Issue V, Vol. XXVI, No. 305 | January 2021

News and happenings for, by, about and affecting the LGBT Valley.
Project of Community Link, Inc: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Service Organization. 
EST. September 1995

Temple Candles

Community Link Projects

 

GRAY ALLIANCE NEWS JANUARY 2021
John Richardson

Gray Alliance is a group for LGBT seniors, and we get together twice a month for social functions. The second Wednesday of the month at 6 pm we meet at different restaurants.

Due to the serious nature of the COVID-19 virus, all Gray Alliance events are canceled until further notice. Our age group is especially vulnerable. 

 

We have a potluck the final Sunday of the month at the First Congregational Church Fireside Room from 2-4 pm. It’s located at the south end of the church at 2131 N Van Ness Blvd in Fresno. Please note that although we are using a church facility, Gray Alliance has no religious affiliation. We will not be meeting Sunday, January 31, 2021.

 

If you have any questions, please call John Richardson at 559-260-1565.  Stay Safe!

YOUTH ALLIANCE NEWS JANUARY 2021

David McGee

January arrived with a whimper! The Central Valley is experiencing early spring weather! Where is the frost? Where is the rain? We all need to continue to do our rain dances, or energy setting, or prayers for rain—however we do it! As for our youth, they are finally dressed appropriately for the weather, tucked in their homes, attending school via Zoom teleconferencing, and attending our LGBTQ Youth Alliance meetings via Zoom! The adults who facilitate our youth group are thankful that our youth are snug-as-a-bug at home. The youth, of course, are not!

We had a discussion at a recent youth group meeting about how school is progressing via Zoom. Our youth are actually missing the brick-and-mortar school setting since several of them are theater students. They talked about how silly it seems to be trying to do a play on Zoom, with each student playing their part in their bedroom, in front of a camera (which is their laptop computer or an electronic pad). They reported that their teacher is going to edit their submissions and try to piece the play together for the “audience.” Our youth members also reported how weird it is to do exercises in front of their camera so that their PE teacher can watch then jiggle on camera. And of course, they miss running into their friends in the hallways and classrooms!

Our youth group leader, Banana, tries to reframe our students’ negative thoughts about Zoom school by reminding them that they are enhancing their skills as camera operatives and directors! Camera skills could be useful to our theater students in the future, as they continue through college or adult life as a theater student or even as an actor! She also reminds them that they are reducing their risk of getting COVID-19, which is why schools and students had to scramble to create online classes in the first place!

Our attendance at the Youth Alliance meetings is still low, but we continue to attract new attendees slowly. It seems easier and less stressful for a new attendee to join a virtual meeting than to have to walk into a face-to-face meeting in a physical meeting room. In a Zoom meeting they can leave their camera off, and even comment using the electronic chat option until they are comfortable with the group! The kids who were youth group attendees before we went online always have a lot to say, especially to each other, but Banana makes sure that new people get noticed and get to share their experiences and feelings!

Our Grand Poobah, Jeffery Robinson, joined us for our Youth Alliance meeting on New Years Day! It was great to see him! He left other gatherings to join us, which made us all feel special! The group talked about their hopes and goals for the new year. We are all aware that face masks and Zoom meetings are not going away any time soon, but we expressed our hope for a future when schools return to normal, restaurants and stores are open to the public, hairstylists and barbers return to work, and theme parks, like Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain reopen their gates!

Until we can meet in person, the Fresno LGBTQ Youth Alliance will continue to meet virtually on Friday nights, from 7 PM to 8:30 PM, on Zoom! We will be sure to publish the link for our Zoom meeting on Facebook, and now that we’ve got our Instagram account going, we’ve published on Instagram, as well! COVID-19 has changed how people meet, but with some ingenuity, our Youth Alliance will continue to meet! We urge any and all school-aged youth to join us on our new platform, on Friday nights!

 

Local

 

Life Celebration of Zoyer Z. Zyndel

ANNOUNCING THE ZOYER ZYNDEL SCHOLARSHIP FUND AT FRESNO STATE.

 

Local LGBTQ activist and social justice advocate Zoyer Zyndel (2012, ’17) was an officer with Fresno State United Student Pride, and later served on the leadership team of Fresno State Rainbow Alumni and Allies Club. In his memory, family members and friends have established the “Zoyer Zyndel Scholarship Fund” to assist future MSW students in the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State.

 

A $25,000 goal has been set to endow this fund that will provide annual awards in perpetuity. To make a memorial gift, please click on the link below and follow these three steps: (1) Select “View all giving opportunities;” (2) Scroll down to the bottom and select “Other;” and (3) Type in “Zoyer Zyndel Scholarship Fund.”

 

Donate online -- Make you gift

 

Thank you for your support of and investment in future Fresno State students.

 

 

With gratitude and well wishes

THE TOWER THEATER
Chris Jarvis

 

The news that the Tower Theater may be sold to a church is causing a lot of conversation. I feel the pain so many others do. It brings up a lot. It stirs a lot emotion.

The Tower Theater is not just a business. It's not just a building. It's complicated. The Tower Theater has a soul, and that soul is present in many communities in Fresno. It courses through our veins, and when that energy is threatened, we speak up. The reaction to this news is not just people taking out their Covid frustration on the ramifications of this loss. There are many times when voices are raised to a decibel level that does not match the scope of the issue. This is not one of those times.

We hear that a church may buy out the space. To be expected, at least by some of us, there is uproar. I've seen some online contribute by questioning why people are upset that the possible buyer is a church. Churches do a lot of good work. They help people. They clothe, they feed and they care for others. Why does that lead to acrimony? Those challenging the realm of a church moving into that space has nothing to do with the heartfelt, magnanimous work that we've all witnessed churches doing. Those things we have also supported, donated and contributed to. That is part of the reality of what churches do.

But there is much more.

For many of us there is a much harsher reality to the scope of churches. These are realities we have experienced personally, often to the detriment of our psyches for the entirety of our lives. This is not a small thing. And I find it odd that anyone, regardless of how supportive or devoted they are to this or that church, would have difficulty understanding that. I may have a lot of issues with religion and churches but I never fail to applaud the positive work they do. It must be quite a calm existence to live in a world where churches only do good work and are above reproach.

To those of us that live in the real world, particularly in the LGBTQ community, we have a different perspective. I would dare to say that the vast majority of us have been condemned and rejected by churches, and those of faith, our entire lives. Of course it's a much different landscape than it used to be but it's still a treacherous path and no amount of current "welcoming" can take away our histories. Even for those who believe in God it's a perilous walk to choose and trust a church. So this possible intrusion of a church into the very heart of our community, the Tower District, is very personal to us and brings up a lot of emotion.

That's one.

 

The Tower District is home to a thriving and evolving creative and artistic community. Home to many festivals, parades and events. The small area known as the Tower District has provided a home for freedom of expression, ideas and concepts for decades. The rest of Fresno is not always as welcoming. The Tower has provided a haven for those who think outside the box, who don't always belong and who, through the beauty of their souls, need to reach out and connect with other human beings. It is, in that way, a magical place.

 

That's two.

 

Then there are the varied businesses, other than the Tower Theater, that reside in this small area. There are restaurants, bars, clubs, art galleries, salons, coffee houses, delicatessens, retail and services. There are reasons these businesses have decided to house themselves in the Tower District. Although I haven't spoken to them all personally, I would wager it's because of the atmosphere, the vibe, the freedom and the people. I don't think there is any place in Fresno that compares to the Tower District and that's saying a lot in a city that struggles with identity.

 

That's three.

So can the community survive if the Tower Theater is sold to a church? Yes, but maybe not the Tower District. It's not that the Theater is being sold to just another business, it's that it may be sold to an entity that may likely not support the heart of the neighborhood. And if new zoning takes place to accommodate a house of worship, what effect will that have on other nearby businesses who have liquor and dance permits? It's important to have these conversations, but not in the absence of the recognition of what effects a church will have on the neighborhood. There are critical moral and ethical ramifications to this. It's not just another business deal.

Look, there are plenty of churches in Fresno. And I get that the Tower Theater is an attractive site. I've spent a lot of time there.

 

Whether watching a comedy show, a music concert or day after day helping staff the Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival the years that I was privileged to do so, it mattered. While living in conservative Fresno has often made me feel disenfranchised, separated and rejected, the Tower Theater and the District itself has always made me feel at home, welcome and invested.

So try to understand when you hear those of us raising our voices over this, that it's not simple. It is not just another building, just another loss of a well known business. The Tower Theater stands in the heart of so many of us, not because of what it was, but because of what we were able to be when we stood under it's neon lights. Fresno is replete with places of respite for regular, everyday citizens. Those of us who truly appreciate the Tower District are very often not run of the mill, everyday citizens, and we don't have a lot of spaces that lift us above the repression we often feel. The Tower Theater is one of those places.

I'm hoping we don't lose it. I'm hoping there comes a savior.

We just wanted to let you know that we are still looking for responses for our LGBTQ Mental Health survey!

You still have time to complete our LGBT Survey! If you haven't been able to complete the survey you only have a few more days to complete it and receive a $15 gift card for helping us.

We appreciate your time and your ongoing support of The Source LGBT+ Center as we work to address mental health and your personal experiences.

 

To participate in the survey you can click the link below. Complete the survey by January 15, 2021 and The Source will compensate your time by rewarding you with a $15 gift card (your choice of Amazon, Target, or Walmart).

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please reach out to Spencer Salazar at spencer@thesourcelgbt.org

 

Tulare County Residents ONLY.

Click for Survey!

COVID-19 VACCINE

Now Vaccinating: COVID-19 Vaccines for Individuals 75+, Then moving to those 65+

The Fresno County Department of Public Health is currently providing COVID-19 Vaccines for individuals 75 or older at the Fresno Fairgrounds. Individuals will need to register for the date and time that they would like to receive the vaccine.

1. These clinics are specifically for individuals 75+ and not for family members or the general public.

2. Bring your ID and proof of registration.

3. There is no charge for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Free parking is available in the carnival parking lot. Please enter through the Kings Canyon Ave. entrance to the carnival parking lot. The clinic will be held in the Agriculture Building

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Zoyer Zyndel: Fresno Stonewall Democrats Tribute 1/12/21

Beverly Senkowski, VP

It is with both sadness and joy that we pay tribute to Zoyer Zyndel this evening. We lost him way too soon. I am honored to have been asked to pay tribute to my friend, our friend.

I met Zoyer many years ago through his mentor Blue Riggs. Blue was my friend. He was a collaborator, a trans educator, a fellow board member and a social worker. He worked to change lives and our community. I was blessed to have mentored Blue in community activism. I worked with him as he co-founded Trans-Emotion. Blue was Zoyer’s mentor and together they breathed life into want is now Trans-Emotion and the Trans Day of Remembrance. Together they became my friends.

Upon Blue’s passing, I became Zoyer’s mentor. I enjoyed my friendship with him and will miss him just as we all will. I truly cherished our conversations about diversity, inclusion, organizations, triumphs and losses, goals, and his personal sorrows and joys. Though our relationship began as one of my leading him… he taught me so much through his openness and desire to keep learning about himself, his world, and our community. I am sure many of you experienced this dynamic with him. Zoyer was a giving man… of thought, of knowledge, of deed and of heart.

We have all heard many kind and thoughtful tributes to Zoyer over the past few weeks. So many heartfelt words and tears were shared. Our community has indeed suffered a great loss, and many are hurting.

At times I am at a loss for words to describe the immense force of nature that was Zoyer… I did however choose one word that I liked to describe and remember him… Intersectionality. He not only educated about it but lived it. He radiated it. His activism transcended any one organization or cause…though Trans-Emotion was so close to his heart.

He championed the homeless, the mentally ill, racial injustice, gender discrimination and inequality. He simply fought for the dignity and worth of everyone. He beautifully and articulately blended his passion for wholeness and wellness into helping improve the quality of life of everyone he met… and for those unknown. Every day he fought for a better world. A world of love, acceptance and full of the laughter he emanated so boisterously. I loved his laugh.

I believe he helped make Fresno a better place to live. I think through his awareness of intersectionality, he acknowledged and grounded the differences among us. He challenged us and he enriched us.

Zoyer showed a path for many on how to fight, as well as a path of light, and a path of authenticity and happiness. He smiled joy into so many. As we pay tribute to him and his many accomplishments, I am also heartbroken when I think of his personal struggles and pain.

For all his bravery and courage, he suffered. As we sit here today, we know, as he did, the challenges and demands of making our lives richer and of fighting oppression in all its forms can be daunting. We have all felt overwhelmed at times. We know the fatigue from trying to change our world for the better. We know at times that activism comes at a personal cost.

I hope we can all learn from the life and loss of this brilliant, passionate, and fragile young man and realize that we are not in this fight alone. That we need each other, and we must depend on each other. I hope that we can commit to taking care of ourselves and those around us. I believe this is how we can best honor and continue the work and give life to the vision for a just and kind world that Zoyer was dedicated to helping create.

As many of you may know Zoyer was an English major and loved the spoken word. And my how he loved to talk! So tonight, in keeping in mind our friend and how he has touched our lives, I would like to end with a quote from the poet Rumi:

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation."

Zoyer, we thank you for being a part of our lives and may you forever Rest in Peace.

 

National

U.S. House adopts sweeping gender-neutral language rules
Alex Bollinger
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com

 

The House has adopted new rules for 2021 that remove gendered language in official settings, replacing gendered terms like “chairman” or “chairwoman” with gender-neutral terms like “chair.”

“Through months of consultation across our caucus and Congress, we have developed a rules package that makes the People’s House more accountable and responsive to all Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement in support of the rules, adding that they express “the views and values of the full range of our historically diverse House Democratic Majority.”

continue reading at LGBTQNation.com

Kamala Harris visits D.C.’s gayborhood to see Christmas tree decorated in her honor
Alex Bollinger 
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com

 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris visited a tree in D.C.’s LGBTQ neighborhood that had been decorated with her likeness – the “Kamala La La Tree.”

Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff headed to the restaurant Floriana in Dupont Circle last night to shoot a selfie with the tree.

continue reading at LGBTQNation.com

CA Woman Pleads Guilty To Bomb Threats Against Gay-Friendly School
Devin Randall
Reposted from InstinctMagazine.com

 

One California woman is dealing with the consequences of her dangerous homophobic acts.

According to the New York Post, 36-year-old Sonia Tabizada left two threatening voicemails with the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, DC in May 2019. Federal prosecutors say she did so after learning that the school would be supporting same-sex weddings by including them in their alumni announcements magazine.

continue reading at instinctmagazine.com

Two Queer Icons Will Headline the Biden-Harris Inauguration

David McGee
 

The Biden Inaugural Committee announced on Thursday, January 14, 2021, that the inauguration’s lineup will include Father Leo O’Donovan offering the invocation, Andrea Hall reading the Pledge of Allegiance, Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez headlining with a musical performance, and the Reverend Dr. Silvester Beamen offering the benediction. The inauguration will take place on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol, the site of the recent Trump-backed insurrection.

Both Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are vocal supporters of Democrats, and Gaga has a long relationship with Biden, in which they worked together to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

Source: advocate.com

Ivanka Trump in a Panic about Career Prospects After the Whitehouse

David McGee

Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is reportedly panicking about her career prospects after her father’s administration ends. Just last year, Donald Trump couldn’t stop talking about Ivanka’s promising future in politics, and she reportedly believed she could be the first female president in US history. At the beginning of the Trump administration, Ivanka was hailed as a moderate voice in the White House.

CNN White House correspondent Kate Bennett recently noted that sources in the White House have said that the “horrific images” of the past several weeks will haunt Ivanka for the rest of her career. It didn’t help that during the MAGA Riots, Ivanka tweeted that the insurrectionists were “American patriots.”

Reportedly, the Trump brand has become so toxic that everyone, from the PGA to the City of New York, is “tripping over themselves to sever ties with it.” An LGBTQ Nation writer joked that perhaps Ivanka could star in a reality show, become a spokesperson for Goya Brand, the food company she violated federal ethics rules to endorse, or start a new clothing line that creates high-fashion militia gear for Trump supporters. Regardless of where Ivanka lands, it looks like a job in politics is out of the question.

Source: lgbtqnation.com

Betsy Devos Launches Last Minute Attack on Trans Students on Her Way Out

David McGee

In one of her final acts as Secretary of Education before announcing her resignation, Betsy Devos had her staff send out a memo to employees of the Department of Education in which Devos and her senior staff laid out their policy refusing to protect gender identity, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, made in June 2020.

There is speculation that her instructions to staff to continue to defy the Supreme Court’s decision was an effort to remain a pain in the incoming President’s education administration. In her final address to staff, she instructed everyone to be the “resistance.” Members of the American Federation of Teachers have issued a two-word statement on her resignation: “Good riddance.”

Source: lgbtqnation.com

Doritos Ad Featuring Sweet Coming Out Story Goes Viral

David McGee
 

A two-minute Spanish-language Doritos ad that was released over the holidays in Mexico called, “El Mejor Regalo” (‘The Best Gift), has been viewed on YouTube more than 14 million times. Get out your tissues when you view this ad, based on a true story, which features a father who picks up his son and his son’s friend for the holidays and begins to suspect his son is gay. At the end of the ad, the father approaches his son in the kitchen and tells him he loves him. His son replies, “What you mean to tell me is that you love me as I am?” The father nods his head yes and the two embrace. The ad concludes with an on-screen message: “The best gift for these holidays is accepting everyone the way they are.” An English-subtitled version of the ad was also shared online.

As part of its #PrideAllYear campaign, Doritos brand has been highlighting LGBTQ stories for the past year. “We’re proud of the accomplishments that have been achieved with Doritos Rainbow,” said Eduardo Cordoba, marketing director at Doritos Mexico, “And we believe the moment is right to show that our commitment extends beyond a proud celebration every June.”

Source: nbcnews.com

International

 

One of the most anti-gay countries is about to host a conference on LGBTQ rights
Bil Browning
Resposted from LGBTQNation.com

 

Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates and even cross-dressing is forbidden, but Dubai will host the International Conference on Gender Identity and LGBT Rights in May.

The country has recently started to modernize its legal system to make it less reliant on Islamic law and more in step with other countries. The UAE announced changes to the legal code that better protects women, loosens alcohol restrictions, and alters divorce and marriage laws.

continue reading at LGBTQNation.com

Poland’s anti-LGBTQ historians have been hiding composer Chopin’s gay love letters
Daniel Villareal
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com

 

Frederic Chopin, the 19th-century composer known for his Romantic-era piano pieces, is a much-revered figure in his home country of Poland. So it’s no wonder that music journalist Moritz Weber made waves in the anti-LGBTQ country when he recently revealed that Chopin wrote sexual notes and love letters to his male friends.

Chopin had relationships with women like writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (whose nom de plume — pen name — was George Sand) and Maria Wodzińska, who he was briefly engaged to. But in a recent Swiss radio documentary, Weber said Chopin’s letters to the two women weren’t nearly as explicit or loving as his letters to men.

continue reading at LGBTQNation.com

Enlighten Me

 

SPIRITUAL AMUSEMENT DARKENS THE SPIRIT
Mark Lang

 

Many people have a desire to be spiritually enlightened. However, on the road to find enlightenment, they sometimes inadvertently offend other cultures, traditions, and religious beliefs—even trespassing on sacred grounds! Some seem to get caught up in seeking spiritual amusement more than enlightenment. When they commit these types of fore mentioned infractions, it cast shadows across their spiritual paths that darken the way.

 

I have known people who have set out upon a spiritual quest only to swipe ideas, songs, practices, and rituals from other cultures. They embark upon their journey in the name of enlightenment, however like spiritual bandits, their desire to find something new and exciting often results in them stealing from other traditions; this demonstrates a lack of respect for the richness of other cultures. It also trivializes the years of training and cultural experience the spiritual leaders possess.

 

People who demonstrate such indifference for religious boundaries will grab a particular technique from an intricate and multifaceted system such as ancient herbalism or the lifelong study of shamanism. They may have good intentions as they explore their spirituality. However, they show scant regard for the history and dedication required to practice those techniques effectively.

After participating in a ritual (or only reading about it), they will greedily take the parts which suit them for the time being and leave the rest. There is nothing wrong with being eclectic, but to exploit other traditions just to satisfy a craving for spiritual novelty is self-serving.

 

There is something to be said about the specialized ability to do one thing very well; this requires discipline and patience. The problem is that most people who jump from one religion to the next do not take the time to develop this type of specialized ability. Within a very short time, they become bored and start looking for the next, newest thing to satisfy their need for spiritual amusement.

Speaking of needs, I believe nothing makes people more miserable than neediness. In the experiences I have personally witnessed across the country, I see worshipers perpetually making requests of their Deities to satisfy their insatiable human wants. Just how much is enough? Is there too much focus on the self?

What about focusing on the needs of the local communities and environment we share? Without a healthy balance of priorities, our desires can take away from our calling to serve others (in whatever capacity).

 

I have been horrified to hear people tell of how they visited ancient sights or sacred grounds and took small items from the area as souvenirs. One woman spoke of how she traveled a great distance to visit the sight of a sacred tree that was extremely old. She proudly bragged about how she had snapped off a small branch from the tree to use as a “spiritual tool.”

 

When I mentioned to her that the tree would probably have been better off left alone, she retorted by saying, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as some people who carved their initials into the trunk!” Whatever happened to the concept of integrity?

 

When I go for a walk out in nature, I consider the entire forest to be sacred ground. Therefore, I leave the surroundings undisturbed and refrain from bringing home objects to display on the mantle. It is a form of humility. Besides, it is not the actual object which holds spiritual enlightenment—that is something found within oneself.

 

Take a lesson from the owl: when the owl roams, she leaves little trace of having been there. However, in a paradoxical/spiritual way, she changes everything she touches.

 

It is a common belief among spiritual leaders that living a simple life with minimum materialism is most conducive to spiritual growth. True power comes from being able to work with as little as possible. It does not come from the accumulation of material goods.

So, all the flash from that shiny religious jewelry doesn’t mean much if you do not have compassion and love in your heart for all living things. Since you already have a spirit-flame in your soul, you do not need to seek it in other traditions or sacred objects. The treasure chest need not seek the hunters.

The quickest way to spiritual self-destruction is by way of the ego. And yet, how many times have ego problems caused the energy in a spiritual group to be off balance? In their quest to find innocence lost, many people have regressed to egocentric behavior.

There is a difference between being childlike and childish. You don’t need to act childish to resolve past issues. Through enlightenment, childhood scars can transform into wisdom. It is true that you cannot change the past. However, you can learn from it. That should add to your enlightenment and clear away some of those dark shadows on your path.

 

Something to meditate on today. Realize all flowers are uniquely beautiful, yet they do not try to emulate each other. Nor does your flowering spirit need to be like any other religion, tradition, or culture. Be satisfied with who you are.

 

New Wellness

THE POETRY BOOK 

 

It had been a long and exhausting day. I went to my mailbox on that overcast chilly late afternoon in the waning winter of 2013. Picked up a bunch of letters and started walking back inside my home. I flipped through the assortment. It was just ordinary stuff. Until… 

 

Something in that handful of sterile letters stood out. Not a bill. Not junk mail. It was an envelope with the name Janet Deal staring back at me. With proper cursive writing. My sixth-grade teacher from the happy-go-lucky days at Foreman Elementary School in Hobart, Indiana. 

 

I hadn’t communicated with her for decades. A surge of excitement rushed through me. I plopped down on the couch and immediately ripped open the letter. It was thrilling to hear from her after so many years had gone by. And since wanderlust guided me out West. 

 

Just weeks earlier; I had sent her a letter. I searched online to find an address for Janet and Charlie Deal in my hometown. Found an address. But wasn't sure if it was outdated. I rolled the dice. Took a chance. Sending a package to her anyway. 

 

Then the hard part. Radio silence. Kind of like sending it around the dark side of the moon. Waiting. Hoping. To get a signal. That she did get it. 

 

That glorious day the signal came through. Loudly and clearly. It was heartwarming to get it. Mrs. Deal had been one of my favorite teachers. I absolutely enjoyed that year of learning and discovery with her.  

 

The whole idea to reach out to her began as I was rummaging through some of the banker’s boxes in my storage area the previous month. I was searching for some boring tax papers on that mission. 

 

Instead I stumbled upon a dusty colorful poetry book I created during that school year of 1981. Way back during the Reagan Presidency. It brought back so many gleeful memories for me.  

 

While sitting on the concrete floor paging through those hibernating haikus. An Ah-Ha moment happened inside that storage room full of treasures. I would make a duplicate copy of that poetic opus. And send it to this retired educator who made a difference in my life.  

 

I wanted to let her know that she helped me become who I am today. Those four grading periods with her inspired me greatly. Helped foster a creative (Oscar) wild side. Over the years I’ve produced over 200 stories and a variety of op-ed pieces. 

 

What makes this even more beautiful is a particular precious detail shared in that letter back to me. She said my gift to her arrived on...of all days...Valentine's Day.  

 

She recounted how she and her husband Charlie stopped everything they were doing that morning. It had been cleaning day at their household. They put aside the mop, rubber gloves, and Pine-Sol. Reading every page of that volume of verses. It brought tears to her eyes. 

 

Since that experience, we’ve stayed in touch. I mail several letters each year to Janet and Charlie. Enclosing each time one of the short stories created by this grown up 12-year old kid.  

 

Mrs. Deal reciprocates with pen and paper of her own. I’ve received cherished correspondence from her over the years now. She let me know she is proud of me. And my writing. She looks forward to receiving my stories. I keep ‘em heading her way. Who am I to disappoint? 

  

Sometimes we wait too long to let people know how we feel about them. How much they matter in our lives. Then. And today. I didn’t let that happen. I took a chance and reached out. I’m glad I did. 

 

Here is a timeless bond between a student and teacher. This year marks the 40th anniversary of when I graduated from Mrs. Deal's class.   
 

That bond will stay with us throughout our lives...and beyond. The poetry book is quite simply a symbol of that eternal love. 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! 

This story of schoolhouse rock is brought to you by that guy clapping erasers. That guy chalking up old memories is Ron Blake and he can be found wandering the hallways of yore at rblake5551@hotmail.com. 

Uncle Barbie

 

Your Intellectual Whore
"An effervescently gay advice columnist."

 

Disclaimer: Although the author of this syndicated column holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, the tongue-in-cheek advice given is for entertainment only and is not a substitute for therapy. Barbie responds to all emails...whether you deserve it or not. Send your questions to Uncle Barbie at:
askunclebarbie@aol.com

RECOVERY FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

 

Dear Uncle Barbie,

I read your disclaimer today, and it reminded me of a bone I must pick with you that I should have done a couple weeks ago when it was fresh. (Have all the fun with that that you like.) I refer to the letter from a person whose partner was sexually abused in childhood, and your advice, which was basically to be there and be caring. At first, I thought, when I read your column, "Well, Uncle Barbie is pretty wise. Maybe he's sized up this character as being shallow enough that he will hit the road when faced with the prospect of some real loving." But then I thought further…to all those who are painfully struggling, as I did for 30 years (with all the best intentions and love I could muster), against an almost inconceivably huge adversary. And I cannot remain silent.

 

My story: After half a lifetime spent "being there" for my sexually abused partner—complete with extensive damages to the children involved, as well as irreversible, psychological scars to myself—said partner left me (taking all the assets) for a partner with all the appearance of similar sexual abuse. In the process, irreparable harm has been done to my children and grandchildren, my finances, and my life. Within a sexual relationship with an abused person, "being there"—caring, patient, and respectful, and all the other similar advice you poured out— is not enough. Two things are essential: 1) The abused person involved must recognize that they are damaged and want to heal badly enough to face a lifetime of grueling inner work. 2) Professional help is an absolute must. Then your advice of patience and love comes into play—Big Time—because you will be facing those gorgons with your partner on a very intimate level. This is not a task for the warm and fuzzy. And lastly, you must also be prepared to accept that (as with my own story), in the end, your partner may not have the courage or the resources that it takes to go the ultimate distance.

 

I would have said: "Don't go there unless you have big cojones and a well-considered conviction that the ultimate good from the relationship has the potential to be greater than the inevitable destruction it will cause. No matter how fantastic or beautiful, your sexually abused partner is a deeply damaged person. While many abuse survivors function (heroically) well in more superficial human settings, within sexual intimacy you enter into their private chamber of horrors. "Beyond here be dragons..." There are NO exceptions! Childhood sexual abuse is one of the greatest crimes against humanity--and there are few survivors of this horrific concentration camp--violated by perpetrators who cover their tracks with terror and the lasting confusion about the nature of love and intimacy that they engender. I repeat, I would have said: "Think long and hard before you go there...it is a profound commitment."

Signed, A Survivor of a Survivor

 

Hello Survivor,

It sounds like you are crawling through a jungle of depression. This grueling relationship has eaten you hollow. I hope you are receiving some professional counseling of your own. I am sorry to hear that she left you for another. Have you considered the possibility that when she ran away from you, she was really running away from herself? Maybe she did not feel that she deserved the love and care you gave her. If you treated her with the love and respect that every human deserves, and her self-perception was that of an unlovable person, then this would create a conflict within her which ultimately manifests itself as unbearable anxiety. Everyone naturally tries to get away from anxiety. So she left, and found someone who (according to your description) is as psychologically wounded as she is. Please don’t think that I am blaming you for the collapse of your relationship. On the contrary, I admire your loving commitment and dedication. Her decision to leave was her choice. You are only responsible for your own actions; she is responsible for hers. It sounds like you did all you could have done. Now it is time to focus on taking care of yourself with as much care as you have shown to her. It’s time to heal as best as you can. In your letter, you refer to the “irreversible, psychological scars” that you have endured. I do not believe that any psychological scar is completely irreversible. There is always hope. It will take time, however. Just as a small sapling eventually grows into a strong tree, you, too, can heal those scars and reach for the sunshine.

 

The flavor of your letter seems to indicate that you are blaming yourself for everything that has happened. This, and other indignities, justifies your feelings of self-dishonor. However, you are in control of your own attitude. You need to stop thinking about the negative things. There is enough misery in life; you don’t need to revisit it in your mind. Think of yourself as a survivor, instead of a victim. Change the memory by using cognitive restructuring. In other words, change the way you view the situation by focusing on the positive aspects. You always have the power to choose your attitude. Do not let anyone else write your life script for you. You give the meaning to the event. (By the way, since your letter used the metaphor of a concentration camp, I highly recommend a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl. (He writes about his experience in a WWII concentration camp, and how he was able to keep a positive attitude despite it all.) The best thing I can tell you is don’t let your pain become your identity. Let your life experiences become your teachers. We learn from both the pleasant times as well as the difficult times. Once you have learned lessons from your pain, you can draw strength from that wisdom. And that strength can see you through just about anything!

Forgive and Forget, Barbie


 

Horoscopes

by Eric Biglione
 

ARIES (Mar 21 - Apr 19)
You thought you knew what you wanted but now you are not so sure. Reflect on the past and plan with your new found freedom. Watch your spending.

TAURUS (Apr 20 - May 20)
Talk about chaos in your life. You're not sure which way is up. You are trying too hard to do things. Back off and let life take its course. 

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
You feel really secure in your knowledge and what needs to be done. This is a time to make plans and execute at a later date. Others seek your impartial advice. 

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Finally a break in life. Pamper yourself and reconnect with friends. This is a time to think about what you want. 

LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22)
Too much information and others trying to tell you what to do. This is not you so for now, surround yourself with people in tune with you. You need to take some downtime here. 

VIRGO (Aug 23 - Sep 22)
Well Virgo, you are doing pretty good here. Good time to make plans and go over them until it all comes clear. You will know when in good time. 

LIBRA (Sep 23 - Oct 22)
You feel a big weight has been lifted and now its time to make some real plans for the future of your happiness. You really want to get the show on the road. 

SCORPIO (Oct 22 - Nov 21)
All of a sudden everything seems to be turned upside down and appear to work against you. Instead of holding a grudge work to connect with others on a different level or change the goal and take it. 

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 - Dec 21)

It's way to easy to assume what is going on in your life. Take people and things for what they are and life will go a little easier this time around. Speculate down the road. 

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 - Jan 19)
Well you made it so go ahead and make plans on what you want to do this year. Be willing to change those plans if necessary. Happy Time. 

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Some of you have been knocked around a little but you maintain your drive to push forward. This is a time for planning not doing. This may irritate others but so be it. 

PISCES (Feb 19 - Mar 20)
You are going through a lot of emotions here. It's confusing but don't try to make sense of it. Indulge in hobbies and the rest will become clear next month.
 

Not To Be Missed

 

We are all bored at home waiting for the government to give us permission to return to our favorite outings in restaurants, coffee shops, and drag shows. And if the government were to open up public gathering activities, how many of us would feel comfortable in public and private gathering scenarios in the next year?

The COVID-19 vaccine is slowly being rolled out, but until a large percentage of the population is vaccinated, there will be no herd immunity. It will definitely take a year for individuals nationwide to receive the vaccination, and there will always be a portion of society that will refuse to get the vaccine.

Until we feel safe to go out, we need to continue to shelter at home and not put ourselves at risk of contracting an airborne disease that could possibly kill us. The LGBTQ community has put up with a federal government for the last four years that didn’t care if we lived or died. Let’s make a point of living, and hope that the new President and his government can get this virus under control and reverse some of the blatant lack of concern we’ve lived with under the previous regime.

So, keep watching Netflix and Hulu for new and rerun programs! Keep honing those skills as a baker and Suzie Homemaker! Start those DIY projects you’ve been waiting for the “right time” to start! Declutter your home, reorganize your pantry, or redecorate a room! Learn a new language, plan your next trip, or paint your next masterpiece! Join a Zoom group or start a Zoom group!

The corona virus is going to be around for the next year! Let’s do our best to wait it out so that we don’t become a statistic! Let’s do the best we can to keep living! Let’s connect with our loved ones and make sure they know they are loved!

 

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