering it’s not taught in schools.

– Telling your story is important. Telling it to USAToday and having it wind up on the front page for young gay people to see and realize they aren’t alone is just awesome.

– Weddings are expensive.

– I want to be Olivia Pope when I grow up.
554323_400828820004592_470515519_n– Birthday profiteroles are awesome – even when they’re 5 months late.
– If you can’t afford a ticket to an inaugural ball, throw your own.

– Saying “balls” when you mean “parties” makes me giggle.

– If you see a gay person at Chik-fil-A, call their shit out.

– I really should blog more.

– Sometimes letting it go is more important than being right.

– Being gay is awesome.

– If you have the chance to go to a place called “Swinging Richards” in Atlanta, go. Bring $1s.
– Not everyone on the internet likes pictures of my sleeping husband as much as I do.
– Smile more.
431259_395403110547163_2095498794_n– Wedding planning doesn’t have to be as bad as everyone makes it out to be.
– Find something to compromise on.
– Sometimes you have to spend the weekend on the couch marathoning a great TV show.
– It takes someone pretty special to have Darrell Issa and Elizabeth Warren both show up to your memorial service.
– Sometimes it’s ok to bail. Especially if it’s REALLY cold.
– Always order more Girl Scout Cookies than you actually need.
– Sometimes a cosmo is all you really need.
– Putting together a coalition WILL make you lose hair.
– It’s pretty cool to be able to work with people who make the world better everyday.
9404_433806673373473_1731405342_n– Sometimes legends are crazy people.
– The Walking Dead is awesome. And it’s even better when surrounded by equally terrified friends.
– A “Rocky Mountain High” is an actual thing.
– Kids are funny.
– Sometimes it’s okay that your husband falls asleep every time you watch a movie.
– The Wii U is awesome – especially Luigi’s Mansion.
– Sometimes all you need is a cuddly dog that’s too big for your lap, pretending he fits there.
– When your coworkers fall asleep at work, it’s best to cover them with toys and costume pieces and take their photos.
– Coalition building is apparently important, but might make you want to take your own life at times.
– 10 times out of 10, apologizing won’t hurt you.
– When throwing a rally and the other side shows up, make sure you have a lot more people. 🙂
– Fuck the haters.
– If this is what they mean by “It Gets Better,” they greatly underplayed it. Because this is awesome.
522043_444999032254237_1286889282_n– People who hate on you on the internet mostly live in their parent’s basements and are unhappy, obnoxious trolls.
– When a child tells you he’s a superhero, believe him.
– We need to do something about gun violence.
– I should be seeing more theatre.
– Crabs are yummy, but they’re no lobster.
– You can’t invite everyone to your wedding, but you can always throw  a couple parties that you can invite everyone to.
– Sometimes you need to take a day off and hang out in a park all day.
– Invite friends over and play games. As often as possible.
– Cooking for your friends is really fun.
308592_453393071414833_1060803545_n– It takes a village to make a good wedding.
– If your dog engages in civil disobedience by following you out of the house and into the elevator, sometimes it’s best to just bring him with you.
– Provincetown is my favorite place.
– You will need more wine than you thought.
– Have someone you know and love officiate your wedding. It will make it much more personal.
– Sometimes people surprise you.
– Sometimes the music won’t work and you have to ask your friends to sing your first dance song. Just keep dancing.
– Sometimes people won’t show up for your wedding, hopefully it won’t be a family of 8.
– Drag Queens make everything better.
– If you can afford a wedding planner, get one.
1497765_560210300733109_1371591625_n– Your wedding isn’t about you – and that’s ok. It’s about celebrating the community of family and friends you’ve built.
– Get married on a beach.
– And the most important wedding lesson – if you ever have the chance to marry your best friend, do it.
– If you have the chance to go to a drive in movie – even if it’s raining, do it.
– If you ever have the chance to sing the National Anthem at a baseball game, do it.
– The difference between being married and being in a long relationship is like when an air conditioner shuts off. You don’t even realize there’s a hum in the background until it shuts off.
3688_467091890044951_1890040084_n– Decorate your workspace. Overdo it.
– 7 weddings in one year is a lot. And sometimes you won’t make it to every one.
– Camping makes you feel dirty for a month.
– If you get invited to the White House, go.
– Sometimes the Vice President wants a selfie with you and your new husband.
– San José is a very weird little city.
– Sometimes a wedding announcement is just a wedding announcement and not a tool to “ruin your father’s life.”
– Being married is awesome. Having your marriage recognized by the federal government is even better.
– Moose are big. Real big.
– Rest.
1381806_521703311250475_1703207791_n– If you give people the opportunity, they’ll usually impress you.
– Sometimes saying no is important.- If you find yourself swimming with all the other fish, go the other way. They don’t know where they’re going either.
– Live tweeting other people’s conversations on trains can be fun.
– “Black Twitter” is a thing.
– FUN. puts on an awesome show – even in a thunderstorm.
– Take a walk.
– If you ever have the chance to embarrass your mother-in-law by telling the waiter at the Mexican restaurant it’s her birthday, do it.
– Muppets should be able to run for and hold public office.
– Make sure you have BINGO before you shout BINGO.
– Locusts are not so bad. Don’t believe the hype.
– Some people are just assholes.
1235193_505237319563741_21702542_n– My dog on the beach is the best thing ever.
– Sometimes a night at home alone with your dog is the best remedy.
– You can’t put Students First if you put Teachers Last.
– Make homemade root beer.
– Baseball games are fun.
– Sometimes creating change means letting someone else lead the way.
– Everyone has a story, sometimes it’s happy and sometimes it’s not – the love is in the telling of it.
-Taking a back seat on something you’ve created can be tough – but worth it if it’s for the right reasons.
– Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
1239966_516089855145154_1490596983_n
– Laverne Cox is awesome.
– The slow cooker is easily the best invention ever.
– I’m not cool and I’m cool with that.
– Calling someone an “apologist,” or “defensive,” during a debate is an obnoxious and bullying behavior.
– Always tell people that you appreciate them.
– Say “please” and “thank you” as often as you can.
– I understand why the Mormons thought that Utah was the promised land. It’s beautiful.
– It’s just stuff, it can be replaced.
– Judy Garland makes everything better.
– Grow your own garden.
– There are more gay Mormons than even I thought.
– Always finalize dinner plans, especially if the original plan was made 3 months prior.
– Go to Golden Corral once in your life…but only once.
1452207_533994126688060_33286037_n
– Washing silver makeup off is tough.
– Celebrate with friends whenever you can.
– If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.
– Ginger Ale is made from ginger, not redheads.
– If you can, have Thanksgiving with the people you love most…and give thanks.
– Always go around the table and say what you’re thankful for out loud. It feels really good to say it.
– I want an alpaca.
– Dental work is expensive and hurty.
– If you have a chance to see The Wizard of Oz or any other film classic on the big screen, go do it. And if you can bump into Liza Minnelli on the way there, do that too.
– Sometimes Beyoncé drops a secret album the same day as the event you’ve been planning for a year.
– Go to museums more.
– Sometimes New Year’s Eve is best spent with your family on a couch.
– I feel like I know less now than I did when I was 25. And that’s ok. There’s always more to learn.
Happy New Year from our family to yours!
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International Olympic Committee May Join Russia in Punishing Gay Athletes

12 Aug
Openly Gay Olympic New Zealand Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup

Openly Gay Olympic New Zealand Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup

Most of you know what’s been going on between the Stoli boycotts and statements from athletes around the world with regards to the Olympics and anti-gay, draconian Russian laws.

For those who don’t, the short version is this: earlier this year, Russia passed some horrifically anti-gay laws making it illegal to “promote” homosexuality. Apparently you can BE gay, you just can’t ever tell anyone about it for fear you’ll be reported and go to prison. These laws have given cover to Neo-Nazi groups and others to take the law into their own hands by beating and murdering any person they think doesn’t measure up to their standard of heterosexuality.

Many have called on the Olympics to make strong statements against these laws and some have even called them to move the 2103 Winter Olympics out of Sochi to a place more accepting of all athletes.

The International Olympic Committee began by assuring athletes and fans that they’d spoken to Russian authorities and that Sochi athletes and fans would be exempt from the law.

Not so fast, said Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, making it clear that athletes and fans must respect the host country’s bigoted law.

Playing a media game of ping-pong, it’s left Olympic participants without any actual information regarding the situation in Russia. The truth of the matter is that no matter what kinds of assurances are made, LGBT people are not welcome and not safe in Russia. The IOC can say whatever they want to, but it will not stop some thug in a bar from kidnapping, beating and potentially murdering someone they perceive as gay.

Today, instead of actually standing up for LGBT athletes, the IOC is essentially siding with Russia and now warning lesbian and gay athletes.

Under rule 50 of the IOC’s charter: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.’

Gay Star News had asked what the global Olympic chiefs thought about plans for athletes to wear rainbow pins or hold hands during the opening and closing ceremonies.

They also asked if the IOC would provide a safe space – or Pride House – for LGBT athletes, spectators, dignitaries and others during the games to celebrate gay sport and community, as has been done in previous years.

But their spokeswoman told us: ‘Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.

‘This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary.’

With this report, the IOC has made it clear that they have a double standard when it comes to accepting all athletes. The Pride House in Vancouver was historic in that it provided a safe space for LGBT athletes from around the world. The IOC clearly didn’t see this as a violation of Rule 50 a few years ago, but it seems as though athletes must now be forced to step back into the closet for the 2013 Sochi Olympics.

Despite confusing messages from the IOC, today Russia’s Interior Ministry has unequivocally stated that they will be enforcing their anti-gay law during the 2013 Sochi Olympic games.

Either way, if the Olympics remain in Sochi, LGBT athletes are automatically at a disadvantage. It’s really hard to perform to one’s full capabilities when one is spending part or most of their day in actual fear for their lives.

Out gay New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup, told USA TODAY:

“I don’t want to have to tone myself down about who I am,” Skjellerup said. “That wasn’t very fun and there’s no way I’m going back in the closet. I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble.”

I don’t think you’ll find a single athlete out there who’d disagree with the notion that you perform better when you don’t have to hide who you are. In fact, many said as much when basketball player Jason Collins came out last year.

At this point, I can’t imagine there is anything IOC can say to actually ensure the safety of their participants or fans – whether it be from the actual Russian government or vigilantes who are rarely if ever prosecuted for their crimes against LGBT people. While boycotts and news stories have been effective at getting the word out about the atrocities being carried out against LGBT people, none of this will actually make anyone safer in Russia. And none of it will stop LGBT athletes from constantly having to look over their shoulder as they compete for Olympic gold.

NOM breaks up the band

6 Jun
Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

There’s some news in the world of Scythian, the band with three anti-gay members and two one pro-equality members.

You might remember that time when the anti-gay hate group, The National Organization for Marriage announced that an utterly unknown band called “Ultramontane” would be playing at their big anti-gay hate march in DC. Well, upon further digging, we discovered that “Ultramontane” was actually just 3/5 of Scythian. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner had made the decision to join the anti-gay group while members Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy decided to sit this one out, due to their fundamental beliefs that all people deserved to be treated equally under the law.

The piece I posted, titled “Will NOM be this band’s Yoko Ono” was never meant to actually be a prediction that NOM would cause the break-up of the band, but it’s appearing that it may have been a bit prophetic.

On Tuesday, Andrew posted to his Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.09.43 PM

“I want to let everyone know that I will no longer be performing with Scythian. I want to thank all of the great people that I have met along the way, whose support and friendship has been incredible. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all my future musical endeavors, whatever they may be!”

Two days later, Scythian followed up with:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.10.35 PM

“After two years of fine drumming with Scythian, Andrew is moving on to pursue different musical endeavors, and we wanted to thank him for his great musicianship, hard work, and professionalism while traveling the country with us, and for truly making us into a better bunch of musicians. Please join us in wishing Andrew the very best as he moves ahead in his musical career! Thank you Andrew!”

I would like to think, based on these posts, that Andrew’s leaving was of his own accord. But upon some further research I discovered the band’s new drummer – Tim Hepburn, like the anti-gay members of the band – is hyper-Catholic and attended Franciscan University along with them.

Seeing as the anti-gay members of the band have remained cowardly and silent (except to the volunteers they depend on) leaving Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy to answer for their bigoted and naive decisions, I don’t expect to ever really know what happened. What I can say is that whether he left by choice, conscience or force, I believe Andrew will have a long and happy career without having to compromise his belief in a free and equal country for all Americans. We salute you, Andrew and thank you for standing with us on the right side of history.

Video

Somebody’s Getting Married Today…

18 May

🙂

Man Arrested for Refusing to Leave Husband’s Hospital Bedside

11 Apr

When it comes to marriage, one of the final arguments of the anti-gay movement is “Why not civil unions?”

This is why.

wdaf_hospital_rights_130411a-615x345This week, Roger Gorley was visiting his husband’s bedside at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. When the ill man’s family demanded Roger be ejected from the room, Roger refused. He and his husband took part in a civil union ceremony 5 years ago and they also holds Power of Attorney for one another.

When the nurse was informed of this, she didn’t even bother going to look for the paperwork, she merely called security and had Roger removed from his partner’s bedside in handcuffs. Furthermore, the hospital has now taken out a restraining order keeping him from visiting his husband in the hospital.

The hospital released a statement which insinuates Roger was somehow putting people in danger or perhaps even reacting violently to being asked to leave his husband’s room.

“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process. And, the patient’s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”

In 2010 President Obama mandated that any hospital that receives federal funding such as Medicare or Medicaid must allow visitation privileges for same-sex partners.

The fact of the matter is that not everyone knows what “civil union” means and this story is not isolated. For every story like this which makes it to the news, there are a dozen more for gay and lesbian couples who don’t have the resources to get their story out there. And in most states, if a story like that were to get out – someone could lose their job or be evicted from their home for being gay.

I live in Washington D.C. and I’m getting married in a month. If Sean were in the hospital and someone in his family were to try to make me leave, you can bet they’d have to arrest me too.

An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation

8 Apr

This is beautiful!

"I Said I Don't Know."--and Other Answers to Hard Questions

Church,

I got to go to the Macklemore concert on Friday night. If you want to hear about how that went, ask me, seriously, I want to talk about it until I die. The whole thing was great; but the best part was when Macklemore sang “Same Love.” Augustana’s gym was filled to the ceiling with 5,000 people, mostly aged 18-25, and decked out in thrift store gear (American flag bro-tanks, neon Nikes, MC Hammer pants. My Cowboy boyfriend wore Cowboy boots…not ironically….). The arena was brimming with excitement and adrenaline during every song, but when he started to play “Same Love,” the place about collapsed. Why? While the song is popular everywhere, no one, maybe not even Macklemore, feels its true tension like we do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If you’re not familiar, here’s the song:

Stop–did you watch it? Watch it.

Before the song, Macklemore spoke really…

View original post 976 more words

Why we keep going.

22 Mar

I spend my days working for the New Organizing Institute. I work with some pretty awesome people and I can be myself uncensored in the workplace. At NOI, we teach people about something called “Engagement Organizing.” And no, it has nothing to do with getting a ring on your finger or helping you sort your closet.

We teach people about how to get involved and stay involved in progressive organizing – fighting for the things you believe in. It truly could not be a cooler job.

One of the most important things we teach is that you have to take breaks and find ways to rest now and then as spending every day doing something you’re passionate about can wear a person out. A lot of people have jobs they can leave at the office – but when your job is fighting for equality and teaching people to do the same, it’s a 24 hour thing.

I’ve been tired as of late and just at the right time tonight, I got a little inspiration. I want to share with you a note I got on Facebook that took me by surprise and is just what I needed to move me to the next steps I need to get to. We don’t always see when we’re making a difference when we fight, but know for every letter like this, there are a hundred more that haven’t been written.

10 years ago, I was producing my very first benefit concert, barely involved in the LGBT movement, but doing what I could when I could.

Thanks my friend, for pushing me to the next mountain to climb.

Jamie,

I keep seeing your name pop up recently, and I couldn’t help but PM you.

You probably do not remember me… but I wanted to let you know that you saved teenage-me’s life many years ago.

Long story short, I had been going through a rough time while figuring out that I am queer. A friend of mine had been gunned down for being assumedly gay and I had been considering ending my own life out of fear of having the same outcome.

Your words had somehow convinced me that life does indeed get better, even for gay kids. That I would make it out ok and grow to love myself.

Here I am, nearly ten years after you saved my life. I have a college degree, about to accept a full time position working with special needs young adults, and an incredibly supportive partner of nearly four years. We live together with our insane little cat-child in a small town near very accepting Philadelphia.

I’m a very active voice for lgbtq rights in my community. I proudly perform with the local Freedom Band, and marched openly for the President in January with my partner and 250 proud musicians from all over the place. It was unbelievable, and something I would’ve never expected to happen to me.

In hopes that I can be a voice for that struggling teenaged-me amongst our youth that you inspired so many years ago.

I thank you dearly for your kind words and encouragement, and your fearlessness.