I’ve decided. I’m jumping off that building.

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vis_Marriott

Yep. From a top floor balcony. Right over the edge.

No, I’m not depressed, or suicidal.

I’ll be joining up to 91 other “jumpers” as we rappel down the (other) side of one of the tallest buildings in Visalia. And it’s all for a good cause.

We’ll be participating in “Visalia Over the Edge“, a fundraising campaign for The Source LGBT+ Center. The Source is Tulare and Kings Counties LGBT+ community and resource center, currently operating out of a small office space in downtown Visalia. (208 W. Main, Suite B, Visalia. Downstairs in the Montgomery Square.) We’ve outgrown our center, and need to raise money for expansion to a larger facility. This event will kick off our fund-raising efforts to acquire a building large enough to serve our communities.

I had to think about this for a while before committing to taking part, as I’m a bit unsettled by heights. (oddly, not while in a helicopter or plane. Mostly when looking down the side of a tall building. That glass observation thing, the Sky Deck, on the Sears Tower? You’d never get me to step into that.) I’ve decided I’m going to do it, regardless. I’ll convince myself by saying it’s a “bucket list” experience, and off we’ll go. Over the side. Nine floors. That’s not all that high, right?

I’ve set a goal of $2,500 to be raised, essentially by begging. 😉  The minimum to “jump” is $1,000 but I wanted to go a bit bigger. So…

This is me begging you for some money! Yep, hat in hand, asking “buddy, can you spare a dime? Or $20? Or $100?” Here’s the link to my fund-raising page, please go there and give The Source LGBT+ Center some money. I’ll be ever so grateful.

On November 10th, 2018, come join us at the Marriott, and watch as they toss this dispatcher Over the Edge!

Just don’t call 9-1-1, even if I’m screaming, please.

Audio comments, City Council meeting May 21 2018 – Speaker lambastes city, LGBT group

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“THAT’S CHILD PORNOGRAPHY!”

Well, no, it’s not. Not even close. Gabriel Jacquez spoke at the public comments section of the May 21, 2018 Visalia City Council meeting, and took the city to task for allowing our event, Pride Visalia, to take place. During his comments, he drew a really strange connection between drag queens dancing and child porn. Listen to the recording above to see if you can follow his…  “logic”. I can’t.

Immediately following his remarks are mine, given a few minutes after his. I had planned on simply giving a short presentation to the Council about Pride Visalia, and then invite them to attend.

That got thrown out the window after I heard his remarks. I tried to address Mr. Jacquez’s remarks as best I could, without turning my three minutes into a complete mish-mash.

I’m glad it worked out the way it did, it would have been unfortunate had I gone first, and then Mr. Jacquez following. In that scenario, I would not have been able to respond.

Sorry for the poor quality of the image. That’s me, at the podium, in the upper right hand corner of the image. It’s a screen capture of a phone video, which was recording a video feed that was playing on yet another phone. A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy.

Sorry that the audio quality is not the best, either. It’s also a copy of a copy, especially that last few seconds.

You can hear the (almost) complete audio at the article by the Visalia Times Delta, here. My comments are attached to the video at the top of the article, Mr. Jacquez’s in the video further down the page. At some point in the future, the City of Visalia should have an audio recording of the meeting, with the full comments. (only a few seconds have been cut, however. Mostly us introducing ourselves, and possibly a bit at the end of Mr. Jacquez’s remarks.)

All in all, a most upsetting Council meeting for me.

Rainbow Dragons at Pride Visalia?

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Baby Dragon

Draco, in an early pic, 2011

It never fails. I should never let them look over my shoulder when I’m on the computer.

I’ve written about them before, back when they were first born. (I can’t tell them they’re hatched, for some reason they don’t like that. I think it has something to do with an inferiority complex about competing with birds. I know, it’s weird.)

Since then, I’ve kept them out of my blogs, and off my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. They’re already insufferably vain, and making them the center of attention would be unbearable. (oh, if you met them you’d think they’re charming, well behaved, and as entertaining as hell, but you don’t have to live with them!)

They’re seven years old now, and quite the handful. Over the years we’ve managed to not burn down the house or set the yard on fire. Mostly. There was that one time I had to convince the fire department that it was just the BBQ making all that smoke, while they hid on the roof, trying to look like I have a strange hobby of collecting gargoyles. Fortunately it was after dark, and they weren’t noticed. Crisis averted.

Their voices are still juvenile, though. I’m waiting for dragon puberty to hit, and for those sophisticated British accents to kick in. Still sounds like a lot of London boys sniffing helium going on around here, and sometimes it gets on one’s nerves. Good thing they’re still as cute as can be. (When they’re asleep.)

Today, I messed up, and I’m not sure how to contain the furor now unfolding in my dragon lair.

Did you see this?

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Boy, they did. I was on my laptop, scrolling through Facebook, when I landed on this. I hadn’t realized Draco was behind me, snooping. (I try to keep them away from the computer as much as I can. It’s really hard to clean smoke residue off the screen after they’ve been watching Dragonheart and Eragon on endless loop.) He let out a very un-dragonly squeal, demanding to know what that was. “Nothing” wasn’t going to cut it.

Draco called the others over, and they all huddled around the computer, squeaking and squawking about it, demanding to know what it was all about.

I told them some humans love dragons (I glared at them enough to make them wonder whether I was one of them or not) and had made some buttons and other gear for the upcoming Pride Visalia. They were quite pleased. And, of course, they want to go.

How do you tell a bunch of seven year old dragons they can’t go to the festival to see the other dragons? They’ve decided it’s not just buttons and pins, and that there are going to be other dragons there. Rainbow dragons.

I’m not sure how I’m going to contain this.

 

How did that happen?

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If you had told me ten years ago, or even five, that I’d be on a discussion panel up in front of a crowd of strangers, telling a bit of my story, I’d have said “you’re nuts”.  That’s not something I ever thought I’d be able to do, or that anyone would find anything I had to say interesting enough to invite me.

My, have times changed.

On Monday, February 12, 2018, I was one of five panelists for the 210 Connect presentation “Use Your Power: How To Change Your Community through Civic Engagement”. I was honored to appear with Erin Garner Ford of ACT for Women and Girls; Steven Tootle, political science professor at College of the Sequoias; Amy Shuklian, Tulare County Board of Supervisors; and Daniel O’Connell, Executive Director at Central Valley Partnership.  My connection was through my activities with The Source LGBT+ Center, and as a community activist in general.

Honestly, I felt rather out of my depth with the group on the panel.

I thought it went fairly well, though. People seemed interested in what I had to say about becoming an activist in the LGBTQ community, and I was asked a couple of interesting questions about my evolution from closeted introvert, to community activist.

Now I’ll ponder some more about it, and see what, if anything, grows out of this night’s experience. One thing is for sure, I enjoyed it. It was fun!

Mike Pence Secretly Gay?

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Vice President Mike Pence gay??
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While it would be a delicious rumor, that’s all it is. (as far as we know!)

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Sadly (or not), this image isn’t Mike Pence in his secret gay youth.  Turns out this is Brad Patton, a porn actor.

I never put much stock in the rumor that Mike Pence was secretly gay, but an image that popped up in my Facebook feed had me recalling it all again. It was deliciously ironic, or would have been, if Pence were actually gay and deeply closeted, and in self-loathing hell.

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Yep, that’s Vice-President Mike Pence, and Olympic athlete from Tonga, Pita Taufatofua. Pita has made quite the stir with his shirtless, oiled-body appearances in the Olympics opening ceremonies, twice in a row. Of course, the humor is in the assumption that closeted Pence would get a selfie with the hunky Tongan, after his apparent overtures to gay Olympic skater Adam Rippon fell flat. Sadly, the picture is fake. The number two man in the Trump administration is the victim of fake news. Go figure.

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Here’s the original selfie used to make the fake one with Pita. Someone did a decent photo-shopping to create the image (at least on a phone screen. The edit is a bit more noticeable on a computer monitor.)

So “Mother” (what Pence calls his wife. Reagan did the same thing. I always found that a bit creepy) can rest easy. Her hubby doesn’t have a secret hankerin’ for the man meat. That we know about, anyway. He’s certainly acted in the past like a deeply conflicted, self-loathing, closeted queen, however, so one can never be quite certain.

Maybe, as in the X Files… the truth is out there.

Some people sing in the shower. Not me.

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I don’t waste my time singing in the shower. They say everyone sounds good in there, at least to themselves, but that’s not true. I learned a long time ago not to lie to myself about that. Instead, my mind tends to wander. Today, it ruminated on Star Trek, fake Star Trek, and the Star Spangled Banner.

We’ll start with Star Trek.

Since J.J.Abrams began helming the starship Enterprise with his new movies, things have not gone well. While the movies are certainly watchable, enjoyable, and entertaining, they’re not Star Trek. Sorry, J.J., they’re just not. I’m hoping the next movie brings us back to the real thing, but I’m not holding my breath.

Star Trek Discovery has followed the same path as the movies. It’s like they’re using the words from Star Trek, without having any understanding of them. The Federation. Warp drive. Klingons. Phasers. Sarek. Vulcans.

Now, I really like that Discovery has taken the leap, following the almost-gay scene from the last movie where we get the split second shot of Sulu with his husband, and introduced a gay couple on the show. More

June is LGBT Pride Month – and boy, is it going to be busy!

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Pride_2017

Governor Jerry Brown has issued a proclamation designating June 2017 as LGBT Pride Month in California. On Tuesday, June 6, Tulare County Supervisors Board member Amy Shuklian will also make a presentation, recognizing the first anniversary of The Source LGBT+ Center, and June as LGBT Pride Month. Notably absent this year is a proclamation from the White House, breaking an eight year tradition.

But the BIG news is happening right here in Visalia!

On Saturday, June 24, The Source LGBT+ Center will host Pride Visalia 2017. Pride Visalia will be a departure from previous Pride events held here. (I bet many of you didn’t know Visalia has held Pride events since the 90’s, right?) From the first Pride picnics in the 90’s, to Queer Visalia’s Pride in the Park events of 2008, 2009, and 2010, and Family Fest at Mooney Grove Park in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Tulare County LGBT community has a long and varied history of celebrating June Pride.  Why June? Here’s why: The Stonewall Inn.

This year, we start a new tradition. With sponsors such as Equality California, The California Endowment‘s Stayloud project, Wells Fargo Bank, and others, PRIDE VISALIA will be the largest Pride event ever held in Tulare County. Festivities begin at 10 AM and run through 6 PM, at the Old Lumberyard, 300 E. Oak Ave., Visalia. Entry donation is $5 (children under 10 years of age are free). Tickets available online here, or at the door. There will be food and merchandise vendors, live bands, entertainment, Illusions drag queen show, a kid’s zone, and tabling by local non-profits and service organizations.  Work continues on organizing this community event, and I’ll update here as more information becomes available.

Pride Visalia 2017 promises to be a historic event in local LGBT history, and with plans to make this an annual celebration, the kickoff to an even brighter future for the LGBT+ community in Visalia, Tulare County, and the central San Joaquin Valley.

Here’s a quick break-down of events that may be of interest to Tulare County residents:

June 2 – First Friday Art Walk, Visalia. The Source LGBT+ Center will be one of ten venues displaying locally created art. 5 – 8 PM, downtown Visalia.

June 3 – Fresno’s Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival. The parade starts at 10AM, in the Tower District on Olive. The festival is 11AM to 3PM, at Olive and Wishon. Festival entry donation is $5.

June 6 – “Supervisor’s Matters”, Tulare County Board of Supervisors, 7PM, 2800 W. Burrel, Visalia. Supervisor Amy Shuklian will recognize The Source LGBT+ Center for it’s one year anniversary, and June as Pride month.

June 7 – Volunteer training and orientation at The Source LGBT+ Center. Anyone wanting to be a volunteer at the community center must first complete this one-night training program, and undergo a background check. Information at 559-429-4277

June 10-11 – West Hollywood L.A. Pride (always a biggie). The parade is on Sunday, June 11, and begins at 11AM on Santa Monica Blvd, which will be closed between Fairfax and Doheny Dr. The festival is a two-day event, Saturday and Sunday.

June 24-25 – San Francisco Pride. Parade on Market Street Sunday, June 25, at 10:30 AM. Nobody does a Pride Parade like San Francisco!

Check back for updates as we approach the biggest LGBT+ party Tulare County has ever seen!

 

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