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 May 28th 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 May 2023
Well, so much for spring! We got a little spring weather in the Central Valley and now, in mid-May, we are already hitting temperatures close to 100! At least the evenings are cooling off a little for now. Our LGBTQ Youth Alliance members are at least dressing appropriately for the weather. It’s not a good sign when a young person shows up to the group with a hoodie pulled over their head, long dark pants, and heavy boots!
With the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival only a few weeks away, our gang has been trying to figure out where to meet for the parade, and how we are going to pull off walking in the parade! Several of our members have mobility problems, so our beloved group leader, Rachel, AKA Banana, is figuring out how we can use an electric golf cart to go down the parade route, and where we will take the cart after that. Thanks, Banana! We know you’ll figure it out!
We’re also going to have a booth at the festival! In the past, we’ve sold cupcakes and rainbow knick-knacks. Cupcakes melt in the heat, so we’re going to try something else this year. Banana is making a prize wheel that will cost $1 to spin. Whatever color the wheel falls on the person will get to choose a prize from a corresponding place on the table. That way everyone is a winner, and we don’t have to keep track of different prices for things! Fantastic, Banana!
The youth group has been having our usual chats on Friday evenings! Sometimes we use Banana’s book of 3000 questions, and sometimes we just start a discussion and go from there! However we go about asking questions, we always have a good time and get to know each other better by our answers to questions!
We always save the last weekend of the month for our world-famous potluck! Our last potluck was a little lackluster. For one thing, Banana and her husband, J , didn’t join us because they got married the night before and were on their honeymoon! Of course, we had plenty of food and drinks for the party, so everyone got their fill! But we didn’t have many attendees, so we had a lot of food left over. There was a whole pizza left over, but luckily, one of the group members offered to take the pizza home, so there was no waste. As usual, the noise level was out of control! We always have fun at potlucks, regardless of how many Youth Alliance members show up!
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
Madera Community College professor placed on leave for handing out gendered and transphobic candy bars
David Richardson, a tenured gay history professor at Madera Community College, made national news when brought chocolate bars to a campus open house on April 29. The bars were branded “he/him with nuts” and “she/her without nuts.” According to Richardson, who was later handed a notice of administrative leave by a uniformed police officer at the school, “I’m being investigated for ‘creating a hostile work environment based on gender.’”
The instructor told Fox News, “I feel as if they’ve been sort of looking for a reason to get rid of me because I don’t share the current opinion on neo-pronouns and that kind of stuff. Everything we do is geared toward this ideology and diversity of viewpoint is being eliminated.” What Richardson failed to mention is that the use of correct pronouns has been recommended for the publication of scholarly documents for the last 3-4 years.
George Santos tried to fundraise off his criminal charges
Out Republican Representative George Santos (NY) doesn’t seem to be letting the fact that he now faces 13 federal criminal charges—with a potential prison sentence of over 100 years—get him down. In fact, he’s trying to raise money off the news.
“I will fight to defend myself!” he tweeted recently. “Donate to keep me fighting for you!” he wrote, linking his campaign’s donation page.
Several of the charges Santos faces are related to how he allegedly scammed campaign donors. Santos asked donors to give money to an LLC he controlled. He reportedly told potential donors their contributions would be used for independent expenditures to support his campaign. Then he allegedly spent the money on personal expenses, including luxury designer clothing. Twitter readers noted that it was not the best idea to donate to the campaign of someone who is accused of misappropriating campaign funds. One reader wrote, “Wait, so…donate money to someone who’s under Federal indictment for stealing donated money? Dude, you’re next level shameless.”
Santos may have believed that since misappropriation of funds worked for Trump, it should work for him!
Florida investigating teacher who showed a Disney film with a gay character
Disney’s description of the film, Strange World, states it’s about a family of explorers that is trying to save their world from a strange power outage. In the film, Disney presents a gay teenager. That sparked concern from a parent, and school board member Shannon Rodriguez. Rodriguez stated, “Movies such as this assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms.”
Teacher Jena Barbie originally thought it was OK to play the film because it had a PG rating. She added the film portrayed a gay character for 2 minutes and 30 seconds across the entire hour and 45-minute film. She said, “There is no sexualization or inappropriate content.” The school board sent a letter to parents stating that the film will not be shown again, and that the teacher will be investigated further.
FDA lifts blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men
The FDA says gay and bisexual men can now donate blood after decades of restrictions put in place in the 1980’s. All donors will now be asked a series of questions of about risky behaviors instead of discriminating against gay and bisexual men. The FDA says that there have been 0 cases of transfusion-associated transmission of HIV since 2008.
During the last few years, the Covid pandemic hit and hospitals couldn’t get enough blood for emergency use. Scientists agree that the tests for HIV have become much more sensitive in the past few years. The change could allow for an increase in blood donations. Some scientists think this is a step in the right direction, but the FDA could do more.
Taiwan grants same-sex couples right to adopt in huge step toward equality
Taiwan’s legislature has passed a historic bill granting same-sex couples the right to jointly adopt a child neither of them are related to.
The legislation was approved on 16 May and clears one of the final hurdles in Taiwan achieving full marriage equality.
Prior to this, only heterosexual couples and single people were allowed to adopt children they have no biological relation to – resulting in only one person in a same-sex couple being able to legally register as the child’s parent, even if they were both raising them.
Fan Yun, a lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party, was among those that helped bring about the change.
“I am very excited that we granted joint adoption rights to same-sex couples today,” she said, adding: “Legally, we have finally returned same-sex couples to their children.
“Parental love is the same, and only through joint adoption can we protect the rights and interests of each other by law.”
The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, one of the island’s LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, hailed the move as proof there is “consensus” in Taiwan “to protect the human rights of LGBTI peoples and promote gender equality”.
It follows the Taiwanese government in January allowing someone from Taiwan to marry a foreign spouse of the same sex, even if their partner is from somewhere that does not recognise same-sex marriage.
This change does, however, exclude same-sex partners from mainland China.
Speak up or die? That question saved my life after a brutal rape
I did not mention that I am gay in this Guest Commentary I wrote. Nor did I disclose my age, my race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, income, or other demographic information. I wrote it from the perspective of a guy.
I wrote this piece originally for the Arizona Republic. It recently got picked up and shared by USA Today and Yahoo News.
I wanted my commentary to be focused on gender. Men and boys who are straight, bisexual, or gay and experience sexual trauma. And the stigmas that make it challenging for all of us guys to speak out about that.
Additionally, what was not mentioned is that my sexual orientation was a major factor in the trauma I experienced that night. A police Commander and Lieutenant eventually stated it was clear that their four responding officers categorically dismissed my brutal rape because I am a gay man. Admitting LGBT bias occurred.
I’m not able to go back and change that night of the rape or the biased police response to my harrowing 911 call for help. But I can make efforts to inspire the men and boys in Fresno’s LGBT community to see the good stuff that is beyond the silence, stigma, and discrimination. It starts with finding your voice.
Is it better to speak or to die?
That’s a simple, consequential question, especially for male victims to consider during April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It’s a question that badgered me daily for several years after it happened to me.
I’m one who barely survived a brutal rape. Three men entered my downtown Phoenix home one night while I slept. I was stripped naked. Then held down, beaten and raped.
The physical injuries I suffered weren’t going to end my life. It was my silence, the PTSD and the suicidal thoughts.
Those were all devastating results of that fateful evening.
We think rape doesn't happen to men.
There’s an unwritten rule about sexual assault in our society. It comes in two parts.
First, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen to men and boys. Second, when it does, go back and reread the first rule.
Maybe it was luck, divine intervention or a coincidence. But an unexpected moment of laughter from a late-night comedy show stopped me from dying by suicide on Nov. 2, 2015.
That eleventh hour miracle helped me realize there was something very valuable still left inside of me. My untold story.
That spark of hope started my journey to overcome the trauma.
It also gave me a purpose in life. To open up, finally, about the sexual assault I experienced as I work tirelessly to reach a symbolic goal.
I spoke up. How would my friends react?
I put a post on Facebook later that year, for the very first time letting all my friends and family know that I was raped.
It was a bold thing to do given my background.
I was born in Gary, Ind., and raised in the tough as steel neighborhoods along Chicago’s southeast side. A fiercely proud working-class area.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center shares on its website that, “Men may feel the need to be silent about their sexual assault because of the internalized belief that men should not express weakness.”
How would my longtime blue-collar buddies react to this possible display of weakness?
The fellas who cheered with me at plenty of Cubs and Bears games. The ones who would debate the problems of the world with me over ice-cold Old Styles at our favorite local bars. The guys who had been my teammates in softball and bowling leagues.
They were there for me. It's what I needed
Indeed, I took a big risk with that post. It was reminiscent of the famous scene from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” in which Andy tells his friend Red, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living. Or get busy dying.”
And so I made my choice. To get busy living by breaking through the silence.
My pals came through like champs. Hundreds of them responded with comments to my social media posting. They weren’t always politically correct in their wording and didn’t use the counseling jargon of Dr. Phil.
It didn’t matter.
They talked to me as a friend. Those guys and gals had my back and were there for me. That is what has made all the difference.
It wasn’t just my pals. It was my family, too. As well as folks from the communities of central Phoenix, Northwest Indiana and throughout the country that have rallied behind me.
Speaking up about rape saved my life
I’ve now received the written messages of incredible support from 32,143 individuals who heard me speak up about the vicious rape I experienced.
That overwhelming ground swell of support encouraged me to give a TEDx talk in 2017, testify before an Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee two years later on legislation to secure greater protection for sex assault victims, and to give inspirational presentations at dozens of events and colleges all over Arizona and the rest of the country.
I did not choose sexual assault. But I am most definitely choosing how to respond to it – with a determined voice. And that helps me find success, happiness and exciting new horizons in my life today.
I have chosen to speak about the rape.
I will die someday. But it sure as heck won’t be from silence and being misunderstood.
Ron Blake is a member of the speakers bureau of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and director of the American PTSD Association. Reach him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rape happens to men like me. Why I tell others my story
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
A Review by Kaylia Metcalfe
As always, I will use my ASPECT method and do my best to not spoil anything.
Before we start, I want to say a quick word on “canon” and what it means to general readers.
The term “literary canon” refers to a body of books, narratives, and other texts considered to be the most important and influential of a particular time period or place. In layman’s terms, it is the body of work that influential people believe is “must read” in order to be considered “well read” or, at the very least, able to understand the allusions and references that make up our sense of shared culture.
But you don’t have to have actually read the things in canon to get the references… for example, just living in our modern times in the US will allow you to glean meaning from Biblical, Simpsons, or Star Wars quotes. You might never have read or watched, but you still get the memes.
Anyway, back to the literary canon. Many books that are required reading in public high schools and colleges form a basic level of general literary understanding. Part of why they are repeatedly taught is to instill a sense of continuation… the fact that my mother and my daughter both read the same books I did in middle school lets us have a generational bridge. Of course, there is a very valid argument that what has been historically part of the canon has been one-sided… mostly straight white dudes. The arguments for expanding canon are worthwhile but not the point of today’s diatribe.
Where I want to focus is on the fact that today’s book is great. And it is even better if you are even moderately well versed in the literary canon of British literature or women’s literature.
So let’s get into it.
I am going out of order because I think it matters.
T: Why THIS book?
The title. The title tickled my brain and I could not have told you why. A quick skim of the blurb told me that there was going to be sapphic love and adventure… and again, the title seemed to denote a tone of humor or at least self-awareness… it seemed to both smirk at me and invite further inspection.
The back of the book blurb:
Adele grew up in the shadows—first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors. Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?
With a queer romance at its heart, this lush historical thriller offers readers an irresistible mix of vengeance and
Did you catch the British literature allusion? No? That’s ok… it is actually a bit subtle unless you were a lit major or a very specific type of loner book nerd.
And don’t worry or bother to go look it up. Should you decide to read this novel, Cornwell lets you in on the “secret” quite quickly. Had I made a more careful read, I would have gotten it sooner… and in all honestly, it might have made me decide not to read the book.
Why? Well, schtick can be cute… but overly cutesy things tend to awaken my inner grump and I will often pass by something that I feel is skirting the line between clever and twee. So for me, it would not actually have been a draw… which is why I have chosen to consider it a bit of a fun spoiler and thus leave it out of my review.
A: ATMOSPHERE / Tone combined with S: Writing STYLE
There is murder, but it is not murder most foul. There is a dark underbelly of London but the shadows are more blue- grey and not sinister black. There is a tragedy but nothing is actually tragic. The tone is confessional but there is not a lot of guilt and thus no real brooding.
The diction and verbiage are older but not archaic. They feel mostly right for the time period (Victorian England) with no obvious slip-ups in terms of slang etc. Now, this book is not nearly as wordy as most Victorian novels would be, but that is a welcome respite and not a complaint by any means.
The story itself is a bit out of time with a much more modern protagonist and resolution… more on that in a moment. The novel is a fast and easy read. I would have actually liked a few more Victorian words and phrases to really push the reader into that time period, but on the whole, Cornwell does a good job of being immersive enough to get the point of location and time across without potentially losing readers who might not want to stretch those vocabulary muscles.
P: PLOT / Pacing
As mentioned above, the plot is a bit modern. This is not a complaint. Sometimes it is fun to put modern types into non- modern situations… I mean, there is a whole subset of time-traveling books about people getting transported into the past and how they manage to deal with the juxtaposition of modern morality and older situations.
That being said, the plot was as believable as it needed to be. Sure, there were coincidences and moments where the reader is asked to not think too hard… just let yourself be borne along on the waves of the story. In the end, though simple, the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading.
One quibble: it was… very simple. Almost over simple. Your mileage will vary here, but I can totally get why some readers would find this story overly predictable and overly uncomplicated. Note about the ending: I am not going to spoil the ending. I will say, however, that I can see why some readers didn’t like it. My take? “All your faves are problematic”
Yup. The title did not disappoint. This book was pretty much exactly what the blurb told me it would be. And it was fun to read. We don’t always need a big twist. Sometimes simplicity is best and this is, at its core, a simple fun little story that doesn’t ask too much of the reader. It is surface-level popcorn lit and sometimes that is exactly what you need.
They were fine. Forgettable but fun. Authentic? Nope. But that’s ok. This isn’t high literature. It isn’t meant to teach us things about the human experience. They were there to be interesting and to help the shtick of the story move along. Also, sapphic love is great and needs as much representation as possible, so cheers to that.
Would I Recommend It?
Sure. This book is, in essence, a bit of well-written fan fiction of a literary character that most people don’t give more than a passing thought to. And? And you really really REALLY need to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book. It add infinite layers to the
whole endeavor and really elevates the whole book. For reals, don’t skip it.
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)
Get ready to act on your plans to move forward as things can be stressful.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20)
You are attracting positive energy and others to you.
GEMINI (May 21-Jun 21)
You feel lost, time for introspection.
CANCER (June 22-Jul 22)
You can handle new opportunities with your grounded and energetic feelings.
LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22)
A weight is lifted off you and new challenges are easy to handle now.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sep 22)
You know what you are dealing with, take solace in that and keep going.
LIBRA (Sep 23-Oct 22)
Take a break from dealing with other people's problems, it's stressing you out.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21)
You have a handle on life and are able to get things done and enjoy yourself.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21)
Accept your responsibilities and move forward without being self-absorbed.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19)
Things are against you right now, but your inner strength will make it work out for you. Watch your spending.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18)
Plan for what you want and go for it with your all.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20)
Serious problems are underway. You have the fortitude to press forward. Do so.
by Eric Biglione
The return of the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival celebrates 33 years.
SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2023
The theme, "QU33R ALL YEAR".
The parade will be held in the heart of the Tower District. Free to attend. Begins at 10AM. This is a family friendly event, prepare to see over 90 float enteries from local businesses and organizations.
The festival returns to Fresno City College. 11AM-3PM.
In 2022, we welcomed close to 11 thousand visitors.
A $5 donation at the gate gives you access to over 100 merchandise and information vendors.
Live entertainment. A children's play area and a beer garden.
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