Issue XI, Vol. XXVII, No. 325 | August 2022
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 August 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 August 2022
August has certainly rolled out its Leo Zodiac qualities—fiery, irritable, dramatic. The full vengeance of summer has befallen the Central Valley, with triple-digit heat being the norm.
Everyone is cranky because of the heat. Those TikTok videos of Fresno Walmart customers standing in the hot sun, arguing over parking spaces, are sure to be uploaded any time, now!
Central Valley school districts started the new school year on August 15, with in-class instruction. We can be sure our Fresno LGBTQ Youth Alliance members will be discussing the topic of starting the new semester in our next Friday meeting! Our current group of attendees have definite opinions about most topics, so it should be an interesting discussion!
At our most recent meeting, we passed around Banana’s book of 3000 questions, and took turns asking questions and answering them. A question came up about whether participants were willing to adhere to a vegan diet for a week. That led to a lengthy discussion about adhering to a diet that is restrictive of certain food groups and the difficulty in following the diet. Our group members noted that living at home, it is difficult to follow a diet that is contrary to the family diet plan, since it would require expecting parents to prepare a second meal or buy vegetable products that the vegans could prepare for themselves.
The last Friday of the month is Potluck Friday, where group members bring food to share! Last month, we had good attendance for our potluck, and there was plenty of food and drinks for everyone! And, of course, there were lively discussions of fashion, friends, and video games!
Our youth group members are big talkers when they choose to be, so there was lots of noise!
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 have given up on using Zoom to provide our group meetings online for now. The church’s Wi-Fi signal just doesn’t reach our meeting room continuously—we’re connected one minute and disconnected the next! But we will continue to post on Facebook, and now that we’ve got our Instagram account going, we’ve published on Instagram, as well! We urge all LGBTQ school-age youth to join us Friday nights at the Big Red Church, located at 2131 N. Van Ness!
MoPRIDE in the Park 2022
reposted from CentralValleyPrideCenter.org
Let's bring MoPride back to Graceada Park for 2022! We need the communities help to make it happen. Any donations received will go directly to funding MoPride in the Park 2022. We are going to show the community that Modesto is a place of love andacceptance. Pride is not only a celebration of love but a protest against hate.
Florida school district now requires teachers to out LGBTQ students because of “Don’t Say Gay”
The Sarasota County School District, in Florida, recently adopted a new policy in the wake of the Don’t Say Gay law, requiring its teachers to seek parental permission to address LGBTQ students by their correct name or pronouns.
The policy states that if a student asks a teacher to refer to them with a different name or gender than appears on the school roster, the teacher must notify administration, and the parents will be contacted to get consent to refer to the student correctly. If the parents refuse, staff must deadname and misgender the student.
One teacher said the policy could put students in danger of assault or suicide if parents are notified and they do not support their child’s name or gender report. Gail Foreman, of Booker High School, in Sarasota, has told students, “…Guys, don’t say anything to me if you’re not out at home.” Foreman stated, “I don’t want to come home every night and know that I may have contributed to my students being harmed.”
The Don’t Say Gay law has been criticized for being vague about defining terms and requirements, especially for older students, but it allows parents to sue school districts if they feel the law has been violated.
Gay realtor launches website to help LGBTQ Texans flee the state
As Texas becomes a hotbed of anti-LGBTQ laws targeting transgender youth and their families, Bob McCranie, a gay realtor in Dallas, has launched Flee Texas, a website that helps families find homes in more accepting states. The website helps people sell their homes and connects them with LGBTQ realtors and their allies in other states.
While some have accused McCranie of capitalizing on the state’s anti-LGBTQ climate to make money, he said that it’s not about the money. He pointed to realtors in other anti-LGBTQ red states who have started offering similar relocation services.
“A lot of people don’t remember what it’s like to be an illegal person,” McCranie said. “Families with trans kids need to get out of this jurisdiction now.”
GOP congressman votes against same-sex marriage bill and then attends gay son’s wedding
House Representative Glen Thomson (R), from Pennsylvania, confirmed that he attended his gay son’s wedding recently—just days after voting against a bill that would codify federal protections for same-sex marriage.
Thompson was one of 157 House Republicans who voted against the proposal the week of August 8. The bill was pushed by House Democrats following the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse constitutional protections for abortion access.
Thompson’s spokesperson, Maddison Stone, did not directly respond to questions by the local media about Thompson’s attendance at his son’s wedding. But Stone labeled the same-sex marriage protection bill as “nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats in Congress who have failed to address inflation and out of control prices at gas pumps and grocery
Pope meets transgender guests of the Rome church
On Wednesday, August 10, Pope Francis met for a fourth time in the last several months, with transgender people who found shelter at a Rome church, according to the Vatican newspaper. L’Osservatore Romano said the encounter took place on the sidelines of Francis’ weekly general audience. The newspaper quoted Sister Genevieve Jeanningros and the Rev. Andrea Conocchia as saying the pope’s welcome brought their guests hope.
The local church that sponsored the transgender individuals’ meeting with Pope Francis, located in the Torvaianica neighborhood of Rome, opened its doors to homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis previously met with some of the same transgender individuals on April 27, June 22, and August 3. The Vatican paper quoted Sister Jeanningros as saying, “No one should encounter injustice or be thrown away. Everyone has the dignity of being a child of God.”
THE BLACK PUG BUDDY
We couldn’t find our sleek black pug Buddy one afternoon. My partner Andres and I were in our bedroom. Putting away laundry. We hadn’t seen him for some time. It was far too quiet. That was unusual.
With some gusto I called out our dog’s name. Then waited a few moments for him to come running. As he would routinely do when called for. There was no response this time. Nor the pattering of paws. Just echoes of emptiness. Emptiness. Emptiness.
My eyes met my partner’s. Our pulses quickened just a little bit. Our loyal pal would often follow us. Not straying too far from wherever we would go. As a pet owner there are times you get concerned. This occasion. This was one of them.
A necessary game of hide and seek was about to get underway.
Like a pair of synchronized Olympic athletes in perfect rhythm, Andres and I dropped simultaneously to our hands and knees. On opposite sides of the bed. Lifting the comforter and surveying underneath the mattress. Our playful monster was not resting in that cozy location.
We zestfully bounced back up from the floor. Inspecting the walk-in shower. The closets. Behind the doors. Each spot revealing to us absolutely nothing. And leaving behind no clues to his whereabouts.
There were a variety of creative cubbyholes throughout every floor of our three-level townhouse. The search would intensify for our elusive little canine.
Both of us that afternoon were passionately shouting our beloved dog’s name. Buddy! Over and over. It’s like we borrowed a script page from the famous scene when Stanley Kowalski kept frantically yelling out his wife’s name in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire.
We eventually made it to the first level. Checking back and forth in the spacious garage and poking around the fenced-in backyard. Perhaps he got locked out in one of those spots by accident. Nope. And nope.
He had beds on each level. One by one we came across those. Cute, colorful, and cuddly they were. His wonderful toys and blankets scattered about them. However, each was missing something cute, colorful, and cuddly upon them. Our best friend.
At some point, the two of us were so entranced in our search mission that we hardly noticed the daunting iceberg dead ahead. And closing in fast. It was too late.
My partner and I carelessly collided with one another on a stairwell. Tumbling. Swearing all the way down. The carpeting softening the blow. That Keystone Cops folly. Not our finest moment.
We brushed off our bruised shins, elbows, and egos. Springing back to our feet. No time for bandages and icepacks. It was back to seeking out our missing precious pet.
I met up once more with my partner in our bedroom. On that upper level. Where it all had started. We were both out of breath from racing around all the rooms and bounding up and down flights of stairs in this mission. So far. Impossible.
We were bewildered. Before giving in to wild elaborate possibilities involving dognapping, the great escape, and poltergeists; there had to be a more reasonable explanation. So we thought.
We stood side by side. Scratching our heads. Rubbing our chins. Right then. Something grabbed our attention. In our peripheral vision. Something moving. About ten feet away from us in the corner of the room was a big Papasan chair. With an oversized black cushion.
There was Buddy. Our black pug. Resting peacefully and camouflaged ever so perfectly against that puffy black cushion. Tilting his head in that adorable way as only a pug can manage.
It seemed. He chose to be stubbornly fixed in place on this one given day. Our endearing dog was enjoying himself immensely at all the silliness he had just put us through.
This not so pugnacious story is brought to you by that guy hiding in plain sight. That barking mad guy is Ron Blake and he double dog dares you to message him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rainbow, Rainbow by Lydia Conklin
Book Review by Kaylia Metcalfe
First off, you have to know that this isn’t a novel or a nonfiction book. It is a collection of short stories. Short stories, by their very nature, are different from novels in a variety of ways. Yes, obviously, they are shorter. But more fundamentally, they focus more on a snippet of life. They are usually structured around an idea of epiphany or revelation. Often they leave you unsettled, wanting more, wondering what the heck is going to happen next. There isn’t a lot of room for character growth, so character growth is either not the point or left to the reader's imagination as an “after-event” of the story. The narrative structure in a short story is more about feelings, visceral descriptions, and vignettes of meaning in a character’s life.
That all being said, you really have to be a fan of short stories as a genre or really in the mood for tiny snippets of bigger pictures. In short, you have to be okay with not knowing and being purposely deprived of closure.
Short story collections tend to be a mix of protagonists and situations that sometimes center around a theme. Such is the case of Rainbow, Rainbow by Lydia Conklin.
Her theme is broad “the lesser-known stories of the LGBTQIA experience” and she does a masterful job of telling these stories with gut-wrenching prose.
Conklin has decided to focus on lesser talked about aspects of the “rainbow family” while showing us characters that are heartbreakingly real and true to life. Not all the stories are sad, but there is a thread of sadness that permeates many of them. There are also some darkly comic moments and things that will make you cringe even as you nod in recognition.
There are very familiar stories of a lesbian couple discussing the potential of having a baby via a friend’s help and a 5th grader pushing back against the rigid character/gender roles assigned during a class project. There are also the questioning teens figuring out what sort of attention they want from their peers and how best to get it… and then the story of a transman preparing for top surgery by considering having an affair during the height of COVID.
For me, it was a mixed bag. I like short stories. I like being pulled in and then left to wonder. And Conklin’s writing is great. Her detail work and dialogue are realistic to the point of slightly uncomfortable. That’s all good.
But… there is also pedophilia, pet death, sexual assault, and graphic sexual content among minors. I understand that the point of this collection was to hold a mirror up to some of the less glamorous aspects of the LGBTQIA community, but I felt there could have been more uplifting moments included. Just because something is traumatic, doesn’t make it deep. Just because we have suffered, doesn’t mean we must dwell.
Now, I am not saying that uncomfortable things should be ignored or hidden from view. And this book is an excellent example of doing what it set out to do… to challenge us, to make us look askance at ourselves and others, and to remind us that we are all flawed complex people with diverse inner lives. For my money, it was just a bit too much of a sad read and I was hoping for more of an uplift.
I like to use the ASPECT method for a quick round-up.
A: Atmosphere (tone).
This book is dark. It is heavy. It is not for the faint of heart.
Conklin is a gifted writer with a mastery of dialogue and description. The beats of each story were easy to follow.
This is kind of moot in a short story collection although I always wonder how the editors and authors determine the order of the stories. Setting the first story, ”Laramie Time,” in Laramie, Wyoming (a place that will have an instant gut reaction for many in the LGBTQIA community), is a bold choice. I personally felt that later entries such as “Pioneer” and “Sunny Talks” were more interesting stories. I also felt that the final story “Boy Jump” was an amazing bit of writing that went beyond the caliber of the other stories in this collection.
I would say in this case, the collection was compelling. When you read a short story collection you know that the next story is likely going to be vastly different from what you are currently reading. This curiosity about what Conklin would do next kept me turning pages…. And I am glad I did.
There are so many that we don’t get super deep into any but a few will definitely resonate with you… another benefit of a short story collection. Don't like the characters in the first few stories… just wait, your favorite is just a page turn away. All the characters were highly believable and complex.
T: This… as in, Why THIS book? (AKA, Would I recommend it?)
Published in 2022, this book had been getting a bit of buzz and I decided to make it part of my summer reading. I am glad I did and even though I felt more sad than happy while reading it, I am glad I gave Conklin my time. I think stories like these have intrinsic value and ought to be read.
It is not for everyone though... It is, after all, a short story collection.
Kaylia Metcalfe is a free lance 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
MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DINNER AND SHOW
Saturday, September 17, 2022 | 6:30 PM
Attend the first fundraiser of the year, benefitting the 2023 Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival presented by Community Link, Inc. This is our annual Mexican Independence Day Show, this year at a new venue with more space and seating! We will provide a Taco Dinner catered by Tacos Marquitos. After dinner we will have a Mexican Loteria Themed Show with many local entertainers. Don't miss what is sure to be an amazing night of family, food and fun! This is an all ages event!
$30 includes a taco plate with two sides and a beverage of your choice.
You can also purchase a wristband for all you can drink margaritas or all you can drink soda in advance or at the door ($5-$15). A VIP Table for 8 available for purchased. It includes closer seating to the stage, wine and party favors.
We expect a sold out event. Purchase your ticket in advance highly encouraged.
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