Author: Allan

19 Apr

Helping Out a Friend Helps me

I am devoting this blog to educating readers about LGBT rights in general and about oppressed populations throughout the world. I care about making people better allies and better activists. I’m a huge supporter of the idea that all people can make a difference, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. I am not interested in blaming people. Helping people to move forward can make all the difference in the world. Hopefully, reading some of my writings will help a little. With this introduction to today’s blog, I will go on to tell you about a recent effort my friend and I made in the local community.

One way to educate people is to hold events and invite speakers who will draw a good crowd. Publicity, publicity, publicity. It is more important than “location.” I you want to convert your neighbors into activists, tell them how it is done and what causes need their support. While there is plenty of news in the online media, most people are too busy to pay much attention. They would agree with you if you explained all the injustices out there. Beyond this you want them to recruit others and encourage them to participate when the time is ripe. With all the progress we have made in gay rights, for example, there is still more to do. There are so many cases of bullying and numerous examples of blatant hate crimes. We should stand by without protest.

To make this clear, let me tell you about an event I held at my friend’s house in his backyard. He has a covered patio perfect for hosting meetings and rallies. We could fit more people in since the yard is a large space. Not long ago, he asked me to assist in installing a new outdoor ceiling fan from Ceiling Fan Choice. It will help to cool off the space while it adds a touch of décor. Now it is the focal point of his yard. On the patio under the ceiling fan, the speaker’s podium was strategically placed. I planned to spark some real emotions in the listeners and encourage them to “take to the streets” as a form of protest. We were angered by a recent event at a local high school at which a gay student was denied entry to the football team. We wanted to add to the parents’ objections and make it a public issue of outrage.

The event did its job. Everyone in sight became part of the effort. The group at the house began a kind of mass parade, marching directly to the high school gymnasium with enormous signs. We intended to shame the coach and waken the principal to something that cannot be ignored. It was my idea of public education focusing on a real live case in point. I am appreciative of my friend with the patio outdoor ceiling fan for obliging me. Helping him has certainly helped me.

2 Jan

Good News Party

Hate crime legislation is really important to me and my group of friends. We have campaigned long and hard to get it enacted and sometimes it seems like a lost cause. Other times, we cheer in disbelief when we get recognition at the national level. While my town is yet to follow others’ leads, a city nearby passed strong laws that pleased us no end. It is definitely a cause for celebration. We planned to invite everyone close to our cause and spend a good amount of time reveling in our success.

The event was a keg party, very easy and simple. We had snacks like pretzels, chips and other salty tidbits that go so well with beer. Who doesn’t like an icy cold brew drawn fresh from the keg tap? We bought the full size and not the mini version, not really knowing how long does a keg last other than trying to figure out how many beers we can get out of one. We are good drinkers and with friends and relatives at hand, I started to get worried around ten o’clock.

It was a good news party, the kind that brings an inner smile to your lips. We are proud of everything that draws attention to gay rights and new laws don’t happen that often. As a group, we planned to write a support letter to the official who initiated the legislation and congratulated him on his effort and foresight. This is the kind of public relations we do to move our cause forward. We believe in being heard: verbally or in writing.

The beer fest was a time to relax and converse about issues of the day, some beyond the interest of our circle. We are tuned into everything occurring in the world as political beings. We notice what is happening all around the country so we can also write to politicians from afar. We just want more to take place in our immediate area so we don’t go unnoticed. While there has been progress in all sectors, we still have concern about hate crimes and negative attitudes. It is hard to believe what we sometimes hear whispered quietly when we are around. If we dine in pairs, we get those staring looks. It makes me long to live in a place like West Hollywood—such a progressive town.

Thanks to the support of locals and my friends, I am getting more comfortable each day about speaking out in public and in writing such as this blog. We should celebrate our victories and publicize them with pride. A keg party was just what was needed recently to raise our spirits and motivate us to push on. It was particularly important that the keg was donated by a local vendor. It is the sign of new times. There was a time when a keg party for gay causes would be banned, or at least frowned upon. Now group events are dear to our hearts and always well attended.

4 Oct

Help When You Can

I was born to be an activist and raise important issues. On the side, I want to help people lead better lives, free from fear and prejudice. It is a personal calling to help where you can. Injustice must be destroyed. Everyone should enjoy the freedom we have in America. Looking at it from another perspective, there must be good nutrition and medical assistance according to the principles of the surrounding culture. Traditions may dictate how people prepare and serve food for example, how they interact and marry, and how they raise their children. Religion is always a dominant force and may dictate one’s view of western versus holistic medicine. As you can see, I am interested in comparative cultures and applying uniform standards to all if it means a world of fairness and humanity.

This kind of focus leads me to participate in various charitable organization for which I volunteer. For example, recently I helped organize a fundraiser to get hot water heaters to a town halfway across the world to improve the health of the residents. While having clean potable water is a big issue, having hot water to bathe children is a larger one. Without practical water heaters, families (particularly vulnerable youth) may be subject to disease and ill health. Something as simple as an electric appliance can turn a hovel into a home. If there is sufficient shelter and protection from the elements, the next step is to have modern conveniences in the form of certain devices. Along with water heaters come ovens, refrigerators, water filters, and washing machines. Then life truly enters into the twentieth century. It takes a lot more to bring people into the twenty-first.

Have you seen pictures of sad-faced emaciated children who suffer from boils and other infections? These children do not have access to hot water and soap, i.e., a proper way to clean themselves. It is hard for Americans to believe that a hot water heater is a luxury in the third world. We haven’t boiled water on the stove since the 19th century in the Old West. That is when we also relied on water wells. Now it is all automated and hygienic. We just have to provide resources to those in need.

The group that sent the water heaters from this web site selected a worthy location as a sample or test run. They will continue to fundraise to further their program in other areas if this one is a success. Given the effort that has gone into the project, I expect it will be. Volunteers will go abroad to be present when the water heaters are installed. The users will learn how to set them to different temperatures. Minor repairs will be demonstrated as well. Everyone is excited to get going to see how people respond to their newfound luxury. I wish I could be there, but I have work calling my name. Someday I will be able to participate in person.

23 Sep

Step 1 on My Home To-Do List

It is a good thing that I planned ahead when a teen in high school. I took all kinds of shop classes to learn basic construction skills. I loved the woodworking tools and the skills I had to hone to do decent work. Making cabinets and furniture had to come later in more advanced classes. Electrical work always eluded me, but I wasn’t bad at welding. This is not something you have time to learn as an adult. Now I can do some much-needed repairs around the house and yard. I have let things go and my to-do list is growing. I might even buy my own cheap welder instead of renting one. I know that there will always be things to attend to over the years. I can loan it to friends and neighbors since they often do the same for me.

In case you are curious, my repair list is rather mundane and no different than any other homeowner’s. Here are the top five items.

  1. Repair the metal fence with the welder so I don’t have to have the neighbor’s dog in my yard everyday doing his business.
  2. Repainting the trellis over the back patio which looks one hundred years old, at least.
  3. Putting in new screens in the kitchen windows. Simple. I just buy the right size.
  4. Building a metal shelving unit for toils and storage items in the garage. Again with the handy welder. I have to tell you that I got an A in shop class every time.
  5. Last but not least, I must put in a new kitchen faucet or fix the leaky one with the welder.

There are actually tons more things to do like new innards in the toilet that will be more efficient, cleaning out or exchanging the AC air ducts, nailing down a loose board in the hallway wood floor, and welding the hot water tank to its stand. It seems to wobble at times and I fear the consequences. A flood is not a situation you want to be in because you are too lazy to hire a repairman. I can do most things, making it all on my capable shoulders. I don’t mean to boast, but I am proud of my skills.

When all is said and done, the house, yard, and garage will be in tip-top shape and not need much attention for years to come. The welder will sleep for a while in its special place under the new metal shelves. I, for one, hope it won’t see the light of day for a very long time. This means that I am free to do other things such as support my personal causes. It is time to get back to airing the dirty laundry of the world. Tune in later for more on my usual topics. I am a citizen of a world in need of repair. Maybe I need to get out that welder after all. Ha!

12 Sep

Scary Stuff

There is a nightclub around the corner from the city hall that welcomes the LBGT community. Thus, it is one of my favorites. I am friends with many regulars so it is a wonderful social venue. I am sorry to say that it was recently the location of a violent incident. There was late night vandalism and hate mongering. It is a sad state of the world indeed. I thought we had made more progress than this. Do you have to segregate yourself to be safe from harm? Any of the patrons could have been victims. When people go on a rampage, anything can happen. When name calling abounds, the locals get riled and it can result in physical aggression. Someone could be hit, knifed, or shot. The subject of self defense comes up more often these days. No one feels safe even during the day. It is a quiet area at night with few pedestrians. There is no deterrent such as a bright street light.

The owner of the club felt very threatened and insecure on behalf of the patrons. He voiced concerns about safety and vowed to install additional precautions including the best outdoor motion sensor lights that I could find. In fact, he would add several in front and a few in back. People like to go outside in the good weather to enjoy a balmy night. Despite his good intensions, I am afraid to go back. I may change my mind as I see how things turn out. If no other incidents are reported in a few weeks, I may return accompanied by a friend. Remember, there is safety in numbers. Just to be spiteful, I want to hire a body guard but I know it is ridiculous. Only celebrities use them. I am just an average person who is aware of imminent danger lurking behind every corner. I hate to be so paranoid.

I resent that a few people can decide to ruin a community. The problem is that they disappear quickly and move on to another location. You can’t catch them and use them as a public example. I would like to see an outcry when they go to court. I would support tough judicial decisions. Vandalism isn’t usually a violent crime, but I know the kind of people who perpetuate it. They are capable of much more and are often looking for trouble when they haunt a busy and popular place.

My friends and I feel put upon and particularly annoyed that this is happening to us. I decided to check online to see if other areas of the country experience similar problems. I found that it is a common problem. Once certain groups are targeted, the worms inevitably crawl out of the woodwork. It is as if they have been given a secret go-ahead signal. There must be some secret code that exists in the underworld, the low belly of society. I hope you have not been subjected to hate crimes and that you will spread the word of caution.

23 Aug

Great Conference Experience

I believe in promoting activism to help spur along important causes, whatever yours may be. I have mine. It takes a village as they say and a multitude of interested parties. I work hard to voice my opinion and concerns; hence I started this blog. Thank you for joining me as an advocate for my concerns. Knowledge is power in this digital world so let’s use all the social media possible, and other forms of communication, to pass the word. Get up and get active is one of my mottos. I made it up!

It is important to feel you can make a difference as fulfilling a role is vital. Without our beliefs, we are mere robots going about our routine daily lives. I look for opportunities and they are ever present. Recently, I attended a national civil rights inference at which I met the most amazing people of like mind. I treasure these experiences and learn so much. I didn’t want to miss a single minute. There were early morning breakfasts followed by lectures, panel discussions, and seminars. Featured speakers drew my attention as did the Q and A sessions. It was time to be heard. At most such conferences, it is designed so that you can ask questions and speak your mind. The afternoon and evening social events make it all that much more meaningful. They often extended well into the night, causing me to go to bed late.

Upon arrival, I read the agenda for the next several days and was immediately worried that I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of everything offered. In that so many occurred right after breakfast, I wanted to be sure I arose in plenty of time. I always used to bring a portable collapsible alarm, but hated the jarring noise. I knew in those days that there had to be something better, and I found it. I bought a small but powerful device, one of the best wake up light models available. I love it enough to share the news with readers. If you travel for business or pleasure, be sure to take one along. You won’t miss anything and will be in a better mood as well. As a result of arriving to all the meetings on time, it was a great conference experience.

By the way, these wake up lights make a perfect gift for anyone who is on the road. Sometimes I add small keychain lights. If you are wracking your brain for ideas, you can make up a packet for a bon voyage party and include powdered soap, miniature tubes of toothpaste, a small fold-up umbrella, and small vials of mouthwash. Forget the shampoo and conditioner as they are provided in every hotel. If the friend is going abroad, a kit of electrical adaptors is a godsend. I like plastic ponchos and rain hats. But I guarantee that among all these products, the wake up light alarm will be the best gift.

20 Aug

“It Gets Better”

This is a common refrain that you hear. “It Gets Better.” I do think that it’s important to tell people this. A lot of people have a hard time even going on if they think that it’s never going to get better for them when their lives are going downhill. A lot of people struggle when it comes to motivating themselves to fight oppression if they think that nothing that they do will ever make a difference of any kind.

However, you can’t just tell people that it gets better. You can’t just say that it’s true. You have to actually find a way to bring about a world where it gets better as an activist.

Saying that it’s true does help. There are plenty of LGBT people and members of oppressed groups who manage to live very happy lives in spite of the difficulties that they face. Things also have gotten better in a real way.

The It Gets Better Project was actually founded in 2010. It has become a staple of pop culture since then. Things really have gotten better since 2010. Gay marriage is now legal. There are more high-profile trans women in the media now and more trans celebrities and characters.

However, the horrific hate crimes that have occurred throughout the last several years, including the major attack at the Pulse Nightclub, have shown us that the battle is far from over. Hate crimes against LGBT people are still going on. Trans people are getting threatened by bathroom bills that seem to target them personally, and that largely are just about pure expressions of transphobia.

Allies and activists have to work to change this world. We have to make it clear that the world does get better because we made it better. Telling LGBT youth that it gets better in the 1970’s would have been a weak statement to make. It’s not a coincidence that a project like this started in 2010, after decades of LGBT rights progress had been made.

Bullying within a school environment is often uniquely awful. Adults who bullied each other like that would get charged with assault, even though there are plenty of adults who get cleared of assault charges. Many LGBT kids who graduated still did find that things got better for them specifically because the school environment has a way of concentrating prejudice against LGBT people.

Adults need to conquer this sort of prejudice on a societal level and within schools. It should not just get better. LGBT kids should have the same experience as privileged kids. We can tell them that it gets better. We can try to give them strength. We can talk about the fact that some of the issues that they are experiencing now will disappear as they reach adulthood. However, they should not have to rely on their personal strength and they should not have to settle for the progress that we have already made.

20 Jul

Anti-Bullying Campaigns

LGBT bullying is a huge problem. School bullying in general is a problem for a lot of students, especially if they come from oppressed groups. Bullying was once seen as a rite of passage. Some people will still say that it is. This way of thinking is so destructive that many anti-bullying campaigns have to personally take it on in order to make all of this work.

Bullies do what they do because they think that they can get away with it. They will usually not attack the people who are perceived as powerful. Anti-bullying campaigns are partly about convincing bullies that they cannot get away with it and that they cannot go after the targets that once gave them a sense of unearned power.

Bullying does demonstrably change. Bullies used to pick on kids with glasses. For the most part, this is not the case these days. Glasses are normal. Many people find glasses fashionable. The culture has changed since the 1980’s in many ways. As this continues, some problems associated with bullying will go away.

LGBT bullying will become less common as the culture continues to change. Kids learn LGBT prejudice from their parents. They bring it to school with them. They also learn it from the media. As the media gets more tolerant and parents get more tolerant, bullies will go after different targets.

However, this is the sort of process that is going to take a long time to really get going. In the meantime, adults have to make sure that they are able to take on the bullying that is happening now. They need to address individual bullies in order to make them stop going after all kids, including LGBT kids.

It is not up to the LGBT kids themselves to take on bullies. This usually does not work and it tends to pit kids against one another in a way that does not keep anyone safe. You may have seen a lot of action movies where this worked out, but it can escalate the conflict in real life and make things worse for all people involved.

School officials need to realize that few things can destroy education quite like bullying. If they care about the education of kids, they need to invest in anti-bullying programs and campaigns. They need to realize that all kids are entitled to an education and that bullies are destroying it for other kids. They need to accept that the kids themselves are not the people with the power and that they need to make their own schools safer. Anti-bullying programs could be regarded as some of the most important educational tools that are available today.

All anti-bullying programs need to make it clear that bullying in general will not be tolerated. School officials need to offer some real protection for the kids who do get bullied. They need to be prepared to work out the issues with parents and with the kids. They need to hold assemblies in order to make kids realize that the culture of a particular school is not going to tolerate bullying. All of these efforts can help.

4 Jul

Be a Positive Voice in the World

Every single person who speaks out in favor of LGBT rights is doing something valuable. Anything that you can do to help is valuable. Support a friend of yours who is queer. Give money to legitimate and effective queer charities. Support social media campaigns that are in favor of queer rights. If you are able to do any of these things, than you have already done more than a lot of other people have throughout history and you should keep on moving forward.

You cannot solve all of the prejudice against LGBT people on your own. No one can. The culture already has changed in the last thirty years, even though it is not where it should be today. We can make it change again.

If you can find a way to be a positive voice in the world, you will help. Thirty years ago, the people who actively spoke in favor of the rights of LGBT people were comparatively rare. Today, this has become common enough that allies are educated on how they can be better allies.

LGBT people and allies are encouraged to try to be positive voices in the world in whatever way will work for them. Some people cannot give money because of their economic circumstances. Some people are too afraid to protest in public because of concerns for their safety as a result of anxiety disorders or past traumas. Some people might have a hard time supporting Internet campaigns because of their negative experiences with Internet trolls. Some people might have a problem with all of the above.

If you are a person who does not tell homophobic jokes and who calls out the people who do, you are being a positive voice in the world. If you support someone who is LGBT, you are being a positive voice in the world. This is how the culture changes. It does not change overnight. It does not change as a result of anything dramatic. A lot of people collectively being positive and working together and refusing to perpetuate bad ideas leads to the cultural change that makes everyone’s lives better.

27 Jun

Learning to Identify Micro-aggressions

It’s getting easier to identify blatant homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. A lot of people are familiar with all of the different words and phrases that have been rightly deemed offensive. However, some people might still harbor some of these ideas without really knowing it. These ideas could still come out in their speech without their conscious awareness. This is the nature of micro-aggressions.

Many people probably already know what micro-aggressions are, because they have used them or they have heard them. In order to conquer micro-aggressions, you have to be aware of the bad ideas contained within them. You should not just learn all of the phrases that you should not say. This is not just about changing language, although that helps. This is about changing the bad priors that even some allies can have.

For instance, a lot of people still believe that queer relationships are less valuable than straight relationships. A lot of people tend to sexualize queer love in the case of men. In the case of women, a lot of people de-sexualize it. People often tend to project sexist gender binaries onto LGBT men and women.

It is not funny to ask lesbians ‘which one is the man?’ Neither of them are men. Really, asking a straight couple about who does all of the vacuuming is a sexist question, since plenty of men vacuum and plenty of women do not and the idea that housework is for women is dated and offensive. Asking lesbians or gay couples ‘who does the vacuuming’ adds a layer of homophobia to the whole thing.

These are micro-aggressions that are fairly straight-forward. However, some allies will say things that are supposed to be complimentary but that will ultimately prove to be insulting instead. Trans people do not like to be told that they look ‘cis’ as a compliment, because it still implies that there is something wrong with being trans.

Some straight allies and even some LGBT people will compliment one another for not adhering to LGBT stereotypes. However, queer men who are more feminine in terms of their gender presentation and interests are not doing something wrong. They can experience their own brand of prejudice within the LGBT community. Queer men who are more conventionally masculine are not more virtuous as a result. This is just how they are. Saying otherwise once again implies that conventional masculinity is inherently good and that conventional femininity is bad. It supports the gender binary, leaving out so many people and perpetuating sexism.

Anyone who identifies as a man is a man and anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. There are people who do not identify with either, and that is also valid. Queer love is equal to straight love. All gender identities are valid. The people who learn to internalize these priors instead of many of the destructive ones that society has handed down to them will have a much easier time when it comes to being effective allies.

It should be noted that LGBT people need to internalize these priors as well, because they can fall victim to bad ideas just like straight people. Some gay people are biphobic and imply that bi people are not queer enough, or that all bi people are ‘wrong’ in some way, or that bi people are just confused. Some cis queer people are transphobic. Some LGBT people are cruel to people outside the gender binary.

All of us were raised in a society where these sorts of prejudices were a problem. This makes it that much more important for all of us to look at the destructive priors that we have inherited in order to be better at living and working with one another. The important thing is to move forward and acknowledge mistakes.

20 Jun

How to Handle Tough Situations

No one wants to handle tough situations. The media makes it look easy. It never is, even for the people who have been trained for this sort of thing. LGBT people have to handle situations like this all too often, which makes their lives so much more difficult.

Some tough situations are so bad that people cannot really do anything other than defend themselves or try to diffuse the tension. However, in the case of tough situations that are not life-threatening, people will usually have other options.

Even some of the basic parts of being an LGBT person can present tough situations. If you are planning on coming out to your parents, you can try to make things easier for yourself by having someone you trust with you at the time. A therapist or an adult professional or other trusted adult might be able to help.

Ultimately, having a social support network of any kind can make all the difference in the world for the people who are trying to deal with tough situations. These people can help you when it comes to the traumas that you will face. These people can offer direct and indirect support. There is a huge LGBT community and you do not have to feel as if you are alone in a well-connected world.

Preparing for the tough situations is often the best strategy. You can also try to avoid them to the best of your ability. In a world where LGBT prejudice is still very real, LGBT people will have to cope with some of the tough situations eventually, and they should try to get as many people behind them as they can.

This is very much the sort of area where straight and cis allies can help. If you are straight as cis, you have some power in these situations. Some straight and cis people are able to defend LGBT people from prejudiced individuals with their words or actions. If you are straight and cis, you do not have to deal with LGBT prejudice unless you are interacting with an LGBT person or a prejudiced individual. You are not worn out from years of doing so in all likelihood. You can use your power to help others, and this will make things better for the people who are really stuck in a tough cycle and in a world where tough situations are recurring.