Time flies

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In the main hall of the high school I attended there was a large clock set into a rather large wood frame that bore the inlaid aphorism “Time passes quickly for the joyful; slowly for the sorrowful”.

As I was filling out my rent check yesterday, I realized that it was one year ago to the day that I had signed my lease for my New Bedford apartment and then moved in one year ago today.

Considering how fast that year passed, I would have to admit that so far my time here has been joyful.

I have met some very interesting and fun people at the bar I frequent, the museum at which I volunteer, and the political organization I have joined.

What I thought was going to be a minimal involvement at the Whaling Museum has become teaching a cartooning class once a week in the children’s learning area, Casa dos Botes; being a walk around docent who doesn’t lead tours on another day, a sort of Captain Peacock; and on a third day working on transcribing 19th century whaling ship log books, the first one being that of the Catalpa that, because of its historical importance, has indirectly led to contacts with some prominent people in the city.

My museum involvement also earned me the privilege of being one of the readers during the annual Moby Dick marathon, albeit my time slot for reading being 4:10 am on that Saturday morning.

Living as I do in what is considered the Historical District, I am within walking distance of the whaling and manufacturing tycoons’ mansions; the historical homes of the merchants of the whaling era and other prominent historical people, including the home of Frederick Douglass, the irony of which is rich considering my connection to the high school named after him in Oklahoma City; the various ethnic eateries in the commercial section of downtown that range from the high class to the greasiest of spoons, including one Chinese restaurant that has the type of blue collar Chinese food I used to get from a hole in the wall, below the sidewalk place in Boston, and where I enjoyed the best chow mein sandwich I have ever had; and the cobble stoned streets of the rehabilitated waterfront district that includes Rose Alley where the women of the 19th Century planted a few city blocks of roses by the docks hoping the aroma of the flowers would overtake the odors from the rendering of various whale products.

I am close enough to Cape Cod to keep my friendships alive with the people whom I got to know during my time there. I can attend their events being able to cover the distance from New Bedford to the Mid-Cape in a very short time provided I do not attempt the trip on a tourist turnover weekend in the summer, and I can continue as a docent at the Edward Gorey House Museum in Yarmouth.

If I need to visit a bigger City, I can grab the Commuter Rail two towns over to get into Boston if I don’t want to drive, or make the 17 minute drive to Providence, Rhode Island.

I can walk to a coffee shop connected with the nearby community college, another one frequented by hipsters and millennials, and if I want a normally named cup of coffee and have a pastry that is more substantial than a fancy French name without skipping a rent payment, I can walk to a little mom and pop place for a cup of coffee and a freshly made Malasada.

For all intents and purposes I am living in a huge museum with my choice of snack bars.

Living on a major East/West street that runs from the harbor to the mansions, when I sit in my living room with my front windows open, I can hear passing conversations being held in many languages.

And that goes back to the days when the sailors on whaling ships came from countries all over the world and a man was not judged by race, color, creed, national origin, or any other trait beyond whether or not he did his job, and did it well.

This is the city that began the movement to abolish slavery. It is where Douglass gave his first speech in favor of abolition.  And it is the city where a Southern slave owner had signed his slave onto a ship to make money for him by his labor, but when the slave had finished his whaling voyage and was paid for his work, the owner had to file suit for those wages because the Quaker ship owner paid the man for his work, and not the owner who had not done the work.  A suit that went through the various stages of the legal system, and was lost at the state’s Supreme Judicial Court finally ending it.

It is a place whose past could teach a lesson today as the tycoons, seeing that they were fishing out the whales, which made voyages very long and expensive, and seeing the industry was dying, rather than bleed the dying industry dry, moved on to petroleum once it was discovered, and brought in manufacturing since the workers, no longer needed at sea, were available for work on land. They moved on to what was needed to make money and keep people employed. If their fossil fuel investments had begun to show signs of losing and the industry showed signs of possible death, these were the men who would have moved on to renewable energy sources. They did, after all, find a way to create a running water source to run their mills when the city had no rivers beyond the tidal one at the head of the bay.

And in spite of my exploring, involvement, and discoveries, there is much more I have yet to find and experience, so I assume this next year will be as swift, if not swifter than the first.

 

In the year 2076

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I am in my 60s.

Doing simple math, that means I spent my childhood in the 50s, became an adult in the 60s where I not only witnessed but took part in Civil Rights actions, and then in my 20s, after having never been denied my rights as a US citizen, came to the realization of who I really was, and saw that with the acceptance of myself, the rights I had been enjoying were taken away.

I went to and sang at many weddings of people my age, friends, relatives, and strangers, assuming one day I would fall in love, have a wedding, buy a house, remain at my job throughout my life, and die surrounded by my spouse, children, grandchildren, and, if I lived long enough, the great grand kids.

But with my self-acceptance, I lost that as society decided that I could no longer fall in love or even live with the person as close to me as had been the couples at whose weddings I sang at and attended without losing my job, being evicted only because of who I am, and would have to face the treatment of those who felt they had a right to pass judgment on my private life, while they could celebrate their relationships publicly and with acceptance.

As long as I was the fifth wheel, I could go to bars with my friends by walking right in the front door, but if I wanted to patronize a bar where I might meet a future spouse, I had to enter the door hidden in an alley or risk verbal and possible physical abuse if I entered by the street side door of one of those bars people knew the “perverts” frequented.

I had to master the art of pronoun camouflage and how to describe a weekend to family and friends, just as they did theirs, but with such generalities I could avoid judgment and rejection

As I grew more comfortable with myself, I began to work to do what I could to change this.

I met with and joined with those who were fighting for Gay Rights, and who had been doing so, in spite of opposition, for many years.

Over time equality grew. In some places the growth was swift; in others the growth was painfully slow. But, in any case there was progress, and it appeared that the next generation would have what the older people had been fighting for.

I moved from a state where progress was measurable, to one that was years behind others in the fight for equality, and finally back where I had started, to one where employment discrimination was no longer allowed, bullying was being addressed in schools, and marriage equality was a reality.

Where I am now, I have met many people who are responsible not only for the political and legal wins that brought about equality, but those who had educated to politicians who were important in proposing and passing the necessary laws.

I was sitting in a bar one evening with an older person to my right and three young people to my left. While I was joking with the bartender and older gentleman about politics, one of the young men, he was 25, announced he was going to vote for Donald Trump because he was the best advocate for Gay people.

He could not offer specifics other than to say, as if there was a connection, that things were pretty good for Gay people in Massachusetts.

By the time this young man and his companions entered elementary school, Massachusetts had non-bullying laws, procedures to handle bullying on school campuses, and teacher training in how to recognize and effectively deal with it. The bullying and derogatory words to which older generations were subjected were virtually nonexistent during this young man’s entire school career up to and including college.

By the time he was able to begin dating, he did not have to sneak around, but was able to bring his date to school events, and when old enough was not required to protect himself by entering clubs from the rear alley, but could walk in the front door with his Gay and straight friends all of them being open to who they were. And by the time he might want to settle down in an established relationship with the man of his dreams, marriage equality had been in existence, with all its spousal benefits, for at least 10 years.

Since before his adolescence, it has always been that way.

When I pointed out that according to Trump he would nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality, and who would support the religious freedom laws that would reintroduce legal discrimination when it came to Gay people, his only response was to inform me that it would never happen, and that perhaps older people needed to be taught a lesson in November when we cast our ballots for president and the other down ballot  office seekers.

And that is why I began this by pointing out that I am in my 60s.

Although I am hoping to live a long life, if I were to die in the near future I will have lived a rich and full life.

If Trump were to get his way, I would have lived without equality, fought hard to get it, and then lived some time enjoying it. If I were to lose it, I would be returning to a past I had survived.

This kid has at least 40 years to catch up to where I am now age-wise, and will have to live with the Supreme Court decisions that will influence those next 40 years.

It is one thing to fight to get rights while seeing progress throughout the process, and another to have always enjoyed equality and suddenly losing it.

People like this kid would lose everything they have had their whole lives without any idea what it will be like to re-fight old battles especially if he, and those of his mind set, reject the older Gay people to whom they owe what they have had, and who will be dying off during the battle the younger Gays are not prepared for.

So to whom, is he teaching a lesson, and what exactly is the lesson he is teaching?

Again

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Yesterday I had this conversation again.

That is the one where an accusation is made without actual facts to support it, and when I ask for even one real example beyond what someone claims, but has been verified as true, I am told that I should not be so lazy as to not do the research myself.

I was told, “I am not doing the wok for you. If you don’t believe me, look it up.”

The person with whom I spoke believed his only obligation was to express an opinion, but it was my responsibility to look up the facts that would support it.

That will be our last conversation.

 

 

How revolutions die

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This is how revolutions fail.

When initially not getting what they want, the rebels either walk away or confuse their own message with that of the greater good.

But either way, if a one shot deal does not create change, they simply move on to other things.

In this election there has been a lot of talk about change. There will be four years until the next election.

The question the rebels need to ask themselves is, “What do we do in the long run, in the next four years, to bring about the changes we see now need to be made?”

I know of what I speak because for 12 years I attempted to make change, and was often shot down, sometimes big time by people who should have been allies but who saw advantage in betrayal.

I could have walked away. It would have been real easy to pack my bags, “get out of Dodge”, and let someone else do it. I could have just let the change die on the vine

Some of the gut punches really hurt, but in the long run the changes were made.

Revolutions take time. If you really want the change, don’t just wish and demand it.

WORK FOR IT.

Otherwise it was not a revolution, but a jaunt you expected to have a happy ending.

I’m not saying, but………

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It would seem that Hitler and Nazi comparisons are the go to thing if you do not like what someone is doing.

So, rather than make such a comparison, I will present a situation and let those who want to make a comparison make it.

Having reduced the concept and reality of Transgender people down to simply who uses which bathroom, and after Republican led states have decided it would be illegal for students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their true gender as opposed the one visible at birth, the one that is not always the true one, the question did come up as to how anyone would know. Would there be special bathroom monitors in school.

One district has solved its dilemma.

The Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin is currently forcing Transgender students to wear bright green wrist bands on campus. The school district has instructed guidance counselors to have Transgender students  at the school wear “bright green wristbands” so that the school could “more easily monitor and enforce restroom usage.”

The Transgender Law Center has filed a lawsuit on behalf of one student, Ash Whitaker, and his mother.

Ash had been using the boys’ room uneventfully for seven months without incident when he was denied access to boys’ restrooms and required him to use girls’ restrooms or a single occupancy
restroom.  School staff now has to monitor his restroom usage and to report to administrators if he is observed using a boys’ restroom, and this has been made easier by the use of the wrist bands.

There is something familiar about having members of a group wear identifying insignias whether pinned or sewn on.

In the present political climate, if Ash does not win the suit, this idea could spread. As a matter of fact, this idea could spread so we know who all the Muslim are.

And there we have history repeating itself.

 

 

The distraction

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After The Donald’s acceptance speech I listened to a lot of radio, watched a lot of talking heads, and read a lot of reports on the inter-net, and it seems that a lot of people, even those who like to call themselves the “leaders of the GLBT Community” stopped listening just before he announced that domestic attacks against GLBT people will be allowed to continue.

 

Only they can save us from them?

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Remember back in 2008 when he was elected, President Obama inherited a real bad recession, two wars, and a deficit that his predecessor had created and left him by depleting the surplus that he had been left?

Actions were taken to correct the inherited problems, and Obama started to look good, but the Republicans did not like that idea.

The Republican legislators had already met on the day of President Obama’s inauguration to put together a game plan to have him fail, and, appealing to misinformation and citizens’  prejudices, took over the House and Senate in 2010,  and immediately announced that their number one priority was to insure that Obama would be a one term president.

They obstructed his every move and blamed inaction on him, taking every opportunity to misrepresent what was really going on.

Now, during this election cycle their biggest tactic is to tell people they have been successful in messing things up, and only they can straighten out their mess.

Oh, and Jesus.

Don’t be fooled. They are counting on that

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During his acceptance speech, Donald Trump continued the convention-long ruse of attempting to have the GOP appear as a big, inclusive tent.

He attempted to appear protective of GLBTQ people by proclaiming the GOP must protect us.

As he declared,

“As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”

But the important words are “hateful foreign ideology.

He once again, as some speakers before him had, used references about Islamic countries that outlaw gay people and often kill them, not to speak in favor of Gay people, but to present an example of why we should not allow those evil Muslims, any of them, into our country.

He used Gay people as a tool.

And, why the need to specifically refer to foreign ideology?

Because the Republican Platform promotes violence and oppression domestically.

Along with various GOP politicians and evangelical pastors, evangelicals earning a big thank you from Trump, and spokespeople, having called for the deaths of Gay people, Trump has said he will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality.

The platform promotes “natural marriage”, the union of one man and one woman, and calls for a reversal of the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The platform also opposes bathroom choice for transgender people.

As bad as it has been shown to be, the platform includes the promotion of conversion therapy which has been denounced by all leading medical organizations, and is based on the religious belief that  homosexuality is a choice and a sinful one at that.

The Q part of GLBTQ can be sent without any choice to religious therapists whose methods will not be regulated because parents should be allowed to seek whatever treatment or therapy they deem fit for their children. Considering the false information churches promote from the pulpit and their claims that God does not like Gay people because they are an abomination unto Him, pastors could have a strong unregulated influence on the parental decision.

They have, after all, been convincing parents to throw their Gay children out into the street and reject them for years now.

And parents have done that.

Religious freedom was also included which would allow businesses to refuse service to GLBT people. Anti-Gay discrimination is sanctioned by the GOP.

The Platform, ignoring studies, advocates discrimination against LGBT couples who wish to adopt children claiming that two-parent households, those resulting from natural marriage, account for more physically and emotionally healthier children.

Ironically the conventioneers cheered for Laura Ingrahm who opened her speech by announcing she is a single mother who had adopted three wonderful children.

How could that be?

So while Trump will fight to protect GLBTQ people from foreigners, he will support those who attack here at home.