Gray Alliance News
Gray Alliance is a group for LGBTQ+ seniors, and we get together for potlucks the last Sunday of each month.
We will have a potluck Sunday January 29th at the First Congregational Church from 2-4 pm. We will meet in the Fireside Room of the church, which is 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.
If you have any questions, please contact John Richardson at 559-260-1565. Hope to see you soon!
Youth Alliance News January 2023
January certainly started out with a bomb, or as the weather service calls them, several atmospheric weather bombs that have dumped rain on drought-stricken California, leaving mudslides, water hazards in roadways, and downed trees all over the state. California residents are not used to being told to stay home whenever possible to avoid weather-related accidents!
Our LGBTQ Youth Alliance took the Friday before New Year’s Eve off so that the adults could have a small break, and then restarted the following Friday. We were lucky to have a break in the weather for our first meeting of the new year, but who knows what we will experience for the remainder of the month!
Fortunately, we have a comfortable room to meet in at the Big Red Church! Attendance for our first meeting of the year was small, but the group leaders will be manning information booths at local LGBTQ conferences to get the word out about our group!
For our first Youth Alliance meeting of the year, we started out with a general discussion about the state of LGBTQ America, politics, and some solutions we would like to see implemented.
Then we answered some questions that our group leader, Rachel, AKA Banana, posed. We had a great time talking about the various topics that came up that evening and even went a bit overtime because we didn’t keep track of the hour!
Our Winter Holiday potluck and gift exchange, in December, was well-attended! We had 10 youth who attended and several adult members of the Pride Committee who joined us as a show of holiday comradery! We had plenty of food, drinks, and desserts! And, of course, our White Elephant gift exchange was a lot of fun! As usual, the gift exchange started out rather subdued, as folks each took a turn to pick a gift. But then, about halfway through the process, the participants began to steal gifts from each other, which made for raucous fun!
The LGBTQ Youth Alliance meets in person at the Big Red Church (First Congregational Church) on Friday nights from 7 to 8:30 PM. We continue to post on our Facebook page and Instagram! We urge all LGBTQ school-age youth to join us Friday nights at the Big Red Church, located at 2131 N. Van Ness, just up the street from Fresno High School!
Community Link Projects
Valley veteran using art therapy to help community
by Vanessa Vasconcelos
Reposted from ABC30 Action News Website
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cindy Williams is in the business of creating memories -- and uses her love of art as a platform.
This weekend, class held in the shop off of Selland and Holland Avenues in Northwest Fresno caters to people of all skill levels.
But Cindy doesn't see her students as customers.
"That's what wakes me up in the morning and gets me down here," she said. "It makes me choke up a little. They're my family."
Williams started CW Ceramics with her partner in 2009 after spending almost 40 years in the Army Reserve.
"When I got back from Iraq, I was a nurse," she said. "I didn't want to go back to that nursing."
After losing her partner in February of last year, Williams has poured her heart into helping others hone their craft to use as an outlet.
In addition to classes, she hosts private events, fundraisers, parties and theme nights.
"Working with the clay, there's just a sense of you in it," says Julianne Lipe. "The Zen is just very calming. The energy here is amazing. For me, it's very healing."
Six months ago, Lipe was looking for art therapy.
"I found her on social media, I came to a diva night with about six of my girlfriends and now, I'm here three nights a week," she said.
Pieces start at $9. Private parties start at $14 per person.
"This is a creative outlet for a lot of people, but it's affordable," Williams said. "That's the main thing -- we want to make art affordable.
For more information, visit their website.
Rally shows support for NY Pride Center after graffiti was scrawled on its building
The Phyllis B. Frank Rockland County Pride Center, in Nyack, NY, held a rally just days after hateful graffiti was scrawled on its wall. The hate written on the walls remained in place as the Executive Director of the center, Brooke Mallory, told attendees, “We’re not taking the graffiti down. Come and take a look.”
Malloy called what happened at the Pride Center a manifestation of the swell of anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state and federal level. Malloy stated, “the graffiti doesn’t happen first. It’s the other way around.”
US House Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican, spoke at the rally, stating, “Of the hate expressed in the messages scrawled on the wall, it cannot stand. It cannot happen here.” Lawler went on to say he believes in a “free debate of ideas.” But, he added, “There should be no debate about somebody’s worthiness, about somebody’s humanity because of who they are.”
Several New York officials and members of the community spoke at the rally, vowing to fight
the hate that was expressed as graffiti.
Chasten Buttigieg slams Fox News for attacking his husband for taking paternity leave
Chasten Buttigieg had choice words for Fox News this week after making comments that his husband, Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, was wrong for taking paternity leave to bond with the twins the couple adopted at birth.
The Fox News article, and Fox commentaries, blasted Buttigieg for refusing to take calls during his paternity leave. Tucker Carlson, a Fox commentator, made cracks about Buttigieg trying to “figure out how to breastfeed.” Rep. Loeren Boebert made similar comments. Anti-trans Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh said that it was “absurd…luxury” for public employees like Pete Buttigieg to receive two months off to care for his infants and also that the Buttigieges shouldn’t be allowed to be parents.
Chasten’s Twitter comments included him telling Pete’s haters, “It’s been 17 months. You need new material. Go yell at an M&M,” referring to right-wing adherents for attacking Mars Candy for supporting women’s issues by releasing a new bag of M&M candies that features the green, brown, and purple candies, whose characters are female.
On her first day in office, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned the term Latinx
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Whitehouse Press Secretary for Donald Trump, banned the use of the term Latinx in all government business. But Arkansas Latinx political organizers are asking people to not get distracted by the governor’s “political noise” and instead, to focus on the issues that are more important to the Latinx community.
At a recent meeting of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas, director Margarita Solorzano reminded the members of the organization that their focus should continue to be on issues such as education, access to health care and the justice system. Solorzano noted, “We use ‘Latino’ and ‘Hispanic’ in our daily business. I know it is important for some people, but it’s not necessarily the general sentiment of the immigrant or Latino population. They have other more pressing issues.”
Irvin Comacho, a community rights organizer, echoed Solorzano’s comments when he said the issues of concern in the state include lack of education, low teacher pay, high incarceration rates, homelessness and a lack of mental health resources. He added, “But what I am worried about is if this administration on the first day decided to sign this executive order—what does it look like for us going forward?”
For Rumba Yambu, who identifies as a trans-Latinx person, the executive order brought up a lot of the anti-LGBTQ sentiments and the “erasure of identity” that rose during the Trump administration.
Russian tennis champ Daria Kasatkina worries about going home after coming out
by John Russell
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com
Russian tennis champ Daria Kasatkina has opened up about the relief she’s felt since coming out this summer, as well as the how that and the war in Ukraine has affected her ability to see her family.
The 25-year-old came out last July, revealing her relationship with Russian Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.
Continue reading at LGBTQNation.com
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
A Review by Kaylia Metcalfe
I have often written about genre and how it evolves, encompasses more than one type of thing, and sometimes is hard to pin down. That is definitely the case with Razorblade Tears. It is both a work of gripping Contemporary Fiction and an Adventure/Thriller book. With tight prose, memorable characters, and tropes that are enjoyable despite their familiarity, and some surprises along the way, this book felt more like a drama movie than a book of the month. In fact, -and I rarely say this- I think it would make a well-received film. I hope
someone over at Netflix has read it.
Back of the book blurb:
A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.
Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.
Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed of his father's criminal record. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.
Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.
Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change and maybe even redemption.
Ok, review time.
This is a thriller set in the south. Our protagonists are both southern ex-cons with baggage and the inciting incident that sets the whole plot in motion is the execution-style murder of two men. So… it is a dark book. It is a violent book. It is a sad book. I feel it is a very “male” book, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Most Contemporary Fiction books have women protagonists and deal with “women issues” of relationships both internal and external. The Thriller genre, on the other hand, has been for years a male-dominated genre (as it grew out of the Western and Detective genres which were primarily concerned with men using violence to solve problems), but this trend has been changing as the number of women readers now surpass men readers (at least in the area of fiction) and current publishing trends have started to reflect that change with more women authors and protagonists. This book feels like a bit of a throwback to the more male-centered Thriller/Adventure novel and includes several familiar cliches and tropes, but it also can sit comfortably in the realm of Contemporary Fiction because while violence might be the beginning and end of the action, there is a lot of introspection and relationship building as well.
“Atmosphere” is sometimes called “Tone” and the tone of this book is like a car that feels like it is skidding out of control but from the perspective of the backseat passenger. We have no ability to affect what is happening, we are being carried along, and despite all our feminist thoughts on equality, there is something comforting in the fact that our father is behind the wheel managing the danger and will most likely be able to set things right at some point. Men are still socially constructed to be the violent protectors and one needs only to glance at the crop of network television shows or big-budget films to see that our culture still likes a tough male lead who can
S: Writing STYLE
Cosby writes clearly and his prose is easy to read. There is no real poetry to the text, but that makes sense considering the genre, plot, and characters. Dialogue by people with accents can be difficult but Cosby manages this perfectly. There are no ten-dollar words here, and the story is told mostly in the present tense with only a few well-timed and well-written flashbacks. This book was an easy read and even the violence was written in a way that could satisfy the squeamish and the bloodthirsty alike.
As I said, there are a few flashbacks and the central driving force of the action has already happened before the story opens up, but the narrative moves along at a pretty quick clip. It was only after I finished the book that I realized how little time had actually transpired. Action-packed? Well, I would say “action-full” with enough breaks that the reader can catch their breath and also sit with the uncomfortable truths and consequences. This was not an adrenaline rush book even though there were some exciting climatic bits. Again, it felt like it could easily be adapted for the big screen. An adaptation which, by the way, would need very little in terms of either
padding or trimming. As for the plot itself, I was definitely invested even after the book took its turn into the thriller/action genre. There were no loose ends, no head-scratching moments. Cosby does a great job of letting us readers follow the action as it unfolds and we learn the important bits of information alongside our characters. Even the forgone conclusion was satisfying, which is no small feat considering that it was also a bit predictable.
Yup. After a slightly slow start, the story moved along well, and there was plenty to keep you invested. It is a fast read partly because it is interesting and you want to know what is going to happen next. Even when I could only snatch a few pages at a time, this book was worth digging out of my bag.
Probably the best part of the book was the characters. We had authenticity, we had pathos, we had satisfaction… and -most importantly- we had actual character development for both of our main characters. Both had distinct voices, motivations, and baggage. Both fathers grew and changed, and both felt like totally authentic real people you would actually encounter. I particularly liked the very honest discussions of race and privilege that I swear Cosby might have just copied down from an overheard conversation in a coffee shop or Walmart checkout line somewhere. Kudos to Cosby for giving us characters that we could sympathize with and root for while still feeling conflicted about the actions they were taking. Another shout-out to the well written dialogue.
T: Why THIS Book?
It had the LGBTQ tag on it but clearly was going to not have any actual LGBTQ characters in it. This was intriguing to me.
Would I recommend it?
Speaking of blended genre books… as I said, this book was tagged as an LGBTQ book. And yet. The two gay characters have died before the first page. So, is this really an LGBTQ book? Sort of. Both of the fathers were estranged from their sons because of their inability to accept that they were gay. Both fathers still love their sons despite their bigotry and lack of acceptance. And both fathers come to realize that they were wrong to let something like that stand in the way of time with their children. There is a very profound lesson to be found here that time is short and you can love someone who you don’t fully understand. It is a sad lesson because it,
obviously, comes too late.
Maybe this is more of a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) book because it definitely seems to be written for an audience of parents (maybe targeted toward fathers) who might not be fully on board with their children’s life choices or queer identities. Hey, this book seems to be saying, Is it really worth losing your child over that? Can you imagine if your child died thinking that you didn’t love them? Can you even imagine the guilt and sadness you would feel because your heart is hard and your mind is closed? Maybe you need to reevaluate some things before it is too late.
I think it is brilliant to have both that lesson of acceptance and that powerful warning exist in a book that harkens back to the Western style of “two men out for justice” and utilizes the concepts of “enemies to friends,” “violence solves a lot of problems,” and “the ends justify the means.” All of which are very (toxic) male genre types of ideas.
It is also worth noting that the sons were not killed because they were gay. Their gayness did not set into motion the murder or the retribution. However, it was the reason for the estrangement and it serves the purpose of eliciting character growth in our protagonists. So yeah, this is a book about men on a quest for justice/vengeance… but it is really a book about two unlikely partners overcoming a whole host of bad indoctrination and grieving the mistakes of their past.
And while I think that we need more queer representation in literature (especially outside of the romance genre), I do think we also need the representation of the Boomer generation coming to terms and getting over the bad lessons they were taught before it is too late as well. We need more books written in the style and genre that these people might read. In terms of that, I think this book was great and I highly recommend it. If there is a Boomer in your life who might be teetering on the edge of waking up to progressive ideals, especially if they are a man who likes Westerns, Sons of Anarchy, or Clint Eastwood movies… why not gift them this book.
Kaylia Metcalfe is a freelance audio and copy editor based in Fresno CA. She produces podcasts as part of the KMMA Media Network and cohosts
the monthly radio show It’s A Queer Thang on KFCF. For more information, visit kayliametcalfe.com
ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19)
You feel like things aren't happening fast enough. All is well, accept this as life seems to be on a positive track.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20)
You are in the home stretch. Tie up loose ends, the hard work is finally going to pay off.
GEMINI (May 21-Jun 21)
You're a bundle of energy, watch your tongue or it will get you into trouble. Focus on your health.
CANCER (June 22-Jul 22)
Others are taking up a lot of your time and it's draining. All the hard work will make for a happy month.
LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22)
Not a lot of challenges for you this month, make plans for when life speeds up.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sep 22)
Your nerves are just fried. Push forward with a light attitude.
LIBRA (Sep 23-Oct 22)
You have a balanced outlook on life. Plan before moving forward. Others will seek your advice.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21)
Your actions don't seem to produce anything. Rethink what you want and develop a strategy. You will feel happier.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21)
You feel like everything is working against you. You need to take a look at what you are doing then try something new. You are well grounded.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19)
Attention is on you, perhaps you need to check your health and start watching your spending habits.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18)
Time for a course adjustment. Your energy is working for you in the new year.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20)
Push forward. Big learning curve is starting for you. Trust your instincts.
by Eric Biglione
Love Letter to Fresno's Queer West
Saturday, February 18, 2023 | 6-10 PM
Satellite Student Union, Fresno State
Celebrating the local history of queer country western culture, bars and drag performances. Proceeds will go to LGBTQ2+ Studies.
For more information email, Dr. Kat Fobear at firstname.lastname@example.org
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