Monday, June 29, 2015

An End And A Beginning

Graduation in 2011 at UConn
with my MSW
To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
T. S. Eliot
Seven years ago I had an ending and I had a beginning, most people only have one life to live, I have two.

I lived 58 years in one life and I have so far lived 7 years in my new life and in those seven years I have lived more than I had in the 58 years.

# # # # #

The mayor of Hartford and I at
the CLARO banquet

Okay so what have I noticed over the years?

Well this spring I realized that I can no longer remember what it felt like being a “man” I have a hard time looking back, it seems so strange. I cannot remember what it was like not to have breasts. I cannot remember what it was like to have body hair or shave every day.
Kristin Beck and I at
a brunch last month.
She was a member of
SEAL Team 6

My old name sounds strange, a few years ago I had no problem with answering the question about my old name during an outreach, now I avoid it saying that it is behind me and I want to look forward. I did a radio interview last week and before we went on the air we talked about what we would talk about on-air and one of the questions he asked was what was my former name. I told him that I didn't want to go there, that was my past and I rather look forward.

My dreams have changed... I am female in all of my dreams

And at the same time I realized that this is the future, I cannot see ever wanting to go back… it is just too strange to think about going back.

# # # # #

1974 backpacking in the Rocky
Mountain National Park with a friend

Also just about everyone who knows me doesn't know me from before I transition, they only know Diana. Some of my grandnieces were not born before I transitioned.

All my classmates, everyone from UConn, everyone from my activism only know me as Diana. All but four Facebook friends only know Diana.

A friend's modified production Camaro
at the CT Dragway
I went out with a woman a couple of summers ago and she has only known me as Diana.

My past is back on a shelf somewhere in a dusty corner that I bring out once in awhile and dust off.

I have been converting files from my first digital camera that uses some legacy extension and boy did that bring back strange memories. I used to hang out with a lot of gearheads and did a lot of backpacking, I liked the backpacking, but I wasn’t ever in to cars.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
starring Neil Patrick Harris
There was a lot of stuff that I did back then that I didn’t really like, friends used to come over and we would watch the Red Sox or Patriot games. And there are stuff that I still don’t like, such as going into a bar where I don’t know anyone.

There is stuff that I do now that I liked but no one wanted to do back then, like go to a play or out to dinner with friends. I have never been to a play until I transitioned and now I go to two or three plays a year. A lot of times we go out to dinner before the play. I have even been to a Broadway play!

Once before I came out to my friends I was at a party at one of their homes and we were talking about our cars. I mentioned that I have been putting 24,000 miles a year on my car and everyone chuckled because they thought that I just stayed in town and didn’t travel. But they didn’t know that I was driving all around the state visiting friends, going to plays in Hartford and New Haven.

Yes I have been lucky to have two beginnings.

A National Shame

All the news headline are about the Supreme Court decisions last week, but hidden on the inside pages is a national disgrace.
Six predominately black southern churches burn within a week with arson suspected in at least three
Washington Post
By Lindsey Bever
June 29, 2015

In the week after nine people were shot dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, six churches with predominately black congregations in five southern states have burned. Three of them were being investigated as arson.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with local authorities to find those who set them.

“They’re being investigated to determine who is responsible and what motives are behind them,” FBI spokesperson Paul Bresson told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point.”
In the week after nine people were shot dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, six churches with predominately black congregations in five southern states have burned. Three of them were being investigated as arson.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with local authorities to find those who set them.

“They’re being investigated to determine who is responsible and what motives are behind them,” FBI spokesperson Paul Bresson told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not sure there is any reason to link them together at this point.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that,
The series of fires – some of them suspicious and possible hate crimes — came in the week following a murderous rampage by a white supremacist who shot and killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

The fires also occurred at a time when there is increasing public pressure to remove the Confederate flag – one of the last hallmarks of white superiority — from government buildings and public places as well as banning assorted Confederate flag merchandise sold in retails stores and online.
Those who are old enough to remember the civil rights marches from the fifties and sixties will remember the church fire and murders from that era and now they are returning.

When the hate mongers feel that are being backed into a corner they strike back the only way they know how, with murder and arson.

Update 1:00 PM
Racism is not dead in America, it has always been here.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

There Are Many Stories…

Of the Stonewall Uprising, the one I think is the closest is the article by Leslie Feinberg when Leslie interviewed Sylvia Rivera in 1989.
In 1969, the night of the Stonewall riot, was a very hot, muggy night. We were in the Stonewall [bar] and the lights came on. We all stopped dancing. The police came in.

They had gotten their payoff earlier in the week. But Inspector Pine came in-him and his morals squad-to spend more of the government's money.

We were led out of the bar and they cattled us all up against the police vans. The cops pushed us up against the grates and the fences. People started throwing pennies, nickels, and quarters at the cops.

And then the bottles started. And then we finally had the morals squad barricaded in the Stonewall building, because they were actually afraid of us at that time. They didn't know we were going to react that way.

We were not taking any more of this shit. We had done so much for other movements. It was time.

It was street gay people from the Village out front-homeless people who lived in the park in Sheridan Square outside the bar-and then drag queens behind them and everybody behind us. The Stonewall Inn telephone lines were cut and they were left in the dark.
But many news accounts gaywash us out of history, PBS documentary “Stonewall Uprising” says,
The Stonewall Inn was not a fancy establishment -- even its regular customers described it as a dive. Operated by the Mafia, the bar served watered-down drinks without a liquor license. Its two dark rooms had no running water -- just a tub where the drinking glasses were rinsed for reuse. The Stonewall Inn was, however, one of the only places gay people in New York City could socialize, providing a rare haven where they could drink, dance to the jukebox, and be themselves.

Previous raids of the Stonewall Inn had resolved peacefully. Typically, after police made some arrests, the bar shut down, reopening for business just a few hours later. But the raid on June 28th was different: patrons at the Stonewall resisted arrest and the police quickly lost control of the situation. A crowd gathered on the street outside the Stonewall, forcing police to barricade themselves in the bar. Riot officers wearing helmets and armed with nightsticks descended on the scene. The violent protests and demonstrations that erupted that night continued for almost a week.
Nothing about drag queens or even lesbian, only “one of the only places gay people.” Yahoo News has an AP article about Stomewall Inn becoming a historic landmark and the articles says,
NEW YORK (AP) — The Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar where resistance to a police raid sparked the modern gay rights movement, was made a city landmark Tuesday, the first time a site has been named primarily because of its significance to the LGBT history.
Patrons fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, and the street protests that followed for several days are credited with galvanizing gay activism in New York and globally. The rebellion is commemorated with annual gay pride parades in hundreds of cities.
Many people tell me I’m nitpicking that they are using “gay” to mean the whole LGBT community, but the thing is that many of the younger generation do not know that. They wrongfully believe it was just a “gay bar.”

When Congressman Barney Franks took out the coverage for trans people from ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) he said that he did it because we hadn’t paid our dues. That gays and lesbians have been protesting for forty years and the trans community just started to demand our rights. But in reality we were protesting even before Stonewall in places like Cooper's Donuts, Dewey’s Lunch Counter, and Compton’s Cafeteria. It was the drag queens who were being harassed by the police, many times they were checked to see if they had at least 3 items of male clothing on then as required by law.

Marriage Equality Is For Everyone

Many trans people do not think that marriage equality affects us, but it does.

In Kansas and Texas for marriage we were considered to be our birth gender and in other states we could only marry the opposite gender so now with the Supreme Court decision we can marry anyone we love.

One of the concerns we should have is that now marriage equality is a reality will the “Gay Inc.” stop financing LGBT civil rights? There still are states where gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or trans people can be fired if they announce their marriage to their boss, or thrown out of their apartment if the landlord finds out that they are married or refused service in a restaurant.

I worry that there will be no organizations to monitor the state legislatures to make sure there are no anti-LGBT legislation or amendments proposed.

They have tried it here in Connecticut with the introduction of a bill to strip us of our insurance coverage, it was only because we had a coalition already in place that we could muster support against the bill. What would have happened if there was no opposition to the bill. The co-chairs of the committee didn't have the slightest idea that this was a bad bill, they backed off once they realized what the bill would do to the trans community.

All it would take here in Connecticut is an amendment to expand religious exemptions to individuals and businesses to strip our protection and marriage rights.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Thoughts And Images

Now that the celebration has died down I some thoughts on the Supreme Court ruling yesterday.

We won a major victory but the battle is not over, right now the conservatives are looking for ways around the ruling, new laws to nullify the court decision, anyway to get out of recognizing same-sex marriage. Louisiana is rumored to stop writing marriage licenses while other states are trying to pass “Religious Freedom” laws. While in Congress there is talk of passing new laws banning marriage equality. So called “Family” associations are calling for new laws to renew the “Sanctity of Marriage.”

The Chief Justice Roberts saw it this way,
Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not. The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote.
The Constitution says nothing about a right to same-sex marriage, but the Court holds that the term “liberty” in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment encompasses this right. Our Nation was founded upon the principle that every person has the unalienable right to liberty, but liberty is a term of many meanings. For classical liberals, it may include economic rights now limited by government regulation. For social democrats, it may include the right to a variety of government benefits. For today’s majority, it has a distinctively postmodern meaning. To prevent five unelected Justices from imposing their personal vision of liberty upon the American people, the Court has held that “liberty” under the Due Process Clause should be understood to protect only those rights that are “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.’” … And it is beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not among those rights.
But the majority of justices didn’t see it that way. Justice Kennedy said…
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way, even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.
Kennedy rightfully saw that by denying everyone the right to marriage violated the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

The courts do not make law, they interpret the law. We might not like the way they interpret it like the “Citizens United” ruling but they don’t make the law.

# # # # #

Yesterday I went to Hartford to the rally at Old State House, it was originally schedule as a Pride Rally but it turned into a celebration of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage…
Hartford's Mayor Pedro E. Segarra at Connecticut's Old State House.

Crowd at the rally at the Old State House

Shawn Lang Director of Public Policy with AIDS Connecticut

Rev. Aaron Miller pastor of MCC Hartford

Anne Stanback Equality Federation and former Executive Director of Love Makes A Family

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo

State Senator Beth Bye

Mike Lawlor Office of Policy and Management, passed co-chair of the Judaical Committee

Saturday 9: I Miss You

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: I Miss You (1997)
... because Smellyann suggested it

Every Saturday I take time off from written on serious topics to have some fun…

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Bjork knows what she's looking for in a mate, she just hasn't met him yet. If you are/were still looking for The One, what two qualities would you hope he/she possessed?
The number one quality is love and the number two quality is love.

2) The lyrics ask if you believe "that a dream can come true." Do you believe that dreams come true if you wish hard enough? 
No, dreams may come true but wishing has nothing to do with it.

3) Bjork turns 50 this year. Do you treat "milestone" birthdays differently? Or to you, is your age just a number?
It is just a number but the numbers are thank goodness keeping getting larger.

4) Bjork was always highly musical. At the tender age of 6 she began studying classical piano and flute. Sam is impressed because at the age of 6, she was still trying to master tying her shoes. Do you consider yourself musical?
I’m tone deaf. One of my tape records was running slow and everyone but me realized it.

5) She was born and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland. While the city is known for its bar scene, beer was banned there until 1995. How often do drink beer?
Once in a great while.

6) 66ºNORTH is one of Iceland's biggest employers. This clothier makes quality outdoor wear and this time of year they sell a lot of durable rainwear. Do you have a raincoat?
Yes, but it is too small. My stomach has expanded too much.

7) In 1997, when this song was popular in clubs, Titanic was popular in theaters. Sam saw it and yes, she cried. How about you? Have you seen the saga of Jack and Rose? Did you enjoy it?
I saw it in the movies when it first came out and I wasn’t impressed.

8) Also in 1997, singer John Denver died. Name a John Denver song.
Rocky Mountain High

9) Random question: If you had the opportunity to sky dive, would you take it?
No way! I get vertigo walking over a bridge.

I was up at the cottage last Saturday and missed Saturday 9, we had a number of electrical problems that had to be taken care of right away (Like no hot water).