Thursday, October 31, 2013

Support!


There are many ways you can support Gay Central Valley and our ongoing projects, which include 

The Fresno LGBT Community Center,

The Rainbow Delegation,

Merced Full Spectrum, *Pride Center Opening 2014*

community grants, 

cultural competency training sessions, 

and more!


We invite you to help support our continuing efforts by making a donation.

Pick your own amount! 

Or become one of our valued Monthly Donors!



Silver Level

$10 a month / $120 annual


Two Easy Payment Options


If you represent a business or group, your logo will be displayed on our Sponsor Page, found on the LGBT Community Center’s site.
Your name will be added to our “Special Thanks” page on the main Gay Central Valley site. (Note, if you wish your donation to be in honor of a person, etc, your note will also be included).


Gold Level

$25 a month / $300 annual


Two Easy Payment Options




All Silver Level benefits and…

Framed Thank You Certificate and two tickets to our annual Sponsor Appreciation Reception.


Platinum Level

$50 a month / $600 annual


Payment Options




All Gold Level benefits and…

Your name (business name or group name) added to the Rainbow Sponsor plaque in the Community Center, which will be prominently displayed

Rainbow 
Level 

$100 a month / $1,200 annual
Payment Options




All Platinum Level benefits and…

A free banner ad for your business on the GCV website of your choice. (Ad space good for a year)

Coming Out

The following was originally published in March on the Merced Full Spectrum Blog. That blog has now merged with the GCV blog but we wanted to share Colt's story to those of you who might have missed it. 

I suppose my coming out story begins about the same as every other gay man in the world’s; one day I was playing kickball with Johnny and Bobby and the next day I turned 12. Wham; enter puberty to make things complicated. I grew up in a home where ideas such as unconditional love and mutual acceptance were foreign concepts. My mother was a kind woman afflicted with manic depression, my step-father was a potbellied Civil War re-enactor with a penchant for marijuana and valium. Most of the families that lived near us were very traditional Christians and almost always republican. Except in the company of the neighborhoods lesbian couple, words such as “faggot” and “dyke” were as common as “pass the butter” and caused basically the same reaction. I was lucky in retrospect that my parents ran a boarding facility and owned their own horses. Without the horses as an escape from my home and my thoughts, I am certain I would have grown up a much angrier person.

When I first started understanding the things I was feeling for what they were, I remember feeling a sense of wonder and excitement, the social implications not yet entering my mind. The first time it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to be able to share these thoughts with anyone, I was walking to school with a childhood friend. Out of the blue I felt punched in the gut by a word that we had been throwing around casually since the time we learned to insult each other endearingly. Faggot. Suddenly, there was an image behind the slur and its face was my own. The word would again become a pressure point for me in later years as I learned to stop lying to myself and began facing my truth, but at that age I learned not to feel anything when I heard it and even began using it again after a spell. From then on the difference in my friend’s masculinity and my lack thereof began to get painfully more apparent. I started to study the way that ‘I should be', right down to the inflections they put on their words and the way they laughed, my aim to be the most passable straight-actor to ever walk the earth.

My freshman year, I met my first boyfriend and life seemed like it might be taking a turn for the better. Billy was everything a closeted self-hating gay teenager would look for in a guy. He grew up around the racetrack, had a toned and desert tanned body, and he was the straightest looking guy in town (possibly a slight exaggeration, but it is how I choose to remember it). We were introduced when I came out to a girl I had been dating and I fell for him like a sparrow in a hail storm. Things got bright and I was content for a while. With Billy's encouragement I worked up the nerve to tell my parents. Looking back on the scene, I think that underneath my racked nerves and roiling stomach was a sense of excitement. This would be the beginning of my new life, no more lies, no more hiding. The whole event turned out to be an utter fiasco; my mom choking out something unintelligible about grandkids around heaving sobs and my stepfather laughing hysterically. Over the next week I would cave under a barrage of public humiliation and motherly guilt, diving back into the safety of my house of lies. My mother was all too happy to accept that it was just a phase, even forbidding my stepfather to joke about it in front of her. With no thought for how he felt I broke things off with Billy saying that 'I just cant be that way.”
Lying to yourself is a dangerous game, and when you have to hate yourself to get through your day, there are bound to be consequences. My mental state began to enter a cycle of ups and downs that could last as long as an hour or a week. One moment I accepted who I was and was ready to try telling the world, the next day I hated myself and I just knew that if I only tried harder, I could make ‘Those Thoughts’ go away. I avoided the two gay boys in my high school like the plague; god forbid someone should think that I am like those queens, or worse yet; that they should show me it’s ok if I were. I began drinking with older kids and would keep two bottles of peppermint schnapps in my sock drawer to get through my insomniac nights, a habit which soon led to other forms of self medication and sneaking out more nights a week then I stayed in. Another byproduct of my pathetic attempts at ‘straight life’ was a string of ex-girlfriends duped by a smooth talking closet-queer. Within a matter of months, sometimes weeks, I would break it off for some petty reason that more often than not left some poor girl in tears, so consumed with my own rollercoaster that I couldn’t even care about the hurt inflicted. With no family to turn to I tried to find a family in my friends, something I now know was impossible to do when they only knew the lies I told. These friendships were more often than not one sided, with me playing the role of a doormat.

Coming from a volatile home life, I loved school,thriving in the classes I was captivated by and ditching the ones I didn’t care. With school for a haven it came as a blow when I was thrown out my junior year for fighting, a practice I had begun using as an outlet for pent up anger. Upon my expulsion I did a brief stint enrolled in a mail order home school program before dropping out completely to begin an apprenticeship under a horse trainer as well as work at a local riding stable. I would love to say my reasons were career oriented; however, it was more a matter of getting out of the house and away from my stepfather. Shortly before my eighteenth birthday I moved to Colorado to follow seasonal ranch work to Colorado Springs, this was but the first of several moves I made in search of a fresh start. I would take a job and stay for the season only to up and leave in search of something I couldn’t put my finger on. During this time I am not sure if I actually forgot about my inner strife or if I had just learned to ignore it so well; perhaps it was loving the work I did or just being surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Over the next couple years as I entered my twenties, the mental cycle became less one sided, the periods of acceptance became longer and longer, and the hatred shorter and less intense. Somewhere between Arkansas and returning to Arizona something changed in me and I was able to accept the fact that I am gay, even when my thoughts occasionally screamed in protest. I took a job roofing with the intentions of enrolling in college and pursuing the writing career I had always wanted, but a year of mental relapse and bad decisions saw me on my knees and more lost than ever with nowhere to turn. It was then that Stefani Bender, a high school art teacher whom I had remained friends with, bailed me out of jail one day, brought me into her family, and forever took her place as my personal savior. She invested her time in getting my life on track for no gain at all other than to see me succeed. I was thrust into a world of family events where people were expected to support and nurture each other, a world so foreign at times all I could do was freeze up and stand in the corner observing. Stefani spent a month prying at my gates, telling me she just felt like I was holding something back all the time, before I came out of the closet to her in a waterfall of tears and emotion. With an adopted families support I began living as an openly gay man, a feat I had all but given up on.

We all have different paths to becoming who we are meant to be, some of us fall into it with no difficulty at all while others have to struggle under pressures created by themselves and the people around them. I would say now that 90% of the problems I had were generated within my own mind, caused by petty fears and an urge to please everyone. I used to think that if I could go back I would tell myself to make different decisions or to not run with the friends I did, but at present I think I would just give myself a hug and say its going to be ok. It seems to me, with all of the wisdom accrued in my 23 years, if you give it your all and try to be a good person along the way; that life has a way of putting you exactly where you need to be when you’re ready.

I came to Merced to meet my father for the first time three weeks before what was supposed to be the start of my first college semester and on a whim I accepted his offer to move here while in school and attempt to build a relationship. This town has welcomed me with open arms and showered me with opportunity. Being a gay man in the central valley in contrast to the world I know has been an experience of great joy and personal growth. From the clubs in Modesto to the poets circle at Coffee Bandits, there isn’t a person I’ve met yet who won’t offer support to someone struggling with inner demons. One of the most surprising sources of support I have found comes from the straight community. Coming from a town with a demographic dominated by skinheads and conservative christians, it is always exhilarating to see a community that doesn’t judge based on things like sexuality and skin color. My advice to anyone struggling with their own sexuality and the social pressures that follow would be to just hang in there. The thoughts you try to ignore are the ones you need to focus on, let them sit in your mind and just feel the emotions attached. As cliché as it sounds, the ones who won't accept you are the ones you don't need, and stop trying to please everyone or you are bound to cheat yourself. Life’s hard enough. Get out of your head and relax, you’re too beautiful to feel so ugly and should you ever need a friend creep on over to Coffee Bandits. Look for a goofy desert rat surrounded by the family he’s made and be yourself.

-Colt

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Marriage Watch: Hawaii!



What a difference a year makes...

Only six states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage a year ago.

And now? Now Hawaii is poised to be state number 15 if, as expected, its House of Representatives approves the current marriage in the next several days.

We will keep you posted!



Source

Germany Newborns Registered With No Gender



German parents will be able to register their children as genderless starting Nov. 1, the first regulation of its kind for infants that lack gender-determining anatomy.

The law is meant to fight discrimination and allow parents to determine the sex later in life. Or they may never define the child’s gender, letting their birth certificate remain “undetermined” or “unspecified.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

EVENT: Safe Place Dedication @LGBT Center


LGBT Families, the Final Frontier

Even as public perception shifts and marriage equality gains headway, LGBT parents, who are raising an estimated 6 million children in the U.S., face discriminatory parental and adoption rights. 

Many trans parents especially have to choose between retaining custody of their children and coming out.


From a recent article on BuzzFeed...


The pain children experience over being taken away from their LGBT parents has often just been considered collateral damage in the United States. Like homosexuality, being transgender was once considered by the medical establishment to be a mark of insanity, the kind of disorder kids needed to be protected from witnessing, no matter how much it might hurt parent and child.

However, even though doctors have largely dropped this stigma, judges and legislators worldwide have not.






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gay Marriage; one step closer in Hawaii!

The Hawaii Legislature convened a special session today to address a bill that would make the state the 15th with full marriage equality if passed. 

The bill passed the special session and now heads to the regular Senate where it is expected to pass.... and then on to the House where it might run into problems.

We will keep you posted!


(source)

Not so sweet... Jelly Bellies and The Trans Community

From The Advocate 

The chairman of the board of Jelly Belly, Herman Rowland Sr., is on record as having donated $5,000 in September to Privacy for All Students, a group dedicated solely to repealing Assembly Bill 1266. The legislature passed the law — which guarantees transgender students have equal access to bathrooms, locker rooms, sport teams and other gender-segregated facilities at school — and it was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in August. But Privacy for All Students is trying to get enough signatures to have it eventually overturned.

The group is run by none other than Frank Schubert, who is well known as a political message maker for the National Organization for Marriage in its quest to stop same-sex marriage from being legalized. NOM is also actively campaigning to repeal the law, arguing most recently that "forcing boys and girls to share bathrooms is bullying."

Frontiers' Karen Ocamb was first to report the donation on the Secretary of State's website. And it's already triggered a Change.org petition from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"Jelly Belly Chair Herman Rowland Sr. is using some of his fortune to fund an effort to overturn California’s new School Success and Opportunity Act. This law ensures that transgender students are allowed to participate in school programs and activities just like every other boy and girl," it says. It asks petitioners to tell Rowland and his California-based company that "all students should be treated equally and have the same opportunities to be successful in school."


Monday, October 28, 2013

Gay Artist To Lose His Virginity During Live Performance

gay artist losing his virginity during live performance - gay guys photos


In a move that again raises the question of "what is art?" The Gay Guys are reporting the following...

19-year old art student Clayton Pettet is stirring controversy both in the art world and in London’s LGBT community, and he doesn’t seem to be apologizing. On January 25, 2014 Pettet plans to have gay sex in front of a crowd of up to 100 people and lose his virginity.

What do you think? Art? Good art? Bad art? Not art at all?

Hellos and Goodbyes

Gay Central Valley is pleased to introduce our 2014 Board ofDirectors.

President: Chris Jarvis
Secretary: Kaylia Metcalfe
Treasurer: Kelly Campbell-McKay
Member: Kayleia Southard.

We would also like to thank our two departing Board Members Kate Henry and Leon Valasco.

Leon was not just a Board Member; he served as Outreach Liaison and was the founder of “Latino day” at the Community center. A volunteer with GCV for almost two years, Leon’s work tabling and networking at resource and health fairs helped GCV expand our reach into the community.

Recently, Leon received his AA degree from Fresno City College and has begun the next exciting chapter of his life: working in the field of social work! We congratulate Leon on meeting his educational goals, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavors.

Kate Henry served on the Board of Directors for three years in various roles. The quintessential “Straight Ally” she represented GCV on the Chief’s Advisory Board as well as being a fierce advocate for GCV behind the scenes in uncountable ways. Her work with the Marjorie Mason Center and her creation of a comprehensive Cultural Competency Training Program were both highly successful and instrumental in helping GCV fulfill some of its community building goals.

Kate is stepping back from an active role on the GCV Board of Directors but will remain active in the community. She will be focusing her energy on behind-the-scenes fund development through grant writing, but we will sorely miss her at our BOD meetings.

Thank you both for your time and your hard work on behalf of Gay Central Valley.

What a team! Leon, Kelly, Kate, Chris, Kayleia, and Kaylia!


If you would like information on volunteering or being active with Gay Central valley, please email us at info@Gaycentralvalley.org

Friday, October 25, 2013

The CW and a Trans Texas Teen

A trans-centric show from the CW?

Perhaps! 



ZE, from playwright Kyle Jarrow (the Obie Award-winning creator of the hit Off-Broadway play, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant) and producer Michael London (Milk), is described as a raw, quirky family drama about a FTM (female-to-male) teen and his family. A personal choice takes on controversial public significance when a Texas teenager announces she is transgender and will be living life as a boy. As his dysfunctional family spirals into identity crises of their own, he discovers that he might be the most well-adjusted of them all.  

 There’s no casting yet, no plans for anything but a pilot, but fingers crossed this one goes to series and breaks down more barriers for transgender representation.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

CO High School Equality Video

You Can Play, a now famous non profit working to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. is now partnering with the Colorado High School Athletics Association, its first scholastic partnership below the college level, and it has created a contest in which athletes from high schools around the state will create videos supporting LGBT equality in sports and the project’s broader mission.

The first of those videos, from East High School in Denver, came out this week:





Think Progress has more on why these sorts of videos are so important.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The 14 states where gay marriage is legal, in one map

same-sex-marriage-map

10 years ago the number of states allowing same sex marriage was 0.

14 states (and NM on the cusp) in ten years.

Not bad.

But we still have far to go.

Could New Mexico be next?

New Mexico's Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments tomorrow (Wednesday Oct 23rd) in a case that could bring marriage equality to the state. The court agreed to take the case in August after county clerks asked for a final clarification of state law, which neither explicitly permits nor prohibits same-sex marriage. The justices could rule on the matter immediately or take the case under consideration and issue a ruling later.


Gay marriage became a hot-button issue in NM two months ago when the Dona Ana County clerk decided independently to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Seven other counties followed. Some took the step voluntarily and some, such as Santa Fe County, faced court orders after same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses filed lawsuits. More than 1,000 licenses have been issued so far.

We will keep you informed... more found here. 

Marriage begins in NJ!

At 12:01 yesterday morning, dozens of gay couples were joined in matrimony as New Jersey became the 14th state to allow same-sex marriage.


And while we celebrate, lets not forget that the battle isn't quite over yet... The state's Supreme Court could prohibit gay marriage after it hears oral arguments on the case in January, though legal experts say last week’s decision makes that outcome unlikely.

In the meantime though, congratulations to New Jersey! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Out There" with Stephen Fry - Part 2

"Out There"...Stephen Fry Takes On Anti-LGBT Leaders

A documentary where Stephen Fry confronts homophobic people and leaders around the world. Not to be missed...

New Jersey 14th Marriage Equality State…ALMOST




Same-sex marriages will begin within days in New Jersey after the state's highest court ruled unanimously Friday to uphold a lower-court order that gay weddings must start Monday and to deny a delay that was sought by Gov. Chris Christie's administration.

"The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today," the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. "The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative."

A judge on the lower court had ruled last month that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage and set Monday as the date to allow gay weddings. Christie, a Republican who is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed the decision and asked for the start date to be put on hold while the state appeals.

A spokesman for Christie said that he will comply with the ruling, though he doesn't like it.

"While the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order," spokesman Michael Drewniak said in a statement.

The ruling puts New Jersey on the cusp of becoming the 14th state — and the third most populous among them — to allow same-sex marriage.