Congratulations to Charlize Theron! After seeing the actress on a morning TV show, The View, we named her the recipient of our second Stand UP Speak OUT Wind Changer Award. Charlize stated that she and her boyfriend would not marry until gay and lesbian people have the right to marry. We immediately chose her as our second honoree, and sent her a package with a T-shirt and 25 rainbow wristbands. Click here to find out more about Charlize. If you missed our first Stand UP Speak OUT Wind Changer honorees, click here to read about two fantastic kids!
OK, we are making our plea. Do you have any air miles you would be willing to donate? Our documentary filmmaker Nan Macy, wants to film while we are in Little Rock, Arkansas and Atlanta. She will need to fly from Seattle, Washington and back. Contact us at dotti@GayIntoStraightAmerica.com or at 360-305-0808 if you can help!
Also, there are two new function buttons located at bottom of each page of our website. You can print or email any of our pages to your friends! For instance, if you want to share one of the newly posted articles, Biblical Marriage: A Bad Source for Debate? written by a man who received his degree in theology and is the son of a Lutheran pastor, click here and then print it or email it to your friends. Or, perhaps you are interested in What The Bible Does/Doesn't Say About Homosexuality by Rev. Dr. Lisa Davison.
While in Austin, Texas, we had the opportunity to have dinner with Soulforce friends, Paul Dodd and Jeff Lutes. Jeff’s partner, Gary, and son, Nikko, also joined us for dinner. Dotti first met Jeff and Paul in 1999 in Lynchburg, VA, as they stood silent in a non-violent vigil outside Rev. jerry Falwell’s church. Thank you Rev. Falwell. Without you, many GLBT persons from around the country would have never met. Today, we all stand together, more empowered than ever as we continue to stand up and speak out for justice and equality. Rev. Falwell, your rhetoric, though horrific in its ignorance, has propelled many GLBT to channel their anger, grow and discover their voice in ways they had not done so previously. Again, thanks for the stimulus you provided.
We are excited about Paul Dodd’s recovery. He was recently the victim of a hate crime when his apartment was broken into and he was beaten. We are happy to report that Paul is looking great and feeling better each day.
Paul is a person who stands up and speaks out. Several months ago when Texas Governor Rick Perry was fresh off his endorsement of a resolution in support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, he suggested that gay and lesbian veterans returning from the war in Iraq should go elsewhere if they are unhappy with the anti-gay legislation.
Perry: "Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live."
Perry's remarks were immediately condemned by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who cited the more than 66,000 gay and lesbian veterans living in Texas. Colonel Paul W. Dodd, a retired Army chaplain said, "Gays and lesbians have defended our country since the American Revolution. Governor Perry's remarks were outrageous and offensive and do not reflect the views of fair-minded Texans who value the service of our men and women in uniform. It is past time that those who fight for freedom abroad be afforded those same liberties here at home."
“Everything is bigger in Texas” is a long honored reputation for the state. These remarks by the governor, as well as the recent passing of Amendment 2 in Texas might leave one thinking, “Yea, that applies to homophobia as well.” Lest you feel discouraged, let us assure you that there are many fair-minded people who believe differently in Texas. Remember our friends in Diboll, Texas? (click here if you missed us talking about them in a recent newsletter).
We met many allies when we spoke at PFLAG Houston on Sunday, with more than 50 people in attendance.
(L-R) Kathy Sinclair, Bill Taylor, Jane Gay, Sue Null, Don Sinclair and Violet Taylor.
Jim Null, President of Houston PFLAG, and his wife, Sue Null, are on either side of us. They said they average between 50-100 people at each meeting! Several years ago, PFLAG Houston started a scholarship program for GLBTQ youth. It grew so large that it is now run by the PFLAG-HATCH Youth Scholarship Foundation. Click here to read more about it. It now gives well over $100,000 a year at their July meeting.
The timing of our visit to Houston was such that it coincided with their December meeting where they don't normally have a speaker. We are grateful that we had some time to share about Gay Into Straight America, and appreciated the excited response of the PFLAGers. Having to move this meeting from its regular location, they also had to vacate the building by a certain time. Jim said, "It was a real treat having you visit and speak. If you will be in Houston again, let us know in advance so we can give you a longer time to speak. It might also be reasonable to consider a half day workshop."
We had the pleasure of meeting Tom Chappell and Dr. Cynthia Chappell, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as well as a biologist in the Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health at the University of Texas. They are the proud parents of a gay son. The Houston PFLAG chapter has produced a wonderful and insightful DVD by Dr. Chappell, called "A Biological Explanation for Human Sexual Orientation." Though Dr. Chappell points out that the resources she utilizes are not her personal research, she had done a phenomenol job of analyzing the current research and culling from it information that she presents in layman's terms. As she points out, the data is indeed pointing more and more toward a hormonal component during the pre-natal stages for creating the normal variance in human sexual orientation. Dr. Chappell has pulled together the diverse array of research, giving a concise view of what is happening today in this field. We are personally grateful for Dr. Chappell's research and aknowledge the importance of creating a greater understanding in this area. We also encourage people to keep in mind what we feel is the "bigger picture" as society continues the nature/nurture debate. No matter whether sexual orientation is nature/nuture or a combination, discrimination is wrong...period. Wrong. Loving another human being, and treating that person with dignity and respect, is an empowering value that is needed by all humans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. I can't say that it is a "traditional value," because all people in our society have not been loved, and treated with dignity and respect. We hope that a new day is coming when that will be the case in our society. Please click here to purchase a copy of this wonderful DVD. Thank you Houston PLFAG, and thank you, Dr. Cynthia Chappell. We are glad that you have the gift of a gay son to propell you toward preparing information from other researchers in this area.
PFLAG is important, however, no matter how many people attend the meetings. One PFLAG president wrote recently and said, “Our PFLAG Chapter is so teeny that I think it would waste your time. Sometimes we only have a couple of people show up. I think your story would be better in front of a larger group. Thank you so much for your kind offer though and I wish you the very, very best.”
Our mantra is, “Leave no person behind.” I wrote back to the lady and said, “Thanks for your reply; however, if you are open to us speaking, we would be more than happy to do so. We do not look at ‘numbers’ as the optimal way for determining where to speak. The power of one is what our journey is all about, and that works both ways. We have daily interactions explaining our journey with "one" person at a time as we travel. Time spent with any"one" is never a waste of our time. If there is any message we want people at PFLAG chapters to understand, it is the power each of us has to personally shift, and those "one by one shifts” change our world for the better. Just know that the offer to speak still stands if you all are interested.”
She wrote back, “Thanks so much, Dotti. You have a heart of gold,” and signed it “PFLAG mother of two wonderful gay children (a son and a daughter).” We will speak at their meeting in 2006.
We celebrated Roby's 40th birthday in a downtown Austin Italian restaurant. Once again, we were delighted to discover fair-minded people from Texas sitting next to us. Meet Corinne & Bob, a delightful couple, married since 1989. Corrine & Bob are yet another heterosexual couple in Texas who are very disappointment in the recent passage of Amendment 2.
We arrived in Tulsa yesterday, and had lunch with our friend, Susanne Bain. Dotti first met Karen Weldin, Susanne’s partner, at the original Soulforce vigil in Lynchburg in 1999. Shortly after that, Susanne and Dotti met at the church trial of Jimmy Creech. Again, thank you Jerry Falwell for these introductions. Without you, these are two more wonderful people Dotti would have never met!
We spoke last night at the board meeting of PFLAG, COLAGE, and Families First in Tulsa. What a great group of people! We walk away from these meetings inspired by what people are doing. Thanks to Nancy McDonald for inviting us to speak. She also invited us back to speak at a future PFLAG meeting.
Dotti: Remember I just finished the book, Blink? It is a great book that talks about how experts (in any area) are able to "thin-slice" and use intuition in situations. The same "thin-slicing" that can be an advantage, however, can also (as Gladwell pointed out) be counter-productive in situations involving minorities, leading to discrimination. The thin-slicing that happens in a negative way, creating discimination against minorities is EXACTLY why we all have to stand up and speak out, and is what our journey is truly about. When we allow people to know us, and us them, none of us can "thin-slice" one another with our assumptions/myths/stereotypes in the same way. We will write more in another newsletter about that. It helps explain why people end up scratching their head when they meet us! (: We defy the myths they have been taught. Laws will never teach them that.
Consider the possibility that we, as GLBT people, can affect how others "thin-slice" our community. How? By being more open and accessible. We have the power to destroy the myth. Our openess and willingness to be known will take away the "thin-slicing" of us into caricatures that society has often been taught.
With a financial contribution to Gay Into Straight America, you will enable us to keep the journey of Gay Into Straight America moving forward. End of year giving.
We are enroute to Columbia, Missouri, but due to another problem with the Suburban, had to stop in Springfield, at the closest Meineke Car Care Center. After several hours delay and a couple of hundred dollars, we are again heading toward Columbia , with an intention to still arrive in time to share the evening with the Presbyterian women at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
On Wednesday, we will be speaking with the Freedom to Serve committee, comprised of seven Presbyterian pastors. Marcia Vanderlip, a reporter from the Tribune in Columbia, Missouri, will be following us to that meeting after she interviews us for an article coming out on Friday. She is thrilled about seeing Rylee Joy and called to make sure that Rylee would "be available." We like this reporter already! Then, we will pre-record a radio show which will aire while we are speaking at PFLAG in Columbia on Thursday evening. Beth Derenne, a programmer for KOPN 89.5 FM, community radio, contacted us about a program she does called Women's Issues.
The adventures of two women and a poodle continue!
The light in us honors the light in you, Dotti, Roby & Rylee Joy