Smoke

Issue VI, Vol. XXVII, No. 319

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Gray Alliance News

John Richardson

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 February 27th 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 February 2022
David McGee
 

In the past few weeks, February has blessed us with an early reminder of spring weather!

What a relief! Even if it gets cold again, we’ve had a little bit of spring to draw our minds out of the winter blues and think thoughts of renewal!

Of course, February is always the month of Valentine thoughts and reminders of love! Even if Valentine’s Day has become a chance for businesses to sell more products, it can still be a cue to love those around us!

We recently asked out LGBTQ Youth Alliance members to share their thoughts about Valentine’s Day. Most of them believe that Valentine’s Day is a commercial plot to influence people to spend money! Not one of them had anything positive to say about the event! But the adult leaders shared a little about the history of Valentine’s Day and how we can keep the tradition of sharing our love without necessarily spending a lot of money.

Our Grand Poobah, Jeffery Robinson, visited us recently and shared a game he was recently gifted! We always love when Jeffery joins us! He had a queer game that was like Cards Against Humanity and the group enjoyed figuring out how to play the game. Each of the players read a card with a fill-in sentence and other players tried to fill in the blanks with the answers they had on their cards. The answers were hilarious! Everyone had a great time playing the game!

Our January potluck was a success! Attendance was a little low, but that meant that there was more pizza, chips, soda, and desserts for everyone who attended! We talked about social media platforms and shared our favorite social media videos and photos! The evening flew, and no one was ready to leave at 8:30!

We save the last Friday of the month for our potlucks! The purpose of potlucks is to allow folks to attend without any expectations or demands! We especially encourage new attendees to come on potluck nights so they can meet new people and join in some fun!

The Fresno LGBTQ Youth Alliance continues to meet in person at the Big Red Church on Friday nights from 7 to 8:30 PM! We will continue to work on our virtual meeting, as well, so that youth members who can’t attend the meeting in person can attend online! We will be sure to publish the meeting number and the password for our Zoom meetings 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, whether in person or online!

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Community Link Projects

 
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About GSA Network:

Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains trans, queer and allied youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer and healthier schools. The Central Valley office of the GSA Network of California strives to provide resources and trainings to GSAs throughout the region.

 

Intern Description:

This internship position will support the planning of Fresno Unified’s Youth Voice Committee Meetings starting in the Spring 2022, as well as planning GSA support activities to support online GSA Clubs during the Spring 2022 semester. The intern will help to coordinate FUSD Youth Voice Committee meetings happening virtually on March 15th and May 17th, and will help prepare for planning meetings leading up to the Youth Voice Committee meeting. The Youth Voice Committee aims to bring advisors and students together to strengthen GSAs clubs across the district. The intern will help get GSAs registered for the school year so they can get resources, recruit FUSD Youth Voice Committee members, and support other relevant activities. All activities and job duties will be conducted in a remote virtual setting. Intern will communicate with the supervisor through zoom, slack, and email.  

 

Local

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Nick Champa and Pierre Boo are TikTok’s gay ‘it’ couple

David McGee
 

When aspiring actors Nick Champa and Pierre Amaury Crespeau (known as Pierre Boo on TikTok) met at a movie audition in Hollywood in 2017, they fell immediately in love. They realized they had a lot in common and moved in together only a month later. In 2018, they began sharing little glimpses of their life together, such as goofy pranks, challenges, and viral dances on Instagram. When TikTok became popular in 2019, the couple started to create small videos for TikTok, as well. Five years later, the couple has 23 million followers on TikTok and nearly 2 million followers on Instagram.

 

Despite the comments of naysayers who claim the couple seems too perfect, they continue to post to social media and report that they enjoy making their videos. Champa believes there is enough despair in the world. He said, “I want to portray happiness.” As for Crespeau, he said he once again believes in “fairy tale relationships” and wants to share hope with their fans.

Source: nbcnews.com

Pete Buttigieg posts sweet Valentine's Day message to husband Chasten

David McGee
 

Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation took to social media on Valentine's Day to post a picture and share his love for his husband, Chasten. Buttigieg posted on Instagram, saying, “Happy Valentine's Day to the love of my life! I’m even more thankful for Chasten now that our love is not just an incredible gift between us but the foundation of a family. Here’s hoping our hearts continue to grow with every step we take together.”

Source: advocate.com

“Vaccine AIDS” is the latest fake side effect that anti-vaxxers believe can kill them

David McGee

Covid-19 conspirators are spreading more misinformation online, this time about a mysterious illness called vaccine auto-immunodeficiency syndrome, or VAIDS, which they believe is caused by Covid-19 vaccines. A blogger named “Jack” claims to have come up with the term, which was created to sound like AIDS, the real disease that has killed tens of millions of people. He wrote that the made-up disease is a “gradual destruction of the human immune system by vaccines.”

Doctors and medical researchers are saying that there is no such thing as VAIDS. In fact, Arizona State University vaccine researcher Dr. Grant McFadden has stated that vaccines boost the immune system’s response, the opposite of what anti-vaxxers are accusing the vaccines of doing.

 

Source: lgbtqnation.com

Liberal US Supreme Court Justice Breyer to retire, letting Biden pick his successor

David McGee
 

On January 26, 2022, US Supreme Court Justice announced his plan to retire. Breyer’s retirement will give President Biden the opportunity to fulfill a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s top judiciary body. The retirement of Breyer, who is 83 and has served on the court since 1994, gives Biden a first chance to shape the court, whose 6-3 conservative majority has shown an increasing assertiveness on issues including abortion and gun rights. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was able to choose three justices during his four years in office.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Biden’s nominee to replace Breyer will receive a “prompt hearing” and will be considered and confirmed with “all deliberate speed.” Since the Democratic party currently holds a thin majority in the Senate, the legislative branch that confirms Supreme Court nominees, the goal is to confirm Biden’s nominee quickly before the November 8 congressional elections.

Source: reuters.com

Church Interior

Students walk out in protest after being forced to attend anti-LGBTQ group’s Christian revival
Molly Sprayregen
Reposted from LGBTQNation.com

 

Students at a Huntington, West Virginia public high school are protesting after they were required to attend an evangelical Christian revival assembly hosted by the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a well-known anti-LGBTQ organization.

 

Teachers required a group of students to attend an assembly in which evangelical preacher Nik Walker of Nik Walker Ministries told them to devote their lives to Jesus and the Bible or they would go to hell.

continue reading at LGBTQNation.com

National

 
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Love Projector Portrait

New Zealand bans conversion practices in vote hailed as ‘win for humanity’
Eva Corlett

Reposted from TheGuardian.com
 

New Zealand has banned conversion practices, with near unanimity, after all but eight National party members voted in favour of the law.

Conversion “therapy” refers to the practice, often by religious groups, of trying to “cure” people of their sexuality, gender expression or LGBTQI identity.

continue reading at TheGuardian.com

International

 
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HOW DO YOU SAY COMO SE DICE? 

Ron Blake
 

Conversations with my spouse can be a lot like being contestants on that exciting game show The $100,000 Pyramid.  

My first language is English. His is not. He is fluent in Spanish. I am not. Communication between us can be exhilarating, suspenseful, and maddening. Our body language often resembles adorable Pug dogs tilting their heads sideways when trying to understand humans speaking to them.  

 

I felt that we were in the winner’s circle on that game show just the other day. Andres was chosen to give the clues to me. I was to guess the word or phrase he was seeking. He knew the expression in Spanish but didn’t know how to say it to me in English.  

The whole conundrum began when someone broke into his car one day. He called me and explained this caper to me. It seems the determined bandit focused on only one item when he entered the vehicle. Andres had left his jacket on the passenger seat.  

He said the perpetrator was seeking something from inside that jacket. I asked him how he knew that someone was even in his car. He stated it was obvious because this fellow went into all the numerous jacket pockets searching for something to steal. 

This is when our back and forth unleashed the mighty kraken of miscommunication. Andres said the burglar searched one pocket and then tried a different one. I heard him tell me this several times in which I kept asking how he knew the bad guy was rummaging through all those pockets. 

 

He explained that after he went into the pockets; he then just left them that way. But what way? Andres said the thief went into each pocket to look. Then he came out and that was it. But what was it?  

 

That he pulled his hand out of each pocket is what he repeatedly told me. But Andres was not there so how did he know that each pocket was searched? In complete frustration, Andres briefly yells something in Spanish that can’t be repeated here. Those words I understood.  

I wanted to wave the white flag and give up. I wasn’t walking away though. I gathered up my moxie. It seemed that we were down to our last clues in the remaining seconds. Everyone in the studio audience and at home watching on TV is on pins and needles. It is up to me to shout out the answer if we are going to win this challenge. 

 

Andres is by this time going all Latin on me and giving me a very passionate tutorial about what happens when you go into something and pull out. And then just leave it that way. So much pressure. This garrulous gringo is blurting out words. None of them work. The clock continues to tick away. Andres is getting louder. He feels I’m so close. My pulse is racing with anticipation. 

 

He keeps saying that you know. But I don’t know or I would have said it by now. Ay dios mio! How could I have missed it? Just before the clock hits zero; I let out the answer. Inside-out! The thief left all the pockets inside-out after he went through each of them. That’s how Andres knew someone was in the car. 

 

Andres excitedly shouts, “Yes…inside-out!” We did it. I imagine applause, confetti, and flashing lights. Instead we simply get successful communication.   

 

Spouses with different first languages. You have no idea. It’s a game show every day. 

 

This article of tell ‘em what they’ve won is brought to you by that guy with Colombian connections. That guy with grand prize money is Ron Blake and you can send him Spanish lessons at rblake5551@hotmail.com

New Wellness

 
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Is our brain wired for enlightenment?
Mark Lang

 

The other day I was sitting within earshot of a group of intellectuals who were pontificating on the difference between the brain and the mind. As I was eavesdropping, one of the men said, “People only use 10% of the brain.”

 

In truth, we do use our entire brain. Maybe not all at once, but there’s no part of the brain unused. What the man probably meant was that we only use a fraction of the mind’s potential. There is a difference between the brain and the mind. The brain is the physical structure; the mind is the mental process. We use 100% of the physical brain. If we didn’t, nature would not have designed us to grow a brain several times larger than what we needed.

 

Doesn’t that make sense? Do you think the human brain would evolve larger and larger over the course of human history if only 10% of it were needed? Nature doesn’t work that way. Evolution develops in response to adaptation to the environment; it doesn’t just give you nine times more of some bodily organ just for the hell of it.

 

Even so, I believe it is a fact the average person does not use the full mental potential of the brain—particularly in the area of creativity. Think about it this way. What is the limit of a person’s creativity? Is there any? I don’t think so. The mind’s potential is limitless in any number of mental domains.

 

Can you imagine the things you could do if you focused your mind on developing just one of your mental capabilities? Say you wanted to work on becoming more enlightened. If you spent your entire life developing that area of your brain, you might reach that goal by the conclusion of your life.

 

The thing is, you do not have enough time to develop your mind’s potential in every arena fully. You need to prioritize. What topics, skill, and talents do you want to develop the most? If your mind did not limit your unlimited potential, you would not be able to do much of anything at all. Make sense?

 

So, don’t get all “guilted-out” because you haven’t, yet, become all you can be. You cannot be all things to all people in all situations. Give yourself a break. Most people have one category they can claim as an area of expertise.

 

And by the way, those same experts are probably completely inept in other fields. That’s why they pay a mechanic, layer, computer technician, surgeon, farmer, or another professional when they need something done outside of their competency.

So, what about the physical brain? Why does it seem to conflict at times? Why are we sometimes selfish—then giving? Why are we sometimes angry—then forgiving? There is a physical structure in the brain for each of those emotions above.

 

Brain scans reveal a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens which activates when a person is selfishly thinking of extreme pleasure like gambling or winning the lottery. The nucleus accumbens is the pleasure center, and it drives addictive behaviors.

Another part of the brain, the posterior superior temporal sulcus, activates when an individual is showing concern for the well-being of others which demonstrates social consciousness. It’s the part involved with altruistic thinking.

 

When someone is infuriated, it’s the amygdala firing off in the brain. Later, when that person is ready to forgive, the prefrontal cortex takes over. That’s the region which houses moral reasoning and ethical behavior. Neuroscientists are continuing to discover the connections between the brain, mind, and body. It can all get pretty confusing. (Personally, I like to look at it this way: my brain is part of my physical identity; my mind is part of my essence, and my essence is my true nature.)

 

Something to meditate on today. Realize your brain has the capacity for enlightenment, yet you also have limits. You are not expected to reach your full potential in every aspect of your life. Focus your attention on developing your abilities in a few select areas you have chosen for your life. Be satisfied with that. Relax; you do not need to be perfect.

 

And the next time you hear someone make the false statement that we only use a fraction of the brain, realize that person is getting the terms “brain” and “mind” mixed up. Try not to judge them too harshly.

Enlighten Me

 
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Horoscopes

by Eric Biglione
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We are excited to announce our lineup of spring events. Every month, we will host webinars on a variety of issues that impact the LGBTQ community. Our Annual Update Conference in April will feature three webinars that examine topics at the intersection of race and sexual orientation and gender identity. And we even have a few in-person events on the calendar, because we miss seeing you. RSVP today to reserve your place.

MARCH 1, 2022
10 – 11 AM PT
Webinar

Food Insufficiency and Transgender Communities

 

A panel of experts on hunger and transgender communities examine recent research about food insufficiency among transgender people and discuss strategies to improve access to food.

 

RSVP

 

MARCH 15, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 PM PT
Webinar

Two Cheers for Bostock 

 

Williams Institute Faculty Director Cary Franklin provides an in-depth look at what the decision in Bostock v Clayton County means for LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and democracy.

 

RSVP

 

 

APRIL 5, 2022
12 – 1 PM PT 
Annual Update Virtual Conference

Disparities and Data Justice: Perspectives on Public Policy Needs among Indigenous LGBTQ2S

Day two of our Annual Update features a discussion of the health and economic well-being of American Indian/Alaska Native LGBT people in the U.S. and its impact on law and policy. 

 

RSVP

Events

 
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Contact Us

P O Box 4959, Fresno, CA 93744

newslnk@aol.com  |  Tel: 559-266-5465

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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