Local Stories: PFLAG to host speakers for National Coming Out Day. I’ll be one.



October 11 is/was National Coming Out Day.  2015 marks the 27th annual observance, commemorating the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, held in 1987.  On this day, those still in the closet, whether they are LGBTQ or allies, are urged to step out and tell their stories.  In recognition of NCOD, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties will host two Visalia residents as they discuss their “coming out”.

Since the first NCOD was celebrated in 1988, there has been a sea-change in the way society in general, and the law specifically, views the LGBTQ community.  From the riots in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that sparked the modern LGBTQ movement, to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that made marriage equality the law of the land, few would have thought such progress possible.

In 1977, Harvey Milk of San Francisco won election to the City Council as California’s first openly gay person to run for office.  During his campaign, and his short time in office (he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in their offices on November 27, 1978), Milk often urged closeted members of the gay community to “come out”.  He maintained it was the only way for the LGBTQ community to truly advance.  As more people came out over the years, Harvey’s words have proven prophetic.  Harvey Milk is recognized in California with a “Special Day of Significance”, each May 22nd.

Each October, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties recognizes Coming Out Day with programs related to the subject.  This year, two Visalia residents will speak, telling their “coming out” stories.  Gail McCarthy, author of a five book murder mystery series, the Alexandria Whitney mysteries, and Jim Reeves (that’s me!), 9-1-1 dispatcher, blogger, and LGBTQ activist, will be discussing the coming out process and how it’s impacted our lives.  We’ll talk about the societies we lived in as we approached our own “coming out”, the atmosphere that colored our perceptions, and how being “out” has affected our lives since.

The public is, as always, invited to attend PFLAG meetings.  Admission is always free, and refreshments are served.  This month’s will be Sunday, October 18, from 3 pm till 5 pm.  We meet at the Congregation B’nai David, in their Educational and Cultural Center, 1039 S. Chinowth, Visalia.  (Just follow the rainbow flags)

Friday night at 9-1-1

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9 1/2 hours on channel two Friday night. A full Moon. In August. At one point, 25 units on my channel. All it takes is one to decide to do a traffic stop, then suddenly ALL of them want to do traffic stops! Fights. Parties. Loud music. More fights. No barking dogs, oddly. Reckless drivers. Drunk drivers. A couple of wrecks. Several ambulance runs, one a 15 day old difficulty breathing, one 84 year old difficulty breathing. Shots heard. Child exchanges. Child exchanges that didn’t happen, and the other parent is pissed. Welfare checks because somebody on Facebook was fishing for attention and “seemed” suicidal. Abandoned cars. People pulled over on the side of the road and being “suspicious”…. as they talked on their cell phones for 20 minutes. Drunks staggering down the shoulder of the road. More loud music calls. Crappy radios… “it’s the heat” “it’s the cold” “it’s the fog” “it’s the rain” < reasons for crappy radio transmissions. Units chomping at the bits to join the CHP’s pursuit before it runs out of the county. It ran out of the county. Bar brawl, ambulance needed. Second ambulance needed. Laceration and “asthma” (panic) attack. Juvenile calling in and harassing the dispatchers. Vulgar. Threatening. Dozens of times. Not bright, we know who he is. Cookies in dispatch. Didn’t last long. Air unit doing patrol checks. Three at a time. Put him on one, take him off. Update city unit that keyed up immediately after. Put air unit on second patrol check, take him off. Respond to deputy doing a traffic stop. Put air unit on last check, take him off. Answer the 9-1-1 line, because everybody else in the room is already on a phone. Lucky, just a quick transfer to CHP, off the phone quick. More loud music. How come we never do anything about it?? I’ve called a bunch of times! No, I don’t want contact, just make them stop! Direct the young lady who has decided at 6:30 pm on a Friday that she’d like information on becoming a police officer to call back Monday during business hours to talk to somebody about it. Another party! I have to get up at 4am! Racing vehicles… give it to CHP. Send a deputy to assist CHP, because the car they stopped has a fight between a man and woman in progress. Burglar alarms sounding, owners will only respond if it’s an actual burglary. I just got home, and I was robbed! The tweeker is not sure what’s missing, but they’re sure something was taken. It’s Friday night, the teenager has been missing since Wednesday morning, but we better go ahead and report it now.
Man, I love my job!

Is it *really* OK? Or just when it’s your religion?

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“Freedom of religion” doesn’t mean freedom from every religion but yours.

I’ve been here before, but I don’t know where I am

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photo 1The garage is finally getting cleared out (thanks, Travis!), and I found this book while looking through some boxes.  I looked at it, wondering when I bought it, as it rang absolutely no bells.

“Maybe,” I thought, “someone beamed it into my garage at some point in the past, and I’m just now finding it. Or maybe I time-traveled back to leave it in this box because…  something important is about to happen, and this book is the crux of a historical turning point, and I will use it to save the world! Or maybe it’s a glitch in the Matrix, and I should really worry about stern looking men in black suits, wearing earbugs and black sunglasses!”

Well, no, not really.  But I really don’t recall when or where I purchased this book. It’s copyrighted 1991, so at some point after that date, at the earliest 1994, because my bookmark is from where I work, and I must have picked it up at B. Dalton or Waldenbooks.

I sat down last night, and started reading.  I figured I’d remember the story, or at least find it familiar, as I’m pretty good about recognizing something I’ve already read.

Not happening this time.

It’s a collection of shorter stories, all set in the same “universe”, with the main character present in all the stories.  It’s about a man from 1954 recruited to be a “time cop”, and keep history from being tampered with once time travel is invented in the distant future.  The “time cops” recruit from up and down the timeline for suitable operatives, and the various stories in the book jump from a vacation base camp in the Pleistocene era, to millennia into the future.

photo 2 The top marker is how far I’ve gotten since I picked the book up yesterday, and the bottom one is where I must have left off when I put the book in the box.

What I’m finding odd is that I don’t recall any of the stories I’ve read so far.  Nothing is ringing a bell, and it’s like a new book for me. I usually remember things I’ve read, and it’s a bit strange to be completely blank with this one.  I’m hoping I’ll remember it as I read more, but so far, nothing.

I’ve often compared my memory to an old hard drive.  I’ve got everything up there, it just takes time to spin up and locate the data.  I’m hoping that’s what’s happened here, and it’s just taking a long time to find the correct file.  I’m hoping nothing got overwritten in the intervening years!

Time to jump back into the future/present/past, and see where I end up.  I hope nobody screws up the timeline!

Attack of the goat people

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Image: Aaron Sims

In the big scheme of things, pygmy goats wouldn’t seem like a subject that would elicit a lot of controversy.  They’re undoubtedly cute little animals, and videos of them are abundant on the Internet.  The secret about pygmy goats, however, is that there are people who go full metal jacket against “city folk” (me, for one) that are against them being raised in backyards.  Goats, no matter how “miniature” they might be, are livestock.  They belong on farms. Backyards are not the places to raise them, no matter the reason you want them.

I dared speak my mind about the subject, and immediately became the subject of a crusade by the “goat people”.


July 5, 1994 – I start telling cops where to go, and sometimes how to get there

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A few years into my career with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

July 5, 1994  That was the first day I walked into the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office building as an employee.  Twenty one years ago today, I thought “this will be a breeze!”.  Little did I know…


Missouri Sheriff puts “IN GOD WE TRUST” on every patrol car

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Photo: Valerie Mosley/News-Leader

Jim Arnott is the Sheriff of Greene County, Missouri.  He recently had “IN GOD WE TRUST” lettering added to about 100 patrol cars because, as he said, “I like it“.

I became aware of this through the Facebook page “Sheriff Deputies“, when they posted the picture to the news feed. Disappointingly, it’s getting a lot of approval from others.  Few seem to understand, or even care, why it is highly inappropriate for this kind of religious proselytizing to exist in a government agency.

Our own community has recently had issues with law enforcement lending it’s imprimatur to a purely religious ceremony, and many are defending the decision of government officials to attend.  Here, they’ve dismissed the connection with the keynote speaker, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a designated hate group, as inconsequential.  The Sheriff told the Visalia Times Delta that he didn’t “get any detailed information about Perkins and his reported agenda until after he and his command staff left”.  At least the Sheriff here is claiming ignorance of Perkins and his agenda, but the Missouri Sheriff is more direct in his statements.

Sheriff Arnott has unilaterally decided that his religious beliefs can be displayed on government property as he sees fit.  Since most people in his area are Christians, few see any problem with the idea.  They seem to view the idea of the long-established legal concept of separation of church and state to mean government cannot intrude on religion, but religion is free to intrude and impose on government.

A person who had questioned the wording on patrol cars garnered this reaction from Sheriff Arnott:

I’m guessing she is offended by it. If that’s the case. I’m hoping that she does not use any of our currency either.”

U.S. currency carries the legend “In God We Trust.”

Many city councils, county supervisors chambers, and other government structures have “IN GOD WE TRUST” prominently displayed, and it’s pretty much impossible to find elected officials, or even bureaucrats, who are willing to challenge the placement of clearly religious wording in government facilities.  The Supreme Court didn’t help matters by ruling in favor of those who want religion wrapped around their government.

I find it disappointing that so many are content to allow government to grant a seal of approval to religious dogma, in clear violation of the idea that it should be completely neutral when it comes to such matters.  They’re quite happy with the mixing of church and state, as long as it’s their church.  I wonder how complacent they would be if it said “ALLAHU AKBAR”? Or “IN VISHNU WE TRUST”?  Changing the name of the god should make it clear why any of them are inappropriate.  If the Sheriff and his deputies want such sentiments on the cars they drive, let them put them on their own vehicles.  Patrol cars are not the place to, as we LGBT advocates have been accused of doing every time we talk about rights, “shove it down our throats” in public.

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