Friday, May 31, 2013

Reflecting on Fresno Pride





 
The 23rd Annual Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival happens this Saturday, June 1st on Olive Avenue in the Tower District. The parade is FREE and starts at 10AM. The festival follows and is a $5 donation to enter. There will be lots of local vendors, a beer garden, food, entertainment and fun for the kids. This is a family friendly event. 

It’s here again Central Valley…the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years of the largest LGBT event in Fresno. Lots of memories for me. I’ve been going since the first parade in 1990. That year, my partner, angry over the presence of the KKK, walked over, yelled at one of them, then ripped his hood off. The ensuing controversy ended up as coverage on the local news. I watched, as I remembered immediately yanking him away from the fray, when police moved in and voices raised. 

I’ve always been passionate and I have to admit I enjoy the conflation of opinions shared on the airwaves, daring those around to commit or deny. In that moment though, my main concern was getting my partner away from what could have easily turned into violence. He was very angry and apparently willing to move forward with a fight. I knew, in that time, that things could have easily progressed dangerously. 

A year later the presence of the KKK was milder. There were no more hoods, just normal clothes, although there were incendiary signs being held by those who, despite their lesser numbers, were just as bigoted and just as prejudiced, even if the fire had been pulled from their furnace. I watched and videotaped the actions of Queer Nation as they moved toward the passively aggressive protestors, in fully planned mode. They shouted, they demonstrated and they demanded a reaction as they staged in front of the small contingent and shared same sex kisses, taunts and visible, satirical demonstrations of the hatred they’d witnessed. Of course it was covered by the local media, with vigor, and became the talk of the town. It proved to be the end of the power of the KKK against the LGBT community in Fresno.

For a couple more years, the KKK was present, although they became unrecognizable. There were fewer the next year, dressed normally, and even fewer the year after that. Then, they were gone. 

Since then, there is merely an occasional protestor among the festivities. In 2012 I remember only briefly seeing the one person who  showed up with a single bible verse on a protest sign. I seem to remember there may have been a child or two with them. But at this point, it remains distant. I’m not sure if I actually saw the person or if the stories others told me created the images in my head.

Now, 23 years into the Fresno Pride Parade and Festival, there seems to be no presence of protest, particularly when compared to the humble beginnings. I’m sure there are those that wish we weren’t there. Hell, there are gay people who wish we weren’t there. Regardless, both those groups are missing the point and in fact.

The fact is that LGBT Americans, for the most part, do not share in the incredible representation of equality that the United States Constitution provides. Most LGBT Americans still have to fight for our rights and are often told we shouldn’t bother, because the law is not on our side.

The tide is shifting, people. We are now at 12 states that have legalized same sex marriage, and in this month of June, 2013, we will hear from the Supreme Court of the United States of America on two vital issues. The first is California’s Proposition 8 – is it valid? The sedond is DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act – is it legal? This month could easily be the most monumental step in our civil rights that we have seen so far. Or it might, as it has before, fail us, and cause us to rethink our approach.

I don’t think that will happen. I’ve been wrong so many times before, betting on judges and politicians, thinking they actually work for the people. But this time, I have to say, I’m sitting on the side of positive.  I think we’re in for a big win, both in California and on a national level. What better reason to join hands and come out, come out, wherever you are. What better reason to join hands in the streets of Fresno to celebrate our goals?

Let’s face it, we’re the American ideal. We are the ones, who, despite consistent opposition, chose to stay true to our feelings and maintain the integrity of who we knew we are inside. We were the ones who looked at the expected path of our lives and committed instead to our own voices. We chose to deal with the incredibly negative forces that pounded against us in order to arrive at a place where we could feel comfortable with ourselves. Imagine that, not in a gay versus straight context, but in a human context. How many people do you know that are not struggling with their sexual orientation or their gender who still struggle with whether to move forward with lives they can’t commit to?

Despite the fact that we were raised by straight people, in a straight society, on a straight based education system, we are who we are. Despite the fact that we were told, day after day, year after year, that who we are was wrong, misguided and even destructive, we all turned out to be who we are, innately. 

In my everyday life and particularly through my work with Gay Central Valley and the Fresno LGBT Community Center, I communicate with LGBT people in the Central Valley every day. That dialogue only makes me more proud of who we are. We move on despite all the conflict we face in our lives. We step forward regardless of the knowledge that we will likely be challenged. We evolve no matter the forces against us. I am so very proud to be a member of the LGBT community in the Central Valley and in the United States of America. 

We are the last vestige of equality in America. We may not win a major battle in the next 30 days. But we can hit the streets this Saturday in the Tower District, in all our various shades and colors, and let the Central Valley know that we will not be silenced, we will not give up this fight. We will, whatever it takes, claim our civil rights in the country we are so proud to be a part of.

Happy Pride!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

EVENT: The Lovebirds Perform in Fresno THIS WEDNESDAY



The Lovebirds will be performing in Fresno, this week at the Fresno Brewing Company on Wednesday May 29th at 7PM.


2 lesbians that sound like 2 grandpas, which is why our fans run the gamut from lesbians to grandpas. Looking for the UK band The Lovebirds? Check out www.facebook.com/thelovebirds or www.thelovebirds.net

Biography
No comment. Or, get us drunk and we'll tell you the whole story.

Description
Two real-life lovebirds singing their hearts out.

Band Interests
Chocolate (pronounced in British accent)

Artists We Also Like
Gregory Page, Jeffrey Joe, Steph Johnson, Tori Roze, Allegra Barley, Cathryn Beeks, and lots of others

Saturday, May 25, 2013

EVENT: Trans Film & Panel Discussion


FILM: "Trans" Screening PLUS Panel Discussion



AWARD-WINNING FILM TRANS, FEATURING LOCAL TEEN CHLOE ANNE LACEY, SCREENS IN FRESNO

PANEL DISCUSSION ON TRANSGENDER ISSUES TO FOLLOW SCREENING





The documentary film TRANS will screen for free at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on Friday May 31 at 7:00 PM.    Following the film will be a panel discussion featuring several individuals from the documentary (including 10-year-old Dannan, a male-to-female transgender child) as well as the film creator, Chris Arnold.   


TRANS is an extraordinary film about men and women… and all the variations in between. The film features a local teen, Chloe Anne Lacey (born Justin Brian Lacey), of Buchanan High School whose death led her mother, Allison Murphy to become a tireless advocate for transgender awareness and suicide prevention.   It also highlights the story of Navy Flight Surgeon Dr. Christine McGinn, a male-to-female transgender doctor.   


The transgender community is one of the most misunderstood and mistreated minorities in the United States.  Many would like to understand transgender people better, particularly those who work with diverse individuals in their profession, but most don’t know where to begin in the effort to gain true insight—the film TRANS offers a sensitive and thought provoking glimpse into the lives of transgender individuals and the panel discussion afterwards will further this opportunity to gain true understanding.  


http://www.transthemovie.com/  - trailer and more information about film 

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno
2672 E. Alluvial Ave. (between Willow and Chestnut)
Fresno, CA 93720
Ph: 559.322.6146 Fax: 559.322.6159

Friday, May 24, 2013

VIDEO: KSEE 24 Reports on Boy Scout Ruling

Watch Gay Central Valley's own Kaylia Metcalfe on KSEE 24, discussing the recent ruling by the Boy Scouts to start allowing gay scouts, but no gay leaders...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boy Scouts Overturn Youth Ban



The Boy Scouts organization today voted to allow gay youth to join the Boy Scouts, overturning a long time ban. However, the Scouts will still deny gay and lesbian Scout leaders. While we’re happy with the gay youth decision, the gay adult ban remaining in place is very damaging. Basically, the Boy Scouts are saying that gay adults can’t be trusted, further enforcing an incorrect and antiquated stereotype that gay adults are predatory.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LGBT Amendment Stricken From Immigration Reform



Faced with what many believed was a deal breaker in the Immigration Reform Bill , Senator Leahy removed his same sex amendment to the bill. The amendment which would have recognized LGBT bi-national couples in the battle for immigration reform.

Several Democrats, including the President, agreed that it was better to see the bill succeed without the provision for LGBT couples, rather than see the  bill fail, as several on both sides of the aisle threatened, should the LGBT amendment be included. 


A little past 7 p.m., Leahy said, “It is with a heavy heart … I will withhold the Leahy Amendment 7 at this point.”

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, offered the amendment a half-hour earlier, saying, “I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country.”

He added, “Discriminating against people based on who they love is a travesty,” noting that he wanted to hear from members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators about why they didn’t include protections for gay couples in the initial bill