Wednesday, November 26

Remembering Duanna Johnson

This whole story makes me sick; and then it makes me want to cry. For those who don't know, Duanna Johnson was a transgender MTF who was beaten by two 'officers' in a police station where she was being processed after a prostitution arrest. That was in February; in June she went public about her treatment. The beating was caught on videotape, and was leaked, so that backed up her story. (Probably leaked by someone who couldn't stand seeing another human being treated that way, thank God!)This month, Duanna Johnson, of Memphis, Tennessee, was shot "execution-style" and killed. To date no one has been charged with her murder; does anyone really believe that anyone will be? I don't....

No one deserves to be treated that way, especially because of their gender. This is the kind of world we live in, where not only do our rights get taken away, our lives get taken at the drop of a hat, and the general public doesn't care because it's just some "cross-dressing faggot".... God how it makes me want to cry, matter of fact it DOES make me cry. Despite her size, she probably had never hurt anyone, and all she wanted was to be able to live her life the way she wanted. We have Thomas Beaties in the world getting all kinds of publicity, but the Duanna Johnsons get a couple of mentions and that's it. What do we have to do to get not only equal treatment, but HUMANE treatment? How do we stop the Matthew Shepherds, and the Duanna Johnsons from losing their lives? How do we get the society as a whole to see that we are no different from them, no matter what we do in the bedroom or with who? How do we do it?

Tuesday, November 18

Are Civil Unions Enough?

So Obama/Biden came out with their agenda today; while I love the fact that he wants to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act, and voted against the Federal Amendment Act, and that he's all for the expansion of adoption rights to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, part of his Civil Rights Agenda sticks in my craw. When it gets to where it says "Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples." something just doesn't jibe. If you believe that we are 'equal', why are you in favor of something else that equals marriage? Why are we not getting marriage? Doesn't that still make us "separate but equal"? I should tell my grandson "Your grandmother and I got civil unioned back in 2007"? I understand that he's got a very delicate line to walk, balancing between the gay and anti-gay camps, but sooner or later it's got to be one or the other, you either make us equal or you don't. Stop throwing us a bone! If you told heterosexual people that no union of two people would be called 'marriage' anymore, that they would all be called 'civil union' or 'domestic partnership', they would go ballistic, so what makes them think that gays are any different? All we want is the same thing everyone else wants, to love the person of our choice, to commit to them, to be able to adopt their name if we choose, have and raise a family, have a home, take care of our loved one if they get sick, and if they die, have the right to take care of them as they wish. Why is that so wrong that states would change their constitution to avoid it? Why is it so wrong that people are now fighting each other over who voted which way?

President-elect Obama, I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I'm sorry, to me it's just not enough. I want what you and Michelle and every other married heterosexual couple have. I want to marry the person I love. I want to be able to take my license down to the DMV the next day and say "I want to change my name on my drivers' license." I do not want to have to go to court and file for a name change, and pay for it, and pay to post ads in the newspaper, and then have a judge tell me six months down the road that yes, I can legally change my name. I want to be able to move to another state if we choose, and buy a home that we can own jointly. I do not want them to tell us, "Oh no, we don't recognize your union here, so you can't jointly buy a home, you have to be separate owners with each owning half." If I get terminally ill in another state, I want my loved one to be able to take me out of the hospital and bring me home. I do not want her to be told "Oh no, we don't recognize your union in this state, so you have no rights here, we have to call her family." Can you imagine President-elect Obama how Michelle would feel if she were told that she wasn't able to take you home, that she was not your family? Especially after you two have been together for years and been through all you've been through? She would go absolutely postal, and so would you!

Sir, if you are going to give us "all the federal rights" of marriage, why can't you just give us marriage? Why can't you make us equal? Separate but equal doesn't cut it, just like it didn't cut it when the blacks had to sit at their own end of the lunch counter, or use their own bathroom, or their own water fountain. We are human beings, and we want to be treated the same as everyone else. Civil Unions are just not enough.

Wednesday, November 12

PLEASE REPOST: Nation Wide Protests November 15, 2008

Fight the H8 in California!!!

Over the last several days, tens of thousands of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and their Supporters have taken to the streets of California to show their outrage with the passage of CA Proposition 8. Prop 8 provides for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage rights. Similar amendments and propositions have been passed in AZ and FL. The passage of these propositions has angered the gay community and their supporters. Many feel as if they are now second-class citizens in a country that has seen that change can happen with this historical election. They do not feel that a majority should be able to vote on minorities’ rights or vote to take anyone’s rights away.

On Saturday, November 15, 2008 this community will again take to the streets in what could be the largest organized Protest / Movement since the Civil Rights Movement. To date, more than 250,000 individuals have pledged to take part in the nationwide event, in which they will descend upon the City Halls, State Capitols and the Nation’s Capitol to make their voice heard. Signs, posters and numerous websites have already been created and the word is spreading quickly throughout the nation. lists protest locations in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

The message is simple, yet loud; Equal Rights for All. Signs seen at the many protests that have already taken place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Salt Lake City read: “No More Mr. Nice Gay – Equal rights for all people”, “Fight the H8”, “Teach Acceptance – Not Hate”, “I am now a 2nd class citizen”, “I am a victim of H8” to name a few. The organizers of this nationwide event have stressed that it, like the protests that have taken place over the last week; will also be peaceful demonstrations. “The time has come here in America for all people to be afforded equal rights, and we will not stop until everyone receives Equal Rights.” The Protest / Movement is scheduled to take place across the nation at the same time: 1:30 PM Eastern, 12:30 PM Central, 11:30 AM Mountain and 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday, November 15th, 2008. Those interested in attending this historical event may find their local protest location by visiting:

Tuesday, November 11

Are you rude? Maybe you should think again

I'm not a big fan of Oprah, but this article happened to catch my eye. After reading it I just felt I had to comment on it; I'm one of those people who can't stand rudeness. I hate rude drivers, I hate people who are rude to service workers; I just can't stand unnecessary rudeness of any kind. It's kind of a long article, but it's pretty interesting.I definitely don't believe the How Rude Are You quiz is valid though, I just can't believe those answers. I'm sure some people were honest, (I know I was) but I've seen too much of some of those behaviors for those numbers to be accurate. See what you think though!

( -- Fed up with the rude behavior you experience day in and day out? Is it aggressive driving, co-workers who don't wash their hands or smokers who use the sidewalk as their personal ashtrays?
Oprah says she can't stand people who are rude to service workers.

Oprah says she can't stand people who are rude to service workers.

What about the sales clerks who ignore you -- then act like they own the store when you finally get their attention?

It's time for a return to civility! In "O, The Oprah Magazine," Oprah asked Jerry Seinfeld about his biggest pet peeve. Turns out, it's a lack of civility.

"Nobody's ever said that as an answer in all the years I've asked that question," Oprah says. Jerry's top three? Cutting people off on the road, BlackBerry or cell phone abuse and interrupting while someone is talking.

Oprah agrees with Jerry about offensive cell phone behavior -- and she has a few rude behaviors to add to the list. "Mine are people who are chewing gum with their mouth open. I don't want to see it," Oprah says. "I also can't stand it when people are rude to service workers because I think you show who you are by how you treat people who are serving you." How rude are you really? Take this quiz

Audience member Nancy says she got a rude awakening in the last place any woman would expect -- at the gynecologist. "I was at my gynecologist's office and I put my legs in the stirrups, totally exposed," she says. "His cell phone went off and he answered it. It was not an urgent conversation, and it went on for seven to 10 minutes."

Nancy says she was so shocked she couldn't even say anything! "I never went back," she says.

As a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent, audience member Stephanie sees about 2 million people every day -- and plenty of bad behavior. "We call them 'special,'" she says.

Stephanie says rude travelers take their anger out on TSA agents, sometimes even calling them names, simply because they're there. One time, Stephanie says a customer hurled a bottle of cologne at her head. "This is after I told him that he couldn't take the bottle of cologne onto the plane because it was after the liquids restriction," she says. "He was just so incensed that it surprised me."

One tip Stephanie has for travelers looking to get to their gates faster is to put away those cell phones! "[When] you're waiting to get a person's I.D. and check their tickets and they walk up to you on the phone and they're ignoring you like you don't even exist," she says, "you don't want to be rude and interrupt their conversation, but they're also being inconsiderate for the other passengers in line."

Eighty percent of Americans think rudeness is a serious national problem, but 99 percent of the same people say that they themselves are not rude.

Oprah takes the quiz with members of the audience. The first question is: Are you chronically late? Oprah has to admit, "My answer would be sorta kinda," she says.

Oprah says her friend and trainer Bob Greene once taught her an important lesson about being on time. "When I first started working out with him, I was late. I was chronically late," she says. "And I was late one day, and he said, 'If this ever happens again, I will never work out with you, because my time means as much to me as yours means to you. So you either get here on time or find yourself another trainer.' And I went, 'Okay.'"

How many times have you run in and out of the gas station? Ever think about what it's like to be on the other side? How to be the best customer you can be

Shannon is the mother of three and works as a clerk at a gas station. "I think people are rude when they're having a bad day, and they don't expect to ever have to see you again, so they say what they want," she says. "I used to be a rude customer. I would talk on the cell phone while someone was trying to help me. I don't do that anymore because now I'm on the other side of the counter."

She's nicknamed some of her rudest customers "the tossers." "What they do is instead of handing me their cash, they toss it at me," she says. "I've had people toss it so hard it's actually flown off my side of the counter."

There are also "the messers." "They come, they get what they want, they leave their mess, and then I have to clean it up," she says. "I wonder if they do that at home."

But by far, Shannon says the rudest thing that's happened to her at work was getting cussed out by a woman whose credit card was declined. "I ended up having to flag down a police officer to have her escorted out," she says. "Sometimes I feel like a human punching bag because customers take things out on me that are not my fault."

According to Dr. P.M. Forni, everyone can improve the quality of their relationships and lives by choosing to be more considerate, courteous and polite.

For the past decade, Dr. Forni -- a professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct" and "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude" -- has been on a mission to promote gracious behavior.

"The quality of our lives is about treating each other well in every situation. We are all the trustees of one another's happiness and well-being in life," he says.

Dr. Forni says modern society is structured in a way that actually amplifies and encourages incivility. "We are stressed, we are fatigued and we are in an anonymous environment. Stress and anonymity are two very, very common causes of rudeness," he says. "Especially when they are together, like in traffic."

In "Choosing Civility," Dr. Forni uses a quote from motivational speaker Peggy Tabor Millin -- "We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace" -- to illustrate the idea of "respectful persons."

"The principle of respectful persons is the principle upon which all ethical systems have been based from the beginning of humanity, since certainly the last 2,000 years," he says. "[The principle] says that we ought to treat others as ends in themselves rather than as beings for the satisfaction of our own immediate needs and desires."

Dr. Forni says choosing to act in a civil manner has proven more beneficial than self-satisfaction. "I'm not a physician, but any doctor will say that when we are involved in a rude encounter, there are hormones -- like catecholamines, for instance, cortisol -- that are cascading into our system and they are making our immune system weaker," he says. "If you have a boss that you perceive to be unfair, you're much more likely to have cardiovascular disease."

The bottom line? Going through life rude and angry can make you sick.

If you want to see rudeness in action, one of the best places to look is in the restaurants of America. Kara says she knows one of those rude customers personally -- her sister Jeni is one of them!

"Anywhere we go out to eat, she refuses to sit at tables and she has to sit at a booth. And if they're really busy and she has to wait to sit at a booth, then she complains about having to wait to sit at the booth," Kara says. "If her water glass gets empty ... and they're not immediately there to refill her water, she gets really upset or won't leave a tip because they're not doing their job. And she orders iced tea a lot and she puts sweetener in her tea, and so it gets a certain amount of sweetener. And lots of times the waitress or waiter will come and top off the glass and she gets upset because now her sweetener-to-tea ratio is messed."

Jeni says she doesn't intend to be mean but isn't afraid to tell waiters when something is wrong. "Most of the time, I find something that's not correct," she says.

For nine years, Steven Dublanica was a waiter who experienced his share of difficult customers like Jeni. He recounts those experiences and more in the hugely popular blog Waiter Rant, which he's turned into the best-selling book "Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter."

Steven says customers certainly have a right to expect good service at a restaurant, but it's not their right to be rude. "When you get to the point where you're picking on everything, that becomes a control issue because you're really trying to control everything around you," he says. "And it's not going to work."

Steven says he thinks some people feel license to be rude to waiters because of the nature of the interaction. "It's a servant job. You know, we're bringing food to a table and we're getting tips in return. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that," he says. "But when people start thinking that we're not human, that we're slaves, that we don't have feelings? Sometimes when people treat us that way it hurts."

When you hurt your waiter's feelings, Steven says you might find yourself on the receiving end of a bit of revenge ... but it may not be quite as bad as you think. "I think the one everyone is scared of is spitting in the food. I think very few waiters do that in actuality," Steven says. "I had a rule when I was waiting. My rule was, 'If I couldn't give it to my mother, I didn't give it to my customer.'"

Steven says there are three things you can do to stay on your waiter's good side.

1. Don't talk on a cell phone at the table.

"I would be coming up to a table and saying, 'Here are the specials we have today.' And the phone would ring and they'd go, 'Wait." And then I would [say], 'Can I come back in a minute?' 'Wait,'" he says. "That's very rude behavior."

2. Don't demand a different table on a busy night.

"On a busy night, the hostess has set up the seating plan in a way that it's like the logistics for the Normandy invasion," he says. "If you change one table, everything gets thrown off."

Steven says everyone -- even celebrities -- has to understand what happens in a restaurant during weekends.

"Alec Baldwin ate at my restaurant one time. He came in unannounced. The only table I had was literally by the printer and the two bathrooms," Steven says. "He walked up and I said, 'Mr. Baldwin, this is the only table I have.' And he said, 'No problem.' And he sat down and he took it. ... If Brad Pitt and Angelina came in and it was the only table I had, that would be where I would put them."

3. Don't tip less than 15 percent.

Waiters are paid wages well below the minimum wage -- as little as $2.15 an hour in some states -- with the expectation that they will earn the majority of their income through tips. In addition, some restaurants require waiters to pay around 20 to 30 percent of their tips to food runners, hostesses and bartenders.

"If you don't tip, then that person doesn't get paid," Steven says. "Literally."

From "The Oprah Winfrey Show"
TM & © 2008 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 7

Third suspect arrested in Tuba Man's beating death

"Tuba Man" Ed McMichael

While everyone is ooh'ing and aah'ing over President-elect Obama's little girls getting a puppy, and tut-tutting about Sarah Palin spending too much money on clothes, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten that we still live in a world that's going to hell in a hand basket, and it's our youth that are carrying it there...

SEATTLE -- A third suspect has been arrested in the beating death of a local icon.

Seattle police say they arrested at 15-year-old boy on Wednesday for investigation of the murder of 53-year-old Ed McMichael, aka "The Tuba Man". The boy was booked into the Youth Services Center for Investigation of Homicide.

McMichael was walking home near a bus stop on Seattle's Mercer Street on Oct. 25 when five teens attacked him. Police said the five kicked and beat him and tried to rob him.

A police officer drove up to the scene and saw McMichael in the fetal position trying to protect himself. The officer was able to capture two of the alleged attackers, but three others got away.

McMichael was treated at Harborview Medical Center and sent home. He was recovering at the Vermont Inn where he lived when he died Monday.

The Tuba Man's throaty notes were unmistakable presence in the city.

Since the early 1990s, McMichael had been a fixture outside Seattle sporting events and Seattle Opera performances, wearing funny hats and playing songs on his tuba he called "his baby."

His brother, Kelsey McMichael, never expected the beloved to musician to become a city icon.

"But for some reason the city picked on Ed as their symbol," he said.

After the Tuba Man was beaten, Kelsey, who lives in Florida, came to Seattle to help him recover. Kelsey said Ed was simply not the same after the attack.

"He was definitely traumatized. The first thing he said to me when I knocked on his door was, 'I can't leave this room,'" he said.

Kelsey can't understand how five teens could be so cruel to such a kind man.

"I asked the medical examiner what was the cause of death. And he simply said it was trauma as a result of the attack," he said.

As police look for the two remaining suspects in the attack, Seattle is looking for something to heal its heart.

"He was just the kind of person you'd warm up to real easily -- just a big heart," said friend Ronny Chesvick. "We're just crushed."

Wednesday, November 5

From Box Turtle Bulletin: Prop 8 Exit Polling

Despite the enormity of Barack Obama's historic win to become the 44th President of these United States, I have never been more depressed about the "state of the union" than I am now. (Except maybe when Bush started sending troops to Iraq and most of America agreed with him.)The 4 initiatives that concerned my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters all passed. I cannot believe that the same country that would elect a black man President will not allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights everyone else has.

I saw this article on Box Turtle Bulletin this morning, and read the comments afterward...I ended up posting a comment myself. I've copied the article and my comment below (if you'd like to read the rest of the comments, please click here);

Jim Burroway
November 5th, 2008

CNN also has some interesting exit polling on California’s Prop 8:

As in Arizona, women are more supporting of same-sex marriage than men:
Men: Yes: 51%; No: 49%
Women: Yes: 50%; No: 50%

We have done a very poor job in reaching out to the African-American community:
White: Yes: 47%; No: 53%
African-American: Yes: 70% No: 30%
Latino: Yes: 51% No: 49%
Asian: Yes: 47%; No: 53%

The youth are our future:
18-24: Yes: 34%; No: 66%
25-29: Yes: 40%; No: 60%
30-39: Yes: 50%; No: 50%
40-49: Yes: 58%; No: 42%
50-64: Yes: 50%; No: 50%
65 or Over: Yes: 59% No: 41%

There’s a reason our opponents distrust education:
H.S. Graduate: Yes: 54%; No: 46%
Some College: Yes: 56%; No: 44%
College Graduate: Yes: 48%; No: 52%
Postgraduate: Yes: 39%; No: 61%

Marriage Amendments are a GOP thing:
Democrat: Yes: 35%; No: 65%
Republican: Yes: 81%; No: 19%
Independent: Yes: 44%; No: 56%

As a black lesbian, I am subjected to many of the criticisms leveled against these 3 groups; "my race" did not vote against Prop 8 and doesn't care about anyone's civil rights but our own; "my sexual orientation" has civil unions and domestic partnerships, isn't that enough; "my gender" is always out there trying to stir up something when we should be home in the kitchen. Instead of trying to find someone to blame for anything that's considered a "failure", why can't we look at these things as just another hurdle to be jumped; another pothole to avoid; another mountain to climb, a river to cross, a valley to climb out of. We are ALL going to need each other to get where we want/need, no, DESERVE to be, and that's on an equal footing with everyone else. United we stand and divided we fall; an old cliche to be sure, but a true one nonetheless. We can only get to the Promised Land if we stand together, side by side, and that means ALL OF US who experience inequality. I am a black woman who loves another woman, but more than that I am a PERSON who is no different from anyone else. We are all what God made us to be; His children, made in His image, and NO ONE, not California, not Arizona, not Arkansas or Florida; not the State Courts or the Federal, not the Mormons or the Jehovah Witness', not even the President himself is gonna tell me otherwise.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that ALL men [including the gay ones] are created equal." (Thanks Michael R)

It's 'self-evident' to me, and I'm going to keep on fighting until it's 'self-evident' to everyone else!!

Tuesday, November 4

“I want to hold it cause I voted for Obama!”

Many stories are going to come out of today; a lot of things are going to happen at the polls. Some stories will make the 6:00 news, be splashed all over the newspapers, and be blogged about for days. Some stories will make a big brouhaha and then be forgotten about tomorrow. There are some stories though that no one will hear about, other than those who were there when it happened. Those are the stories though that later on, a couple of generations down the road, there's going to be an old person sitting with a young person at their knee, telling them about the first time they were able to vote for REAL change. I saw one of those stories happen today.

A little girl of about 3 or 4 came out of the polling place with her mother while I was in line. Her mother had two stickers in her hand, the little girl was almost crying because she wanted her sticker. Her mother said hold on, I’ll put it on for you. The little girl said no! I want to hold it! Her mother asked her why; she said “I want to hold it cause I voted for Obama!”

Of course it doesn’t sound as cute when reading it as it did when I heard it, but it just goes to show, EVERYONE is getting involved. Little children who are too young to know what all this means will be able to grow up and tell their children and grandchildren that they were there the day there was a black man to vote for as President of these United States; whether he wins or not (although I pray he does!) history was made today!

Make sure you get out and vote! You can't complain if you don't try to change things.