Friday, March 31, 2006

Campus on the move

When the students are away on spring break, the university likes to rearrange the buildings on campus. This week they have moved five old houses to make way for a new graduate housing project.

The new location for the structures was the visitor's parking lot. Since parking lots do not serve an academic purpose or give money, they are no longer needed.

They also build new buildings too. A week ago this had no walls.

Ethan Reynolds

Special thanks to Ethan for the nice words about GuyDads in his blog: Brat Boy Bulletin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Girl

Two daughters

My youngest daughter turns seven on March 29th. Here she is opening presents with her big sister.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Response to "Hatred in the Halls"

From a news release I received on Friday...
As a follow-up to the unfortunate incident of theft and vandalism at Palo Alto High School in January, a community coalition has joined forces to address hate and intolerance in Palo Alto. Outlet is a proud co-sponsor of the following event:

What: "Building a Culture of Service, Respect, and Identity Safety", a panel discussion for parents, students, educators and community members

When: Monday, March 27, 2006, 7:00-9:00p.m.

Where: Palo Alto Unified School District Board Room, Palo Alto, CA

The Palo Alto community is mobilizing against an unacceptable level of intolerance within its city limits. Responding to reports of anti-gay harassment, racial slurs, destruction of Gay-Straight Alliance club posters, and the January 2006 incident of theft and homophobic vandalism at Palo Alto High School, local leaders and students are launching a "NOT IN OUR SCHOOL/NOT IN OUR TOWN" campaign to reinforce safety and respect for all members of the community.

The campaign will begin on March 27, 2006 with a town hall meeting and panel discussion hosted by Youth Community Service, and moderated by Shannon Turk of Outlet. Entitled, "Building a Culture of Service, Respect, and Identity Safety", the panel will discuss the roles parents and community members can play in encouraging respect for diversity and promoting safety for all.

Running through May 2006, the "NOT IN OUR SCHOOL/NOT IN OUR TOWN" campaign strives to affirm identity safety-the validation for all to feel safe to be themselves-and to combat hate of any kind, including racism, homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance.

The coalition is comprised of the City of Palo Alto Human Relations Committee, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), the PAUSD PTA Council, the Stanford Center for Ethics in Society, the Outlet Program, Youth Community Service, and Gay Straight Alliance Clubs in Palo Alto schools. These leaders encourage others to join them in raising awareness, building an accepting civic culture, and creating opportunities to take a stand against hate, violence, and intolerance, by participating in campaign events, displaying campaign buttons, and exhibiting campaign posters in homes, schools, businesses, and organizations throughout our community.

The Outlet program is the only program of its kind in the Mid-Peninsula working to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth and cultivating leaders to eradicate homophobia. Since 1997, Outlet has served over 6,000 queer youth, straight allies, and youth service providers through peer and community support, mentoring, leadership development, advocacy, sensitivity workshops and educational trainings.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Moving the religious middle

GuyDads wedding photo
E and I attended this week at the SF LGBT Community Center a program presented by Horizons Foundation and the Interfaith Alliance entitled “How to Move the Religious Middle on Marriage Equality.” Two outstanding panels were the bulk of the luncheon program and included leaders of several faiths (Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal, Conservative Judaism) as well as leaders of various LBGT groups, (Freedom to Marry, NCLR, Lambda Legal, EQ-CA). The program was facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance and himself a Baptist minister.

Impressive, provocative, and exciting are only a few reactions we had to the program. These folks and organizations have a strategy to create meaningful dialogue with the clergy and leaders and through them, the members, of congregations of Christians, Muslims, and Jews throughout America. These conversations are focusing on what RIGHTS all Americans are due, not what RITES each individual religious group/leader will or will not decide to support within the religious context.

Some key points from the various clergy:
- “Clergy need to clarify ‘marriage’ as both a CIVIL and a RELIGIOUS ceremony and to separate the two.” (One movement is to get clergy to refuse to sign civil marriage certificates and require couples they ‘marry’ to do that signing where it should be done – in a court house.

- “You can prove anything you want to do with scripture taken out of context. Reference to scripture in our history and present is often a form of outright

- “Scripture reflects the history and the times; scripture does not exist to make history.”

- “The Bible does not exist to justify our beliefs. It exists to guide each individual to choose beliefs.”

- “Much negative reaction by the ‘middle’ is more about “same-sex marriage is foreign to me and is not part of my culture” versus a deep-down decision to be against it.”

- “Our goal is to find all the folks who will defend CIVIL RIGHTS even if they cannot defend personally the VALUE of same-sex marriage.”

- “The only way to reach the religious middle is through other members of the religious middle.”

And I believe the most important remark to guide all of us as we fight for our civil rights: “How can we create spaces where people can change their minds about same-sex marriage WITHOUT SHAMING THEM or making them feel bad/wrong/stupid?”
(A side note: E was astonished to discover that the moderator and president of Interfaith Alliance (Rev. Dr. Gaddy) was the son of his parents’ now-deceased best friends, a family who lived 5 houses from him in Paris, Tennessee (a town of 10K) and one where he spent much time as a very young boy. Theirs was the first reunion in 40+ years. Imagine how surprised the Rev. was that E is now Jewish, gay, married to a man, etc., etc.! By the way, he handled it all in stride.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Please, no gay bashing on Netflix

I love Netflix. I have been a loyal and passionate subscriber for three years. I have even considered posting my rental queue in my blog.

Earlier this week The Big Gay Picture posted a story about gay bashing in the Member Reviews for Brokeback Mountain. I scanned through 300+ member reviews and found some gay bashing. Many of the first third of the reviews were negative. The writers did not like the story or it was too long or too boring or they didn’t understand it. Other than questioning Hollywood’s “gay agenda”, they weren’t particular homophobic. It is in the last third that they start to get nasty.

I have sent an e-mail and snail-mail to Netflix requesting they investigate and correct.

Dear Netflix:

I have been a long time subscriber, since March 2003,
to your service and have enjoyed your large selection
of GLBT films. I have recommended your service to all
my friends and family. In my household we no longer
have cable or satellite TV hookup. We use Netflix for
our TV entertainment of choice.

Recently, however, I have become concerned that Member
Reviews section of your website is becoming a place to
bash gays with hatred, bigoted, and homophobic
remarks. I have read your review guidelines and notice
that they say:

“All reviews are screened before they are posted.
Reviews will not be posted if they contain:
*Harsh, profane or discriminatory language
*Personal attacks on the movie's creative

In the review section for “Brokeback Mountain” are the
following comments that are nothing more than an
attack on gay people.

Michael Pattin
I don't promote homsexuality and refuse to see this
movie regardless. Some will say its good, well they
can go to hell.

What is it with Hollywood these days? What's with all
the gay movies? Why do all the movies have to contain
some gay element it in? It's SICK!

TJ from Warrenville, IL
(See my other reviews ...)
These days you turn on the TV and it seems like every
station has a couple gay guys lisping and flitting
around. One time I actually turned the channel and
found six stations in a row featuring gay guys... hair
dressers, decorators, etc. Gay Hollywood would have us
believe that most of us are gay and this movie just
goes along with that idea. This movie was sickening.
The people raving about it hear are probably
pole-smokers too.... not that there's anything wrong
with that.

Levi Hay
I have lost all respect for both of these otherwise
great actors. Boy on boy action is not cool.

Why does Netflix offer a forum to gay bashers? This
does not benefit anyone interested in movies or
entertainment. Would you allow similar reviews to be
printed that attacked African-Americans,
Asian-Americans, Jews, Muslims, etc.? Would you allow
racist, bigoted, hate speech reviews?

I hope that Netflix wouldn't tolerate a review of “In
the Heat Night” or "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" that
talked about uppity black people being disgusting.

I don’t believe that Netflix is homophobic or bigoted
company but clearly your stated guidelines are not
being followed.

I hope you will review and correct these concerns.


Netflix website says:
Report any reviews you think don't follow our guidelines to

Monday, March 20, 2006

Gotta dance

In an alternate, parallel universe, E (the tall one) is a famous Broadway dancer. Actually, we both love to dance. E usually leads and I follow. We keep saying that someday we will take lessons. Maybe we will. I would love for us to take some ballroom dance classes and tap dance lessons.

If we are invited to an event that has dancing, we will take to the dance floor. Sometimes we get a lot of stares and gawking. People just need to get use to seeing same sex couples dancing together.

This event is the Jewish Family Children Services’ Spring Gala. This social service agency has a large outreach into the LGBT community. Their adoption program, Adoption Connection, welcomes couples and individuals of all ages, religions, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations. They are the largest agency in the West to support gay and lesbian adoptions. Unfortunately, Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of San Francisco believe in discrimination and exclusion based on “beliefs and teachings”.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A week on the town

It is not easy keeping up with these two dads:

Last Wednesday we went to the City (San Francisco) and saw the smart and funny musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”.

Thursday evening we were back to see August Wilson’s fiery and spiritual play, “Gem of the Ocean” at American Conservatory Theatre.

Friday evening we stayed home and hosted a dinner party.

Last year's gala table
Saturday morning was spent running errands and setting up for the party we were going to host the following evening. At 3:30 pm we drove again to San Francisco and checked into a hotel room near Union Square. That evening we attended a black-tie fundraising gala for a Jewish social service agency in the city: drinks, silent auction (bid on more theatre tickets!), dinner and big-band dancing. Afterwards, we still wanted to dance. We went back to the hotel and changed from tuxes to black t-shirts and jeans and took a cab to the night club UndergroundSF for their “Drunk and Horny” theme dance. When the club closed at 2am, we walked down the street and bought pizza slices. I think we finally settled down to sleep around 4 am.

We were up for the free hotel breakfast by 9:50. (Breakfast ends at 10:00.) We met a friend and drove around different neighborhoods in the city for a couple of hours and had lunch with him. We were back to Palo Alto to finish setting up for the pre-show, appetizer party that was starting at 5pm. We had about 40 people from our GLBT running group attend the tropical themed hors d’oeuvres and rum punch party.
An hour and a half later we all went and saw TheatreWorks’ production of “Anna in the Tropics” by gay playwright Nilo Cruz. The play was the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story takes place in a Florida cigar factory in Tampa in 1929 where a dashing young storyteller, a lector, is employed to read Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” to the Cuban-American factory workers that still roll coronas by hand. Soon he and his seductive stories are intertwined in the emotional lives of his listeners, inflaming loves, dreams, and jealousies once only imagined.

Today, Monday, is the Jewish holiday Purim. It is kind of like a Jewish “Mardi Gras”. The “Book of Esther” recounts the story of Purim. It is a story that marks the triumph of good over evil, when the Jewish people of Persia were saved by the beautiful Esther from a massacre planned by the evil Haman, an advisor to the king. Sarcastic, humorous, and iconoclastic entertainment is a component of Purim celebrations. The synagogue festival we are going to this year will feature an ice cream social, drag costume pageant, bingo and Israeli dancing! One more party to go.

Monday, March 06, 2006

We've got letters

Richard at Proceed at Your Own Risk has an interesting write up about “the second largest branch of American Judaism, the Conservative Movement, will vote this week to embrace same sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy.” The Reform Movement has supported same sex marriage for years. E and I are Reform Jews and were married in the synagogue last June. Unfortunately, Orthodox Jews can be just as bigoted and small minded as the fundamentalist Christians. The local Jewish newspaper printed a gay bashing letter by an Orthodox Jew last month. This week the paper printed my response. In a separate email exchange, the editor stated that the paper would no longer “run any letters to the editor that disparage your community.” I have heard that before.
Below is the original letter followed by my response.

Thursday February 16, 2006‘An abomination’
Contrary to Bob N’s recent letter, homosexuality is not an issue to accept in Judaism as OK.

Whether it’s PC or not, homosexuality is wrong, and an abomination. It’s not acceptable in any form in Judaism as an alternative Jewish lifestyle.

We all have instinctual desires (some more than others), as do animals, except God gave people the ability to control them.

Jewish obligations include to keep kosher, observe Shabbat, learn Torah, pray daily, give charity, not steal (even a penny), be kind to animals, don’t intermarry, don’t murder, don’t mix wool with linen, no adultery or bestiality, no homosexuality, etc. That’s God’s design in Creation.

“Loving a fellow Jew as yourself” is also a mitzvah, regardless of their level of religiousness or practice. Nevertheless, we can never justify, accept, promote, encourage, or apologize (as does j. and the misguided Reform and Conservative movements) for the behavior of a fellow Jew when he or she goes against God, as if it were OK.

This includes homosexuality and intermarriage as well. But in no way should it or does it stop us from loving or accepting a fellow Jew, especially since none of us are 100 percent righteous.

A---- S---, San Francisco
Friday March 3, 2006No bashing, please
I am appalled and disappointed to see that j. still feels that it is important to print letters that bash other Jews (“An abomination,” Feb. 17 letters).

Last August, my husband and I were attacked in j.’s letters section for announcing our same-sex Jewish wedding at Congregation Beth Am. Over the next several weeks, a number of friends and strangers came to our defense and finally in an editor’s note (Sept. 23, 2005) j. apologetically claimed “to be very supportive of the LGBT community.”

Yet six months later j. prints another bigoted, homophobic, reactionary letter that calls gays an abomination and questions their Jewish faith. I don’t understand why j. believes that giving a forum to gay-bashers is a benefit to the community. Would you print similar letters that attacked and questioned the spiritual legitimacy of African American Jews or Asian American Jews or even Jewish women based on racist xenophobia or misogynistic interpretation of the Torah?

I expect a higher standard of j. than pandering to controversy for controversy’s sake.

Ed J----, Palo Alto

Another one of my long time favorite bloggers, The Tinman, had his response printed to a gay bashing letter in his college alumni newsletter.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Best gay cruise

The cruise was so romantic and restful. 118 passengers and a crew of 90 sailed along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Being a small cruise ship we were able to visit small towns and beaches. We didn’t sign up for any of the official excursions such as beach horseback riding, mangrove boat cruise, or zip line canopy tour. Nevertheless we had a great time on shore. We snorkeled in the warm tropic waters and saw thousands of fish such as Parrot, Trigger, Sergeant Major, and Puffer fish. We also did a couple of hikes in the rainforest and saw White-faced monkeys, large iguanas, and Scarlet Macaws.

TravelPride, the company that charted the gay cruise added many wonderful touches to the whole experience. They brought their own DJ, photographer (we were not hit up to buy photographs during the cruise), and nightly entertainment. Each evening there was a different theme party or tea dance. There were two drag performers (Cashetta and Varla Jean Merman) and a very good piano bar/disco diva singer, Pamala Stanley. There was always a nice gay themed movie playing on the ship’s TV system and gift on the bed from TravelPride each evening (T-shirt, cap, beach bag, etc.). We made many new friends and had a great time socializing with everyone. By the last day, many of us onboard felt sad like the final day of summer camp. E and several other guys who have been on many cruises before, said this was the best.

The company has two cruises currently charted for the future. They are the Italian Riviera for the first week of August 2006 and in July 2007, a Scandinavian and Russian cruise. The second cruise is a possibility but it is too soon to commit.

Our next vacation is scheduled for this July 4th week in New York City. The goal is to see as much theatre as possible.
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