Issue VIII, Vol. XXV, No. 296 | April 2020
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
Community Link Projects
GRAY ALLIANCE NEWS APRIL 2020
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, April 26, 2020.
If you have any questions, please call John Richardson at 559-260-1565. Hope to see you soon!
YOUTH ALLIANCE NEWS APRIL 2020
April arrived with plenty of rain and lots of green growth. The Central Valley is looking lush and alive. Easter weekend promised to be a warm, spring weekend. Unfortunately, we are all stuck in our homes under the California Governor’s and the Fresno Mayor’s orders to stay at home, in response to the spread of COVID-19, the latest coronavirus. Our faithful LGBTQ Youth Alliance group members are, hopefully, following the government’s order and staying home.
Early last month, when the governor suggested that people not meet in groups larger than 10, our youth group members begged that we continue to meet. They promised to maintain social distancing in the group if only we could continue to meet. We no sooner got an OK to continue meeting from our Grand Poobah, Jeffery Robinson, and the leadership of The Big Red Church, when the mayor ordered Fresno residents to shelter-in-place. That order shut down the youth group on March 18, 2020.
At our last group meeting, the week before the mayor’s stay-at-home order, our youth promised each other that if the group could no longer meet, they would keep in touch via Instagram, their social media provider of choice. Unfortunately, the adult leaders, Rachel, AKA Banana, and David, are not familiar with Instagram. Banana got phone numbers of the youth who attended the last meeting, so that she could notify them of any changes in group status.
To date, the government has not notified the public of any changes in social distancing status. The state of California and most of the United States are locked down until further notice. Schools and youth hangouts are closed. The federal government recently suggested that everyone wear masks if they are going out into public for essential goods and services. This may be a good time for our youth to learn some new methods of relieving the
boredom of staying home all day. Hopefully, they can use their problem-solving skills to come up with things to do other than playing video games and watching anime on TV. It might also be a good time for our youth leaders to become familiar with Instagram so that they can communicate better with the youth. We all need to find ways to keep busy and not let boredom create feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness.
Once the government gives us permission, the LGBTQ Youth Alliance will restart our Friday evening meetings at the Big Red Church. We will need to find ways to notify the LGBTQ youth of Fresno that we are once again meeting. Until then, we will post occasionally on the Youth Alliance Facebook page so that everyone knows our status. We look forward to seeing our youth group members in person once again!
SHARE YOUR HOME??
I am a disabled senior member of the gay community. Was an active leader in the 70s & 80s. Retired from drag 30+ years ago.
I am confined to a power wheelchair, so I need ground level, wheelchair accessible housing. I prefer a private bedroom and bathroom. I am very neat.
I do not smoke, drink or do drugs.
I have a small dog, and need a fenced yard for her. Call me at (559) 276-4294.
BE SAFE, BE WELL
I am an old lady; I have seen the first landing on the moon. I have witnessed the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I have read of the fights for civil and equal rights for people of color and the LGBTQ community and participated in protesting the abuses behind that. I have marched in protest about the VietNam War and chained myself to a fence to protest the building of a nuclear power plant on Long Island, NY, my home. I have seen the onset and brutal results of the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world but mostly here in the US. I watched prejudice and stigma lead to social isolation and death of too many that I loved.
I have experienced much joy as well. I have seen more concerts than I can remember from the Monkees, my first concert, to Paul McCartney, the Moody Blues, Leon Russell, Jackson Browne, Garth Brooks to the Elton John the last one I saw. I have a wonderful daughter, who I wanted to kill when she was a teenager, but who has grown to be an amazing Mother and with luck will soon be a member of the California Bar Association. I have a grandson who is the light of my life and has a few of my characteristics. I have 2 dogs, a huge Doberman and a small yappy poodle mix who share/hog my bed each night. I own my own almost 100-year-old house that squeaks and groans but is my sanctuary. I have a job that I really do love that has brought me great happiness and even greater sorrow at times.
I have accomplished much and have many blessings in my life, but I have never experienced the inner turmoil I feel because of this Corona Virus.
I am sure I am not the only one feeling the uncertainty, anxiety and stress that accompany this virus. I wish I had a magic solution for how to make it through the end of this, but I don’t. I can only repeat what we all know and should be doing, use social distancing, stay 5 to 6 feet away from everyone, wear gloves and a mask when you go to the store. Don’t shake hands, don’t hug. Stay at home as much as possible, your home is your haven, keep it clean, wipe down surfaces, remove your shoes outside and remove and wash your clothes when you come home from going out. Sheltering in and working from home if possible.
We can and will beat this, we simply need to help one another. That older neighbor could use a smile and a wave, maybe an extra roll of toilet paper or some of that banana bread you just made. Someone with a compromised immune system could use help with grocery shopping or picking up their medications. Those making masks could share the, like some in our community are doing. Small things make the difference. A text, an email can make someone’s day.
Our world has changed, and we are experiencing many changes to what is normal. We at The Living Room are doing our best to make changes that keep both staff and clients safe and at the least risk. Unfortunately, in response to this we have temporarily ceased face to face support groups and the drop-in center is closed. In their place online groups are available. We are available to talk to anyone via phone or facetime, you simply have to call us (559-486-1469), we would love to talk to you and help you make it through the day. Our hot lunch program is also on hold because of social distancing, however if you are hungry, we can make you a sack lunch and deliver it to you as well. HOPWA services are available, and we will do our best to help, if you qualify.
It is a time of sadness and uncertainty for us all but we can make it a time of increased care and love for our friends and family. While we shouldn’t be hugging each other sometimes all someone needs is that virtual hug to make them feel loved.
COVID-19 IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON US
Your spare change can help
From Nick & Brian at The Source
Donating your spare change to The Source is easy, secure, and meaningful. COVID-19 will affect our ability to stay open in 2021. We have cancelled and postponed major fundraising events. Without that revenue, we will make some very difficult decisions going into next year. We are asking you to donate your spare change from regular shopping to The Source. With your contributions we can avoid program and staff cuts later this year. Thank you for your help and partnership. We have accomplished a lot together in the last 4 years, and we will do even more going forward.
LEFTOVER FABRIC FROM THE AIDS QUILT IS BEING USED TO MAKE FACE MASK FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Gert McMullin, who created the first panels for the quilt, has fired up her sewing machine to help fight a new viral plague.
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com
Leftover fabric from the iconic AIDS Quilt is finding new life as face masks for healthcare workers.
Gert McMullin, who created the first panels for the quilt and is now an employee of the National AIDS Memorial, has fired up her sewing machine to help fight a new viral plague.
ICONIC LESBIAN ACTIVIST PHYLLIS LYON PASSES AWAY AT 95
She founded the first lesbian organization in the US & her "courage changed the course of history," said California's governor.
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com
Legendary lesbian activist Phyllis Ann Lyon passed away of natural causes at her home in San Francisco at age 95. LGBTQ leaders all over the country have honored her life.
“I will miss her so much,” wrote former National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendell on Facebook.
continue reading at LGBTQNationcom
CORONAVIRUS CAN'T STOP DRAG QUEEN STORY TIME
Gather the kiddos around and join in the fun on Saturday with Nina West.
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com
While Christian conservatives have already started blaming LGBTQ people and the “sin” of marriage equality for the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus, one pundit linked to a recognized hate group went so far as to proclaim the virus “good” because drag queen story hour events can’t be held at public libraries while they’re closed.
Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Nina West apparently didn’t get the memo, because she’s started holding virtual story hours for kids on Instagram Live.
MEMES OF CHICAGO'S LESBIAN MAYOR ARE TAKING OVER THE INTERNET
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has become the new face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic due to her no-nonsense attitude. Memes of the mayor’s stern face as she chastises crowds have swept the Internet. Mayor Lightfoot confirmed that she has personally driven around Chicago telling people gathered outside to social distance or go home. Lightfoot said she is pleased with the memes as they are demonstrating, in a light-hearted way, that the coronavirus is deadly serious. She has even retweeted her favorite memes on Twitter.
JERRY FALWELL, JR., CONTINUES TO STIR THE COVID-19 POT
Jerry Falwell, Jr, son of the famous television evangelist Jerry Falwell, and president of the conservative Christian Liberty University, in Lynchburg Virginia, made news again recently when he had authorities issue arrest warrants for two journalists who worked on stories about his decision to reopen the campus in the middle of a pandemic. Falwell had arrest warrants issued for misdemeanor trespassing when the reporters entered the campus to interview and photograph students.
Falwell reopened his campus recently, insisting that students and faculty return, and even suggested that the novel coronavirus is a media plot to harm President Trump’s re-election chances. About half of the 1900 dormitory students who returned to campus fled when students began to get sick.
One of the publications named in the arrest warrants, The New York Times, has responded saying that the journalists were engaged in the most “routine form of news gathering,” and should not be prosecuted.
“I’M STUCK IN ISOLATION WITH MY HOMOPHOBIC PARENTS"
A BBC article by Ben Hunte has highlighted the fact that because of the coronavirus lockdown, some young people have been forced to isolate alongside parents who don’t accept their sexuality or gender. Hunte interviewed several LGBTQ young adults who have returned home when they were laid off or lost their jobs due to coronavirus. One young man, Sam, 23, a dancer, said he had no choice but to return home when he lost his job, but he struggles daily because he can’t be himself around his parents. Sam said he feels like the LGBTQ community forgot about people like him and instead are focused on filming online workout videos and holding online parties.
Nicky, 19, a marketing assistant, asked to move home after her work hours were cut, but was only allowed home after she began to experience mental health issues. Nicky was hoping to move out by the end of April, but because her work hours were cut, she is stuck in a situation where she feels unwanted and isolated.
Hunte’s article points out the struggles the coronavirus is forcing on LGBTQ young people as a result of their sexual orientation and gender. Not only is social isolation placing people’s mental health at risk, they are forced to cohabitate in situations where they are not accepted, which will also increase the exacerbation of mental health problems.
20 LGBTQ PEOPLE ARRESTED IN A CORONAVIRUS RAID COULD FACE 9 YEARS IN PRISON
Ugandan police said they raided the LGBTQ shelter because it violated COVID-19 prevention measures. Human rights advocates say the cops are lying.
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com
Police in Uganda raided a shelter and now 20 LGBTQ people could get up to nine years in prison.
The shelter, located in the outskirts of the capital Kampala, had already drawn complaints from neighbors because of LGBTQ people who live there. Now human rights advocates say that the police used coronavirus social distancing measures as an excuse to persecute the sexual and gender minorities.
BREATHE IN LOVE AND BREATHE OUT COMPASSION
The news is full of stories of heartache and human misery. Stories are reported almost daily of earthquakes, tornados, floods, hurricanes, wars, and more. You can hardly read a headline or watch the television without having tales of tragedies thrown in your face. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. But do not become complacent and jaded.
When you hear of the pain of others, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to help them. Although you may not be able to go to them to render aid physically, there is an act of empathy you can do to send them positive energy.
Try breathing in love from the universe and breathing out compassion for those who suffer. You may think, “What good will that do?” Well, for one thing, it teaches you to be a more compassionate person. Every time you breathe compassion to someone, you are expanding your capacity for empathy. It also gives you a greater sense of emotional stability because you do not feel so helpless when you hear about human misery. The positive energy you breathe out to people could spiritually benefit them on a metaphysical level. Perhaps their distress will slightly decrease when they receive enough positive energy—in whatever form.
You can view this empathy breathing exercise as a form of prayer if you like. It does not matter what you call it. The important thing is to focus on loving other people and doing something about it. Talking about love is not the same as doing something loving. Breathing may seem passive, but it is not. Breathing is action and breathing empathy to those in need is one way to practice love.
Say, for instance, you hear on the national news that a young person in another state died in a car accident. Now the surviving family and friends are in a lot of emotional pain. Instead of just turning away and doing something else to take your mind off the sad news, you can take that opportunity to breathe compassion to the people who are in mourning.
Furthermore, what if your coworker is dumping all her emotional baggage on you? You know that you cannot solve her problems for her. However, you can be empathetic and listen to her concerns. As you do, breathe in her pain. Let your love for humanity convert that pain into positive energy. Then, as you are still listening to her, breathe out compassion.
Maybe it is an international situation where people are starving or have some horrible disease. If there is a relief fund set up, you could donate some money to help them. On the other hand, you can also breathe spiritual relief to them with your loving thoughts. It only takes a minute of your time, and it can make the difference between being compassionate or complacent.
By the way, this exercise in sympathy can also work to reduce and control the anger you feel toward others. Imagine that your child comes home from school with an unsatisfactory grade. Your desire for your son or daughter to get a much higher grade could very easily lead to feelings of anger.
Acting on this anger could result in a verbal confrontation with your child. You might yell, “You should know better than this. I expect more from you. What is wrong with you? I didn’t raise you to be an idiot!” These hurtful words will not strengthen the bond you have with your child. It will only drive a wedge between the two of you.
What if instead of displaying anger, you took a few moments first to gather your thoughts before you spoke. (Okay, let’s call it a “timeout.” We can work with that overused catchword, can’t we?) If you use the empathy breathing technique, you could put yourself in the other person’s shoes and better understand the situation.
It is entirely possible that in spite of your child’s best efforts, the grade still fell short of parental expectations. Or a more likely explanation might be the schoolwork or exam was not a proper vehicle by which to accurately measure your child’s learned knowledge. (This’s usually the case.)
Understanding leads to compassion. Once you know a little bit more about the reason for the low grade, you can bring yourself to an emotional state of peace. It is at this point you can take that slow deep breath and exhale compassion to your child. That type of empathy leads to a stronger parent-child relationship.
Something to meditate on today. When you get home tonight and watch the news, be sensitive to the suffering of others. As you learn about their struggles, image being in their situation. Feel for them. As you do this, breathe in love and exhale compassion. The more you do this, the more compassionate you will become. And the world sure could use more compassionate people right now.
ONCE UPON MY TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Here’s hoping my fun true story takes you away from the health crisis for a few moments of happiness. I think these are exactly the stories we should all be sharing now.
I moved away to L.A. for six months. I became an extra on TV shows and movies to earn money while in town training for a marathon. It also gave me a chance to see how Hollywood worked while giving this blue-collar guy some cool stories to tell my buddies when back in Indiana.
During the summer of 2001, I was on the set of the show That's Life. It ran from 2000 to 2002. It had A-listers like Paul Sorvino, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Dillon, and Debi Mazar.
The first day on the set I was placed with an actress. We were to walk into a restaurant together. This actress had speaking roles. I did not. There were many takes of a particular scene. So we had to keep going "back to one" or back to our original spots.
During the idle time at our back to one spots, this actress and I were standing in the restaurant’s vestibule. The space was small and it was awkward to not talk with each other. Hoosiers are friendly folks. So I began conversations with this woman on all the back to ones.
This actress was Debi Mazar. She was one of the celebrities on the show. I didn’t know that. And I didn’t know anything about her. Background actors were not to speak to the big stars unless spoken to. It was a well-known rule; and if violated, could get you thrown off a set and even blacklisted all over Hollywood.
It's not like I was talking with Paul Sorvino. He was the infamous gangster from Scorsese’s Good Fellas. My pals and I loved that movie. I knew to keep my mouth shut around this godfather.
When shooting of this scene was finished, we all went back to our places. Debi back to her tony private room with the star on the door. And I back to my rusty folding chair and the card table with a half-eaten tray of chips on it.
A dozen background actors quickly circled me like vultures as I sat down to continue reading my USA Today. They were eager to hear why Ms. Mazar started talking and laughing with me. And they were more surprised when I said I initiated dialogue with her. There came silence and nervously exchanged glances for a few moments. Then they all talked at once.
It was right there I found out this wasn't just a neophyte actress moving her way up. This was one of Madonna's best friends. She had been in many roles on TV and the big screen. All the background actors were excitedly shouting over each other while giving me her resume.
We stopped when someone approached our noisy clan. This was it we thought; they were coming for me. But it was a gal from the catering company to put out more Tostitos. I was safe. No one from security ever came to frog-march me off the set for my garrulous gaffe. I always thought that Debi told them to let it go and allow me to stay.
She probably guessed I was a naive but polite Midwestern fellow. Just some guy who had no clue who she was. Two bored people making small talk on the set. And without any ulterior motives from each other. A rare thing in Hollywood.
Thanks Debi for talking about marathon training, Dodgers baseball, traffic on the 405, and my hometown in suburban Chicago. It made those 20 minutes move along famously.
Now I have one of those fun meet-cute (sort of) celebrity stories I can tell to all my amigos in my neighborhood and beyond.
This story is brought to you by that guy who now knows Debi played Sandy in Good Fellas. That guy with more reason to like that fantastic flick is Ron Blake and he is on Blu-ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN
Dear Uncle Barbie,
Why do people procrastinate when they know better? I go to High School, and I put off my homework until the last minute. Now, I have a ton of schoolwork to do. How can I keep myself from doing this in the future?
How’s Toto? Shouldn’t you be asking the Great Oz? Your question is a twister, Dorothy, a twister! A lot of people have this problem of procrastination…and not just high school students--everyone! If you are in the mood for procrastination, why don’t you just procrastinate your procrastination? In order to properly address this issue, we need to get down to the basics; this is essentially a question of motivation. Put in its simplest form, motivation comes down to moving toward pleasure and away from pain. People procrastinate because they are trying to move away from the pain of doing whatever task they are avoiding, while at the same time, moving towards the pleasure of doing another, more desirable, activity.
The reinforcement of procrastination is being able to escape from the anxiety that you feel when you think about doing the undesirable task. It’s really an issue of association. If you associate pain with doing homework, then you will unconsciously recoil from it. On the other hand, if you change your thoughts so that you start associating pleasure with doing your homework and pain with not doing it, then you will naturally be motivated to do your schoolwork. So, here is what I want you to do, Dorothy: click your ruby slippers together three times and start thinking about all the benefits of your education. Likewise, think about all the pains of being undereducated. This should get you going on the right foot. Just remember, there’s no place like home--for doing your homework. Procrastination will get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too! By the way, Dorothy, you might want to see if the Great & Powerful Wizard will grant your wish to be rid of procrastination. (Just don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.)
Living in Oz, Barbie
ARIES (Mar 21 - Apr 19)
Obviously you want to get the show on the road but hold your horses a little, Others need to catch up to you. More harmony that way.
TAURUS (Apr 20 - May 20)
You are having to deal with some sudden issues and you don't like it. Learning curve here so don't shy away. Your evaluating difficulties helps your understanding and can bring some benefits to you.
GEMINI (May 21- June 21)
You are feeling good about yourself so it is a good time to make plans for the future. It all works here so shoot for what you want.
CANCER (Jun 22 - Jul 22)
Others are looking to you for some guidance. Console them for now but keep a personal distance so you don't get too involved in their problems.
LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22)
Out with the old and in with the new. Old ways of dealing with problems doesn't work anymore. Start a new path to achievement in your life.
VIRGO (Aug 23 - Sep 22)
Others are occupying a lot of your time. So be it. This is a great time to reassess your health routine. Diet & Exercise.
LIBRA (Sep 23 - Oct 22)
You are having a hard time concentrating on any one issue. Write down what you want to do and follow through. Your thinking is clouded so be creative here.
SCORPIO (Oct 23 - Nov 21)
Out of the blue you get stressed out and short tempered. You need to pick what you can do and forget the rest. This is a time for some sanity in your life.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 - Dec 21)
You are probably doing okay here but you do need a little bit of an anchor. Time to really be honest with yourself and what you want.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22 - Jan 19)
You really are going through a transformation here. You are getting rid of thing you don't want or need anymore and taking on some new ventures. It's all good.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Lots of mental nervous energy going on. You're very insightful but calm down and pick and choose what you want. It all works out in the end. High energy.
PISCES (Feb 19 - Mar 20)
You are actually weathering the craziness pretty good. Old problems come up but you deal with them. A very practical time in your life. Good to make plans.
Not To Be Missed
With the current COVID-19 protocols ordering us to stay at home, we all need to find ways to keep busy besides going to movies, going to plays, attending social gatherings, or going out of town!
Here are some ideas for things to do at home, borrowed from an Internet website:
Fly a kite
Go for a walk
Write a letter or an email to a friend
Practice an instrument
Ride a bike
Visit the elderly (at a distance)
Look for 4-leaf clovers
Clean your bedroom
Take a bubble bath
Plant a garden
Take an online class
Listen to an audio book
Take care of your pets
Read a book
Try a new recipe
Put together a puzzle
Look for neighborhood jobs
These ideas came from amomstake.com, but there are lots of websites that have lists of things to do at home when you’re bored. Explore as many as it takes to find things to keep yourself busy! And let’s try to keep in mind that the government’s stay-at-home orders are not forever. We will eventually get to leave out homes and travel once again. Let’s try to stay busy until then!