FAREWELL 2014 and WELCOME 2015

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a great time for reflection and to think about some of the things we would like to accomplish.  People call these resolutions, I prefer to call them ‘processes for individual growth’.

As I reflect back on 2014, I am grateful for the posts I shared on helping animals from abuse, stopping human rights atrocities and protecting our environment/planet from destruction.  Some of the advocacy groups have made great strides in these areas and you can review their successes by visiting their websites, here are a few:

HELPING ABUSED ANIMALS

PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have documented their successes for the 2014 year – you can view them here:  www.peta.org

Esther The Wonder Pig has finally found a forever home in her new sanctuary.  This was a long process and it finally came to fruition in 2014.  You can read her story here:  www.estherthewonderpig.com

Benjy – a gentle bull was supposed to go to slaughter because he was supposedly gay and wasn’t breeding.  Due too much public outcry and animal activism, Benjy was saved and sent to live in a sanctuary.  Read his story here:  www.aran.ie

ENVIRONMENT 

People from all walks of life came together to fight, protest and speak out against the lack of environmental protection laws and to demand change in various ways.  Here are some great successes for our environment:

Grassroots movement to fight Kinder Morgan from building a pipeline on Burnaby mountain in British Columbia, Canada.  More info can be found here:  www.greenpeace.org 

The People’s Climate March mobilized hundreds of people from around the globe to send the 100 world leaders meeting in New York City to send them a clear message – we need better environmental policies around the world to ensure a difference can be made against climate change.  It was the biggest climate change protest the world has ever seen.  More info can be found here:  www.peoplesclimate.org or www.350.org

David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour brought together some of Canada’s brightest musicians to help create awareness about climate change…for more information about this great project, check out:  www.bluedot.ca or www.davidsuzuki.org

HUMAN RIGHTS and LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered) ISSUES 

2014 saw many individuals advocating for human rights and brought many people together to fight discrimination and racism directly and boldly.  Here are some inspiring moments:

Ferguson protests – A grand jury acquitted the officer from any responsibility in the shooting death of Michael Brown.  This injustice prompted many protests around the world standing behind Michael Brown’s family and so many other black males who have been victims of police brutality, racial profiling and many senseless murders at the hands of police officers who have sworn to serve and protect.  Here is more information:  www.democracynow.org

Malala Yousafzai – an activist for women’s right to education from Pakistan wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  More information about Malala’s life can be found here:  www.malala.org

2014 was also the year that William Hague and Angelina Jolie launched their campaign to make rape a war crime.  It was also the year women were finally able to become bishops in the Church of England.

Activism for the LGBT community pays off in 2014 as the US Supreme Court denies petitions from five states seeking to preserve bans on same-sex marriage.  President Barack Obama signs an executive order in July prohibiting businesses that hold contracts with the federal government from discriminating against employees or potential employees based on sexual orientation and gender identify.  Here are other LGBT-related stories that made headlines in 2014:  www.pridesource.com 

What is in store for 2015?  For me, I plan to continue my advocacy for animals, the environment and human rights issues by sharing my personal stories and stories from around the world that will enlighten and give people some insight on social issues that need to be addressed with truth, honesty and compassion.  

May 2015 bring you much love, light and allow you to create positive change in the world.

Together, we can make the world a more positive one! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAY IS NORMAL…AS NORMAL AS STRAIGHT.

We all know that there are many religious ‘wing nuts’ that vilify homosexuality by saying that “it’s a choice” and that “if God didn’t want homosexuals, he wouldn’t create them.”  Well – I can tell you (as a homosexual man), I did not make the choice to be gay, I have always known I was attracted to the same-sex and (if there is a God), I am proof that He did want homosexuals because I exist.

Let’s take a look at some quotes made by those who hide their bigotry and hate against gays behind their religion:

“We will see a breakdown of the family and family values if we decide to approve same-sex marriage, and if we decide to establish homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle with all the benefits that go with equating it with the heterosexual lifestyle.” – Jerry Falwell
 
“Homosexuality is against nature.  Sexual expression is permitted only within marriage, between man and woman, male and female.  Anything else is an abnormality and is against nature.” – Pope Shenouda III
 
“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn’t.” – Carl Paladino
 
“But the Bible speaks against it, and because the Bible speaks against it, we allow rampant sin including homosexuality and lying, and to me lying is just as bad as homosexuality, and we’ve allowed this sin to run rampant in our nation.” – Reggie White
 
“You know, those who are homosexual will die out because they don’t reproduce. You know, you have to have heterosexual sex to reproduce. Same thing with that church, it’s doomed, it’s going to die out because it’s the most nonsensical thing I’ve heard in a long time.” – Pat Robertson

“In fact, it’s the greatest threat to liberty of all kinds, whether it is freedom of religion, whether it is freedom of speech, whether it is freedom of the press, whether it is freedom of association, all of the rights that are enshrined in the First Amendment are threatened by the active, aggressive homosexual lobby and the homosexual agenda.” – Bryan Fischer

Now, let’s take a look a some quotes that are not exclusive, biased and filled with hate and fear.  These are sensible (and sometimes funny) and intellectual quotes regarding homosexuality:

“Like a majority of Americans in recent years, I came to understand that fear of homosexuality was leading our governments – including the one I ran as Governor of Mississippi – to deny the equal rights to an entire segment of our population that are afforded all of us under the Constitution.” – Ronnie Musgrove
 
“I think people feel threatened by homosexuality.  The problem isn’t about gay people, the problem is about the attitude towards gay people.  People think that all gays are Hannibal Lecters.  But gay people are sons and daughters, politicians and doctors, American heroes and daughters of American heroes.” – Hollis Stacy
 
“I don’t think homosexuality is a choice.  Society forces you to think it’s a choice, but in fact, it’s in one’s nature.  The choice is whether one expresses one’s nature truthfully or spends the rest of one’s life lying about it.” – Marlo Thomas
 
“Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.  In all of his teachings about multiple things – he never said that gay people should be condemned.  I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married.” – Jimmy Carter
 
“Homosexuality in Russia is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison, locked up with the other men.  There is a three-year waiting list.” – Yakov Smirnoff
 
“What do you mean you don’t believe in homosexuality?  It’s not like the Easter Bunny, your belief isn’t necessary.” – Lea DeLaria
 
“Homosexuality is like the weather.  It just is.” – Andrew Sullivan
 
“I have no problem with it (homosexuality).  I don’t look on homosexuality as an aberration.  It’s just the way they’re born, and how could any relationship between two people in a committed relationship be wrong, regardless of gender?” – Andrea Thompson
 
“Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.” – Dorothy Parker
 
“If religion is against homosexuality, then it is against the will and happiness of people.” – M. F. Moonzajer
 
That last quote is very profound because it suggests that many who believe the religious assertion about homosexuality is against their happiness as they were created that way in the eyes of God.  How can you condemn someone from birth?  You can’t judge someone based on their genetic make-up – it would be like condemning someone for being born with blue eyes, darker skin or without eyesight.  People need to stop interpreting religious doctrine to serve their own hateful and judgemental purposes.  They also need to stop trying to divide people based on their unique differences and accept people for those differences.
 

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

 
 

WE ARE ALL ONE!

There is nothing complicated about ending discrimination in the workplace!  Whether the discrimination is against people of colour, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs – there is no place for it in the workplace.  So why are American companies finding it so difficult to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the workplace?  Could it be because many people still consider homosexuality a deviant behaviour and a choice people make?  Or is it simply because of peoples religious beliefs?

Writing as a human being who happens to be a homosexual, I don’t believe that I woke up one day and said, “I think I will try to have intercourse with a man today.”  I also didn’t ask for the constant bullying and verbal assaults by being called ‘faggot’, ‘gaylord’, ‘cocksucker’, ‘poof’, just to name a few.  I didn’t instigate it when a group of guys drove by and whipped bottles at me from their car just because I was walking in the ‘gay village’.  I would want to ensure this type of behaviour did not transfer into my work environment, why would I not be allowed this type of protection.

As a human being – I do my best to treat people as how I want to be treated; with respect, dignity and kindness, that isn’t too much to ask.  I give the same treatment that is given to me.  I can’t believe that so many people are still biased and show so much hate towards people who are no different than they are.  We may have different appearances but we are all derived from the same divine entity.  Religion is not the authority and should not dictate how a person should be treated.  You can’t ostracize women, people of colour, those who practice different religions or have different spiritual practices, homosexuals or anyone else who challenges religious ideologies – we should embrace this.  Engage in dialogue and come to a resolution that we are essentially the same and want to create positive change everywhere.  Those who feel different may have issues they need to resolve within themselves – racism, anger, fear, homophobia, etc.

The civil rights movement began because people of colour were being mistreated, disrespected and killed just because of the colour of their skin.  Rosa Parks didn’t sit at the front of the bus because her legs were tired – she sat at the front because she was tired of being treated as a lesser human than everyone else who wasn’t of colour.  Martin Luther King Jr., Mohammed Gandhi, Representative John Lewis, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harriett Tubman and so many others were activists for peace, equality, justice and positive change.

Just like the civil rights movement, there have been many individuals who are directly and indirectly responsible in demanding equality for the LGBTQ community.  People like Barney Frank, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Roseanne Barr, Madonna, Cher, Harvey Milk, Tony Reis, Rosie O’Donnell, Bob Brown, Sven Robinson, Li Yinhe, Rama Yade, Magnus Hirschfeld, Shaleen Rakesh, Arsham Parsi, Patria Jiménez, Nikolay Alexeyev, David Kato, Jeremy Bentham – these individuals, and so many more, have given so much (even their lives) to ensure that gays, lesbians, trans-gendered, bisexual and queer people are treated with equality, dignity and respect.

Try not to look at people based on their colour, gender, what they believe or who they love.  Judge them based on their actions and how they treat others.  Do they show compassion, are they respectful and non-judgmental and are they caring?  LOVE, COMPASSION and CARING are attributes that create positive change in the world so let’s start a REVOLUTION OF LOVE!

Together, we can make the world a more postive one!

WHY MY MARRIAGE WILL NOT AFFECT YOURS

I don’t understand why so many people are freaking out about ‘gay’ marriage – first of all, it is NOT a ‘gay’ marriage – it is a marriage between two people of the same-sex.  Traditionally speaking, the definition of marriage is a union between one man and one women.  For me, this definition is based on suppression and the lack of acceptance of two people in love and this suppression and lack of acceptance is rooted mainly on religious beliefs. 

If two people of the same-sex and in love threaten the sanctity of ‘traditional marriage’ – why are divorce rates around the world on the uprise?  Isn’t divorce a religious faux pas?  Let’s take at look at some marriage statistics:

United States of America

Men and women are marrying later in life than they were in 1960:

  • 1960 Men – Age 23
  • 2012 Men – Age 28
  • 1960 Women – Age 20
  • 2012 Women – Age 25 

Marriage continues to decline – Between 1970 and 2010, marriage has declined by 50%

Divorce rates is twice as much as it was in 1960.  Current estimates, suggest that 40-50% of recent marriages will end in separation or divorce.

Lowest Divorce Rates

  1. India (1.1%)
  2. Sri Lanka (1.5%)
  3. Japan (1.9%)
  4. Republic of Macedonia (5%)
  5. Bosnia and Herzegovina (5%)

Highest Divorce Rates

  1. Sweden (54.9%)
  2. United States (54.8%)
  3. Belarus (52.9%)
  4. Finland (51.2%)
  5. Luxembourg (47.4%)

The United Kingdom placed 35th (42.6%), Germany was 31st (39.4%), France placed 29th (38.3%), Canada placed 26th (37%) and Spain placed 13th (15.2%).

I have been with my partner for 20 years – we are celebrating our 20th year at the end of October 2014.  We didn’t have a huge desire to get married – but we did.  In 2005, Canada became the 4th country in the world, the 1st outside of Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage.  In March of 2007, my partner and I married.  Since then, there hasn’t been catastrophic earthquakes and fire hasn’t rained from the sky in protest.  My marriage hasn’t destroyed the marriages of so many of my heterosexual friends marriages.  Nothing major has happened as a result of me marrying my same-sex partner.

So, I ask again, what is the problem of two people in love marrying each other?  Why are so many, usually religious fanatics, so concerned about same-sex marriages when they should be more concerned with the increasing heterosexual divorce rates?  Marriage licences come from the state and not from religious institutions.  Under the law, we should all be treated equally and reap the same benefits as heterosexual couples do.  It is for this reason (and because we love each other very much) that my partner and I married.  I find that religion, for many people, is a justification for their fear, bigotry and sometimes hate.  I am not religious and consider myself more agnostic (there is no proof that God does/doesn’t exist) but I do know that anytime religion is thrown into any social or political issues – there seems to be much more violence and intolerance regarding those social or political issues.  Religion doesn’t and should never dictate laws.  I have no problem with the religious beliefs of individuals but those beliefs should be justification to exclude the rights and civil liberties of a few.

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

 

I HIT SEND/MODERN MELTDOWN

I’m always looking for articles and videos that are inspiring, positive and invoke emotion.  Most of the images, articles or videos I share tend to be of the subject matter that is closest to my heart such as; the environment, the treatment of animals and issues relating to the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) movement.

Today, I am sharing a video that was both touching and funny.  It is entitled, I Hit Send or Modern Meltdown.  Please note, there is harsh language.

Thanks to Steve Boyle. who shared such a personal and amazing poem and video!

LOVE is powerful and love belongs to everyone.

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

YOU, BEING STRAIGHT…IS TOO MUCH FOR ME TO HANDLE.

I am so tired of people saying, “he’s too gay” or  “that’s so gay”.  This automatically suggests that there is something wrong or negative about the word or being gay.  I am also tired of people becoming frustrated or complaining that there is too much gay news everywhere.  Yeah right, too much gay news of bullied teens committing suicide or states denying the LGBT community some fundamental basic rights.

I knew I was gay for a long time, as far as I can remember, but I also knew that the time was not right for me to ‘come out’, as a matter-of-fact, I feared that it wasn’t safe for me to come out.  During the time that I lived as a shadow of who I was supposed to be I felt despair, anxiety, depression, anger, hate, confusion and the isolated.  I could relate to the oppression women or how people of colour felt and no-one should be made to feel so unloved or unwanted.

I could understand how activists become aggressive in their fight for equality especially after you have been oppressed and even put to death for fighting for equality.  There was a time when people of colour were not allowed to be in the same spaces as white people  – not very long ago either.  There was a time when women couldn’t vote.  Today, homosexuality is still punishable by death in many countries.  Yet, I am told that I can’t have a gay pride parade because straight people don’t have straight pride. 

I have heard people saying that it is too much for them to handle people ‘gayness’ – like it’s a bad habit such a smoking or drinking too much – I wonder how offended they would get if I told them (with all my GAY PROUDNESS) how offended I am with their straightness?  Well, you would never hear that from me because it is not conducive to creating good energy.

For all those gay people who are struggling with their sexuality and authenticity – I am here to tell you.  ALL WILL BE BETTER, just embrace and love who you are.  You will be surprised of all the allies you will have both straight and gay.  People who only see you as the loving and beautiful person you are.  There is nothing wrong with you because you are a reflection of who created you!

Here are some great and POSITIVE quotes regarding homosexuality from some people you may or may not know…..they will surprise you:

“If a bullet should ever enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”Harvey Milk

“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.”Rita Mae Brown

 “We are sick of hearing people say, “That band is so gay,” or “Those guys are fags.”  Gay is not a synonym for shitty.  If you wanna say something’s shitty, say it’s shitty.  Stop being such homophobic assholes.” – Pete Wentz

“Anybody can be unhappy.  We can all be hurt.  You don’t have to be poor to need something or somebody.  Rednecks, hippies, misfits – we’re all the same.  Gay or straight?  So what?  It doesn’t matter to me.  We have to be concerned about other people, regardless.”Willie Nelson

“Some people think I am gay, which I think is awesome.”Daniel Radcliffe

“My thoughts on gay marriage are that everyone has the right to love and to be loved, and that’s the position I take.”Nick Jonas

“The poetry you read has been written for you, each of you – black, white, Hispanic, man, woman, gay, straight.”Maya Angelou

“From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people.”Howard Dean

“Tell me:  When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?…It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”Pope Francis

“I could be wrong, but I think heterosexual marriage is threatened more by heterosexuals.  I don’t know why gay marriage challenges my marriage in any way.”Elizabeth Edwards

“My life has been immensely enriched by gay mentors, colleagues and friends, any discrimination and persecution of gay people is unacceptable.”Mikhail Baryshnikov

“By large in this country the issue of gay rights and equality should be past the point of debate.  Really, there should be no debate anymore.”Scott Fujita

“Just being out you’re doing your part.  It’s like recycling.  You’re doing your part for the environment if you recycle; you’re doing your part for the gay movement if you’re out.” – Martina Navratilova

“It should never be a crime to be gay.”Hillary Clinton

“Gay people are born everyday.  You will never legislate that away.”Melissa Etheridge

“I have some good friends of my own who happen to be gay, and when it comes to gay, straight or whatever, I’m for anything life-affirmative.  I’m for gay power, straight power, male power, female power; everybody should feel empowered without oppressing anyone who’s different.”Matthew McConaughey

“I kind of cheer the presence of any gay characters at all – I think the more we can saturate television with any gay character or lesbian character or transgender character, I think that’s a really great thing.  We’re kind of getting past the fact that they’re the punchline or that they’re the novelty.”Jesse Tyler Ferguson

“Yeah, I had gay friends.  The first thing I realized was that everybody’s different, and it becomes obvious that all of the gay stereotypes are ridiculous.”Bruce Springsteen

“Americans know as much about Canada as straight people do about gays.  Americans arrive at the border with skis in July, and straight people think that being gay is just a phase.  A very long phase.”Scott Thompson

“I’m for all kinds of gay rights.  I’m almost like a gay man myself.”NeNe Leakes

“Even in high school, I had friends that I didn’t know were gay until years later.  I’d find out on Facebook or something and be like, ‘Oh, that explains some things,’ or ‘Wow, no wonder they were so cool.”Kellan Lutz

“Gay men in a very real way created my career.”Marianne Williamson

“I know gay – gay people who aren’t married who are better parents than some, you know, straight people I know who are married.”Dennis Leary

“I did a woman’s movie, and I’m not a woman.  I did a gay movie, and I’m not gay.  I learned as I went along.”Ang Lee

“People were saying that David Geffen and I had gotten married and it just blew me away.  Not that they thought I was gay, but that they thought I could land a guy that hot.”Keanu Reeves

And the most important quote of all (joking)……

“My sexuality doesn’t define who I am as a person – it is the way that I treat others that defines me.”Robert Pavao

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

EVEN MOTHER NATURE LOVED WORLD PRIDE 2014.

As World Pride 2014 in Toronto comes to a close.  I thought I would share 2 very good videos promoting love.

I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do:

The world watched as Toronto welcomed PEACE, EQUALITY, LAUGHTER, JOY, and LOVE and shared it with the world.

May you all share YOUR peace, equality, laughter, joy and love and help spread positive energy around the world.

PS – This is an actual photo right after the closing of Toronto’s World Pride Parade – Looks like even Mother Nature wanted to give something back and share her pride with Toronto.

Together, we can all make the world a more positive one!

BRIEF BIOS OF GREAT PEOPLE and HOW THEY INSPIRED POSITIVE CHANGE

What inspires you to create positive change in the world?  Have you ever thought about the countless individuals who have risked and even gave their lives fighting for injustices around the world?  We all know their names:

Harriet Tubman:  Born enslaved, liberated herself and returned to the area of her birth many times to lead family, friends, and other enslaved African-Americans north to freedom.  Advocate for women, the Union and enslaved people.  A leader to the civil rights movement.  Escaped to freedom at the age of 27 in 1849.  Returned to Dorchester County, Maryland USA (her birthplace) approximately 13 times to liberate friends, family and other enslaved African-Americans via the Underground Railroad.

Dian Fossey:  Undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years.  Financed patrols to destroy poachers traps.  Helped in the arrest of several poachers.  Strongly opposed wildlife tourism, as gorillas are very susceptible to human anthroponotic diseases like influenza for which gorillas have no immunity.  Viewed the holding of animals in “prison” (zoos) for the entertainment of people as unethical.

Martin Luther King Jr.:  Born Michael Luther King Jr., later changed his name to Martin.  Graduated High School at the age of fifteen.  Received B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College and later received doctorate degree at Boston University in 1955.  In December of 1955, he accepted leadership of first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States.  During an 11 year period between 1957 – 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times.  He directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “I Have a Dream”.  He was awarded five honorary degrees and named ‘Man of the Year’ by Time magazine in 1963 and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.  At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest man to have received The Nobel Peace Prize – when notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over his prize money of $54, 123 to further advance the civil rights movement.

Mother Teresa:  Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia in 1910.  At the age of twelve, she knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ.  At eighteen, she left Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.  From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls had such a deep impression on her that in 1948, she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.  In 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.

Nelson Mandela

Born on July 18, 1918 in Qunu, South Africa.  Son of a chief, Nelson Mandela studied law and became one of South Africa’s first black lawyers. Early in the 1950s he was elected leader of the youth wing of the ANC (African National Congress) liberation movement. When the country’s white minority government prohibited the ANC in 1960, Mandela became convinced that armed struggle was inevitable. Inspired by the guerrilla wars in Algeria and Cuba, he organized a military underground movement that engaged in sabotage. In 1962 he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason and conspiracy against the state.

From 1964 to 1982 he was confined to the notorious prison island Robben Island, together with several other resistance leaders. He was then moved to prison on the mainland until his release in 1990. During his imprisonment, Mandela became a rallying point for South Africa’s oppressed, and the world’s most famous political prisoner.

Nelson Mandela shared the Peace Prize with the man who had released him, President Frederik Willem de Klerk, because they had agreed on a peaceful transition to majority rule.

Harvey Milk:  Born on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York.  Harvey graduated from New York College for Teachers (now State University of New York) and enlisted in the Navy in 1951.  Discharged in 1955 with the rank of lieutenant junior grade.  He worked as a public school teacher on Long Island, a stock analyst in New York City and production associate for Broadway musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair.  During the 1960’s and 70’s he became more actively involved in politics and advocacy and he demonstrated against the Vietnam War.  In late 1972, Milk moved to San Francisco, where he opened a camera store on Castro Street, in the heart of the city’s growing gay community.  Just over a year later, he declared his candidacy for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – he lost but emerged from the campaign as a force to be reckoned with in local politics.  In 1975, he ran and narrowly lost.  His close friend and ally Mayor George Mascone, appointed him to the city’s Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States.  In 1977, he easily won his third bid, and was inaugurated as a San Francisco City-County Supervisor on January 9, 1978. 

Harvey Milk spoke out on state and national issues of interest to LGBT people, women, racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized communities.  One of these was a California ballot initiative, Proposition 6, which would have mandated the firing of gay teachers in the state’s public schools. State Senator John Briggs, seeking to marshal anti-gay sentiment and an agenda of hate and diminishment for political gain, spearheaded the initiative. With strong, effective opposition from Milk and others, it was defeated at a time when other political attacks on gay people were being successfully waged around the US.

Princess Diana:  Born Lady Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961 in Sandringham (Norfolk, England).  Married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981.  Princess Diana pulled out of being patroness or president of over 100 social institutions and charitable organizations.  She took her role as patron of the English National Ballet, the Leprosy Mission and the British AIDS Help seriously.  She was known for her humanitary and fund-raising work for international charities.  She received recognition for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.  From 1989, she was the president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, in addition to dozens of other charities.

“I remember I used to sit on hospital beds and hold people’s hands.  People used to be sort of shocked, but to me it was quite a normal thing to do.  These people need hope.  They also need encouragement.”

Mahatma Gandhi:  Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, more commonly known as ‘Mahatma’ (meaning ‘Great Soul’) in Porbandar, Gujarat, in NorthWest India on October 2, 1869.  Married (via arranged marriage) at the age of 13 to Kasturba Makhanji.  Began college at University of College London at age of 18 in September of 1888.  Determined to adhere to Hindu principles, which included vegetarianism as well as alcohol and sexual abstinence, he found London restrictive initially, but once he had found kindred spirits he flourished, and pursued the philosophical study of religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and others, having professed no particular interest in religion up until then.  Following admission to the English Bar, and his return to India, he found work difficult to come by and, in 1893, accepted a year’s contract to work for an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa.  Despite arriving on a year’s contract, Gandhi spent the next 21 years living in South Africa, and railed against the injustice of racial segregation.  Witnessing the racial bias experienced by his countrymen served as a catalyst for his later activism, and he attempted to fight segregation at all levels.  He founded a political movement, known as Natal Indian Congress, and developed his theoretical belief in non-violent civil protest into a tangible political stance, when he opposed the introduction of registration for all Indians, within South Africa, via non-cooperation with relevant civic authorities.

David Suzuki:  Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.  David Suzuki is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster.  Dr. Suzuki is a geneticist.  He graduated from Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1958 with an Honours BA in Biology, followed by a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961.  In 1972, he was awarded the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship for the outstanding research scientist in Canada under the age of 35 and held it for three years.  He holds 25 honorary degrees in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.  He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.  Dr. Suzuki has written 52 books, including 19 for children.  His 1976 text-book An Introduction to Genetic Analysis (with A.J.F. Griffiths), remains the most widely used genetics text-book in the U.S. and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Indonesian, Arabic, French and German.  Dr. Suzuki is also recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology. He is the recipient of UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for Science, the United Nations Environment Program Medal, UNEPs Global 500 and in 2009 won the Right Livelihood Award that is considered the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Ingrid Newkirk:  Animal rights activist, author and Co-Founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 1980.  Born in Surrey, England.  Ingrid became an animal activist at the age of 21 after discovering that a neighbour abanded some kittens and decided to bring them to an animal shelter.  This life-changing experience let to her first job working in behalf of animals – cleaning kennels and investigating cruelty cases.  Ingrid served as deputy sheriff, a Maryland state law enforcement officer with the highest success rate in convicting animal abusers, the director of cruelty investigations for the second-oldest humane society in the U.S., and the chief of animal disease control for the Commission on Public Health in Washington, D.C.  Under Ingrid’s leadership, legislation was passed to create the first-ever spray-and-neuter clinic in Washington, D.C.  She coordinated the first arrest in U.S. history of a laboratory animal experiment on cruelty charges and helped achieve the first ever anti-cruelty law in Taiwan.  She spearheaded the closure of a Department of Defense underground “wound laboratory”, and she has initiated many other campaigns against animal abuse, including ending General Motors’ car-crash tests on animals.

Let the stories and actions of all the people mentioned above, inspire and motivate you to create positive change into our world and universe. 

Resources:

www.nobelprize.org

www.peta.org

www.gorillafund.org

www.royal.gov.uk

www.harriettubmanbiography.com

www.milkfoundation.org

www.princess-diana.com

www.davidsuzuki.org

www.ingridnewkirk.com

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

 

I AM GAY and I LOVE IT!!!

In celebration of the beginning of Gay Pride festivities around the world and Gay Pride month, I thought I would reflect on how society viewed me as a gay male and how I felt I had to oppress my feelings towards other men – ultimately oppressing my true authentic self.  First – let me say this:  I don’t remember choosing my sexuality, I just remember always being attracted to the same-sex. 

Here are some questions that people have asked me about my sexuality or comments people have made after I revealed that I was gay:

When did you realized you were gay?

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I knew that I was attracted to the same-sex.  I always knew that I was.  I enjoyed being around girls – but I didn’t feel the same way as I did when I was around the same-sex.

If you knew you were gay, why did you date girls?

Wanting to be accepted is very difficult.  Today – that concept doesn’t even matter to me but as a child, teenager and young adult, who didn’t want to be accepted and fit in?  I dated girls because I witnessed first hand how our society treated homosexuals – they were teased, bullied, mocked, threatened with violence and even threatened with death.  I didn’t want any of that to happen to me – so I thought, my best choice would be to blend in and do what everyone else was doing.  I didn’t have the strength and self-confidence I needed to be myself.  I dated girls in hopes to suppress who I truly was because society was telling me that what I was feeling was against everything.

Why didn’t you ‘come out’?

See above.  Also – coming out meant possibly losing your friends and family.  What would I do?  Where would I go?  How would I take care of myself?  

When did you decide to ‘come out’?

High school was tough.  I wasn’t unpopular but I wasn’t exactly the football jock either.  There were many guys who called me “faggot”, “homo”, “cocksucker”, “butt muncher” and “fairy” – just to name a few.  They didn’t call me those names because I was ‘out’ but because the majority of my friends consisted of girls.  I was envious of the kids who were comfortable enough to be ‘out’ and took my frustrations out on them by doing the exact same thing to them as what others were doing to me.

I suppressed my feelings and turned to alcohol – I was meeting guys secretly and became very withdrawn.  I discovered our gay community and started frequenting gay bars and began to meet other gay people.  I dated a few guys (secretly) and had “boyfriends” but I would always go back to my ‘straight’  and ‘fake’ lifestyle so that people would not discover my truth. 

I was at a bar one night and ran into a girl I used to date – I girl I thought I loved for all the wrong reasons only to realized that I love her for all the right reasons.  (It wasn’t a sexual thing but a very emotional one).  I ran into her at a very popular bar – I saw her throughout the night but didn’t want to approach her.  What would she think?  How will she react to seeing me at a gay bar?  We eventually connected and the issue wasn’t as difficult as I believed it to be.  Being truthful to someone else was great but it was even more exhilarating being truthful to myself.  This was the push I needed to begin living my true authentic life.

I met my first real boyfriend and decided to leave home and moved in with him at 21.  I never looked back.

How does it feel to be gay?

The same way it feels to be straight – I have to wake-up, go to work, pay bills, etc.  I sometimes fight with my significant other about the struggles of daily life.  I go to the bathroom the same way straight people do, I bleed the same way, I have the same feelings, dreams and goals. 

Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination.

I guess that I will wait to be judged by God.  That was my old answer.  Today, I simply allow people to believe what they want.  They can hide their ignorance behind religion and what men wrote in the Bible.  To me – God isn’t judgemental, He/She/It – isn’t hateful.  He/She/It encourages love and compassion.  I don’t answer to ‘heresay’ – I answer to how I want to live and how I want to treat others – to me that is God therefore I AM GOD, YOU ARE GOD, WE ARE ALL GOD.  So don’t hate yourself – embrace and love yourself because, loving yourself ensures you love everyone.

Why does there have to be a Gay Pride Parade – there isn’t straight pride?

Gay people – like African-Americans, didn’t have the same civil liberties as their peers.  Homosexuality is continues to be a death sentence in many countries.  Gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexual individuals are still fighting for the right not to be discriminated against in the place they work, the right to benefit from marriage and to be deemed equals in the eyes of the law as to their straight counter-parts.  We don’t want to continue to be suppressed and oppressed – we want the right to live and to love, just like everyone else.

Gay Pride has become a corporate event.  It gives businesses the opportunity to make money and boost the local economy.  It increases tourism.  It is fun and is a party.  Gay Pride is also an opportunity to remember all those who have paved the way for those of us who are benefiting from their activism.  A time to reflect on the bath house raids of Stonewall in New York City and Toronto.  It is a time to reflect on the politicians who wanted equality and paid the price with their lives (thank you Harvey Milk).  It is a time to see mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and friends unite and celebrate each others diversity.  Gay Pride is a time of year to celebrate your sexuality and not be ashamed of it or your body.  It is a time to celebrate gay fathers, policemen, politicians, teachers, bus drivers, business men and women, and so many others living their authentic lives.

GAY PRIDE is inclusive and inspiring.  It allows others to see that we are the same as everyone else.  GAY PRIDE also gives those who are living a life that I previous lived – a life of oppression, suppression, hurt and pain and make them realize that they are not alone. 

HAPPY GAY PRIDE MONTH!

Together, we can make the world a more positive one! 

NO ONE SHOULD BE DENIED THE LUXURY OF LOVE

The Michael Sam kiss stirred much controversy – only because it was a male-on-male kiss.  We have never seen this type of scrutiny over a heterosexual kiss.  People need to realize that we are not all the same and there are different types of relationships.  I don’t recall as much controversy on the show ‘Sister Wives’ and their polygamist lifestyle (which I believe, doesn’t really justify the sanctity of marriage).  Needless-to-say, this group of polygamists are supposed to be in a loving and devoted marriage consisting of 1 man and 4 wives.  Yet – many of the religious right are outraged by two men kissing on live television.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to celebrate love?

Bill Maher gives his perspective on the kiss and I applaud him!

Love doesn’t just happen to a man and a women – it happens to all men and all women.  There are all types of love – love for your friends, love for your family, love for your pets, love for a television program/celebrity – there is also love for a partner, soul-mate, lover and spouse.  If we grant, respect and validate this type of love for a man and a women, why is the concept so hard to grasp for two men or two women who love each other?  Simply – religion.  People take certain (not all) religious passages to be the word of God – only when it suits their purpose and only to justify their hate and ignorance for what they don’t understand or simply – what they don’t like.  To them, I say:  “Life is too short to waste hating someone you don’t even know.  Don’t tell me that what you believe is what is – because when it comes to LOVE and being in love – no one should be denied that luxury.”

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!