Monday, December 31, 2007

for each of you

sitting quietly by the fire, thinking about the year that's about to pass. i am content and thankful. i've been thinking too about the amazing women in my life, and how each of them, in their own unique and beautiful ways, are such warriors. strong, fierce women. women who make me proud to know them and walk beside them. they give my life color. depth. meaning.

y'all know who you are. i've written about you, i've written for you, i've written because of you. you have lifted me up when i was low, you filled me in your arms when i felt empty, cooked me meals when i was hungry, took me dancin' when i needed to feel free, or made me laugh til my belly hurt when my heart just needed to fly. 2007 was a miracle year for me, in so many ways and you all were such a profound part of it. without you...well. i think you saved me. truly.

and i love you big and the moon and back.

found one of my favorite audre lorde poems and i'm sending it out to you. and wishing you all a peaceful and beautiful 2008.

For Each of You

Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish that boistrous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
nor your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be useful
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous
examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemned
to relive them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember our sun
is not the most noteworthy star
only the nearest.

Respect whatever pain you bring back
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply
as if it were
only nothing is

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are the offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness.

rochester street

the 50 most loathsome americans '07

one of my favorite things about the end of year are the many "best of" and "worst of" lists that inevitably come out in print and on television. someone from gaynet posted a link this morning of the 50 most loathsome people in america, 2007. it's a great (and somewhat painful) read with Fred Phelps at #3, Dick Cheney at #2, and at #1, no big surprise.

From The Beast:

1. George W. Bush

Charges: Is it a civil rights milestone to have a retarded president? Maybe it would be, if he were ever legitimately elected. You can practically hear the whole nation holding its breath, hoping this guy will just fucking leave come January '09 and not declare martial law. Only supporters left are the ones who would worship a fucking turnip if it promised to kill foreigners. Is so clearly not in charge of his own White House that his feeble attempts to define himself as "decider" or "commander guy" are the equivalent of a five-year-old kid sitting on his dad's Harley and saying "vroom vroom!" Has lost so many disgusted staffers that all he's left with are the kids from Jesus Camp. The first president who is so visibly stupid he can say "I didn't know what was in the National Intelligence Estimate until last week" and sound plausible. Inarguably a major criminal and a much greater threat to the future of America than any Muslim terrorist.

Exhibit A: "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."

Sentence: Dismembered, limbs donated to injured veterans.

For the complete list, read 'em and weep by clicking here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

listening to...

another light goes out

"Without a place to vent, the passion of our people for liberty threatens to explode... There is not enough barbed wire, or bullets, or bayonets to defeat my people's unquestionable desire for democracy." Benazir Bhutto, November 10, 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated.

damn, damn, damn.

i know Bhutto was controversial. most trailblazers are. but to me, she was the ultimate feminist and champion for the poorest and most marginalized communities in a land where they had absolutely no voice, at all. she became their voice. and they loved her for it. she was courageous and full of conviction and in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges, she was making real change for the people of Pakistan seem possible and achievable.

there are few women i admired more than Benazir. here was a woman speaking to the world about a Pakistan with programs for health, social welfare and education for the underprivileged. about putting an end to the divisions in Pakistani society - including reducing discrimination between men and women. it was...extraordinary.

it was so courageous to step out in that world and speak out. she spent her entire life with the threat of violence, of death, all around her. she could have chosen to quietly disappear and live a peaceful life somewhere...anywhere. but she didn't. i suspect that in her heart, doing 'nothing' was inconceivable, and in her mind, she must have understood that she was born to lead. to be a trailblazer. and a visionary. and like so many trailblazers and visionaries, she paid the ultimate price for daring not just to dream of a better world, but to do what she could to make a better world. we should all be half so bold.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated.

damn, damn, damn.

another light goes out in the world.

what a tragedy. truly.

and the turmoil and violence that slow-boils in Pakistan seems ready to erupt now.

this is just. so. sad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Buachaill on Eirne

listening to clannad.

and adding one more item to my list of things to do in this lifetime:



inquiring minds want to know...

i am happy to report that santa and his reindeer did indeed make the trip to shapleigh this year, as was evidenced by the fresh tracks in the backyard on Christmas morning.

Monday, December 24, 2007

the ghosts of christmas past

i was up early this morning, excited to finish wrapping gifts and make my way home to shapleigh. i lit a christmas eve fire, put on george winston's 'december' CD, and sat for awhile, sipping coffee, mesmerized by both the flames and winston's piano. "carol of the bells" came on, and i was absolutely flooded by the memories of my christmases past. i closed my eyes and i could smell it, taste it...hear it. i was a kid again with my redheaded freckled-face baby sister, my mom and dad younger, the world safer, more pure, time endless, life barely beginning.

we had such traditions...

every christmas eve we'd make home-made doughnuts--dunkin' donuts cannot hold a candle to the ones we would cook up in that kitchen. we'd each have one, piping hot, and then wrap the rest, except for two, which would be put out later with a tall glass of milk for santa. my sister and i would each open one gift and it would always be matching pajamas that we'd put on immediately. then we'd write a note for santa, take one last look at the tree with its handful of gifts scattered underneath, and then head to bed, knowing sleep would be almost impossible.

our bedrooms were across the hall from each other, and i can remember talking to each other, in the almost-dark, the only light coming from the christmas candles on the window sills in our rooms. i would hear her voice and know she was as excited as i was for the morning to come. we'd jump up and down on our beds, screeching, laughing, filled with adrenaline and anticipation and the kind of frenzy only a little kid can muster up. my mom would beg us to stop, tell us if we didn't go to sleep santa would skip right over our house for sure. finally we'd drift off to sleep, unaware that as soon as our parents heard our slow, steady breathing, their night was only just beginning.

morning would finally come...whoever woke up first would come running into the other's room (4:30 am was not unusual for christmas morning) and whisper wake up wake up wake up it's christmas!! we'd run into the living room, turn on the lights, and the tree that had only a few gifts the night before...well. wow. presents. everywhere. crammed under the tree and flowing half way across the floor. we would jump and yell...we were...delirious. we were allowed to dump out our stockings before waking my parents and then as soon as we ripped through them, we'd go screeching and yelling into their room, tugging on them frantically to wake up. (i learned years later that they would only pretend to be sleeping...that they would listen to us alone in the livingroom and laugh and giggle at our excitement.)

finally they would both get up...make coffee...and the rule was, donuts and milk before unwrapping the gifts. my dad would look out the back door onto the lawn and say hey you guys, come see, looks like santa was here for sure last night!! we'd rush over to the door and sure enough, the snow was covered with reindeer and sleigh tracks and we'd laugh and say "oh my god, oh my god!!" a million times and be stunned and amazed that santa left his own trail in our backyard. (my father continued this particular tradition for many, many years, long after my sister and i figured out who the real santa was. i can remember being home from college and sure enough, he'd look out that back door on christmas morning and yell you guys, come see! my sister and i would look at each other, kind of roll our eyes, laugh, and walk over to the door. wow dad, that's really unbelievable. go santa.) i'm pretty sure that was my dad's way of keeping us all young. i think about it now and it's so sweet to me i could cry.

my mom would put on our christmas crosby, jim reeves, brenda lee, dean martin, charley pride. i hear those songs today and i get a lump in my throat. and then we'd all settle in the livingroom, and my dad would start passing out gifts, one at a time so that every gift was savored. it would take HOURS to open them all. literally. looking back now, i still don't know how my parents did it. we were always struggling financially. always. yet every damn christmas that tree would be utterly overflowing with gifts. every wish fulfilled. every dream realized. it was astonishing. when we were finally done, the rest of the day would be spent playing, relaxing, just spending time together. as a family. it was truly precious.

of course when i go home now, the tree isn't quite as overflowing with gifts. and we don't leave santa any donuts or milk. but i get just as excited as i did when i was ten years old. i can't wait to wake up in shapleigh on christmas morning. we play the old albums. my sister and my brother-in-law and my gorgeous neices come over and we laugh, and we eat, and we open gifts, and we dance. and we love. we love so big and so wide that it is more overwhelming and powerful than a million presents could ever be. just being together in the same room with the people who are my very heart and soul...well that's the only gift I'll ever need for christmas.

oh, and i should mention that santa and the reindeer still occasionally leave tracks on the lawn.

i guess some things never change. thank god.

i have more memories than if i were a thousand years old.

so this is christmas

sarah mclachlan is, quite frankly, the woman of my dreams.

happy holidays to all...and a sincere and hopeful wish for a peaceful new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

commander in chief

so last week i had the "honor" of being mentioned on The Record via a "headline" that read: EqualityMaine's Huntress Outraged at Bangor Media. And linked directly to my blog.

I am sending out a heartfelt thanks to my pals over at CCL. Unique hits to The Slant have quadrupled since the free advertising and are steadily rising as I sit here type-type-typing away. So far, any comments and/or emails I've received have been overwhelmingly kind and supportive, with only an occasional missive from someone who thinks my life and writing style will surely lead me to the Gates of Hell. Oh well. As Lady Bug, the fantastically brilliant vice president of the homosexual rights movement, once said, "think of all the amazing organizing we'll be able to do down there with all those thirsty queers and forward-thinkers."

So as my blog readership increases, I'm figuring that every now and again I'm probably going to have to read some comment that doesn't whole-heartedly embrace my view and I'm okay with that. I've got thick skin and a very healthy sense of humor. And a thirst for new ideas and thoughts about all the many topics covered inside this blog. But I have decided that if a comment pisses me off too much, or is just out-and-out too nasty, it's going into the Great Slant Trash Can In The Sky, never to be heard from again. The way I look at it, I get to be the Dictator of This World. It's MY world after all, and y'all are living in it. I don't have that kind of freedom outside of The Slant so I plan on exercising every bit of it in here. Like Ani said once "I always wanted to be commander-in-chief of my one-woman army."

That said, I welcome healthy debate. I appreciate someone who might see the world differently than I do. I don't have every answer. Hell, most of the time I am not even sure what questions to ask. All I have in my pocket at the start of the day is my own perspective, based on the journey of which I keep plugging along. Anything else I accumulate or pick up along the way usually comes from someone who has some fresh idea or world view to share with me. Life is one big buffet of new and interesting experiences and baby, I'm a very hungry traveler.

Bottom line: show me or anyone else who contributes to the conversation in here some respect, and you're welcomed to stay and visit.

But assholes?

They need not apply.

That's all for now.

Winter Solstice

Saturday, December 22, 2007
at 1:08 a.m. EST

May this winter's Solstice bring you joy and peace...

and a New Year brimming with dreams fulfilled.

Enya ~ Smaointe

Enya ~ Only Time

Friday, December 21, 2007

that's what i'm talkin' about

yesterday i asked you all to write or call the bangor daily news and express your concern about coverage of their story regarding the Orono School Board meeting.

today, i'm again asking you write or call the staff at the Bangor Daily News...and tell them this time, in regard to the CCL, they got it exactly right.

and thanks to each and every one of you who picked up the phone yesterday or sent out an email. the power of collective action is a truly beautiful thing.

Editorial: Christian priorities
By BDN Staff
Friday, December 21, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

At a time when the state is cutting back assistance to the elderly, children and the poor, you might reasonably assume that the Christian Civic League of Maine would have larger concerns than the bathroom practices of an elementary school student. You’d be wrong.

The league, which has long been obsessed with sex, has entered the fray over an Orono 10-year-old, guaranteeing that this battle over bathrooms, sadly, will continue for a few more rounds.

The stresses faced by a 10-year-old boy who believes himself to be transgendered must be enormous. The boy’s plight is now public, thanks to the grandfather of a fellow student. The man directed his grandson to mimic — and essentially mock — the transgendered boy’s use of a girls bathroom, and later, a faculty bathroom. For this, the league called the man "courageous."

The Orono School Committee is to be commended for striving to protect the boy’s identity, and whatever remains of his privacy. And that privacy is at the heart of the matter. The boy’s bathroom needs could stem from a past trauma, a physical disability, a psychological malady, or from gender identification issues, none of which should be disclosed to the public.

And furthermore, the school is bound by the Maine Human Rights Law, which requires a reasonable accommodation be made to anyone seeking it over sexual orientation or gender identification.

Further, the special bathroom arrangement for the boy have not detracted from the experiences of others at the school, at least according to available accounts.

The Christian Civic League of Maine’s decision to champion the grandfather’s actions further erodes that organization’s credibility and reason for being. In a formal statement on the matter, league Executive Director Michael Heath praised the grandfather and claimed the man’s grandson was facing discrimination.

The league "seeks to present and maintain an effective, positive, and faithful Christian witness in the public life of the state of Maine," according to its Web site. It’s likely there are more effective, and certainly more positive ways for the league to be a Christian witness. In these financially difficult times, why doesn’t the league serve as a network, facilitating church volunteers to check on seniors and help shovel out their walkways and drives, help close gaps in leaky doors and windows, offer rides to appointments and donate to heating oil accounts for the poor.

If not these ways of being a witness, surely there are more Christ-like ways of engaging in civic life than interfering in a child’s bathroom use.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

thank you massachusetts

here's a new video that Mass Equality just released called "thank you Massachusetts", taking a behind-the-scenes look at a few of the over 200,000 people who helped them win marriage equality in Massachusetts.

i'm especially moved by Rep. Paul Kujawski, who says, in this video, that he made the "best vote of his life" when he switched his vote and supported equality by voting against the constitutional amendment.

it's 6 minutes long...and worth every second.

bangor media needs a spanking

A storm is brewing in Orono, and there's an 11-year old kid in the middle of it, and even though I'm writing this at 5 am in the morning, I can feel my blood pressure rising and the proverbial 'juices' heating up. Find me a soapbox because I need to stand on it and scream.

I know I proposed a holiday cease-fire with a certain group of fundies. I also know that they'll never, EVER, find enough self restraint (or more importantly, compassion) to even consider reporting on something else besides our "evil homosexual agenda" for 30 days. Whatever. I am challenging myself to post about this incident in Orono without mentioning "their names", even though they've now stooped to an incredibly vicious low by aggressively going after a kid. I've given them enough ink and links. I'm going to try and find a more positive, pro-active way to react to what's happening upstate in Orono.

I've been following this story for awhile. Here's the very, very short version of what I think could become a very dangerous situation.

An 11 year old kid in Orono who was born male is transitioning and identifying as female. From what I can gather, her parents have been working closely with the school (gawd love them), one result being that she can now use the girl's restroom. This news twisted the panties of another student's grandfather, and he told his grandson to start using the girl's restroom too, in protest. And the grandson did. And was suspended. And now all proverbial hell is breaking loose in Orono, and They Who Shall Not Be Mentioned are right smack dab in the middle of it, of course.

Pam's House Blend, one of the best blogs in the blogosphere, picked up the story. I appreciate their perspective, and especially appreciate the pro-active slant.

Please read it here, and then pick up the telephone and call WABI-TV and the Bangor Daily News and tell them to get it together. I don't know what I can do in "my neck of the woods", but I'm going to explore that today and if there is anything more to do, I'll be sure to let you know. What I know for certain is that I'm worried for the safety of this kid.

Stay tuned, because I'm certain there's more to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


last night i closed myself away from the outside world, lit a candle and incense, turned off the lights, unwrapped the mala beads from my wrist and held them loosely in my hands. sat still in meditation for almost an hour. focused on a healing meditation called tonglen for a friend who needed it.

Tonglen is a beautiful Buddhist practice, a method, a meditation, for connecting with suffering--our own, but more importantly, the suffering that is all around us. Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, is one of the great teachers of Tonglen, and she describes it this way:

"Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In the process, we become liberated from the very ancient patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality...

...It is a method for overcoming our fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness in our hearts. Primarily, it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us." from When Things Fall Apart

For me, it's sort of like...spiritual recycling. A deliberate receiving of the sadness or pain of someone I care about, almost like pulling in poison. (It's painful sometimes.)

I begin by visualizing a lake, clear, placid, glass-like, fresh, unpolluted, beautiful, that sits inside of me.

Then the Tonglen begins.

When breathing in, I think of the one who is suffering. I imagine a feeling of claustrophobia...a tightness. Something heavy and dark and thick as mud. That is my inhale.

I hold that breath inside of me, visualizing that clear placid lake, suddenly muddied, clouded, by the darkness i've let in.

and then i filter it with light, with pure and infinite space, with thoughts of calmness and peace, of healing and tranquility.

And when the pool of water is clear again, I push it back out, i push it out through every pore, every atom, every bit and piece of me that was before, that is now, that will ever be. I imagine the water washing over my loved one, cleansing them, freeing them from pain and suffering. That is my exhale.

I continue with this inhaling and exhaling, focusing on this one particular person, until finally I can reach a point in the meditation when the inhales no longer muddy that pool of water...when what I breathe in is lightness that is free of suffering.

And then I make the inhales grow beyond that one person, I take in and send out bigger breaths, until, finally, it becomes a meditation for all beings who suffer, all beings who carry darkness and pain.

What is extraordinary to me is that this practice of Tonglen has expanded, I hope, my capacity for compassion. It helps me to see that things are not quite as solid as I think. That suffering is impermanent. That by moving beyond those things within ourselves that scare us and cause us to suffer, and by reaching out to others and offering to hold their pain, we find, finally, that our compassion, our willingness to risk, to love, to feel it what ultimately releases us from suffering and heals us all.

And so liberates us.

Monday, December 17, 2007

i dare ya

so last weekend i mentioned a column in the PPH by Bill Nemitz, a long time ally of our community (see i heart bill nemitz). In a nutshell, Nemitz took long time gay-obsessed fundy Mike Heath to task.

Heath responded with this little morsel on Friday in the letters-to-the-editor section:

Bill Nemitz slams me (yawn) in his Dec. 7 column ("Is Heath 'bogeyman' of tolerance?"). I've lost count of the number of times over the years he has condemned me for believing in absolutes.

When it comes to the Christian Civic League of Maine, Bill's primary moral absolute is that anal sodomy is a social, religious and civic virtue. How dare anyone support the idea that some kinds of sex are immoral.

Bill and his friend at the First Congregational Church in South Portland are real jokesters. Somehow, when I think about creating a society devoted to encouraging youngsters to just-do-it-with-the-one-you-love- as-long-as-you-wear-a-condom, I get the feeling that Bill and the good reverend won't be getting the last laugh.

methinks the man doth protest too much.

this weekend on gaynet, someone posted a little research she conducted on Heath's website, the RECORD. she did a google search on the site and the resutlts were, um, very revealing:

searching the site for the word "Jesus"--511 hits

searching the site for the word "God"--671 hits

searching the site for the word "homosexual"... drum roll please... 761 hits.

(what a shocker. )

now, to be fair, i can admit that i've mentioned the CCL on the slant more than once. while i don't think i've been obsessive about it in the same way that mr. heath seems to be obsessed, i can own up to the fact that i've spent at least a little bit of time writing about all the things that this group does to irritate me.

after some thought about this, i am proposing a holiday cease-fire.

i have a holiday challenge for mr. heath. in honor of this particular time of year, when good Christians everywhere are, I assume, supposed to be on their A-game, I dare him to refrain from posting any columns, articles or new stories on the RECORD about anything homosexual for the next 30 days. i propose instead that he focus his energy on something that's actually christian-like. maybe he could work on a relief-fund for the kazillion mainers who are running out of heating oil. maybe he could work the line at the soup kitchen on preble street once a week for the next 30 days. maybe he could visit a domestic violence prevention agency and donate a sackful of toys for the kids who will be spending christmas in a shelter. or hit the children's cancer unit at maine med and spread a little holiday cheer.

here's the kicker...i'll even stand next to him in the soup kitchen or the hospital or the shelter. set aside our differences for one moment and do something meaningful for someone who could use a little help. take all that negative energy we usually fling at each other and focus it instead on something...ANYTHING...positive that will help another fellow human being.

come on mike. show us homosexuals some "true Christian values."

you know how to find me, so the question is...

meet me at preble street?

give me an answer.

i dare ya.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

overheard at the gaynet watercooler

woke early this morning and read a fantastical quote from one of gaynet's most talented and humorous posters. it was in response to a thread about 'taking back' words like dyke and queer.

it made my morning, and i just HAVE to share it.

thanks BD!!

"We own "gay" and "queer". God gave them to Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde, carved into stone tablets by lightening somewhere among the dunes of Provincetown, along with "fabulous", "puhleeze" and "girlfriend"! Who says I'm not religious? Just because I've got my own special interpretation of the term burning bush? Puhleeze!"

Ha! Isn't it fabulous?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

oh boston

In the summer of '85 (oh gawd I am aging myself now, for sure...) I worked as a counselor at a day camp. Four of my "charges" were autistic children of varying degrees, and I fell in love with all of them...beautiful, gifted and loving kids.

I am also a die-hard-was-wearing-a-boston-cap-in-the-womb Red Sox fanATIC.

So I was delighted to see this youtube video posted on gaynet this morning.

On Disabilities Awareness Day, inside my beloved Fenway Park, a young man with autism was chosen to sing the National Anthem.

He got a serious case of the giggles and just look and see what the 45,000 fans did to help him get through the song.

It's just the sweetest thing...and thanks to MB for the original gaynet post.


Back in November, I wrote about Reverend Jennifer Paty from the Northern Lights MCC in Augusta, and her very powerful closing remarks at Transgender Day of Rememberance (click here for the post.) She spoke immediately after the reading of the names, and I think for many people there, her words gave great comfort. They certainly comforted me.

Reverend Paty has graciously given me permission to post her remarks on The Slant.

I thank her, and the many, many compassionate and inspiring people of faith who stand beside us, who work with us, and who embrace us with their whole hearts.

Reverend Jennifer Paty
Closing Remarks
Transgender Day of Rememberance, November 16, 2007

When I was first asked to close our Transgender Day of Remembrance, the request included that I might close by saying something (briefly) about community and the importance of community.

Over the past month I have thought about that.

And on Wednesday, I finally opened myself up to what was churning away inside of my heart about US. All of us.

I thought about how there are many in our community that have been harmed by religion, demonized and rejected by church dogma and how, in some cases, the very men and women we have remembered this night were taken from their friends and family by those whose hatred and fear may have been fueled by antiquated religious beliefs.

With that in mind, I thought about justice, liberation and what the world’s religions and spiritual practices truly have to say to our community and about our community.

The Buddha never specifically addressed justice – his main purpose in life was to teach us about suffering and he calls us to ask the questions of why. Why there is hatred, why there is death, why there is destruction of life.

I look upon this community and I see a community that is not afraid to ask Why. Even when it hurts the most, we are not afraid to cry out, why is there such hatred, why is there death and destruction of life. Why.

In Hebrew Scripture, Isaiah told the people in the midsts of great suffering. “Preserve justice and do righteousness, for liberation is about to come and Justice will be revealed” and then he said “How blessed are the ones who do this and the ones who take hold of it”

I look out among this community and I see those who live out these words of the promise of liberation, so that justice may be revealed. How blessed are we as community to be part of this struggle.

The Koran says: O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witness.

I look out among this community and I see those who believe in the struggle of gender liberation and who stand firmly for justice and I see and feel the presence of those who have witnessed with their very lives.

The Christian Scriptures follow the ministry of Jesus Christ– “Who was sent to Earth to bring justice to the Nations. To open the eyes and hearts of those blinded by their judgments and to bring out those imprisoned in the dungeons of inequity.”

I look out among this community and I see those sent to earth to bring justice to the Nations.

I see a community who will continue to open the eyes and hearts of those blinded by judgment.

And I continue to see the release of those who have been imprisoned in the dungeons of inequity. This is not an easy task that we have undertaken.

StarHawk, a pagan, a witch, a leading social justice activist, has taught me the most about doing justice work, she has taught me about showing mercy and knowing kindness.

She reminds us that “At this moment in history, we are called to act as if we truly believe that the Earth, is a living, conscious being, that we are a part of this being.”

“That human beings are interconnected and Precious” And I emphasize that. She says that we are interconnected and Precious…. We are precious.. Each one of US. … And she says that “Liberty and Justice for all is both desirable, what we all desire in our hearts of hearts”,,,,,,it is in our DNA.

and it is our “infinite quest.” What we are called to seek.

I look upon this community and I feel the interconnectedness and I see the precious, absolute precious souls in all who have graced this place. And in all whose life and death we remember this night.

So my blessing for us this day is that we never lose sight of the precious souls who have been lost but not forgotten. And that we look around and know the preciousness of this community.

And that we always and in all ways have the courage to ask the hard questions, to continue to open the hearts of those that judge and in doing that we bring justice to the nations by our witnessing.

The witness of our lives. The witness of our love and the witness of our gender inclusiveness and paradoxically our gender freedom.

A freedom that we can teach the whole world to celebrate. A gender freedom that this world desperately needs.

And so, I leave you with these words from a Rabbi Hillel, one of the most influential scholars in Jewish history.

He said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

Peace, Shalom, Namaste. Goddess and God bless. Go from this place knowing that we are community; that we are precious and go in peace.

Monday, December 10, 2007

drag, baby

friday night. drag kings and queens in all their glory. 700 queers (and the people who love them, as the vice president of the homosexual rights movement would remind me to say) hootin' and hollerin'. all proceeds will go to THE most excellent USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity. great cause, great fun.

i'm so there.

Presenting USM's 8th Annual
Royal Majesty Drag Show and Competition

Friday, December 14
Doors Open 8:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn by the Bay, Spring Street

Admission: Students $5
Non-Students $8

For more information, (207) 228-8235 or

Northern New England's LARGEST student and community drag show!

Portland Event in 2006!

Tickets available at the door.

All proceeds benefit the USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity.

Sponsored by the CSGD, Queer Insurgency, the Portland Events Board and Gorham Events Board, and the Centers for Student Involvement and Activities.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Pop culture confession time.

I am complete West Wing Junkie. Serious. And my friend Kristin just sent me this youtube clip because she knows it's one of my all time favorite WW scenes. She knows this because she is also aware that I have a big crush on Allison Janney. And even bigger crush on Mary Louise Parker.

Posted on The Slant, for time immortal.

sunday morning music

tanita tikaram.
ancient heart.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

i heart bill nemitz

so last weekend, EqualityMaine collaborated with the South Portland First Congregational Church for a screening of a truly profound and touching film called For The Bible Tells Me So. This documentary has won a ton of awards and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. The synopsis, in three sentences, which I lifted off their website: "Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?"

This film rocked my world because I grew up attending a Baptist church, and I know with my whole heart that I would never, EVER, be welcomed back in that church as an out and proud dyke. Hell would literally have to freeze over for that to happen. And the fact is, I would never want back "in" anyway. But my entire family has very, very close ties to their own Baptist church, and I wonder sometimes what's going to happen when they are finally confronted with the fact that their church condemns their oldest daughter to eternal damnation because she is a lesbian. Maybe it's already happened and they just haven't told me about it. I don't know. They love me, they're proud of me, and my mom and dad, who are forced to live very frugally on a fixed income, donate money every year to EqualityMaine. Perhaps they have found a way to reconcile the spiritual needs that their church fulfills with their love and support of me. I hope so.

More than 200 people attended the screening, including Mike Hein of the Christian Civic League and five members of his Merry Band of Religious Fundies. Whatever. It was a public showing and everyone was welcomed. Hein roamed around with his trusty digital camera and wrote this little "news item" about his experience on The Record. Again, whatever. His presence at these queer events means little if anything at all to me anymore except that I find it...amusing. But beyond that, it's utterly inconsequential to me. I stopped caring about what the Christian Civic League thinks of me and mine a long time ago. They are just cheap entertainment and beyond that, meaningless.

Of course, I do love it when someone else calls them on them out. And Bill Nemitz of the PPH loves to call them out. You just have to read this column he posted on Friday. It's delicious: Is Heath the Bogeyman of Tolerance?

Bill Nemitz, the Homosexual Rights Movement loves you baby. Big time.

a picture's worth a thousand words...

...but if you want more, here is an excellent take by Pauline Park (The Visible Vote '08) on HRC's monumental ineptness at explaining why they threw the trans community under the bus. Eh. Color me disgusted.

HRC Doublespeak Wins No Hearts or Minds

What’s the point of damage control if it only compounds the damage?

That’s the question I asked myself after last night’s community forum at the LGBT Community Center of New York City sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. The forum on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 7 drew nearly 100 people, including a substantial number of transgendered people as well as non-transgendered lesbian, gay, and bisexual community members. But despite the demographic diversity of the audience, there was unanimity regarding the HRC and its betrayal of transgendered people in supporting the stripped-down, sexual orientation-only version of ENDA that passed the House with the support of HRC and over the opposition of United ENDA, a coalition of more than 360 national, state, and local LGBT organizations from throughout the country.

finish the article by clicking here.

And here's a report from Gay City News about the "listening forum" which Park writes about: GayCityNews.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

the big gay sketch comedy show

I am just way too tired to write tonight.

BUT, I wanted to post this ridiculousy funny segment about lesbian phone sex from The Big Gay Sketch Comedy Show. Virginia played the audio on Lesbian Radio today and I just knew I had to bring it to The Slant. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


During my snow day on Monday I spent some time perusing the net for fun stories and websites. Of which I found a bazillion (many thanks to Al Gore for inventing the world wide web.) Here are a couple of gems:

Apparently "boutique" hotels across the country have decided to replace the Gideon Bibles in those dresser drawers with such items as "condoms, sexual intimacy kits and sexually oriented games." Sweet. Let me say that again: Sah-WEET. Is the Marriot a boutique hotel? I'm hoping. 'Cause if it is, then my February trip to Detroit for Creating Change just got a whole lot more interesting.

I mean, come on. Let's be honest.

If this is in Drawer A:

And this is in Drawer B:'s pretty clear I'm gonna be all over Drawer B.

You can read more about this fabulously naughty dresser-drawer transformation by checking out this article from One News Now, which offers news from a...ahem...christian perspective.

If you're having trouble deciding what to buy for that Someone Special during the holidays, check out for some hilarious stuff. My favorite? The Talking Senator Larry Craig Action Figure:

I know what you're thinking. Is this the kind of stuff she buys for Someone Special? What can I say...find me a woman who can appreciate the silliness of the Trash Talkin' Turleen Barbie Doll. Life is far too serious sometimes. A sense of humor can be sexy thing.

And for some colorful entertainment on those snowy days when you've had enough of the Food Network and/or Law and Order reruns, I have discovered a thoroughly amusing site called The Midwest Teen Sex Show. Good gawd it's...funny. Check out this segment on homosexuality:

That's all for now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

the first snow...

...always reminds me of Betty. I miss her, every day.

Found this amazing Lorena McKennitt video of one of her most beautiful and haunting songs...Dante's Prayer.

That's all for today...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

better than chocolate

thanks to kimm for sending me this.

sometimes i think melissa channels janis joplin. and joss stone?
holy shit.

this is better than chocolate.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day

Thanks to Audrey for sending me the link to an amFAR ad commemorating world AIDS day. Below the video are links to some fabulous organizations doing the hard work of HIV/AIDS research, education, prevention and care. Pick one, and send them a check. In particular, there are a few local orgs here in Maine who are going to need our support, especially given the insane budget cuts that are about to happen in Augusta. If there are other orgs or foundations that should be posted, shoot me a comment and I'll put them up. Gotta spread the word and not the virus.

And then revisit my own tribute to a dear friend lost to this disease. This madness simply needs to end.

Maine Aids Alliance
Frannie Peabody Center
The National AIDS Memorial Grove
amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
The AIDS Memorial Quilt
International HIV/AIDS Alliance
Interact Worldwide
Clinton Foundation
Children With AIDS Project

listening to...

and here's a good GAWD tori video. the first time i saw this was the precise moment i fell in love with her. spectacular.

Friday, November 30, 2007

miles to go before we sleep

went to the AIDS quilt opening ceremony last night at the holiday inn. i had the honor of participating in the reading of the names, and as always, this event utterly overwhelmed me. panel after panel after panel...after panel. i saw this once in DC, the quilt in its entirety, our own version of the vietnam wall, our own fallen men and women, our own beloved victims of a ravaging and devastating and ridiculously cruel war.

the entire night was a hurricane...of emotion. the gay men's chorus sang and it was haunting and beautiful, their voices the backdrop of music as people quietly shifted from panel to panel, somber, respectful, honoring the bits and pieces of fabric filled with grief and loss, with memories, with celebrations of life and love, fabric that is a sad yet necessary part of our culture, the remembering of names, of lives, of brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and lovers and friends.

at one point i felt so completely overwhelmed by sadness that i had to walk away, go outside in the cold and smoke a cigarette and just...cry. i leaned against the wall and could not contain it, the rushing of anger and of sadness, of the faces and voices and echoes of too many friends, too many beautiful souls who left this world far too soon. jay. ron. alex. russell. calvin. and on and on and on. i miss them. so much.

when i finally felt composed enough to go back inside, i walked into the lobby and there sat corey, waiting for me. i just wanted to be sure you were okay. i sat down next to her, empty of words, unable to explain the emotions and thoughts and feelings that were filling up inside me. of course, i didn't need to, she understood and felt it too and so we just sat there, quietly, acknowledging in our silence the profoundness of those pieces of fabric, the lives they represent, the friends no longer with us, the mountain of work left to do.

and all the miles yet to go before we sleep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

today is brought to you by the letter A

back in another life, everyone i knew aside from my family called me Darlena. it was a name given to me by a little boy i loved as wide as the sky, and somehow, it just stuck with me, for more than 10 years. life took some twists and turns as it always does, and Darlena, along with many of the wonderful people who used to call me that, disappeared. gone far enough away and hidden deep enough inside me that i'd almost forgotten the name existed at all. i suppose it has always been a part of me, like the people and the memories and the moments of that time in my life. haunting me just a little. hell, maybe even more than a little. but i was certain all of that had gone forever to the place that only the heart can see, and that the mind simply cannot bear to think about at all.

now a few more lovely twists and turns, and suddenly, it's back. and with it, some of the most extraordinarily beautiful people i've ever known. i had forgotten how that name sounded, how it felt to hear it. and mostly i'd forgotten about how much i loved and missed the three wonderful souls i've reconnected with. it's a gift, having them back in my life.

yesterday, i found sitting in my inbox an email from one of these friends, subject line, DarlenA. she sent me a poem, and then wrote, simply, Today, Darlena, say your name......clearly.....

life is so full of surprises.

The Key to Everything
May Swenson

Is there anything I can do
or has everything been done
or do
you prefer someone else to do
it or don't
you trust me to do
it right or is it hopeless and no one can do
a thing or do
you suppose I don't
really want to do
it and am just saying that or don't
you hear me at all or what?

waiting for
the right person the doctor or
the nurse the father or
the mother or
the person with the name you keep
mumbling in your sleep
that no one ever heard of there's no one
named that really
except yourself maybe

If I knew what your name was I'd
prove it's your
own name spelled backwards or
twisted in some way the one you
keep mumbling but you
won't tell me your
name or
don't you know it
yourself that's it
of course you've
forgotten or
never quite knew it or
weren't willing to believe it

Then there is something I
can do I
can find your name for you
that's the key to everything once you'd
repeat it clearly you'd
come awake you'd
get up and walk knowing where you're

where you
came from...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

this is your life

"It was a shock, of course. It always is, to meet people after long years...We stood looking at each other. The eyes that peered anxiously at me were--simply Antonia's eyes. I had seen no others like them since I looked into them last, though I had looked at so many thousands of faces." Willa Cather, My Antonia

another reunion today.

...and i don't know how to write about it yet...

except that...there is the scent of rain. everywhere.

Friday, November 23, 2007

listening to

...but as the scenery grows, I see in different lights
the shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch; I see from greater heights...

Thursday, November 22, 2007


happy birthday, my sweet little sister.

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." ~Clara Ortega

one year

up early to make the trip to shapleigh for what i'm certain will be a fabulous day.

what a difference a year makes. it's impossible not to think of this day one year ago, when i was inside a completely different life...emotionally, spiritually, physically. my world was upside down. i felt disoriented and lost, and i thought i am hanging on by a thread. (oh the drama.) it's almost surreal, thinking back to what feels like now a million years ago. another lifetime, indeed. and the person i was then...well. perhaps the inner core is still there, but the truth is, i can hardly recognize her at all now. it's amazing, that transformation that comes when you allow yourself a little bit of self-love. there have been a few missteps along the way this year, i can't deny that. but my eyes are wide open now and mostly what i have found is that when you can find that delicate balance between head and heart, when you stay connected to the present moment, it is just truly a lovely ride. my oh my and i am enjoying every bit of it.

as a little thanksgiving gift to myself, i think i will spend some of my morning re-reading the slant, which i began writing in almost a year ago. it will certainly give me a million things to be grateful for on a day designated for acknowledging such things out loud. start at the beginning and read every post. there are glimpses of my journey hiding in these spaces and i want to visit them again, i want to celebrate every step that's recorded, remembered, written about and dreamed of. there are people in these spaces too, intensely beautiful people who have made the road easier, more fulfilling. the connections and the friendships and the tears and the laughter and the love and the lust and all of the adventures. all of it...such a gift...wrapped with rainbows and sprinkled in starlight...

the life all around me in this past year has been so colorful, so musical, so...delicious.

and then there is the sweet, sweet whispered promise of all that awaits me, of surprises that are just around the corner.

i can hardly wait.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

random acts of queerness: the sequel

happy turkey day tomorrow, one and all.

get some rest and recharge your queer batteries, because next week there are lots of great events you simply must be at:

if you're in the greater Bangor area, attend the Adoption Forum on Tuesday, November 27th, 6:00 pm at the Hammond Street Congregational Church in Bangor. I'm bringing the Big Guns with me: Mary Bonauto & EQME's own Betsy Smith. They'll tell you everything you need to know about adoption as it relates to the Maine Law Court's fabulous ruling in August.

beginning on Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend are some amazing World AIDS Day events in Portland. Panels of the AIDS quilt will be on display at the Holiday Inn By The Bay (click here for a complete list of events.) I'll be there in memory of Ron and Alex and Jay and the many, many other beautiful friends that I've had to say goodbye to. We need to honor their lives and we need to continue to keep this battle in the forefront.

and finally, you just GOTTA be at the Lesbian Radio All Star Revue on Saturday, December 1st, at the St. Lawrence on Munjoy Hill, 8:00 pm (details here). It's a fundraiser for Lesbian Radio (every Thursday, WMPG, 1:30-3:00 and you can stream it HERE) which has become a superb show thanks to the efforts of The Most Incredible Virginia Throckmorton, who happens to be one of my favorite women in the world and beyond. And yours truly will be co-emceeing with the gorgeous and very funny Jill Barkley, another of my favorite women in the universe. I mean shit, I'm wearing a tux. And she had, at last count, five evening gowns at the cleaners. The stage will be filled with talented lesbians all night long...and it doesn't get any better than that. It should be a complete and total blast. You just simply cannot miss it.

OH! and the deliciously fabulous and wonderfully lesbianated North Star Music Cafe will be hosting an after-party that night, as soon as the curtain closes, with the proceeds at the door going to Lesbian Radio.

Good gawd it's gonna be a great week.

creating change

Sitting in my inbox are plane and hotel reservations for Creating Change, the largest LGBT conference in the country, sponsored by the Task Force. Sweet. It's their 20th, so it should be amazing. I have ranted before about the OTHER national organization, but I have a special place in my heart for The Task Force. I wouldn't be doing this work if it weren't for them because they funded my job for the first two years. And they took a HUGE chance on me, considering I had zero experience when I was offered the position at EqualityMaine. Most of what I know about organizing I learned from them.

It's going to be great...2000 queer and allied activists. And it's in Detroit this year. So J can give me a list of queer hotspots to visit while I'm there.

Should be a Gay Old Time, for sure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


just called my dad to wish him a happy birthday.

there were days this past year when i wasn't sure i would get to do that, ever again. but the stars are smiling on him, and so they smile on all of us.

every time i meditate, i end it with this little tiny prayer, a traditional Buddhist prayer for healing:

Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers, and join together in the oceans,
so may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings--
those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.

i say it for my dad.

happy birthday pops.

Monday, November 19, 2007

my boys

it's no secret that i have some sleeping issues. i've discussed it more than once on the slant (see what falls away). last night i slept hard for the first time in weeks and when my internal alarm clock went off, as it always does, at 4:30 am, i simply covered my head, rolled over, and fell back into slumber.

for about 5 minutes.

just as i am about to drift into dreamland where i'm hoping to find nicole kidman waiting for me on a sandy beach with a pina colada in one hand and her bathing suit top in the other, i hear this weird sound...kinda like crumpling (is that a word?) plastic. or swishing. repetitive swishing. so i rub my eyes, throw on a robe, turn on the lamp. and there's my boy oscar, walking three-legged with his head and left hind leg caught in the handle of a hannaford plastic bag. and willie following him around the room. every time oscar moves, the plastic swishes and willie jumps on top of him, thinking it's a game. oscar looks agitated and even a little panicked that this plastic bag is a permanent fixture. and he's looking at me like "fix this goddamn thing before i go bat shit crazy". willie looks...amused. like he's enjoying his brother's new and challenging lot in life. and gives me the look that says "can we just leave him like this for the day? please??"

this is how my day has started.

happy monday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


dear marion,

the food was not half bad.


Friday, November 16, 2007

in my head

the music in my head this morning.
gotta love the 80's and all that bad ass big hair.

good gawd.

lost and found

twice in one week i am finding friends i thought were lost forever. life is spinning and twisting and turning and for whatever reason the lines of my past are crossing paths with my present. it is most astonishing.

i'm not even sure what any of it means, except maybe this: some connections are just too profound and powerful to disappear.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

lucky night

last weekend i went to a lesbian shin-dig with k & j. i'll be honest...i wasn't sure i was up for it. it's strange how i am completely at ease speaking in a room of 400 or 500 people, or how i can "network" like nobody's business at a political event. yet throw me into a social situation like the one we were heading to saturday night and i get all nervous and a little shy and then get smacked with an overwhelming sense of impending doom. ha. maybe it comes from all those high school dances when i felt a bit like a wallflower...not wanting to dance with the boys but aching to wrap my arms around the girls. i dunno. we'll explore that some other time, yes indeed.

i ended up having a great time of course, as i always do when i'm with mchottie and the matriarch. my girls were just tearing up the floor like nobody's business (kimm even did some fabulous break dancing just to show off...and don't worry buddy, i won't mention that you may have blown your knee out in the process...oops, i just did mention it, didn't i?) bottom line: you just can't spend time with those two women and not have a sore belly the next day from laughing so hard the night before. they're somethin'.

the absolute and ultimate highlight of the evening was bumping into my long lost friend marion, who i'd not seen in...hmmm...more than a decade i think. i was just standing in line for a cocktail and there she was, inches away from me, stepping out of the past and into my world again. it was a brilliant, wonderful, amazing surprise.

we shared a few laughs about the "old days", not missing a beat even after a much too long absence from each other's lives. and i am still smiling today and feeling so lucky that our paths have finally crossed again. life's been so good to me lately, and reconnecting with this particular person is a gift. gotta feel good about that.

so 'larry', in honor of all the damn fun we used to have, and in hopes of more good times ahead, i'm posting a little you-tube ditty for you. every time i hear this song i think about a certain bull dyke cook at winchesters who played this cassette 800 times a day. and then we would go to rochester street and play it 800 times more. ha. why we never tired of it i'll never know.

it is so incredibly good to have you back in my life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


my 99th post of the year.
woo hoo!

it occurs to me that i promised at least some photos and a bit of video regarding my adventure on The Precipice with Kimm and Jen.

we're scaling this bad ass cliff...

the first of several signs along the hike, most of which say "people have died on this trail". um, yeah.

and some climbing shots. what the camera fails to capture is that most of this hike is completely exposed and you are quite literally climbing straight up. it's a seriously vertical climb. one wrong move and you're gonna visit that big dyke eternal party in the sky.

here's a little video compliments of the matriarch:


and kimm (please note that her hair is perfect even during a steep climb):

a few more climbing shots:

a shot from the top:

koko, mchottie, and the matriarch:

koko and mchottie beginning the far less challenging descent:

and a last look before heading home:

Sunday, November 11, 2007


it's raining leaves outside and oscar sits on the edge of the couch, looking out the window, head darting everywhere trying to follow them, his tail thrashing around and around and reminding me of the cowardly lion in wizard of oz.

i'm pretty sure he thinks it's the end of the world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

koko's greatest hits revisited

getting ready to go with k & j to a big invitation-only lesbian party. wooo hoo! dykes, dykes everywhere!

just heard this priceless 80's tune by fine young cannibals on the radio.
makes me wanna tease the shit out of my hair and wear big hoop earrings.

maybe not.


I was thinking last night about a conversation I had with a friend back in April. We were having dinner together at a restaurant in Westbrook, and she began talking, with great animation and passion (not at all unusual for her) about the nearly invisible amount of public support the queer community displayed for trans issues. She said that our failure to recognize and address--intentional or not-- the challenges that the trans community faces was sending them a horrible message: you are ignored, you are marginalized, and you just don't fit it into our plan for equality. And that until we faced those issues head on and publicly, we would never, ever, be a truly united L,G,B and T community. She was frustrated that our strategy for equality seemed to center on "assimilation": the HRC-like presentation of gay people looking, acting, and sounding just like straight people, and she worried that this effectively eliminated a huge segment of our community by making them invisible. She did not mince words--she never does--and by the end of the conversation I felt exhausted, frustrated...and aware. Acutely aware.

I've never forgotten that dinner. It was a necessary education for me from someone who trusted me enough to know that she could be highly critical of the work I was tightly wrapped up in and that I could hear it without feeling attacked or defensive, or taking it too personally. And I am so thankful she did, because it has changed the way I look at our community, at our issues, at the way I do my job as an advocate. Her words are always there, in my head, challenging me to be better and more aware of the work I do. I am paying more attention to the way my organization handles trans issues, and I am watching other state and national organizations more closely, trying to find clues or signs that we are moving forward as a whole community and working to address the issues and challenges of every single person that falls under our diverse umbrella.

My first notion that we are moving in the right direction came in the last months with this whole ENDA fiasco. I won't go into the details (you can just google ENDA and find every bit of information you could ever need and then some.) The long and short of it is that HRC and The Powerful Pols of DC decided a few months ago that removing the gender identity/expression protections in ENDA was the only chance it had for passage. They tried to do it quietly, in a brief statement to the press. Maybe they figured we would be silent about it and just blindly trust that they knew best. Maybe they figured that we would greedily gobble up any crumbs of protections we would could get, even at the expense of the "less assimilated" segments of our community.

Turns out they were wrong.

Abraham Lincoln said that "to sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men." I'm happy to say we were not silent. Our protest was deafening.

We said "no thanks" to the crumbs. We formed a coalition of over 350 state and national LGBT organizations called United ENDA and said "it's an all-inclusive ENDA or we don't want an ENDA at all. " (I must give a shout out to the Equality Federation of which EQME is a member, and to my friends at The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, both organizations taking gigantic roles in spearheading this amazing effort. )We worked together and generated more than 15,000 phone calls to Washington, thousands more emails, all saying the same thing: we will not let you leave any of us behind. I am pretty sure that HRC and Washington underestimated the vigor and passion with which the grassroots state organizations would fight to keep the trans protections in ENDA. I think they were surprised that we would "break rank" and go up against the most powerful LGBT organization in the country. I think maybe we even surprised ourselves a little bit. We were standing up, standing together, maybe for the first time ever. And we were louder and more powerful than we ever imagined we could be. It was a little like being unable to speak your entire life, and then suddenly, one day you open your mouth and music comes pouring out. We found our voice. And it was beautiful.

In the end, we lost the battle and the shitty version of ENDA prevailed and passed in the House. Goliath 1, David 0. It was heart-wrenching for me to see political expediency win at the cost of principle. I could spend an entirely different post ranting about what I see as the utter hypocrisy of HRC and their overt abandonment of the trans community. It disgusts me, and it's unforgiveable. But I'm not gonna go there, not today at least.

Yeah. We lost that battle, but the thing is, I am pretty sure we gained something in return that will pay off in extraordinary dividends very, very soon. I think we found our true identity as a community. I think we came to understand that there are some who believe that political expediency and forward-motion have no price tag and that those people are extremely powerful. But that doesn't mean they're right and it doesn't mean we should be silent. We need to shout out how wrong they are at the top our lungs because if you're loud enough people can't help but listen. It turns out that when we do protest, we have some nifty power of our own. And that we don't have to and in fact should never sit quietly and settle for incremental steps if it means leaving some of us behind.

We've never really been tested like this before. We've never had to look the ugliness of divide and conquer politics so directly in the face. A carrot was dangled in front of us: we can finally pass a bill we've been fighting over for more than 30 years, and we'll only have to leave out a tiny segment of our community to do it. Don't worry, we'll come back for them soon. We LOVE them, you know that, but sometimes they just make it so hard for us! But really, we won't forget about them. We can take this boat down the river, but we need to toss a part of the community overboard. 'Cause the only way this boat doesn't sink is if we remove some of the weight, and the "T" in LGBT is just too heavy and hard and they are just going to have to jump off for now and wait for us to come back and get them later on.

The grassroots backbone of our political advocacy work is the state organization that every day goes to work on the ground. Alone, that organization is a small tiny voice that has little if any impact on national issues. But when we saw that carrot, and we understood the cost, those state organizations quickly started talking to one another. And suddenly we realized we might have some power if we united as one voice and said "Fuck you. We go together, or we don't want to go at all." We stood up to the all-and-powerful Oz known as HRC and said "we aren't afraid to go up against your money and your insider politics and your patronizing we-know-what's-best-for-you attitude. And we may not win, but we are gonna go down kicking and screaming." It feels like we "grew up" during this controversy and that we finally found our voice as a united queer community.

And maybe we didn't get what we fought for this time, but we didn't compromise our integrity. I'm hoping that someday we will look back on this profound moment in our history and know that we did the right thing, that we stood together. We will look back on this moment as a turning point in our identity, in our shared goals, and in our vision as one solid and unified community. What I hope for most is that we have begun the process in earnest of recognizing our transgender brothers and sisters as an important and necessary part of who we are. It should have never taken this long.

I've never been prouder to be an activist, and I am most especially proud of the way EqualityMaine has stood firm in our position through all of it. Our executive director wrote a beautiful and articulate message to our members about how the moral yardstick of a civil rights movement is measured against the way we treat the most vulnerable people in our community. She did not budge from our stance that we would not support an ENDA bill that left trans protections out, and in that message she took HRC to task. It was a courageous thing for a tiny little LGBT organization in Maine to do, and I was so proud of her for doing it. And since then, she's had to deal with some fairly harsh criticism by some of our members who felt that "incremental steps" were better than no steps at all. But she hasn't wavered and I know we are a better organization because of it.

I know we still have a long way to go. I know there is a lot of healing that has to happen, a lot bridges to cross, a lot of education and work to do. We will stumble along the way, we'll make mistakes. Let's be honest, the LGBT community is like a family: when we're under attack, we tend to forget our differences and we act like the brothers and sisters that we are, and then when things are swell we go back to being dysfunctional as hell. But for the first time as an LGBT activist I feel like I'm fighting for everyone in our community. And it feels good and it feels right. I feel like I can look my friend in the eyes now and tell her that we are changing, slowly but surely, into the community she dreams of.

And that means a lot to me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

koko's addiction

one more hoops and yoyo video.

makes me think of:

1. sunday brunches after tearing it up on saturday night.
2. more than one morning waking up in "my room" on reg roc road.

goddamn funny.

happy birthday mchottie

hoops and yoyo rock.
love you sister friend.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


outside the wind howls, the rain spins sideways in tiny tornadoes, neighborhood chimes singing, ringing (i hear you betty), every house glowing orange from the inside, no cars, no people, nothing at all on the street except the massive pounding force of the rain and the wind.

my windows are shaking.

outside it is cold to the bone.

i spent part of the afternoon working, then visiting a very sick friend who is brave and undaunted and so incredibly strong and who fights on and on and on, refusing to give in, she is a beautiful warrior who makes me so fucking proud to be a woman. on my way back home, drained from emotion, I took a detour, higgins beach, i needed to stand in front of the violent ocean i needed to feel the sting of the rain i needed to smell the salt in the air and to listen to the waves crashing and pushing so hard, so powerful, so...completely...present.

i needed to

arrived home late, drenched, cats hungry and restless. put on an old ragged wool sweater of my dads and my best loved pair of flannel pajama bottoms, tucked my feet inside thick wool socks, fed the cats, and started a pot of vegetable soup, letting it simmer, letting the smell fill the room, making the kitchen feel warm and alive and reminding me of shapleigh. safe.

lit a fire, pulled the chair close to it, and here i sit, curled up, the faint hint of my dad on the sweater mixing with soup and fire and incense, a parade of smells, of memories that were, of days that are, and anticipation of what's to be.

here i sit, a glass of red wine warming my blood, cats sprawled on the floor by my feet, billie holiday whispering in the background, i am alone but i don't feel it, there are echoes, haunting but comforting, betty and alex and gracie and the beautiful friends I am blessed with now and my amazing, wonderful family . all of them my jewels. all of them my angels. it is just such a gift, to love and be loved.

let me always be aware of how truly lucky i am.

storm brewin'

The remnants of Hurricane Noel will make a guest appearance today in the Pine Tree State. I'm excited. I am a crazy weather freak. Mother Nature is one passionate Bad Ass and I love it when she gets sassy (my kinda woman, and that's a true story.) And it looks like she's going to do a little dance and make a little love on the East Coast. Love it love it love it.

And I love that it's Hurricane Noel, because it reminds me so much of my sweet angel Alex (see One More For Alex). Back in the good old days, and after 4 or 5 six ounce tumblers of Glenlivet, Alex would bring out his camel hair coat (he would always say this was the famous stolen coat of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye...GOD I miss that boy!). Then he would put on a Noel Coward record and do THE most amazing and hysterically funny drag-queen-lip-sync-rendition of Mad Dogs and Englishman. It was...fabulous.

You can't appreciate how much talent it requires to pull off such a feat (particularly if you're a little tanked on scotch) unless you've heard the song. honor of Mother Nature, Hurricane Noel, and My Most Beautiful and Beloved Alex, here's Noel Coward, making history on CBS in 1955. Oh, and you can click here for the lyrics, just in case you can't keep up. :>

Saturday, October 27, 2007

listening to...

mazzy star

e.e. cummings

last night i curled up on my comfy couch, wrapped up in my thick LL Bean blanket and watched an old favorite of mine, hannah and her sisters. there are a million things i love about this film including the fact that dianne wiest's character reminds me more than a little bit of...ME. (and a role for which she won an Oscar in 1986.)

my favorite moment: a haunting and ever-so-beautiful reading by barbara hershey of an e.e. cummings poem.

i forgot how much i love that poem.

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands


somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
by e. e. cummings

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands