Friday, July 26, 2013

To Russia… with no love…

The following is the opinion of Kaylia Metcalfe, staff writer and BOD member of GCV. The views in this article belong to the author herself and do not reflect the views of Gay Central Valley, its staff, its other Board of Directors, or its sponsors.

Are you aware of what’s going on in Russia?

First there was the new law that made it illegal to promote the LGBT “lifestyle” to youth… meaning that no public displays of LGBT affection or support (no flags, no holding hands, no festival, no information). Here is a great break down of the new law, the predictable response of the people, the even more predictable response by the police... and a fun twist of pointing out that on the day this new law was passed President Putin announced his divorce.

Then the Russian government announced that no LGBT couple would be allowed to adopt… even if that couple were in the US. So, Russian babies who are up for adoption can’t be adopted by foreign LGBT families.

This is all horrible enough.. but now this.

Russian skin heads are using social media to lure LGBT youth to “dates” where they are brutalizedsometimes In Public With No Consequences.

Be careful, that link is very disturbing.

Let’s get back to the law though… the new Russian law basically makes it impossible for LGBT tourists or even straight allies to visit the country without the threat of jail time or worse.

In fact, it was reported last week that four Dutch documentary film makers were arrested in Russia for daring to make a film about Russia’s LGBT policies. (They were not the first to be arrested under the new laws, but they were the first foreigners.)

And Russia is going to host the Olympics next year.

Of course, the International Olympic Committee has said that they \ “received assurances from the highest level of the government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

But do we believe them? Obviously they have a vested interest in keeping the games going... and US media corporations have an interest in the US taking part so that they can sell ad time during the days and days of coverage.

For example, Comcast paid $4.38 billion in 2011 to win the rights for NBC and other properties to air the winter and summer Games from 2014 to 2020. (source)

In light of both the Russian anti-LGBT laws as well as the Snowden debacle, some advocacy groups are calling for the US and other LGBT friendly countries to boycott the 2014 Olympics.

This wouldn't be the first time such a thing would happen. In 1980 we boycotted the Olympics (which were being held in Moscow) because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

(Of course this led to Russia and other countries boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics for security concerns and flat out “tit for tat”)

Back to the present: people on social media sites love to hysterically start clamoring for boycotts. Recently there have been several sites and places who are refusing to sell Russian made products… most notable gay bars declining to sell Russian made booze.

The problem with that, of course, is that you aren't really hurting the government by not buying a product that, it turns out, isn't actually made in Russia and is made by a company who actively supports the LGBT community.

Let’s be clear: boycotting is a valuable method to show your disapproval. Our money is a powerful tool and we have every right to decide where and when and how much to spend it.

But to boycott the Olympics? To derive our own athletes the chance to compete and showcase their talents… to wash away years of training and dedicated hard work?

Maybe there is a better way to draw attention to the plight of LGBT people in Russia.

Maybe we need an act of civil disobedience on such a grand scale that the world will notice.

Imagine a sea of rainbow flags during the opening and closing ceremonies. Imagine rainbow patches sewed onto uniforms alongside corporate logos. Imagine a gold medal winner hoisting the medal with a rainbow bracelet. Imagine if the swelling of support was impossible to ignore… imagine being a Russian LGBT youth and knowing that while your own country might consider you a degenerate, might condone labeling you a pedophile and hunting you down… that there is hope. That it can get better. That others have survived and support you.

Imagine the hope that could be inspired.

This isn't my original idea, mind you… a wonderful article (found here) makes a much more compelling case.

But regardless of what happens (and one can only hope that Russia might bow to international pressure... a fleeting hope to be sure...)… we who won’t be attending the games, who won’t be competing or putting our freedom in jeopardy… we can still do something.

We can talk about it. We can spread the word. We can call on our elected officials to make a stand… we can join the HRC in their letters to the International Olympic Committee condemning the Russian laws and asking them to intercede.

We can speak up for those who are being forcibly silenced.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Nelson Mandela

Thursday, July 25, 2013

MEETING: Lavender Convention

Please note that there will be a brain storming session for the Lavender Convention.  This will happen on Saturday night (July 27th) at 7PM, at the Unitarian Universalist Church.  

The church is located at

 2672 Alluvial Avenue Fresno, Ca  93720
Contact Phone:  706-9197

The meeting will be in the Administration Building on the West end of the campus on Alluvial.  

The Lavender Convention is an interfaith event scheduled for March 1, 2014.  The first annual convocation will include a program representative of many faiths, belief systems, and expressions of spirituality in the LGBT Community and among our Friends.

Every effort is being made to develop the program on a consensus model.  Therefore, everyone's input is needed, as we move forward to make the Convention a reality !

Please come.


Live Cards Available Now!

Gay Central Valley is selling “Live Discount” cards for $20 at the Fresno LGBT Community Center. 

Each card is loaded with coupons and discounts… and can be used again and again! 

Get deals at local salons, restaurants, clubs, wine bars, outdoor activities, the zoo, golfing, sporting events, local attractions, hotel packages, and many many more. 

There is also a free mobile ap so you will always have access to your savings!

Cards will be valid for one year.  Here's a list of all the great coupons and deals!

Stop by the Fresno LGBT Community Center today to get your card! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laurel Fertility Care @The LGBT Center

Lots of great things have come from our recent collaboration with Maya Scott-Chung and Conrad Smikle of Laurel Fertility Care in San Franscisco...

Thank you to all those that came to our first collaboration, "Introduction to Conception Options". We had great speakers from around the country and addressed many vital issues relevant to LGBT community members wanting to have children.

The LGBT Community Center now has lots of literature on this topic. Please call or visit us if you have questions and we will do our best to get you information and connect you with those that can assist.

We’ve also been privileged to be able to display several panels of The Loving Quilt for the last couple of weeks. 

The Loving Quilt exhibit has toured extensively and is now part of an ongoing exhibit called THE LOVING QUILT 2010: A People's Living History and Herstory - of Marriage Equality & Family Justice Movements The exhibit is a Project of Marriage Equality USA in collaboration with numerous creative individuals & community, state and national organizations.

In addition to all this, we were able to record the life stories of several Fresno individuals and couples for the Story Corps Project. 

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 45,000 interviews with nearly 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

We plan to further this project, which records personal stories that live on in the Library Of Congress, later this year, when we will invite a group to come to Fresno for a two week period. This is an exciting way to get Central Valley stories into this monumental and historic project. Stay tuned for more details.

EVENT: LGBT Forum in Merced

This FREE forum will focus on the vital role of families and the community in preventing suicide and other risks, and in supporting the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender YOUTH.
Nationally acclaimed speaker Caitlin Ryan (Ph.D., ACSW) will share new research showing that families have a dramatic influence on their LGBT children's health, mental health, and well-being This research shows that FAMILY ACCEPTANCE protects against risk and helps promote well-being while family rejection is related to serious health and mental health concerns in adulthood including depression, suicidal behavior, substance abuse, and STD's. The booklet SUPPORTIVE FAMILIES, HEALTHY CHILDREN will be provided.
A diverse local panel will speak to the importance of community support and share about the resources that are available to LGBT youth and their families.
Learn MORE about Dr. Ryan's work at the FAMILY ACCEPTANCE PROJECT website:
PLEASE REGISTER NOW...!!! (Light Dinner WILL be provided)
call : Jeremy Jenkins / (209) 230-3156 Andrea Cano / (323) 247-2099 Marilyn Mochel / (209) 617-4651 Marissa Chavez / Jordan Cowman/ (209) 383-4242

EVENT: FREE LGBT Legal Workshop In Visalia

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Porterville City Council Rescinds LGBT Proclamation

The Porterville City Council decided tonight to rescind the Mayor’s proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride Month in the city. Many from both sides of the issue were present for the decision, and at least three LGBT activists were arrested for vocally protesting the Council, including Robin McGehee and Jennifer McGuire of Get EQUAL.

“The Council chamber was in chaos as the vote to rescind the LGBT proclamation caused the chamber to erupt in protest, with LGBT supporters arrested, and led out by Police,” according to our source who also said that the Mayor stood by in tears as she watched these events unfold.

The City Council also passed a new resolution that means that any future Mayoral proclamations require a level of council approval.

Porterville was the only City Council in California to declare support for California’s Proposition 8.