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)

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.

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”.


Surprise, surprise!

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photo 4

So I’m sitting there at the Visalia Pride Lions 5th anniversary luncheon last Saturday, when a friend of mine gets up to make a presentation.  It immediately got surreal when the very first words out of his mouth were “Jim Reeves”. Needless to say, he caught my attention, and I’m wondering “just what is going on?”  It turns out that the entire board and a bunch of the members of the local LGBT Lions group managed to keep me in the dark, and without a clue, that they were planing to honor me with 2015 “Heart of a Lion” award.


Sandy Waymack and Slade Childers present the award.

Here’s what Slade had to say:


Quite a surprise, and completely unexpected! I was and am honored to be chosen for this recognition, and I thank the Visalia Pride Lions profusely.

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.

Will the USA cease to exist as we know it if the minimum wage is raised to $15?

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You’ve seen this one, right?  It’s been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites recently.  The message is, of course, that demanding an increase in the minimum wage will cause employers to switch to automated systems, and cause our minimum-wage workforce of teenagers working after school to simply dry up.  Of course, what they don’t tell you are two very relevant facts:  most minimum wage workers are adults, and automation has been taking jobs since the beginning of the industrial revolution.


Christian haters make threats at every opportunity


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Haters gonna hate.  This is what the LGBTQ community has to put up with on a constant basis.  In the comment section of this online article by the local newspaper, the Visalia-Times Delta, a thinly veiled threat.

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Here’s the Facebook page of the hater.  This is his profile cover image.


What would Jesus do?

Threats of violence from a follower of the alleged “Prince of Peace”.  Religion is more often than not a vehicle for personal prejudice and violence.

Update:  I thought the name sounded familiar.  This jerk is a well known hater from Porterville.  Surprise surprise.

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